Bassett, the county seat of Rock County, is located in north-central Nebraska in the framed and unique Nebraska Sandhills. U.S. Highways 20 and 183 intersect in Bassett, and Nebraska Highway 7 extends from Bassett to the north through one of the most scenic areas of the Niobrara Valley. Bassett is 43 miles from the South Dakota border; 240 miles northwest of Omaha, Neb.; and 460 miles northeast of Denver, Colo.
In 1878, a few homemakers settled on land by the river in what is now called Rock County. Later in the same year, the upper Niobrara country and the Sandhills caught the attention of large scale ranchers and they introduced large herds of Texas cattle to the area.
Andrew N. Bassett, known as Captain Bassett, was among the earlier arrivals, coming up the Elkhorn Valley in August 1878. He established his ranch on the upper reaches of Long Pine Creek and herded his cattle in the vicinity of present day Bassett.
The first mail to reach Rock County came a great distance by stage and on horseback. Two riders contracted to carry the mail from Niobrara to Keya Paha. By 1879, Keya Paha was a disbursing post office with five routes distributing mail to the settlers along the Niobrara River.
Settlement began in earnest in 1882 with large numbers of prairie schooners traveling along the Black Hills Trail. Also in 1882, the first store was established in Bassett and in 1883, the first school term was held. In 1884, Bassett had its first newspaper, the Bassett Herald.
The Village of Bassett was incorporated on February 8, 1887. The original population of 40 residents has since grown to over 740. Bassett became a second-class city in April 1951.
Historical Society Websites:
The Rock County Historical Museum, located at the fairgrounds in Bassett on W. Highway 20, displays the heritage of Rock County. Exhibits include a pioneer home, the Cosgrove school house, St. Michael Catholic Church, and Chicago and Northwestern Depot with railroad artifacts including a caboose.