"Western Gateway to the Calamus" is an apt description recently given Taylor and Loup County. The new Calamus Reservoir lies almost exclusively in Loup County and is readily accessible from Taylor. The Calamus Lake, key feature of the North Loup Irrigation Project, was begun in 1980 and completed in 1985. Loup County sacrificed about 8,660 acres to the new recreational hotspot.
This story is about both Taylor and Loup County, since Taylor is not only the county seat but the only town left. At present Loup County's population is under 800 while Taylor's holds fairly steady at 280. The Almeria area remains important, and its community hall serves the citizenry as a gathering place.
Taylor currently boasts a fair number of businesses and services for a town its size. Its most prominent landmark, the Pavillion Hotel, celebrated its centennial in 1987. The hotel is still in use, as it houses "The Prairie Pantry," a distribution center. Taylor also has a gas station mini-mart, grocery, bank, new community center, cable TV/appliance center, plus beauty, antique, and repair shops, two cafes, a bar, two motels, lawyer's office, school, public library, and the Region 26 Telecommunications Center. The primary business is of course that surrounding the courthouse and county offices.
The 90-member Loup County Promotion Association was formed in May 1986 after the town's only grocery had burned in February. Its steering committee was able to convince a couple to establish here, and on March 21, 1987, the Taylor Market officially opened.
The long-dormant Loup County Historical Society also resurfaced in 1986. Society members have worked hard to make their Log Cabin Museum the grand spot it once was. A directory has been made of all seven Loup County cemeteries.
The county supports three churches, and sports a very active V.F.W. and Auxiliary, Lions Club, Farm Bureau, six 4-H clubs,and eight women's groups.
The Loup County Fair, held annually the second week in August, attracts a huge crowd for its exhibits, parades, and free entertainment. In 1951 the first school alumni banquet was held and it now attracts an average 300 graduates back to the Marcia Smith Auditorium each October. There is also a rodeo arena, two parks, and a camp grounds in Taylor. Loup County is excellent cattle country and there are several well-known ranches.
Both Taylor and Loup County were organized in 1883. The county was formed in February and the original town of Taylor was surveyed and platted in the fall. Founders Joseph and Josephine Rusho chose to name the town "Taylor" after a friend, Edward H.Taylor.
Taylor managed to win the 1883 county seat election by two votes over Almeria. Kent, Loup County's first settlement, thrived as a temporary county seat but soon faded with Taylor's victory. "The Clarion," Loup County's paper, was begun at Kent in 1883, and is still published today.
White settlement began here in the early 1870s and the river valleys were already populated in the 1880s. However, since much of the county's terrain is sand hills, it wasn't until after the Kinkaid Act that these parts were truly settled. The April 21, 1904, edition of the "Taylor Clarion" proclaimed that, 207,780 acres of Loup County land would be up for grabs under the Kinkaid laws.
The county's population swelled and reached a peak of 2,188 in 1910, but has since declined with every subsequent ten-year census. At one time, Loup County had 42 organized school districts; now there is but one, a fully accredited K-12 district operating in Taylor. The reorganization election was held in 1971 and went into effect with the 1972-73 school term. The new elementary school was completed in 1981.
Loup County may well hold the record for having the most miles of railroad grade built within its boundaries, but never having an inch of track laid. Extensions from branch lines at Sargent and Burwell were both anticipated between 1887 and 1920, but never came to fruition.
With a stronger agricultural economy, increased tourism, and a new recreational facility at hand, this Sandhills county and its people look forward to their second century.
By Kevin Brown, Box 102, Taylor, NE 68879
ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: Valleyview Ladies Club Presents Its 55th Year Community History of Nunda, Valleyview, Gracie, and Dry Creek, Brown, 1979; Compendium of History, Reminiscence, and Biography of Western Nebraska, Alden, 1909; Kent, 1978; Trail of the Loup Foght, 1906; Pilgrims of the North Loup Valley, Garrison, 1956; Loup County Guide and History, 1965; and Supplement , Centennial Committee, 1967; Loup County - Taylor Centennial Book, 1883-1983 , Centennial Committee 1984; The Settlement of Loup and Blaine Counties, Switzer, 1977; and Who's Who in Nebraska, 1940 , see Loup County.