Mile 395: Cozad, NE

“In 1879 the explorer and geologist John Wesley Powell, later the director of the U.S. Geological Survey, established the 100th meridian as the “moisture line,” often locally called the ‘dry line,’ separating the relatively fertile plains of eastern Nebraska and the arid scrub country to the west. (In Nebraska, an average of twenty-two to twenty-eight inches of rain falls annually east of the 100th meridian; twelve to sixteen inches falls to the west.) Revisions to the Homesteading Act under Theodore Roosevelt—a pro-rancher Republican—allowed settlers west of the 100th meridian to claim a full section of 640 acres instead of the original 160 acres, because the drier land was so much less productive, and this is one reason why eastern Nebraska is cropped, and western Nebraska is mostly cattle country  In nearby Cozad there is a historical marker on Route 30 at the 100th meridian, where the Oregon Trail, the Pony Express route, the transcontinental Union Pacific, the Lincoln Highway, and modern interstate Route 80 intersect. The Concord coaches of the Central California & Pikes Peak Express Company, later the Overland Mail Company, ran nearby.”

[Note: Cozad is north of the XP Trail at about Mile 395. The monuments referred to appear to be along a loop of Meridian Avenue that runs just south of Hwy 30, Between Meridian and F Street. There is also a 100th Meridian museum (https://www.cozadhistory.org) and Willow Creek Pony Express Station in Cozad City Park (9th and F Streets).]