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Nebraska Counties Explorer

Keith County

Communities and Development

Keith County Seat: Ogallala

Total County Population (2020): 8,335

  • Cities (pop. & class): Ogallala (4,878 • 1st Class)
  • Villages (pop.): Brule (331), Paxton (516)
  • Unincorporated Pop. (% of county pop.): 3,126 (38%)

Land Development (2022) (% of total land in county):

  • Agriculture: 90%
    • By method: Pasture (pure grassland) (58%); Irrigated (row crop/grain/forage) (16%); Dryland (row crop/grain/forage) (16%) • Neb. Dept. of Rev. - total equals agriculture's %
    • By commodity: Livestock (private grassland; no conserv. res.) 59%, Corn 19%, Wheat 4%, Soybeans 4%, Alfalfa 1%, Popcorn 1% • USDA - total equals agricultures %
  • Residential, Commercial, Industrial, Conservation Reserve & Exempt (combined): 10%

County Offices

Courthouse Address and Hours:

511 North Spruce Street
Ogallala, Nebraska 69153
M-F 8:00 am - 4:00 pm

County Board Chairperson: Lane Anderson

Complete list of county board members

County Board Meetings: Wednesday

View the County's Government Maps

Visit the County Fairgrounds

President: Corey Crandall, Keith County Commissioner

First Vice President: Ron Wertz, Hitchcock County Commissioner

Second Vice President: Chris Bruns, Lincoln County Commissioner

Secretary/Treasurer: Sandy Olson, Keith County Clerk

NACO Board Representative: Corey Crandall, Keith County Commissioner

Click for a live look at Keith County (south of Paxton)


Population: 8,335
Land area (sq. mi.): 1,061.74
Population per square mile: 7.9

Race and Age


White: 86.8%
African American: 0.2%
American Indian: 0.2%
Asian: 0.5%
Hispanic: 9.0%
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 0.1%
Two or More Races: 3.1%


0-17: 21.1%
18-64: 51.8%
65+: 27.1%


Personal income per capita: $52,394
% of Population in Poverty: 11.7%
# of Housing Units: 5,342
Owner-occupied rate: 73.1%
Median home price: $159,460


Access to broadband (100 Mbps via fiber or cable modem): 79.8%

Sources: National Association of RealtorsNebraska Library Commission, U.S. Bureau of Economic AnalysisU.S. Census Bureau

Employment, Schools, and Child Care

Unemployment rate: 1.5% (as of September 2022)

County Employment Website:

High school graduate or higher: 90.0%

School Districts: Arthur County Schools, Garden County Schools, Ogallala Public Schools, Paxton Consolidated Schools, Perkins County Schools, South Platte Public Schools

Bachelor's degree or higher: 19.3%

Community College Service Area: Mid-Plains Community College

Countywide child care capacity: 14 providers; 238 children

Find child care: For a list of child care providers in your zip code, visit Nebraska DHHS or the Nebraska Resource and Referral System.

Keith County Economy

Annual Gross Domestic Product (2020): $393,621,000

Cattle Producers: 114

  • Pastureland Cash Rent (avg.): $15/acre

Crop Producers: 138

  • Dryland Cash Rent (avg.): $49/acre
  • Irrigated Land Cash Rent (avg.): $189/acre

Grain Co-ops and Purchasers: CHS, Hi Line Co-op 

Local Grain Market: Click for today's grain prices in Keith County

Farmers Market: Ogallala Farmers Market (July - October, Saturdays 8 AM - 12 PM)

Electricity Providers: Midwest Electric Member Corp., Nebraska PPD, Wheat Belt PPD

Rail-served Communities: Brule, Lemoyne, Ogallala, Roscoe, Ruthon, Paxton

Well Locations (Irrigation/Livestock), Soils, Groundwater & Surface Water

Total Irrigation/Livestock Wells: 1,596

Surface Water Diversions (Irrigation): 59

Click for real time:

Streamflow data on the South Platte River at Roscoe

Groundwater level data near N. Keystone Sarben Rd. & E. County Rd. L (12.5 mi. northeast of Ogallala)

Sources: National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA), Nebraska Cooperative Council, Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary EducationNebraska Department of TransportationNebraska Office of the CIO, Nebraska Power Review Board, U.S. Bureau of Economic AnalysisU.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau

2022 Levies and Valuation

County levy rate: $0.2417 per $100 of taxable valuation

County property taxes levied: $5,038,874

Total local government property taxes levied: $27,233,569

Total countywide taxable valuation: $2,084,466,328

Click here for all levy rates in Keith County

County Levy and Taxation Laws

Levy limits

Since 1996, counties and other political subdivisions have been subject to the levy limits listed in Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-3442 and Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-3443.

Statutes and regulations

Nebraska Revised Statutes (Chapter 77)

Nebraska Administrative Code (Title 350)

Local tax reductions, exemptions, and credits

Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-902(5)(a) (Deed "stamp tax" exemption): "The [stamp tax] shall not apply to: ... (5)(a) Deeds between spouses, between ex-spouses for the purpose of conveying any rights to property acquired or held during the marriage, or between parent and child, without actual consideration therefor."

Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-201(2) (Valuation of agricultural land and horticultural land): "Agricultural land and horticultural land as defined in section 77-1359 shall constitute a separate and distinct class of property for purposes of property taxation, shall be subject to taxation, unless expressly exempt from taxation, and shall be valued at seventy-five percent of its actual value, except that for school district taxes levied to pay the principal and interest on bonds that are approved by a vote of the people on or after January 1, 2022, such land shall be valued at fifty percent of its actual value."

Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-6703(1) (Tax credit for school district taxes paid): "(1) For taxable years beginning or deemed to begin on or after January 1, 2020, under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, there shall be allowed to each eligible taxpayer a refundable credit against the income tax imposed by the Nebraska Revenue Act of 1967 or against the franchise tax imposed by sections 77-3801 to 77-3807. The credit shall be equal to the credit percentage for the taxable year, as set by the department under subsection (2) of this section, multiplied by the amount of school district taxes paid by the eligible taxpayer during such taxable year."

Sources: Nebraska Department of Revenue

State Senator: Steve Erdman (District 47)

Standing Committees (click for scheduled committee hearings): 

Select Committees:

  • Rules (chairperson)
  • Committee on Committees

Map and statistics for Legislative District 47

Map of all districts in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Keith County History

Number of Registered Historic Places: 13

Year Authorized: 1873

Year Organized: 1873

Etymology: M.C. Keith (rancher)

     The colorful history of Keith County is the story of how trails, rails, and roads crisscrossed the county, re-creating it each time. The wagon trails to the West came first, most prominently, the Oregon and Mormon trails. While many people passed through the county, others stayed and built homesteads while others saw the trail as an opportunity to become merchants and suppliers. Next, the railroad lines stretched through the middle of Nebraska, connecting the coasts and delivering freight across the Great Plains. The Texas-Ogallala cattle drive trail also cut directly through the heart of Keith County, delivering hundreds of thousands of cattle to various railroad destinations, in particular, Ogalla. Finally, the interstate system witnessed the consolidation of east-west traffic across the county and region in the mid-twentieth century. Each a time a new form of transportation entered Keith County, new industries and communities sprang up.

     Originally, Keith County was the territory inhabited by several Native American tribes (most notably, the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapahoe) for hundreds of years prior to European settlement. Following the Louisiana Purchase (and the subsequent Lewis and Clark expedition) and the discovery of gold in California in the mid-nineteenth century, settlers began passing through and settling Nebraska territory. 

     In 1873, the Legislature organized the county, naming it after M.C. Keith, who owned one of the largest ranches in the area; Keith would later become the grandfather of Keith Neville, nicknamed “The Boy Governor” for his young age, who filled the gubernatorial office from 1917-1919. Ogallala, founded in 1868 and renown for being the terminus of innumerable cattle drives, became the county seat. Interestingly, while many other Nebraska cities experienced population booms during the late nineteenth century, Ogallala’s population stagnated around five hundred people until the 1920’s. After that, the population of the city (and overall county) increased by several thousand over the next several decades, which was in contrast to the growth patterns of many other rural counties.

     Finally, the story of Keith County is not only the story of trails and roads, but also water—both above and below ground. The North Platte River and Lake McConaughy are the most prominent water features, but the Ogallala Aquifer, spreading below the county (and stretching down to Texas), is the defining feature permitting farming in western Nebraska. In fact, some of the deepest parts of the Ogallala Aquifer are in upper central Nebraska.

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Local Highlights

License Plate Number: 68

Time Zone: Mountain

Number of Veterans: 628

Zoned County: Yes

Number of County-Owned Bridges: 30

Election Data

General Election Turnout % (2022): 50.32%

Total Registered Voters (2020): 6,107

Number of Precincts (2020): 11

Number of Election Day Polling Places (2020): 4

Land Area per Polling Place (2020): 265.44 sq. miles

Intergovernmental Data

Emergency Mgt. Planning, Exercise and Training (PET) Region: North Central/Sandhills

Natural Resource District: Twin Platte NRD

State Lands (acres): Lake McConaughy SRA (37,032.77), Lake Ogallala SRA (559), Ogallala Rest Area EB (14.6), Ogallala Rest Area WB (13.2), Ogallala Strip WMA (456.04), Water Research Lab (1,120)

Sources: Nebraska Department of Transportation, Nebraska Emergency Management AgencyNebraska Game & Parks CommissionNebraska LegislatureNebraska Office of the CIONebraska Secretary of StateU.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (eCFR)