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Nebraska Counties Explorer

Red Willow County

Communities and Development

Red Willow County Seat: McCook (7,446)

Cities, Towns, and Villages (pop.): Bartley (270), Danbury (80), Lebanon (46)

Total County Population (2020): 10,702

  • Cities (pop. & class): Indianola (524 • 2nd Class), McCook (7,446 • 1st Class)
  • Villages (pop.): Bartley (270), Danbury (80), Lebanon (46)
  • Unincorporated Pop. (% of county pop.): 2,336 (22%)

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

  • Agriculture: 92%
    • By method: Pasture (pure grassland) (41%); Dryland (row crop/grain/forage) (39%); Irrigated (row crop/grain/forage) (12%) • Neb. Dept. of Rev. - total equals agriculture's %
    • By commodity: Livestock (grassland) 42%, Corn 24%, Wheat 8%, Sorghum 7%, Soybeans 3%, Alfalfa 2% • USDA - equals agriculture's % plus some fallow land (8%) and some wetlands (2%) and minus public grassland/wetlands and reserve
  • Residential, Commercial, Industrial, Conservation Reserve & Exempt (combined): 6%
  • Timber: 2%

County Offices

Courthouse Address and Hours:

502 Norris Avenue
McCook, Nebraska 69001
M-F 8:00 am - 4:00 pm

County Board Chairperson: Ted Gans

Complete list of county board members

County Board Meetings: First 4 Mondays

View the County's Government Maps

Visit the County Fairgrounds

NACO District: West Central

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 Red Willow County (south of McCook)


Population: 10,702
Land area (sq. mi.): 717.01
Population per square mile: 14.9

Race and Age


White: 89.1%
African American: 1.0%
American Indian: 0.3%
Asian: 0.4%
Hispanic: 6.4%
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 0.1%
Two or More Races: 2.5%


0-17: 22.2%
18-64: 56.6%
65+: 21.2%


Personal income per capita: $53,974
% of Population in Poverty: 9.5%
# of Housing Units: 5,157
Owner-occupied rate: 71.8%
Median home price: $134,180


Access to broadband (100 Mbps via fiber or cable modem): 33.4%

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

Employment, Schools, and Child Care

Unemployment rate: 1.8% (as of September 2022)

County Employment Website:

High school graduate or higher: 93.9%

School Districts: Cambridge Public Schools, Hitchcock County Schools System, McCook Public Schools, Southwest Public Schools

Countywide child care capacity: 23 providers; 502 children

Bachelor's degree or higher: 23.2%

Community College Service Area: Mid-Plains Community College

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

Red Willow County Economy

Annual Gross Domestic Product (2020): $550,227,000

Cattle Producers: 134

  • Pastureland Cash Rent (avg.): $24/acre

Crop Producers: 105

  • Dryland Cash Rent (avg.): $69/acre
  • Irrigated Land Cash Rent (avg.): $198/acre

Grain Co-ops and Purchasers: Ag Valley, DCA, FVC

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

Farmers Market: Heritage Local Co. (March - December - order on weekends, then pick-up 4:40 - 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays)

Oil Wells Producing (barrels of oil/yr): 196 wells (153,227 barrels)

Electricity Providers: City of Indianola, McCook PPD, Nebraska PPD, Southwest PPD, Twin Valleys PPD, Village Bartley

Wind Turbines Operating (MW): 1 turbine (MW unknown)

Rail-served Communities: Bartley, Dunbury, Indianola, Lebanon, McCook

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

Total Irrigation/Livestock Wells: 1,064

Surface Water Diversions (Irrigation): 56

Click for real time:

Streamflow data on Driftwood Creek near McCook

Streamflow data on the Republican River at McCook

Streamflow data on Red Willow Creek near Red Willow

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: $0.3078 per $100 of taxable valuation

County property taxes levied: $4,221,524

Total local government property taxes levied: $20,907,593

Total countywide taxable valuation: $1,371,667,683

Federal PILT payment to Red Willow County (FY2022): $3,734 regarding 1,271 federally-owned acres

Click here for all levy rates in Red Willow 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: Dave Murman (District 38)

Standing Committees (click for scheduled committee hearings): 

Select Committees:

  • Committee on Committees

Map and statistics for Legislative District 38

Map of all districts in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Red Willow County History

Number of Registered Historic Places: 10

Year Authorized: 1873

Year Organized: 1873

Etymology: Red Willow Creek (possible mistranslation of "Red Dogwood Creek")

Red Willow County received its name from Red Willow Creek, which runs through this area of Southwest Nebraska. It has been reported, however, that the name is actually a mistranslation of the Dakota Indian name "Chanshasha Wakpala," which literally means Red Dogwood Creek. The Dakotans referred to the creek as such because of an abundance of the red dogwood shrub that grew along the creek banks.

Before this area would become a county, an exploration company was formed in Nebraska City for the express purpose of establishing a settlement somewhere in the Republican River Valley. In 1871 the party decided on an area at the mouth of the Red Willow Creek. A surveyor was hired to lay out a town patterned after Lincoln, with large, wide streets.

The county was officially organized in 1873. That same year the town of Indianola was laid out along Coon Creek. Indianola and Red Willow each wanted to secure the greatest number of settlers and become the county seat. Following an aggressive campaign, the Indianola ticket was victorious over the Red Willow ticket.

The election results were quickly contested by Red Willow supporters and the case went before a justice of the peace in neighboring Furnas County. Indianola supporters would not recognize the justice's authority and refused to appear. The justice declared the election was illegal and Red Willow immediately sought control of the county. Red Willow supporters went to Indianola and took the county records and county seal by force. Tempers eventually subsided and the records were returned to Indianola, which remained the county seat until it was moved to McCook in 1896.

The residents of McCook constructed a courthouse that was "sufficient in all respects at the time for the demands of the county." Continued growth and development in the area forced the county to raze the building in 1926 and construct the current courthouse. In 1990 an extensive remodeling project was set into motion and the building was rededicated by county officials last year.

Kiplinger Arena, located within the Red Willow County Fairgrounds, is a nearly 17,000-square-foot indoor venue for all seasons, hosting a wide variety of events throughout the year: rodeos, equestrian events, roping events, barrel racing, team penning, as well as livestock, implement, and other expos. Kiplinger Arena draws tens of thousands of visitors each year to Red Willow County, showcasing the area’s western heritage and local culture. The arena was built with funds donated by local rancher and philanthropist Tom Kiplinger, for whom the facility is named.  Tom also provided funds for the Alice Building, which is named for his mother, the Trudy Building, named for his companion, Luke’s Barn, and Deb’s Addition, among others.

Communities and Development

License Plate Number: 48

Time Zone: Central

Number of Veterans: 728

Zoned County: Yes

Number of County-Owned Bridges: 42

Number of County-Owned Dams: 5

Election Data

General Election Turnout (2022): 57.50%

Total Registered Voters (2020): 7,261

Number of Precincts (2020): 13

Number of Election Day Polling Places (2020): 4

Land Area per Polling Place (avg.) (2020): 179.25 sq. miles

Intergovernmental Data

Emergency Mgt. Planning, Exercise and Training (PET) Region: Southwest

Natural Resource District: Middle Republican NRD

State Lands (acres): Burton's Bend WMA (77 Furnas, Harlan & Red Willow), McCook Rest Area (21.9), Red Willow Diversion Dam WMA (56.10), Red Willow Reservoir WMA (4,591 Frontier & Red Willow)

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)