Kimball's History


Caboose Park reminds citizens that Kimball traces its history back to 1867 when the Union Pacific Railroad construction reached the site of the present day town's location. The railroad established a station, calling it Antelope, because large herds of antelope roamed in the area, and the tiny settlement of Antelopeville sprang up beside it. For a number of years, the only activity in the vicinity consisted of railroad crews stopping for food and rest, and the huge Bay State Livestock Company cattle operation. In 1877, the little town's first post office was established, and in 1881, the first school was started through the efforts of Mary Lynch, wife of a section foreman for the railroad.

The Union Pacific began selling off its land in 1884, opening the way for settlement. By the end of 1885, the town had a hotel, two professional offices, a newspaper, several retail shops and a new name - Kimball. The new name came from an official of the Union Pacific Railroad, Thomas L. Kimball, later to become vice-president and general manager of the railroad.

Kimball County was established in 1889 and its first courthouse was built in 1890 on the city park land. Kimball's history fell into cycles of boom years followed by bust years. During boom years, population grew, agriculture thrived, and commerce flourished. Hard times and declining population typically accompanied drought, poor agricultural production and/or low prices for farm commodities. Each period of growth surpassed the previous boom, and there has been overall, if erratic general expansion of the population and production of the county.

The Homestead Act and the Kincaid Act fostered the settlement of Kimball County in the early years from 1885 - 1910. Farming was the major source of revenue, and this improved dramatically when irrigation was developed. As the farmers prospered, so did the local businessmen and economic development advanced rapidly.  It was during this period that Kimball's first manufacturing plant began operating. Pat Maginnis, a blacksmith in Kimball's earliest days, patented an irrigation flume, a trough designed to carry irrigation water across ravines. Flumes were manufactured in his factory in Kimball for export to many locations in the U.S. and abroad.

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