US Counties Colored by Area
Looking at a map of counties and county equivalents in the United States, I noticed a few things about county size that stand out to me.
- The counties near the Mississippi and Ohio rivers seem to be extremely small.
- Counties in and west of the Rockies are pretty big.
- Three areas east of the Rockies seem to have pretty counties too big too.
- Three are in northern Maine.
- Aroostook County
- Somerset County
- Piscataquis County
- One is in northern Minnesota
- One is in Nebraska
The counties in northern Maine are near the Canadian border and are mostly wilderness, so that most likely explains their size. Aroostook County has an interesting history involving the Aroostook war, and is known locally as “The County”. (Check out the Wikipedia entry)
St. Louis County, Minnesota is an interesting place as well, it contains a national forest (which contains its own national wilderness area), and a national park. It also includes the Laurentian Divide tri-point, where water can flow to the Gulf of Mexico, the Saint Lawrence River, or the Arctic Ocean.
Counties of Nebraska
Cherry County stood out to me because it is right in the center of the map and is far larger than any county in Nebraska. Cherry County is 15,564 square kilometers in size, where the next largest county, Custer County is 6,672 square kilometers. This means more than two Custer Counties would fit into Cherry County. For more comparison, the state of Connecticut is only 14,356 square kilometers.
I couldn’t find a good reason for its size, the county was created from unorganized territory and at the time it was created, most of the present-day counties surrounding it were also unorganized. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_counties_in_Nebraska, http://www.casde.unl.edu/history/counties/cherry/valentine/index.php)
In 1911 there was a plan to break up Cherry County into 5 distinct counties. This would make administering the county a little easier, and give many residents easier access to their county seat. The plan was voted against, and the county still remains the largest in Nebraska.
The Snake River Falls are said to be the largest in Nebraska. I was unable to find photos of the waterfalls that weren’t copyrighted, but you can search with google. There is also a water fall called the Schlegel Creek Falls within the County. I found a book with some more information here.
Another oddity with Cherry County is that it falls in both the Central and the Mountain Time zone. This created more of a reason as to why the county would like to be split into two, or five parts!
I was able to find a website with time zone maps. I combined the county map and time zone map to create the following map. The county boundary is in blue, and the time zone line is in red.
View Larger Map
I’m sure there’s a lot more cool stuff going on in Cherry County, Nebraska. Maybe one day I’ll travel there, or get the urge to write more about it. Until then, Enjoy!