A element of nature that influenced the place, be it animal or geographical feature …
Antelope: Guessing what this county is named for is easy. Guessing why may not be. Evidently an antelope kindly provided a meal for Leander Gerrard (of Platte County) and the company that he was with. They shot the antelope while on the trail of Indians.
Box Butte: Named for a rectangular butte located six miles north of Alliance.
Buffalo: In earlier times, buffalo herds used this land as a feeding ground.
Cedar: The trees that were in the region. (This is the county my grandparents used to live in – visited this great county often through the years!)
Garden: They longed for this county to be the “garden spot of the west.” This has only been a separate county since 1909.
I am not sure that it is garden-like, but it is pretty ..
Keya Paha County: This county is named for a river that can be found in the Northeast part of the county. In Sioux, the word ke’-ya means turtle and pa-ha’ means hill. River means wa-kpi’ in the Sioux language, but that part did not make it into the county name.
Loup: Named for the Pawnee Loup or Loup River that flows through the county.
Nemaha: Named for the Nemaha River. In the Oto language, Ni means water, and Maha means miry. Miry means swampy. (This was a new word to me or maybe I always spelled the word another way?)
Platte: The French translation of the Indian word meaning flat. First called “Loup” and only was the eastern part of today’s modern county. Monroe was the western half that was eventually absorbed into the Platte County.
Red Willow: This county should technically be named “Red Dogwood” because that is the correct translation of the Sioux word “Chan shasha Wakpala.” This plentiful shrub grew along the banks of the creek.
Rock: Rocky soil in this location. Although interestingly enough, this is also one of the counties where the Niobrara flows through …
Saline: For the supposed salt deposits in the area. This ended up being false. The interesting part of the story – the fight over the location of the county seat and the keeping of records. You can read more on Saline County’s historical page.
Scotts Bluff: The noted landmark in the area influenced the name of the county. (Of course, there was a person behind the name of the bluff: area trapper Hiram Scott who died at the base).
Valley: For the mostly valleys found in this county that is in between the higher table lands of the North Loup Valley that is around this county.