For several years before and after 1880, this region was the scene of great tragedy due to the struggle between gangs of horse thieves and the vigilantes. "Doc" Middleton, leader of the most notorious horse thief gang, was captured and sent to prison in 1879. "Kid" Wade, the most famous of Middleton's followers, had eluded the officers for many months; but he was finally captured and hanged by a lynching party at Bassett, just east of Ainsworth.
Ainsworth is named for Captain James E. Ainsworth, chief construction engineer of the Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley Railroad, who arrived at the town site in June 1882. Pioneers were pushing west, setting up shops and businesses. Many also were filing for homesteads on the freeland, claiming 160 acres under provisions that certain improvements be made. Ainsworth was incorporated as a village on December 2, 1883.
Ainsworth was the site of Brown County's special commissioners' meeting in 1883. Brown County, whose northern border is the Niobrara River, was established by the Legislature on February 19, 1883, and originally included what is now Rock and Keya Paha counties. It was named for two members of the Legislature by the name of Brown, who carried the bill to organize the county. Towns include Ainsworth (county seat), Johnstown, and Long Pine.
By 1885 the town covered nearly 30 blocks, and Main Street was crowded with shops.
Merritt Dam, 72 miles from Ainsworth, was dedicated in 1964. It provides irrigation to 34,500 acres of farmland north and east of town. To the south and west of town are the beautiful Sandhills, covered with many different grasses, wild flowers and shrubs. Canoeing the Niobrara is a great asset to our community.
Today, Ainsworth is the home of many businesses and is a major trade center for the surrounding area.
The Ainsworth Area Chamber of Commerce and the North Central Development Center work with the city to promote industrial development in the area. Approximately 500 acres of land in and adjacent to Ainsworth are zoned for industry. The price of industrially zoned land ranges from $1,000 to $1,500 per acre.
||Ainsworth Municipal Golf Course. This is a 9-hole grass greens course with clubhouse located six miles west of Ainsworth on Highway 20.|
||130-capacity pool located in the East City Park.|
||Two lighted courts in the East City Park.|
||Court available in the East City park.|
||24 regulation, lighted courts in the East City Park, home of the 1986 and 1998 World Horseshoe Tournament.|
||Excellent fishing at nearby Pine Creek (trout), Plum Creek (trout), Keller Park, and sandhill lakes (pan fish). The Niobrara River, located 15 miles north of Ainsworth, has catfish.|
||Deer, antelope, pheasant, quail, grouse, dove, duck, and turkey are available in the immediate area.|
||Wurth Bowl, located on East Highway 20, features 8 lanes.|
||Royal Theater, 126 E. 2nd, with 254 person seating capacity.|
||Numerous nearby sandhill lakes provide pleasure in the summer for boaters and water skiers. In addition to natural lakes, Merritt Reservoir and Calamus Reservoir are also available for boating, fishing, and water skiing. Canoe trips are popular on the Niobrara River, just north of Ainsworth.|
||Keller State Park and Long Pine State Park offer camping. State park permits are required. An RV Dump is located at the East City Park.|
||Sellors Barton Museum holds historical artifacts and an interpretive display about the sandhills. The Coleman House contains clothing, furniture, memorabilia, a genealogical file, and other Brown County historical information.|
|Rodeo Bible Camp - Senior Camp
Long Pine Bluegrass Festival
|The "Middle of Nowhere" Celebration, Alumni Weekend, Carnival Days, and Rodeo Bible Camp - Junior Camp.|
|Meadville 4th of July Celebration
K-BAR Country Bicycling Tour
Sandhills Discovery Experience
|The National Country Music Festival. Ainsworth was proclaimed "Country Music Capital of Nebraska" in November of 1992. Thousands of people enjoy this annual festival the second weekend of August.|
|Brown County Fair held Labor Day Weekend with Top Entertainment in concert and Long Pine Fall Festival|
|Ainsworth becomes the Christmas City of the Sandhills and presents a live Christmas pageant the first Sunday of the month.|
|Annual Polar Bear Dip at Meadville.|
|Super 8 Motel||East Highway 20||(402) 387-0700|
|Skinner's Motor Court||215 South Main||(402) 387-2021|
|Ainsworth Inn Bed & Breakfast||400 North Main||(402) 387-0408|
|Upper Room Bed & Breakfast||409 N. Wilson St.||(402) 387 0107|
|Comfort Inn and RV||East Highway 20||(888) 757 1050|
|Pizza Hut||East Hwy. 20||(402) 387-1830|
|Depot Restaurant||223 North Main||(402) 387-1201|
|D & B Cafe||202 North Richardson||(402) 387-9902|
|Our Place Steakhouse & Lounge||East Hwy. 20||(402) 387-0690|
|Big John's||East Hwy. 20||(402) 387-0500|
|For more information on Brown County,
|Ainsworth Area Chamber of Commerce
335 North Main, Ainsworth, Nebraska 69210
Phone: (402) 387-2740