Farm Bureau - Melissa Wheeler

The North Bend Eagle


Rawhide Creek
At Dodge County Road 19, the Rawhide Creek is very much a creek, not something that can be said for the entirety of the Rawhide's 50-some mile journey from north of Schuyler to the Elkhorn River.

In search of the Rawhide Creek

by Nathan Arneal
Published 7/21/21


A map and pictures from Nathan's journey tracing the path ofthe Rawhide Creek from start to end

• Part 2 of the story: The guesome legend of Rawhide Creek

• Part 3 of the story: The Legend gets a local twist

The Rawhide Creek was once a significant feature of the local landscape, mentioned in diaries of pioneers as they crossed southern Dodge County, following trails west.

I had heard of the Rawhide Creek, but I had no idea where it was. I was pretty familiar with the ground north of town, but I could not point to any stream and say “That’s the Rawhide Creek,” and I was unaware of any sign on a bridge labeling the water underneath as the Rawhide.

I pictured it somewhere close to the northeast side of North Bend, you know, close to the Rawhide Steakhouse (now Leroy’s) which in my youthful mind was obviously connected. As it turns out, the steakhouse was named after the ‘60s TV western.

A couple of weeks ago I was driving out to Purple Cane Cemetery northwest of North Bend to take a picture for a story. There on my navigation map in my car was a blue line labeled “Rawhide Creek.”
Well, all be darn. It’s more than a pioneer legend.

So, much like Lewis and Clark, I decided to strike out and trace the path of this waterway that was once such a significant element of the local terrain.

My first goal was to find the origin of the Rawhide, the headwaters, if you will. I knew that would likely be out in the middle of a section, probably hidden from view from public roads. A drone might be nice to get a view in certain areas.

But did Lewis and Clark have a drone? No, they did not. So in the spirit of Lewis and Clark, I elected to forego modern technology such as drones and set out on my adventure armed with nothing more than a plat book, a notebook, and a satellite GPS map beamed from outer space to my air conditioned, four-wheel drive SUV. They got Sacagawea, I get Siri.

I noticed that the Rawhide did not show up on Google Maps, but it was labeled on the Apple Maps app on my iPhone, so that would become my guide. I scrolled west on that map until the Rawhide Creek disappeared. That happened just south of County Road R and west of County Road 14. So I left North Bend driving north.

Then I thought about it for a bit. County Road H was going to be way north of where I believed this creek to be, closer to Snyder than North Bend. Then I realized I was naively assuming that the lettered county roads were the same in Dodge and Colfax counties. They are most certainly not. I am sure Lewis and Clark ran into similar complications.

I turned west on County Road R two miles north of North Bend. At the Colfax County line, Road R becomes Road H. Westward I continued into this foreign landscape, with unknown dangers lurking around every corner. Probably.

The section of Road H adjacent to where my map shows the Rawhide beginning is a minimum maintenance road, a dirt path between a ditch and a bean field. The map shows the Rawhide Creek angling southwest through the cornfield to my south and ending in kind of a curl. I was able to climb a small bank along the ditch to get a look at the field. There was certainly no creek running through it, but I could see a depression winding its way through the field, a winding path where the corn was a little lower than the rest of the field. This, according to my map app, was the Rawhide Creek.

You see, the Rawhide Creek no longer exists as a single entity. In that sense it has very much as faded into history. Its route east to the Elkhorn River has been interrupted by cutoff ditches carved into the landscape decades ago to halt the advance of flooding. In some places, the original bed of the Rawhide is still very much a creek with water happily gurgling eastward. In other places, it is just a low spot running through a field, nothing more than a scar on the land. At some points the creek has been straightened by man to open up more farm ground.

Read the full story in the print or e-edition.


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