Benjamin Holladay, the Stagecoach King, who owned the world's largest stagecoach line, hired William Parker Carr as a hunter.
"The Republican River valley," Holladay said, "is a world-class place for game."
So Carr headed west, riding for miles. The Republican River wiggled and jiggled but its path, as a whole, ran straight.
Enormous flocks of birds cast shadows on Carr's path. Wild grasses undulated. Leaf-shedding trees hugged the river into a canopy that shimmered in the wind.
When Carr stopped, bird calls crescendoed, chirps and chatter, trills and twitters, warbles, whistles, and hoots.
Finding game was easy. Carr could kill hundreds and fail to dent the enormous herds. Elk covered more than an acre; scads of black-tailed and white-tailed deer and antelope dotted the plains.
Other game also flourished. Wild turkeys and rabbits, grouse and coyote had multiplied so that thinning seemed impossible.
All these zillions of creatures had been drawn to the valley for the same reason: a profusion of tender grasses and clear spring-fed creeks.
This lush paradise would become Harlan County. Ninety years later, I lived there.