The Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad, the driving force behind settlement, created and promoted most of the towns in this county on the Kansas border, which came into existence in 1889. Of thirty-seven post office towns, only six still appear on highway maps. Some architectural treasures survive, such as the Immanuel Lutheran Church (1926), one of the larger frame prairie churches, north of Bethune. Water from the Ogalalla Aquifer has sustained wheat, corn, sunflowers, and other crops. Cattle are also a major industry. County seat Burlington has created a historic village to attract tourists.
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