The Bow Creek Watershed contains 392,574 acres in portions of Cedar, Dixon, and Knox Counties. A rich history extends back to before the days of Lewis and Clark. Clark’s journal entry on August 26, 1804 mentions Bow Creek, writing, “above the mouth of this creek a Chief of the Maha Nation displeased with the conduct of Black Bird, the main chief, came to this place and built a town which was called by his name Petite Arc (or Little Bow)...we gathered great quantities of grapes and three types of plumbs, one yellow round, one oval and one the common wild plumb.”
The Bow Creek area was settled in the late 1850s by those seeking an opportunity to make a living on the fertile soils. Communities are still supported by those looking for an opportunity to make a living in the area. The Bow Creek watershed supports many agriculture related businesses, from farms and ranches to ag retailers. A variety of other businesses can be found in the current communities of Hartington, Crofton, Wynot, Fordyce, St. Helena, Bow Valley and Aten, creating jobs and providing everything citizens need locally. The heart of any rural community is the school. Bow Creek students attend several schools in or around the Bow Creek watershed, bringing excellence to academic and extra-curricular activities.
Bow Creek is as much a part of these communities as the people. It is a source for recreation and agriculture use, and many residents have fond memories of growing up here that include Bow Creek. Bow Creek has changed since the days of Petite Arc. Nebraska’s Water Quality Standards identify 24 Title 117 (impaired) stream segments in the Bow Creek Watershed. The Lewis & Clark NRD included Bow Creek in the 2019 Water Quality Management Plan (WQMP) to address the impairments. With grant funding from Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy and the Nebraska Environmental Trust, the Bow Creek Watershed Project will implement Best Management Practices in the Bow Creek Watershed to increase water quality and ensure future generations can continue to enjoy Bow Creek.