Thursday, June 30, 2016

Ayres Natural Bridge

One discovery that my wife and I made in Wyoming is the Ayres Natural Bridge. Located about fifteen minutes west of Douglas and a short distance from the Oregon Trail, the Ayres Natural Bridge is a stone arch that spans LaPrele Creek. It’s a wonderful meditative spot where it is possible to be bewitched by the rush of water passing underneath and by the reflections from the water on the rock arch. The native tribes in the area believed that something evil lived beneath the bridge and avoided the area for that reason.  This place then became a kind of sanctuary for those travelers on the Oregon trail. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Willa Cather and Webster County

Webster County and the town of Red Cloud in Nebraska have done a lot to remember Willa Cather, a writer most known for her novels set in Nebraska, that is, O Pioneers! and My Antonia.  Just across the border from Kansas on highway US 281 is the Willa Cather Memorial Prairie, which has remained undisturbed by a plow and commemorates the prairie that Willa Cather first discovered in 1883 at the age of nine.  Within the town of Red Cloud, the community has maintained the houses where her family once lived and devotes one or two building in the downtown area to the preservation of Cather's memory and her novels.

The prairie preserve is particularly pretty and worthy of a stop when traveling either north or south on US 281. It's a great place to sit and admire the view of undisturbed grassland and to feel the wind and listen for the meadowlarks. I especially like watching the wind in the movement of the grass.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Heading West

My wife and I recently took a two-week road trip through four states—Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Nebraska. I will be sharing some of my pictures from that trip over the next few weeks.

Prior to the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, the Euro-Americans seeking to settle somewhere in Oregon or Washington joined one of the wagon trains that started in places like Independence, Missouri, St. Joseph, Missouri, or Leavenworth, Kansas and followed the Oregon Trail as it wound its way through Nebraska and Wyoming.  

Most wagon trains started in the spring and used certain landmarks along the way to signify their progress. By late June, many of the wagons had passed Chimney Rock, what was once known as Elk Penis by one of the local tribes, and Scottsbluff, which is near the border between Nebraska and Wyoming. 

It is now possible to drive to the top of Scottsbluff. The circular road pictured below moves through a series of tunnels before it reaches the top of the bluff. 

The wagon trains left ruts in the rock near Guernsey, Wyoming.