Sunday, March 27, 2016

Taking A Sunday Drive #21

If you have traveled through Nebraska on Interstate 80 in the past fifteen years, you have driven beneath the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument. It spans both sides of the interstate about three miles east of Kearney. We stopped to tour it on the way home from Colorado.

An escalator takes visitors up into the museum in the arch where the different time periods are displayed.

A team of oxen pulling a Conestoga wagon on the Oregon Trail.

Later the Lincoln Highway followed the same route.

And tourist cabins provided accommodations for travelers.

There were many more scenes in this self-guided audio tour. I only took pictures of some of my favorites.

The Archway is very interesting and I'm glad we took the time to tour it.

Because of its proximity, Nebraska is one of those states we've visited many times, from Nebraska City and Brownsville in the southeast to Alliance's Carhenge in the west, the SAC museum near Lincoln, the state's waterfalls near Valentine and Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, there's much to see and do.

 In 2005 we took a long weekend trip to Western Nebraska, following a scenic byway near the original Oregon Trail much of the way to Scottsbluff where we drove through the national monument taking the road up to Saddle Rock and viewing Mitchell Pass in the distance.

There was a path to where you could still see some of the ruts made by the wagons on the Oregon Trail.

With Scottsbluff as our base, we toured other sites in the area including Chimney Rock, faintly visible in this picture just above the "Warning, Rattlesnakes are common in this area" sign.
The visitor's center at Chimney Rock National Historic Site had photos showing how much the rock has eroded since the early days.

Jailhouse and Courthouse Rocks in the background with an irrigated field of alfalfa in front. These landmarks have also lost a lot of their stature.

Something you do not expect to see in Nebraska - a lighthouse! This is at Lake Minatare northeast of Scottsbluff. It was built in 1939 by the Veterans Conservation Corps as a shelter house and an observation tower. The tower is 55 feet high and I did make it to the top for a lovely view over the nearly 3000 acre state recreation area.

On our way to Fort Robinson we stopped at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument where, after viewing the fossil exhibits and the Cook collection of Native American artifacts in the visitor center, we hiked out toward the Miocene Epoch mammal sites where so many of the fossils had been found.
On the way, we crossed a small foot bridge and I walked over the headwaters of the Niobrara River - a small stream which becomes a favorite canoeing and tubing river from which you can see some of those aforementioned Nebraska waterfalls around Valentine.

Bud standing next to the plaque marking the spot where Sioux warrior, Crazy Horse, was killed September 5, 1877. A reconstructed guardhouse is in the background.
Formerly an army fort, Fort Robinson is now a state park.

This sod house is at the bottom of Windlass Hill at Ash Hollow State Park near Lewellen.
It was a steep descent for the early pioneers, but once in the hollow they found shade, fresh spring water and a place to rest before journeying on.

This journey from Iowa to western Nebraska took us only a few hours. It was one that was quite enlightening. It made me glad I wasn't a pioneer after all.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the preview of what we'll see in Kearney soon! We won't be traveling any further west. That is a long haul for us old home bodies.