Monday, April 23, 2012

Nebraska. From Seward west to Kearney

A little history.In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act created the Nebraska Territory out a portion of Louisiana Purchase (1803)lands that were north of the 40th parallel. The 40th parallel became the southern border of the eventual state of Nebraska. Since Congress wanted to create new states of as similar a size as possible, it created Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota to each be three degrees of height so they would be of similar size plus fit neatly between Kansas and Canada. The eastern border of Nebraska is the Missouri River. The western border is 104* of longitude which was the eastern border of the Idaho Territory. North and South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming share the same 104* border. By sharing the 104th meridian as a border, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, and Wyoming all ended up being about 7* of longitude wide. As an aside, Washington and Oregon are also 7* in width. The Southwest corner of Nebraska is now Colorado. While still a territory, the territorial governor released this land to Colorado because it was both mountainous, thus not conducive to farming or railroads, and was populated by miners who were notoriously difficult to govern. Nebraska was admitted to the Union on March 1, 1867.

 This morning we woke up at the Blue River Valley city campground in Seward. It's located on the north bank of the Blue River.  It was 32* with a light frost on the grass. I grabbed a hot cup of coffee and took Gopher for a walk. Since there was no one else in the park at 6:30, I just let her run free.

The Blue River was mentioned in the books we read about the Oregon Trail. Rivers were perhaps the most hazardous obstacle the wagon trains faced. Finding a safe place to cross was critical. The water had to be shallow enough for the oxen to breathe, the bottom had to firm enough to give good footing to man and beast, the current not so strong as to carry the wagons away and the banks had to have a manageable slope. On a typical trip to Oregon, several people drowned and the oxen plus the cart they were pulling got washed away. River crossings were a much more real danger then Indian attacks.  Actually, at least initially, Indian attacks were quite rare. It was only after the number of people crossing the Country grew so large that the buffalo were being wiped out, that the Indians began to attack to drive the white man away in order to preserve their way of life. We all know how that turned out.

 About 8:30 we continued west following the Lincoln Highway. The Lincoln Hwy was built between 1913 and 1925 connecting New York City and San Francisco. Like the old Route 66, sections of the Lincoln Highway have been preserved. We spent a most interesting afternoon at the Great Platte River Road Archway near Kearney. It's a fascinating museum that tells the story of the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails as well as the Lincoln Highway. The museum is actually an archway spanning I-80.

From 60 million bison to 541. When we were in Minnesota a few years back, we visited a USFS exhibit on the timber industry in the Great Lakes area. There was a mural depicting the battle between conservationists and the timber industry in the mid-1800's. The Senator from Minnesota, who was against any controls on the industry,  stated "There is enough timber in this area to last for all future generations".  By 1900 there was no marketable timber left anywhere in the Great Lakes region. Let's see. Global warming is a hoax, air and water pollution is OK because it's too expensive to fix, mercury in your drinking water isn't all that bad, emissions from coal fired plants are not killing the forests, we're not overfishing the oceans, on and on and on. It's clearly time to eliminate the EPA and those whiny, tree-hugging liberals.

1950's Lincoln Hwy diner

And here we are tonight. A wide spot in the road.


Jim and Gayle said...

Thanks for the history lesson. Nice to be reading your blog again.

Luci & Loree said...

Going to have to stop, actually STOP at that Archway next time i go to Iowa!!! Did not know all of that was in there. Very Interesting history lesson..