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US 20 Journey 2010
2011 - Day 7 - May 25
Ainsworth to Crawford, NE
Foggy morning cruising 20 in Nebraska.
The old Cowboy Line in Valentine, with train station and made-over trackbed.
A momentous happening near Valentine, about two thirds of the way across the state - I entered into the WEST! Farmland gives way to sandy soil. Trees pretty much disappear, grass covered hills slope away into the distance. Mile after mile of shifting shapes trailing off in every direction. This landscape totally different than anything I've seen so far. I felt as if this was the real turning point in the journey. The Mississippi and Missouri rivers were boundaries of a sort, but there wasn't that much of a difference on the other side. But here, where the land starts to turn sandy and hills begin to appear, there is a definite look and feel that is different than any landscape along the previous 1500 or so miles from Boston. This is where the west begins, on US 20 anyway.
scattered cattle graze
on fenced in grassy sand hills
meadowlark takes flight
Intriguing, mystifying. The old Federal Writers' Project guidebook to Nebraska says these sand hills have been called everything from "the most fascinating region in the country" to "the most deserted and dullest." I agreed with the former, wanted to park the car, walk off into the distance and feel the energy that is part of this place. There really does seem to be some kind of force here. I can feel it as I drive by.
1885 Post Office, Rushville, NE
This display in the Museum of the Fur Trade, just before Chadron.
Snowshoes for soft, deep snow.
Miniature False Faces.
The Bordeaux Trading Post used from 1830s to 1870s.
The above pictures were all taken at the Museum of the Fur Trade. I could have spent hours there, but had to move on the Crawford for an early afternoon program.
Trunk Butte, the first close butte along US 20, between Chadron and Crawford.
Entering Crawford, the first site to catch my eye. Someone's lawn decoration, an old steam engine.
The view turning off 20 to enter Crawford. Saddle and Lover's Leap Buttes in the background.
A sign advertising my program sitting in the middle of the main street in Crawford.
From the Crawford Historical Museum. This dates from 1940. A number of these curtains were created by painters from a company in Kansas City. This one was signed "Dobbs Collord."
"The Crossing" by G Glenn Newell, in the Crawford Post Office. Also from 1940. This was one of the many paintings created as part of the New Deal.
Sign in the window of the Buck Stop meat processing store, Crawford.
Saddle shop, Crawford.
Crow Butte, with uranium mining operations in the foreground.
I presented a program at the Senior Center, sponsored by the Crawford Library. Good people and great response. One of the attendees was Alice, who is 101 years old. I told her she was the most glorious person there.
In the evening I had a nice dinner and conversation with Sara and Angie. Sara attended the afternoon program. She has lived most of her whole life in the area. Angie is a Native American from here who told me wonderful stories about her family. Her great, great grandfather was Little Big Man, an Ogalala Lakota Sioux.
Sara and Angie.
So, a terrific afternoon and evening in Crawford. This was the day I entered the West. A totally different landscape from back east.