Fort Robinson State Park, Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, and Scott’s Bluff NM

09/18/17 Monday traveling from Custer, SD to Cheyenne, WY

Another new state: Nebraska

NB

Our first stop in Fort Robinson SP gave us peaks into various historical buildings. All but the office (where we paid our $8 entry fee) were closed to us, but we still experienced the history there.

The Veterinary Hospital, for horses (top right 2 photos). They have a table that they could set vertically, against the injured horse. They strapped him/her to it the lowered it to a horizontal position in order to comfortably operate on him/her.

Fort 4 The cabin (one side was the guard house, the other the prison) where Crazy Horse was imprisoned. Originally he surrendered and his band camped nearby. Then rumors spread that he was planning to break away to fight again, so the General put out orders to arrest him. Crazy Horse then fled to the Spotted Horse Agency where he was encouraged to turn himself in so he returned to Fort Robinson. The plan then was to take him to Fort Laramie, then on to a General in Chicago, surrounded by several in his band to assure his safety. He was kept in this cabin/prison until departure. “After a brief scuffle inside the guardhouse, Crazy Horse bolted out the door and received a fatal bayonet wound from the sentry outside. He was then moved to the adjoining adjutant’s office where a surgeon provided the dying man with medical aid.” Such a sad story. I see fear playing a large part in the end result.

Fort 5

Trailside Museum where they have a replica of two mammoths that died with their tusks entwined, in battle. We didn’t see them because it wasn’t open, so this is what we did see.

Fort 6

Trailside Museum where they have a replica of two mammoths that died with their tusks entwined, in battle. We didn’t see them because it wasn’t open, so this is what we did see.

Next stop is Agate Fossil Beds National Monument.Agate 1

There are only fossils here from the Miocene period, no agates exactly. This land was owned by James H Cook who named his ranch the Agate Springs Ranch, after the moss agates he found in the spring on his land. He grew cottonwood trees (trees are not usually seen on the high plains) near his ranch house by irrigating the area from his spring. So that’s where the Agate came into the name of this monument – in thanks to Mr. Cook’s descendants (who still run his ranch) who gave these 3,000 acres for this monument.

fossils 1

View of Agate Springs Ranch, nestled in the Niobrara River Valley.

fossils 2

View of the area where fossils were found and where many still lie – to the top left of this photo. So many were found that most great Universities have many original artifacts, letting the park use replicas. The monument was formed to preserve those bones that remain, they’re no longer being dug up.

fossils 3

This is a Daemonelix (devil’s corkscrew), a sandstone spiral created by an ancient beaver like creature, the Palaeocaster. The tunnel leading to the right is their nesting cavity.

fossils 4

Ancient camels. That’s pretty amazing, camels in Nebraska.

fossils 5

Red Cloud painting. He was as great a leader of the Lakota and Sioux as Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull.  He just never got the notoriety as the others.  He and Cook became good friends, exchanging many gifts. Thus there are great northern plains Indian artifacts also at this monument.

fossils 6

Red Cloud’s shirt and Good Road’s (his wife) dress.

fossils 7

Good Road’s (his wife) dress.

Onward to Scott’s Bluff National Monument, along the North Platte River Valley. Out of the rolling, grasslands of the high plains appears a collection of rock, a bluff, that stands out. Here most of the emigrants, traveling for a better life in the west, traveled. The California, Oregon and Morman trails all passed through here, skirting the badlands that surrounded Scott’s Bluff. It was named after Hiram Scott, who was too ill to travel on and thus was left here. His bones were found the next year by others passing through. Even the Pony Express used this path.

 

scott 3

The only tunnels that exist in Nebraska are here.

Views from the top of Scott’s Bluff. So panoramic, it reminded me of looking out from Pompey’s Pillar:

We came down from the Bluff to visit a special grave, just beyond, on the edge of the town of Gering. Rebecca Winter died in 1892, on the Morman Trail, escaping persecution. She died from cholera, as many were then. When her husband buried her he used a wagon wheel metal rim in which he’d chiseled the words “Rebecca Winters, Age 50”. This was unique in that more often people on these trails were buried under the trail itself so that the constant walking of those on it would assure that no scavengers could uncover it. Because of the metal marker, this grave was discovered in 1899 by surveyors of the Burlington Northern Railroad. It was pretty close to the railroad then, so out of concern for those visitors coming to view it, the railroad approached her descendants, asking to relocate it. On 10/14/1995 her remains were moved. Thus it’s still only 100 yards away from the railroad tracks. Many of her descendants were there, including her 16 year old great-great-great granddaughter, also named Rebecca Winters.

scott 10

After 6 hours of traveling and exploring, we made it safe and sound to our Best Western motel. Time for rest and relaxation, now in Wyoming!

WY

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About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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