Scottsbluff is one of the monuments the pioneers that settled the American West used as a point of direction. There are some more in the area. The wagon trails went through here. There are still some ruts of the wagon wheels on the Oregon Trail visible.
It took us a day to drive through Nebraska, doing mostly about 75 mph, I can't imagine doing this on a wagon at probably 3 mph! It is very hot and dusty in Nebraska and there is not much to see outside of the far western part that has the monuments. Most of Nebraska is flat, but then these strange looking rock formations appear.
Created in 1987, Carhenge is made of 38 American cars painted gray and aligned to resemble the ancient Stonehenge monument in England. Farmer Jim Reinders created the monument for his father. Though the townspeople originally wanted to tear it down, it is now advertised around the town, it has grown to include new art, and a visitors' center is under construction.
In 2006, Carhenge was included in a Nissan Pathfinder commercial.
Just south of Omaha, there is a small wildlife safari (4-miles) that has a variety of animals (bobcats, bears, deer, wolves, eagles, buffalo etc.). There are bear and wolf feedings on the weekend. Admission $5 Adults $3 Kids
Open in the from April - October only.
This was the largest zoo we have ever visited and well worth the little detour. We spent 5 hours there, and still did not see everything. We skipped the aquarium stuff, since we have plenty of that at home. I was amazed at the amount of tigers and leopards they had! I counted at least 20. Most zoos only have one or two. I have never seen a Rhino before in a zoo, and there were a few rather odd looking creatures, one of them very disgusting : Hissing cockroach, yikes! Don't want that running around in my house...
The kids loved it and we had to practically drag them out.
I ran out of photos in my camera before we got to the tigers.
Like Scott's Bluff, this was an important landmark to the pioneers, who headed west across the Great Plains. This indicated that they were near the western end of the Plains. Beyond that lie the Rocky Mountains.
Boot Hill Cemetery was the final resting place for many early Westerners who helped make Ogallala a booming cowtown in the 1870's and 1880's. These people - cowboys, settlers, drifters - made their way to Ogallala when the Railroad and the Texas Trail opened a new market for the Texas Longhorn.
Although one of the first burials here was a mother and child, many others were killed while running afoul of the law, some for horse stealing, others for refighting the Civil War. In July 1873, three cowhands were laid to rest in a single day, victims of the local sheriff's guns. Most were buried with their boots on, hence the name of the cemetery. The wooden headboards say little: "Pauper, 1887," reads one; "Pedro, Sept. 11, 1876" is another. Some bodies which were originally buried here have been removed. Only the unclaimed and unknown remain.
The sculpture in the center of the cemetery was placed by the local Lions Club in honor of Samuel David "Lep" Sanders, who was one of the first settlers of the area in 1869.
The Nebraska State Capitol building in Lincoln is the third to be built on the site. The design, by architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, was chosen from a nationwide competition in 1920. It is a 400-foot-tall domed office tower topped by a 19-foot-tall statue, "The Sower." This has been called the nation's "first truly vernacular State Capitol." None built before it had departed radically from the design of the National Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Inside the building is the Governor's Suite, chambers for the Supreme Court , State Senate, House of Representatives and other offices. There is an observation deck on the 14th floor and a 112-foot-tall rotunda in the center. Many outstanding works of art may be seen throughout the building - which is itself a work of art.
On the spring afternoon when I first visited the Capitol in Lincoln the State Legislature was in session and the place was a beehive of activity. I stood beneath the rotunda and watched as a few feet away a State Senator was being interviewed by a television crew. What impressed me was how important the Senator seemed to think his remarks were, and how very inconsequential his words and posturing really was in the greater scheme of things. The scene reminded me of the way I used to feel when I was a syndicated newspaper columnist and interviewing many well known celebrities and politicians. At that moment I felt very thankful that I am now retired (at least semi-retired) and out of the rat race.
This massive escarpment overlooks the western frontier of Nebraska. It stands about 800 feet tall, and is quite an impressive sight. The view from the top is superb. This was a landmark for pioneers heading west in the mid-19th century.
The Visitor Center has a small museum, the Oregon Trail Museum, devoted to the pioneers, with examples of their wagons, tools, and other items.
This 1887, nine room, Victorian mansion has served at different times as the mayor's residence, a hospital, and an apartment building. Today it is a museum of local history and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Some say that the house is haunted. The light in a back room is sometimes seen on late at night when no one is there, and those who work at the museum have reported a shadowy figure who can be seen walking the hallway in the middle of the afternoon. I missed seeing him on the afternoon I was there.
The museum is open Memorial Day - September 15, 9-12 am. and 1-4 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday.
Admission is $2.00 adult and $1.00 children.
Situated along picturesque river bluffs overlooking the Missouri River, with views into South Dakota, Ponca State Park is the eastern gateway to the Missouri National Recreational River. Upstream, beginning at Ponca, is a 59 mile stretch of river which remains little changed since prehistoric times - the only unchannelized portion of the River in Nebraska.
The park encompasses 1,400 acres of heavily wooded rolling hills and bottomlands. There are numerous ammenities including a swimming pool, boat ramps, 20 miles of hiking trails, rental cabins, and an excellent modern campground. I was privileged to visit and camp here during the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which camped in this same area 200 years before. Ponca State Park has been designated a part of the Lewis and Clark Historical Trail.
The name "Ponca" comes from a native American Indian tribe which lived in this area. Ponca Chief Standing Bear is the man who fought and won his case to have American Indians recognized under United States law as persons. He is now listed in the Nebraska Hall of Fame.
Boothill cemetery in Ogallala was one of several "boothill " cemeteries we found out West.
Ogallala had a reputation for being a lawless place and lots of gun fights happened there.
The cemetery has very many young people burried in it. It was kind of strange looking at the graves. Usually cemetaries are not something I think of as a tourist destination.
THE GREATEST MIGRATION OF WATERFOWL IN NORTH AMERICA comes right through central Nebraska. From about the middle of February, when the geese arrive, through late March when the Sandhill Cranes are here, it is quite a show.
In the photos you will see Canadian and Snow Geese.
Fort Kearny was established as a military outpost along the Oregon Trail in 1848 to protect pioneers making the trip west, and was named for General Stephen W. Kearny. It also served as a stop for the stage coach, a pony express station, the headquarters for the Pawnee Scouts, and a supply depot/outfitter during the Indian Wars, along with providing supplies for settlers/pioneers. The post remained active until 1871 just after the railroad came to the town of Kearney. Today you can explore the recreated stockade, parade grounds and blacksmith shop. There are ample interpretive signs to educate you about the fort and its functions. Camping, fishing and other recreational facilities are available next door at Fort Kearny State Recreation Area. Hours are 9 AM to 5 PM daily from mid-May to Labor Day. Admission is $2 per adult and $1 for kids 3 to 12. You will also need a park permit $5 a day or $35 for a year.
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument is concentrated around two small hills (University and Carnegie) protruding from a grassy plain. It is here that an abundance of fossils from the Miocene Epoch (23 Million to 5 million years ago) were found. The fossils are predominantly Miocene Epoch mammals from about 20 million years ago and are amongst the best fossils of these animals ever found. Also found here are the "Daemonelix" a corkscrew shaped burrow made by a beaver-like animal. The museum inside the visitors center also houses a large collection of artifacts from the Plains Indians.
The Bone Cabin Complex (AKA the Harold J. Cook Homestead) is also on the grounds of the monument. The Cook's were friends with area Indian Tribes and collected the artifacts and items on display in the museum. There is a trail out to their cabin, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
There are three main hiking trails in the park: The Fossil Hill Trail; the Daemonelix Trail and the short trail leading to the cabin.
Chimney Rock rises 300 feet above the surrounding plains, which made it a prominent landmark as settlers made the long, hard trek west along the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails. The site is a National Historic Site but is run by the Nebraska State Historical Society. There is a visitors center here with some nice displays about the history of the westward movement and the formation of the rock. There are also a couple of hands-on things for the kids. Hours are 9 AM to 5 PM daily and admission is $3 for adults and free for kids with an adult ticket purchase.