NEBRASKalandWHERE THE WEST BEGINS Off-season shooting PRARIE DOG HUNTING VACATION SPECIAL NEBRASKAland... Where the action is WHERE TO GO-WHAT TO DO BUCK AND A HALF TROUT Fun on a put and take basis
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IONA—"I enjoy every article in NEBRASKAland, and have intended to write commenting on the article, "Wrath of the Gods", by Irma Foulks, in the July, 1965 issue.
"I was born and lived my childhood days on a farm about a half mile from the Iona Volcano. I have listened to many stories about this landmark but had never heard the legend, Wrath of the Gods. It was a most interesting story and lends to the early days of Nebraska. I can recall watching long caravans of Indians passing our place, following the river road from one reservation to another.
"We who lived in northeast Nebraska knew and referred to the Iona Volcano without any hesitation or doubt. However, after moving away from the community, I was surprised that so many people had not heard of it. They would look rather questioningly at me when I mentioned it, or they asked: 'A volcano in Nebraska?'
"My father, A. H. Ellyson and my uncle, J. W. Ellyson, came to Dixon County, Nebraska and settled at Iona in 1882. Before coming to Nebraska, they had worked two years in a lumber mill near Butte, Montana. They made the journey from Montana to northeast Nebraska in a rowboat which they made themselves. Following the Big Hole, Jefferson, and Missouri rivers, they went to the mouth of Turkey Creek about three miles west of Iona.
"My uncle kept a diary of the trip and I am happy to have a copy which I prize very much. It took them 53 days to make the journey, which they estimated at 3,000 miles. I have found it most interesting to trace on today's maps the places and towns mentioned in the diary. However, many of the towns have suffered the same fate as Iona.
"My father and uncle operated a ferry boat, pulled by horses, between Iona and the South Dakota shore of the Missouri. They later bought farms adjoining the bluffs overlooking the river, only a short distance from Iona Volcano.
"I was born in 1898 and remember much of the activity centered around the community. At that time the river cut back across the bottomland in a large bend to the foot of the volcano site. Its rocky shore made a clean and ideal place to swim, although as I recall, the water was rather swift and we never ventured far from shore. We climbed the clay and shale slides looking for isinglass crystals, pumice stone, and other odd formations. In the fall these bluffs were covered with wild grapes and buffalo berries, which we ate in great quantities.
"The Iona Volcano provided a ringside seat to bake (continued on page 11)
NEBRASKAlandJULY Vol. 44, No. 7 1966 JULY ROUNDUP 9 CODY'S CONTENTMENT 12 BUCK AND A HALF TROUT 16 Bill Vogt POPPING PRAIRIE POODLES 18 Fred Nelson DESCENT INTO DEVIL'S DEN 22 Richard Williams THIS OLD HOUSE 24 Warren Spencer IT STARTED WITH CHING 28 Bob Thomas WHERE THE ACTION IS 30 GRAND FINALE BUCK 42 Art Thompsen DAUGHTER OF THE PRAIRIES 44 Glenda Woltemath NOTES ON NEBRASKA FAUNA 46 Norman Dey FIX-UP TIME FOR ARROWS 48 Bill Hinel THE COVER: Richard Williams rappels canyon wall in an unorthodox entry to Devil's Den Photo by Lou Ell SELLING NEBRASKAland IS OUR BUSINESS EDITOR, DICK H. SCHAFFER Editorial Consultant, Gene Hornbeck Managing Editor, Fred Nelson Associate Editors: Bill Vogt, Don Eversoll Art Director, Jack Curran Art Associate, C. G. "Bud" Pritchard Photography, Lou Ell, Chief; Charles Armstrong, Dave Becki, Steve Katula Advertising Manager, Jay Azimzadeh Eastern Advertising Representative: Whiteman Associates, 257 Mamaroneck Ave., Phone 914-698-5130 Mamaroneck, N. Y. Midwestern Advertising Representative: Harley L. Ward, Inc., 360 North Michigan Ave., Chicago 1, III. DIRECTOR: M. O. Steen NEBRASKA GAME, FORESTATION AND PARKS COMMISSION: W. N. Neff, Fremont, Chairman; Rex Stotts, Cody, Vice Chairman; A. H. Story, Plainview; Martin Gable, Scottsbluff; W. C. Kemptar, Ravenna; Charles E. Wright, McCook; M. M. Muncie, Plattsmouth. OUTDOOR NEBRASKAland, published monthly by the Nebraska Game, Forestation and Parks Commission, 50 cents per copy. Subscription rates: $3 for oneyear, $5 for two years. Send subscriptions to OUTDOOR NEBRASKAland, State Capitol, Lincoln, Nebraska 68509. Copyright Nebraska Game, Forestation and Parks Commission, 1965. All rights reserved. Second-class postage paid at Lincoln, Nebraska and at additional mailing offices. 4 NEBRASKAland
THE FOURTH OF July holiday starts the month off with a bang. The Declaration of Independence celebration will glitter with fireworks displays at Ord, Auburn, Steinauer, and other towns. Out west the cowpokes will have a rough day riding the broncs and eating dust in old-time rodeos. At Ralston the eats will be more tasty—free watermelon for everyone.
No doubt the "kids" will be first in line for the watermelon. But at Nebraska City the youngsters are even getting a head start on the Fourth. On July 1 through 3, 100 contestants from 8 to 18 will vie for more than $600 in prizes and trophies at the Little Britches Rodeo. Pint-sized cowboys from Kansas and Nebraska will meet at Riverview Park to show the pros "how it's done" when they climb aboard brahmas for a rough ride and take their chances in a calf roping contest. Winning points will be tallied in these and other contests and the winner will qualify for the National Rodeo at Littleton, Colorado late this Summer. Each of the four performances will include a drawing for a saddle horse, saddle and bridle, and blanket to go to the lucky ticket holder.
All aboard! Miss Brenda Traeder, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Maynard Traeder of Fremont, signals the departure of the Iron Horse Railroad at the Children's Zoo in Antelope Park, Lincoln as the shiny red engine heads for months of fun. Miss Traeder, a sophomore at Midland Lutheran College at Fremont, is majoring in art and minoring in psychology and French. She is sponsor of Fremont Junior High's ninth grade Tri-Hi-Y and plans to work with retarded children upon graduation. Now Midland's Charm Girl and Warrior Queen, Miss Traeder was 1965-66 Homecoming Queen candidate and Sigma Phi Sweetheart finalist. A born traveler, Miss Traeder worked last summer in Yellowstone National Park where she was chosen Miss Boat Dock of Fishing Bridge.
Pie is on the menu at Elkhorn, July 2 and 3. The first national Pie-in-the-Sky Contest at St. John's Seminary is hosted by the Omaha Sky Divers Association. Parachutists from throughout the country will leap out of airplanes, aim themselves at a ring target on the ground—and eat pie on the way during a period of free fall. They get their choice of pies—including apple, cherry, peach, mincemeat, and lemon meringue. Jumpers who have already had dessert can compete for substantial cash prizes.
At York, boys aged 11 to 15 will barrel down the Reformatory Road speed- way in their own home-built carts, July 10. This is the third year for York's Soap Box Derby, sponsored by the Jaycees. The 60 contestants will start trial runs July 9 for the contest the following day. The fastest man on wheels will take home a $500 savings bond and an all-expense-paid trip for himself and parents to Akron, Ohio, to compete in the National Soap Box Derby, August 6. The August event also attracts winners from Lincoln, Omaha, Sidney, and Norfolk for a total of 251 entries from the United States and eight foreign countries. They will vie for nine scholarship awards totaling $30,000. Last year the York entry placed tenth.
Custom-built cars will race in Lincoln, July 3. Time trials are at 1:30 p.m., at the State Fairgrounds.
The stock cars will clear the track in plenty of time for the July 7 opening of Lincoln's 23-day summer season of Thoroughbred Horse Racing. The largest purse distribution in the history of the Nebraska State Fairgrounds is scheduled—a whopping quarter-of-a-million dollars. The races will take advantage of the newly lengthened track, an official 5/8 of a mile. The opening day Inaugural Handicap has a $2,000 price tag, but the top race of the 1966 program will be the $5,000 Fair Board Executive Handicap scheduled for July 30. Nine races are on the agenda every day except Thursdays and Fridays. There will be no racing Mondays. Post time is 2 p.m. daily except the Friday twilight cards which begin at 4 p.m.
The Sand Hill's Roundup on July 3 and 4 offers a $750 purse plus entry fees. All winners get trophy buckles in every event, ranging from team steer tying to barrel racing. All proceeds from the 11th Annual American Legion sponsored rodeo will be used for community betterment.
July is also rodeo month for Spalding, Bridgeport, and Gordon, July 3-4; and Dunning, July 4. Tekamah has scheduled a rodeo July 15-17. July 22-24 marks the Cattle Capital Rodeo at Alliance. On July 24, Ogallala will be in a cloud of dust when it hosts the National Steer Roping Contest. Twenty-five professional and amateur cowboys will vie for an $8,000 purse.
The men who served in the 732 Railway Operating Battalion during World War II plan a reunion in Omaha, July 8-10. Another group of fighters, the Winnebago Warriors, will hold their Tribal Centennial Indian Ceremonial Powwow in Winnebago, July 29 through August 7. The celebration originated in 1866 as a homecoming festival for a group of Winnebago warriors under the leadership of Chief Little Priest who had volunteered to help the United States Army quell the Indian uprisings in the Northwest Plains. A flag-raising ceremony on flagpole hill will commemorate the first raising of the American flag by the Winnebagos—symbolizing their pledge of allegiance to the United States. Today's Winnebago Indian dancers will do the traditional Fancy Dance, Green Corn Dance, Indian Two-Step, and others at the week-long powwow.
At Red Cloud the White Indians will don their tribal bonnets during the Alice Blue Cloud Pageant, July 4. Alice Blue Cloud was the daughter of Chief Red Cloud of the Ogalala Sioux who camped just south of the present city of Red Cloud. There the Chief's daughter fell ill and died with the dreaded white man's disease, small pox. The death dances continued throughout the night but before daybreak the Sioux hastily broke camp and moved away, never to return.
This July 4 celebration will kick off with an archery tournament. The Lions Club will serve a chicken barbecue that is sure to put gusto into the evening performance of the White Indian dancers, a cast of 50 boys and girls, ages 10 to 17. The 1966 princess, Cheryl Elliot, and a newly elected Chief Red Cloud will be crowned at an open-air pageant staged at dusk. A sky alive with fireworks will light the way to an open-air dance.
City celebrations during the month include the Dwight Czech Festival, July 9-10; and the South Omaha Sokol Day, July 10.
A rough and raring rodeo highlights the first three days of the Norfolk Centennial Week Celebration, July 10-17. Norfolk will go on parade at 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. A nightly pageant and fireworks spark the last half of the week. On Tuesday is the crowning of the Centennial queen who reigns over the evening ball with the down-beat coming (Continued on page 9)JULY, 1966 7 "Champs" Choose Cooper's
from the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Dancing will take a square shape on Wednesday and Friday. Ladies Day, Thursday, will see the gals decked out for a style show of authentic and Centennial costumes and afterwards relaxing at Centennial teas. Mass choirs are scheduled at Church services on the last day of the Centennial.
Oregon Trail Days at Gering are July 14 and 15. And the settlers are getting together at Western, Dakota City, Nemaha, and Winside for Old Settlers Picnics. Western will have parades, talent contests, and dancing July 15-16.
At Dakota City, July 16-17, the firehall will light up for dancing Saturday night. The dancers, who might be called "high pressure groups", will have a chance to cool off on Sunday when the water fights with fire hoses begin. Groups of firemen from neighboring towns and their wives will line up on opposite sides with fire hoses to direct streams of water at buckets, hung from chains between two trees. Whoever pushes the bucket to the opposite side first, wins. It turns out that everyone gets wet.
The Nemaha Old Settlers Picnic is set for July 22-23. Winside's Old Settlers Reunion is July 28.
The two-day picnic at Beaver Crossing is sponsored by the American Legion and Volunteer Fire Department. On July 22 and 23 the gay noises of a carnival will background a parade, baseball tournament, and bingo. Saturday night is dance night. Down south, Sutton's Harvest Festival is July 19-20. Mason City plans a Homecoming Celebration July 20-21. A picnic and parade at Diller is July 22-23. The 27th annual Table Rock Festival rounds out the calendar, July 28-30. No dates have been set for the annual get-togethers at Campbell, Plymouth, and Scottsbluff At Campbell there will be races for the youngsters, a ball game, parade, and carnival.
Families will find plenty to do together this month, including the First Family Show of the season at Ak-Sar-Ben Coliseum, July 11-14. The specialty acts, especially booked for the youngsters, will range from animal escapades to danger atop the high wire.
Music to sweeten summer nights will breeze out from the Omaha Symphony Pops Concerts, scheduled weekly at Peony Park. The programs will include sing-alongs, exhibitions by ethnic dance groups, and dancing until midnight after every concert. On July 20 a box supper set to music will precede the regular concert.
Wednesday evenings in Dodge will hum with band music during July and August.
Al Hirt's rapid rise to fame has seen a triumphant march through television, radio, records, and movies. The trumpet virtuoso will play all of his well-known favorites at concerts at Ak-Sar-Ben Coliseum in Omaha on July 18-20.
The Nebraska Fiddlers Association is planning a stomping good time in Lincoln, July 31, at their state convention. These fiddlers perpetuate and promote the art and skill of old-time fiddling, violin making and repairing, square dancing, and calling. An old- time fiddler winks his eye at Beatle music and limits his tunes to 50 years ago or older.
For most of the younger set, July marks the middle of the summer vacation from school. But at the University of Omaha, collegiates are ever in training for the theatre and will go on stage in Summer Theatre Workshops, July 7-9 and July 21-23.
An Elementary Education Arts Forum at the University of Nebraska stresses the importance of incorporating fine arts into school curriculum. The first of three forums was held June 28, and will be followed by July 12 and July 19 meetings. Noted educators in music, literature, and language will speak in Love Library Auditorium to 400 summer school students of elementary education.
The fifth annual workshop for cosmetologists at Nebraska Center winds up the July training sessions in Nebraska. The program in advanced cosmetology is open to any licensed cosmetologist. Rufus Hays of Kansas City will demonstrate new techniques in hair styling. University of Nebraska educators will speak on various aspects of professional cosmetology, including professional ethics, and reception techniques.
Whether it's rodeos or races, city celebrations or powwows, musical entertainment, or learning sessions, a month of fun is on tap. THE END
Trace Nebraska and the Nation's development over the last 135 years. Stroll less than a mile and see 30,000 items housed in 22 buildings-(many are early Nebraska structures)-all arranged in chronological order. Give yourself and your family this enjoyable, educational experience. See one of the top 20 U.S. attractions, right here in Nebraska...at world-famous Pioneer Village.
Open from 7 a.m. to sundown every day. Modern 66-unit motel, restaurant, picnic and overnight camping grounds adjoining.
Located on U.S. Highway 6 and 34 130 miles west of Lincoln, Nebraska; 14 miles south of U.S. 30; 50 miles north of U.S. 36.
Interstate 80 travelers take Pioneer Village exit between Grand Island and Kearney, then proceed south 12 miles on Nebraska 10.WRITE FOR FRil FOLDER ONE OF TOP 20 U.S. ATTRACTIONS
WHAT TO DO1-3—Nebraska City, Little Britches Rodeo 2-3—Elfchorn, First National Pie-in-the-Sky Parachute Meet, St. John's Seminary 3—Lincoln, Stock Car Races, State Fairgrounds 3-4—Spalding, Junior Rodeo and Fireworks 3-4—Bridgeport, Morrill County Rodeo 3-4—Ord, Alumni Banquet and Fireworks 3-4—Gordon, High School Rodeo 3-4—Mullen, Sand Hills Roundup 4—Oshkosh, Fourth of July Celebration 4—Comstock, Old-Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration 4—Bloomfield, Fourth of July Celebration 4—Auburn, Fireworks Celebration 4—Superior, Firemen's Free Fourth of July Celebration 4—Cambridge, Fourth of July Celebration 4—Red Cloud, Alice Blue Cloud Pageant 4—Dalton, Fourth of July Celebration 4—Steinauer, Fourth of July Fireworks and Parade 4—Stuart, Old-fashioned Fourth of July Celebration 4—Dunning, Annual 4-H Rodeo 4—Neligh, Annual Fourth of July Celebration 4—Alliance, Fireworks 4—Kimball, Fourth of July Celebration 4—Madison, Fourth of July Celebration 4—Humboldt, Fireworks Display 4—Friend, Burley Park Celebration 4—Ralston, Parade, Watermelon Feed 6—Omaha, Omaha Symphony Pops Concert, Peony Park 7-August 6—Lincoln, Thoroughbred Horse Racing, State Fairgrounds 7-90maha, Summer Theater Workshop, University of Omaha 8-10—Omaha, 732 Railway Operating Battalion Reunion 9-10—Dwight, Czech Festival 9_ 10—York, Soap Box Derby 10—Falls City, Four-State Horseshoe Tournament 10—Omaha, South Omaha Sokol Day 10—Bancroft, Saddle Club Horse Show 10—Stuart, Elkhorn Valley Horse Show 10-17—Norfolk, Norfolk Centennial Celebration 11-14—Omaha, First Family Show, AkSar-Ben Coliseum 12—Lincoln, Elementary Education Arts Forum. University of Nebraska 13—Omaha, Omaha Symphony Pops Concert, Peony Park 14-15—Gering, Oregon Trail Days 14-16—Alliance, State Junior Golf and Tennis Meet 15-16—Western, Old Settlers Picnic 15-17—Tekamah, Rodeo 16-17—Dakota City, Old Settlers Picnic 17—Omaha, Omaha Symphony Concert, Ak-Sar-Ben Coliseum 18-20—Omaha, Al Hirt Concert, AkSar-Ben Coliseum 19—Lincoln, Elementary Education Arts Forum, University of Nebraska 19-20—Sutton, Harvest Festival 19-20—Lincoln, Management Preparation Course, Nebraska Center 20—Omaha, Omaha Symphony Pops Concert, Peony Park 20-21—Mason City, Homecoming Celebration 21-23—Omaha, Summer Theater Workshop, University of Omaha 22-23—Beaver Crossing, Two-Day Picnic 22-23—Diller, Picnic and Parade 22-23—Nemaha, Old Settlers Picnic 22-24—Alliance, Cattle Capital Rodeo 24—Friend, Friend-Beaver Saddle Club Horse Show 24—Ogallala, National Steer Roping Contest 24—Wood River, Quarter Horse Show 24-26-—Omaha, Central Western Market 25-26—Wood River, 4-H Fair 26-27—Lincoln, Teacher's College Institute, University of Nebraska 27—Omaha, Omaha Symphony Pops Concert, Peony Park 28—Winside, Old Settlers Reunion 28-30—Table Rock, 27th Annual Table Rock Festival
conveniently located . . . it's only a few steps off the lobby on the first floor of U.P.'s downtown headquarters building at 15th and Dodge.
for your enjoyment . . . the investment of a short visit is a flavorful taste of the old West and the colorful, human history of the first transcontinental railroad service.
displays ... a magnificent collection of Lincolniana in honor of President Lincoln, who created Union Pacific by signing the Enabling Act in 1862. You will see equipment, documents and photos of pioneers and Indians of the period. Exhibits of knives, guns and other objects of western lore that were typical of the pioneering of the West . . . a replica of the famous "Golden Spike" that connected coast-to-coast by rail.The museum is open from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Monday through Friday . . . from 9:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. on Saturday. Chaperoned youth groups are welcome by appointment. For details write Mrs. Irene A. Keeffe, Museum Director, Union Pacific Railroad, 1416 Dodge Street, Omaha, Nebraska 68102. Union Pacific Railroad
in the sun, and watch with a telescope for wildlife and the activity on the Dakota side of the river. We watched the steamboats fight their way up the ever-changing channel, often getting stranded for days on sand bars. Often these boats would tie up at the Iona landing, and what a thrill it wasNto be invited aboard. I heard my first phonograph on board one of the boats. The names of some of the boats were: Mandan, Big Maude, and Little Maude.
"By that time, all that remained of the place called Iona was a school house, ferry boat landing, and some farm buildings.
"Iona was the gathering place for the community to have picnics and get-togethers. Folks gathered from miles around to celebrate the Fourth of July. In the evening, they went to the top of the volcano hill to shoot off fireworks. What a sight it was to watch the rockets blast into the sky!
"In the story, "Wrath of the Gods, Irma Foulks writes, Today only the cemetery remains as a reminder of the once-growing community.' Yes, I will always remember it well, for my father and three sisters are buried there. We go back every few years. The volcano hill is still there, the crater has eroded away, the river has moved a mile or so, and the swimming hole and boat land- ing are high and dry. The bottomland is covered with big timber and fields of grain. Somehow, the Iona Volcano has lost its identity, but it is good to remember." —William W. Ellyson, North Platte.
SMOKED CARP — "Some years ago in your magazine you had a recipe for smoking fish. Yesterday a fellow told me he would like to smoke some carp, but I had put the magazine away for future use, and could not find it.
"Could you give me a similar recipe for smoking fish? Should it be done on a slow fire, or a little hotter one to cook it at the same time?"—W. H. Vodehnal, North Loup.Directions for smoking carp were sent to Mr. Vodehnal.—Editor.
With weight well forward and a roomy kitchen area away from the door, Model 112-Special is an exceptional coach, having all the advantages of a side dinette with more sleeping area. It is a lightweight unit with fine balance, generous storage space . . . roomy, well ventilated, fully insulated. Toilet-shower units can be accommodated. Loaded with appreciated features and carries a 100% Lifetime Guarantee.Write now for full information about Huntsman's complete line THE HUNTSMAN CO. Dept, 640 Hwy. 59 & 166 CHETOPA KANSAS "A Model for Every Use and Every Budget" Mobile Homo JOURNAL CENTIFMED PICKUP CAMPffl
A 2-gallon crockful & a 1/2-gallon porcelain jar half-full of coin were found in a Nebraska barn in May 1966. Picture shows the containers and the coin (much of it 1800 silver and gold). Exanimo sold the two instruments (shown in the picture) used to zero in on this El Dorado. Valuable caches like this are not at all uncommon and they demonstrate where all of the dollars and half-dollars went.EXANIMO!
Who depends on Exanimo? Laborers, bankers, lawyers, firemen, farmers, doctors, cooks, pensioners, bartenders, etc. Even preachers & royalty beat a path to the Exanimo Establishment for advice and instruments.
Exanimo helps others find hidden and lost money, documents, and other valuables. Over half of our customers strike it rich. Every community has its old buried fortune story and this money can be found if it is there.INSTRUMENTS
Treasure detectors are not really expensive, unless you buy the wrong kind or one of the clap-trap types. Good instruments are easy to operate and usually pay for themselves in a short time. Small amounts of money can be found just about anywhere: school yards, church- yards, dancehalls, public parks, picnic grounds, for example.
Exanimo sells only the best instruments available. An Exanimo, Kontech, or Lantec costs only $100. A Fisher T-30 costs $139.50. A Goldmaster S-64 costs $199.50 and can be used for treasure hunting or prospecting for gold deposits.
We have the TREASURE HUNTER'S MANUAL, 7th Edition, for $6.00 postpaid. This fantastic book is tne THers bible and worth its weight in gold to people who are looking for lost, hidden, or forgotten treasure.CALL THE OLD MAN
For 35 years, people have been consulting KvonM with their treasure problems and have ventured stiff fees for his advice. Now, you can call the Old Man at home any evening after the low rates are in effect and get free advice. The Magic Number is (402) 267-2615 and you can dial direct for the lower station-to-station rates. Tell him your problem in complete confidence and he will recommend an instrument and tell you how to find it—and keep it after you get it! If you do not need an instrument, he will tell you. Check your local rumors about hidden fortunes that were never found. It's happened in every community, and this money is being found—as the picture above shows. Interested? Then, call the Old Man.EXANIMO ELECTRONIX Weeping Water, Nebraska 68463 (The treasure headquarters for North America) Telephone: (402) 267-2615
SCOUTS REST Ranch is different now. The guests have changed from the Indian, the nobles, the novelist, the cowman, and the rough rider, to curious tourists from the four corners of the world. The rumble of wagon wheels and the bawling of blooded stock has been replaced by the purr of automobile engines and the babble of excited children. Yet entering Scouts Rest is like stepping into a world apart from the everyday. This is a separate world, a world created by Buffalo Bill Cody and kept alive by legends of the famed showman. It is the stories old-timers spin about Cody and his home that bring the ranch to life. It is the extensive restoration which has returned Scouts Rest to its former glory as a western showplace. Perhaps, it is the ghost of the old scout himself, watching over his ranch and those who come to see and recapture the atmosphere of an era.
For Cody, Scouts Rest was a dream that never quite came true. He envisioned himself a gentleman rancher on his Platte Valley spread. But his Wild West Show never seemed to leave enough time for the ranch. So, Bill turned the place over to his sister and her husband, Julia and Al Goodman, contenting himself with visits between show seasons.
Scouts Rest was never the home for Bill that he wanted it to be. But when sister Julia saw brother Bill ride through the gate for one of his short visits, she could be sure that the ranch was about to come alive, Cody style. With Buffalo Bill at home in North Platte, all the world seemed to beat a path to the ranch gates. Ned Buntline, famed frontier writer, the Prince of Monaco, Sitting Bull, Chief of the Sioux, and sharpshooting Annie Oakley were only a few of the West's elite who enjoyed Cody's hospitality at Scouts Rest.
Bill had a gimmick going to impress his eastern guests with the hell-for-leather West. Whenever a visitor arrived at the North Platte depot, Bill would have him picked up in a buckboard that was drawn by the spookiest team Cody could harness. After a wild ride to the ranch behind the half-broken mustangs, the visitor was ready for a liberal dose of liquid sedative.
Old-timers around North Platte still remember the Prince of Monaco who came to visit the ranch when it was at its hospitable best. The Prince couldn't handle his liquor but he tried to emulate the hard-drinking characters he had heard about. Finally, host Bill and his help unceremoniously dumped the sodden noble into bed and let him sleep off his monumental jag.12 NEBRASKAland
But Cody's largess extended to others as well. One day a group of 15 youngsters was riding by the ranch when one of the older boys suggested they visit the place. They clattered through the gate and found Bill sitting on the porch. He insisted the unexpected guests dismount, shook hands with each one of them, and served refreshments to the whole group.
In Cody's frantic world of show business, time to relax and contemplate was at a premium. So it was Scouts Rest that gave the old scout the time he needed to himself. He spent hours alone in his study, surrounded by mementoes of his days on the frontier, Perhaps it was the nearness of the things he knew best that calmed Bill while he was at home. Gifts and booty lined the walls of his room. Scalp shirts, ornamented with tufts of hair, hung from the walls, Indian artifacts and souvenirs of world travels were also at hand, bringing back the rich past which Cody had known. Here it was peaceful and he had time to relax and enjoy the home he loved so much.
Cody found another place for thought in the watch tower on top of the house. Often he sat in the windows of the cupola until dawn, gazing out over his nearly 4,000 acres and dreaming of the day he could return to the ranch for good.
His show kept Bill away from Scouts Rest much of the time, but though life was changed with him gone, it did go on. Fred Garlow, Cody's foreman, tried to keep the ranch on a paying basis. He brought in sheep to graze the lush range around the spread. But sheep couldn't support a ranch the size of Scouts Rest. Then he hit on the idea of running a dairy herd on the place. Cowhands were put to work rounding up all of the range cattle they could find for milking. Often milking time was akin to Bill's Wild West Show in excitement. Range cows seemed to be against yielding milk to the wranglers and they didn't care who got kicked in the face in the process. Most of the milk went to a local drug store owner who converted it into ice cream. And after the tussle to get the milk, it became a standing joke that North Platte ice cream was the only kind in the world that had to be chewed.
With all of the work and frolic that Scouts Rest knew in its early years, it also knew disaster. For many years a huge "T"-shaped barn stood on the property. Three times the size of the barn now standing at Scouts Rest, it could easily house one hundred tons of hay. Bill also used the barn as storage space for some of his show props. One evening in 1906 a prairie fire swept out of the west and enveloped the barn. The huge structure burned and smoldered for nearly a week. Accounts of losses in the fire are a bit hazy, but some say that part of the Wild West Show's equipment went up in smoke along with the barn.
Disaster which plagued the ranch was in store for Cody's show, too. It began to flounder and fall apart, NEBRASKAland taking its owner with it. When the show finally went under, Bill was a broken man. In his lifetime he earned between three and six million dollars. Yet when he died in 1917 he was nearly penniless. Cody had literally given away the bulk of his fortune.
Now there is a new life at Scouts Rest Ranch. Owned by the Nebraska Game, Forestation, and Parks Com- mission, the ranch has been restored to almost its original splendor. Artifacts of Cody's era have been returned to their rightful place in the house. Wallpaper, which Bill had handcrafted in Germany, has been duplicated and is now on display at the ranch. The big "T" barn is gone forever, but the smaller barn, which still stands, sparkles with the same splendor it knew in the old days.
Each year thousands flock to the ranch to bask in the history which surrounds Cody's home. But they aren't alone. The old scout is there, too, his spirit stalking the buildings and grounds which he once knew so well. Maybe, if visitors watch closely, they can make out his form seated in the watch tower or ambling down the aisle in the stables, watching what once was his and now belongs to the world. THE END
BUCK AND A HALF TROUT
GEORGE MILLER, his son, Gordon, and his grandson, Gordon, Jr., looked up as the green tank truck lumbered closer. A few of the 150 or so other fishermen ringing Lake No. 5 of Two Rivers State Recreation Area near Venice, Nebraska moved in closer to the truck for a better look. The driver climbed out, grabbed a net from the back, and began scooping load after load of squirming trout from the water tank. As each netful hit the waters of the lake, young "supervisors" squealed in excitement. An over-excited fish flopped from the net and squirmed on the bank until a boy came to the rescue. The youngster grabbed a double handful of rainbow and tossed the gamester into the water.
On the opposite shore, George grinned to Gordon. "They are really pouring it on today. That is the second load. Usually the lake is stocked once a day with about 450 fish during the early part of the season. Most often, the Game Commission uses its new tank truck, which just pours the fish through a pipe. With Omaha just 20 miles to the east and Lincoln 50 miles to the west, fishing pressure is heavy so this lake needs a lot of trout."
As the older man unlimbered his spinning outfit for a cast, the youngest member of the threesome, 17-year-old Gordon, Jr., moved up to his grandfather. It was spring vacation for the teenager, a perfect chance for the three generations to fish together.
"I think I'll try down by the outlet for a while," the youth said, snapping on a red-and-white striped spoon. The trio's system is to use a wide variety of lures and bait until one of them hits a winning combination. Each Miller generation packs an open-faced' spinning outfit loaded with six-pound-test mono. The younger Gordon clomped off through the loose sand toward the east edge of the lake as George grinned at his grandson's enthusiasm, for the oldster is happiest when fishing is a family affair. He winked at Gordon Sr.
"I bet Gordy gets the first fish. He always does when the three of us are together. It is going to be a little crowded at the outlet, but I have seen it much worse. A lot of people fish there because it is so handy to the parking lot," George said with the authority of experience.
A while back, after his retirement from the railroad, George served a three-year stint as a tag salesman at the recreation area. At Two Rivers every trout fisherman must pay $1.50 for a tag which entitles him to take one five-trout limit per day. Each angler is restricted to one rod and line with two hooks. No fish are thrown back, and the fisherman must keep only his own fish on a stringer under his own control. No boats are allowed, and minnows are verboten for bait. This leaves plenty of latitude, though, for marshmallows, cheese, worms, beef melt, and artificial lures take a tremendous toll of trout from the seven-acre lake each year.
George pulled in his untouched cheese bait and substituted a nightcrawler. "If they won't take the cheese, I may just have to eat it, myself," he laughed.
The Valley man does not discourage very easily at Two Rivers and does not remember ever being skunked at the site. Over the season, about 52 per cent of the anglers who are willing to pay the price catch their limits of trout. In the 1965 season, more than 100,000 fish were taken from the pay trout lake in about 112,000 hours of fishing time. Anglers averaged about 3 1/2 fish per day.
This particular day in early April was exceptionally slow. A harsh wind fanned out of the northwest, bearing a reminder of winter. A small flock of returning geese buzzed the far edge of the lake and dropped over the trees along the Platte River as George made a cast with his new offering.Browns and rainbows are suckers in a fishy deal at Two Rivers
Five minutes later, the retired railroad man was fast to a good trout. The monofilament cut back and forth in long sweeps as George worked in line. Finally, the trout came to the surface and shot several inches out of the water but the flurry was his last. The ex-railroader slid his catch onto the gently sloping bank.
"How about this, Gordon?" he called to his son. "This one will go a good 14 inches. I have seldom seen bigger ones than this caught out of here, so he will make our day even if we don't catch any more."
Gordon remained silent, for he had problems of his own. His fish was about 11 inches long, and leaped gamely several times. The battle was short, and Gordon 16 NEBRASKAland was soon stringing his rainbow. Encouraged by his success, Gordon checked his rig and got ready for another cast.
"Better try over here," his father laughed, "I think I'm onto a hole or something. I just had another good take, but I missed him. Just a little end of worm seems to turn the trick. These fish seem to eat small."
Gordon broke off part of his nightcrawler and moved in beside his father. Two Rivers is like that. When the crowd is heavy enough, it is pretty much a shoulder-to-shoulder proposition. Nobody seems to mind and there is much socializing among entire families who come to try their luck. Every kind of rig imaginable is used, from cane poles to spinning outfits to flyrods. A man dressed in fishing vest, waders, a fly-bedecked hat, and packing a net and creel may have to step around a cane-poling eight-year-old on an outing with his folks. An elderly lady soaking up sun might be sitting in a folding chair discussing fishing methods with a neighbor. Or Dad and son might be trying their luck while Mom warms up the frying pan at one of the adjacent camp sites. Sometimes as many as 200 camping units are set up at one time during the summer season. For 50 cents a night, a family can live like nomads, partaking of the fishing, swimming, and sightseeing. There are six lakes, three of them joined in a chain. All except the trout lake furnish free fishing for warmwater species. Plug-in utilities are available in a trailer park for the larger trailers. Rental rowboats are available at all but the pay lake. Gordon checked the dwindling supply of nightcrawlers in the paper cup. "We better get'hot pretty soon, or one of us will have to make a bait run," he commented to the patriarch of the clan. "Anyway, we better get our limits soon. I'm getting hungry."
George pulled some chewing tobacco out, stuck a wad in his mouth, and pouched his cheek. "I just had another tap," he answered through the chew. "Got him!" The veteran fisherman rapidly worked the fish to a standstill, and slid a 13-incher up the bank. "Maybe the tobacco was lucky," the 67-year-old chuckled. "Want a chew?" he asked his son.
"Nope," Gordon grimaced. "It probably wouldn't help me a bit. Besides, I've got one on." A minute later, he beached a rainbow of about 11 inches.
The younger Gordon rounded a point of sand, toting two fish, one a rainbow, the other a brown. "Tagged a brownie," he said, "I heard they stocked a batch of them this year, but this is the first I have seen caught." The teenager flopped his double in the water and poked the end of his stringer deep into the loose sand.
George was watching his grandson when the oldster's line suddenly straightened pulling the rod tip into a sharp curve. "Guess this one hooked himself. I sure didn't have much to do with it," the oldster said, pumping the rod and reeling. A bulge ripped across the water as the trout streaked for safer quarters, but George's practiced hands guided the prize toward shore. His catch shunned the usual acrobatics, and gave a dogged, bottom-hugging battle but it wasn't long before George reached down and picked up the 12-inch rainbow.
"He must have been hungry. This hook is pretty deep," the victorious fisherman said as he pulled a red plastic disgorger from his pocket and stuck it down the fish's gullet. A quick twist, and the hook was free. "Handiest thing there is when you need it," George commented, holding up the red plastic stick with slotted ends.
"Well, look here," Gordon Sr., hooted. A nice trout did his utmost to shake free, bouncing out of the water several times. The older Gordon outfought a slightly smaller version of his father's catch, and held the squirming prize up as evidence that the middle generation was not idle.
"Pretty good, but I'm in business again, myself," George retorted.
He dragged a rainbow in, rebaited, cast again, and promptly connected with a second trout. "That wraps me up," he said, with a hint of pride in his voice. The granddad retired to the sidelines like an athlete who has given his all.
Gordon moved in to take over his father's spot, and proceeded to haul in his last two fish in rapid succession to fill out his limit. Gordon's son stepped over to see if the spot could produce for a third shift.
"Remember, now, just use a tiny piece of worm," the boy's father cautioned. "The drop-off is about 15 feet out here and the trout seem to be hanging out along the edge of it."
Gordon flipped his line out and stood holding the rod expectantly. The vacationing high schooler did not have long to sweat it out. The monofilament moved slowly, then stopped.
A playful gust of wind moved the line again, and Gordy tensed but held steady. Again the mono moved, this time straightening sharply as the fish moved off with the bait. Gordy struck back to set the hook and the battle was on. The fish was small but active enough to put on a tail-walking aerial show. Gordy lifted the fish and grinned through a mock frown.
"I guess you guys cleaned out all the big ones. Oh, well, the little fellows are just as good as the big ones in the pan."
"There are some fine fish in here from recent stockings," George answered. "Though there probably aren't any old-timers left. You know, the lake was renovated by the Game Commission last (Continued on page 51)
POPPING PRARIE POODLES
EVERYBODY HAS a reason or two for living in Nebraska but Gene Schmeeckle of Bridgeport has 3,000 of them. Gene, a dedicated prairie dog hunter, estimates that he has that many prairie pooches in a 15-mile radius of his hometown. Though he doesn't come close to putting a dent in the population he gets plenty of hot and heavy action throughout the summer with his two fine varment rifles. An insurance salesman, Gene has plenty of opportunities to line up dog towns and make friends with the landowners.
Through the years, Gene has developed two methods for plinking the dogs. He has his sports wagon equipped with a shooting bench for hunting when he's a bit lazy. When he's feeling frisky, he sneaks up on a town, assumes the prone position, and starts harvesting his targets. Both methods pay off in plenty of challenging shooting.Bridgeport sod dogs are poor risks when Insurance Agent Gene Schmeeckle zeroes in on a town full of four-legged prospects
Finding a place to hunt is no problem for the Bridgeport varmenter. The buttes and meadows around the town are ideal for both dogs and shooters. The towns are usually on the lee slopes and the buttes make excellent backstops for the high-velocity slugs 19 NEBRASKAland that Gene sends whistling across the prairie. The speedy bullets explode on impact and ricochets are no problem.
An expert marksman, Gene uses two rifles for his summer-long shooting. His favorite is a .244 Remington loaded with the 85-grain Sierra hollowpoint boattail. He drives it with 50 grains of slow-burning IMR 4831. The rifle is equipped with a 3 to 9X variable telescope. Since he specializes in long-range shooting, Gene uses the 9X setting most of the time. He doesn't figure a dog is any challenge unless he's 200 yards away and 300 is more to his liking.
His other pet is a wildcat, developed by himself and other gun nuts. Its cartridge is a .284 Winchester case necked down to 6 mm and loaded with the 85-grain slug. Velocity comes from 55 grains of 4831 IMR that sends the slug screaming along at 3,700 feet per second. Gene believes his creation is close to the ultimate in varment rifles and is highly effective on deer and antelope. A 6X telescope lets him get the best of its accuracy.
Gene estimates the vital area of a dog at three inches in width and a scant six in depth. At 300 yards, a dog looks like the flat end of a toothpick so it takes a very flat-shooting, highly accurate rifle to consistently score. Since there is always a cross wind in the butte country, the Bridgeport varmenter depends upon the high-velocity bullets to reach their targets before the wind drifts them into the next county.
"With rifles like the 6 mm-.284 and the .244, it's either a sure kill or a clean miss," explains Gene. "Sometimes the slug hits a weed or a clod on the way to the target and blows up but generally it gets there."
In the last 20 years, Gene has learned a lot about prairie dogs. He knows they are spooky and wise; quick to associate man with danger. They prefer a sloping meadow with plenty of all-around vision for their towns. They are daylight workers but in bitterly cold or extremely hot weather hole up for short periods. They usually feed from dawn to sunset. Sunny winter days find them out in the snow looking for grass and roots, with an eye peeled for trouble.
The squirrel-like animals are enthusiastic diggers. Short and blocky, their legs are wide spread, giving them room to throw dirt under their bodies and toss it away when they are burrowing. Their dens resemble miniature volcanoes with the dirt mounded in a cone around the entrances. Besides their home den they have an escape hatch or plunge hole nearby. These are hard to see since the dogs remove the dirt from them. The area around the center of the town is stripped bare of vegetation.
In spite of his short legs and roly-poly appearance, the sod poodle is fast. He runs with a peculiar undulating gait that gets him out of harm's way in jig time. His eyes are located atop his head for periscope vision. A wise old dog will crouch in a den with only his eyes above level watching for danger. His warning chatter keeps the colony underground until he sounds the all clear.
At least two dogs in every town are sentries. They watch for danger while others feed. A shrill chir from the guards and the dogs dash for their dens. Gene usually tries to bag a watcher and one or two laggards before they go underground. After 20 minutes or so the dogs emerge and after a look around resume feeding. Lots of shooting pressure makes them doubly cautious.
"The dog has one habit that endears him to all hunters," asserts Gene. "He stands up on his hind legs and holds grass or roots in his front paws. He's a real JULY, 1966 19 tempting target and I guess 70 per cent of the ones I get are sitting up. Crouched down they are a tough target. Once in awhile I get one with just his head sticking out of the den."POPPING PRAIRIE POODLES continued
The prairie dogs are declining at an alarming rate in Nebraska and other western states. More and more of the deadly poison baits are used on them and the dogs cannot stand their deadly inroads. Whole towns have been exterminated with more going each year.
Shooting alone will not exterminate the prairie dog. Prolific breeders, the sod poodles can easily keep ahead of the man with the rifle. However, and here is where Gene stars with the landowners, the gun can harvest the surplus population and help keep it under control.
The prairie dog is as much a part of the West as cow ponies and high-heel boots. He shared the prairie with Sioux and buffalo and barked an alarm when the Conestogas rumbled by. His clownish actions and comical appearance are a welcome interlude in the monotony of a sometimes cheerless landscape. He staked his claim to the land long before the first Conquistador came by in search of the golden cities.
If he is exterminated, a symbol will die with him —a symbol that rivals coyote and cactus as guide posts of the West.
Gene does not believe the prairie poodles will be exterminated. They have established colonies in remote areas where they are relatively unmolested. Some ranchers control the dogs but do not wipe them out. Others make deals with varment hunters to keep them thinned out. A few landowners like them and let the towns thrive. Poison is far from a merciful way of controlling or eliminating the varments. Gene gets the shudders when he sees the pitiful victims of these concoctions. The dogs circle aimlessly, whimpering in pain and confusion until death comes.
The Bridgeport hunter prepares well for his summer forays against the roly-poly of the prairies. He sights in his rifles to print 1 1/2 inch above point of aim. This puts him dead center at 200 yards and about 2 1/2 inches low at 300. His telescope sights are equipped with Lee Dots for range estimation. Their minute-of-angle coverage helps on the way-out tries. He weighs each powder charge and seats the bullet out so it just works through the magazine and still touches the rifling. Whenever cases stretch he gauges and trims them back to proper length.
He glass beds his rifles at tangs and recoil lugs and free floats the barrels. He favors an eight-pound rifle as a compromise between accuracy and shooting comfort. Triggers are adjusted to a four-ounce pull.
Gene has an ulterior motive for all this preparation before he starts his prairie dog sniping. He gets in plenty of off-season shooting which puts him in the pink for deer and antelope in the fall.
"After busting dogs all summer, a deer is a mighty big target. You might say we eat prairie dog-flavored venison around our house every winter," he grins. With 3,000 dogs waiting to match wits with him this summer, it's a cinch that Gene Schmeeckle won't go venison hungry when the deer season rolls around. THE END
DESCENT INTO DEVIL'S DEN
THE RAPPEL rope slid through my hands and burned hide from my thigh as I dropped from the warm spring sunshine into the gloom and chill of the Devil's Den. I dangled in space for what seemed an eternity before my feet struck the solid earth of the canyon floor.
My friend, J. H. Welling, Jr., who prefers to be called "JH", had descended before me. "You've got it made, Big Buffalo," he said, using my Indian name. "Untangle yourself, and let's give this place the once-over."
As I stepped out of the rope, I thought how goofy our idea was to drop into the Devil's Den from above, when by circling to its opposite end, we could do a simple walk in.
As a pair of adventurous students from Crawford High School, squirming with boredom after weeks of winter confinement in the classroom, we were wild for action. So JH came up with what he called a "historic first". We would find the wildest place in the country and do some mountain-type ropework. After thinking about it, I remembered that somewhere in our territory there was a canyon called Devil's Den. The name sounded intriguing, so we dug into the subject.
Information on Devil's Den was mighty sketchy. Rumor had it, that at the turn of the century, the den was a popular picnic spot for people of the area. There were the usual stories of its being used as a hiding place for a bandit or two and as a burial spot for stolen gold, since the old Deadwood stage trail crossed the Pine Ridge a couple of hundred yards from the head of the den. Purportedly, the canyon walls were concave with its floor wider than its top. Hundreds of names and dates were supposed to be carved on the canyon's walls.
Since those early years, Devil's Den was gradually forgotten, and we had trouble finding anyone who could tell us how to reach it.
Finally, Cecil Avey, Nebraska Game Commission conservation officer from Crawford, pinpointed the location for us. He took us to the public camp ground on the state-owned Gilbert-Baker Special Use Area in the Pine Ridge, five miles north of Harrison, and pointed out a draw that led generally north.
"About an hour's walk will get you there," he said. "Just keep following this main draw, and bear to the right when it branches. You'll know you're near the den when the walls get high, and you find 'devil's wheels' in the snowbanks. And be careful with that rope, or you will break your necks."
We hopped the creek and started up the valley. A hundred feet of one-half inch polypropylene rope swung from my shoulder. JH had our lunch. The rope was to lower ourselves into the den while the lunch was to give us the strength to get back out.
Remnants of a late March snow lingered in the shady places. We could see the tracks of a bobcat while muddy spots held the deep imprints of deer hooves. Now and then a stone, loosened by frost and thaw, rattled down the banks of the ravine.
Occasionally we walked fallen logs to bridge the 20-foot gaps in the drainage, and though the ascent was steady and easy, I felt sweat popping out on my face. Tiring, I suggested that we stop for a breathing spell. That was when JH shouted, "Look, a devil's wheel!"
Like an oversized, white cinnamon roll, it was lying under an uprooted stump. A groove through the snow showed its path from formation at the top of the bank to its final resting place. The devil's wheel is shaped by a pebble rolling down a steep snow slope. When the moisture content of the snow and the temperature of the atmosphere are right, the pebble picks up a coating of snow some inches thick. The wheel forms as it rolls to the bottom of the drift.
We hiked farther up the valley. Its shallow, sloping banks straightened with height, and pressed in like the closing jaws of a giant vise. It became a gloomy, narrow fissure, with chill air pouring from it.
"Just like Mr. Avery said," JH announced. "This must be the easy end of the den."
"We could walk in," I suggested. "It would be easier."
"Go if you want to," JH said. "But I want my first view to be from the end of that rope. I'm climbing to the top and eating some lunch, and then coming down into the den just like we've planned." He started up a steep trail to the canyon rim. I followed.
Under a small pine, we finished off the sandwiches, fried chicken, and candy bars in short order. JH flung the empty box down into the canyon. "We'll pick it up on our way out," he said. He knew I didn't like littering.
Because neither of us had brought a canteen, I tried an old Indian trick and skimmed the snow on a rock down to its layer of water-filled slush, and sucked up a drink as easily as drinking from a pool.
JH picked up the coil of rope I'd been carrying, and squinted toward the top of a small butte. "That will do to practice our ropework," he decided. We climbed to the top and he secured one end of the rope to the base of a small tree with a bowline knot. Then he wrapped the rappeling loops around (Continued on Page 52)22 NEBRASKAland
THIS OLD HOUSEBy Warren Spencer
WHEN HORACE Greeley voiced his command to "Go West, young man, go West", thousands of easterners were more than happy to oblige. Loading their possessions into family Conestogas, they headed West to establish their homes in a strange land. Many of these homes, from soddie to mansion, were destined to become tangible symbols of Nebraska's advancing civilization.
In the 1880's when many of his neighbors were content with their sod dwellings, L. A. Brandhoefer of Ogallala was building his dream house. Perched on a hill overlooking the tiny town and the South Platte Valley, the three-story structure was to be a wedding present for his fiancee in Chicago. Brandhoefer spared 24 no expense to build his able brick home. Craftsmen and artists were imported from Chicago and Denver to lend their talents to the construction. Tile from New Jersey was brought in to surround the house's two fireplaces. Even the children and puppie designs on the tile were custom ordered. Bathroom fixtures, probably the first in the area, were ordered for the house while the finest of woods were used for interior decorations.
Brandhoefer's new home was a striking example of the taste in architecture of its day. When finished, it boasted such features as carriage steps attached to the back porch for milady to mount her horse. Water for the bathroom and kitchen, modern far beyond their day, was stored in a 1,000-gallon cistern behind the house. Wood ornamentation around doors and the two ground-floor fireplaces was outstanding in its carved excellence, for all of it was fashioned by quality craftsmen. On the outside of the structure, iron steps led to the rooftop for viewing the surrounding countryside.
Pleased with his new house, Brandhoefer returned to Chicago to bring his fiancee to her mansion. When he arrived in the city he found the girl of his dreams had already married. Shattered, he returned to Ogallala, sold the house to the first bidder, and headed for parts unknown. The new owner kept the house for several years. Later it was sold into the Campbell estate. Presently, the Keith County Historical Society is negotiating its purchase to restore it as a museum. Today, only the carriage steps remain to recall the splendor which the house once knew and which it may soon know again.
Nebraska's historic homes were often modern beyond their times. One of the best examples of modern living in early Nebraska is in the Harvey P. Sutton residence in McCook. In 1905 the Suttons contacted famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright, abroad at the time, was touring Japan and one of his assistants took the Sutton account. Mrs. Sutton stated in her letter that they would like to remodel their home on a budget of $2,000. She gave the specifications she wanted incorporated into the house and asked for preliminary plans. Within a few weeks the plans arrived, with a note that construction would exceed the budget given, and advising that the Suttons consider building a new home from scratch.
Apparently against the idea of a new home, Mrs. Sutton pointed out changes in the plans and asked for the second of a long series of plans to be forwarded. Again and again plans were submitted only to be rejected. Wright returned from his tour and took over the project personally, but had no better luck than his associates in pleasing the Suttons. Finally the Suttons decided to build.
For months plans shuttled back and forth until Mrs. Sutton, who apparently was the building supervisor of JULY, 1966 25 the family, was reasonably pleased with the design. Wright's office elected to handle all building materials, and to furnish McCook carpenters with full explanations of the plans. But by 1907, according to a letter from Mrs. Sutton, all that had been constructed was an "unsightly hole at our front door." At approximately the same time the Suttons were presented with Mr. Wright's bill of $300. Apparently the architect had some trouble collecting his due, for in a later letter to Mrs. Sutton he explains his "desperate" need for the money which "should have been paid to him long ago." Whether payment was soon made or not is unknown.
Finally, in the summer of 1908, the Sutton house was completed. Standing on a hill overlooking Main Street, it was a beauty. Its Oriental-inspired lines became a conversation piece throughout the community. The stucco exterior was enhanced by a cantilevered roof which seemed to hang over the porch. Wright also designed the furniture for the new home, a fact that caused Mr. Sutton considerable trouble. Perhaps the $10,000 price tag on the home turned him against the whole thing, but he couldn't quite get comfortable there. As a last resort he bought a soft Spanish sofa for himself and left the ultra-modern furniture to his wife and visitors.
In 1932 fire swept the two-story structure. Starting in the basement it burned through the porch, destroying that part of the roof. Again Mrs. Sutton took over construction supervision, but neither she nor the workmen were able to reproduce the roof's original cantilever design. As a substitute, four stucco pillars were constructed to support the roof, which marred the structure's original lines. Most of the furniture was lost due to smoke and water damage during the fire.
Later the house was turned into apartments with one on the upper floor and another on the lower. This arrangement altered its interior greatly with partitions removed, added, and rearranged. Then in 1961 a doctor bought the house and nearly all trace of its original interior design was lost when he remodeled it for use as a clinic. Today only the exterior's flowing lines remain to remind a visitor that this is the house that Wright built.
Many of Nebraska's outstanding historic homes have not been altered greatly since their construction. Though Fairview, William Jennings Bryan's home in southeast Lincoln, has been used as a hospital and nurses home, it is much the same today as it was in its early life. Through the efforts of the State Historical Society and Lincoln's Junior League, Fairview has become a national as well as a state showplace. Located at 4900 Sumner in Lincoln, Fairview is open to the public from 1 to 4 p.m. daily except Monday, and 7 to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays from April to September.
Lincoln also boasts the home of General John J. Pershing, though some controversy exists as to its placement. Pershing, the leader of the American Expeditionary Forces in France during World War I, taught military science at the University of Nebraska early in his military career. Later, after a California fire in which his wife and two daughters perished, Pershing chose his two sisters' Lincoln home for his son, Warren. In 26 NEBRASKAland 1919 he bought a single story home at 1748 B Street. Originally frame, the house was modernized and stuccoed in 1930. Today the house is used for apartments.
Another towering home, located at 19th and D Streets in Lincoln, is also reputed to have been built and used by Pershing. A castlelike structure, its turret, numerous baths sheeted with imported Italian tile, and monstrous rooms give it a castlelike atmosphere. Presently this unique home is occupied by Triangle Fraternity, associated with the University of Nebraska. While the fraternity claims that their house was built by General Pershing, there is no material available through the State Historical Society, the Lancaster County Historical Society, or private agencies to substantiate the claim. Only one picture in the archives at the Nebraska Adjutant General's office gives any hint of the home's famous occupant. It shows young Warren Pershing standing in the doorway of the palatial home with another youngster. Neither house is open to the public.
Famous men in their day, Brownville's politicians and businessmen left their contributions to the state's architecture, too. Towering over the historic town, Governor R. W. Furnas' house stands in silent tribute to the glories of Brownville's epic era. A white three-story structure, the home is furnished much as it was when Furnas lived there and is open to the public. Among other homes is the Carson House, originally built by Richard Brown, Brownville's founder, which was bought and enlarged by John L. Carson, a pioneer banker of the era. Another home, the Muir House in Brownville, also attracts thousands of visitors each year.
Even some of Nebraska's earliest homes remain today. Reputed to be one of the first in the state, the James C. Mitchell cabin is located at 8314 North 31st Street in Omaha. Built in 1855, the structure is now owned by the Florence Presbyterian Church.
From the towering, ornate structures of the Gay Nineties to the rambling ranch houses of today, Nebraska spans the architectural gamut. Gas jets have been replaced by indirect lighting and carriage barns by carports. Yet in the years to come, the houses of today, like their predecessors, will become Nebraska's historic homes. THE END
IT STARTED WITH CHING
CHING LEE was as optimistic as any Chinese peasant could be in 2100 B. C. He regarded his greening rice paddy with near reverence, for the crop was doing well. The gods willing, he and his family would be spared the agonies of winter famine. As he watched, little swirls of silt momentarily clouded the translucent waters of the growing pond as carp fed themselves fat in the highly fertile muck. Weeks before, Ching had sown the fertilized spawn in the shallow waters of the paddy and prayed that it would hatch. After the rice was harvested, he planned to take the fish, sell some to the merchants, and keep the rest for himself. In his day, Ching was a fish culturist and understood practical stocking.
Early in May, the peasant had submerged woven mats in the carp-laden waters of the Yang-tse-Kiang River to trap and hold the spawn as it drifted down current. Carefully, Ching placed the recovered eggs in a water-filled jar and carried them to his flooded paddy for distribution in the sun-warmed water. Soon the paddy was swarming with tiny carp. Many would die before the rice was ready for the sickle but others would live. These survivors would provide many a feast for Ching and his sons. If the men left any scraps, even Ching's woman might have a taste.
Ching had to obey the laws while taking the carp spawn or risk losing his head, for his rulers imposed certain restrictions on the taking of fish and their spawn. The ancient Orientals recognized fish as a renewable resource and took care to insure a self-replenishing supply.
From Asia, the practice of fish stocking spread to Europe. When the old Romans were riding high, many of them stocked fish in the outdoor baths and pools of their country villas. When the Latins tired of watching the gladitorial bashes, they sometimes fished.
Later, when Christianity spread through middle Europe, the monks stocked ponds and lagoons with fish to provide fare for the many meatless days of their faith. Records from the old monasteries often mention fish stocking and culture as part of the monks' agricultural enterprises. As early as 1400 A. D., the good brothers were experimenting with hatching boxes in the artificial propagation of fish.
Americans were slow to delve into fish stocking since there were plenty of fish for the catching in this uncrowded country, but as the population increased and fishing opportunities dwindled, a growing interest developed in stocking. The first American attempt to propagate fish was tried in 1853, and the first book to be published in the United States on the subject appeared in 1858.
Nebraska was but eight years a state when the first accidental stocking occurred here. In 1875, a train carrying a carload of fish from New England to California piled up near Fremont and spilled 300,000 finny passengers into the Elkhorn River. The newcomers included brook trout, tautog, striped bass, American shad, channel catfish, American eel, yellow perch, walleye, largemouth bass, minnows, lobsters, and oysters.
Two years after this impromptu stocking, the old U. S. Fish Commission released Atlantic salmon in the Missouri River at Omaha and chinook salmon in the mouth of the Floyd River at Sioux City. These cold-water gamesters didn't take but this early failure did not deter both state and federal agencies from many attempts to stock salmon of one kind or another in Nebraska. As recently as 1961, the Fishery Division of the Nebraska Game Commission stocked kokanee in Lake McConaughy but they swam into oblivion, too. Although salmon didn't take, another early introduction did when fishery workers brought carp to Nebraska. There was logic behind the move and a sincere wish to help the farmers supplement their meager incomes. European farmers had long raised and sold carp so the idea looked a natural. The first of the rubber-lipped clan came here in 1881 when 120 carp were distributed to seven pond owners. Everything would have been fine if the pesky critters had stayed put but spring freshets and washouts set the imports free. From then on, the old primeval urges took over and carp beget carp with right good enthusiasm.
In recent years, the Fishery Division of the Nebraska Game Commission has spent thousands of dollars trying to eliminate these nuisances from ponds and lakes that can support more popular fish. Although spurned by many anglers, carp have a loyal following among some hook and liners.Old Chinese puts fish where they aren't, and Nebraska follows suit
Another European failed to follow his compatriots' example in the New World. The tench, an important food and sport fish of central Europe, was stocked here in 1895 but he didn't stay. It's a pity that he didn't, for the tench is a white-fleshed fish with a high tolerance for sluggish streams and rivers. A mudder in winter, the tench is a pretty good scrapper in spite of his rather phlegmatic disposition.
Nebraska spent a lot of time and effort on the trout in the early days. Some made it, some didn't. At the present time, trout stocking is limited to those waters where temperatures are suitable but spawning areas are generally inadequate to sustain a fishable population.
Modern fishery experts may smile at the old-time efforts to stock chinook in Salt Creek or gold fish in farm ponds but they can't help but admire the dedication and resourcefulness of the pioneer fish culturists who did their very best to provide more and better fishing in Nebraska and other states. By trial and error, the old-timers laid the foundations of modern fishery management and today's scientific understanding of environmental and ecological requirements.
In the old days, the emphasis was on volume production of fry and heavy stocking of non-native fish. Many hatchery superintendents prided themselves on the number of fry produced and were not overly concerned about the survival or final fate of their charges once they were released in streams and lakes.
Early stocking efforts in Nebraska were hampered by long distances and poor transportation. For more than 11 years, the Santee Fish Hatchery, now the Gretna Fish Hatchery, had to depend upon a team and wagon to distribute its hatchlings. Close-to-hatchery waters got some breaks but out-state stocking was difficult.
Hatchery men worked at the problem by putting their stockers in water-filled cans and loading them on railroad baggage cars. Trainmen, plagued by the threat of possible Indian raids, balky locomotives, washouts, derailments, and other railroad woes had little time to worry about their finny cargoes so shipping mortality was high. The rough handling from station platform to final destination also took its toll. Proper aeration, controlled temperatures, and other key survival aids'were not clearly understood by the laymen who often handled the fish. It was a red-letter day for the old Nebraska 28 NEBRASKAland Fish Commission when it finally obtained a railroad car specifically designed for shipping fish around the state.by Bob Thomas Section Chief, Fishery Management
The 20th Century was pretty well along before Nebraska and other states shifted stocking emphasis from exotics to native fish. Also, the science of lake and stream improvement to provide better habitat was used to a greater extent. Some of the exotic failures in Nebraska included the salmons, the lake whitefish, lake trout, Cisco, tench, and arctic grayling.
Hopes for a fishable population of lake trout were optimistic when these cold-water scrappers were first stocked in Pony Lake in Dundy County in 1886. In 1903, three lake trout were reported caught in the streams of Sioux County but then the trout disappeared.
Attempts to establish lake whitefish began in 1883 when Nebraska received 400,000 fry from Lake Huron. The commissioners put 100,000 in the Santee lakes, 200,000 in the lakes near Fremont and distributed some to owners of private ponds. The fish soon died as did 100,000 others that were hatched at the hatchery. After this failure the commission concluded sadly that whitefish could not be "successfully cultivated in the waters of this state."
Although many of the old-time technicians followed the "fish-and-water get-together" theory of stocking, others were taking closer looks at the environmental relationships and coming to the conclusion that a fish needs more than just wet stuff to make a go of it. There was a growing awareness that indiscriminate stocking of fry was a wasteful practice with plenty of risk so the policy gradually changed to the holding of fry until they reached finger ling size or better. Also, the idea of utilizing native fish for new waters was taking hold. Additional hatcheries were eliminating some of the transportation problems.
Besides the normal hazards of stocking fish, the old-timers had to cope with dynamiters. In the waning years of the 19th Century, dynamiting of lakes and ponds became quite a fad. It didn't take these boom-boom characters long to completely wipe out a pond or small lake with their explosives. It must have been disheartening to the overworked hands of the fish commission to see their lately released charges floating belly up after a raid by the bombers. Finally, laws with teeth and a stronger enforcement policy put a stop to this infamous activity.
Step by step, the science of fish management progressed in Nebraska and other states. There were many setbacks and disappointments but there were triumphs, too. The walleye and the white bass are prime examples of fish that took well to stocking. Technicians have learned that nature is still going to have a large say in what goes where and now they try to co-operate with her instead of trying to bend her to their wills.
Opinions and desires of barber-shop experts no longer influence technicians like they once did. A new breed of professionals make their recommendations and base their stocking programs on hard scientific knowledge instead of wishful thinking. It is now generally understood that stocking is a practical way of providing more fish for more people. The great increase in artificial impoundments, farm ponds, and community lakes make stocking a must in practically every state for angling demands are apparently insatiable.
The history of fish stocking has been a long time in the writing and the final chapter is far from being started but if old Ching could look across the years and read what has been accomplished, he would smile and say, "Well done, honorable sons." THE END
...Where the Action is30 NEBRASKAland
SUMMER FUN is more than a convenient figure of speech in NEBRASKAland. It is a way of life. A big and diversified state with many geographic and cultural facets, Nebraska is at its recreational best when the sun is high and the air is charged with the promise of adventure. Blessed with abundant water, uncrowded land, and a wide variety of scenic and cultural attractions, this state can satisfy the most critical of fun seekers with an endless offering of things to do.
There is water aplenty for the boater, angler, swimmer, and skier, for Nebraska is a mighty big spread and its watery bounty is in keeping with its size. Most of the rivers are long and meandering with miles and miles of water to accommodate the speediest of power craft or the slowest of drifting johnboats. Vast stretches of ever-changing shoreline keep pace with the always varied personalities of the rivers. From the much-storied Missouri to the ever-wild Snake, Nebraska's rivers are studies in contrast. Box the compass and split the differences and there is a waterway to match your course. Nebraska's rivers flow west to east, north to south, and sometimes in between just for variety.JULY, 1966
The superb diversity of the rivers is challenged by the lakes which dot the state. Big or small, natural or man-made, lakes here can match any mood or meet any wish. Some lakes are so big they stun the imagination by sheer size while others are small and secluded.
Many of Nebraska's lakes teem with fish, made to measure for every angling skill. There are countless bluegill to tempt the Sunday cane poler, long-snouted northern pike big enough to strain the strongest tackle, and bass so hefty and wise that the netting of one is a proud accomplishment. The big lakes, and Nebraska has a host of them, have enough room for every type of simultaneous water fun from hydroplane racing to scuba diving. In an era when water resources are dwindling at an alarming rate, Nebraska still has more than enough wet stuff to satisfy the most demanding of skippers.
Landlubbers are not forgotten in this water-rich state, for the land is equally generous with its gifts to those who want the solid feel of the good earth beneath their feet. There are miles of scenic trails to challenge JULY, 1966 33 both the horsebacker and hiker. In the west there are buttes to climb, pinnacles to study, and canyons to explore. In the east, there are rugged river bluffs to scale, towering trees to admire, and quaint towns to enjoy.
A vacationer cannot long remain a spectator here, for Nebraska's brand of summer fun is contagious and few can resist its urgings to be up and doing. But for those who rather see than do, the state can fill the bill.
For the nature lover, there are broad vistas of hill and prairie, winding streams, carpets of wild flowers, and gem-like lakes for the viewing. Between the busy eastern section with its neat farms and graceful cities, and the majestic solitudes of the Pine Ridge and other western greats lie the Sand Hills. This huge expanse of rolling grasslands has a unique beauty that cannot be matched anywhere else in the world. Predominantly green and brown, the hills form a charming mosaic of muted tones and sparkling brilliants. Sensitive to the changing light, the Sand Hills are at their best when the long shadows of late afternoon spread across the choppies and inch across the sandy blowouts. Scenic as they are, the hills have worthy rivals in the majestic Pine Ridge, the Wildcat Hills, and the fertile Platte Valley.34 NEBRASKAland
Nebraska has special treats for those who prefer their action, second hand. From March to October, race horses of the finest bloodlines break from the starting gates and pound into the first turn on some of the best tracks in the country. But thrilling as it is, horse racing must play second fiddle to the thunderous excitement and go-for-broke atmosphere of rodeo. Rodeo was born in Nebraska and has never stopped growing. The greatest stars on the circuit compete at Burwell, North Platte, and Lincoln, but the gusty action and flashing suspense of rodeo is not limited to the big blowouts, for practically every community in the state stages a show.
Nebraska is still a youngster in the family of states, so its heritage of Indian, trapper, mountain man, immigrant, and sodbuster is still vibrantly close. There is hardly a summer day that some place in Nebraska is not humming with a powwow or pageant, festival or fair, for Nebraskans are a proud and gregarious people who dearly love a celebration of any kind.
Almost a score of nationalities helped to settle this once raw and primitive land. They brought many of the festivals and nationalistic observances of their homelands with them and today, these highly colorful events contribute much to the summer doings of the state. First generation immigrants are fading from the scene but their sons and daughters keep the old traditions alive with pageants and festivals. Some of these Old World transplants are highly dramatic with strong religious and cultural overtones.JULY, 1966 37 Loose change in pockets of passerby like music to the ears of county fair pitchmen
Cities fill the gaps for those who cannot chase the long horizons or seek out the hidden delights of this complex and varied state. Zoos, formal gardens, museums, parks, art galleries, and planetariums provide both enjoyment and knowledge to those who cannot leave the concrete canyons of the cities to journey in far places. The big towns, Omaha, Lincoln, Scottsbluff, Grand Island, and some of the others are rich in cultural and historic attractions but many of the small towns 39 boast fine museums and other centers of interest. Young in years and even younger in spirit, Nebraska has a special love for children and goes all out to provide wholesome recreational outlets for their boundless energies. There is hardly a hamlet in the state that does not maintain a park or playground for the small fry. It may be a simple affair with a few swings, a merry-go-round, a ball diamond, and a few monkey bars for budding Tarzans or they can be elaborate affairs with facilities straight from the childhood classics.
This is Nebraska, a big and boisterous spread that can write the book on summer fun but it won't. You see this state is just too busy enjoying what it has. THE END40 NEBRASKAland
GRAND FINALE BUCKBy Art Thomsen
HE HANGS ON my den wall, all 14 points of him, and every time I look at his majestic rack, I feel the same flush of pride that I first felt back in 1964 when this buck and I met in that final showdown. It came in the Pine Ridge and it climaxed three years of waiting and hoping, for our trails first crossed, in a second-hand way, in 1961. From then on, there was scarcely a day that I didn't think of him. But the fates didn't smile until that eventful afternoon in November, 1964.
It began in 1961 on the Wolleson Brothers Ranch, south and east of Chadron. My wife, Barbara, and I, along with several other deer hunters, were in the Ridge when I first heard of this great buck. Barbara was on a stand and several of us were working the covers hoping to drive a respectable buck past her hill-top vantage point. She wasn't expecting the heavyweight that glided past her and suffered a bad case of buck fever at the sight of him. She shot a lot of holes in the hillside but the deer escaped unscathed. From her description I gathered that he was a buck to top all other bucks but we didn't see him again that season.
Barbara and I live in Kearney where I work as an investigator for the Nebraska Brand Committee. We try to schedule my vacations for the rifle deer season and have been doing so since 1957. Our favorite hunting area is the Pine Ridge where we headquarter at the Wollesons' spread. It's fine big game country and I usually score on a nice buck before the season ends but sometimes it takes considerable doing.
My first eye-to-antler meeting with the 14-pointer came in 1962 after I had shot a smaller buck and couldn't do a thing about it. After dressing the two-pointer out, I headed for the pickup that was parked a few canyons away. I hadn't gone more than 75 yards when the monster came out of a side canyon and vanished over a ridge without looking back. I felt sick all over as he disappeared, for I had my permit filled. I knew that he was one of the biggest deer I had ever seen. No other hunters reported seeing him during the rest of the season so I was fairly confident he would survive for another year.
The buck gave me the dodge in 1963 but I knew he was around, for Doug Wolleson got a hurried shot at 42 NEBRASKAland him. Doug managed to knock off a chunk of his antler with his quick shot but it wasn't enough to stop him. You guessed it, the big buck wasn't seen again that season.
How did I know it was the same buck? He was easy to identify. His rack was huge and nontypical and his coloration was much darker than that of a run-of-the-ridge deer. Besides, he ran with a peculiar pacing gait, unlike the bouncy spring of the typical mule deer. He was big in body and appeared to be quite old.
A new policy of two-deer permits per hunter was established in 1964 so I felt I had a slightly better chance to settle accounts with the old buck. With two permits, I intended to use one for "eating" venison and the other for a trophy. We went back to the Wollesons again, this time with my younger brother, Charlie of Plattsmouth. On the way up to the Ridge, I nailed a coyote with my Weatherby 7 mm Magnum. I called it a portent of things to come and I hoped it would be. Opening morning found us in our familiar hunting grounds for like all deer hunters we have one particular spot which is our favorite. All of us were hoping to get a shot at or at least a glimpse of Old Hatrack himself.
Barbara was the first to score. She nailed a nice mule deer with her .270, minutes after the season opened. After that I struck out on my own, heading for the heavier timber and the deeper canyons. I walked for several hours, seeing only an occasional doe or fawn. I crossed a large canyon and was walking a well-worn deer trail, trying to be as quiet as I could. It had been a dry fall and everything was pretty noisy. My trail leveled off a bit and made an abrupt left turn into a small clearing. I rounded the turn and there stood the old mule deer, looking like a bull elk. I hastily fumbled the Weatherby's safety to off but years of experience had already prompted this buck to shift into high gear. I got off a quick shot as he made the edge of the timber but after a close check of the area for signs of a hit I concluded that he was gone without a scratch. After messing up the opportunity I felt like throwing in the towel and blamed myself for not being alert enough to handle the situation.
An hour later, I knocked a spike buck for a loop as he headed for a hogback. That took care of one permit, so I took off for lunch.
After eating, Bus Wolleson loaded us in the pickup and took us back to the hunting area. Charlie elected to hunt with me since he wanted to get a buck with his .45 caliber Kentucky muzzle-loader. We worked along a sparsely timbered ridge and kept our eyes open. Almost simultaneously, we spotted the big buck lying under a big pine tree that overlooked a sharp drop off. He was only a little more than 100 yards away, and was facing directly toward me. Apparently, he thought we didn't see him for he made no attempt to escape. I centered the crosshairs on his chest, holding slightly below his chin and squeezed off. Old Hatrack jumped up, fell back, and came up again, backing in a tight circle. I shot again and this time it was for keeps with a heart-hit behind the front shoulder.
It was hard to believe that this magnificent buck was finally mine, but even in my elation I felt a twinge of regret for I knew there would never be another one like him in my book. My trophy looked even bigger close up. His rack was a beautiful, nontypical with six points on the right side and eight on the left. My first shot had hit his lower jaw and apparently deflected enough to prevent a fatal wound. My second try was the killer.
After checking through the Chadron check station, I carefully caped out the head and turned it over to Howard Dodd of Crawford who is a fine taxidermist. I received the mounted head shortly after New Year's Day, 1965.
No doubt, I will continue to hunt the Pine Ridge for years to come but I'm sure that no future hunt will ever mean as much as the one in 1964 when a dream buck and I met for the final showdown. THE END
Daughter of the Praries
SHE WAS OUT of tune with the world around her, this daughter of Nebraska pioneers. The chords she struck on the minds of others in those early years weren't discordant or strident; rather they were of a different tempo. Willa Cather, author of 17 books, several of them famed for their accurate portrayal of life of the prairies, was not quite 10 when her parents took their 4 children to join a Virginia colony on the unbroken Nebraska prairie. Ten years before, more adventuresome members of the clan had come here. Willa's folks came to Webster County in 1883. She felt the break cruelly, for she loved the homogenous farming community in Virginia where she was born December 7, 1873. It is said that an imaginative and emotional response to the shift from Virginia to Nebraska is at the core of her fiction. On the wind - tormented prairies of Webster County and later at her home in Red Cloud, Willa Cather was known as "a young curiosity shop". She wanted to know about everything, to run the inroads of zoology to the extent of even dissecting frogs. She wanted to become a physician, and on occasion assisted the local doctors in operations and with house calls. She listened with breathless, rapt attention to the tuneful old operas at the brick opera house in the little community, and even performed a couple of times herself. When Willa was 15 she appeared on amateur night in Beauty and the Beast. The Red Cloud Chief newspaper ran an account of her success: "Willa Cather took the part of the Merchant and carried it through with such grace and ease that she called forth the admiration of the entire audience. It was -a difficult part and well rendered. Many people failed to pierce her disguise and throughout the program thought she was really a young man."
This girl from the East eventually drank in the beauty of the plains with an unquenched thirst. At first she found none of the signs of Spring for which she used to watch in Virginia—"Only Spring itself; the throb of it, the light restlessness, the vital essence of it everywhere".
Here the little "curiosity shop", usually known through her childhood and early youth as "Willie", rebelled against the conventional as denial of life itself. She soon developed her independence of thought andeed. While the other girls refrained from exercise as inelegant if not indecent, Willa Cather delivered mail on horseback to many a lonely soddy. She wore her hair shingled, shorter than many of the boys. She dressed like a boy in starched shirt waists and short tailored suits—in an age of feminine furbelows, long skirts, and high pompadours. She preferred the conversation of older men. This novelist to be was an alien in what she was to call a "bitter, dead little Western town". It wasn't until years later and miles of experience behind her that Willa Cather made her peace with Red Cloud and drew upon Nebraska for stuff of her novels. The stalwart pioneers had little time or taste for curiosity about life about them. They were too busy breaking the virgin prairie soil. The State Department of Immigration had proclaimed Nebraska as "The last agricultural state in America offering cheap and good homesteads to the landless". And they set out to prove it. Approximately two years after their arrival in Nebraska, the Cathers moved to Red Cloud. Their home was topped with an attic which ran the whole length of the house. It was unlined, with just the roof boards and shingles between the occupants and the elements. In winter, snow sifted in through the cracks to sprinkle the faces and bed covers of the Cather brood. When Willa Cather grew older her mother insisted that she have a room of her own so one end of the loft was lined, much to her regret.
Willa Cather said in 1921, 30 years after she had first left Red Cloud, "That the years from 8 to 15 are the formative period in a writer's life, when he unconsciously gathers basic material." These are the years that appear almost everywhere in her writing.
Willa's breed of progressive pioneers was among the first to establish a secondary school in central Nebraska. In 1890, the first graduates of Red Cloud, Willa Cather and two classmates, received diplomas in the Opera House before a capacity crowd of 100.
She came to Lincoln hoping to enroll in the University of Nebraska but she did not have the preparation 44 NEBRASKAland for a university course, so she enrolled instead in the senior year of a two-year preparatory academy. A classmate recalls that while the "preparatory" class in Greek was waiting for the instructor to begin the first lesson, the door opened and a head appeared, with short hair and a straw hat. A deep masculine voice inquired whether this was where the class in elementary Greek was meeting; a boy nodded that it was. When the newcomer opened the door wide and revealed a girl's skirt, the entire class burst into laughter. Willa Cather, unruffled, quietly took her place.
A theme she wrote on Carlyle was singled out for publication in the local paper. The sight of her work in print and the commendation it drew had a hypnotic effect on her; it was clear now that she must write. Willa had begun the long climb to success.
Even though she later reflected that at 20 she was not ripe for the kind of fiction she cared to write, she poured a lot of herself out on paper. At the beginning of her sophomore year at the university she became one of the editors of the Hesperian, an undergraduate literary periodical. She contributed verse, criticism, dialogues, satirical sketches of students, and stories. Already many of the elements in her novels about Nebraska were present. They included a deep concern about the adjustment of foreigners to an alien community; sympathy with farm folks who don't fit into the city, and a dislike at the pressure of a community on a personality which is at variance with it. The girl from Red Cloud was speaking about herself.
In Lincoln she lived in a bare and austere room not far from the central business district but it was fine for study and Willa spent long hours at her desk. At night she went for long talks in the houses of her friends, Louise and Olivia Pound, and the chancellor of the university, James H. Canfield and his daughter Dorothy.
Willa Cather energetically participated in school activities. She was literary editor of the Sombrero, a yearbook issued in 1894. She served as critic and later as secretary of the Union Literary Society; and appeared in at least three productions of the University Dramatics Club.
There was little money coming from home in those days, a succession of crop failures and the panic of 1893-1897 kept her father struggling to keep his land and meet the expenses of a large family. The Farmers and Merchants Bank in Red Cloud failed, and though her father lost no money in the bank bust, many men who owed him did.
She met her own expenses by contributing columns to the Sunday issues of the State Journal at a dollar a crack. Her most pungent articles were reviews of plays and she wasted no sympathy in her criticisms. A retrospective editorial appearing in the newspaper on November 1, 1921, said "Many an actor of national reputation wondered on coming to Lincoln what would appear next morning from the pen of the meat-ax young girl of whom all of them had (Continued on page 54)
NOTES ON NEBRASKA FAUNA.. . HUMMINGBIRDby Norman Dey District Game Supervisor
FOUND ONLY in America, this brightly colored group of birds is the most remarkable group in the entire world. The hummingbird family, Trochilidae, is different from other bird families and is sometimes mistaken for insects.
Three species of hummingbirds have been observed in Nebraska. A common summer resident and breeder in eastern Nebraska is the Ruby-throated hummingbird Archilochus colubris. In western Nebraska, Broad-tailed Selasphorus platycercus platycercus and rufous hummingbirds, Rufous Selasphorus are occasionally observed during summer months; however, no breeding observations have been recorded.
Size is a distinguishing characteristic of the hummingbirds. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are less than four inches in length with their upper parts bronze-green, and under parts red, bronze-green, and white. Largest of the three species found in Nebraska is the Broad-tailed, measuring over four inches in length. Under parts are whitish with a bronze-green back and head. Rufous hummingbirds are similar in size to the Ruby-throated, with males having a prevailing red color and females similar to the Broad-tailed in color.
A hummingbird's tongue is specifically adapted for his specialized feeding habits. The tongue is extremely long, slender, and capable of extension. Split at the tip, each side is curled, forming two parallel tubes for part of its length.
An extremely long neck and bill enables these tiny birds to reach far into the blossoms of flowers while feeding.
Seldom mistaken for other birds, they can be confused with the Sphinx moth sometimes seen around flowers during summer evenings. A hummingbird is usually observed as he whizzes across the yard like a large bee or pauses before flowers in the garden.
Unlike most other species of birds, male hummingbirds desert the female soon after incubation begins. It is theorized that the bright colors of the male near the nest attract enemies, so it is to the advantage of the young for the male to desert the female during the time of nesting and baby-sitting.
Nests are usually located in trees 12 to 30 feet above the ground. Cup-shaped, the nest is about the size of an English walnut and composed of plant down and other soft materials, bound together with fibers of bark and spider webs. Each nest usually contains two pure white eggs. Food for the newly hatched nestlings consists of partially digested insects regurgitated by the parents.
These midgets of the bird world differ strikingly from other birds in their flight and manner of procuring food. Their food consists of small insects and nectar of flowers. Nectar is gathered from flowers much as bees gather it. The bird hovers before the flower and with its bill thrust inside the blossom, extracts the nectar through his semi-tubular tongue. While hovering, the wing beat is so rapid that it is invisible to the human eye. It is at this time that a humming sound is produced, which gives the bird his vernacular name. Vocally quiet, the hummers produce their noise with their wings. Most of their insect diet is caught in flight. Hummingbirds wait, perched on a tree limb, and dart out after passing insects. Few insects escape the accuracy of this hunter's beak.
In their feeding from flower to flower, hummingbirds, like bees and other insects, involuntarily transfer 46 NEBRASKAland pollen from one bloom to another, pollenizing plants as they go about their daily search for food.
At home in the air or in trees, hummingbirds are unable to walk upon the ground or any flat surface by means of their legs and feet alone.
The hummingbird's flight is essentially direct with a slight undulating motion. Their flight is extremely rapid and can hardly be followed with the human eye. In the case of males of some species, flight is accompanied by a screeching or grating sound made by their wings.
Hummingbirds spend much of their time on a favorite perch preening their feathers and cleaning their beaks. Frequent trips are made to favorite feeding areas, only to return and resume their personal grooming.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds are found throughout the eastern half of the United States and north into Canada. They winter from Florida and southern Texas, south through southern Mexico and Central America to Panama. During autumn nights, these birds are known to leave Florida and fly non-stop across the Gulf of Mexico to Yucatan or Central America. This incredible, 500-mile journey is made without a single stop for food or rest.
Both the Broad-tailed and rufous hummingbirds are found in the western half of the United States. The Broad-tailed is found as far north as Idaho and Montana, and as far east as Nebraska. They winter as far south as Mexico and Central America.
The rufous is found in the mountain states as far north as the coastal areas of Alaska and east into Nebraska. They winter in lower California, Santa Barbara Island, and in the highlands of Mexico.
Relatively few people are fortunate enough to observe the hummingbird, but his incredible beauty makes him a thrill to behold. THE END
FIX-UP TIME FOR ARROWSby Bill Hinel
THERE WAS A day when the rampaging redskin had to stop rampaging long enough to make new arrows for his bow and to repair those that were damaged. For this job he needed suitable flint for arrowheads, lightweight and straight-grained wood for shafts, and feathers from the high-flying eagle for the fletching or vanes. Then he spent many hours chipping away at the stone, whittling away at the wood shafts, and trimming and dying feathers.
Today's counterpart to the Indian bowman shoots arrows for fun and recreation but the shafts become damaged just the same. Whether he is novice or veteran the archer has paid from $15 to $40 a dozen for his arrows so he thinks twice before discarding those that are damaged but repairable. Besides, he can enjoy the satisfaction of doing the repair work himself. Today's well-stocked supply houses have all the necessary materials and tools for the job.
First, the nomenclature of the arrow. On one end is the point or tip. This may be a broadhead for hunting, a blunt point for small game, a field point for practice and small game, or target tip for target archery. Next is the shaft itself and this may be of Port Orford Cedar, aluminum, or Fiberglas. Wood is the cheapest but most susceptible to damage. The series of painted rings or bands around the arrow in various colors and widths is called the cresting and serves to identify the arrow as to ownership and characteristics. Just behind the cresting are the vanes, either of plastic or feathers. These are called fletching and serve to guide the arrow on a true course. These vanes may be straight offset or helical, but never parallel to the shaft. Helical fletching imparts more spin to the arrow as it flies through the air. Some archers maintain that this helps to keep the arrow on a true course. Straight vane users claim spinning arrows are noisier and that the spinning tends to slow them down. Experience and preference dictate choice.
Just behind the fletching and about three fourths to one inch from it is the nock. This is attached to the end of the shaft and is the notch for the bowstring. Some nocks have a ridge or bump called the index. An index identifies the top of the shaft so the archer can fit arrow to string without taking his eyes off the target. Fletching is so installed on the shaft that when the cock feather is away from the bow the other vanes will not strike it as the arrow zips out.
Before beginning the repair job, inspect all arrows to determine what is needed in the way of replacement 48 parts. Nocks may be split or broken, broadheads may be damaged or nicked beyond repair, fletching may be damaged or missing. Discard the shafts that cannot be restored to first-class condition to avoid misses. Reject badly cracked or kinked aluminum shafts, cracked, chipped, or weathered wood shafts and cracked, chipped or crooked Fiberglas shafts.
Bent aluminum shafts should be straightened by a commercial straightening device. Fiberglas shafts cannot be straightened. Straighten wood shafts by warming over low heat on a hot plate. Bend arrow in opposite direction until it takes the correct set. Do not bend too far. Check straightness by rolling the shaft across a smooth, flat surface. Before the straightening process clean off fletching with a knife, being careful not to damage shaft. Remove the nock by cutting the side from the nock, cutting from shaft end back. Be careful not to damage shaft as a nick here could cause difficulty in getting the new nock on straight. To clean old paint from shaft, dip it in paint remover for a few minutes then wipe clean.
Sand the shaft lightly lengthwise with fine sandpaper, sanding only that portion of shaft to be covered with paint. Wipe area to be painted with a clean rag, then wet with lacquer thinner. Do not handle this part of shaft for oil from your skin will affect the new lacquer. Fill dip tubes with lacquer at room temperature. Let it set for a few minutes until all bubbles come to the surface and remove them with paper or rag. Mask off the nock end of the arrow with masking tape, covering only the tapered part. Dip shaft, nock end first in lacquer and hang, nock end down in draft and dust-free area until the lacquer dries. It usually takes about an hour. Polish aluminum shafts with steel wool.
Before installing new nocks, shafts may need to be tapered. For cutting the taper on wooden shafts it is best to buy a cutter made for this purpose. Taper must be cut at 11° and be in perfect alignment with the shaft, otherwise the nock will not be straight on the shaft and will affect arrow flight. On aluminum or Fiberglas shafts, remove (Continued on Page 51)
BUCK AND A HALF TROUT
October. There were a few real big trout which had been here for a couple of seasons or so, but there were an awful lot of bullheads so it was a good deal for us to get rid of the whole works and start over. It was a little aggravating sometimes to come here for trout and wind up with a bullhead."
"Bullheads aren't bad eating," Gordy quipped as he fished the last bit of worm from the paper cup. "But I would rather have the fun of catching a trout. I don't know of any place else this close to home where you can do that."
Another pair of trout fell for the bit of crawler in one-two order, as Gordy filled out within a very few minutes. The three fishermen pulled in their stringers and held them up for comparison. George's catch ran larger than his son and grandson's, but there was no time to crow about it. There were fish to clean, and the clock was pushing noon. The trio quickly dressed their catch at one of the nearby troughs provided and prepared to go home.
"Today was pretty slow for me," George, who knows the lake well, con- ceded, "but you have got to admit, 15 trout in 2% hours is pretty good. Pay fishing at Two Rivers is O.K., in my book, since fish only cost a guy 30 cents apiece, and chances of scoring are far better than in the wild. I'll plunk down a buck and a half any day for odds like that." THE END
FIX-UP TIME FOR ARROWS
masking tape and clean nock taper by sanding lightly.
When installing the nock use only enough glue to cover the tapered part of the shaft. Set the nock in place so that the index, the little ridge on the nock, is prependicular with the grain of a wooden shaft. Strain on the shaft is from side to side and wood will give more when flexed against the side grain. When an arrow is released, the powerful bowstring actually causes it to snake around the bow. Aluminum and Fiberglas arrows flex also but they have no grain so their flex is equal in all directions. Set the nock in place, pressing on lightly, then twisting slightly for snug fit. Let the nock glue dry about 30 minutes.
Next is the job of cresting. To do a perfect job some sort of cresting device is necessary. There are several types on the market. Three red sable brushes are needed. One brush should be 3/4-inch and one, y4-inch, and the third one a fine, round-pointed brush for applying the fine stripes. When the cresting is dry, shaft is ready for fletching.
Plastic vanes come pre-shaped as do die-cut feathers. Unshaped feathers may also be obtained and must be cut and shaped by the arrowsmith. To apply fletching, the do-it-yourselfer will JULY, 1966 51 need a fletching clamp and jig as- sembly, and if he is going to shape his own feathers, a feather burner. The fletching clamp and jig will cost from $7 to $20. The feather burner will cost from $4 to $20.
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If full length feathers are used, cut them to proper length. Insert feathers into the clamp, keeping the back end of the feather about one inch from the back of the clamp.
After placing feather properly in the clamp, apply a very thin coating of fletching cement to the base of the feather. Then place the clamp against the base of the jig magnet which will hold it in place until it is pushed downward, pressing the feather against the shaft. Be sure not to use too much cement. Allow the feather to dry about 30 minutes. It is now ready for application of the remaining feathers in the same manner. When feathers are all attached and dry, they are ready for shaping.
After shaping, gently taper forward end of fletchings down to the shaft and put a small drop of fletching cement at the end of each. This will prevent the feather from peeling off.
In installing new tips or broadheads, make sure the shaft is tapered to match the inside diameter of the hollow socket or ferrule of the point. Hunting points have a 50° taper while most target points have parallel or straight wall sockets. When purchasing new points be sure they match the diameters of the shafts. A tapering tool will cut the proper taper. Apply ferrule cement by putting a few drops or chips of the cement inside the point. Hold it over a low flame or electric hot plate until the cement becomes liquid. Then force the shaft into the point and cool the assembly under running water.
Give al] arrows a final inspection. Proper care and repair will prevent erratic flight, dull points, broken nocks, and impaled hands. It may also prevent the disappointment of missing that once-in-a-lifetime buck. THE END
DESCENT INTO DEVILS DEN
his body and danced off the 16-foot drop. Two controlled jumps left him standing safely at the base of the butte. It looked easy the way he did it.
It was my first try at rappeling, and I nervously formed the loops for my first try. I felt secure, if not exactly comfortable, sitting in the sling, so I eased over the edge. It took several descents for me to get the knack of loosening the rope so it would slide freely around my body, but I finally mastered it.
We circled the brow of a hill, and dryseated down a steep slope toward the spot we suspected the den began. "We'll give the Devil a surprise, dropping in from the top like this," JH chuckled.
"It's me that's surprised," I gasped. "We've arrived!"
A yawning gap was at our feet. A 52 NEBRASKAland black, narrow crack splitting the hill with short, sharp zigs and zags. Leading into it was a steep tilted, rotting drift of snow. I tossed a stone. There was no rattle, only a hollow sounding thunk as it hit the bottom of the depth.
JH knotted the rope around a tree and tossed the coil down into the dark. I could see it drop down to the floor, with only a few feet to spare.
"That floor is about 85 feet down," I told him. "That is a drop. I still think it would be safer to walk it from the other end."
"And spoil the fun?" JH jeered. "Where's your courage, Big Buffalo?" I was about to say I would rather be a live coward than a dead Indian, but JH had already adjusted the rope around himself, and was easing over the ledge. The bowline around the tree cracked tight with the strain, and he was on his way into the depths.
I worked my way along the crumbling rim to the top of the snow patch that descended into the den. From here, I could see JH's progress as he roped down the perpendicular portion of the wall. Suddenly his body was swinging free where the wall cut inward. I held my breath as he payed out rope foot by foot. His gloved hands gripped and loosened on the rope. It snaked around his body slowly, and once his hand slipped. He lost part of the loop and grabbed frantically at the dangling end before it swung almost magically back into his hand. I breathed out in relief when his feet touched the bottom of the chasm. The incident left me less anxious than ever to try the rope.
"Why don't I just slide down this snow slope?" I yelled down to him.
"You'll only make it two thirds of the way," the hollow sound of his voice came from the depths. "It drops over a ledge 20 feet above my head." I thought a moment. Twenty feet by rope wouldn't be so bad. "Could you throw the rope to the ledge?" I yelled back.
"No problem," he answered. "Then Devil's Den gets entered by another historical first!"
On reckless impulse I raised my heels. I couldn't have gone faster if I'd been on a sled. I went ploughing through the wet snow with increasing speed. Somehow I thought of devil's wheels and how many of them broke apart at the bottom of the slopes. From the corner of my eye I could see the walls flashing by as the shadows of the cleft rushed toward me. Then I zipped into the narrow part of the chute.
"You're almost there!" JH shouted. "Stop!"
I gouged desperately with my heels and clawed with my fingers but for an awful few seconds my descent seemed slowed not at all. The slope suddenly flattened a bit and the pile of snow that had built up before me stopped me on the edge of the shelf.
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Happily, and somewhat shaken, I grabbed the rope that JH flipped within reach. I straddled it, formed the rappel sling, and kicked off the ledge. My muscles twitched as the rope friction JULY, 1966 53 scorched through my snow-soaked pants and burned my thigh. JH's face was a patch of white in the gloom below. I stood beside him.
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"Look at this place!" JH said in awe. "I've been in a lot of canyons in the ridge, but never in one like this!"
The advance descriptions we'd heard were right. From floor level the walls lifted outward in an arc, so that halfway up, the fissure was twice as wide as at the floor. From that point they closed again, until the sky was only a brilliant ribbon high above. Diffused light bounced around the corners and left pockets of darkness.
The names were there, scratched as high as human arms could reach. The oldest date we found was 1910, as clear as if it had been carved but yesterday. Others were more recent, like 1964. The pattern of visitors' history could be traced by the dates. By far the more prevalent were those of the 20's and 30's, and then a rapid loss to the present.
We walked down the sloping floor of the den, pushed by the clammy, cold flow of air that keeps the canyon many degrees cooler than the surface temperature. I thought what a retreat it could be on a hot summer day, though now, despite my heavy jacket, I felt chilled and uncomfortable. After stumbling over rocks and logs, we made a final sharp turn, and were back in a flood of late-afternoon sunshine.
"We're out again," JH announced. "There are our tracks where we climbed out for lunch."
"And here's the lunch box you chucked down," I answered, rescuing the cardboard from a bush where it had landed. "Let's light the Devil a fire, and warm our hands."
The box was soon ashes, and creeping shadows on the canyon walls told us it was time to head for home.
We retrieved the rappel rope from the tree where it was tied, and I looked back into the brooding canyon. "I still say it would be easier to walk in," I repeated. "But anyone can do that. I agree. Our way was a lot more fun."
Devil's Den awaits other adventurous souls, and whether you simply walk into its narrow jaws, or go in the hard way as we did, it's a journey that will foster no regrets. THE END
DAUGHTER OF THE PRAIRIES
of whom all of them had heard. Miss Cather did not stand in awe of the greatest actors, but set each one in his place with all the authority of a veteran metropolitan critic." Her review of Lady Windermere's Fan by Oscar Wilde went like this: "Mr. Wilde is afraid to be coarse, so he is insinuating. To hear Mr. Wilde on motherhood is like hearing one of the very little Satans philosophizing on Calvary."
After her day at the university the young writer would spend the evening at the theatre, then go to the Journal office and write her review of the play, 54 NEBRASKAland getting home at 1 or 2 a.m. After her college she spent a quiet year in Red Cloud and Lincoln before her restless spirit took her to Pittsburgh and work as the managing editor on the Pittsburgh Home Monthly. The job was drudgery, but Willa Cather stuck it out for a year to maintain an uncertain foothold in the East and to demonstrate to the doubters back home that she could "win out".
Red Cloud was a place to go home to, a place of quiet, healing peace when the bruises of the larger world became too painful. Returning to Red Cloud in the summer of 1897, Willa quit her job with the Home Monthly. Before the summer's end she was offered a position with the Daily Leader, the largest evening paper in Pennsylvania, at a salary of $75 a month.
The girl from Red Cloud spent a decade in Pittsburgh. After five years as a newspaper woman she became a teacher of English and Latin in Pittsburgh and Allegheny schools. She also changed residence from a boarding house to a sedate mansion in the city's finest section.
This was an environment for creative writing, but Willa wasn't ready. She had to sample more of life—to go to the sources from which the stock of Red Cloud had come, to discover links with a distant past, to journey back in time. In 1902, she traveled to Europe, Her vivid letters kept the State Journal in Lincoln informed of her travels. A year after her return from abroad, she published her first book, a slim volume of poetry. The twilights alluded to in April Twilights, belonged to Nebraska.
Her literary output during the next three years was modest. She was published in the larger magazines and finally in 1905 gathered her short stories into a second book. Her second work so impressed S. S. McClure, publisher of McClure's Magazine, that he offered her a position on his staff.
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Her period on the magazine was highly successful, affording extensive travel and wide experience. But she needed time to stir her memory and sort her emotions. Some autobiographical impulse urged her to produce her JULY, 1966 55 strongest and best writing. The seed had been planted years before; now it was producing fruit.
We are entering the vacation season, that time when Nebraskans take a breather from their honest labors to relax and enjoy life to the fullest with family and friends.
This is also a time of greater risk, especially if they vacation by car. It is a time to be especially alert and a time to be sure that their auto liability insurance meets the legal requirements of all states they will visit. Any independent insurance agent who displays the seal below will be pleased to advise them on these requirements.Just contact anyone who displays this sign. He is a member of — The Nebraska Association of Insurance Agents
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She resigned from McClure's in 1912 and began vacationing in the Southwest. She published her first novel, Alexander's Bridge, that same year, but wasn't pleased with the result. Even though the story was delicately written and had a vital theme, it was conventional.
Suddenly Willa realized what was wrong. She needed to get back to her civilization—to make tracks for home. Here at Red Cloud she could relive her adventurous childhood. She could see again the train which in 1883 had brought her and her family to the raw, treeless, and nearly waterless land of Webster County after they had lived in the damp, shady, mountainous beauty of the Shenandoah Valley.
Willa Cather kept these childhood memories alive and added new ones each year for she always spent some weeks at the house in Red Cloud where her family lived from 1884 to 1904. This is the house of her works, The Song of the Lark, Old Mrs. Harris, and The Best Years.
O Pioneers! The first novel to have a Nebraska setting, came off Willa's pen in 1913. But, My Antonia, published five years later, marks a new phase in the long process of Willa Cather's reconciliation with Red Cloud. In My Antonia she sees the value of the untamed country and its pioneers. She writes of them with deep sympathy and great understanding. Life in the struggling pioneer town now appears charming in retrospect. One of Ours won Willa Cather a Pulitzer prize for the. best novel in 1922. This story was conceived after she learned about the death in World War I of a young cousin who had grown up in Webster County and of whom she was very fond.
Crooked Creek, just north of Red Cloud, was one of Willa Cather's favorite playgrounds as a child. The creek is described in A Lost Lady. One of the characters was the wife of Silas Garber, early governor of Nebraska. The last of the Nebraska series was Lucy Gayheart and it did not come out until 1935. The idea of this novel had been in Willa Cather's mind a long time; she used to speak of it as "Blue Eyes on the Platte", even though she later changed Lucy's eyes to brown and renamed the book.
Although scholars and texts do not agree, My Antonia and Death Comes for the Archbishop are considered by many to be her best works. Her writing brought recognition as she was the first woman ever to receive an honorary degree from Princeton University. Seven other colleges and universities honored Willa Cather with academic degrees.
Willa had a warm, frank, and radiantly out-going nature that charmed nearly everyone she met. Yet, after 1931, she turned her life inward to become retrospective, creative, and speculative. She suffered a gradual decline in (Continued on page 58)
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(continued from page 56)
energy, withdrawing from life with what a friend describes as a slow spreading of the virus of pessimism. The age of pioneers was over and it had been succeeded by an age of routine. Her sources of inspiration were drying up. Sapphira and the Slave Girl, her last novel, was finished in 1940. Written out and ill, the noted author died in 1947.
"Nebraska", Willa Cather once explained, "was the happiness and the curse of her life". It was her happiness to translate into majestic prose the youthful memories of her life. Possibly it was her curse that she was bound by those memories and could not fly far beyond them. Willa Cather never lost touch with a Nebraska past that she sometimes hated, sometimes loved but never regretted. THE END
DOWN IN the lap of the valley, a clear creek meanders through the meadowland and contributes to the aura of rustic serenity. Along the banks of the creek, children race down narrow footpaths, their sneakers tracking the soft earth. Here and there bluejays scream to the wind as the breeze rustles gently through the tall oaks. This is Grove Lake Special Use Area, located two miles north of Royal, on U.S. Highway 20. It's easily accessible, has something for every taste, and boasts 1,370 acres of rugged and beautiful country. Grove Lake itself is a 56-acre sportsmen's delight. Fishermen know this area as a prime producer of brown and rainbow trout while sightseers and hikers just can't say too much about it.
Travelers bent on visiting Grove Lake should have no difficulty getting there. Well-placed signs direct the traveler along U.S. Highway 20 and onto a county road north of Royal which leads directly to the west gate of the area. From the top of a small rise at the entrance you can look below into the tree-lined valley where Grove Lake spreads its summer beauty. Tufts of smoke drift above the trees at the campsites as picnic areas hum with activity on both ends of the lake. The peace and quiet here is assured by a regulation which limits boat traffic on the lake to rowboats.
Verdigre Creek, the feeder stream for Grove Lake, is one of the few streams in northeastern Nebraska cold enough to support trout. Both brown and rainbow provide top-flight fishing in the creek which has been stabilized with grass and willow plantings to make an ideal home for trout. The stream was completely renovated in 1958. Since then the trout fishing in the creek has been outstanding. Two-pound browns are not uncommon. Fly fishing at the south end of the lake is excellent during the early morning and late evening hours. Dry flies are recommended.
Anglers and campers aren't the only ones who will enjoy Grove Lake. Convenient facilities including fireplaces, picnic tables, wells, and toilets are at the visitor's disposal to make the stay a pleasant one. Mom and Dad can relax in the valley as the kids will find more than enough to keep them occupied. Playground equipment, including swings, a merry-go-round, teeter-totter, and horizontal bar set, will keep them busy.
Hikers have a heyday at Grove Lake. Deer trails lace the area and wild berries cover the hillsides to provide a trail-side treat in the summertime. Nature lovers will delight in the many songbirds that dart among the trees. Grove Lake also features two trout-rearing ponds which are located lVz miles upstream from the lake. Trout reared in these ponds are shipped to the Two Rivers Recreation Area near Venice for use in a special trout lake.
In the fall, when the area is swapping its verdant hues for brighter colors, it plays another important role in the Nebraska recreation scene. As the fall hunting season opens, gunners are attracted to the area for the quail, pheasant, squirrel, and waterfowl shooting it offers. It supports a fair bobwhite population and there is limited pheasant hunting. Ducks are frequent visitors to the lake.
Big-game hunters rate Grove Lake a favorite with its excellent population of white-tailed deer and growing flock of wild turkeys. Turkeys came under fire at the area for the first time this spring during a toms-only hunt.
All of this and more is waiting for the seeing and doing. Each year more and more fun seekers are discovering the beauty and charm of Grove Lake. It's a cool retreat for summertime travelers in NEBRASKAland and a special spot for that weekend outing.
Another area that annually throbs with picnic and camping activity is Stolley State Recreation Area, south of Grand Island. This wooded park is the site of old Fort Independence which was constructed in 1865 for protection against the Indians. Part of the log structure is still standing, in addition to the first school house built in Grand Island.
Stolley's facilities are counted among the best. There are stone fireplaces, large picnic tables, drinking water outlets, rest rooms, playground equipment, camping sites, and a softball diamond. Even an animal acreage is included on the grounds, where deer, antelope, ducks, and geese wander around to delight dozens of children. Stolley is truly on oasis of leisure for travelers on the scout for fun in the sun. THE END
Ever try to put into words that trip you took last year, When you packed back in the hills to camp and hunt for deer? All words I find are dull and pallid, with no power to explain How a fellow feels when he's alone out there in rough terrain.
What words can tell how senses sharpen as you sniff the early breeze, And listen to the golden silence out there among the trees. Your heart beat quickens and Old Trouble soars far far from sight, A happy smile comes to your lips and everything seems right.
There is no doubt then in your mind, no matter what your luck That you will be the first to camp, with a trophy buck. It's hard to tell a non-nimrod that its not the urge to kill, But the fun of stalking that gives the hunt a thrill.
So you move along the rim at slow and measured pace, Pausing now and then to check a likely hiding place. You stalk the points and sneak the draws and squint across the way Almost hoping you don't see him, so the hunt won't end today,
As your legs begin to wane you see a place to rest, A place to sit and ease your back, yet see the canyon best. As you sit there all alone you cannot help but feel There are no scars upon your soul that a time like this can't heal
All the hustle and the bustle and the din of motorcars Seem far away, so distant, as far away as stars. And as you sit there listening to the laughter of a stream You can't help but wish to stay, and dream, and dream, and dream.
TWO OF NEBRASKAland's FINEST RACING PROGRAMS
Twenty-one days of racing in the beautiful Agricultural Park set the pace for two of NEBRASKAland's finest racing programs. No Monday racing, except Labor Day, September 5th. Post time, week days 3:00 p.m., Saturdays, Holidays 2:00 p.m.Aug. 9- Sept. 5 MADISON
From Columbus the horses move to Madison Downs, "Little Saratoga", for 13 days of racing at its finest. No Monday racing. Post time week days 2:00 p.m., Saturdays 2:00 p.m. Plan now to attend these two top events.Sept. 8-Sept. 24 SIX WEEKS OF THOROUGHBRED THRILLS!