A Landing a Day

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Bayard, Nebraska

Posted by graywacke on June 12, 2010

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (now pretty much an every-other-day blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

Dan –  Seemingly inevitably, with 150 but one USer away, along comes the requisite OSer . . . NE; 54/48; 5/10; 2; 150.7.   Here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to Perrin (not really a town), and Bayard (really a town). Note also my proximity to Chimney Rock (south of Bayard) and the North Platte R (also south of Bayard):

Here’s a broader view:

I landed in the watershed of Red Willow Ck (the 16th stream name with “Red” in it) and the 24th stream name with “Willow” in it.)   The Red Willow flows to the N Platte R (24th hit); on to the Platte (54th hit) on to the MM (746th hit); on to the Missouri (350th hit); on to the MM (746th hit).

Here’s my GE map, showing that I landed right along a road on the edge of a farm field.

Unfortunately, there’s no Street View coverage along this road; I had to settle on this shot, looking south from the intersection that’s about a half mile north of my landing (northwest of the big irrigation circle):

Moving on to Bayard.  This is from the town’s website (cityofbayard.net):

The original town of Bayard was established in July of 1888 and was located about one mile west of the present site.  The name was supplied by Millard and Jap Senteny from Bayard, Iowa, who had bought some land out here and thought that Bayard would be a good name.  In 1890 the town was moved to the present site and some new buildings were erected and the town was incorporated on November 13, 1890.

Bayard, Nebraska is in the heart of the area once called “The Great American Desert” by Major Long.  Major Long reported the area would only be good as range for buffaloes, wild goats, and other wild game.  He also thought it would serve as a barrier to prevent too great of an expansion of population westward.

[Quite the visionary, that Major Long . . .]

Bayard’s most famous attraction is Chimney Rock, which is located 3½  miles south of the town.  Chimney Rock is one of the famous landmarks of the Oregon Trail.  In 1956, Chimney Rock was designated a national historic site by the federal Government.

So, I guess I need to check out this “Major Long.”  From Wiki:

Stephen Harriman Long (December 30, 1784 – September 4, 1864) was a U.S. engineer, explorer, and military officer.  As an inventor, he is noted for his developments in the design of steam locomotives. As an Army officer, he led a pioneering scientific expedition throughout a large area of the Great Plains, which he famously described as the “Great American Desert“.

Later in the Wiki article is the following:

On October 14, 1820, 400 Omaha assembled at a meeting with Long; Chief Big Elk made the following speech:

“Here I am, my Father; all these young people you see around here are yours; although they are poor and little, yet they are your children. All my nation loves the whites and always have loved them. Some think, my Father, that you have brought all these soldiers here to take our land from us but I do not believe it. For although I am a poor simple Indian, I know that this land will not suit your farmers. If I even thought your hearts bad enough to take this land, I would not fear it, as I know there is not wood enough on it for the use of the white.”

It seems as though every time I bump into old Native American stories, I’m blown away by the stark reality and complexities of the times . . .

Anyway, moving on to Chimney Rock.   From Wiki:

Chimney Rock is a famous, prominent geological rock formation in western Nebraska, rising nearly 300 feet above the surrounding North Platte River valley.  During the middle 19th century it served as a landmark along the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, and the Mormon Trail, which ran along the north side of the rock.  It is visible for many miles from the east along U.S. Route 26.

The pillar consists primarily of hardened clay interlayered with volcanic ash and sandstone. The harder sandstone layers near the top have protected the pillar since it broke away from the retreating cliff line to the south.

Here’s a shot of Chimney Rock, showing the rock formation which has “retreated” from the Chimney:

From NebraskaHistory.org:

Gloom and doom predictions have always accompanied descriptions of Chimney Rock. Erosion created it; erosion will undoubtedly destroy it.  No one knows how much time will pass before the spire disappears.

You make the call.  Here is visual evidence – a trail-era drawing, old photographs, a recent snapshot, the rock itself – from which you can decide.

“It is the opinion of Mr. Bridger that it was reduced to its present height by lightning, or some other sudden catastrophe, as he found it broken on his return from one of his trips to St. Louis, though he had passed it uninjured on his way down”.

As told to Howard Stansbury in 1849 by mountain man Jim Bridger.

Frederick Piercy, who drew this view, saw Chimney Rock in 1853.  He portrayed its column as tall and rectangular:

In 1929 Emil Kopac of Oshkosh, Nebraska, captured Chimney Rock from the north side as did Piercy.
The rock appeared more pointed, less like a chimney:

Here’s a  photo, also from the 1920’s:

Though covered by concrete, the sodhouse had fallen into ruin by 1977.  Note that the spire is shorter:

The Nebraska State Quarter features Chimney Rock:

I’ll close with this Nat Geo sunset shot of (what else?) . . . the Chimney:

That’ll do it. . .



© 2010 A Landing A Day

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