Quilts, trains, Buffalo Bill and a bend in the road
I'll begin with the most surprising thing first. My hero declared "we are about to go around the first significant bend in the road" using a suitably serious voice to announce such an important and unusual event.
We were driving through the familiar cornfields we've become used to, with the irrigation rigs in every one.
This being Saturday morning, here in small-town America there was a garage sale.
of course, there was seldom a view without a silo in it somewhere.
We were still driving parallel to the railroad too, which meant the occasional whistle and a bit of excitement.
The first couple of markers we passed told similar tales.
Each was a reminder that the Indian population around here felt threatened by the arrival of new settlers and in particular, the building of the railroad.
Our first stop was in Cozad, a small town with a remarkable quilt shop. Except this wasn't it!
Prairie Point Junction was a surprisingly large store and I could have spent a few hours in there, browsing the fabric, patterns, samples and other bits and pieces. Such places are full of temptation and new ideas and both Mary and I gathered plenty, each leaving with a few goodies we simply couldn't resist.
Whilst chatting to the shop staff, we heard of the quilts on the walls in town, so looked out for a few before returning to the car.
The first was high on the wall on a side street. I couldn't help thinking there was room for something a little more extravagant here though.
Both the bank...
and the church had similarly sized blocks on their walls too, so perhaps there was a Cozad standard?
It was time we were going, tempting though it was to spend a little longer following the dots on the map from the quilt shop. On the road again!
Next stop was Gothenburg, a small town settled by Swedish immigrants (surprise!) and the site of a Pony Express station and Oregon Trail staging post.
The current structure is neither the original nor in the original site, but right opposite was a neat little local museum; the kind of place we only ever come across on a road trip.
Yes, there were small painted quilt blocks on the walls.
Inside, there were several quilts including this one, made to celebrate the centenary of the town and including the people and events in its history.
The woman on the desk introduced herself as the calligrapher of the project, identifying her own contribution as the Brestel's Sharpening block. As I perused the quilts and other things on the ground floor, my hero had gone down into the basement and returned with the news that there was a must-see down there.
Roy Farnstrom had donated the whole of his collection of barbed wire samples to the museum!
From there, we were headed a short way down the road, to our destination for the night, North Platte. As we crossed over the railway, I couldn't resist snapping a photograph of the oncoming train, though where we were heading, there were going to be more.
It's not just any old classification yard either, but the largest in the world, measuring 8 miles long by a mile and a half wide. That's a lot of trains and like in many such places, even those of us who had no particular interest in railroads found it interesting to watch the goings on.
There were engines moving around, being arranged into a different order.
Having torn ourselves away from the trains, there remained only one thing left on our list for North Platte...
Buffalo Bill's home, where he lived with his wife, Louisa and his four children. It wasn't the most welcoming of homes but with printed guide in hand we learned of Louisa's sweet tooth and how she would store cakes outside her window to enjoy before bed each evening, and how her personal (locked) "jam store" was just across from her room on the upstairs landing. But the displays were old and tired and the whole place could use a little tlc.
So we went out into the sunshine and over to the barn where formerly, the horses would have been stabled.
The heart with a hole in was a small tribute to Buffalo Bill's friend and colleague Annie Oakley, whose party piece was to shoot a hole in the ace of hearts playing card.
Inside was a collection of this and that, including an Oregon trail wagon being cleaned by a young volunteer.
We rather liked the vintage posters which decorated the walls, but by now were torn between wanting to get our money's worth and just giving up!
And then we spotted another collection of barbed wire samples...of which this is a small part. Yes, we know that barbed wire tamed the prairie and played an important role in the development of this part of America, but how many collections are there?!
We finished the day by getting the most value from our combined ticket for North Platte attractions. En route to our overnight hotel, we stopped by Cody Park, where there were a couple of railroad engines to see. Now, it wasn't as if we hadn't seen enough engines today, but we had paid for these tickets and we might as well see what was there. As it happened, these two were amongst the best displayed engines we've seen and in spite of the rather sour attendant, we were glad we called in.
I'll let the engine - a Union Pacific Challenger class, according to he who knows these things - have the last word.