Tuesday, July 27, 2010
The trip across Nebraska can be a bit tedious and repetitive scenery wise. Since we have gone this way a number of times over the last 20 plus years, we knew our next stop would be Ogallala. There is a very nice campground that caterer’s to those passing thru. It is clean, level, has all the amenities including a pool, free Wi-Fi. The owner is also very friendly and knowledge about what RV’s are looking for.
Ogallala is perhaps best known for its hay day period as a major end of the trail for Texas cattle drives. Hundreds of thousands of cattle were driven north on the trails made famous in Hollywood movies. It was known as the cowboy capital during this period, where trail hands could let off steam and enjoy the amenities of the town. This led to many a gun fight and death. For a brief decade between 1875 and 1884, the town had its glory days. The town still prospers but lacks the excitement of those wild days. Indeed, it can be downright quiet here. We drifted to the downtown area during what we thought would be rush hour, only to find the streets deserted. We had the whole place to ourselves. Most stores are only open between 9AM and 4PM.
In our view, there are three things the first time visited should see in this town.
The Boot Hill Cemetery reflects some of the history of the town’s wild days and has been preserved for future generations including a monument dedicated to the cattle drive days-with a statute of the “Trail Boss” and is modeled after a real trail boss named “Lep” Sanders. He made the over 1000 mile journey more than 15 times. As an aside, he was also one of the first white men to see the carnage after the battle of The Little Big Horn, where General Custer and his entire troop were wiped out.
The tourist industry has tried to preserve some of the history of this era in “Front Street”. Here you can dine in a saloon, visit a museum of local history and shop for souvenirs of the city. Also, every night during the summer season you can see a show about the town’s history. I can best describe this as a cross between a high school play and a vaudeville act. It is all done by local high and college students. If you come with the right frame of mind, it is a lot of fun. This was our third time in 24 years.
The third pace to visit is Lake Mcconaughy located north of town. This is the largest reservoir in the state and was formed by damming the Platte River. Besides the irrigation and electric power generation benefits, it provides a great deal of recreational opportunities. The visitor center provides lots of information of the dam, lake and importance of water to Nebraska.