by Melanie and Jim
Nebraska is a long state, about 430 miles from east to west. We stayed overnight in Sioux City, Iowa, and got an early start on U.S. 20. It would be several hours before we reached our goal for the day, somewhere in western Nebraska. In the past we only crossed the state on Interstate 80. The elevation changes on I-80, across the southern half of the state, are tiny. It follows the North Platte River most of the way. U.S. 20, Bridges to Buttes Byway, took us across the northern counties, different rivers, the Sandhills country, and showed us some beautiful sights.
We had lunch in Valentine, Nebraska. The Niobrara River is a great rafting, canoeing, and kayaking destination. The post office participates annually in the Valentine’s Day postmarking of tens of thousands of cards and letters to loved ones. And this according to Wikipedia:
As late as 1967, Valentine was split between two time zones. As described in one news report, “The mountain and central time zones meet at the center of Main Street, so an hour separates the two curb lines.” According to the report, when clocks were required to be set back one hour for daylight saving time, Valentine’s post office (which was in the central zone) split the difference and turned back its clock by only half an hour.
By mid-afternoon we reached the town of Gordon and were ready for another break. A sign advertised the Old Time Cowboys Museum. We stopped to ask some guys who were fixing a pothole where it was. We didn’t expect much as we turned the next corner.
We stepped inside and were greeted by two older gentlemen. Both of us were wearing Air Force caps, which the men noted. The caps often are a conversation starter, and they took the bait. One of the men volunteered at the museum. He pointed out some of the displays and invited us to look around.
The front room had an office and small kitchen. There were a few special displays. One honored a local war veteran. Another contained a valuable collection of spurs, many hand-worked in silver. On the wall was a large display of barbed wire examples. We had lived a while in DeKalb, Illinois, years ago. DeKalb was instrumental in the development and production of the earliest practical barbed wire fencing.
We stepped into the back room and were amazed at how much cowboy memorabilia was on display. First was this chuck wagon.
There were saddles, bridles, and various cowboy gear filling a corner of the room.
Cases contained collections donated by many others, paper clippings about significant people and events, branding irons, etc. This quilt displayed various brands from the tri-state region.
There was a display of a typical kitchen and some of the appliances.
We left with a new appreciation for the hard work and difficult life faced by many who had lived the cowboy and ranching life.
As we traveled on U.S. Highway 20, we passed through many small towns. The pace is a little slower this way, and you have opportunities to enjoy hidden treats like this one.