FINALLY, I'm crossing a bridge approaching Omaha, and it's time to bid 'adieu' to the Platte River, Nebraska's major waterway that flows from the Rockies across the Great Plains before finally joining the Missouri River. The Platte River has played an important role in the United States expansion by providing a route for pioneer emigrants and those who followed. Native Indians knew the river as flat water due to its meandering course and shallow muddy water; the pioneers boasted it was "a mile wide and just inches deep"; while the farmers observed it was "too thick to drink, and too thin to plow."
The Platte has been important to Nebraskan history. Its banks provided a green oasis in the semi-arid region of North America, an important stopover for migratory birds, and although it was often too shallow, crooked, and muddy for canoe travel, the valley was easily passable for covered wagons since it sloped upward gradually from the Missouri. Its water tasted bad and was silty, but could be palatable when no other water was available. Emigrants learned to let river water sit in a bucket for an hour or so to settle out the silt.
The Platte River Valley extends 450 miles through Nebraska, and it's estimated that 400,000 emigrants followed the trails toward the western sunsets. Over time they were followed by the pony express, overland stage, transcontinental railroad, Lincoln highway, and now the federal Interstate 80.
This month it's been my privilege to travel in the other direction -- eastward along the Platte's winding course into the daily sunrises. I've enjoyed my Nebraskan journey and was constantly delighted by its spaciousness, richness, and charm.
Week 21, 1685 Miles, Weather 75F🌩