Monday, 1 August 2016

The Hill that is Hard to Go Around.

Thursday May 12th 
Chimney Rock was another very significant landmark on the Oregon and Pony Express trails.
Nearing Chimney Rock and after reading so much about it in literature on the pioneer trails, it was exciting to actually see it growing larger on the horizon.. ....
Chimney Rock (or Castle rock as I call it by mistake on the video) is just to the right of the rocky outcrop straight ahead, and you may be able to just see it if you pause the video clip.
We reach Chimney Rock!..
Photo taken by Jeff and Jacky from Minnesota, who also kindly ran me back to fetch the jacket I had left at my picnic stop down the road.  Thought it was about time I forgot something again. Apparently the pinnacle used to be taller but the height has been reduced over the years by erosion and lightning.   Chimney Rock Pony Express station was located somewhere between the rock and the Platte river, but the exact location is not certain.
The long straight road to Melbeta..
 ...where Rodney and Sheryl Schanneman took me into their lovely old house, which had a rather overgrown but safe fenced paddock behind where Sheryl used to keep her horse. 
Hospital administrator Sheryl had a rather unusual extra talent in tombstone engraving, while Rodney had stayed in the UK many years ago on a young farmers' exchange programme.

Friday May 13th  It was a fairly short but cold ride the following day to Scotts Bluff, and thankfully no mishaps in spite of the inauspicious day.   The site of Ficklin's Springs station just outside Melbeta. ..
..which was specifically built for the Pony Express and named after route superintendent Benjamin Ficklin, later serving as a telegraph station.
A mysterious abandoned car coming into Gering.  Looks like it has been here a while...
Lyle Gronewald had arranged for us to stay at the Legacy of the Plains museum. in Gering and the horses had a huge fenced in area which they shared with a couple of rows of ancient agricultural machines..
  Behind the horses you can see Scotts Bluff itself, another significant landmark on the Oregon and Pony Express trails, and which has been designated a national monument.  The trails went through Mitchell Pass which is the gap to the left of the bluffs.  Scotts Bluff was named after Hiram Scott, a fur trader who died near here, though its American Indian name was Me-a-pa-te or 'Hill that is hard to go round.'
The museum has been created fairly recently through the merger of the Farm and Ranch museum and the North Platte Valley museum which were located in the adjacent towns of Scottsbluff and Gering.   Here is the efficient museum director Sandra Reddish who has been working hard to implement the merger.
Apart from sorting out a field for the horses, she let me doss in one of the outbuildings, gave me supper, booked a couple of media interviews, and also arranged for a vet to come and inspect the horses for their Wyoming health certificates. Journalist Steve Frederick turned out to have a Welsh mother and have visited Aberystwyth, and drove me into Scottsbluff to see the amazing colony of prairie dogs right in the middle of town!

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