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Published: June 15th 2015
Saturday, 13 June, 2015
We had heavy fog this morning at ye olde truck stop, but the skies cleared quickly. It was a quiet night for a truck stop campground, but got busy fairly early this morning.
We drove a few miles west from Beatrice to Homestead National Monument. The visitor center has wonderful displays of the life of the homesteaders who settled in Nebraska and elsewhere after the Homestead Act of 1862. The Homestead Act offered 160 acre tracts of land free to people who were willing to live and work the land. There were displays of tools, furniture, clothing, and farm and home implements. They also had a cabin that belonged to the Freeman family, that owned the 160 acres where the park now sits. Jenna got her first Jr. Ranger badge there.
From there we drove to Ogallala, NE, where we set up at a real commercial campground with a swimming pool for Jenna.
Sunday, 14 June
Today was a busy day with not just one, but 3 national monuments to visit.
First stop was Chimney Rock National
Jenna, Jr. Ranger
at Homestead National Monument
Monument near Bayard. NE. The Chimney Rock was probably the best known landmark along the Oregon, Mormon and California Trails. The native americans, having no knowledge of white man's homes, had their own name for this monument, it was known to them as “Elks Penis.”
Our next stop was at Scotts Bluff National Monument, another landmark along the trails followed by settlers going west along the Platte River.
By the way, we have crossed the Platte River numerous times in the last 2 days and it has been out of its banks, fast moving and very muddy. Many areas are flooded, recreational areas are closed, and farms have standing water.
Finally we drove to Agate Fossil Beds National Monument out in the middle of nowhere. In the early 1900's scientists and early paleontologists began excavating two hills, finding hundreds of fossilized skeletons of early mammals dating back 20 million years. Many complete skeletons were found, some of which had never been seen complete, and others never seen at all. Included in these bone piles were Menoceros, a 3-toed pony sized rhinoceros, Stenomylus, 2 foot tall gazelle/camels, Daphoenodon, also known as beardog,
and Daeodon, a six foot hog-like animal with crushing teeth. There were recreations of these mammal skeletons on display along with a collection of artifacts from the Oglala Lakota (Sioux.)
Jenna got her second Jr. Ranger badge and a start on her Jr. Paleontologist badge, too.
We are camped for the night at Fort Robinson State Park, Crawford, NE.
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