Friday, October 30, 2020

The Great American Plains

This is a vast area stretching westward from the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Here you can experience St. Louis, Missouri’s birth as a trading post in the wilderness. From there you can travel up the Missouri River with Lewis and Clark as well as other explorers.

Before Zebulon Pike, Manuel Lisa, and later John Charles Fremont with Kit Carson at his side began to discover and record the wonders of this bountiful and lonely land it was far from empty. Here was the home of the buffalo, the wolf, and prairie dog. They lived in a harmony of survival with their brothers the Wichita, Pawnee, Kansa, and the Osage people who were later joined by the Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Comanches. Some of the first white men on the plains were missionaries who, like all creatures, brought both good and bad to the plains.

Homesteaders built sod houses and raised their crops and children in this wind-blown, wildflower scented world where prairie fires killed, grasshoppers devoured, and crops grew taller and more abundant than could ever be dreamed.

Here, from the earth of the prairie, grew broad expanses of grasses that fed the buffalo until hide hunters nearly depleted them. Then those same grasses fattened longhorns being driven northward from Texas to the wild and lawless cow towns and railheads in Kansas and Missouri. These towns drew not only cowboys but gamblers, outlaws with lawmen on their trails, and “soiled doves” to the rows of saloons that lined the streets in such places as Abilene, Dodge City, and Sedalia.

The Turkey Was an Immigrant

If the Pilgrims had landed at Independence Rock, about fifty miles southwest of Casper, Wyoming on the Great Plains, instead of at Plymouth Rock...

Mother, Where Did I Come From?

Today I dashed into my mother’s tepee. I asked her where I came from. She gave me a startled glance, and a funny little...

Joe Meek Becomes a Mountain Man

Joe Meek was born in 1810 in Virginia not far from the Cumberland Gap which was, at that time, the gateway to the west....

We Are The God Dogs

The Comanches called us God Dogs. We were known by other names as well. The Sioux called us Medicine Dog, while the Blackfoot referred...

Fort Raymond

During the summer and fall of 1807, Manuel Lisa, a swarthy Spaniard, known around St. Louis, Missouri and other extended parts of the young...

A Slave Crosses A Nation

In 1804 the Lewis and Clark Expedition left the civilized world, Missouri, to begin an enormous trek west as they followed the Missouri River....

Nate Love

Nate Love has often been referred to as the most famous black cowboy of all. He was born a slave in June of 1854,...

Fort Mandan

In December of 1804, in the area around present-day Washburn, North Dakota, the temperature averaged 4 degrees above zero. The following month, January of...

Fort Vancouver

Standing on the grounds of Fort Vancouver, Washington today I feel the spirits of the past beside me. I look around and envision what...

Blacks in the West

The Blacks in America who headed west did so for much the same reasons that other folks packed up and started towards the land...