Monday, May 21, 2012

American Goth

The Pony Express station in Gothenburg
May 19

The threat of afternoon storms and the promise of a picturesque place to spend the night led me to cut today's trek short at a mere ten miles. Gothenburg took only a few hours of roadwork to reach, so I had plenty of time to look around.
Settled by Swedes and then overrun by a blitzkrieg of Germans, in its earliest days the town was a stopping point on the Pony Express. Few places are better examples of why you should not trust what you see from the highway.  Along 30 are rundown-looking bars and gas stations, but if you penetrate a few blocks deeper onto Lake Avenue you will find a majestic tree-lined boulevard and a neighborhood teeming with well-preserved, century old stately homes.
At 15th street you can find Ehman Park and the Pony Express station.  A famous if short-lived operation, the Express was a private company which delivered mail between St Joseph's, Missouri and Sacramento, California.  Riders would take a horse ten to fifteen miles before stopping at the next post, where a Nascar-style pit stop would outfit them with a new mount and have them on their way in two minutes.  The humans were given a break every 75-100 miles, when a new mail carrier would take over.  Correspondence could reach Sacramento in only ten days, but the price was prohibitive.  Few except the United States government could afford the service,   Even so the owners lost one hundred thousand dollars in only eighteen months before their debts and the completion of the Overland Telegraph  forced them to cease operation in 1861.
Across from Ehman Park I found the Gothenburg museum.  Inside I learned about Lake Helen, where I will stay tonight. The reservoir, the largest in Nebraska at the time of its contruction in 1891, was integral to the town's growth.  Helen provides irrigation for farming as well as electricity and water for home and industrial uses.  Before the invention of refrigeration the wintery ice was removed in blocks and shipped off for use as coolant.
Chunks of ice greeted me as I arrived at the adjacent Lafayette Park.  The threatened storm had indeed appeared and I ducked underneath a shelter in the nick of time, thus avoiding a torrent of hale, followed by a heavy downpour.  After the initial blow I found a gap in the weather to set up the Half Dome.  I snuggled inside for a long night of rain and wind.

10 miles/2149 total miles 

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