|Historical reenaction of what Fort Kearny did not look like|
Help like the Volzkes gave me the last couple of days is a rare and cherished thing to someone in my circumstances. The time came this morning to move on - the mission will never be complete if there is grass growing under my feet. Hence we parted once the pastor dropped me back in Lowell, and I made haste towards the next spot on the map, Kearney.
The path I trod bore the shadows of the migrant movement. Americans had been urged west and responded in mass, claiming their manifest destiny, ownership of the land beyond the Mississippi all the way to the Pacific. They followed the Platte River Road on their way to places like Oregon, California, and Utah (reserved for the magic underwear people).
By 1848 a small fort named after General Stephen Kearny sprang up to protect the wagon trains. Fort Kearny was also a supply depot, providing goods like Dr. Colonel McGillicuddy's Choleraway*, oxen prods, and Chinese servants named Wang. The outpost also served as a stop on the Pony Express and a staging post for expeditions against hostile tribes.
Those looking for a little more excitement could head west to the adobe buildings of Dobytown. In the mostly treeless prairie many settlers made their homes from sod or adobe. A place seemingly right out of a Clint Eastwood western, Dobytown had gambling and liquor in abundance. Outlaws were lured in by the stench of sin, vice, and the blinding whiskey known as tanglefoot.
Yet again the path of man was changed by the coming of the railroads. The completion of the Transcontinental Railway moved commerce over to the north side of the Platte and ended the era of the wagon trains. Within a year Fort Kearny was closed down and Dobytown became a ghost town.
Across the Platte Kearney returned, now with an extra e, becoming an important way station for crops and livestock heading to market from south central Nebraska. With the outfitting posts south of the Platte long closed, I too headed into Kearney to prepare for the coming expedition to the Pacific.
*McGillicudy is neither a medical professional or an actual army veteran. Choleraway is guaranteed to either cure cholera or cause death within three days after taking.
14 miles/2073 total miles