New effort helps keep cattle trail days history alive

Monday, June 17, 2013

Nebraska -- going places.

No, that's not a new slogan from the department of tourism, but perhaps it should be.

That's because we've always seemed to be a state where everyone seems to be going somewhere else, at least in modern history.

From the earliest Spanish explorers to the French fur trappers, 49'ers in search of gold, Mormons on their way to Salt Lake City, Nebraska has been a place to travel through.

Then came the Oregon Trail days, followed by construction of the first transcontinental railroad.

Thousands of air crew trained at McCook and other Nebraska air bases on their way to Europe or the Pacific, and once the Lincoln Highway was supplanted by Interstate 80, millions of drivers whizzing down the four-lane at 75 mph strained to imagine what travel would have been like in a covered wagon.

Travelers continue to make their way across the state in trains and planes and automobiles, but of growing importance is the transport of gigabytes of data through fiber optic cables to and from data and customer service centers taking advantage of Nebraska's location and Internet accessibility.

While the majority of the travel through the state has been east and west -- including the Internet data -- the north and south axis has drawn less attention, including the Highway 83 corridor from Texas to Canada.

A Southwest Nebraska group is making a commendable effort to recognize another north-south migration, that of the 19th-century struggle to bring cattle north from Texas, first to the Fort Robinson military outpost near Chadron, then to railheads like Ogallala for shipment to markets back east.

The Great Western Cattle Trail Association of Nebraska and the Hitchcock County Historical Society gathered for a tour Saturday that appropriately included a brisket sandwich at the Northshore Marina near Trenton, as well as visits to notable spots along the cattle trail and the placing of a new marker on the Mary Ellen Goodenburger Farm just off Highway 34.

Of course, people who see Nebraska as just a place to pass through enroute to somewhere else are missing out on all our beautiful state and its people have to offer. They include people like the folks who are keeping the history of the Great Western Cattle Trail alive.

They hope the new markers can serve as a heritage tourism destination, and plan additional tours. For more information, call co-chairmen Ted Tietjen (308) 350-4336 or Harold Potthoff, (308) 276-2548 or visit greatwesterntrail.com.

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