The test of an adventure is that when you are in the middle of it, you say to yourself, "Oh, now I've got myself into an awful mess; I wish I were sitting quietly at home." And the sign that something is wrong with you is when you sit quietly at home wishing you were out having lots of adventure.-Thornton Wilder
The nice thing about being confused is you get a chance to notice things a lot better than if you knew where you were going.
This feature was far off in the grasslands of the museum grounds. You were able to drive your car to it along with some of the other far-flung features of the Living History Experience.
I liked this. I was the only one there.
Despite the Pawnee being cool and never raising a ruckus with the U.S. Government,
they still got kicked out of their homes and shipped off their land.
Yeah, I was standing there making Indian sounds. Hey, no one else was around, why not?
This didn't make much sense to this paleface.
Someone went through great effort to obliterate whatever was written at the beginning of the second paragraph. Obviously they took issue with what was written believing it was what, wrong? I couldn't make out what was there originally but I had my suspicions. Later I investigated it on the Internet. It seems that other than raising the heavy logs, the women were who built the Earth Lodges.
I think it read Women were largely
Some guy didn't like the idea women could make something so neat.
In addition to what I mentioned yesterday, there was a railroad display with a 1901 steam locomotive, an 1871 coach and a 1912 caboose. There was a 1860's log cabin settlement, antique farm machinery and auto exhibit (closed while I was there), a rural schoolhouse and church, 1893 farmstead and a Pawnee Earth Lodge which I'll show later.
But these two captured my interest.
This was so neat, I was simply captivated by it all. The man's name is Loren Miller and he made various items from tin. Here he is wiping clean some tin cups he just finished testing to see if they leaked, and they were for sale too. I had to have one - $10. He was so nice to talk with and I learned that he got paid to be there doing what he loved to do.
I told Loren I was going next door to check out the blacksmith shop. That didn't last long. The noise from the hammer pounding on the anvil was more than my sensitive hearing could manage. I was back with Loren in less than a minute. I told him I'd never make it as a blacksmith. He agreed with me saying he wouldn't be able to handle the noise either.
A few doors down was this shop. No tourists were there, so I stepped inside.
These are all handmade and for sale with very reasonable prices like 20 to 30 dollars.
(I can't locate my notes. This is coming from my memory, for what it's worth)
This is the lady who makes them and I have forgotten her name. I only remembered Loren's for I had him etch his name on the bottom of my cup. She told me this hat was destined to go to England. Again my missing notes, but I think the customer was visiting the museum and told her what she wanted and to ship it to her when finished. I am wanting to think the price on this was around $50.
Isn't that cool looking?
We visited for awhile and I remarked how it was sad that the wearing of hats by ladies had become a lost piece of fashion wear for women. But even more so was that her craft in creating such beautiful pieces of work could very well someday be lost forever. She agreed wholeheartedly and had a lot to say about the subject, but again...those missing notes. Grrrr...
One other interesting shop was the lumber mill. It was popular with a large crowd gathered around inside the shop. All the power tools in the shop were driven by huge belts on large overhead pulleys where he would shift the belt from one pulley to another depending on the piece of equipment he wanted to run. It had the wonderful sawdust smell but was very noisy in there with the wood worker yelling to the crowd be heard over the sounds of the shop. I didn't linger.
And yep, I forgot to take a picture.
As I was writing this I recalled the newspaper/print shop the next door down. There the young man was playing the part of the printer, doing his thing when as he was showing me this wood case that held print type. He was leaning on the glass top of the display case and the glass shattered sending flying shards of glass everywhere and down inside among all the antique print items on display. We stood there in silence. Now I know I took a picture of that but I don't have it. I think I lost some of my pictures of Railroad Town including the above wood shop. I bet I used the iPhone and not being that familiar with it, well...that's my excuse and I am sticking to it.
Okay, excuses time. I really didn't take as many pictures as I would normally had while at Stuhr. My Nikon was giving me spots on my images early in the trip (I don't want to talk about it) so I was using my point & shoot for most of my photos. By this point, thoroughly disgusted with myself for having a dirty DSLR, I was rapidly losing interest in picture taking. Now I regret it for I don't have the pictures I would of, could of, should of shot.
The museum was very nice but what I really enjoyed was the 1890's Railroad Town.
Now I have seen quite a few of these 'towns' many of which look like something you'd see in Disneyland or Knott's Berry Farm. This was far from that.
As the locomotive pushed west, towns sprang up along its tracks. Railroad Town recreates the prairie community in Nebraska during the last decades of the 19th century.
Sixty century-old shops, homes, and other structures were moved to the site and restored. They provide you with a large map so that you may walk around the grounds and explore at your leisure. There is an auto-tour route but no cars are permitted within the town. Other than an ice cream/soda shop down from the Mercantile Store, all the buildings are just like they were at the time, many with volunteers acting the part of the resident or shop owner in period dress.
Inside the Mercantile Shop there were items for sale including candies, canned fruit and jams, art work, hats, some clothing items, old time simple toys, etc. The items for sale though were generally the type of merchandise that was available during that time period. I bought my wife a necklace that oddly enough was about the only thing I saw there that didn't fit into the ongoing theme of the store or time period.
Tomorrow I'll show a couple of the shops that I thought really cool.
We were on our way to visit the Stuhr Museum which was on my list of things to see. (more on it in upcoming posts) En route we found ourselves on Henry Fonda Memorial Highway. Well just like with Donna Reed Road in Denison, Iowa (you can see that post here) I wondered if Grand Island was not Henry Fonda's home town. We finally arrived at the museum which was not anything what I expected. I pulled up to the kiosk and saw they wanted $8 to drive in, a dollar less for this old person. What I could see far off in the distance wasn't that inviting and I was going to blow off this site. At least while I am here, I'll ask the young lady about Henry Fonda. Maybe she can tell me if he was from around here and if his home is still standing.
She told me that yes he was born in Grand Island. When I asked if his home was still around she added "Why yes it is. In fact we have it right here on the grounds." I told her "Well that's worth the price of admission" and I paid the seven dollar entry fee. I was soon to learn that those seven dollars got me a whole lot more than I ever imagined. The Stuhr Museum was a delight to visit and see.
But first, Henry's home.
The home was built in 1884. Fonda's parents rented the house during 1904-1905 and it was on May 16, 1905 that Henry was born in the house and the family moved soon after.
Seven different families lived in the house over the years with many changes being made.
When Henry Fonda learned that the house was scheduled for demolition he provided the funds to have the home relocated to the Sturh Museum property.
With photographs provided by Henry's sister Harriet, the museum was able to secure period pieces and restore the house to its original appearance at the time the Fondas lived in it.
I cannot express how wonderful it was to walk through this house. Not for the fact that Henry Fonda was born in it but for the homey, comfortable and warm feel to it. The creaky floors added to the ambiance. It really was a step back into time.
Henry visited the house in 1978 and quietly walked through each of the rooms studying details in the furniture, walls and floors. Then he came to the room where he was born. He stood looking at the brass bed for several minutes with a distant gaze.
Then he said "That's enough" and walked out the door.
Henry Fonda died fours years later on August 12, 1982.
It is always nice to take a picture of the sign. Saves me a lot of two finger typing.
I won't make you do the math. The family's first child died four months after birth. Their second child died at the age of three months. The third child died when he was two years old. I cannot begin to imagine the hurt the family suffered. That poor woman.
Good grief, you have one child make it for two years,
you begin to believe all will be okay with this one.
It is believed the grandfather sent to Sweden for the steel to fashion these crosses.
They were made with some really thick heavy duty metal.
It is also believed several neighboring children caught in a prairie fire are buried here without markers.
Just a lonely quiet dusty intersection of a Highway (yes, it is designated as Highway 47)
and country Road 769. Boy it was neat standing there in near absolute silence of the prairie.
The Bergs were blessed with four more children after the first three died.