Last night I watched several episodes of ‘The West’ while I worked on a floor plan of a house I placed on this farm I googled. I had just finished a Cape Cod that I put in the Back Bay of Boston where in Fantasy World I lived with Rena Easton after I convinced her we were meant to spend the rest of our lives together. It was her eyes. I missed her look, her view of the world. Then there was her gate. She walked the earth like a great stalking cat. She had animal magnatism up the Yin Yang. I assumed this was because there is nothing there – there! When I took the train across America I stopped to see her in Lincoln. I brought up the idea that I could move here, rent an old farm and have a studio.
“There’s nothing here. You wouldn’t be happy here! She carefully informed me.
“You’re here.” was my pitiful retort, that her silence dismissed. She had a new lover.
Rena was a Midwestern Woman who lived on the Oregon Trail in Grand Island Nebraska, and Bozeman Montana. When I found the Oasis Farm, my imagination did no have much to do, but, put Rena swimming in our manmade pond – in the nude! I built a octangle sanctuary on the little island where she, or I, could retreat to when we grew tired of – just us! There is no one around for miles. Of course we go there to recreate the fifty days we spent in a tent in Paradise. We would lie under a glass ceiling looking at the stars, and, beholding a comet or two.
I see myself as a young on a tractor scooping out the aquatic aspect of our Little Eden.
“I thought you were left-leaning and hated tractors!” exclaims the love of my life.
“For you, I would part the Red Sea!”
This morning, this old man woke in his bed, alone, ready to explain once more that I am guilty of reminiscing. But, Ken Burn’s depiction of the West as a hideous cultural killing field, told me there is one more fight to fight here, here on earth, before I die.
I understood Trump did not want to be President, and was in need of a popular vision. Someone suggested he give the impression he is reopening the West to overly aggressive White Folks, who love money and gold. Von Genius told his crazy-ass base the Mexicans, the Negroes, the Chinese, the Muslims and Indians – got their gold!
“Go West young man and get you some gold! Don’t you want to be rich like me?’
Above is a photo of a tiny body of water that killed hundreds of Settlers who got cholera because they washed their sick babies butts in this oasis. The men had crusty-butt. Their wives had to clean their vaignas – and butt. They camped at the waters edge so they wouldn’t have to haul water a hundred yards, where they should have been. They brought their horses and livestock to have a drink. Their hooves had stepped in human excrement, because parents were afraid to let their children go out into the cold and wild lest an animal eat them. Eastern Women were afraid of being raped by a Savage, or two. So, they shat in their nest, moved on, and here come another wagon train.
Rena was a great camper! I taught her how. She was a straight A student and followed instructions. She had it down. This is why I did not want to let go of her. A woman like this only comes round every thousand lifetimes.
I read the news this morning about the new Civil War brewing over California becoming a Sanctuary State. All of a sudden this Cultural Battle Rena and I have been having, was just a rehearsal for the BIG SHOW! I see myself as the New John Brown, and old prophet with a crooked stick waving it at the Federal Troops Von Genius has sent against – us. These troops want to take away our advanced Science that informs us the planet is in a environmental crisis. Von Genius tells us it is American to shit in your water supply. Anyone who disagrees is…..”left-leaning”.
LOS ANGELES — When drivers entered California recently from the borders with Arizona and Nevada, they were greeted with signs welcoming them to an “official sanctuary state” that is home to “felons” and “illegals.” It was a prank, but the message was clear: By entering California, they might as well have been entering foreign territory.
And in many ways it feels like that these days, as the growing divide between California and the Trump administration erupted this past week over a dizzying range of flash points, from immigration to taxes to recreational marijuana use.
What had been a rhetorical battle between a liberal state and a conservative administration is now a full-fledged fight.
The Oregon Trail is a 2,170-mile (3,490 km) historic east–west, large-wheeled wagon route and emigrant trail in the United States that connected the Missouri River to valleys in Oregon. The eastern part of the Oregon Trail spanned part of the future state of Kansas, and nearly all of what are now the states of Nebraska and Wyoming. The western half of the trail spanned most of the future states of Idaho and Oregon.
The Oregon Trail was laid by fur traders and traders from about 1811 to 1840, and was only passable on foot or by horseback. By 1836, when the first migrant wagon train was organized in Independence, Missouri, a wagon trail had been cleared to Fort Hall, Idaho. Wagon trails were cleared increasingly farther west, and eventually reached all the way to the Willamette Valley in Oregon, at which point what came to be called the Oregon Trail was complete, even as almost annual improvements were made in the form of bridges, cutoffs, ferries, and roads, which made the trip faster and safer. From various starting points in Iowa, Missouri, or Nebraska Territory, the routes converged along the lower Platte River Valley near Fort Kearny, Nebraska Territory and led to rich farmlands west of the Rocky Mountains.
From the early to mid-1830s (and particularly through the epoch years, 1846–69) the Oregon Trail and its many offshoots were used by about 400,000 settlers, farmers, miners, ranchers, and business owners and their families. The eastern half of the trail was also used by travelers on the California Trail (from 1843), Mormon Trail (from 1847), and Bozeman Trail (from 1863), before turning off to their separate destinations. Use of the trail declined as the first transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, making the trip west substantially faster, cheaper, and safer. Today, modern highways, such as Interstate 80 and Interstate 84, follow parts of the same course westward and pass through towns originally established to serve those using the Oregon Trail.
Numerous other trails followed the Oregon Trail for much of its length, including the Mormon Trail from Illinois to Utah; the California Trail to the gold fields of California; and the Bozeman Trail to Montana. Because it was more a network of trails than a single trail there were numerous variations, with other trails eventually established on both sides of the Platte, North Platte, Snake, and Columbia rivers. With literally thousands of people and thousands of livestock traveling in a fairly small time slot the travelers had to spread out to find clean water, wood, good campsites, and grass. The dust kicked up by the many travelers was a constant complaint, and where the terrain would allow it there may be between 20 and 50 wagons traveling abreast.
Remnants of the trail in Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the entire trail is a designated National Historic Trail (listed as the Oregon National Historic Trail).
Those emigrants on the eastern side of the Missouri River in Missouri or Iowa used ferries and steamboats (fitted out for ferry duty) to cross into towns in Nebraska. Several towns in Nebraska were used as “jumping off places” with Omaha eventually becoming a favorite after about 1855. Fort Kearny (est. 1848) is about 200 miles (320 km) from the Missouri River, and the trail and its many offshoots nearly all converged close to Fort Kearny as they followed the Platte River west. The army-maintained fort was the first chance on the trail to buy emergency supplies, do repairs, get medical aid, or mail a letter. Those on the north side of the Platte could usually wade the shallow river if they needed to visit the fort.
The Platte River and the North Platte River in the future states of Nebraska and Wyoming typically had many channels and islands and were too shallow, crooked, muddy and unpredictable for travel even by canoe. The Platte as it pursued its braided paths to the Missouri River was “too thin to plow and too thick to drink”. While unusable for transport, the Platte River and North Platte River valleys provided an easily passable wagon corridor going almost due west with access to water, grass, buffalo, and buffalo chips for fuel. The trails gradually got rougher as it progressed up the North Platte. There were trails on both sides of the muddy rivers. The Platte was about 1 mile (1.6 km) wide and 2 to 60 inches (5.1 to 152.4 cm) deep. The water was silty and bad tasting but it could be used if no other water was available. Letting it sit in a bucket for an hour or so or stirring in a 1/4 cup of cornmeal allowed most of the silt to settle out. Those traveling south of the Platte crossed the South Platte River with its muddy and treacherous crossings using one of about three ferries (in dry years it could sometimes be forded without a ferry) before continuing up the North Platte River valley to Fort Laramie in present-day Wyoming. After crossing over the South Platte the travelers encountered Ash Hollow with its steep descent down Windlass Hill.
In the spring in Nebraska and Wyoming the travelers often encountered fierce wind, rain and lightning storms. Until about 1870 travelers encountered hundreds of thousands of bison migrating through Nebraska on both sides of the Platte River, and most travelers killed several for fresh meat and to build up their supplies of dried jerky for the rest of the journey. The prairie grass in many places was several feet high with only the hat of a traveler on horseback showing as they passed through the prairie grass. In many years the Indians fired much of the dry grass on the prairie every fall so the only trees or bushes available for firewood were on islands in the Platte river. Travelers gathered and ignited dried buffalo chips to cook their meals. These burned fast in a breeze, and it could take two or more bushels of chips to get one meal prepared. Those traveling south of the Platte crossed the South Platte fork at one of about three ferries (in dry years it could be forded without a ferry) before continuing up the North Platte River valley into present-day Wyoming heading to Fort Laramie. Before 1852 those on the north side of the Platte crossed the North Platte to the south side at Fort Laramie. After 1852 they used Child’s Cutoff to stay on the north side to about the present day town of Casper, Wyoming, where they crossed over to the south side.
Today much of the Oregon Trail follows roughly along Interstate 80 from Wyoming to Grand Island, Nebraska. From there U.S. Highway 30 which follows the Platte River is a better approximate path for those traveling the north side of the Platte. The National Park Service (NPS) gives traveling advice for those who want to follow other branches of the trail.
Cholera on the Platte River
Because of the Platte’s brackish water, the preferred camping spots were along one of the many fresh water streams draining into the Platte or the occasional fresh water spring found along the way. These preferred camping spots became sources of cholera in the epidemic years (1849–1855) as many thousands of people used the same camping spots with essentially no sewage facilities or adequate sewage treatment. There are many cases cited where a person would be alive and apparently healthy in the morning and dead by nightfall.
Fort Laramie marked the end of most cholera outbreaks. Spread by cholera bacteria in fecal contaminated water, cholera caused massive diarrhea, leading to dehydration and death. In those days its cause and treatment were unknown, and it was often fatal—up to 30% of infected people died. It is believed that the swifter flowing rivers in Wyoming helped prevent the germs from spreading.
The cause of cholera, ingesting the Vibrio cholerae bacterium from contaminated water, and the best treatment for cholera infections were unknown in this era. Literally hundreds of travelers on the combined California, Oregon, and Mormon Trails succumbed to cholera in the 1849-1855 time period. Most were buried in unmarked graves in Kansas, Nebraska, and Wyoming.