November 27, 2015 · 7:48 pm
In Midwest Maize, I go into some detail about the impact of trains on the U.S. as a whole and the Midwest in particular. In the mid-1800s, trains changed everything. Suddenly, people could travel and goods could be moved faster and farther than ever before. For those who are fans of trains and interested in their history, the Illinois Railway Museum—the largest railway museum in the United States—is a joy and delight. Stations, signals, train cars, engines (including some you’ve seen in movies), platforms, streetcars, and miles of track give the visitor access to the full history of trains. Unlike many museums, however, this is purely a labor of love. Here are a few images, to hint at what lies in store for anyone who makes the trip to this remarkable museum. (And if you do want to visit, here’s their website URL: http://www.irm.org/)
The Welcome Sign offers important info about the museum.
Take a ride in the streetcar before exploring the trains.
Travel was transformed when George Pullman added the dining car — and kitchen — in 1868.
Trains from every period of train history can be seen.
March 19, 2015 · 10:19 am
Did so much and learned so much while here in Arapahoe. Met so many wonderful people, all welcoming and happy to talk about life in the area.
Driving around, saw the long trains that opened up the region and still make it viable. As Cathy noted, they are vital to life out here, both carrying grain away and bringing goods into the area.
Passing through the Swedish community of Holdrege triggered a discussion of the people who settled the area. Largest group was German, but there were also significant numbers of Czech, Irish, English, Swedish, Hispanic, and African American settlers, with a good number of Asians and even some Pacific Islanders in the mix. There are also around 15,000 Native Americans in Nebraska.
Knowing that I’d be heading back across Iowa, Cathy explained that farms in Iowa are prettier than those in Nebraska, because in Nebraska, your taxes go up every time you improve the farm. Paint the barn, pay more taxes. That said, Nebraska is one of only a handful of states that are actually not broke, so at least they appear to spend the taxes wisely.
Then, after a lovely roast Sunday dinner, it was time to head east again, back to Lincoln. We drove across seemingly endless farmland—flat, fertile, and thirsty for rain.
Reached Lincoln by about 5pm. Even before heading for Jane’s house, we stopped at the city’s lovely Sunken Gardens. Always nice to see how other towns create beauty and interest.
Entering Lincoln’s Sunken Gardens
Jane’s son, Dan, joined us for dinner at their favorite Italian spot. Then back to Jane’s, to prepare for my departure tomorrow.
Filed under Agriculture, Corn, Culture, Farming, Food, History, Midwest, Thoughts, Travel
Tagged as Arapahoe, Holdrege, Lincoln, Nebraska, taxes, trains
February 20, 2015 · 11:14 am
From the high bluffs that overlook the Republican River, we had a view of a broad stretch of land that was not merely picturesque but that also summed up both history and present reality for the Great Plains, and indeed for much of the rural Midwest: farms, grain elevators, trains, and water for transportation and irrigation.
The sky was hazy with heat and dust. The wind was hot, insistent, and more than a little haunting. The sound of it coming across the prairie evoked for me tales of pioneers, early settlers, and drovers moving across the land.
Filed under Agriculture, Culture, Farming, History, Midwest, Midwest Maize, Travel
Tagged as Arapahoe, grain, grain elevators, Great Plains, Nebraska, the Republican River, trains, transportation