Sunday, November 9, 2008

Ogallala, NE - Say It Twice! Fast!!

Yep! This is where we are! A not-so-bustling town of 5,000+/-... The RV camp is smack in the middle of corn fields. Actually we're enjoying our stop-over here! Reasonably quiet (we can hear trains only way off in the distance) and nice people. Well, the quiet part the pooches would argue about as it is hunting season and there are the somewhat frequent gunshots - which is perfect for a former frontier cattle town! We spent a few hours sightseeing today and visited the Mansion on the Hill, a Victorian home built in 1887 and definitely out of place among the more rough n'ready elements of Ogallala at that time. (Probably now, too!!) We didn't see inside as it is closed for the season. (A lot of places don't expect tourists in the winter.) We also visited Boot Hill. Yep, there's a reason for the name...cowboys were buried with their boots on! Most of the remains have actually been moved to the Ogallala Cemetery, but there are a large sculpture and the original wooden gravestones marking the site. And, a time capsule to be checked on in 2034 and opened in 2084. Two bottles of whiskey are in the capsule, one to be opened in 2034 and the other in 2084. Evidently Boot Hill was a pretty busy place as Ogallala was considered the "Gomorrah of the Plains." That meant lots of drunken cowboys, gamblers and dance hall girls.

After hitting the sights in Ogallala, we headed for Keystone, NE. You thought Ogallala was small; well, Keystone is about 65 people! That figure was given to us by the lady who saw our car at the church and opened it for us and whose family owns the telephone company for Keystone and Arthur (population 145 people). Don't think her family makes out like the CEO for ATT! That's easy to figure out after driving around Keystone. But, she is a proud and independent person true to her pioneer roots. It shows in her speech, in her walk.

Then back to Kingsley Dam which forms beautiful 22 miles long Lake McConaughy with 105 miles of white sand beaches. It is gorgeous and was a great backdrop for our lunch. There is an eagle-viewing facility, but, again, not open for tourists! So, we sat on a bench on a bluff and watched the ducks and sea gulls and climbed down to a better vantage point. Some of our tour group had trouble with a concept...if you climb down a hill, you have to climb back up it to go home!

In the panorama below, Lake McConaughy is on the far left horizon.

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