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Crawford Hill & Carhenge, NE

Adventurers in the Rockies


Chapter Fifteen

Crawford Hill tracks & Carhenge, NE

July 15, 2016

Friday

by

Robin Bowers


Text and Photos by Author

The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent.


Comments are appreciated at...yr.mmxx@gmail.com


 

    Last night after darkness enveloped, Chris G., Chris P. and I retreated to the comforts of the inside of our bunkhouse for the night. Two bunk beds filled the bedroom with Chris P. and I taking the bottom bed in each and Chris G. used the big bed in the living room. The kitchen and bath were in the back and both quite adequate for our stay. Earlier in the evening, the landlord stopped by to pick up the rent and tell us the boundaries of the ranch and gave us a local map of the ranch with trails and roads on it.

    We woke to find a dark cloudy morning. After a breakfast snack, we got in the car with Chris G. driving first on dirt lane then a cow tail and ended on a dry creek bed to reach the picnic bench that overlooks the BNSF Crawford grade line.


      3102


3104

Our home for two nights.

3105

Area History

    The Pine Ridge Area has often been referred to as the "last frontier", and for a good reason. It was a favorite Indian hunting and camping area for hundreds of years and the Sioux Indians occupied it permanently about 1810. Spaniards from New Mexico where the first fur traders, followed in the 1830's by Americans from St. Louis, who established a regular trail from Fort Laramie to Fort Pierre on the Missouri River. In the 1840's there were two competing fur posts, one on Chadron Creek, about eight miles south of Chadron, the other on Bordeaux Creek, three and a half mile east of Chadron. Red Cloud Indian Agency was moved to the White River in 1873. Camp Robinson was established in 1874 to protect the Agency. It was renamed Fort Robinson in 1878 and was an active military post until 1948. The Agency played an important role in the Indian Wars of the 1870's. Sioux war leader Crazy Horse was killed at Fort Robinson in 1877.

     In 1851, Horse Creek Treaty was the largest gathering of Indians ever recorded - and the first treaty to be covered by the media. Some 12,000 Indians along with their 30,000 horses descended on this site to discuss an arrangement - the tribes would allow the government to build roads and forts on their lands. In return, the Army was to protect the Indians from white settlers and pay the tribes $50,000 in goods annually for 50 years. Rather than solve the problems, the treaty began a series of misunderstandings and misdeeds that led to the bloody Indian Wars.

    With the removal of the Sioux Indians to South Dakota in 1877, several very large cattle outfits came into the area. Large roundups were conducted annually until the railroads arrived in 1885 and an influx of homesteaders took up most of the available land.


3107

    The old Sidney-Deadwood Trail can be viewed when riding on the western part of ranch. This trail was an important link between Sidney, Nebraska and the Black Hills, where gold had been discovered in 1874. The would-be miners tried to find the shortest route to their new found "fortune". The railroad dropped men and supplies off in Sidney, and from there, they would venture over the 267-mile trail to the Black Hills in search of gold. In 1876 & 1877, hundreds of people arrived and departed Sidney daily in the rush to the Black Hills. From 1875-1881, the trail brought many men to the mining towns of Deadwood and Custer, South Dakota. The trail saw a lot of traffic, mostly in the form of stagecoaches, freight wagons drawn by oxen or mules, herds of cattle, and riders on horseback. It is estimated that from 1878-1879 alone, over 22 million pounds of freight moved over the Trail. Gold shipments, some worth up to $200,000 moved over the Sidney-Deadwood Trail. The Trail's major obstacle was the North Platte River, near Bridgeport, and in 1876, Clarke's Bridge was created to make the traveling easier. By 1880, the railroad reached the Pierre Dakota Territory diverting much of the gold rush traffic away from Sidney.

3109

    Just imagine the different characters that probably rode the Sidney-Deadwood Trail - "Buffalo Bill" Cody, was scouting for the military; Calamity Jane, frontierswoman and a rider for the Pony Express; Sam Bass, trail boss who squandered cattle drive money in poker games in Deadwood; Whispering Smith, railroad detective; Doc Middleton, desperado, road agent and bandit; Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, bank robbers; Lt. Colonel George Custer, soldier; "Wild Bill" Hickok, expert marksman, stage coach driver & lawman - Hickok died in 1876 - shot in the back of the head in the No. 10 Saloon in Deadwood, South Dakota. He was holding a pair of aces and a pair of eights (fifth card unknown) and in poker to this day such a hand is known as the "Dead Man's Hand."

    Lots of different gamblers probably rode over the Trail - Doc Baggs, Jim Bush, Jim Lavine and Rebel George. They had a different idea of how they were going to seek their fortune - at the poker tables in Deadwood!! Dawes County is still cattle country and very much reflects its heritage of Indians, fur traders, cowboys and frontier soldiers.



3116



3121


3123

A couple of desperado characters at the picnic bench, Chris G and Chris P.(r).

3124


3126


3127

The uphill trains sneak up on you here so you must always be prepared for a train. Soon we all heard out first train coming up to our photo location.

3130



3133

Loco 5921 leading.
3140


3141


3146

Front of train in top of picture and with end of train at bottom.

3147



3160

BNSF 9222, 9281, 8572.




3170

Our first downhill north bound train.

3182


3184



3187


3190


3192

BNSF 5857 South starting its climb up Crawford Hill.

3193


3198


3201


3205


3209


3211


3222


3223


3228

Helper locos 9222, 9281 returning down hill.

3231


3236


3238


3239

BNSF 4090 South with a ballast train.

3241


3244


3246


3251


3255


3256

BNSF 6209 - 6209.

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3259


3260


3262


3268


3270


3271


3272


3273


3274


3275


3277


It was noon when this train passed so we decided to return to the bunkhouse for lunch via the same cow path and dirt trail we had arrived on.

3279


3280

Our lonely home in west Nebraska.

3282

Leaving the ranch we joined Rt 2 at Sawlog Road and headed south toward Alliance but first we made a stop in Belmont.

3285


3286


3287

This cut replaced an old single track tunnel.

3289


3291

From here we drove to the Belmont Tunnel, the only tunnel in the State of Nebraska.

3293

This is the south portal and we are going to drive through it.

3295

I see the light at the end of the tunnel .

3299

The north portal.

3301

1888.

3304

Back on the road we saw this oversize load movement.

3305

BNSF 5901 north near Marsland.

3307

Alliance, NB

3308


3309


3310


3312

CB&Q 4-6-0  719 in Alliance.

3314


Carhenge


3318


3320



3324


3325


3327

20th Century Carsule: Buried June 21, 2003 by Jim Reinders for his 75th birthday. Disinter June 21, 2053.

3328

WW II Time Capsule.

3329

Auto-graph Car by Friends of Carhenge.

Autographs only please.

3330

Car-nestoga by  David Kowalski, "My artistic vision on this piece, (said very tongue-in-cheek) was a tribute to the pioneers crossing the plains along the Oregon Trail in wagons."

3333

The "Fourd Seasons" by Jim Reidders, comprised only of Fords and inspired by Vivaldi's Four Seasons, suggests the Nebraska landscape's seasonal changes as wheat is planted, grows, matures, and the field lies barren during a windy winter.

3334

The three bells, built by Reinders represent the three Reinders siblings (Phyllis, Leonard, Jim).

3335

Carman by Ty Action of Scottsbluff, specializing in "found art" the artist thinks of it as a female saying, She is representative of the people who actually developed Stonehenge back in England.

3336


3338


3339


3340


3343


3344


3345


3346

Additional car sculptures have been erected at the site known as the Car Art Reserve. One of the first sculptures to be added is the "Spawning Salmon" created by 29 year old Geoff Sandhurst from Canada. Dino, the dinosaur was built by Merle Stone of Hemingford.


3351

Thirty eight automobiles were placed to assume the same proportions as Stonehenge with the circle measuring approximately 96 feet in diameter. Some autos are held upright in pits five feet deep, trunk end down, while those which are placed to form the arches have been welded in place. All are covered with gray spray paint.

3352


3355


3358

The honor of depicting the heel stone goes to a 1962 Caddy.

3361


3363

Leaving Carhenge we drove to the BNSF's Alliance yard.

3366

BNSF 5985 & 8357.

3367

BN C-30-7 5545 & 5549 are in bad shape.
 
3369

We gassed up in Alliance and headed back north to Crawford and the ranch. Along the way we caught up to this northbound train with power BNSF 5844 & 9707.

3372

BNSF 5844 Northwest of Marsland. We drove back to Belmont to photograph it there.

3374


3376


3377


3379


3380


3381

BNSF caboose 10718 in Crawford. We crossed the bridge over the railroad and stopped again.


3383

NS 1101 South & NS 1157 at Crawford.

3384



3388


3391


We drove into town and went to the Tailgate Bar and Grill for dinner. All of us were happy with our meal selection in this neighborhood watering hole with a few locals having a good time. From here we drove back to the Ponderosa Ranch where we prepared to leave in the morning. We all enjoyed our stay here and we will return in the future.

3094

Not a sound was heard all night long.


Thanks for reading.

Coming next- Chapter Sixteen - Denver Union Station, Platte Valley Trolley and Alamosa


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Text and Photos by Author

The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent.

Comments appreciated at .... yr.mmxx@gmail.com