Today we visited our last 2 NPS sites in Nebraska. First up, Agate Fossil Beds National Monument. This was the site of a significant fossil find including a “dogbear” with underground dens, a six-foot tall pig-like animal, and a pony-sized rhinoceros.
The theory is that the spot where the fossils were found was a watering hole and as the food sources (vegetation) was eaten up close to the water, animals had to travel farther between the two until they eventually couldn’t make the trek.
Another interesting bit about this location is the owner of the ranch where the fossils were found. He was an Army scout, a homesteader, and was highly regarded by several Native American tribes, Lakota being one if them, including Red Cloud. He received many gifts from the natives, which were on display.
Our second stop was Scott’s Bluff National Monument, which is a somewhat unique land formation along the Oregon Trail.
Our journey across the plains over the last week or so has been long and boring. I can’t even imagine doing it with a covered wagon! And, just to clarify, very few people actually ride in the wagons…they really were just for all the gear. Most of the people walked along side. We learned that it generally took six to eight weeks to make it this far (leaving from Independence or St. Joseph, Mo.) and that was just the first 1/3 of their journey! Really makes us appreciate the transportation we have now!
So, tonight will be our last night in Nebraska. Tomorrow, we will drive across Wyoming and hopefully will finally see some buffalo. We’ve both seen buffalo many times, but it’s always exciting because that’s when you really feel like you’ve arrived “Out West!”