Our next stop was Valentine, Nebraska.
We rode bikes across an old rail bridge on the Cowbow Trail.
It crosses the scenic Niobrara River.
There are many horse and cattle ranches just outside of Valentine.
There are scenic views everywhere you look. There are several state parks and national wildlife refuges in the area.
Most people don’t think of Nebraska as having waterfalls. The majority of the ones in this area are fed by an underground aquifer so there’s water even in the summertime.
There are more than 230 reported waterfalls along the Niobrara River (most of which are not reachable by land).
Smith Falls (my fav) is the highest waterfall in Nebraska.
Snake River Falls is the largest by volume.
Next stop was Chadron, NE.
The photos below are from Chadron State Park
I know I’ve said this before, but when we are hiking and come across colorful wildflowers they are so eye-catching.
We also visited Ft. Robinson State Park. They have a herd of bison, but were not in sight the day we were there.
Fort Robinson was the site of the 1879 Cheyenne Outbreak and the killing of Crazy Horse.
We visited the Toadstool Geological Park. This area is known as the badlands of NE. Below is some of the scenery from the 15 mile gravel road to the park.
Many of the toadstools have toppled due to erosion.
This sod house was rebuilt in 1984 near the site of one built in 1929. Signs of the original structure no longer exist. This is the grasslands at the Toadstool Geological Park. Another hot day and it was much cooler inside! The photo to the right is actually a close-up of the cacti and grass growing on the roof.
This is Carhenge
located in Alliance, NE. It’s a roadside attraction I read about sometime ago that I thought sounded intriguing. Jim Reinders, an oil consultant from Houston (originally from Alliance) built it with help from relatives. It’s said to be an exact replica of Stonehenge. While living in England he studied the structure of Stonehenge which helped him copy it. He decided to use cars because stones were too expensive to haul. Not to worry about the environment, he drained all of the oil and gas first.
About 4,000 people (including the governor) showed up to view the total solar eclipse in 2017. There was also a wedding held here during one summer solstice at the exact time it occurred. Who would want to have a wedding at Carhenge? Apparently, the couple got engaged there and it was a special place to them.
Other automobiles have been added to the location which is known as the Car Art Reserve, but we were not as impressed with them.
The graffiti car is the only one that can be spray painted.
Our next stop was North Platte, NE. We were interested in seeing the world’s largest classification yard, Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard. It’s located in the midst of key east-west and north-south corridors on the busiest freight rail line in America.
It’s 8 miles long, 2 miles wide at it’s widest point ,and has a total of 400 miles of track. There are125 trains and 14,000 cars handled daily. They have a diesel repair shop where 9000 locomotives are serviced and 1200 locomotives are repaired monthly. And they use 18 million gallons of diesel fuel monthly! These numbers are unbelievable! And to keep America moving forward, the entire facility is open 24/7.
This is the Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center where Baily Yard can be viewed from the 6th story open observation deck. We don't know why it’s not painted gold! But we do know there’s a nice visitor center and museum inside where we read signs and watched a few movies. Most interesting was the man on the 7th floor enclosed observation deck sitting at a table reading the paper and drinking coffee while overlooking the yard. He was a retired railroad employee who worked at Bailey Yard until he was 70. He told us they make you retire at 70, but they shouldn’t! I think he would talk trains for hours to anyone who would listen. The photo on the right was looking out the tower in the opposite direction of the yard. It was just a normal Nebraska field.
I hadn’t mentioned all the trains we saw while driving in NE. We notice many in all the western states. Maybe it’s because one can see for long distances with nothing blocking the way.
These were the longest cattle stalls and most cattle we’ve seen in one place in any state. It just seemed to go on and on along the road we were driving.
I will end with a couple of scenic photos in Nebraska.
Coming up will be Loveland, CO!