Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Part way

DAY TWENTY-FIVE: We stayed in Sidney for much of the day, hanging out at the Library, reading, using the internet. Ellen got involved in a book titled Ghost Town by Robert Coover, and got sort of hooked on it. We'll have to see if we can get it in Alpine.
Weather improved as the day progressed and we left Sidney at about 4pm. I-80 was mostly fine, though it was still very blustery, and there were a few places where snow was blowing and drifting, but mostly it was dry. We are now at a Travelodge Motel in Laramie, which puts us 150 miles closer to Alpine and will give us a manageable day tomorrow. We just made a driving tour of the University of Wyoming, which is in Laramie, and which neither of us had ever seen before. It is an interesting campus, with some older, attractive buildings, and some newer ones which seem to have been architecturally influenced by the Third Reich. It has 14,000 students. We saw a "Biodiversity Conservation Center," which was intriguing.

A couple of post-scripts: Yesterday we drove from Paolo, KS to Sidney, NE. On the way we stopped briefly at Osawatomie, KS to visit the John Brown State Historic Site. It was closed on Monday, but there was a self-guided tour with placards. This is, of course, the site of the "Battle of Osawatomie,"  in which a group of anti-slavery guerillas led by John Brown, skirmished with a pro-slavery force led by John Reid. Brown's son lost his life.  From Wikipedia:

The conflict known as the Battle of Osawatomie began August 30, 1856 as John Brown was camped just north Osawatomie and looking east for pro-slavery forces. A pro-slavery force of 250, led by John William Reid, came riding into Osawatomie from another direction. One of John Brown's sons Frederick Brown was walking to the Adair cabin at the time, and was shot. When Reverend Adair heard the shot, he sent his own son to warn and notify John Brown of the raid. Brown and 31 of the free state guerillas took positions to attempt to defend Osawatomie. Heavy gunfire took place for over 45 minutes, until Brown and his men ran out of ammunition. They retreated hoping they would be chased, and the community of Osawatomie would be left alone. However, despite the attempts of Brown to get Reid's men to follow, they instead looted and burned Osawatomie. Only three buildings remained standing when it was over.

Statue of John Brown
Placard on the Trail
I have read three biographies of John Brown and am convinced that he is a more significant figure  in U.S. history than the textbooks allow. His passionate anti-slavery commitment, including this skirmish in Osawatomie, and then later his raid on Harper's Ferry, was an important factor in the start of the Civil War.

Later our itinerary took us by Abilene, KS and the Eisenhower Center. We did not have the time to stay and do the whole thing, but Ellen got some postcards, and I got a photo of his home. It would have been the perfect follow-up on our visit to the Truman Library the day before, since Eisenhower succeeded Truman.

Eisenhower home

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