Archive for January 29th, 2015

Sioux Lookout

Talk about finding a remote tourist attraction. I love the little out-of-the-way places with the big stories behind them. This is one from my childhood. Sioux Lookout is the highest point along the Platte River Valley. In the past it was used by Native Americans to spy approaching wagon trains. Before 2000 you could hike to the summit and stand in front of a commanding statue of a ornately decorated chief. Sadly, the statue has been placed on the courthouse square in North Platte because vandals nearly destroyed it. Some fifty years ago I remember climbing atop the hill only to see that an arm had been torn off or the head had been damaged. I would return to see that someone had made attempts at repairing it over the years. I can certainly understand the need to bring the statue into safe harbor.

The deep ruts up the hill are the result of thousands of visitors erosion by wind and water.

Sioux Lookout on the summit

Sioux Lookout on the summit

Sioux Lookout, the highest point in Lincoln County, was a prominent landmark on the overland trials. From its lofty summit the development of the West unfolded before the eyes of the Sioux and other Indians. Trappers and traders came by here in 1813, the first wagon train in 1830, and the first missionary in 1834. In 1836 Narcissa Whitman and Elizabeth Spalding became the first white women to travel the trail. During the Indian War of 1864-1865, its prominence gave a clear view of troop and Indian movements below.

Gold seekers enroute to California, homesteaders seeking free land in the West and a religious people seeking a haven in Utah–all are part of the history of this valley. Here echoed the hooves of the Pony Express. From 1840 to 1866 some 2,500,000 people traveled the valley, engraving into the sod a wide, deep trail. Indians called the route “The Great Medicine Road of the Whites.”

Sioux statue on Courthouse Square  North Platte, Nebraska

Sioux statue on Courthouse Square
North Platte, Nebraska

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