Saturday, July 3, 2010

Chadron, Nebraska

Heading north from Alliance, NE we stopped for the night in Chadron, NE. Why Chadron you ask? Simply to go to the Museum of the Fur Trade.

The Museum of the Fur Trade is located at the site of James Bordeaux's trading post. The trading post was established in 1837 by the American Fur Company. The company had just purchased Ft. Laramie, a hundred miles away and they planned to maximize their trade in prime buffalo robes by establishing posts in the protected valleys where the Indians wintered. Bordeaux prospered until after the Civil War when conditions on the Northern Plains were unsettled and the trade was often that of supplying contraband arms to Indians who were resisting efforts to force them onto reservations.

Bordeaux abandoned the post in 1872 and it was taken over by Francis Boucher, son-in-law of Spotted Tail, head chief of the Brule Sioux. Boucher's main interest was smuggling arms and ammunition to the Indian warriors fighting against the army. Undoubtedly, gunds and cartridges from his post figured in the defeat of General Custer. When the Army caught Boucher with 40,000 rounds of ammunition in 1876 they put him out of business.

The Museum traces the everyday lives of British, French, and Spanish traders, voyageurs, mountain men, buffalo hunters and the Plains and Woodland Indians. This small, privately funded museum is very well done and we glad we made the stop.

Remember those miles and miles of coal trains that I mentioned in an earlier post? Well, we found out what campground they all travel past. I guess our first hint should have been when the ad in the campground book said “If you love trains, this is the campground for you.” During the afternoon empty trains were rolling steadily past headed west. Along about sundown the fully loaded trains coming from Wyoming started rolling by, one after another, after another, after another. It was not that the trains were passing by but the fact that about 100 yards away was a RR crossing and so they have to blow their whistle, multiple times. There was more than once that I was sure a train was going to join us in bed.


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