On the high plains, somewhere east of Colorado SpringsON THE HIGH PLAINS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PHOTOGRAPHY
BY DAVE NANCE
   

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the old same place

text and images © 2004 by David B. Nance

 

 

 

 

 

   


Abandoned building; Colorado Hwy. 86, somewhere east of Pueblo"High Plains"? "Great Plains"? Is there a difference?  Yes.  Geologically speaking, the "High Plains" is a section of the Great Plains province.  The "High Plains" section covers (generally) most of Nebraska and a bit of southeast Wyoming, eastern Colorado and western Kansas, and the panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas.  This Map of the sections of the Great Plains, from the website "The Geologic Story of the Great Plains", illustrates its extent. 

"THE HIGH PLAINS developed on sediments that originated in the Rocky Mountains to the west. The Rocky Mountains were formed by deformations of the earth's crust at intervals during the last part of the Cretaceous Period and continuing into the Tertiary Period, which lasted from approximately 66 million to 1.6 million years ago. By late Tertiary time, just a few million years ago, the Rockies were being eroded by wind and water. Streams flowing eastward out of the Rocky Mountains were full of sand, gravel, silt, and other rock debris. Over millions of years, this mass of eroded material filled the stream valleys and eventually covered the hills, creating a huge, gently sloping floodplain. The remnants of that region is the region we call the High Plains."  [From the GeoKansas website] . 

On Hwy. 24, east of Colorado SpringsSee also this Map of the Great Plains, from The Plains Folk Home Page ["Plains Folk is the self-syndicated newspaper column written by Jim Hoy (Emporia, Kansas) and Tom Isern (West Fargo, North Dakota) and devoted to life on the Great Plains of North America.  This home page is the entré to web pages that provide information about Plains Folk, about its authors, and about their activities and interests"] 

The plains, whether "High" or "Great", are also a social and cultural concept.  In his article, "These Great Plains", Robert Sheldon discusses the views of people such as David Wishart, NU geographer and editor of the forthcoming Encyclopedia of the Great Plains, who believes that history, culture and social organization are defining characteristics of the Great Plains.  Among other things, Wishart finds significance in the way that the towns were laid out in different parts of the plains: towns built before the railroads came tended to be organized around a central town square, unlike later-settled towns growing on railroad lines.  Wishart is associated with the Center For Great Plains Studies, at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. 

 

 


Western Kansas

Abandoned building, near Chalk Pyramids (Monument Rocks); western Kansas"JULY CAME ON Chalk Pyramids (Monument Rocks), western Kansas with that breathless, brilliant heat which makes the plains of Kansas and Nebraska the best corn country in the world. It seemed as if we could hear the corn growing in the night; under the stars one caught a faint crackling in the dewy, heavy-odoured cornfields where the feathered stalks stood so juicy and green. If all the great plain from the Missouri to the Rocky Mountains had been under glass, and the heat regulated by a thermometer, it could not have been better for the yellow tassels that were ripening and fertilizing the silk day by day. 

 

Prince's Plume, with Chalk Pyramids (Monument Rocks) in background; western Kansas The cornfields were far apart in those times, with miles of wild grazing land between. It took a clear, meditative eye like my grandfather's to foresee that they would enlarge and multiply until they would be, not the Shimerdas' cornfields, or Mr. Bushy's, but the world's cornfields; that their yield would be one of the great economic facts, like the wheat crop of Russia, which underlie all the activities of men, in peace or war." Derelict drive-in theater, on Hwy. 36, Kansas

[Ch. XIX, My Antonia, by Willa Cather - taken from the Project Gutenberg etext]

 

 

 

 


High plains salvage yard

Old Chevys in a salvage yard; Hwy. 14, eastern ColoradoA salvage yard, in eastern ColoradoDriving back from the mountains in 2001, I passed this salvage yard in a little town in far northeastern Colorado.  

 

It held an amazing collection of old pickup trucks, in an amazing array of colors.

A salvage yard, in eastern ColoradoOld busses as well . . .

 

 

"Junkyard cat"; in a salvage yard, in eastern ColoradoThis "junkyard cat" was obviously a regular visitor, if not resident.  It lazed on hoods and roofs in the lot sun, and wandered the yard as if it owned it.      

 

 

A salvage yard, in eastern ColoradoChalk it up to nostalgia if you must, but I think these trucks look a lot better than modern pickups.  A salvage yard, in eastern Colorado

 

 

 

 

 

 


Eastern Colorado

Eastern Colorado Antique Tractor Ass'n. pull; Joes, ColoradoDriving through Joes, Colorado in 2001, I ran across this tractor pull, sponsored by the East Central Colorado Antique Tractor Association. 

 

 

Waiting for the pull; Joes, Colorado          tractor pull; Joes, Colorado          Waiting for the pull; Joes, Colorado

 

 


Last Chance, Colorado Last Chance -

Once, Last Chance, Colorado truly was the "last chance" for gas, water, or anything else, before a long, dry, unpopulated shot across the barren plains to Denver, 77 miles to the west. 

Last Chance, ColoradoNow, the warning is not accurate. Highway 36 does continue to the west, straddling or paralleling the line between Adams County and Arapahoe County, but while it used to run straight on to Denver without hitting much of anything, it no longer does so.   Only about 35 miles west of Last Chance, Hwy. 36 suddenly veers south and meets I-70, at Exit 316.  From there on to the west, Hwy. 36 stays close to the Interstate, wandering at most a mile or so away as it runs into Denver.

The angel at the Dairy King;  Last Chance, ColoradoWhen I was a child, looking out the windows of the family station wagon as we roared through on our way to our mountain vacations, there was something vaguely exciting to me about Last Chance.   I suppose it was that suggestion of risk, of adventure, of setting off on a dangerous trek across a barren, deserted landscape -- would we make it?  

As an adult, on the far side of middle age, there is something poignant to me about it.  The "last chances" it speaks of to me now, are of a different kind. 

Like everything else in this world, Last Chance is changing.  

For one thing, the signs on Hwy. 36 that announce the name of the place were moved out, by several hundred yards at least.  I suppose people were flying by so fast, that the name never even registered on them until they had passed the place.  Moving the signs back seemed a kind of, "Hey! Here we are!" kind of move. 

More ominously (at least to me), the Angel of the Dairy King has disappeared.  The Angel was attached to a telephone pole, above a picnic table just outside the Dairy King (see photo).  I had never been by there at any time other than midday, but it looked to me like the Angel would have been illuminated at night.  

When a town's angel disappears, what kind of chances does it have left?

 


PHOTOGRAPHY
BY DAVE NANCE
   

   PLACES  :   HIGH PLAINS  :

   ABOUT THE HIGH PLAINS    |    GALLERY 1    |    GALLERY 2

CONTACT

 

the old same place

text and images © 2004 by David B. Nance