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Over the past few summers I have tackled the National Road, the Oregon Trail, and I've motorcycled to the Arctic Circle (Yukon) and Alaska. In the summer of 2013 I tackled Illinois Route 1. Starting on the south side of Chicago, Illinois 1 is the longest state highway, meandering south until it ends in Cave In Rock, Illinois, on the banks of the Ohio River. Once again, I operated with the assistance of Verizon Wireless, using an Apple iPhone and Nokia Lumia 928 to make all photographs.

Carved in stone

Posted: June 14th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: General posts | 4 Comments »

I had a very full day.  I got to interview Fred Brown, Vice President and Service Manager at Brown Chevrolet Buick in Wamego, Kansas.  A big thank you to Fred who gave me the run of the place.

Since it was such a busy day, and I don’t have time to edit and process all the stills and video I took.  I visited Alcove Springs and  Rock Creek State Park in Nebraska and made it to Kearney, Nebraska.  Tomorrow I will Visit Fort Kearny (by the way make up you mind how to spell Kearney/Kearny people!)

I shot a ton of stuff, But I will share with you these two:

In  his diary entry on May 26, 1846,  Edward Bryan tells of carving the words “Alcove Spring” in the rocks of a beautiful spring-fed waterfall. The name stuck.

Not to be outdone, another graffiti artist in the group proved he could also chisel and carve. In the second photo, if you look closely, you can see “JFR” above “26 May 1846”.  This inscription was carved in rock near the waterfall, a popular place to rest and camp during the Oregon and California Gold Rush migrations. The letters were carved by one J.F. Reed (the “eed” of Reed having been worn away by falling water and the freeze/thaw cycle.)  James Frazier Reed was 46 when he carved it. The party of 80-plus he was traveling with built rafts to cross the nearby swollen Big Blue River. While they waited, Reed’s mother-in-law, Sarah Keys, age 70, already suffering from tuberculosis, died.  You might say she was the lucky one, for Reed and his family were part of the infamous Donner-Reed Party who, months later, would get trapped by snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Several members of the party died of starvation and exposure. Some resorted to cannibalism in order to survive. A lock of Sarah’s hair was snipped before her burial at Alcove Spring: A granddaughter, Patty (8), was clutching it the day rescuers arrived in Sierra Nevada Mountains on February 18, 1847.


Of the 87 original members of the Donner Party, only 48 reached California. The Reed family was one of only two families that remained intact.

4 Comments on “Carved in stone”

  1. 1 Gtaylor said at 6:34 am on June 15th, 2011:

    Great story about Sarah Keys… creepy, sad, but phenomenal…. thanks for giving us a history lesson WITH great pictures and adventures.

  2. 2 Patty said at 8:05 am on June 15th, 2011:

    @Gretchen – So I did some more reading on the subject. (Thanks, bp, for piquing my interest!) People in the Donner-Reed party got quite dispersed as some tried to go for help, others built crude cabin shelters using hides from their oxen for the ‘roof.’ At one point, they were reduced to boiling sections of the rotting hide to try and make a broth. Amazing stories. J.F. Reed had gone ahead of the Party, reaching California, where he raised funds for two of the three relief (rescue) missions.

  3. 3 GTaylor said at 6:46 am on June 16th, 2011:

    Thank you to the Poulters for allowing me to learn a little something new every day!

  4. 4 Ann said at 7:53 am on June 16th, 2011:

    This is fascinating reading. Does it give you the chills to realize the events that have taken place exactly where you are standing?
    This is what they must mean by making history come alive.

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