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Overland Freighting by Herman Lyon

By 1900 the days of the overland freighter across the Nebraska plains were long gone. But in January of that year Herman Robert Lyon of Glenwood, Iowa, who had formerly made the long haul from Nebraska City to Denver nearly thirty years before, shared his experiences with Nebraska State Historical Society members by letter:

"My first trip across the plains was made in 1862. We started October 8 (my birthday), with ten loads of shelled corn for the government, and were bound for Fort Laramie, Wyo. We crossed the Missouri river at Plattsmouth and loaded at Nebraska City.

"Moses Stocking of Ashland, Neb., was wagon boss. The teamsters were John and Andrew Tutt, John Daugherty, 'Billie' Donnelly, Johnse and Fete Tysen, Marion Bomar, a fellow from Missouri (have forgotten his name), Joshua Bodenheimer, and I. We were paid $25 and board per month.

"The roads were pretty good most of the way. Crossing the South Platte, at Julesburg, Col., and going through the sand-hills we had to put seven or eight yoke of oxen to a wagon, which made progress pretty slow for a few miles occasionally. On this trip we went about twelve miles a day.

"At Julesburg we got sight of the Rockies, and although one hundred miles off, the exposure gave several of us a severe attack of 'mountain fever.' Our route was mostly along the South Platte To Julesburg, then we struck northwest, going through the old village of Lodge Pole, to the North Platte. By going this way we had plenty of water for the oxen and avoided the alkali districts, although on the stretch between Julesburg and the North Platte, near Court House rock, we had to go nearly forty miles without water."

(March 1999)



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