After last week's storm had passed and the state department of roads democratic socialist workers union
I fired up the Lincoln and headed northwest for Guernsey, Wyoming.
I suspect I'll write about why last weekend and why Guernsey, but this is not that.
Guernsey is hard by the North Platte River, not far downstream from Guernsey Dam, which itself isn't far from the headwaters of the river.
|The river is low in the winter and early spring before snow pack begins to melt.|
|The UP Railroad follows right along the old Oregon Trail.|
|Pretty country, no?|
Precipitation -- largely in the form of snow pack -- flows off of the east side of the Rockies to form the North Platte. The water flows downhill to join the South Platte and become simply the Platte River, which flows across Nebraska and into the Missouri River, which flows into the Mississippi, and, eventually, into the Gulf of Mexico.
The Guernsey area was an important stop along the various trails pioneers took moving west, chiefly the Oregon Trail.
The Pony Express had a route station there, too.
A favorite stopping/camping place was Sand Point/Register Cliff.
When I was a lad of 16, and to my everlasting shame, I carved my initials in that cliff. Today it looks like my initials have been obliterated by the work of a later generation of dickheads. It's now a crime to mar the cliff, and the practice seems to have stopped.
In 1932 the people of Guernsey commemorated the pioneers by erecting a number of monuments, at the city park in town and out by Sand Point and Register Cliff. This one is in town, close to the visitor's center/museum.
|To all pioneers who passed this way to win and hold the West, Trail and Register Cliff one mile south, erected by the people of Guernsey 1932.|
|I've no idea.|
|A saber and the outline of what might have been a rifle.|
Fortunately, the serial number was legible.
|Waffenfabrik Bern 121249|
When I chased that down (yay, internet!) I found that the rifle is quite likely a Swiss Vetterli 1869/71. These rifles are pretty interesting. Fascinating, actually. They were really the first breech-loading, magazine-fed, bolt-action, metallic cartridge military rifles.
How exactly the rifle came to be in Guernsey and become affixed to the plinth I do not know. The museum wasn't open, and the few folks I asked had no idea. America is a nation of Immigrants, though, so it shouldn't be terribly surprising that such a rifle would find it's way to Wyoming.
Part of me cringes to see the rifle in this condition. It's not my place to judge, however, what the people of Guernsey did in 1932, nor what they have done in the intervening 88 years. And I do have to thank them for providing me with a mystery, even though I defaced their cliff back in the day, which has been quite enjoyable to explore.