Native grasses such as this bluestem can be found on the small Townsley-Murdock prairie.
Sunrise and sunset are almost always glorious occasions on the Nebraska prairies.
The Townsley Murdock Immigrant Trail Site overlooks the Wood River Valley through a small stand of trees.
The wagon ruts of the Mormon Trail cut across this small two acre prairie just south of Alda, Nebraska. The land, on the northwest corners of Alda and Guenther roads, has never been plowed and the swales of the trail — while subtle — are clearly visible.
It's believed that this site was a Pawnee Indian hunting camp as early as the 1600s. Before being called the Mormon Trail, these ruts were also known as the Council Bluffs Road, the Omaha Road, the Great Platte River Road, the Omaha-Fort Kearny Military Road and the North Branch of the Oregon Trail. It was used by the Pioneer Company of Mormons 1847. It was settled around 1860 by Marshal Townsley; Phineas and Catherine Murdock occupied it in 1866. An 1866 survey noted that the site included a telegraph line and saw mill.
The site is up on a small ridge and overlooks the Wood River Valley to the north.
The prairies around Grand Island were settled by pioneers from Iowa through a business venture that was anticipating the arrival of the railroad. Stuhr Museum tells that story.
Grand Island is a community with a deep railroad history — built by the rails and throve by the rails.
The northern grasslands, including the ecologically unique Sandhills, are as important as places like the Amazon in terms of conservation.