Thursday, July 28, 2011

Head West

The Platte River originates in Colorado and flows across the state of Nebraska before emptying into the Missouri River. The Platte was an important route for settlers heading west on the different trails, including the Oregon Trail. After Lewis & Clark completed their exploration of land acquired during the Louisiana Purchase, many settlers used the Platte as a guide to help find new land and opportunities. What they also found were many different tribes of Native Americans. This picture was taken near the spot where Lewis & Clark met the Oto Indians, south of present-day Yutan (names for an Oto chief) and west of present-day Omaha.
The Platte River is not nearly as wide today as it was when settlers were heading west. It is rarely more than seven feet deep at any one spot, but depths regularly change because of the sand on the bottom of the river. Because of sandbars (small sand islands) that dot the river, the Platte River hosts hundreds of thousands of sandhill cranes, as well as the endangered whooping crane, during the migration seasons.

Learn more about the history of Nebraska, including information about the Platte River, at the Nebraska Studies website, developed by Nebraska Educational Television (NET), Nebraska Department of Education and Nebraska State Historical Society. Information is also available via Encyclopedia Britanica and the Platte River Wikipedia page.

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