KEARNEY
A Section Hand on the Union Pacific Railway, Scribner's Magazine, June 1901
"Four miles farther on the road [from Buda] was the town of Kearney, built out, for the most part, to the north of the line."
Published by the Omaha news Company, Omaha, Neb.
Central and 22nd, looking South
Central Avenue at 22nd Street, ca 1905
Kearney has since gravitated a bit towards Interstate 80, but remains basically as Walter described it.  The railroad
closely parallels US 30 until it nears the center of town, then angles down to around 19th Street and runs between
US 30 and Interstate 80 with the bulk of the town still being north of the line.
Walter was at it again.  Over a month later, on the return leg of our trip, we entered Kearney in search of a post
office or mail box to mail a postcard.  After a few dry runs, we decided to pull over by a small downtown park and
search the area on foot.  After crossing a few streets I spotted a mailbox; and was so focused, I did not notice my
surroundings until I posted the card and looked about.  I was so taken by the "old-timey" aspect of the street I
thought it would be a fine stand-in for the picture-of-main-street requirement.  Dodging traffic, I took this view of
Central Avenue, headed back for the van, and continued our journey west.
Two months later, a sense of deja vu nearly lifted out of my chair when I ran across the above postcard with a view
of the same street, taken from almost the same spot.  This was the second time I just shrugged it off, but in the
months to come, as we collected more cards, the "coincidences" started piling up.  A reality check is that the area
is so photogenic, it is a natural draw for picture taking.  As with Columbus, though, the city has many photogenic
streets and for some reason, I chose this one.
"For two weeks or more I remained at work on this section, then I knew that I must be going; .  .  .  and early one
September morning .  .  .  I set off down the line with my wages in one pocket and in another a luncheon that the boss'
mother put up for me.  When the sun was setting that evening, I had entered a region where the cornfields were fewer,
where the cattle country had begun, and the alkali shone white in the soil, .  .  .  That was the last long stop before I
reached Denver."
Based on Walter's description, we were expecting to find barren land not far beyond Lexington, which is a day's
march beyond Kearney.  Instead we found that the combination of corn and soybean fields lasted until the
Colorado border, where occasional fields of pasture began to appear.  Then we saw a few longhorn cattle grazing,
which added a neat Western touch to the scenery as we entered cattle country.  The pasture land in turn
imperceptibly  transitioned into sage-dotted open range that bumped up against the outskirts of Denver.
".  .  .  and the bones of dead cattle lay
bleaching on the plain."
The trail from Kearney through
Julesburg to Denver covered almost
400 miles and during the wearisome
seven hours the only bleached cattle
bones we saw were longhorn skulls
occasionally for sale in the antique
shops or used for displays.  It must have
taken Walter more than two weeks to
cover the same distance and no doubt the
snow-capped Rockies, when they finally
appeared, must have had a dreamlike
quality to them.
Street display in a Colorado mining town
We followed US30 to the junction of CO138, about 15 miles east of Ogallala and headed for Fort Morgan.  At
first we congratulated ourselves for sticking, as best we could, to Walters assumed trail.  By avoiding the
Interstates and taking a parallel route, which usually was a well-maintained secondary road, we expected to enjoy
the additional blessings of better scenery and much lighter traffic.  Not this time.  The road was in poor condition,
and outside of a 22 mile stretch between Ovid and Proctor, we couldn't make any decent time at all.
The artful display on the left was found
outside a retail store in a small Colorado
town.