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Our trip to Sunset, Utah and Sausalito, California - 2012

Mason City to Sidney, Nebraska

First Day

Our trip began with a 6:30 AM departure from Mason City. We filled the car with gas and were on the Interstate by 7:00 AM. Like all travel days we tried to find something new along the familiar path down I-35 and west on I-80. We left the interstate at Ogallala to follow US Highway 30, also known as the Lincoln Highway. This highway parallels I-80 and provides a glimpse of the native landscape as it has appeared for hundreds of years. There are a few fence lines, a modern windmill or two, but aside from that not much else but the gently rolling prairie of Nebraska. We drove south 2-miles to visit the small town of Big Springs. The sign below is not the official welcome sign of the town, but it is on the north edge as we entered. We noticed the larger sign and took the picture but when we opened the picture on the computer we noticed the smaller sign that mentions "Population 415 Old Farts + A Few Fizzlers".

Caution sign Big Springs, Nebraska

Our goal in visiting this town was to see the Phelps Hotel, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A nearby sign indicated that this hotel, also known as the "House of Three Chimneys", was constructed in 1885 by the Edwin A. Phelps family. They were early settlers to Big Springs and this structure served not only as a hotel but was also used for church servies and as a center for community activities.

Phelps Hotel Big Springs, Nebraska

The picture below is north of Big Springs as we left town to get back on Highway 30. There are not a lot of trees in this area of Nebraska but is primarily farm fields and grassland.

Prairie north of Big Springs, Nebraska

The next town we stopped in was Lodgepole and we found what our brochure called an old opera house. We have seen old opera houses in other towns but generally they are two stories. A descent of Finch's Drug and Sundries now operates an antique store in this building.

Phelps Drug Lodgepole, Nebraska

One of the problems with following a brochure is that it is not always completely accurate. We did a bit more research before leaving Sidney and found that the structure we took a picture of was NOT the opera house as indicated in the brochure. We found the picture below on Wikipedia that shows the structure that we were looking for. This is not our photograph and the copyright remains with the person who posted it on Wikipedia.

Opera House Lodgepole, Nebraska

Our brochure, which highlighted sights along the Lincoln Highway forgot to mention the old motel we found in Lodgepole. This is the office for what was once roadside cabins, the other structure near this looks like part of the orginal motel but has been added on to several times. We noticed several other old abandonded motels along the route into Sidney.

Old motel Lodgepole, Nebraska

In Sidney we found the Memory Gardens, which is a park setting that is designed as a place to plant flowers, shrubs, and trees in honor of family and friends. The fenced in memory garden shown below has a great bronze angel watching over the engraved stone plaques.

Memory Garden Sidney, Nebraska

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