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Author Archives: Jon Farrar

Boating: The Way We Were

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The quiet boating times of the early 1900s are almost impossible to imagine today, their last vestige being yellowed and dog-eared photo postcards from a time when men wore straw boater hats and women wore long white dresses, when boating was nearly as silent as the photographs of it. In those days there were two means of propelling most boats in Nebraska – an oar on the starboard side, an oar on the port side. The only sound was a ... Read More »

St. Deroin Cemetery at Indian Cave State Park

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William Cutler, in Andreas’ History of the State of Nebraska published in 1882, wrote that the town of Deroin was founded on the bank of the Missouri River in1854 by Robert Hawke, Joseph Deroin and others. The town was later renamed “Saint Deroin” to boost the town’s appeal, suggesting the prosperous downstream towns of St. Joseph and St. Louis. Deroin, the son of a French trapper and Oto woman, was born near Bellevue in 1819 and moved to the largest ... Read More »

Duck Speeds

Eric Fowler/NEBRASKAland Magazine

Gauging speed in miles-per-hour (mph) began in the 1700s when stage coaches established timetables, then came into common usage with the arrival of railroads and even more so when automobiles appeared on the scene. Estimating the speed of ducks by hunters could not have been far behind, as missing a shot at a duck crossing at 60 mph sounds more accurate that “pretty darn fast” or “zoomed by like a meteor.” But it was not until airplanes became more common ... Read More »

Snapper Sex and Jon Farrar

Jon Farrar, circa 2008

What people are curious about is, well, a curious thing. What one person wonders about another could not care less about. For example, I used to be curious about snapping turtles mating. It seems unlikely it would be a lovey-dovey moment, but it might be if you’re a snapping turtle. Then some years back I was anchored in an eared grebe colony (they build flimsy nests that float) on a Sandhills marsh, looked out the side of my boat blind ... Read More »

Roy Breuklander and the Niobrara River

Jon Farrar/NEBRASKAland Magazine

It happens more often than it should. You’re working on an article, do an interview and maybe some photographs of someone with something to say on the topic, and a few sentences of the interview make it into the article. A photo may or may not be published. The reason is usually the same—you can only cram so much into a limited number of pages in the magazine. It’s too bad because over the years I’ve interviewed many interesting people, ... Read More »

Woodrats Chapter 39

by Jon Farrar Sometimes, some things, or in this case some creature, captures a person’s curiosity and interest and holds it. I’ve been that way with woodrats since the 1970s. Perhaps it is because they are nocturnal and so elusive, partly because they fall in with other “packrats” known for stealing or trading for objects that strike their fancy. I wrote about them in the May 2007 issue of NEBRASKAland and one or two blog posts since. It continues to be one ... Read More »

The Wide Missouri River

by Jon Farrar With the flooding Missouri River being front page news for some time now I’ve occasionally thought about what the river was before it was tamed, mostly, with upstream impoundments, wing dikes and such beginning in the 1950s. And always I think of Tekamah waterfowl hunter Ralph Kohler talking about what the Missouri once was, and so I’ve scanned two interviews I did with Kohler, the first in 1989 and the second in 2007. He started hunting the ... Read More »

Motels I’ve Known – Part Five

I promise I’m going to put this trip down motel memory lane out of its misery with this post. I’m amazed the cyber-cops haven’t already arrested me and locked me up where ampersands (&) are not allowed in passwords. Actually, all I have left are a handful of random observations and memories to spill out in no particular order. 1) If you are looking for something interesting to happen during your stay in a motel don’t check into a chain ... Read More »

Motels I’ve Known – Part Four

by Jon Farrar For as long as I can remember there has been an element of Nebraska’s population that dislikes government. I suppose there has been an element that disliked government way back when a narrow majority of cavemen (cave women did not yet have the right to vote) elected one guy to be head caveman. The dislike spectrum ranges from “mildly annoyed on occasions,” like when you have to stand in line too long to get your divers license ... Read More »

Motels I’ve Known – Part Three

by Jon Farrar I promised at the end of Part Two that I would adhere to the principal of ‘truth in advertising’ and tell a motel story, so here goes. It was the night of August 31, 1988. It was a dark and stormy night. Just kidding, couldn’t resist. It was actually clear, hot, and windy. I was in Webster County shooting photographs for the Wildflowers of Nebraska and the Great Plains field guide published by the Commission in 1990, ... Read More »