When Lewis and Clark began their journey up the Missouri River in 1804 they noticed an odd looking bluff about a half mile south of the river. They pulled their boats into shore and began the hike to explore the bluff which would later become known as “Old Baldy.” They measured it at 70 feet high with a base of 300 feet. It is composed mostly of Pierre Shale, a common deposit along much of the Missouri River in South Dakota and Nebraska. Since the peak of the bluff is composed of a chalky strata, it does not support any plant life. While their inspection of “Old Baldy” was interesting enough, it was another discovery which captured even more of their attention. There was prairie dog town along the bluff. The prairie dog was an animal unknown to science at the time, although French explorers had encountered them previously. They spent most of the day trying to capture one. They shot one which was fixed for the Captains’ dinner, but they wanted a live one. They decided to dig one out of its burrow. After digging through six feet of hard clay they thrust a pole down the hole and discovered they were less than half way to the bottom. So they decided to drown it out. The journals say they poured five barrels of water down the hole but it didn’t fill it. Finally about dark they were able to flush one out. The prairie dog survived the trip to their winter camp in what is now North Dakota. In April they sent a boat downstream with several specimens including the prairie dog. It made it all the way to Washington D.C., then was sent to a museum where it survived until April of 1806. Old Baldy is about seven miles north of Lynch, Neb. It is on private land, but there is an overlook where you can see it. The area is still much the same as it was more than 200 years ago, except for the cedar trees which are very invasive on the grasslands along the river.
Only the big ‘uns get away Larry Myhre
My fishing partner and Team Outdoorsmen Productions member Larry Myhre, Sioux City, IA. Is one of those who uses a lot of old folk wisdom. One of...