In North of the Platte, South of the Niobrara: A Little Further into the Nebraska Sand Hills veteran storyteller Bryan Jones turns his attention to the people and places of the Nebraska Sand Hills--twenty thousand square miles of grassed dunes, the largest such area in the western hemisphere, pristine home to an astonishing variety of birds, plants and wildlife and one of the more iconic cattle ranching regions in the world.
In the course of 70,000 miles and 370 interviews, often accompanied by wife Kathy and copecetic dog Finlay, Jones kayaks challenging Sand Hills rivers, attends neighborhood brandings, recounts the histories of two legendary ranching families, reviews the work and careers of scientists and geographers who devoted their lives to solving the mysteries of the region. His treatment of the Battle of Blue Water, a turning point in the Sioux Wars, both cynical and humorous, is typical of Jones at his Twainsian best. North of the Platte also features retired bull riders, who competed before million dollar purses and private jets became commonplace, two legendary Nebraska poets, World War II veterans, who fought in Europe and the Pacific, a rare look at Ted Turner’s bison operation, a visit to a one-room school and a study of holistic cattle management practices bringing change to the Sand Hills.
The ambitious goal of author Bryan Jones was to create a fresh understanding of the Nebraska Sand Hills from the inside. Surely he has done that, and more, creating a definitive work on a captivating subject.
Photo: Taken by Chris Amundson, publisher of Nebraska Life Magazine, north of Oshkosh, Nebraska, on an unusually humid late summer day. He was flying his 1948 single-engine Stinson 108-3 tail dragger when the heat and humidity forced him up to 10,000 feet. The striking view of dunes and mist stretching into an infinite horizon forced him to reach for his Mark II Canon with a 300 mm telephoto lens.