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The Rivers of Nebraska

The Missouri River. The Platte River. The Republican River. While Texas Jack and his friend Buffalo Bill Cody were scouting, hunting buffalo with Pawnee and European aristocrats alike, and skirmishing with hostile Sioux from their base at Nebraska's Fort McPherson, rivers defined their lives. Before he ever stepped foot on the stage boards of metropolitan theatres, Texas Jack was known as "The Hero of the Loupe Fork," the Middle Loupe being the river north of the Fort where he established his reputation as a brave "Indian Fighter."

The Dismal River was the site of another encounter between Texas Jack, Buffalo Bill, and a band of Minneconjou Sioux. Medicine Creek is where Jack's friend Paddy Miles lived. So did Doc Carver, the great rifle shot, and did Ena Raymonde, the dusky Southern belle, poet, and journal keeper.

The cast of characters and the series of events that filled the prairie frontier of the West was demarked and defined by its rivers. And today, the flood waters slowly recede on one of the worst natural disasters in the state's history. 1.3 Billion dollars is a staggering amount of damage. Nature, we are reminded, is not under our control. We can put dams on the rivers, build levees to hold back the waters, and in the face of the fury of nature unleashed, the results are the same for the best-laid plans of mice and men. Spare a thought for the people of Nebraska, people living and working on the same land that Buffalo Bill Cody and Texas Jack Omohundro once lived and worked, as they try to recover and pick up the pieces of lives submerged in the rising waters of Nebraska's rivers.

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