Mid-Plains Community College’s Imperial Extended Campus will offer a Republican River Valley history tour this month.
An informational session will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. next Thursday, Sept. 19, followed by a traveling tour from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21.
The “Contested Settlement of the Republican River” tour will focus on the Native American effort to discourage settlement and development of the Republican River Valley of southwest Nebraska, northwest Kansas and eastern Colorado.
Longtime historian Vance Nelson will be the instructor for the class as well as the guide for the traveling tour. Nelson, whose interest in history goes back to his grade school days, has an extensive background in the history of the Midwest. He has spent his career doing extensive research, historical restoration and reconstruction, guiding tours and serving in various capacities on state historical societies.
“The three-hour orientation on Thursday night will help to give people a general idea of what was going on in the Great Plains in the late 1800s and the pioneer development in the Indian era,” he said.
Nelson said that Saturday’s tour will focus on the cultural clash between Native Americans and caucasians in the 1860s.
“We’ll discuss the career of George Armstrong Custer and visit some Custer campsites. He was all over the Great Plains region,” he said.
The tour on Saturday will include a visit to the Massacre Canyon monument and visitor center, where the 1873 battle between the Sioux and Pawnee will be discussed.
The tour will then go on to visit sites of the Great National Cattle Trail from Texas to Ogallala; stops at soldier encampments; and a visit to the site of the Battle of Beecher Island, where the famous Chief of the Northern Cheyenne was killed. It will also include visits to museums in St. Francis, Kan., and Wray, Colo.
“Beecher Island, south of Wray, is one of the major battlefields of the 1860s,” Nelson noted.
At another scheduled stop west of Trenton, participants will view marked ruts of the Great Western Cattle Trail, he said.
Cost of the class is $92 ($46 for individuals 62 years or older). For more information or to pre-register, contact Carla Colton or Brenda Ledall at (308) 882-5972.