Blue Rapids and the Donner Party
Driving back from a meeting in Lincoln, Neb., I encountered the mural that the City has captured for us. The image portrays a wagon train on the Oregon Trail, the ruts of which can be seen today near Blue Rapids. In the mural are a farmer family and Indians hunting buffalo. The inclusion of a white farmer family pumping a well suggests the settlers' claim to Kansas. The appearance of Indians in the background watching the activity is a theme presented in many Oregon Trail murals.
Visitors are advised to seek out Alcove Springs, where traces of the old trail ruts are still evident off a hiking trail roughly a half mile off a gravel road. Many of the names scrawled on nearby boulders might be taken for local high school students misbehaving. They are, instead, the graffiti of emigrants passing through well over a century ago. It is known the doomed Donner party stopped here and buried nearby one of their own - Grandma Keyes.
- Tom Gould