23-May-2005 -- As I was invited to Lincoln, Nebraska USA for the Nebraska Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Land Information Systems Symposium, a confluence visit seemed the perfect complement. I would be working with people from engineering, science, planning, and other fields, examining issues using geospatial tools such as GIS and GPS. I flew to Lincoln on 23 May 2005, and my first stop was Lincoln East High School. One of my favorite geography teachers works there, and we made plans for me to teach a class there using topographic maps and GPS the following day.
I left the high school at 230pm, heading east and north to Louisville along the Platte River. I truly love all river towns. By 3:15pm, I was driving east on State Highway 66, and stopped at the House at 5616 Highway 66. It was a pleasant farmhouse with a gazebo on the south lawn and other evidence of a caring hand. Finding nobody home, I was faced with the standard confluence hunters dilemma. With the GPS indicating only a few hundred meters to the
confluence, I left a letter and my business card, and set out to the south. Stepping gingerly so as not to flatten any newly planted corn, I arrived at the confluence at 3:40pm local time (my GPS in the photograph is set to mountain time).
The confluence lies in the southwest part of a field, now planted in corn, about 200 meters south of the nearest home. The confluence lies on flat ground, but the surrounding terrain moderately rolls toward the Platte and the Missouri Rivers not far to the north and east. I could see no water, but several farmhouses were in view. I saw no people; just a few cars on the highway. My thermometer read 90 F (32 C) under clear skies and light breezes. This confluence lies in a farming-ranching area, some of the richest farmland in all of Nebraska, near another confluence--that of the Missouri and Platte Rivers. This land has long been a highway, for Native Americans, for Lewis and Clark, and for settlers who journeyed up these rivers in search of a better life. 41 North 96 West lies just south of Omaha, and therefore is subject to urban encroachment. I had been to 41 North several times in Wyoming and Nebraska, and 41 South in New Zealand, but this was my first visit to 96 West. I spent only 10 minutes at the confluence, then walked back to the house and the rental car. It was a beautiful day.
This proved indeed to be the perfect complement to the reason I was in Nebraska. Another of my favorite states, Iowa, beckoned a short distance to the east. I reasoned that I should be able to make 41 North 95 West before sunset. I took a final picture of the site from the road before driving to Plattsmouth, Nebraska. There, as the name indicates, the Platte empties into the Missouri River. An elderly fellow took my fee for the bridge in a ramshackle toll hut, harkening back to simpler times. I then crossed into Iowa, bound for 41 North 95 West!