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Historic marker gets attentionTell North Platte what you think
 
Courtesy Photo­Image
1928 monument to Ft. McPherson and the Oregon Trail.
Photo by George Lauby
Logan Mull
Courtesy Photo­Image
Inscribed on the base
Photo by Kaycee Anderson
Just down the road, the McDonald Road Ranch marker.

A 1928 statue than honors the original historic Ft. McPherson will get a new look this year, following action Monday by the county commissioners.

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The statue stands on East Ft. McPherson Road, about a half-mile northeast of Ft. McPherson National Cemetery. It marks the site of the original Ft. McPherson, established in 1866 and commonly known as Cottonwood Springs.

The statue is a Union soldier. It is well anchored and protected by an iron fence, but is overshadowed by a nearby cedar tree. Cars can hardly park on the shoulder of the road so motorists can have good look at it.

Boy Scout Logan Mull, who lives a quarter-mile down the road, is arranging to fill and grade the road ditch in front of the monument so motorists have a good place to park next to the statue. He will anchor a bench in concrete, for people who want to rest a little and ponder our history.

Mull has made the project his campaign for Eagle Scout. When complete, the turnout will be long enough (85 feet) so a tour bus can park there. Historic marker signs will stand along the road in each direction, advising motorists of the point of interest ahead, according to Mull’s plans.

The county board of commissioners thanked Mull for his ambition after they unanimously authorized Roads Superintendent Jerry Hitchcock to provide crushed concrete for the turnout. Hitchcock said it would take about three truckloads, hauled from three miles away, so the cost to taxpayers will be minimal.

Mull predicts the total cost will be $1,780, based on price quotes he's obtained. He is lining up funds.

Scout leaders Eldon Walters, Jim Parish as well as Steve and Betty Van Boening have all approved the project. So has Jim Griffin, the director of the Lincoln County Historical Museum.

The statue is the same size as the Sioux Lookout that once overlooked the Platte Valley. It is a significant part of Lincoln County, Mull’s father Jerry said, because Ft. McPherson protected pioneers, settlers, railroad crews and telegraph lines.

“Who’s to say what would have happened without them?” he said. “Who’s to say what those veterans did for us?”

The Mulls live about a quarter-mile east of the statue. Logan said the family drives by it every day and looks at it, and sees others driving by too fast, without appreciating it, and creating a hazardous situation.

“It’s not safe,” Logan told the Bulletin.

He hopes to have the turnout complete by fall.

The face of statue has been damaged by a shotgun blast, similar to the damage once done to the Sioux Lookout. The Sioux was restored in 2001 by artist Mary Tanner of Lincoln County and the Mulls hope the Ft. McPherson soldier might be reconstructed the same way. Otherwise, it is in good shape, Logan said.


Nearby

The area south of Maxwell is central to the county’s history. Not only is the national cemetery nearby, but another marker stands an eighth of a mile east of the soldier, also on Ft. McPherson Road, marking the location of Charles McDonald’s “Road Ranch.” The Road Ranch was established in 1860 on the Oregon Trail, a place where pioneers could stop, rest and replenish supplies.

That 18-foot-tall red granite monument was erected in 1931 and also needs attention. It sits on a concrete base but the ground below is undermined, so the tall, narrow marker leans toward the road ditch.

“You may hear from another Eagle Scout someday about improving that monument,” Jerry Mull said.


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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 7/9/2012
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