From Pine Grove RV Park – Greenwood, NE
Last night we had a thunderstorm come through about midnight and cool off the area. So when we got on the road this AM about 8:30 it was overcast and still wonderfully cool! This is what we had hoped for since our day was to begin at the Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo.
This world class zoo evolved from a small Riverview Park zoo established in 1894. By 1898 it had an animal population that included deer, grizzly bear, 2 bison on loan from Bill Cody and 120 other animals.
It was in 1963 Margaret Doorly donated $750,000.00 with the stipulation that the zoo be named after her late husband, Henry Doorly, former chairman of the World Publishing Company. Later in the 60’s the Pachyderm exhibit was built and Union Pacific laid 2 ½ miles of track through the zoo for a zoo train attraction.
The 70’s saw the primate research building completed and the largest cat complex in North America opened. A hospital and nursery complex was also opened during this decade. The next ten years saw a salt-water aquarium open; also opening was the giraffe complex. Bear Canyon was dedicated in 1989. Many, many more exhibits have been added over the next two decades with the latest being the Butterfly and Insect Pavilion just this past spring.
We spent over three hours walking and enjoying the wonderful weather of the early morning and then sought shade for coolness as mid-day approached. However, we only skimmed the surface of all this zoo has to offer. Needing to eat lunch and not wanting to pay “attraction site prices”, remember we are on a retiree’s fixed income now, we elected to leave some exhibits for our next trip to the Omaha area.
After lunch at a Village Inn, which we have seen throughout the states we have traveled since March 6 and had never tried, we proceeded to our next destination. By the way, the coconut cream pie was scrumptious!
The Archdiocese of Omaha’s Saint Cecilia Cathedral’s 222 foot bell towers had been seen from a distance while in Omaha on Tuesday. Not knowing what these towers represented, we researched and looked through literature until it was determined they belonged to the Saint Cecilia Cathedral.
So today we wanted to get a closer look at these towers and the cathedral. Boy, sure glad we did. It is a beautiful structure built in the Spanish Renaissance Revival style. It’s Romanesque form is marked by great austerity while having highly decorative accents. This style was chosen in part for the anticipated building project cost and for a unique style that merged imposing size and beauty of subtle ornamentation.
Some statistics that denote the imposing size of the structure besides the 222 foot bell towers would be an interior ceiling height of 90 feet with a length of 255 feet. The main aisle, narthex to communion railing is 130 feet. There are 1,584,000 cubic feet of interior space and the roof substructure has 100 tons of steel beams. Within the cathedral 12 kinds of marble can be found and the exterior stone is Indiana limestone.
The interior is beautiful and the photos do not do it justice. There are numerous stained glass windows with the Saint Cecilia “Rose Window” which measures 25 feet in diameter and is located above the cathedral organ in the West Gallery.
I would recommend you visiting this cathedral of the Archdiocese of Omaha no matter your religious beliefs if ever in this part of Nebraska. You will be awed and go away shaking your head at the enormous size of the structure and the subtle beauty within its walls.
The First National’s Spirit of Nebraska’s Wilderness & Pioneer Courage Park was our last stop of the day. This is where two sculpture parks come together to depict Nebraska’s frontier heritage. The sculptures begin with a wagon master leading a wagon train heading west, causing a heard of bison to stampede. These bison flush a flock of geese who take flight.
The master plans formulated by First National Bank were for these two public art areas to have direct interaction between visitors and the art. Allowing for touching, walking around and even sitting on some of the smaller animals, these 1.25 times life size bronze works depict life in 1841 when a wagon train leaves Omaha heading west.
As you walk through the first park, you see the wagon master then two wagons with their pioneer families departing westward from Omaha. Each of these wagons stands about 12 ft high and more than 40 ft long when the oxen, horses or mules are placed in front in their hitches. The individual characters range in height from 3 ft to 7 ½ ft.. The wagon master measures 11 ft tall and weighs about 2,000 pounds.
Walking across the street you encounter bison along the full length of the block representing the stampede caused by the wagon train. There are 8 bronze bison of which several stand 8 ft and weigh nearly 2,000 pounds. Among the bison are calves and several yearling bulls.
Crossing the second street, you encounter a large water feature with 58, 8 ft Canadian Geese taking flight. They fly across the street, some attaching to traffic signal, light poles a building corner and on 18 ft bronze trees. Culmination is several geese suspended within the Bank headquarters’ glass atrium.
It was intended for the viewer to think of this area as still open plains with no streets, buildings, traffic signals and such. This is why in the photo you see a bison going through the corner of a building. All of these sculptures contain life like detail so realistic it is truly hard to think of them as bronze works of art. Once again this free attraction is a must see to truly grasp the magnificent work of these artists.
Another day filled with wonder and enjoyment. Hope your day was what you wanted it to be, ours surely was. Till Later…….