Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Old River Road and the Bluffs

The old River Road, that runs along the Missouri, was built on a route cut for a railroad in the 1800s. It runs along the edge of the loess bluffs and the Missouri floodplain. Sometimes it floods. It had a reputation as being a haunted road, from at least the early 1900s. There is a hitchhiking ghost which takes the form of an elderly man with a suitcase, for example. It still has that reputation as a haunted road.

Along this road there are dark hollows in the bluff faces, ranging from the size of ravines to small valleys, between hills and bluffs. When I brought my grandparents back for a final visit, back in about 1983 I think, we drove along the road and they told me the names of many of the hollows. Our family place was in Dupuis Hollow, where Betsy Story had her allotment. She was my grandmother's great-grandmother. I'll do a post on Dupuis Hollow sometime. Other hollows were named Happy Hollow and Sleepy Hollow (yes, really). There were others as well. My grandmother's grandfather on her mother's side, William Barada, was said to have known not only all the names of the people who lived in all those hollows, but the names of the hollows in both English and Ioway.

Today, most of that has been forgotten. No one knows which one is Sleepy Hollow. Dupuis Hollow is now known by the younger generation as the Pauline Fee place. Aunt Pauline was my grandmother's sister, and she was the one who sold Dupuis Hollow to the tribe. At least the tribe still owns one part of the bluffs, within our reservation. Most of our reservation lands were eventually lost through the Allotment Act of 1887.

Happy Hollow is in the process of losing its name too. The road leading up through Happy Hollow near the Missouri bottoms, up the hills to the tribal headquarters, was named after it, and was known as Happy Hollow Road.

However, some kind of state project re-named many of the roads here. Happy Hollow Road was renamed Thrasher Road. It is said there was a pool of road names suggested by schoolchildren across the state. I don't know why a historically known and beautiful name like Happy Hollow Road was changed to Thrasher Road. It's not like there are lots of brown thrashers here.  And the old Roys Creek Road (along Roy's Creek) was renamed Sagebrush Road, though not a sagebrush can be found. The wonders of "well-intentioned" bureaucracy I guess.

I also recently learned that the Nature Conservancy owns and manages 444 acres of land within the Iowa Reservation. They call it Rulo Bluffs, oddly enough, though it looks closer to White Cloud, and they could have at least named it for the Ioway people whose reservation it lies within. I am glad they take care of it, instead of it being developed, no doubt. It is, however, ironic to me how little of "our land" on our small reservation we Ioway actually own.

No comments:

Post a Comment