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Arising in two separate streams high in the Rockies and flowing east across the plains to meet the Missouri near Omaha, Nebraska, the Platte River is a microcosm of the geologic, plant, animal, and human worlds. Way station for the sandhill cranes, home of the Plains Indians, and artery for the great westward migrations of the nineteenth century, the Platte Valley offers a rich diversity of life and history. Focusing on the central role the Platte has played in shaping Nebraska and its heritage, both human and natural, Paul A. Johnsgard presents in this book a “brief and personal portrait of the river as it has existed in the past and still exists today.”
“My special hope in doing so,” he writes, “is that the value of the river as a living, complex, and natural ecologic system can be more fully appreciated, and that whatever steps may be necessary might be taken to preserve the river’s integrity.”
Johnsgard tells the story of the Platte from prehistoric times to the present and then assesses its future. A selection of photographs and checklists of birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles, fishes, and common plants of the Platte River and its valley enhance the book’s interest and usefulness. This Bison Books edition includes a new preface and afterword by the author.