Caroline Soske Brown

A few weeks ago, blogger zzzlauna commented on Brett Erickson’s image of the Montrose, Neb., cemetery:

“Thanks for your pic Montrose Catholic Church, Sioux County, Nebraska. My ggg-grandmother is buried in the cemetery there. I’m a genealogist and handicapped. I will never make it there but I am soooo glad to see your picture–a hauntingly beautiful piece of an era just about gone.”

It so happened that the Images of the West project was about to make another trip to Montrose, and after making several images of the church and cemetery, Brett sought out the grave of Caroline Soske Brown, zzzlauna’s great-great-great grandmother. He found it in the northeast corner of the cemetery.

Brown was born August 15, 1849; she died one day short of her 44th birthday on August 14, 1893. She should have lived much longer, seen the new century, and enjoyed a fruitful–if hard–life on the Nebraska frontier.


Posted by on June 22, 2012 in Sioux County, Nebraska


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January with Sam

January with Sam

Most of the images posted on this blog are from our trip to the Lost Corner of Nebraska in January. There we were, a group of college students ranging from freshmen to seniors, our experience with photography varying about as much, with some having worked for local newspapers and others playing with the manual functions on their point-and-shoots for the first time. And our two professors: Brett Erickson and Sam Abell.

Sam joined us Monday night, meeting and eating with several of the school and department officials before giving his second lecture at Hastings College (he had also presented the year before for Canon Explorers of Light). I don’t think Sam can give an uninspiring lecture, and we were privileged to hear many of them over the course of the next four days.

We took I-80 to Sydney, and then shot up to Chadron on Hwy 385. Sam was taken with the stock of Mossy Oak at Cabelas, and commenced to wear it the rest of the day along our stops along the highway. We stopped in the village of Dalton, where it hadn’t been Elvis’ birthday for a while, but the sign remained taped to the door, and Rainbo is still good bread.

Our journey took us through dirt and snow, ice and manure, and at one point, cow ovaries. At the Semroska Ranch, we photographed a spaying. We ate at the Longhorn Saloon in Harrison, and the Ranch House in Crawford. Both restaurants served up formidable but delicious hamburgers. Tough luck to the vegetarian in the group. Our experiences, in short, were vast and our education greatly benefitted from being able to shoot with a master.

On the trip back to Hastings, we took Hwy 2 through the Sandhills. One word: clouds. They were fantastic, mirroring the path of the hills and the train tracks. Our dinner stop was in Broken Bow (the photo of me, Sam and Ethan Richardson was taken there), and then it was time for the last stretch to Hastings along a dark highway with trains for company.

Thank you Sam, for your patience and enthusiasm in working with young photographers, and Brett, for creating opportunities like this for your students.

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Posted by on June 19, 2012 in Sioux County, Nebraska, The Sand Hills


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Branding in Sioux County: Images from Liz

Becca and I had never experienced a branding before, and the weather on the morning we went out was darn well close to driving us back into Brett’s pickup. Brownie points to the two urban college girls in light jackets who kept shooting as a cold, heavy mist covered our clothing and cameras. But if given the opportunity…we would absolutely go out again, with a better idea of what we were getting into, and what to wait for to get stunning shots. The clouds were against us, but the diffused light was fantastic.

(We were, in fact, invited by Eric Meidell to a branding in Wyoming not much later. Unfortunately, Becca was unable to come on that trip.)

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Posted by on June 19, 2012 in Ranching, Sioux County, Nebraska


Branding, Lusker Ranch, Wyoming

A fact of life in northwest Nebraska is that Wyoming isn’t far from daily life; in fact, Nebraskan Eric Meidell and his family manage cattle in both states every week. In late May, Liz McCue and Brett Erickson were fortunate to shoot a branding at the Lusker Ranch property, one of the ranches the Meidells handle, which is northwest of Lusk, Wyoming.

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Posted by on June 17, 2012 in Ranching


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Branding at the Kreman and Mansfield Ranches

The Images of the West program would never work without the eager help and cordial nature of families like those of Dave and Mary Jane Kreman, and Kelly Mansfield. On May 5, Liz McCue, Becca Dickinson and Brett Erickson attended the yearly branding at the Klemer and Mansfield ranches, and shot nearly 2,000 photographs. Featured below are ten of Brett’s. For more of Brett’s images, please see his blog.

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Posted by on May 17, 2012 in Ranching


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Dinner with a legend: Sam Abell, Liz McCue and Ethan Richardson

Sam Abell and students Liz McCue and Ethan Richardson

Sam Abell and students Liz McCue and Ethan Richardson

Every so often in someone’s life, he or she has an “I’ll never forget this” moment.  For the students in this year’s Images of the West course, that moment lasted five days.  My mentor–both through images and tutoring–Sam Abell, the legendary National Geographic master photographer, journeyed with us to northwest Nebraska.  On the way home, we stopped at Huckleberry’s in Broken Bow, Nebraska, for a final meal together.  This image captures one of those last, warm conversations as students Liz McCue and Ethan Richardson bask in their own “I’ll never forget this.”

As a side note, Sam recognized Liz’s potential as a budding professional, and that is evidenced in this image; after all, most photographers I know eat with their cameras, too.

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Posted by on February 4, 2012 in The Sand Hills


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A View through Glass

A patron of the Longhorn Saloon looks out the bar’s front windows before sitting down to lunch with friends. At this same time, the 31 students of Sioux County High School are sitting in classes. Like many towns in Nebraska, Harrison’s future depends on how many students stay after graduation, or return after college as the residents of the area retire.

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Posted by on January 27, 2012 in Harrison, Nebraska


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