Tuesday, January 25, 2022


Willa Cather Center, Red Cloud, Nebraska

Willa Cather Center in downtown Red Cloud, NE (Julianne G. Crane)

‘Red Cloud’ has a magical ring to it … I don’t remember where or when I first heard of it … maybe it was as a youth reading about the lives of people living in small prairie towns … or maybe it was in college when I became aware of Red Cloud, the renowned Oglala Lakota chief.

Whenever the first time that name entered my consciousness is of little matter, I just knew I wanted to visit this community when we traveled through south central Nebraska on US 136 because it is home to the Willa Cather Center, the “largest living memorial to an author in the country.”

Inside the Willa Cather Center. (Julianne G. Crane)

Cather, a Pulitzer Prize winning author, was born in Virginia in 1873, and moved to Nebraska with family when she was nine years old.  Still very much considered on the frontier, Red Cloud was a deeply formative experience for Cather and helped shape her future writing.

“Cather’s removal from the settled and deeply felt culture of postwar
rural northern Virginia to the pioneering prairie of the Nebraska
Divide–a sensitive child at a critical age–was in many ways her making
as an artist,” states the Willa Cather Center website.

Willa Cather National Library poster.

“Dropped into such a place at such a time, naturally
curious, young Cather made the very most of it during her first year in
Nebraska. As she made clear repeatedly after O Pioneers! was
published, she had been afforded a rare opportunity for an incipient
writer: though sparsely settled, the Divide between the Republican and
Blue rivers offered her multiple opportunities to meet and gather
information from immigrants and other pioneers who spoke different
languages and engaged in other cultural practices.”

Cather (d. 1947) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours (1922), a novel set during World War I.

If you go:
Willa Cather Foundation
413 N. Webster
Red Cloud, NE 6897
URL: http://www.willacather.org/
Admission is free.
Tours available.

To read more of Julianne G. Crane’s writing go to RVWheelLife.com

Photos: Julianne G. Crane


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