Last weekend I wanted to get out of town. And I knew I wanted to, sometime this fall, make the trip to visit the town known for being the home of Willa Cather, perhaps Nebraska’s most famous author. Many of Cather’s books are set in Red Cloud.
The small town (population 1,100) of Red Cloud, Nebraska wasn’t too far — 1.5 hours one way — so we jumped in the car, found sustenance for the journey, and headed south.
To my shame, I haven’t yet read any of Cather’s works (at least that I remember), but that didn’t stop me. Death Comes for the Archbishop has been sitting on my shelf, patiently waiting to be read, for well over a year now.
Before leaving home I’d printed information for a self-guided walking tour of the town’s Cather sites (I printed this from the chock-full, amazing, loaded, over-the-top informative Cather Foundation website).
We drove into town and stopped at the Red Cloud Opera House, which houses the Cather Foundation offices, along with its bookstore and an art gallery. I was tempted by some books and memorabilia, but I resisted.
We walked up and down main street (aka Webster) looking at the buildings listed in the walking tour guide. We saw Dr. Cook’s Drug Store, the State Bank Building, and more, but the building that really stood out was Farmers’ and Merchants’ Bank:
Once we realized that we’d explored all the listed buildings on Webster but had a long ways to go to complete the tour, we jumped in the car to explore the rest of town.
Among the sites we saw were: her childhood home,
the Harling House
and a Baptist church.
Once we were done looking at buildings, we drove south of town (within sight of the Kansas border) to the Willa Cather Memorial Prairie.
A closer view of some of those grasses:
So that’s it! Hope you’ve enjoyed this brief tour of Red Cloud, Nebraska.
Have you taken any literary road trips lately?