Birds of Nebraska: Newspaper Accounts, 1854-1923

April 1, 1923. Omaha Sunday World-Herald 58(27): 4-W. Portions of column used on 5 May 1918 and on 19 Apr 1908.

Delightful April Days Along Old Mormon Trail

Sandy Griswold.

While a bit backward, April days are again with us, and the lovers of the birds and the flowers will soon be in their glory. And of all the attractive regions roundabout - such as Childs Point, the small woodland lakes below Waterloo and many others, I cannot conceive of a more charming lure in these gentle days than that up along the Old Mormon Trail, now known as the River Road.

Usually April is one of the months of the most irresistible enchantment, with the arrival of the majority of our summer birds and the bloom of our earliest and most beautiful wild wood plants.

A Favored State.

Few people, save those obsessed with the flora and fauna of the quiet places of wood and field, have but a meager conception of the manifold delights of a ramble in the lovely hours of early spring, but when once the benefits of the indulgence is appreciated it becomes a habit that will never lose its pleasant phases.

Although Nebraska is distinctly a prairie state, it is one of the most prolific in its floral and faunal treasures of any in the nation, and no section in this favored land offers a more alluring invitation to the student of these matters than the river road and its contiguous territory.

Most Picturesque of All.

From that ancient Mormon haven, Florence, quaint and beautiful as in the days of its origin, way up to the bewillowed shores of Stillwater, and the storm-scarred shores of the rolling Missouri, this old trail, trodden into a beaten path by the feet of Indian and wild animals, long before the venturesome Mormon came, is, and has always been, one continuous panorama of exquisite pictures, with the silvery sinuosities of the river flashing on the one side, and the artistic lace work of the wooded bluffs swaying on the other.

It is today, too, the most popular drive available to the citizens of Omaha, and is really the most interesting, in every detail, of them all, and if you have never taken it, procrastinate no longer. It will pay you in more ways than I can enumerate, but when you do come back I know you;ll thank me for the advice.

However, when I speak of a drive up this legendary old road, I do not mean you must confine the possibilities of the outing, literally to the luxuriance of your automobile, but make frequent stops, get out and perpetrate little sorties into the depths of the adjoining woods and fields, climb those rocky bluffs, explore along the rollicking runs and rills, where you will find a redundance of ecstatic things to keep heart, mind and vision at a tension constantly.

Today the summer birds are fast coming in and it will soon be warbler time, and the bluebird and the robin, the jay, woodpecker, cardinal and yellowhammer, willed be joined by tanager, chewink, oriole, rosebreasted and Baltimore, phoebe, nuthatch and that swarm of little glittering choirists too numerous to even attempt to name.

Sweethearts of the Wild.

And more, too, for just now the most venturesome of all our vernal flowers are unfolding their bright faces to the outer world - violet, clatonia, windflower, squirrelcup, bluet, marigold, adder's tongue, crowsfeet, and, like the birds, scores of others equally tinted and sweet breathed, but too plentiful to mention.

Along the tingling aisles of the still somewhat somber woods, whose giants tower loftily along the bluffs, are redolent with the fragrance of the earliest blooms. I every little glade and sunbathed opening they are, or will be in a few more days, coyly peeping up at you almost everywhere; often, at that, eluding even your searching gaze, but when once discovered, each and every one of them telling you their mysterious and wonderful little story.

  • "A wood land walk,
  • A quest of dainty bits, a mocking chewink,
  • A wild rose or rock-living Columbine,
  • Will salve your worst wounds."

And Across the Old Trail.

Across the old trail, and bordering the ever turgid and curving stream, are greening pastures and glowing fields, with their sluices, swales and covert cul-de-sacs, where the yellow adder's tongue in all its wild loveliness and gracefulness and beauty will now glow soulfully through the whole of this paradisical period, along with the marsh marigold, in broad plats, a little less frail and dazzling than some of its kinsfolk, but just as entrancing and dear. A little higher up, where the kind-faced cows browse and tramp, will be found the foxglove, digitalis purpurea, defiantly, also rearing their attractive heads - a veritable mine of glorious things for the lovers of the outdoor world.