When I was in graduate school, photography was a welcome break from statistics and photocopying journal articles. If I had the time, I’d grab my camera and head to a nearby prairie. If not, I’d just wander around the north edge of the east campus (the agricultural campus) of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Sandwiched between some experimental cropfields was Dead Man’s Run, a small stream/ditch edged with smooth brome and weedy trees. Dead Man’s Run was far from a prairie, but there were a few wildflowers now and then, a family of foxes, and – most importantly – no people but me!
This photo is one of my favorites from those days.
Annual sunflowers along Dead Man’s Run. Lincoln, Nebraska.
I grew up where Dead Man’s run began. When someone first told me the name of that creek, I thought they were telling me a tall tale. Just west of N. 70th Street the creek gets routed through a large long tunnel. We used to explore that tunnel as if it were some great cave.
I used to live near where the head waters of Dead Man’s run were dammed to make Wedgewood Lake. That lake always had the best fishing because it was private. I was lucky that when I was a boy one of the nice older couples who lived on that lake would let me fish on their shoreline. After a full Saturday morning of fishing, I was always able to bring home enough channel catfish to feed my Dad, my Mom, my two sisters, and myself.
I would follow the paths through the parks that ran along that stream all the way to Saint Joseph Catholic Church for CCD classes.
I watched as the fields I played in became an office park. I think the woodland where the red fox lived now too has been developed. I’d wander the nearby abandon railroad tracks out to the corn fields were I would find pheasant and quail. Those old railroad tracks are now a bike path. It all looks so nice and well planned. I still miss that old field where we used to find garter snakes under old boards and watch the Franklin’s squirrels run to their holes.
I have lived two blocks from Dead Man’s run for 30 years and have never found out the full story of how it got it’s name. Hope it’s and interesting story if I ever find one. :)