The small town of Pine Bluffs breaks up the monotony of Interstate 80. Aside from the grain elevators, the town has one feature that stands out, as you speed by on the freeway:
The 30-foot-tall Our Lady of Peace is quite an unexpected sight. The statue of Mary is the largest sculpture in Wyoming, and one of the largest concrete statues in the U.S.
The Our Lady of Peace Shrine exists today, thanks to the inspiration Ted and Marjorie Trefren of Cheyenne received, during a trip to several European shrines in 1991. In the years that followed, they secured five acres of land along the Nebraska state line, then started raising money. The statue went up in 1998. Since then, the Stations of the Cross and other statues have been added, and engraved bricks are available for purchase, as well.
Those heavenly clouds seemed to appear at just the right moment, didn’t they?
[tmt_info =””]Sculptor Robert Fida explains the process he used to create the statue on his website. First, he made a life-sized clay model, then used it to make a mold. Then, laser measurements allowed a larger-than-life version to be created in foam. The final product was cast in layers, then the layers were stacked, and the joints filled, creating a seamless statue that weighs 180 tons.[/tmt_info]
There’s a Nebraska welcome sign available for your picture-taking, next to the shrine on US Highway 30, which runs through Pine Bluffs, then parallels the interstate. If you stay off the freeway and on US 30, you’ll be treated to the near-ghost town of Bushnell, Nebraska, just a few miles up the road.
You know you’ve left the “west” behind, in favor of the “midwest” when grain elevators start popping up in every small town. Bushnell has several of them…
… lined up on the opposite side of the railroad tracks from US 30. I don’t know if these buildings are still in use, but it’s obvious that the rest of Bushnell is quickly slipping towards “ghost town” status.
Bushnell consists of just a few blocks, and all the streets are dirt. Old buildings like this one appear to have been abandoned, long ago.
Linn’s International Goods would be fun to rummage through. It looks like a yard sale exploded inside this old general store.
Only Here! … not anymore.
Bushnell’s grocery store is nearby, but it, too, has shut down.
Even the Bushnell Bar appears to be boarded shut.
[tmt_info =””]Bushnell sprung up in the 1800’s, when the railroad came through. The water tower went up in 1917, and the town even had its own newspaper until 1944.[/tmt_info]
Continuing up US 30, I was excited to find a huge field of sunflowers.
Note: This trip was first published in 2008.