Tie Yourself Down

A hundred years ago, there was a legendary “tie yourself down” stretch of railroad along Beaver Canyon, one of the places my great grandmother, Sophia, worked as a cook for the railroad crews laying track. The road was so rough, several men were stationed there with the sole purpose of cleaning up the box cars that weren’t tied down and therefore tipped over and smashed on the rocks below. “Tie yourself down,” meaning prepare for...

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Hate Mother’s Day Platitudes?

My great grandmother, Sophia Nielsen, is the undisputed matriarch of our family. She started in a log cabin and ended owning a 40,000 acre ranch. She worked hard and fought harder. Our favorite story is about how she brought a railroad to a stop–not just one train, a whole railroad because they owed her money. That makes her sound hard, but, in fact, she lived long and became greatly beloved, called “grandma” by everyone. It is...

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Roots Five Miles Deep

A friend, Julene Bair, just posted a moving article about selling the family farm in Kansas.  Out in the Cold at High Country News  http://www.hcn.org/issues/40.22/out-in-the-cold Knowing she had no choice didn’t help. The fact that her mother and brother supported her decision didn’t help. Hang onto the land, was her father’s oft repeated advice–words that haunted her and continue to haunt her. She still feels like...

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