Everything I know about the Midwest I learned in my short period of living in Nebraska and Texas. Luckily, I did explore and traveled extensively in the two years I spent living out west. But there is so much I don’t know and research is the only thing that helps me fine tune my stories set in Wyoming and give them a feeling of accuracy. Without proper research, a story could derail with inaccurate details. Just recently I almost ran aground assuming things that were not true while writing my story for the Halloween anthology for Prairie Rose Publications.
Wyoming does not have a zoo—not a single one.
HISTORY OF THE HENRY DOORLY ZOO
The Henry Doorly Zoo, established in 1894 and located in Omaha, Nebraska, was originally named the Riverview Park Zoo until the 1950’s a huge donation of $750,000 was given by the widow of Henry Doorly with the request that the name be changed to honor her late husband.
As the years passed, the zoo expanded its exhibits to include a giraffe complex, an aviary, a large salt-water aquarium, a large plaza called World-Herald Square, Bear Canyon and Wolf Woods. A petting zoo for kids was added in 1990 and more modern attractions such as an IMAX theater, the world’s first test tube gorilla, a Wildlife Safari, and a Center for Conservation and Research were added in 1995.
In recent years, the zoo also created new exhibits and added more near-endangered animal species which includes a rare okapi. A beautiful “Desert Dome” has been constructed, along with the Hubbard Gorilla Valley and Orangutan Forest. They also added additional guest services buildings, restaurants and a gift shop.
THE DESERT DOME
After the acquisition of nearby land, the zoo will add a 2,000 car capacity parking lot and a number of new attractions, from an Arctic exhibit to an Australian outback area. Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is nationally renowned for its leadership in animal conservation and research. It features the largest cat complex in North America, "Kingdoms of the Night" is the world's largest nocturnal exhibit and indoor swamp, the Lied Jungle is one of the world's largest indoor rainforests, and the "Desert Dome" is the world's largest indoor desert, as well as the largest glazed geodesic dome in the world. The Zoo is Nebraska’s number one paid attendance attraction and has welcomed more than 25 million visitors over the past 40 years.
Zoo history timeline
The following is a selected list of when buildings and exhibits were created:
- 1894: Riverview Park Opens
- 1898: By this date the park has a varied animal population of over 120 animals
- 1920's : Gould Dietz donates cat cages.
- 1930's : WPA builds cat and bear exhibits
- 1952: Omaha Zoological Society was organized for the improvement and administration of the zoo
- 1963: Margaret Hitchcock Doorly donated $750,000 to the Zoo with the stipulation that the Zoo be named after her late husband Henry Doorly
- 1965: Omaha Zoological Society was reorganized as a non-profit organization and the dedication of the first phase of the zoo which included bear grottos, gorilla, orangutan buildings and Ak-sar-ben Nature Kingdom
- 1968: Inaugural run of Omaha Zoo Railroad in July, Eugene C. Eppley Pachyderm Hill opened in November on the old baseball diamond site
- 1972: Ak-Sar-Ben waterfall was constructed, In August the Owen Sea Lion Pavilion opened complete with a new concession building, public restrooms and a gazebo where an old public swimming pool was
- 1973: Owen Swan Valley and the Primate Research Building were completed
- 1974: New diet kitchen and educational classrooms were completed
- 1977: Cat Complex
- 1979: Hospital and nursery opened
- 1981: Giraffe and hoofstock complex opened
- 1983: Lee G. Simmons Free-Flight Aviary
- 1984: 70,000-US-gallon (260,000 l; 58,000 imp gal) saltwater aquarium opened in what had been the museum
- 1985: Gorilla and orangutan buildings completely renovated and named in honor of the Owen Family, Richard Simmons cuts ribbon
- 1986: World-Herald Square was completed, First Tier Wolf Woods, Maintenance building and haybarn were relocated to the northeast
- 1987: Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom Pavilion, the visitor services area US West Plaza, new main entrance
- 1988: Construction began Lied Jungle, Zoo was selected for the endangered black-footed ferret breeding program, Zoo’s greenhouse was built near the maintenance shop.
- 1989: Durham Family's Bear Canyon, Doorly’s Pride a heroic bronze sculpture of a pride of 12 lions was installed in the entry plaza area, Zoo received the prestigious AAZPA Bean Award for its long-term gaur propagation efforts, black-footed ferret building constructed
- 1990: Dairy World featuring a children’s petting zoo, educational exhibits and concession area, world’s first test-tube tiger was born at the Zoo
- 1991: Birthday House for children’s birthday parties and education classes, world’s first artificially-inseminated tiger was born at the Zoo
- 1992: Lied Jungle, Durham's TreeTops Restaurant, Education Center, Simmons Plaza near the main entrance
- 1993: Old aquarium was closed and construction of the new aquarium began, Zoo received two AAZPA awards: the Conservation Award for its black-footed ferret management program and the Significant Achievement Award for the Lied Jungle, world’s first artificially-inseminated gaur calf was born at the Zoo
- 1994: Union Pacific Engine House for the Omaha Zoo Railroad
- 1995: Walter and Suzanne Scott Kingdoms of the Seas Aquarium, Zoo had more than 1.6 million visitors, land was acquired for an off-site breeding facility and drive-through park, construction began on the IMAX 3D Theater, Zoo participated in the propagation of the world’s first test-tube gorilla birth (Timu was born at the Cincinnati Zoo)
- 1996: Bill and Berniece Grewcock Center for Conservation and Research, Timu the world’s first test-tube gorilla moved to Omaha’s Zoo.
- 1997: Lozier IMAX theater
- 1998: Garden of the Senses, Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari 22 miles (35 km) west of Omaha’s Zoo at Nebraska’s 1-80 Exit 426, new diet kitchen was completed, construction began on a new pathology lab and keepers lounge
- 1999: Sue's Carousel, construction began on the world's largest Desert Dome, Zoo hosted a temporary Komodo Dragon exhibit
- 2000: New North Entrance Plaza was completed featuring a new gift shop, warehouse, entrance plaza and visitor gazebo. Joined the Okapi Species Survival Program, allowed the Zoo to be one of only 14 zoos in North America to display rare okapi, traveling koala exhibit visited the Zoo
- 2001: Cheetah Valley, New bongo and new tree kangaroo exhibits were constructed, Zoo hosted a traveling white alligator exhibit
- 2002: Desert Dome, construction began on Hubbard Gorilla Valley
- 2003: Kingdoms of the Night
- 2004: April 8 Hubbard Gorilla Valley, tower with two high capacity elevators to take visitors from the main level of the Zoo near the Desert Dome down 44' to Hubbard Gorilla Valley
- 2005: Hubbard Orangutan Forest in two phased May and August, giraffe feeding station in the spring, construction began on an addition to the Grewcock Center for Conservation and Research
- 2006: New Guest Services building and two additional gates at the main entrance, Hubbard Research wing expansion to the Grewcock Center for Conservation and Research in July, Budgie Encounter
- 2007: Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom Pavilion is transformed into the Exploration Station, construction on the Butterfly and Insect Pavilion begins
- 2008: Berniece Grewcockn Butterfly and Insect Pavilion, construction on a Madagascar exhibit begins
- 2009: Skyfari. Construction continues on the Madagascar exhibit.
- 2010: Expedition Madagascar opened
- 2012: Scott Aquarium is reopened after renovations and the zoo is official renamed Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
- 2013: A new gift shop opens, the IMAX facility is remodeled, and Gateway to the Wild exhibit is completed.
My second mistake in research was to place a passenger train in Wyoming. There isn’t one. Wyoming has never had a passenger train. Once there was a train from Wyoming that connected to the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad at Clearmont, specifically for coal, but it only lasted a short period of time and only ran 28.53 miles between the towns of Clearmont and Buffalo Wyoming.
The Wyoming Railway, now defunct, was an American railroad built and operated between the towns of Clearmont and Buffalo, Wyoming, a distance of 28.53 miles. The railroad provided Buffalo with a link to the national railway network via a connection with the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad at Clearmont. When the coal ran out, so did the railroad.
New interests purchased the Wyoming Railway 1946. In July 1948, the Company filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission to petition to the United States District Court of Wyoming under Section 77 of the U. S. Bankruptcy Act, which asked that the company be reorganized. R. E. McNally was appointed trustee by The ICC after C. Porter Dickson, President of the Wyoming Railway Company, could not meet his mortgage obligation. The Trustee ultimately filed with the ICC to abandon the railroad and, as it usually did, the ICC approved the abandonment, effective March 30, 1952. The Wyoming Railway Company owed 3 steam locomotives, 2 passenger cars, 5 freight cars (reportedly not interchangeable), and 1 service car. In its final years the railroad usually employed 17 people. The principal traffic of the Wyoming Railway was coal from affiliated mines near Buffalo and with their demise the railroad lost its principal traffic.
With these facts glaring at me, I had to change my mode of transportation in my story. It would have been easier if there had been a zoo in Wyoming and a railroad, but real facts changed easy to interesting.
I will confess that one of my books from the Wildings did have a train it it—For Love of Banjo, but I have to say that the story had to have a train or it would have killed a very dramatic scene. I didn’t realize Wyoming had no passenger trains when I wrote it. I hope readers will forgive my little blunder in real facts with that story. Now, of course, I know the truth and there will be no further blunders regarding trains in the fictional town of Hazard, Wyoming.
FOR LOVE OF BANJO
Deceit stands between Banjo Wilding’s love for
and his search for the father he never knew. Maggie O’Leary
Banjo Wilding wears a borrowed name and bears the scars and reputation of a lurid past. To earn the right to ask for
’s hand, he must find his
father and make something of himself. Margaret
In one graceful movement, he dismounted the pinto then stepped to the porch where
stood with unrestrained tears that flowed down her cheeks. Banjo swept her into his arms and kissed
her. The kiss wasn’t his brotherly,
friendly peck on the cheek. He kissed
her with a slow burning need and ran his tongue along the groove of her lips
then slipped inside.
He tasted of coffee and mint.
reached up to weave her arms around his neck.
She stepped on her tiptoes to better reach him and taste him. Her heart raced and heat rushed hungry waves
of yearning into places in her body she never knew existed as she responded to
his explorations with her own. If only
she could slip into his pocket and follow him wherever he went. She wanted to become the marrow in his bones,
to always be a part of him.
Just when she thought he would take her to her room and make love to her as she had asked, the kiss ended. Banjo bent his head his rough cheek rasped against hers. The fragrance of him, a combination of horse, pine and crisp snow, caressed her senses. He slipped his hand into her hair and gently rubbed the tender skin of her neck where her blood pulsed beneath his thumb.
His mouth so close to her ear she felt the warm moisture of his breath as he spoke his last words. She would never forget them, not as long as she lived. Breathless from the kiss, he said, “Don’t forget me. Write to me every day and I’ll write back. You are the star in my sky and my compass home. I’ll come back, if it’s the last thing I do, I will come back. I swear it.”
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