Scotts Bluff National Monument Research Road Trip

This summer, the PLHC was working to wrap up a project for Scotts Bluff National Monument. Researcher and recent graduate, Poppie Gullett, has shared a bit about the project and her experience completing archival research during a summer road trip to Scotts Bluff National Monument, Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, and Legacy of the Plains Museum.

The author on a research break at "Carhenge" in Alliance, Nebraska.

The author on a research break at “Carhenge” in Alliance, Nebraska.

View from top of Scotts Bluff.

View from top of Scotts Bluff.

Image of William Henry Jackson in Egypt.

Image of William Henry Jackson in Egypt.

Looming over the arid grasslands of the Nebraska panhandle, 800-foot high Scott’s Bluff is immediately noticeable as a unique natural and cultural landmark. Once a crucial way marker for the Mormon and Oregon Trails as well as the Pony Express, the site received its status as a National Monument for its association with nineteenth-century westward migration. As you approach the dusty pink promontory and feel the sun beating down on you, you can almost imagine the wagon trains and riders that navigated the pass between the bluffs on their way west. The staff at Scott’s Bluff National Monument understand the intimate relationship between their site’s natural beauty and its fascinating human history. When it came time to remodel the exhibits in their visitor center in 2013, the monument reached out to the Public Lands History Center at CSU to help decide what stories those new exhibits would tell.

The PLHC team worked for four years putting together an information-rich ten chapter report on the Monument’s past and its significance to western US history. My goal in travelling to Scott’s Bluff was to use their photos, paintings, and documents in concert with the report develop a StoryMap and a visitor-friendly booklet for the monument to help communicate the history of the site in small chunks. As a latecomer to the project, my job out at Scott’s Bluff was to explore the archives of three museums—Legacy of the Plains Museum just down the road from the Monument, Scott’s Bluff National Monument, and Agate Fossil Beds National Monument. At each site I found totally different but fascinating primary sources. At Agate, I got to see some of pioneer artist and photographer William Henry Jackson’s paintings in person and see photos of him exploring the Nile River in Egypt. At Scott’s Bluff, I spoke with the staff to understand their goals and was able to look through photos salvaged from the flooded basement archives. And at Legacy of the Plains, I spent the morning learning about Nebraska farm “soddies” (sod houses) with their very helpful volunteers. In such a whirlwind trip, I was struck by both the uniqueness of the landscape and the region’s history. There are dozens of tales yet to be told about the Scott’s Bluff area, and I am excited to be involved in that telling. – Poppie Gullett

Support great projects like this one by making a gift to the Public Lands History Center. 

PLHC in the news for completion of project on Japanese American Internment during WWII in New Mexico

History team finishes documenting N.M. Japanese-American confinement camps

American West Program to Host CSU Extension Session on Colorado Farmers and Ranchers on October 5th



  • Joanne Littlefield, Ph.D., (Director, Extension Outreach and Engagement)
  • C.J. Mucklow (Extension Western Regional Director)
  • Rick Knight, Ph.D.  (Professor, Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, Warner College)

In 1914, Congress authorized land-grant universities in every state to provide research-based information to Extension agents in each county. For over 100 years, CSU Extension has helped people in Colorado find the answers they need—for a healthy home life and successful business. This panel reflects on this rich legacy by addressing farm and ranching technologies and values, past, present, and future. Littlefield will explore farmers’ and ranchers’ evolving commitments to sustainable and productive land use. Knight will consider the ways in which ranching and ranch families might bridge the divide between rural and urban America through their provision of food and open spaces. Mucklow will examine land users’ and managers’ common interest in sustaining both the health of land and people’s attachment to landscapes that provide important resources, whether food, forest, or recreation.

Please RSVP for the event by clicking here.

Support great projects like the American West Program by making a gift to the Public Lands History Center. 



Parks as Portals to Learning featured in CSU Source!

CSU students gain real-world experience helping national park managers

PLHC to host March Brown Bag Professionalization Series

The month of March’s Brown Bag Professionalization Series will take place on Wednesday, March 28 in the PLHC Commons. Maggie Dennis will be the featured speaker. Maggie works with the Cache La Poudre National Heritage Area, and will be talking about her experiences. This will be an excellent opportunity to learn about local Fort Collins public history initiatives. For more information, see the event page.

Flyer 28 March copy

American West Program to Host Signature Semester Event

The Public Land History Center’s American West Program will host its signature event for Spring 2017 on Thursday, March 23 at 7:00pm in the Morgan Library Event Hall. Professor Ann Little of the Colorado State University History Department will be speaking about her book The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright, and will highlight the cultural, environmental, and political continuities extending from the frontiers of the colonial northeast to the frontiers of the 19th century TransMissippi West. This will be a thoughtful evening where Professor Little will be making connections between frontiers in the west and frontiers in the east.


“Midnight Ramble” Event February 28, 2017

On February 28, the American West Program hosted “Midnight Ramble: Oscar Micheaux and the Story of the Black Film Industry.” Colorado State University professors Dr. Gillian Bowser and Dr. Ruth Alexander presented on the significance of this documentary and touched on themes of African American Silent Fil, Cowboys and the American West. It was an evening full of thoughtful dialogue.

Dr. Gillian Bowser and Dr. Ruth Alexander at the "Midnight Ramble" event on February 28, 2016

Dr. Gillian Bowser and Dr. Ruth Alexander at the “Midnight Ramble” event on February 28, 2016


PLHC’s American West Program Hosts Event in Honor of Black History Month

16700665_1916429518585677_4183679358784120680_oOn February 28, 2017 from 7-8:30pm the Public Land History Center’s American West Program will be hosting a screening of a documentary “Midnight Ramble.” This documentary provokes thoughtful conversation about African American Silent Film, Cowboys and the American West.

PLHC Brown Bag Professionalization Series

About once a month, the PLHC hots Professionalization events for students to help them network, learn professional development skills and engage in good conversation about working in the public history field. Here are some photos from the most recent Brown Bag event, featuring Maggie Moss Jones. IMG_6002 IMG_6003 IMG_6004

PLHC Receives Substantial Monetary Award from the Office of the Vice President for Research

The Office of the Vice President for Research just awarded the PLHC a little less than 100,000 dollars to expand research projects in the center. The PLHC was only one of five units designated as a Program of Research and Scholarly excellence to recieve this amount of monetary award. The PLHC will work to hire a full time program manager to take on more complicated projects in conjunction with the National Park Service and expand the center’s reach. Check out more information in the Source article: