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Hershey history class visits Red CloudTell North Platte what you think
Photo by Joe Chitwood
The Red Cloud Opera House
Photo by Joe Chitwood
A Cather Foundation tour guide talks about artifacts in old Catholic church.
Photo by Joe Chitwood
The class in the old train depot. (tap on photo to enlarge)

The Hershey 11th grade history class visited the hometown Wednesday of noted author Willa Cather in Red Cloud.

The tour is an opportunity to supplement what students learn from reading Cather’s books by seeing the places she wrote about and the experiences she had, even though they are over 100 years old, teacher Richard Rolofson said.

The class has been studying two Cather novels.

O Pioneers is about the settlers in the Red Cloud area and it is based upon Cather’s experiences. It is the first of three books Cather wrote about growing up in Nebraska, Rolofson said.

The other book they are reading is My Antonia, about Cather’s friend Annie Sadilek Pavelk of Red Cloud.

My Antonia is a reflection of the Czech immigrants that came and lived in that area, Rolofson said.

The students visited Cather’s childhood home, the Red Cloud Opera House, as well as a museum and gift shop.

Guides took the students to the old Burlington Northern train depot in Red Cloud, which is filled with memorabilia from Cather’s past. The students also toured several churches that Cather supported.

The Opera House was built in 1885. It is prominently featured in her novels, The Song of the Lark (1915) and Lucy Gayheart (1935). It now serves as the headquarters of the Cather foundation.

The Cather Foundation was founded in 1955 by volunteers.

Cather was born in Virginia in 1873. She lived in Red Cloud until she began college studies at the University of Nebraska in 1890.

She wrote 41 novels, 31 short stories and a book of poetry.

In 1992, she received the Pulitzer Prize for her novel, One of Ours.

She died in 1947.

Rolofson said 28 students took the tour. The rest of the class will take a virtual tour and do some research papers, so everyone will take part in the extended study, he said.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 3/18/2017
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