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7/29/2004

Zerfari Revisited

Well, a week ago I promised to get back to our little trip along the famous Butterfield Overland Despatch. We call it Zerfari. For more information about the origin of the name check out 7-21-04, Zerfari.  
Our little band of Yahoos continued on to explore the old stage route that followed the even older Smoky Hill Trail. The destination for the night was a location known as Downers Station. Western Kansas is known for its dry environment. Zeb Pike wasn’t all that wrong when he called it the Great American Desert. But, unlike most deserts Kansas runs in cycles that bring it near to a desert state and then rebounds to a lush Garden of Eden. This year we are lucky to be on the rebound. The grass is so green it almost looks as though a stage crew has come through and created a “Set” for some special presentation.  
Downers Creek runs just below the station and stands a couple of feet deep in crystal clear spring water. It is truly an oasis on the plain. When Lt. Julian R. Finch surveyed the route for the B.O.D. he noted, “…we camped at the head spring of a stream emptying south three miles into the Smoky Hill [River]. The water and grass at this place we found unusually fine. We called this place Downer.”  
I had in mind to enjoy a little skinny dippin’ in that inviting creek, but I couldn’t find a low bank to get in the water. I wasn’t adventurous enough to just jump in. Lucky for me. After quite a long time of searching up and down the bank I finally located a low spot but to my disappointment as I cupped a handful of water from the stream I was taken aback by a distinctive odor that originated with the mud bottom of the creek.  
So, I didn’t go skinny dipping after all. Of course, you understand, I was planning on doing it the Cowboy way in my red long underwear. Would have made a great picture! 
Look for more of Zerfari in the September/October 2004, Kansas Cowboy. If yer interested in this, or more great frontier history just click Join The Cowboy Society at the side of the page. 
So Long, 
The Cowboy 

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