Trail Talk Blog

I Cannot Live Without Books

Thomas Jefferson famously stated, “I cannot live without books”.   In fact, this quote is so well-known that you can find it on tote bags and coffee mugs, and it is the motto of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association. Unfortunately other lifestyle choices, including a proclivity for fine French wine and… read more >

New Yorker’s Idea of the United States of America

The first time I visited my future father-in-law’s study I was struck by two things:  the enticing collection of history books that filled the shelves (surprising to me, since he was the Dean of the College of Fine Arts at the University of South Dakota and long-time theatre professor –… read more >

New Year’s Traditions

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.   I mean, really!   What’s the point?   They would only end up in the proverbial dustbin of history anyway, so why torture myself? But I am in agreement that at this time of year it seems appropriate to take stock, ruminate about the year just… read more >


Have you ever wondered why Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus in December, especially since scientists determined long ago (based on celestial charts) that he was actually born in the Spring? It probably comes as no surprise that I view nearly everything through the eyes of a historian, and that… read more >

The Curiosity Quotient

Do you know what your curiosity quotient is?   OK, I don’t either, but the very name intrigued me when I ran across a book with that title and was – well – curious. It seems this all started with author and journalist Thomas L. Friedman, who postulates an entirely unscientific… read more >

Public Art

Across this great country of ours communities have embraced the concept of Public Art, or art for all.   In New Mexico they paint murals on water towers.   In my home town of Rapid City, South Dakota, we have “Art Alley” where ever-changing graffiti festoons a previously derelict city alley.   We… read more >

The Perils of Blogging

Blogging can be rewarding and is certainly intellectually stimulating.   But there are times, like 4:45 pm yesterday, when disaster strikes.   That’s when I discovered news that contradicted everything in the blog that I had scheduled to be published in a little more than 24 hours. I had been so happy… read more >

The Story of Sitting Bull’s Bones

The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota was in the headlines last fall and winter because of Native American demonstrations protesting an oil pipeline being dug under their tribal lands and threatening their main source of water.  Trust me, I have no intention of weighing in on this bitterly… read more >

History Envy

I have history envy.   I doubt that it’s a very widespread malady, though possibly infectious.   Therefore, in the public interest I have compiled a list of symptoms to watch for: I often wonder what it would be like to go to work in a historic building situated on a narrow… read more >

How the Buffalo Were Saved

Have you ever wondered how the buffalo were saved?   Like most such tales, it is actually more than one story, which I’ll get to shortly. Much better known is how they were nearly exterminated, and – alas – far more depressing.   As I have cited in more than one Trail… read more >

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