Where Buffalo Used To Roam

640px-Nebraska_Sandhills_NE97_Hooker_County_3Home on the Range (land covered by grass) – an old song from the American West – begins like this:

Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam (wander; move from place to place),
Where the deer and the antelope play,
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day.

The Great Plains is a large area of land in the middle of the U.S. covered by mostly by grass and farms. The Plains begin in Texas and go all the way north into Canada. There are no mountains there. Instead there are miles of flat land and what we call “rolling” hills that gently rise (go up) and fall (go down) as you drive through them.

The state of Nebraska, where I lived before moving to California, is in the middle of the Great Plains. When you drive across Nebraska from east to west, you’ll drive through the city of Omaha, then pass mile after mile of corn fields until you reach the middle of the state. When you get there, you will have arrived at the area that the songwriter might have been thinking about – the Nebraska Sandhills.

The Sandhills are exactly that, about 20,000 square miles (~52,000 square kilometers) of grass-covered hills of sand. If you leave the freeway, you can drive many miles without seeing another car or truck. But what you will see are ranches (farms where cows are raised) with large herds (groups) of cows and a few small towns.

In the small towns, you’ll find the essentials (things that are necessary) but not much more – groceries, ranch supplies, gas for your car or truck, a church or two, a bar or two, and possibly a small hotel.

It doesn’t rain much here, but there is a large amount of underground water for ranchers to use for themselves and their cattle (cows). And the cattle, mostly Black Angus (a kind of cow), provide Nebraska and the rest of the country with some of the finest beef (meat from cows) you can eat.

The deer are still there. And so are the antelope. But not so many buffalo; many of them were hunted by the American Indians and early Americans for food and for their skin, which was used for clothes.

They say the sky is bigger in the Sandhills. And the sunrises and sunsets are more beautiful. During the summer, it’s not unusual for fast-moving summer storms to form (appear and grow) and fill the sky with towering (very tall) clouds that quickly change from white to gray to black.

People who know the Sandhills talk about how peaceful it is there. Ron Scheer, a California professor, writes that “the Sandhills provide an endless supply of peace and quiet…. The best moments are spent just listening to … the birds singing from every direction, and the wind.

To learn more about Nebraska and the Sandhills, I encourage you to watch two short videos. The first, My West: The Sandhills of Nebraska, is by Professor Scheer. The second, Nebraska Skies, is by Bill Frakes, a well-known photographer.

~ Warren Ediger – ESL coach/tutor and creator of the Successful English web site.

Photo of the Nebraska Sandhills courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.



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18 Responses to Where Buffalo Used To Roam

  1. Dan says:

    Hey Hi.

    What nice couple of videos there and with enjoyable music too.

    Just looking at the pictures there I fell good already.

    Something missing though, trees.

    Here I see lots of trees. Trees are beautiful.

    Something very different from where I live is the view. I am blocked all around from mounts averaging 3000 foot 1000meters.

    Because of that reason I cannot enjoy those beautiful like Nebraska sunsets or sunrises.

    I would also love to pet a Buffalo. Do you guys think that is possible?

    I do not know, but I would love to do that. I want also to smell the beast, I am curious.


  2. Poo Yan says:

    very interesting article. I always enjoy reading through you website.

    thank you very much

  3. Tania says:

    Hi! The Nebraska prairie, the place between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River…
    Thank you for the very nice photos.
    Listening to English Cafe 482/ 2014 about the Great Plains trilogy by Willa Cather,
    we learned about this wild land.

  4. Tania says:

    Hi! Reading “O Pioneers!” by Willa Cather, we learn and about “Pioneers! O Pioneers!” by Walt Whitman,
    the poem which accompanies the novel.
    “Fresh and strong the world we seize ,
    world of labor and the march, Pioneers! O Pioneers!”

  5. Tania says:

    Hi! Maybe the Nebraska sky is bigger at night.

    “In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time ,
    Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.”

    “When I Heard the Learned Astronomer” by Walt Whitman

  6. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Hello, friends on ESL podcast. I like this topic, so different. I can see that place with plain with grasses, sunrises and sunsets, deer, maybe rabbits, one or other church, few people to bother you, cattle and something like these. If I could I would go to live there for the rest of my life. Unfortunately I can’t afford. Besides, I am a Brazilian and Brazil is my home.
    Aecio from Brazil, beautiful and lovely.

  7. Thiago Messias says:

    Nice and interesting article.

  8. peter says:

    Howdy Tania,

    Refer to your last comment!

    Glad to be any of help!


  9. peter says:

    Hi Warren ,
    Sounds like a stretch of paradise out there!!
    I have never been in that part of US.
    U know ,I don’t think it is a popular tourist destination.
    However , I m intrigued !!!
    It may be my next trip destination!
    I don’t know what more I can say on the topic at hand as I have never visited Sandhills.
    So I can’t be a good judge of the place. However , I’ll tell you one thing, there are a lot of flat Canada where u can hear birds chirp , watch clouds dance and hear no peep out of anything.
    You know ,a vast portion of canada is flat. By that I mean , there are no much of mountain-ranges out here. Ontari alone which is the province I live in is outright flat. You barely even see hills throughout the province.
    So ,I must say I m pretty much fed up with peace and quite!
    I prefer to see some actions in my tripes otherwise I might feel like “home sweet home ”
    Well, the whole idea of a trip is to get away from home , right ?!
    You know what ! on second thought ,
    Unless , I can spot some bareback horse riding ,cattle roping or powwow meeting , I pass !

    I prefer a trip to the Wild Wild west!!

    Thanks for the Info though

    Off I go

  10. benjamin says:

    i am a korean guy. kkk
    now that i saw this upper sentence, the place where i’ve actually found that i want.
    no traffic jam and make us peaceful.
    my throat is hard time to living in surbrub of city in korea. smoking, fume, dust and so forth.
    that’s place that i need to live in there with my family.

    THX. sincerly regards to you…

  11. Narges says:

    Dear Warren,
    You are a great writer, honestly.
    As I read through your article, I feel those scenes in front of my eyes.
    In my country, Iran, we have lots of beautiful deserts, but unfortunately up to now, I didn’t have a chance to see those scenes.

  12. Narges says:

    Dear Emiliano,
    I just read your article about your trip to Germany and the Great Berlin’s Flood.
    I see the ranges in Nebraska are just opposite to Berlin.

  13. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Hello, Warren. I’d like to suggest you to create a dialog talking about a trial in a court of law with jury, judge, defendant, accusation, prosecutor, murder or assaut and so forth? Do you agree with me? Is it a good idea?

  14. Dan says:

    Hey everyone

    With Warren’s permission, I would like to make a wish.

    Since I am about to go to bed, I wish I could dream of that planes tonight. Maybe even riding a Buffalo, you know, on dreams anything is possible.


  15. emiliano says:

    Thank you Narges by reading my long long post.
    I hope some of you may enjoy reading some of my records, if it is so I am happy.


  16. Dan says:


    My yesterday’s wish did not work and I even ended up sleeping very badly.

    No problem, since tomorrow I am not working I am going to have some more bed time.


  17. Cemil says:

    Hello ESLPOD Team,

    First of all big thank you guys for that effort. I have some demands. Could you please upload those weekly part ( etc ” where buffalo used roam” ) as PDF version as well as others. It will allow us download and work on it as printed.

    Thank you

  18. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Let’s start a new beginning.

Comments are closed.