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MAY-JUN 2017

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Page 32 of 51 33 M A Y / J U N E 2 0 1 7 NATIONAL WILLA CATHER CENTER R E D C L O U D , N E B R A S K A e newly opened National Willa Cather Center in Red Cloud will be dedicated June 3. e ceremony follows the 62nd Annual Willa Cather Spring Conference, June 1-3, which has several events open to the pub- lic. A Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Willa Cather focused on the themes of westward expansion, railroads and the settlement of the plains. e preconceived notion that Cather was a frumpy Midwestern writer is not true. e center's collection contains many of Cather's per- sonal possessions. e newest museum exhibit is called "American Bit- tersweet: e Life and Writings of Willa Cather." Exhibits tell the stories of Cather's life on the Nebraska prairie, her travels abroad and her adult life in New York City. e center houses an expanded bookstore and ar- chives, and hosts numerous workshops and film screenings. "In recent years, Cather has become more widely recognized as a prominent writer of the 20th century," said Ashley Olson, executive di- rector of the Willa Cather Foundation. "Although lauded for her Mid- western novels, her scope included stories based in Canada, the South- west and Virginia." Groups can connect with Cather's life and stories by taking a guided tour of Cather's childhood home and six other historic Cather sites in Red Cloud. Hiking trails include three loops on the 612-acre Willa Cather Memorial Prairie. e Red Cloud Opera House has a full schedule of pro- ductions. W W W . W I L L A C A T H E R . O R G DAYTON AVIATION HERITAGE NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK D AY T O N , O H I O Until 1903, the Wright brothers researched and engineered their flying machines in Ohio, and the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park tells their story. It's a little-known fact that Orville and Wilbur Wright invented what is generally considered to be the first suc- cessful airplane in Dayton before testing it at Kitty Hawk. e brothers' story starts at the Wright-Dunbar Interpretative Cen- ter, which is in the neighborhood where the Wrights lived during the years they were inventing their plane. Nearby are the Wright Cycle Company and Hoover Block, where the brothers operated their printing company. Wilbur and Orville started their careers as printers, and in this location, the Wrights edited and published newspapers. "e Wrights were working on bicycles before they invented the air- plane," said Dean Alexander, superintendent of Dayton Aviation Heri- tage National Historical Park. "A ranger-guided bike tour to the sites gives a better understanding of these two brothers." Between 1904 and 1905, the brothers tested their planes just north- east of Dayton at Huffman Prairie Flying Field, located within Wright- Patterson Air Force Base. On-site are replicas of their hangar and cata- pult. A walking trail through the prairie includes exhibits that detail how the brothers perfected their invention. One mile away, the Wright Brothers Aviation Center displays the 1905 Wright Flyer III they flew at Huffman. Another site is the Wrights' Georgian Revival mansion, Hawthorn Hill, in west Dayton. W W W . N P S . G O V / D A A V Courtesy National Willa Cather Center Courtesy Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park Willa Cather's beloved Red Cloud Opera House Wright Brothers bicycle tour "The Wrights were working on bicycles before they invented the airplane. A ranger-guided bike tour to the sites gives a better understanding of these two brothers." — DEAN ALEXANDER

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