the untold stories of wilderness park

The Untold Stories of Wilderness Park

My midwestern need to constantly go elsewhere ironically brought me to my own backyard. Upon return to a familiar park in Lincoln, Nebraska, I follow my inner-child’s curiosity in attempt to uncover mysteries and discover treasures of the past. The adult mind that is tricked into always yearning for what’s next diminishes in this piece, as each visit to the park reveals what’s already there. An entangled tale of true history and personal struggle, worlds collide on a path that takes endless forms.

Graffiti is frequently seen while on a walk through Wilderness Park, though sometimes only by looking close enough.

Graffiti is frequently seen while on a walk through Wilderness Park, though sometimes only by looking close enough.

This project was, and continues to be, an intimate experience with myself, as I try to understand the place I come from and all its lost histories.

This project was, and continues to be, an intimate experience with myself, as I try to understand the place I come from and all its lost histories.

Over time, a combination of constant shock and seasonal floods from the nearby Salt Creek molded the landscape to withstand major change. Today, the Rock Island bike trail (named after the old railway) and the Jamaica North meet in the park, attracting naturalists, cyclists, wanderers and punks, to embrace the landscape.

Over time, a combination of constant shock and seasonal floods from the nearby Salt Creek molded the landscape to withstand major change. Today, the Rock Island bike trail (named after the old railway) and the Jamaica North meet in the park, attracting naturalists, cyclists, wanderers and punks, to embrace the landscape.

The site of the 1894 Rock Island Train Wreck, August 2017.

The site of the 1894 Rock Island Train Wreck, August 2017.

Documented over the course of six months in the woods of Wilderness Park, I recount memories of the people I once wandered with, dig up some secrets along the way and eventually find solace in the lone walk. 

Wilderness Park in southeast Lincoln stretches over seven miles long and is home to hundreds of wildlife and plant species. The area has a rich history, once home to a corn mill, a Methodist tourist attraction, a music amphitheater and most notably, an unsolved crime scene: the Rock Island train wreck that killed 11 people in 1894 by sabotage. The train wreckers were never caught. 

Wilderness Park at dusk, October 2017.

Wilderness Park at dusk, October 2017.

As the BNSF railroad hauls coal and oil south out of town, the park continues to be a peculiar place where humans and nature collide.

As the BNSF railroad hauls coal and oil south out of town, the park continues to be a peculiar place where humans and nature collide.

Self-portrait at the site of the Rock Island Train Wreck, where 11 people died in 1894. The graffiti illuminated here reads, "We are the troubled youth."

Self-portrait at the site of the Rock Island Train Wreck, where 11 people died in 1894. The graffiti illuminated here reads, "We are the troubled youth."