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Got a good reason For taking the easy way out

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009
5:13 A.M.

A Sunday Drive -"blog style"...a trip out West.
[more scanned photos]

For nearly 30 years now, one of my favorite parts of television broadcasting was from the past...what they called mini series. I was glued to the tv when those kinds of programs were aired. There was Peyton Place. Rich Man Poor Man, Backstairs at the White House, Roots [I and II], Thorn Birds, Shogun, and many, many more. Including one that was filmed in and around where I grew up...Centennial.
Centennial is fictionalized, but still part of American West's history. The history of how it became settled. From trapping, mining, gold discovery, establishing towns and cities west of the Mississipi, Native Americans, etc. The series' main characters begin with beaver trappers [mountain men] and end with civilization of the West. Eventually settling on the land in the Rocky Mtns/Colorado Plains.
Since I stopped buying through EBay and using Pay Pal, I've continued my searches for these special disc sets of the mini-series that I particularly loved. Of course, I said, if I ever found Centennial, I'd have to have was filmed just miles from where I lived and where I raised my kids. It has a special meaning for me. Centennial stars Robert Conrad as Pasquinel. Richard Chamberlain as McKeag. Barbara Carrera as Clay Basket [the Native American love interest for both men]...and these three are the beginning of the story, Centennial, Colorado.
The mini series itself, of course, was based on a work of fiction titled "Centennial"; written by James A. Michener. The first time I read it, back in 1975 I believe, it took me almost a year to finish it....over 900 pages. The novel itself is based solidly on facts of history, accounting the development of this part of the immigrants from many nations invaded the West and drove the American Natives away from their land.

THE WEST 1795-1830

"He was a coureur de bois, one who runs in the woods, and where he came from, no one knew. He was a small, dark Frenchman who wore the red knitted cap of Quebec, and his name was Pasquinel. No Henri or Ba'tees or Pierre. No nickname either. Just the three full syllables Pas-qui-nel......" [pronounced PAH skin el]

- - -

Pasquinel supposedly trapped many beavers along the Cache la Poudre River area. Today it's best known as the gateway to the west through Northern Colorado. Cache la Poudre is French...meaning hidden powder. The river, about 50+ miles or so from where I grew up was a destination for us many-a-Sunday during the summers. Fishing trips and camping trips. It's north and west of Denver. The Poudre [pronounced POO der] runs over the plains of the eastern slope after leaving the mountains...and drains into the South Platte River. All part of the Centennial Saga.
This photo shows you some meadowland in the Rocky Mountain Park...west of a town; Loveland, Colorado. Here, in this pristine area and north into the Roosevelt National Forest west of Fort Collins, is where a lot of the river scenes in Centennial were filmed. The river is called The Big Thompson River. It drains into the South Platte River. Also, some mountain scenes were filmed in the Tetons in Wyoming.
Part of the history and the family of Pasquinel takes place along the Pawnee Land...this, photo taken off the highway shows the area of what is called the Pawnee Grasslands/Pawnee Buttes, Eastern Colorado, heading toward the Nebraska border. [trust me...there are a LOT of RATTLESNAKES out there!] Bud and I would go out in the area, looking for arrowheads. It's a great place to find Native American relics.
Also, part of the story, there are several forts during the time of the invasion of whites. This area, known as Bent's Fort, along the Arkansas River in southeastern Colorado was used for filming some of Centennial. The area is best known for their Rocky Ford cantaloupe...near Rocky Ford, Colorado. They ARE the best, juiciest, sweetest cantaloupe ever.
Anyway...these are photos of the fort as it stands today...a tourist attraction now. Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site features a reconstructed 1840’s adobe fur trading post on the mountain branch of the Santa Fe Trail where traders, trappers, travelers, and Plains Indian tribes came together in peaceful terms for trade. During the tale of Centennial, a character called Brumbaugh settled here and grew potatoes. Hailing from Russia.
Up highway 287 heading from the Poudre River area, you'd end up crossing the Colorado border into Wyoming. About 110 miles from our home is a town called Laramie, Wyoming. A fort stood here also. And this section is part of the Centennial story too. If you're 'into' history of the west, Fort Laramie is one not to miss. Used as a trading post and fort to house the U S Army...staging for Indian Wars.
In the book/mini series this is where blood brothers of the Pasquinel offspring [half breeds of Pasquinel and his Indian bride, Clay Basket]...along with Major Mercy [the Pasquinel brother's white brother in law from Pasquinel's 2nd wife in St. Louis] meet to discuss the upcoming Indian Treaty of 1851. Filming took place in this area also. Today, you can take a self-guided tour at certain hours.
And my final photo share for the series, Centennial, is the actual part that was built for the movie...this is near the town of Fort Morgan, Colorado...where Centennial supposedly was erected. After the mini series sequences were finished being filmed, this store remained. Bud and I drove out to see it one Sunday. Another main character in the story line after Pasquinel was killed by the Indians, is Levi Zendt. He ends up going west from Pennsylvania, traveling with a caravan of covered wagons heading to Oregon when his wife was bitten and died from a rattlesnake. He eventually marries Pasquinel's 1/2 breed daughter, Lucinda, and builds/operates the store in Centennial, Colorado.

"Centennial" begins with the prehistoric Colorado Plains --takes your through the settlements and ends with modern times. The photos shared here are of the mini series disc set we recently bought, the book I've had since it was copyrighted [first edition], and the travel photos were taken by me when we lived in Colorado through the years...during many-a-day trips, camping trips, etc.

And NOTE: On the map today you'll see Centennial Colorado,....this is NOT the film location.


  1. Fantastic post. I enjoyed reading it. I have a question, I live in Eastern Nebraska and we are near the Platte River. Do you think it is the same one that goes through Colorado?

  2. you have that more beautiful knack of taking me right along with you on your trips. thank you!

  3. THAT has always been one of my fave books by James A. Michener! And I too loved the mini series.
    Richard Chamberlain, woohoo LOL.

    Hugs from Marian and thanks for the added info and pictures. Very interesting to read and I am going to have to read the book again, one day...

  4. Rayne: Rayne There is the North Platte in Northern Colorado/Wyoming and the South Platte in Southern Colorado and south of my home town...Denver...both eventually form the Platte River in Nebraska.


  5. i find this armchair or rather online tourism so fascinating. thank you

  6. I just loved the series and have watch ed it recently on video cassettes. I wish I had it on DVD. It was so well done. I don't, however, remember anything about them filming on the Big T, just outside my town. Strange.

    Did you ever eat at Potato Brumbaugh's in Greeley? We always wanted to get over there, but DC doesn't like to head east!

    What town do you call home?

  7. Dawn I grew up in the Denver surrounding area and Bud and I when married moved in the foothills north of Denver.


  8. I enjoyed all of Michener's books, but Centiennial was my favorite. Thanks for reminding me of it. Great post.

  9. Dawn Oh, and one more thing...yes, it was partly filmed near Estes...just west of you.

  10. This is a very informative post and with photos to share. I too loved the mini series but missed Centennial. Love the new header and background you provided Mary's Writing Nook.
    Going back to the mini, I wish someone would start making them again. WAY TOO MUCH REALITY ON TV NOW. Peace

  11. This is such an interesting post. I remember all the mini series, but don't recall ever seeing Centennial. I do no Robert Conrad and Richard Chamberlain in other things. I liked the way you related all the facts and dates. I understand about the email, I have friends living on Bignel and the school is gone.

  12. What an informative post!
    I was a great fan of mini series but somehow missed this one. It does sound enjoyable.
    I read quite a few of Michener's novels.

  13. Anni,

    This is fantastic. You know how much I love history and I am currently trying to read Centennial. However, I had to lay it aside to do several book reviews. I can't wait to get back to it. It was just starting to get really good.

    The photos are awesome and I have always wanted to visit Colorado and Wyoming...another reason to keep them on my destination list. I would also like to visit the Dakota's and Montana, as well as other mid-west states.

    Hope you're having a good day and thanks for giving me the heads-up on this. The boys went home about 1pm and then I went and had a nap. ;-)


  14. I miss Colorado...we moved here to WA 3 years ago and it is so wet and dreary compared to Colorado. The Colorado mountain range and landscape is breathless. Hubby still goes back every year to climb Pikes Peak.

  15. My favorite mini-series were "The Thornbirds" and "North and South". Love your travel photos. Reminds of traveling with my parents and brothers when I was a kid on Route 66.


  16. Very informative post,wonderful reading.I enjoyed it very much.

  17. You are an excellent travel guide. You are showing me places I'd never find on my own.