The Official Writing Challenge
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I enjoyed the writing, but chronological disasters and historical blunders mar this otherwise excellent piece. Your time lines are all seriously wrong. Jefferson, not Jackson(who became president in 1829) sent Lewis and Clark to explore the Louisiana Purchase made in 1803) The expedition didn't reach the Nebraska area until the summer of 1804. The first, experimental wagon trip was in 1814. Wagon trains weren't common until the 1840s.
Five minutes of internet research and this would have been a stellar piece.
I have no idea of the details of the history here, but I absolutely love the reading from the diarywonderful writing.
I throughly enjoyed reading your piece, whether historically accurate or not isn't really the point. I found myself back in time with your grandparents. I have often wished that I could find a pioneer diary and create a story around it. Whether your diary is real or not, doesn't matter, the substance of your story does.
I love stories of pioneer days, and I am very interested myself in old family papers, anecdotes, letters, and so on.

Your piece is so richly descriptive that I could picture the scenes from the diary in my mind.

My favorite paragraph is: "If one could reap the wind, he would be rich as there is an over abundance of it here. In the summer, it sears the skin like a branding iron; and in the winter, it burns the face without pretense, freezing it in a cold flame that no fire can thaw. Daily, as if powered by the devil, the wind sucks water from land and sky. Crops rattles as dried bones in its constant wake."

You left no doubt about the intense power of that wind! Excellent word pictures and wonderful story overall! :)
Your story is very interesting all the way through. The last sentence is magnificent.
Beautifully descriptive and captivating. I was absolutely enraptured in the imagery of it.
Very good writing. The diary snippets were particularly compelling.
I really enjoyed your imagery and adjectival usage. I found the concept of a strip of land defining "both a man and a nation" very intriguing. A very thoughtful, thought provoking and well written piece and one that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Nice work!
I agree that the journal entries are particularly helpful in bringing this story alive to the reader. Great pieces of history are woven into this story. Thanks for sharing.