Nebraska Center for Writers

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RAINEY POLK, one of the original settlers of the Nebraska Territory, was a self-styled adventurer and "New Atlantean." His beginnings were somewhat questionable. He made it a habit to follow wagon trains head west, scavenging the discarded furniture and china, then returning to sell them in his Omaha store. After building a small fortune as the owner of "Polk's New Atlantis Emporium," he later sold gear and provisions to pioneers heading west (see blow-up of store window at right). New Atlantis Emporium He led several wagon trains himself, but never farther than the foothills of the Rockies, which explains why the Lakota knew him as "Turns Back Man." Later in life he wrote a series of pulp novels ostensibly based on his own experiences, including Trail Trouble, Song of the Savage, Hideaway at Half-Moon Gulch, and Followers of the Gun. In his old age, he worked as a ticket-taker for Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. He died in a dispute with a customer. Though he isn't a contemporary Nebraska writer, he's been so thoroughly overlooked by literary critics and historians that he deserves to be memorialized in this directory.

The Rock

Nebraska Center for Writers