So much of the land here exists on the horizontal, stretching west from the bluffs on the Missouri River in an undulating but generally level line toward the Rockies. In Nebraska the climb from Omaha’s 800 or so feet of elevation to the highest point in the state at 5400 feet progresses at a pretty steady 10 feet per mile. From a distance the irregularities of hills and valleys smooth out like a table top, making you believe you can see like an eagle to the next town.
The vertical interruptions Nature offers are the trees lining the streams and the tall grasses of the plains, nearly insignificant heights over the distance you can see. Only man has been able to breach the atmosphere with heights can stand out against the line of horizon.
Outside the few cities and large towns, agriculture brings verticality to the plains. Silos, windmills, water tanks and grain mills protrude into the sky, identifying the sites of human impact. And of course the late comers that are essential to modern farming – power lines and cell phone towers.
Vertical on these heights brings a new imagery to the plains as the sunlight creates contrast in three dimensions instead of two. The sky is no longer in opposition to the earth; now it is a backdrop to connections between sky and earth.