Writers Group Makes Its Way to Red Cloud

A group of longtime writers arrived in Red Cloud and the prairie this September in search of inspiration and rejuvenation. Farther Along: The Writing Journey of Thirteen Bereaved Mothers took in all that Cather country has to offer, including tours, a weeklong stay at our historic lodging properties, and catered meals.

Organized by Carol Henderson, the Farther Along writers retreat was two years in the making as the pandemic disrupted the group’s original plans. Not to be discouraged, the group worked with NWCC staff to build a full itinerary in the months leading up to their trip. When the women were not immersed in their own writing activities, they could be found shopping for postcards in the bookstore, reading “Old Mrs. Harris” in the Red Cloud cemetery, or braving the root cellar at the newly restored Pavelka Farmstead.

In preparation for their visit, the group read My Ántonia. Education coordinator Rachel Olsen joined the writers at the Cather Second Home to lead a lively evening discussion of Cather’s most famous book. The retreat culminated in an evening picnic at the Willa Cather Memorial Prairie filled with laughter and great conversation, even as autumn winds whipped across the picnic spread.

Before departing, each Farther Along member wrote an “Ode to Red Cloud.”. Betsy Anderson described the local landscape as “Unbridled beauty in long flowing grasses,” and Dottye Currin wrote in her acrostic poem “Our mission...has become clear in this place.” Echoing Cather’s own observations, Julie Hester characterized Red Cloud as a “Scrappy town on the prairie/carved out of sod and bittersweet.”

We’d love to host your writing retreat or schedule a special event for your writing group! Please contact education coordinator Rachel Olsen at