Tryon’s name twin

Published 3:44 pm Monday, May 9, 2011

Aunt Bea's in Tryon, Nebraska

To the Editor:

How many Tryons are there?

Having been born in the original St. Luke’s Hospital and living in your Tryon, I assumed for many years that there was only one, nestled against the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Then I married a girl from Nebraska who told me there is also a Tryon in her state. Naturally, I was intrigued and put it on my list of places to visit sometime.

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Today, more than 50 years later, we finally made it there. Planning a car trip from our home near Seattle in the state of Washington to Lincoln, Neb., we realized that by following some routes “less travelled by” we could include the other Tryon on our itinerary.

We found it in the west central part of Nebraska, in the midst of the high, rolling, grassy country known as the Sand Hills. This undulating landscape has hundreds of lakes and ponds in its low areas.

We approached Tryon from the north, crossing the Dismal River on Highway 97, and found the unincorporated town in a grove of shade trees. It is small enough that you could drive from end to end while holding your breath, but we stayed long enough to stop at Aunt Bea’s Café and chat with the good folks we found there.

It was fun to compare the two Tryons.

They allowed that maybe a 100 people live in their Tryon, and they know everyone, of course. They also know the land and climate well, being dependent on it for ranching and farming. The school across the road from Aunt Bea’s café provides educational opportunities for students from all over McPherson County, many undoubtedly travelling an hour or more by car or bus to get there.

Tryon’s post office is in a wing of a private home, both of which are for sale for an asking price of $68,000.

The only grocery store closed recently, so their economy has seen better times, like the rest of the country. The major enterprise in town appears to be a tall elevator where grain is handled before shipping to markets. Tryon residents make the drive to North Platte or Mullen, 30-some miles away, for supplies and services. They have to be highly self-reliant.

When I asked about the origin of the name Tryon, we heard one story is told of early pioneers struggling with their wagons through the hilly country. They were urged not to give up, but to “try on and you’ll make it.” (Sound familiar?) Another said local residents were told to “keep tryin’” to think of a name other than McPherson, its original name. A book on local history, which we found at the courthouse (Tryon being the county seat, as well as the only town in the county), surmised that it was named for Lord Tryon of Colonial days, but didn’t offer a connection between the two.

I paused to read the plaque outside the courthouse commemorating six young local men, each of whom were killed in action during World War II. The little village of Tryon paid a heavy price to lose so many.

Tryon, N.C. remains my hometown, even though my return visits are now rare (just ask my Tryon cousins Kathleen Wagner and Bunny Shields). When I do come, it’s gratifying to find it changed so little compared to the growth in the Seattle area where we now live.

You are fortunate to live where you do, and today I found other Tryon residents who apparently feel the same way.

–– Alan Mebane
Sammamish, Wash.