We study the deformation of an elastic strut on a nonlinear Winkler foundation subjected to an axial compressive load P. Using multi–scale analysis and numerical methods we describe the localized, cellular, post–buckled state of the system when P is removed from the critical load P = 2. The solutions, and their modulation frequencies, differ significantly from those predicted by weakly nonlinear analysis very close to P = 2. In particular, when P approaches the Maxwell load PM , the localized solutions approach a large–amplitude heteroclinic connection between an unbuckled solution and a periodic solution. An asymptotic description of PM in terms of the system parameters is given. The agreement between the numerical calculations and the asymptotic approximations is striking.