Sunday, July 11, 2010

Day 22 The Oregon Trail

We drove about 2 hours northeast from Cheyenne, WY to Scotts Bluff, NE to begin tracing the Oregon Trail.

We saw this Conestoga Wagon on the way, how appropriate. However what is a Conestoga wagon from Lancaster Co. PA doing in Nebraska? Very few made the journey, they were too big & heavy and needed more oxen to pull than a regular covered wagon.

Scotts Bluff was the 2nd natural landmark the pioneers saw after Chimney Rock which is about 50 miles east.
The Bluff is about 600' high and the trail went through Mitchell Pass between the Bluff and

Sentinal Rock. I enjoyed talking with this living history lady, she is a paid park employee and was cooking a yak stew ( she was all out of buffalo) in a dutch oven over a buffalo chip fire. I wish I could have talked with her more about the pioneers.

Scotts Bluff was on the Oregon, California & Mormon Trails and the route of the Pony Express. We got NPS Pasport stamps for each.

The road to the top went through 3 tunnels as the road hugged the cliff face.

Wanda wasn't too nervous on the way up, it was only a few hundred foot drop vs. several 1,ooo ft. and it had Guard Rails!

This is the view looking east, unfortunately with the haze we could just barely see Chimney Rock in the distance.
The Trail follows the modern highway between the pass and we could make out the impressions of the trail in the grass.
A sandstone butte- I don't recall it's name.
The view from one tunnel to the other.
We followed the Oregon Trail west into Wyoming and saw this patriotic bandshell in a small town park.
Fort Laramie, WY was one of the early Army forts in the northern plains. It served as protection for the Oregon Trail migrants, base of operations & supply for the Army and a site of treaties and trade with the Indians.

The fort was abandoned in the 1880's after the Indian wars were over and the buildings fell into disrepair. This was one of 2 soldiers barracks that survived with a minimal amount of reconstruction

The Park Service did an excellent job in recreating the living quarters.
I'm sure that when the soldiers were stationed here it didn't look this nice & neat.
The Oregon Trail Ruts and Register Cliff Hist. Sites are about a mile apart, 1/2 hour west of Scotts Bluff ( 1 days journey by covered wagon back then).
The hundreds of thousands of wagon wheels and oxen & horses wore into the sandstone rock.

In this section, the ruts are about 5' deep and
there are also footprint holes worn in the rock where the pioneers walked while leading the teams of oxen & mules.
Register Cliff is about 100' high and maybe 100 yards long.
Much of the rock has been defaced by countless visitors in modern days adding their names.
But there are still the original names carved into the soft sandstone.
We got to the National Hist.Trails Center in Casper, WY at 4:30 so didn't have as much time to see the exhibits as we planned. We did add 5 more NPS stamps.
The Pony Express also went through the area.

The displays were very well done and I took alot of pics that I plan to use for class.
The lifesize dioramas, maps and artifacts told the stories of each of trails, Oregon, Mormon & California 49ers,

and the Pony Express

The bison staute had a variety of Indian images in a collage.

We went through the Wind River canyon on our way to Thermopolis, WY

6 Tunnels in one day including Scotts Bluff.

It was early evening so our pics didn't show much of the 1500 to 2500' cliffs.
On the way from Casper to Thermopolis, we must have seen about 50 Pronghorn Antelope, but didn't get any pictures as we sped by at 75 mph.

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