Saturday, June 2, 2018

Rocks and Ruts, Ridges and Bridges

     Again, for those who were dropped by "Networked Blogs" as followers to this blog, you can still follow by scrolling down to Follow in the right-hand column if this page and clicking on "Follow" or you can follow through your own email by submitting your address.

     So anyway . . .  when you follow the Oregon Trail you spend a lot of time and effort looking for the old wagon ruts. Usually they are hard to spot and not so obvious. You're searching for eroded and grown-over swales that look to the untrained eye like any other uneven landscape.


     But sometimes, as in Guernsey, NE, they are much more obvious.


     You also look for landmarks that were noted time and again by the pioneers, such as Independence Rock in Wyoming. It got its name from the pioneers who needed to get this far by Independence Day in order to assure that they could make it over the California or Oregon mountains before the snows fell.


     Below is a closeup of the rock, which many emigrants climbed to view the landscape and sometimes carve their initials. Actually, visitors are still allowed to climb up the rock today. We thought about making the ascent, but decided at our age that discretion was the better part of valor.


     Not too long after Independence Rock comes South Pass, the long shallow rise over the Continental Divide, at 7550 feet above sea level. Here is the view from South Pass, looking east from where the emigrants came.

 
     Here is the view going west, where they were going.


     And here is the view to the north -- the Wind River peaks that the pioneers were avoiding.


     After traveling down the west side of the Divide, and turning south, we came to Fort Bridger, named after Jim Bridger, a fur trapper who opened a trading post here in 1843. The Fort Bridger State Historic Site has built a replica of his post, which was later, in 1858, turned into a military fort.


     Below is a replica of his store. It served the emigrants who, Bridger said, "In coming out were generally well supplied with money but by the time they get here are in need of all kinds of supplies, horses provisions, smithwork, etc." After the emigrants left Fort Bridger they all split up -- the Mormons heading south to Salt Lake, the miners southwest to California, the farmers northwest to Oregon.


     Meanwhile, we're still picturing those wagon ruts, carved into the stone so many years ago.


   

15 comments:

christina neumann said...

It is so amazing what they endured to come west. We just camped at Donner St Park which is only an hour from us. But that's where the Donner party got stuck and many perished that very difficult winter. But when you drive thru the Sierras especially Emigrant Gap and other very difficult passes it is with wonder how they got across in wagon trains.
I'm enjoying following your journey

DJan said...

Nice description of the travelers' of yesteryear. And I'm glad you are sharing it all with me. :-)

Olga Hebert said...

This is a trip my late husband would have really appreciated. We did travel through some of those western mountains and I can hardly imagine the stern stuff it must have taken to explore that area in pioneer days.

Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com said...

Hi Tom! Nice photos and a great way to see the country without putting on the miles. Thanks for the trail. ~Kathy

Joe said...

We followed a portion of the trail from one of the starting points at Ft Leavenworth, KS. A deep cut in the bank of the Missouri River that was made by wagon wheels is still visible. A marker stands next to the cut that says the Oregon Trail began there in 1840 Love the pictures.

Janis said...

It is hard to imagine what the first explorers went through as they bravely traveled west. Nowadays, we complain if we have to search for food or fuel a few miles from where we would like it to be.

Juhli said...

Thanks for sharing your trip. It really makes this part of history more tangible. Did you have ancestors who made the trip? Mine didn't but they did head down the Cumberland road from the NE to the Carolinas. Less arduous I suspect but still hard.

gigi-hawaii said...

Nice trip through history.

Diane Dahli said...

I am struck by those vistas that seem impossibly wide and far. Imagine pausing to look at these views, and then pushing on, no matter how fearful or exhausted you were! My own ancestors did this, heading west on the prairies of Saskatchewan, Alberta, Canada, always rushing to beat the dreaded winter. I have nothing but tremendous admiration for all pioneers!

Tom Sightings said...

My ancestors? Nope. My mother's family came from Ireland circa 1850 and lived in NY and NJ. My father's parents came from Eastern Europe in the 1890s and lived in NY and CT. I'm interested in the Civil War, too, and had no ancestors involved in that either. Go figure.

Snowbrush said...

Tom, beautiful photos and interesting text, Tom.

Just so you'll know, when you comment on my blog, I NEARLY always respond, and I DO always respond when you ask questions. Because I never hear back from you, I just wanted to be sure you knew.

Unless it looks a lot worse in person than in the photo, I think I would have scrambled up Independence Rock, bad knee and all, and I KNOW Peggy would.

Rebecca Olkowski said...

I love all the history you can find on the trail. I wouldn't have thought to look for wagon ruts. That's very cool.

Barbara said...

Wonderful. Thanks for the pictures and the explanations. I really wish I could do something this exciting. It really does thrill me to hear about their travels.

Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond said...

Great photos Tom and I can't imagine the hardship the early settlers and explorers faced.

Barbara Radisavljevic said...

When we followed the trail by car through Nebraska and Wyoming, my favorite place was South Pass City -- even though the businesses were closed by the time we reached it. It was still light enough to walk around and enjoy the complete peace and quiet of nature. We were the only people there at the time and walked one of the nature trails. This was back in 1989, so I'm not sure how much has changed since then.