Mileposts Along the Oregon Trail

Compiled by Prof. Jim Tompkins

Disclaimer:  Prof. Jim Tompkins has compiled the following information for classes he has taught.  He has kindly contributed them for general use.  This information has been gathered from a variety of sources and, while it is free to use, copyright infringements may make it unsuitable for commercial purposes.


Oregon Trail - from Independence or St Joseph

Mile 194 Fremont Springs

1842 - 2nd Lt John C. Fremont of the Corps of Topographical Engineers and his guide Kit Carson engraved a rock here with their names. Other trail related inscriptions crowd out their names.

James Monroe Fulkerson, May 13, 1847 - "Buffalo sign today the first we have seen one large dead one being by the road side.. met 2 Delaware Indians ... first and only Indians since we left Wolf River 20 miles from the states."


Mile 200 Little Blue River

James W. Evans, 1850 - "[Found here] a company that got into a fight among themselves ... burnt fragments of wagons, stoves, axes, etc., with a great quantity of harness cut to pieces; and with a quantity of torn shirts, coats, hats ... all besmeared by blood."

Richard Burton, 1860 - "The Little Blue ran hard by ... fringed with emerald green oak groves, cottonwood, and long-leaved willows; its waters supply catfish, suckers, and a soft-shelled turtle, but the fish are full of bones, and taste, as might be imagined, much like mud."


Mormon Trail - from Kanesville or Omaha

Mile 142 Omaha

Charles Oliver, 1864 - "We stopped at Omaha several days for outfitting and the gathering of more emigrants as the Sioux Indians were on the warpath that summer and it was not safe for a few people to venture alone on the trip. Many emigrants arrived daily and when we were ready to start there were more than 100 wagons in our train and twice that many men, all armed, mostly with single shot, muzzle loading rifles. Some, however, had Henry rifles and Colt revolvers."


Miles 150-320 North Side Road

Enoch W. Conyers, May 24, 1852 - "We camped on the banks of the River Platte. Beautiful place for camping, but the Pawnee Indians are plenty and the Italian Gypsy cannot beat them in begging. We are expecting a scrap with this tribe within the next few days. They tell us we cannot pass through their country without giving them one steer out of every team, and this is impossible. Therefore, guess we will have to fight. Music, singing and merrymaking can be heard in all directions. At one camp they are

dancing after the inspired strains of the violin. At the adjoining camp they are holding a religious meeting and still another many families are seated around a large campfire ... for a special evening chat. Everybody seemingly happy. No fear of being attacked by Indians in such a crowd as this."

Ezra Meeker, 1852 - "Of the fortitude of the women one cannot say too much. Embarrassed at the start by the follies of fashion, they soon rose to the occasion and cast false modesty aside. Long dresses were quickly discarded and the bloomer donned. ...what a picture.... Elderly matrons dressed almost like little girls.... The younger women were rather shy in accepting the inevitable but finally fell into the procession, and we soon had a community of women wearing bloomers. Some of them went barefoot, partly from choice and in some cases from necessity. The same could be said of the men, as shoe leather began to grind out from the sand and dry heat. Of all the fantastic costumes, it is safe to say the like was never seen before. The scene beggars description. Patches became visible upon the clothing of preachers as well as laymen; the situation brooked no respect of persons. The grandmother�s cap was soon displaced by a handkerchief or perhaps a bit of cloth. Grandfather's high crowned hat disappeared as if by magic. Hatless and bootless men became a common sight. Bonnetless women were to be seen on all sides.  They wore what they had left or could get, without question as to the fitness of things. Rich dresses were worn by some ladies because they had no others; the gentlemen drew upon their wardrobes until scarcely a fine unsoiled suit was left."


Great Platte River Road - Oregon Trail south of Platte, Mormon Trail north

Mile 319.4 Fort Kearny

Henry Garrison, June 6, 1846 - "We got to the Platt River about the 6th of June, we struck the River about ten miles below the Paunee Indians Village. When we arrived at the village the Indians showed an inclination to prevent us from passing through their country, but by giving them a beef we were allowed to pass on, but before we got through with them, we learned that all they needed was a chance to steal. I was driving the oxen hitched to our big waggon as we called, there was five yoke of oxen hitched to the waggon, I ... was wearing a cap, and [an] Indian boy as naked as he was born, walked past me and taking my cap off of my head, and placed it on his own started to walk off with it, I let him get to the length of my ox whip, I then turned it's attention to him, the seccond time I hit he the threw the cap down and scampered off, each time the whipcracker reached his buttock, it split the hide, it was amusing to see him jump."

Lewis Bissell Dougherty, 1849 - �

Dr. Israel Lord, 1849 - "At the fort, as it is misnamed (for there is neither wall nor picket, nor fortification of any kind).... The place is built of turf with two or three exceptions. It was commenced last fall, and the buildings look well considering the material. ... One frame building is now nearly complete, and a great number more will be erected this season.  Every year the Pawnee Indians would pass the Fort on their way to buffaloes for their summer hunt. There were so many that a whole day would pass and still they would be tramping to camp.... They had many contrivances to move their belongings. Travi [travois] was most generally used."

Dr. Charles E. Boyle, May 14, 1849 - "CAMP NO. 17 ... Today at an early hour we got in motion and after about three hours travel we arrived at Fort Childs now called Ft. Kearney. The fort consists of several adobe built and covered houses which are warm but dirty. Two or three families live here, and the usual number of followers of troops consists of two companies of dragoons. We here learned that the Cheyennes we had met were but part of a war party consisting of about 1100 men who were out on an expedition into the Pawnee country. That the day we saw them they had taken several scalps and one prisoner, a Pawnee boy about 12 years old who was released by the troops of the fort with but little difficulty. I saw the little fellow at the fort with the interpreter attached to the station. He said that when the family was attacked they sent him to hide and that after a time the Cheyennes found him and took him out of his hiding place. He saw they had four scalps which he supposed to be those of his father, mother, brother and sister. They then tied him upon a horse and carried him past the fort. Upon learning this, Capt. Walker took one company of the dragoons and pursued them. When he overtook them he demanded the boy, but they at first refused to give him up. There upon he ordered his men to ride in among them and cut the boy lose and to cut down any of the Indians who resisted. Their respect for the Long Knives was so great they offered no resistance. I became acquainted with a Negro interpreter, who was born in St. Louis but had been raised among the Indians. He spoke English, French and several other Indian languages, and had been in Paris. He told me that he received a pension from the government for the share he had in perpetrating an Indian treaty and was also appointed interpreter at a salary of $300 per year. After this who dares say that Republicans are ungrateful! From this man I learned a great many curious things about the trading customs and superstitions of the Indians."

Abigail Jane Scott, May 29, 1852 - "Came ... to Fort Kearney; We here halted awhile to write letters, look at curiosities, &c. The fort is a rather shabby looking concern but contains two very good looking dwelling houses which to us who had been traveling for three weeks without seeing a house or any thing like civilization presented an appearance of a very pleasing nature."

Agnes Stewart, May 31-June 6, 1853 - "May 31. Passing Fort Kearney. There has passed here 13,000 people, 3,000 wagons, and about 90,000 head of stock. [The soldiers kept a record.] ... The next day Thursday. Saw three men chasing two wolves from a grave. June 6 ... Where we stopped at noon there was a grave dug up by the wolves, and we saw a rib in the place, so Lizzie and I carried stones and filled the hole again."


Mile 328 Platte River Crossing (Ft. Kearny Crossing)

Abigail Jane Scott, May 29-30, 1852 - "After leaving the fort we traveled about 8 miles, up the Platte with the expectation of going on upwards of one hundred miles before finding a place to ford it; We however seen teams crossing at this place and therefore came to the determination to cross here too, as the health, as well as facilites for wood and grass is much better on the North than South side; We are camped on the banks of the river to night, without ordinary fuel but we find

plenty of buffalo chips; May 30th Sab day: Intended to have lain by to-day but after taking all matters into consideration, we concluded that it was best to cross the river this morning; We found the crossing more tedious than difficult..."

Harriet Scott, May 30, 1852 - "The Platte river, swift and swollen, didn't seem to have any banks. We had heard of the danger of quicksands. My father had, with the help of his drivers, raised the beds of his wagons, so as not to dip water ... When everything was in readiness all of us were tucked inside of the wagons. My father put me, last of all, inside the back end of the last wagon, told me to keep still and not be afraid. The loud voices of the drivers as they yelled and whipped up the oxen, the jogging of the wagons through the surging waters and over the quicksands, the memory is with me yet. When they got over the river, all were accounted for, but they couldn't find me. Finally I was pulled out from under the bows, nearly smothered. There were nine of us children, ranging from four years to my eldest sister about 19."

William and Lavina McCormick, 1859 - They finally arrived at Fort Carney, which was on the Platte River. It was necessary to ford the river at this place, and it was a hazardous undertaking as the river was one mile in width at the ford, and the bottom of it was composed almost entirely of quicksand. It took all of one day and a part of another to take the entire train across the river. When a team started across they were not allowed to stop an instant for fear that both team and wagon would be drawn down into the treacherous quicksand. When night fell all of the people were across with the exception of Aunt Betty Roten and several of the men. She was very badly frightened and was sure she would be captured by the Indians before the morning came. The last thing Lavina saw, as she started across, was the tear stained face of Aunt Betty as she watched the wagon disappearing in the dusk of the approaching night.  When morning came the remaining wagons and the rest of the party joined those who had crossed the evening before and the weary march began again.


Miles 330-400 Platte River (Coast of Nebraska)

Emigrants reached, but did not cross the Platte River, anywhere from 20 miles below Grand Island to about its head, a distance of 32 miles, depending upon where they crossed the last divide. This river was unlike any they had seen before. It was at spots very wide or very narrow, very shallow or very deep. It had stagnant pools, mudflats, and quicksand bars. It was subject to much ridicule: `too thick to drink and too thin to plow,' `a mile wide and a foot deep,' or `The river that flowed upside down.'  "Camped on the bank (if it has a bank) of the famed Platte River."

John Ball, 1832 - "The warm water of the Platte caused diarrhoea. Dr. Jacob Wyeth, the captain�s brother, was quite ill. But for the quidance of captain Sublette we must have perished for the want of subsistence in this desert of the Missouri."

William Marshall Anderson, May 17, 1834 - "3 O'clock, P.M. this day, I saw one of the greatest lies in the world, if a lie can be seen, the Platte. The name is not a lie, for the outward seeming is always in French, Indian, or English, platte, Nebraska, flat.... the infernal liar is hardly able to float a canoe. This fussy, foaming, seething thing is like some big bragging men I have seen, all blubber and belly ... made to mislead a small party of reds, who dropped down upon us, out of the clouds. Like ghosts from the grave, they came unheard, uninvited and undesired."

Brevet-Capt. John C. Fremont, June 28, 1842 - "Crossing on the way several Pawnee roads to the Arkansas, we reached ... what is called the coast of the Nebraska, or Platte river. This had seemed in the distance a range of high and broken hills; but in the nearer approach were found to be elevations of forty to sixty feet, into which the wind had worked the sand. ... We had a specimen of the false alarms to which all parties in these wild regions are subject. A man who was a short distance in the rear, came spurring up in great haste, shouting Indians! Indians! Kit Carson, springing upon one of the hunting horses ... galloped off. Mounted on a fine horse, without saddle, and scouring bareheaded over the prairies, Kit was one of the finest pictures of a horseman I have ever seen. A short time enabled him to discover that the Indian war party of twenty-seven consisted of six elk, who had been gazing curiously at our caravan as it passed by, and were now scampering off at full speed."

Charles Pruess, June 28, 1842 - "Low, wet prairie. Legions of mosquitos. ... Just as we had made a halt and sat down for our lunch, the cry `Indians!, Indians!' was heard. Everybody jumped up and at the horizon there were actually a dozen figures to be seen. Our two hunters rode toward the figures and returned soon with the intelligence that they were whites on their return trip to Missouri. Soon they arrived, twelve or thirteen, all on foot and rather ragged. Our party treated them, gave them tobacco, and after about an hour we marched on toward the west, and they toward the east."

James Clyman, June 11, 1844 - "no wood but a few dry willows and Quite small no timber except a few cotton wood Trees & them all confined to the Islands in the river which are numerous but generally small the Prairie ponds are well stored with wild ducks with a few antelope constitute all the game yet seen."

Joel Palmer, June 7, 1845 - "... the grass is very poor in the Platte bottoms, having been devoured by the buffalo herds. We formed our encampment on the bank of the river, with three emigrating companies within as many miles of us; two above and one below; one of fifty-two wagons, one of thirteen, and one of forty-three - ours having thirty-seven ... We find our cattle growing lame, and most are occupied in attempting to remedy the lameness. The prairie having been burntdry, sharp stubs of grass remain, which are very hard, and wear and irritate the feet of the cattle. The foot becomes dry and feverish, and cracks in the opening of the hoof. In this opening the rough blades of grass and dirt collect, and the foot generally festers, and swells much. Our mode of treating it was, to wash the foot with strong soap suds, scrape or cut away all the diseased flesh, and then pour boiling pitch or tar upon the sore. If applied early this remedy will cure. Shouldthe heel become become worn out, apply tar or pitch, and singe with a hot iron."

Henry Garrison, June 9-15, 1846 - "Several days before getting to the Platt River, Father was taken to the waggon with Inflamatory Rheumatism, and before this had become entirely helpless, and as I was the oldest of the family, I had evrything to look after.... I soon found I had a terrible burden to bear for a boy of only [fourteen] years old ... we camped on the Platt near an Island, my brother David took a yoke of oxen and went across to the Island for wood, he left a chain on the Island which was not missed until we went to hitch up the teams the next morning, after the waggons left camp, I rode the horse over to the Island to look after the chain, after looking for a half hour or more I found the chain, I wound it around the horses neck and started on after the train, soon after getting into the Road, I saw a man coming towards me. I became alarmed, for he was riding verry very fast, when he met me, he told me that my brother Enoch had his leg broken. The train had stopped less than a mile ahead, I got there as quick as the horse carry me. He was a very promising boy, he was only seven years old and was a natural poet. The first words Father said when I came up, was, Oh Henry, what shall we, do, I told him that we would do the very best we could. At that time Father was not able to moove a joint about him from his neck down, he was propped up in the wagon so he could see what was being done....the wggon wheel [had] dropped into a rut and threw the boy from the waggon tongue and both wheels passed over his leg between the ancle and knee, mashing down into a rut eight inches deep, mashing them into small pieces. The Doctor was at work fixing the splint and banages to set the leg. I will say here, that this was the Doctor Wood that started with us from home, and what he knew about medicine he had just picked it up, and if there had not been a man along who had [worked] in [the] Govermental Hospital as steward it would have been a poor job. After seeing the condition of the leg, I wanted the Doctor to amputate it at the time, I told him that considering its mashed condition, and the fact that he would have to be hauled in the waggon, and the weather being so warm, that mortification would be shure to set in. He scolded me, said I was nothing but a boy, I went to Father, he said he guess the Doctor knew best. We carried him for five day, Father and him laying side by side in the same waggon. The morning if the 15th the Doctor said his leg would have to be amputated, we had taken him into the tent the night before, after he was moved to the tent, he told me he wanted someone to sing and pray, I spoke to Mr J D Wood, knowing he was a good singer, and had often heard him pray in Missouri about it, he called the attention of quite a number of religious people to our tent and sang quite a number of songs were sung and prays were offered up for both Father [and] son, Mrs Lancefield I think offered up the best prays I ever heard.  By sunrise the next morning all preparations were made to take the limb off. Enoch poor boy had not slept for the last thirty hours. The old Hospital Steward had to do the work as [Dr Wood] knew nothing about Surjury, the first attempt was made just below the knee, but when the knife was inserted it was fount that mortification had set in, the limb was then taken off above the knee, when the saw was applied to the bone, it was found out that the thigh bone was brokenjust below the hip joint. When the operation was over, he wanted to see his leg, the Doctor told to wait just a few minutes and he should see it, he saw his Mother standing by his side, he he gave her his hand and said, Good by Mother I am going to Heaven, she said not yet, he said yes, then he gave me his hand [and] could just articulate good by, tell Pa and rest [good by] and his [soul] winged its way to where there is no more broken limbs, neither is there any more suffering. Yes he was at peace. It was reported that the Indians was in the habit of opening graves for the purpose of getting shrouding, to prevent this, the grave was dug in such a place that the wagons when leaving camp might pass over it. In digging the grave, those who have it in charge was careful to cut and lift the sod in squares so they could be replaced when the [grave] was filled, before commencing the grave, bed-quilts were spread on the ground to receive the dirt as it was thrown from the grave. Of course he was buried the evening of his death, as the train had [to] moove on the next morning, after the grave was filled up, the sods were carefully replaced, the remaining dirt was carried and thrown in the River. Rev Mr Cornwall conducted the funeral services. When we broke camp next morning, the wagons 74 in number passed over the grave. Fathers wagons was driven to one side and did not pass over the grave."

Francis Parkman, June 15, 1846 - "The boats, eleven in number, deep-laden with the skins, hugged close to the shore.... Papin sat in the middle of one of the boats, upon the canvas that protected the cargo. He was a stout, robust fellow, with a little gray eye, that had a peciliarly sly twinkle.... I shook hands with the bourgeois ... then the boats swung around into the stream and floated away."  [Pierre Didier Papin, an American Fur Company employee was delivering furs from Fort John [Laramie] to the company in St. Louis.]

James Madison Coons, June 7, 1847 - "Passed three companies in the evening on a small ravine running into the Platt, it being too full to camp we had the good luck to pass One company of forty three wagons scattered for half a mile on each side of the road, one half of them were fast in the mud. The poor oxen had to pay the bill or bear the blame. They had two Roman Catholics in their company. They were stalking around among the men with their long robes on and their bibles under their arms praying to God to help them out. He didn't."

Lester Hulin, June 13-19, 1847 - "Sunday 13th. Today we had to make a long drive, 23 or 25 miles. Good grass but no wood. Here it might be well to mention that there is no wood along Platt except on the islands. M. 14th. To day we passed the grave of J.H. Fisher who died June 6th, 1847. The miserable Paunees had dug him up or rather dug down to him. We covered him again and some mourned with his bereaved wife and children. T. 15th. Continued coasting along up Platt. W. 16th. ...we met McKee's Co. They had been visited by Pawnees and seemed much scared. 17th. To day we are obliged to lie by to attend to the case of a Mrs. Balch who upon this day gave birth to an infant son. So our company has not only increased one by birth but has also increased 7 wagons and about 10 men who being dissatisfied with McKees Co. joined ours. S. 19th. Last night a child of Mr. Kimballs met the king of terror and we had to ... bury her."

Elizabeth Dixon Smith, June 21-25, 1847 - "...our road a long the Platt is beautiful & level the river is wide a mile or more and very rily & shallow. ...saw hundreds of prairie dogs barking a bout they are as large as a grey gofer - saw another grave. ...our road is like a floor for miles and miles to gether we found the sensetive plant growing here."

William Porter, May 22-29, 1848 - "22nd. Traveled 22 miles five of which was up the Platte bottom, had to cross the river for wood and got poor wood then. Wood on this side where we first struck the river. Rained all night with very heavy wind. Wagon covers leaked middling badly. 23rd. Traveled seven miles and camped at eleven o'clock to dry clothes and sun our floor.Some of the corn meal injured. 25th. ...camped in a place where Mr. Watt's company had buried a child the day before. 29th. ... We passed through a large dog town and saw forty or fifty buffalo. We were obliged to use buffalo chips for fuel."

Lewis Bissell Dougherty, 1848 - "I am reminded of the many ways travelers can put the buffalo hide to useful purposes. Sometimes a spoke is broken out of a wheel which may let the wheel down. We find and fit a piece of timber next to the broken spoke and wrap it with fresh hide, the hairs in, and take a hot iron and dry the hide around the stick. When perfectly dry the hide holds tight and is nearly as strong as hoop iron. We treat a broken tongue, sometimes replace a broken link of chain with hide. Horses become sorefooted until blood appears. We shoe them with buffalo hide. We ... put the horse�s foot in the hide, draw up the outer edge around the hoof with the lace which holds, as the hoof is smaller at top than bottom. This sort of horse shoe will last four or five days depending on the gravel on the road and the amount of travel. Oxen shod with dry hide cut to fit the claw and put on with tacks. This is to be done often as most oxen have a twist to their hoofs in walking and the hide wears rapidly."

Dr. Charles E. Boyle, May 19, 1849 - "Camp No. 22 ... This morning I got up at 2 a.m. to stand guard until 4. The night was very dark and rain fell in considerable quantity but everything remained quiet until we were relieved, when I proceeded to cook breakfast, which was made up of buffalo steak, batter cakes, ham, coffee and sea bread. Just as breakfast was ready the rain came down in torrents, when an interesting scene might have been witnesses. We were all dressed in oilcloth suits which, thanks to Mr. Gaver of Columbus, were not made of waterproof stuff, and the blacking from the coats covered our hands and faces with an unsightly appearance of black streaks of dirt."

Reuben Cole Shaw, June 25, 1849 - "...posted on a large tree was found the following: NOTICE - We camped here on the 10th day of May. Jim Lider went up the creek to hunt deer and never came back. We found his dead body two miles up the creek after two days hunt, his scalp, clothes and gun all gone. The Pawnees did it. Look out for the red devils. - John Slade, Captain,"

Otter Creek Co.�

Reuben Cole Shaw, June 28, 1849 - "I will briefly explain ... using buffalo chips as fuel along the Platte. Selecting a spot a short distance from the steep river bank, a hole about six inches in diameter and eight to twelve inches deep was excavated. An air tunnel was then formed by forcing a ram rod horizontally from the river bank to the bottom of the cavity, giving the oven the required draught. In making a fire ... a wisp of dry grass was lighted and placed at the bottom of the oven, opposite the air tunnel, feeding the flame with finely pulverized dry chips, which readily ignited ... after filling the fireplace with broken chips and placing around the oven two or three small rocks on which to rest the cooking utensils, we had a combiantion which at first gave us a grand surprise, as but a little smoke and only slight odor emitted from the fire, and we found, ... after having eaten our first meal cooked in this manner, that the prejudice previously entertained against buffalo chips as a fuel had vanished into thin air."

John J. Audubon, 1849 - "The roads that are made by these animals [buffalo] so much resemble the tracks left by a large wagon-train, that the inexperienced traveller may occasionally imagine himself following the course of an ordinary wagon road. These tracks run for hundreds of miles across the prairies and all usually found to lead to some salt-spring, or some river or creek where the animals can allay their thirst."

James W. Evans, 1850 - "Judge my surprise when I learned that [the Platte] was only three or four feet deep.... The water is exceedingly muddy, or should I say sandy; and what adds greatly to the singular appearance of this river, the water is so completely filled with glittering particles of micah or isinglass that its shining waves look to be rich with floating gold ... the plains are so low and level that if Platte River could rise five feet it would cover a country at least ten miles wide!"

Bryan Dennis, 1850 - "The Linn Ct. Co. camped close by. They gave us a splendid serenade.... Afer the singing the men felt like walking twenty miles and concluded to have a French Four with Cotillion, formed a ring and chose their partners ... the way the prairie grass suffered was a sight."

Fr. Pierre-Jean DeSmet, S.J., Sept 2, 1851 - "...we found ourselves on the Great Route to Oregon, over which, like successive ocean surges, the caravans, composed of thousands of emigrants from every country and clime, have passed during these latter years to reach the rich gold mines of California, or to take possession of the new lands in the fertile plains and valleys of Utah and Oregon. These intrepid pioneers of civilization have formed the broadest, longest and most beautiful road in the whole world - from the United States to the Pacific ocean.... Our Indian companions, who had never seen but the narrow hunting paths by which they transport themselves and their lodges, were filled with admiration on seeing this noble highway, which is as smooth as a barn floor swept by the winds, and not a blade of grass can shoot on it on account of the continual passing.... They styled the route the Great Medicine Road of the Whites.... How wonderful will be the accounts given of the Great Medicine Road by our unsophisticated Indians when they go back to their villages, and sit in the midst of an admiring circle of of relatives!"

Sarah Bird Sprenger, 1852 - "One night, my oldest sister and I were going from one wagon to another one and a big wolf came up. We didn't stay to see what he wanted!"

Rebecca Ketcham, 1853 - "I am very surprised to find such a well-beaten road ... as broad as 8 or 10 common roads in the States, and with a very little work could be made one of the most beautiful roads in the world.... Where the prairie is rolling the pitches are very steep in some places, and often there are mud holes at the bottom. Over the level prairie the road is not as smooth. The water does not run off so soon after rain, and it is very much cut up by cattle going over it."

Amelia Stewart Knight, May 17, 1853 - "May 17 we have a dreadful storm of rain and hail last night and very sharp lightning. It killed two oxen.... The wind was so high I thought it would tear the wagons to pieces. Nothing but the stoutest covers could stand it. The rain beat into the wagons so that everything was wet, in less than 2 hours the water was a foot deep all over our camp grounds. As we could have no tents pitched, all had to crowd into the wagons and sleep in wet beds, with their wet clothes on, without supper."

Agnes Stewart, May 30, 1853 - "Helen found a pocket book. Some one will wish they had not lost it. It contained some friendship lines, some lines of poetry, a lock of hair, but lost to him now. Camping on the vast prairie and in sight of the Platte River."

Hans P.E. Hoth, 1854 - "...wife's old love affair with ... the tailor seems to have started all over again."

Charles Oliver, 1864 - "We had several wind storms and terrific thunder storms along the Platte River, mostly at night. Tents blew down, wagon covers were blown to ribbons, rain fell in torrents, and everything was soaked. Then we would have to lay over for a day to dry out."


Mile 413.0 Forks of the Platte River

Fr. Pierre-Jean DeSmet, 1842 - "Graves abound in these regions. and the mortal remains of a vast number of emigrants have also sunk beneath the valley of the Platte that ardent thirst for gold, those desires and ambitions, projects for wealth, greatness and pleasure ... they are buried in these desert strands."

John C. Fremont, July 2, 1842 - "The morning was cool and smoky.... We passed near an encampment of the Oregon emigrants.... A variety of household articles were scattered about."

Charles Pruess, July 2, 1843 - �(Saturday) - continued to move along the Platte. ...Camped among millions of mosquitos.�

Peter H. Burnett, 1843 - "In making our monotonous journey up the smooth valley of the Platte, through the warm, genial sunshine of summer, the feeling of drowsiness was so great that it was extremely difficult to keep awake during the day. ...drivers went to sleep on the road, sitting in the front of their wagons; and the oxen, being about as sleepy, would stop until the drivers were aroused from their slumbers. My wagon was used only for the family to ride in; and Mrs. Burnett and myself drove and slept alternately during the day."

Benjamin Franklin Bonney, 1845 - "[A] severe thunder storm ... took place in the middle of the night. The thunder seemed almost incessant, and the lightning was so brilliant you could read by its flashes. The men chained the oxen so they would not stampede, though they were very restive. Our tents were blown down as were the covers off our prairie schooners and in less

than five minutes we were wet as drowned rats.... You have no idea of the confusion resulting ... with the oxen bellowing, the children crying and the men shouting, the thunder rolling like a constant salvo of artillery; with everything as light as day from the lightning flashes and the next second as black as depth of the pit."

Samuel Hancock, 1845 - "...that morning discovered several of our horses missing ... myself with nine others of the party ... started in pursuit.... We traveled that day perhaps fifty miles, and at last ... we espied our horses standing in close proximity to some Indians.... We commenced a charge ... when they sprang for the horses ... we commenced a tremendous yelling, and urging our horses forward, succeeded in preventing the Indians reaching them. In this charge we not only recovered our own horses but captured seven additional ones from the retreating Indians...."


Mile 418.0 Fremont's Ford of the South Platte River

An early crossing of the South Platte River, about five miles above its confluence with the North Platte, to get to the flat tongue of land between the North and South Platte Rivers. Other crossings were about 5, 15 and 25 miles further upstream. They were all replaced in 1849 by the California Crossing some 65 miles further up the South Platte.

Dr. Frederick A. Wislizenus, 1839 - "The bluffs, like the wings of a stage, on either side, had now become more interesting. I climbed one of the highest points to enjoy the view.... Arriving at the top I found considerable strong �Medicine.� Thirty buffalo skulls, adorned with all kinds of geegaws, lay before me in a magic circle...."

John C. Fr�mont, July 2, 1842 - "...exception of a few dry bars, the bed of the river is generally quicksands, in which the carts begin to sink rapidly as soon as the mules halted."


Overton Johnson and W.H. Winter, July 2-4, 1843 - "We made several attempts to cross the South Branch, but always found the water too deep, and continued to travel up the South side ... eighty five miles above the Forks, having determined to construct boats. For this purpose we procured in the first place, a sufficient number of green Buffalo hides, and having sewed two of them together for each boat, we stretched them over the wagon beds as tight as we could, with the flesh side out, and then turned them up in the sun to dry.... The crossing was effected in six days, and without any serious accident. We passed here the fourth of July."

Edward Lenox, 1843 - "Mataney [Henry Matheny] was about six and a half feet tall, and when he was on his donkey, his feet nearly touched the ground. To him the boys would say, �Get off that rabbit and carry him!� Presently, J.WNesmith bought the jack for five hundred dollars, mounted him, and rode off without paying for him, so Mataney sued Nesmith. The company appointed Burnett as Judge. A trial was held at night. Nesmith pleaded non-jurisdiction, and won the case. The next day Nesmith rode the jack, and Mataney walked and knew not what to do, but along toward night, Nesmith having had his fill of the fun, got off, saying, `Here Mataney take this rabbit, I would�nt have such a thing.' Mataney mounted the little creature, and was happy once more."

James Nesmith, July 4, 1843 - Tuesday, July 4 - "The glorious Fourth has once more rolled around. Myself, with most of our company, celebrated it by swimming and fording the South Fork of the Big Platte, with cattle, wagons, baggage.... However, there seems to be some of our company reminating upon the luxuries destroyed in different parts of the great Republic on this day. Occasionally you hear something said about mint juleps, soda, ice cream, cognac, porter, ale and sherry wine, but the Oregon emigrant must forget these luxuries.� Joel Palmer�s 1845 party crossed about five or six miles above the forks."

James Field, June 8, 1845 - "Had a pretty hard pull up the bluff and then found a gently rolling prairie."


Mile 443.7 Lower Ford (South Platte River Ford No. 1)

Henry Garrison, June 1846 - "When we got to he South fork of the Platt, we found that it would be deep fording, we had to put blocks between the wagon box and the bolster so as to raise the box above the water. The boxes being raised so high, we had to tie the wagon boxes down to the coupling pole to keep the water from floating them off. All got over in safety, but it was a risky."


J.M. Harrison, 1846 - "Traveled up South fork of Platte, 20 miles then crossed it, deep fording, raised wagon beds, bottom quicksand, all got over safely."


James Madison Coons, June 12-14, 1847 - "Sat Jun 12th Crossed Platte 25 miles from the mouth. Passed Captain Findley's company. Sun Jun 13th Camped on a branch of the Platte branch. Mon Jun 14th Buried Turner's son, three years old. Left south fork of the Platt at 12 o'clock. Camped on the prairie eight miles from the river. Here we used buffalo chips for fire for the first time."


Mile 463.4 New Ford (South Platte River Ford No. 3)

Virgil Pringle, June 11-12, 1846 - "Went on to the ford and found ourselves too late to cross.... [June 12] Crossed the river in the morning. Found the water in no place over our forward axle, seldom that deep; the pulling hard through the sand; put double teams to our wagons; the difficulty nothing compared to the appearance."

George McKinstry, June 17, 1846 - "...travelled 17 miles [from the forks] crossed the Platte ... river about 3/4 mile wide 21/2 feet deep distance by way of the crossing one mile the bottom is coarse sand and gravel all the wagons crossed safe, the river was riseing some 6 or 8 inches pr day would not been able to cross next morning. Travelled up the south fork ... to the upper crosing and camped."


Mile 485 California Crossing

Reuben Cole Shaw, 1849 - "We crossed the south fork of the Platte by fording. The treacherous quicksand kept the mules in constant motion."


Maj. Osborne Cross, 1849 - "The Banks of the South Platte seemed to be lined with large trains ... they could be seen as far as the eye extended.... I had a good opportunity of ascertaining the number of persons with each wagon and it was a small average to estimate four to each one; which make nearly 20,000 persons ahead of us. The number of oxen were very seldom less than ten to each wagon."

Charles Gould, 1849 - "Young shot Scott dead. The company had a trial and found him quilty. They gave him a choice to be hung or shot. He preferred being shot, and was forthwith."

Agnes Stewart, June 7, 1853 - "Tuesday, June 7. What a beautiful morning. The sun shines bright, but not too hot. The birds sing and the flowers bloom just the way they did at home. ... Today I am 21 years of age.... No one congratulates me or anything, and I am glad of it. It is evening, and no one knows how strange one feels out here on a birthday.... I am seated on a hill above the camp and the South Fork of the Platte River runs before me. It is a muddy stream.... The hills and valley are covered with flowers, blue, yellow and white and lilac. Everything looks beautiful...."

Frederick & Dora Keil, 1855 - "The journey was fairly uneventful save for a brief fright when Frederick and Dora realzed that their only child, born just the previous year, had fallen out of the wagon at some point. Fearing the worst, Frederick retraced their path and found the baby, happily unharmed by the experience, alongside the road several miles behind the wagon train."


Mile 504.5 Ash Hollow

Rufus Sage, Fall 1841 - "The stream at this place is a broad bed of sand, entirely dry, except at the spring mouths. Higher up, however, it supplies a generous supply of pure running water, sustained by the numerous feeders that force their way into it, from the high grounds dividing the two rivers."

Matthew Field, 1843 - "No draught of ruby nectar, quaffed in the height of bacchanalian festivity, ever communicated one half the exhileration of mind and soul that we obtained that evening."


Virgil Pringle, June 13, 1846 - "The road down Ash Creek bad for three or four miles ... a fine spring ... and a cabin called Ash grove Hotel...."


John Bidwell, June 13, 1841 - "A mournful accident ... a young man by the name of [James] Shotwell while in the act of taking a gun out of the wagon, drew it with the muzzle towards him in such a manner that it went off and shot him near the heart - he lived about an hour and died in full possession of his senses."

George McKinstry, June 19, 1846 - "...the hills verry steep at the mouth of the hollow next the river we found a small log building put up by some Mackinaw boat men last winter as they were caught by the ice it is called �ash hollow Hotel"

Lester Hulin, June 28, 1847 - "Sun arose pleasant. We passed on and soon came to the bluffs. They are high and ragged. Descended into the sandy bed of Ash Creek. About 1/2 mile brought us to the river. Timber pleanty, ash and cedar. Here we camped for the day."

Elizabeth Dixon Smith, July 4, 1847 - "last night had some rain which is very uncommon in this region we forded the platt yesterday today passed over from south to north branch of the Platt it is the ruffest country here that the mind can conceive of indicative I think of shapes of the earth no level land all ridges mounds and deep hollows covered with no herbage whatever but you will see now and then in some deep hollow a scruby ceder growing ... encamped on north Platt bottom...."

William Porter, June 4, 1848 - "4th. Oxen ran off ... and nineteen teams ran away with their wagons - broke Mr. Ball's leg and crippled a number of oxen. Frightful sight.� [notes by granddaughter who edited diary - �Oxen can smell water and when they came near the river they were so thirsty they stampeded and Grandma said, ` I never saw anything so scary in my life, all them oxen running 'full tilt' with the wagons, women and children, and just ready to go over a bluff (with the river below) when your Great Uncle Stephen ran in front of them waving his coat and turned them'."

Keturah Belknap, 1848 - "We will now go down the noted Ash Hollow and strike the Sweet [North Platte] River, then will rest awhile. We make the trip down the hollow all safe. Went as far as we could with the teams then took off some of the best teams and send down so they could move the wagons out of the way, then they would take one wagon as far as they could with the team, then unhitch and ruff-lock both hind wheels, then fasten a big rope to the axle of the wagon and men would hold to that to keep the wagon iron going end over end; some were at the tongue to steer it and others were lifting the wheels to ease them down the steps for it was solid rock steps from six inches to two feet apart so it took all day but we all got thru without accident. We will stay here all night. I wash a little and cook some more, have a ham bone and beans. This is good sweet water; we have had alkali and nothing was good. Just as we were ready to sit down to supper Joe Meek and his posse of men rode into camp. They were going to Washington, D.C. to get the government to send soldiers to protect the settlers in Oregon and they told us all about the Indian Massacre at Walla Walla called the `Whitman Massacre'. They had traveled all winter and some of their men had died and they had got out of food and had to eat mule meat so we gave them all their supper and breakfast. The captain divided them up so all could help feed them Father B. was captain so he and George took three so they made way with most all my stuff I had cooked up; on the whole we are having quite a time; some want to turn back and others are telling what they would do in case of an attack. I sit in the wagon and write a letter as these men say if we want to send any word back they will take it and drop it in the first Post Office they come to so I�m writing a scratch to a lady friend.  We have a rest and breakfast is over. Meek and his men are gathering their horses and packing, but he said he would have to transact a little business with his men so they all lined up and he courtmartialed them and found three quilty and made them think they would be shot for disobeying orders but it was only a scare. Now every man to his post and double quick till they reach the Hollow"

Lewis Bissell Dougherty, 1848 - "We reach the brink of a hill near one-third of a mile high which we have to descend to reach the level of the hollow. We detach all the oxen from the wagon except the wheel yoke, lock the two hind wheels with the lock chain attached to the body of the wagon and wrap a log chain around the tire so it will cut into the ground when the wagon is in motion. Frequently the other five yokes of oxen are hitched with their heads to the wagon behind. They being unaccustomed to this treatment pull back and help slow down the wagon. Everything in the front of the wagons must be tied securely, as out comes the goods when the descent is begun. I cannot say at what angle we descend but it is so great that some go as far as to say � the road hangs a little past the perpendicular'!"

Nathan Pattison, June 18-19, 1849 - "Reached what is generally known as Ash Hollow.... We stopped here early in the afternoon to do some repairing. ... Rachel [age 18] taken sick in the morning, died that night."

John Johnson Davies, 1850 - "When we were on Ash Hollow Hill, a wagon wheel went over a boy�s head; and he came very near losing his life. The Elders administered to him and he got better. His name was Jonathan Prothers. ...the wagon wheel went over my foot. I took some oil and anointed my foot, and in a short time it was all right."

Benjamin Franklin Owen, June 7, 1853 - "We remained in camp & on that day I washed our dirty clothes & Cristy went out with his gun, & killed a prairie Dog, that he brought back to camp, a perfect little beauty, spoted, white & black. The Magpies were also very pretty, but Oh! What little pests, they were, at that camp. I got my washing done, & took a gun, & went for a hunt that afternoon. ... I saw a few paces a head of me, & to my right a huge monster of a snake coiled close to the Bushes. I had Seen many large Rattle Snakes But nothing to compare with This, my first impulse was to Shoot it, but on second thought concluded that there might be more of the kind near at hand that might intercept my pathway through that Thicket, so I desided to leave it undisturbed, if it would let me alone. So I left it in peace, & have never blamed myself much for that little piece of cowardice. By the description I've seen since of the Diamond Rattlesnake, I think it must have been one of that Species.  The night before we left this camp Mr. Young's train was camped not half a mile west of us, & during the night we heard a great tumalt of bawling among his cattle that we couldn't account for but the next morning, one of his men told us that some of those monster Gray Wolves came into their Band caught & hamstrung, & Killed a nice fat four year old cow, while the men on account of the rage, & frenzy of the cattle didn't dare even try, to go to her rescue, for there were nearly 150 head of them."

Helen M. Carpenter, 1856 - "When we got to the going down place, we certainly felt that we were `between the Devil and the deep sea', had it been possible to avoid this, the place would have been thought impassable. In the past, wagons were let down with ropes, the places are still plainly marked - some more venturesome ones - or perhaps ones who had no ropes left their tracks in the sand and like a band of sheep the rest followed.... Besides being dreadfully steep, the road was badly cut up and the dust and sand so deep that the chuck holes could not be seen (but were plainly felt) - and any way the air was so full of dust that much of the time the oxen were barely visible - `My kingdom' for a breath of fresh air."

Martha Missour Moore, 1859 - "After supper we visited Mr. Carney�s [Gen. W.S. Harney's] fortifications which were thrown up in haste to protect them [in 1855] against the Sioux Indians."

Richard Burton, 1860 - "It is described as a pretty bit in a barren land, about twenty acres, surrounded by high bluffs, well timbered with ash and cedar, and rich in clematis and other wild flowers."


Mile 558.2 Pumpkin Creek or Gonneville's Creek

Rufus Sage, Oct. 24, 1841 - "About noon we crosed Gonneville�s creek, a large easterly affluent of the Platte. This stream also derives its name from a trapper, killed near it in an Indian fight, some eight years ago."


Mile 561 Courthouse Rock

Rev. Samuel Parker, 1835 - "We encamped to-day in the neighborhood of a great natural curiosity, which, for the sake of a name, I shall call the old castle. It has ... all the appearance of an old enormous building, somewhat dilapidated; but still you see the standing walls, the roof, the turrets, embrasures, the dome, and almost the very windows; and large guardhouses, standing some rods in front of the main building."

Fr. Pierre-Jean DeSmet, S.F., 1841 - "...if a traveler were not convinced that he is journeying through a desert where no other dwellings exist ... he would be induced to believe them so many ancient fortresses or Gothic Castles, and with a little imagination, based upon some historical knowledge, he might think hinself transported amid the ancient mansions of knight errantry ... but instead of all these magnificent remains of antiquity we find only barren mounds on all sides filled with cliffs formed by the falling of the waters and serving as dens to an infinite number of rattlesnakes and other venemous reptiles."

Rufus Sage, Nov 1841 - "A singular natural formation, known as the Court House, or McFarlan's Castle. Its position commands a view of the country for forty miles around, and meets the eye of the traveller for several successive days."

Charles Preuss, July 8, 1842 - "To several of these localities where the winds and rain have worked the bluff into curious shapes, the voyageurs have given names according to some fancified resemblence. One of these, called the Courthouse, we passed...."

John Minto, 1844 - "The moon, I think must have been near the full ... we leveled off a space and one man played the fiddle and we danced into the night."

Joel Palmer, June 19, 1845 - "we encamped opposite the Solitary Tower. This singular natural object is a stupendous pile of sand and clay.... Viewed from the road, the beholder might easily imagine he was gazing upon some ancient structure of the old world ... near by stands another pile of materials, similar to that composing the tower, but neither so large nor so high."

William Taylor, June 5, 1846 - "Came in sight of Castle Rock...."

Henry Garrison, June 1846 - "After crossing, our course was still up the Platt River, we [crossed several] streams coming from the mountains, in them was the clearsest of water, it was a treat to us when we could camp on these streams, we had nothing but the sandy watter of the Platt for so long, we had almost forggton what good water was. We are now traveling up the North Platt, in a few days we came in sight of Court House Rock, or might be properly called, Rocks. The particular Rock that was called Court House Rock was about five or six miles to our left, it was a huge Rock towering above the surrounding hills, that resembeled a very large building, but the whole country around was nothing but a vast pile of rocks, you could see rocks in any conceiveable shape, these rocks extended to the River, but we found a level road through barring some boulders that would come near turning our wagons over, but the pass through was so narrow and crooked at times you could not see fifty yards ahead of you."

Lester Hulin, July 2-3, 1847 - "F. 2nd. ...came in sight of two noted works of nature, Castle Rock and Chimney Rock. S. 3rd. ... Nooned at or opposite Castle Rock. It looks 1-1/2 or 2 Miles from the road and yet it is said to be five miles. This deception is owing to the purity of the air and want of objects by which to judge distances."

Elizabeth Dixon Smith, July 7, 1847 - "...this country is full of curioseties hundreds of acres seems to have been bursted and thrown up by volcanoc eruptions the earth along here is strong with ly after a shower if the little ponds were not rily one could wash linen without soap."

William Porter, June 6, 1848 - "...camped within three miles of little creek opposite to Solitary tower. Passed through an Indian village and all the Indians came out to meet us."

Lewis Bissell Dougherty, 1848 - "After crossing the South Fork [of the Platte River] and entering the Ash Hollow, you start up the south bank of the North Fork. Twenty miles up you will see Court House rock resembling a Missouri court house so much as to deceive many on their first trip. Father was once passing with a colored lad driving his vehicle. He had heard of this rock, and when opposite, the boy called father's attention to the rock saying, ` Court must be in session, there are many horses hitched near the house.' There were cedar shrubs growing at the front."

Walter G. Pigman, 1850 - "At the summit it is about 20 by 10 feet broad and it is ascended by holes dug in the sides which other emigrants have made.... We spent about an hour on the summit writing. Our heads became dizzy, we began to hunt the base and had a hard time to overtake our wagons which we could only see by the dust they raised; and being nearly fifteen miles off we traveled hard but did not overtake them until they camped for the night. We had left camp without a gun, pistol or knife, which we ought to have had as the wolves and bears became unusually thick before we got in."

Richard Burton, 1860 - "...we fronted the Court-house, the remarkable portal of a new region, and this new region teeming with wonders will now extend about 100 miles. It is the mauvaises terres, or Bad lands.... The Court-house, which had lately suffered from heavy rain, resembled anything more than a court-house; that it did so in former days ... a fit place for Indian spooks, ghosts, and hobgoblins to meet in pow-wow, and to �count their coups� delivered in the flesh. is, however, gradually degrading, and the rains and snows of not many years will lay it level...."

E.S. McComas, May 27, 1862 - "Passed Convent Rock. The Iowa City boys drove on faster than we wanted to; we let them go."


Mile 575 Chimney Rock

Warren A. Ferris, 1830 - "We reached `Nose Mountain,' which appears ... like the limbless trunk of a gigantic tree."

Nathaniel Wyeth, June 9, 1832 - "Arrived at the Chimney or Elk Brick the Indian name [of] this singular object ... it looks like a work of art."

John Ball, June 10, 1832 - "We saw ahead of us a big castle on a small mountain. As we approached it, it appeared like a big tower of sandstone standing alone. It was called the �Chimney Rock,� and is probably three hundred feet high. On the south side of the Platte were immense herds of buffalo."

Capt. Benjamin Bonneville, 1832 - "Opposite to the camp at this place was a singular phenomenon, which is among the curiosities of the country."

William Marshall Anderson, 1834 - "We are now in sight of ... Chimney Rock ... which can be seen at the distance of thirty miles. It is two miles from the river, ... and from its peculiar form and entire isolation, is one of the most notorious objects on our mountain march."

John K. Townsend, 1834 - "There is also a `Chimney'."

Rev. Samuel Parker, 1835 - "Encamped at noon near another of nature�s wonders. It has been called the chimney; but I should say, it ought to be called beacon hill, from its resemblance to what was beacon hill in Boston."

Frederick A. Wislizenus, MD, 1839 - "More remarkable still is the last cliff of the same chain. Its tower-like top is seen from a distance of thirty or forty miles.... Near the Platte I saw .. a so-called prairie-dog village ... here we had a whole colony before us ... the animal digs itself holes underground ... such dwellings, at moderate space from each other, can be spread over an area of several acres, or even miles.... At a man's approach they raise a fiercer cry, wagging their short tails withal, as if prepared for serious combat...."

Fr. Pierre-Jean DeSmet, S.F., May 31, 1840 - "It seems to be the remnant of a lofty mountain."

Rufus B. Sage, 1841 - "A grand and imposing spectacle, truly; - a wonderful display of the eccentricity of Nature."

Elijah White, MD, 1842 - "The chimney was strikingly like the contemplated Washington Monument."

Charles Pruess, July 9-10, 1942 - "July 9 (Saturday) This afternoon we sighted at a distance the so-called Chimney Rock ... nothing new otherwise.... Today a cow was killed ... all meat was saved and cut up in very thin slices. they are hung around the cart to dry and look like red curtains in the windows of a tavern. Oh, if there were a tavern here! July 10 (Sunday). Toward evening we reached Chimney Rock and camped opposite it.... The whole chain of dirt hills certainly form strange figures here. Too bad that it is not granite."

Fr. Pierre-Jean DeSmet, S.F., 1843 - "In the course of the day we passed the famous Chimney Rock.... I had already seen it, in 1840 and 1841, in my first visit to the Rocky Mountains.... I found it considerably diminished in height."

James Nesmith, July 9-12, 1843 - "Found one of my men sleeping at post and took his gun away. [3 days later] ...sold a gun at camp this morning, belonging to Isaac Williams, for having gone to sleep on post last night."

James Clyman, July 27-28, 1844 - "27th. A clear cool morning the Ladies pleasant animated and in fine Spirits which make a fine contrer part to the morning Early we came in sight of the noted chimney rock at the supposed distance of 30 miles. It rises perpendicular and alone and looked like an old dry stub not larger in appearance than your finger 4 or 5 miles from our nooning raises a bank of clay & rock 28. Sunday Fine and dry not a drop of dew fell last night which circumstance is not uncommon in the region of country we are now approaching all our sick of old chronic disorder begin to ware a healthy appearance & active elastick movement nooned opposite the chimny rock Scotts Bluffs in full vieu ahead on the whole the vieu in all directions Singular and Picturesque emmence level plains east the river a mile wide meandering along but your eye can not tell at a short distance which way the water runs."


Samuel Hancock, 1845 - "...encamped close by this beacon of the plain ... some of us visited this curiosity and were highly gratified ... on this huge pillar we found inscribed the names of many who proceeded us the year before. ... one of our company expressed his intention of going out in search of deer ... five of us started to look for him, when to our horror we found his lifeless body on the ground divested of clothing and scalp."

Joel Palmer, June 20, 1845 - "This is a sharp pointed rock ... and has the unpoetical appearance of a hay stack with a pole running far above its top."

Henry Garrison, June 1846 - "About this time we passed Chimney rock, we camped near it, and I thought [we would] go and take a look at it, it looked to be close by, but it took me an hour to reach it, the rock stood entirely seperated from all others. My recollection of it is, the base covered about an acre, maybe not so much, from the ground to the chimney propper I should judge it be 50 or 75 feet, there is loose shale, that is very hard to climb. I have heard it said that no one had ever climed to the chimney proper, that it could [not] be reached on account of the loose rock. I undertook to reach the chimney and succeeded in my effort, though I found that it took hard work, I inscribed my name on the East side of the rock, or at least my initials A.H.G and the date of the month and year."

Virgil K. Pringle, 1846 - "The Chimney might pass for one of the foundries in St. Louis, were it blackened by burning stone coal."

William Clayton, May 22-26, 1847 - "Saurday 22nd ... At the distance I should judge of about twenty miles, I could see Chimney Rock very plainly with the naked eye, which from here very much resembles the large factory chimneys in England.... Elder Orson Pratt is taking an observation to ascertain the height of Chimney Rock.... Wednesday 26th ... arrived at a point directly north of Chimney Rock which we ascertained by compass, having traveled since it was first discovered 411/2 miles ... Elder Pratt found that Chimney Rock is 260 feet high from its base to its summit and he distance from our road at the nearest point three miles."

James Monroe Fulkerson, June 3, 1847 - "We passed an Indian village of about 25 wigwams. Distance 12 miles. Camped at Chimney Rock. We have now traveled two days in sight of the solitary tower."

James Madison Coons, June 20, 1847 - "Camped within five miles of Chimney Rock. Nooned near the Solitary."

Lester Hulin, July 4, 1847 - "Sun. 4th. Upon this Columbus natal day we passed the towering and interesting natural object. This is said by some to be 250 ft high. I ascended it to the 2nd bench. Nooned here." [Chimney Rock is over 300 feet tall.]

Elizabeth Dixon Smith, July 7, 1847 - "...saw chimney Rock it is a curiosity in deed a rock or rather a hard clay standing alone yowering in the are perhaps 300 feet all of the lofty rocks alone here is composed of the same meterial some of them resemble old demolished villages half sunk in the ground with stove pipes sticking out of the top. to day we [had] the dredfulest hail storm that I ever witnessed which me and a young woman had like to have caught in as we went out to visit the famous chimney rock fortuneately we reached one of the foremost waggons just as the hail began to pelt us. it tore some of the waggon covers off broke some bows and made horses and oxon run a way & made bad work they say a bout it is subject to tornadoes."

Lucius Fairchild, 1849 - "I climbed up as far as anybody ever did and took a view of the country which was simply splendid all around the bottom was covered with camps among was Uncle Sam's trains."

William Kelly, 1849 - "We headed toward this tapering rock, called by roamers of the prairie �Chimney Rock,� though, to my eye, there is not a single lineament in its outline to warrant the christening. The Wellington Testimonial, in the Phoenix Park, elevated on a Danish Fort, would give a much more correct idea."

Dr. Charles E. Boyle, May 28-29, 1849 - "Camp No. 31 ... Today at noon we came in sight of Chimney rock and looked at it through the telescope. We were in sight of it nearly all afternoon and our encampment is apparently not very far front it.

CAMP NO. 32 ... This morning Sherman, Carl and I started for Chimney Rock. After walking rapidly for more than two hours we found ourselves at the base of a hill some 250 feet in height. As I was climbing this hill I found my face in uncomfortable proximity to a large rattlesnake with 10 or 12, rattles which I immediately shot. We climbed the hill and cut our names in the soft sandy rock. After dinner another party started for Court House Rock, a large rock resembling a court house or church."

A.C. Sponsler, 1850 - "It is cald rock but is nothing but sand and dirt."

James W. Evans, 1850 - " On getting within a quarter of a mile of it I took a drawing of that wonderful monument. After which I clambered up the Chimney on the south side to the first and only bench above the top of the base or cone, which was as high as any mortal could climb it, for the stem of the chimney runs perpendicularly about 200 feet higher. There I engraved my name and the name of my wife. There were several Ladies and Gentlemen on the rock with me; and after I had completed my name I looked to my left and there stood a young lady who had cut foot and handholes in the soft rock busily engaged in inscribing her name about 2 feet higher than my own!"

W. Wadsworth, 1852 - "A few dary and foolhardy adventurers however, have, by cutting foot and hand-holds in the soft rock, raised themselves a few feet, in order to inscribe their names the highest."

Abigail Jane Scott, June 12-14, 1852 - "At noon we for the first time hailed the rock known by the name of "Nebraska Court House" This huge mass looks as if it might be the ruins of some ancient collossal edifice It is on the south side of the river and rises up as if (to) mock the scenery around it with its bold and majestic front; It is represented as covering an area of one acre of ground; After traveling awhile in the afternoon we came in sight of the long heard of and renowned Chimney Rock; It at first looked as if it were a spire pointing towards Heaven's blue dome but as we came nearer to it the spire seemed to enlarge and bear rather more the appearance of a chimney extending high above a dome shaped building June 14th ... We have seen very romantic scenery all day; The Chimney rock has been in full view all day; It is represented as being three hundred feet high but from the road we are traveling it does not appear to be more than one hundred feet; Palmer in speaking of this rock very truly says that it has the unpoetical appearance of a hay stack with a pole extending far above its top"

Agnes Stewart, June 19, 1853 - "Sabbath, 19. Passed Chimney Rock. It looks more like it at a distance than does when nearing it. ... Fred and his man quarreled about striking some loose cattle. [Fred] struck him with his hand, and then knocked him down with his whip stock. A mean low dirty trick of his. I feel so mortified about it."


Cornelius Conway, 1857 - "Some years ago lightning is supposed to have struck this hill.... The Indians and mountaineers who beheld this catastrophe aver that masses of rock and earth were hurled to the distance of two or three miles."

Richard Burton, 1860 - "...nothing could be more picturesque than this lone pillar of pale rock lying against a huge black cloud, with the forked lightning playing over its devoted head."


Mile 596 Scotts Bluff

William Marshall Anderson, May 29, 1834 - "We camp tonight a little below Scott�s Bluff.... This place bears the name of an old mountaineer, who died here from sickness and starvation. The desertion and abandonment of this poor man, by his leader and employer, was an act of the most cruel and heartless inhumanity.... His death has left here a traveler�s land-mark, which will be known when the name of the canting hypocrite and scoundrel who deserted him, will be forgotten, and remembered only in hell. Two of his companions remained with him for several days, bearing him along as his weakness increased, and only left him when compelled by the want of food. The unburied corpse of poor Scott was found at this spot, having crawled more than two miles...."

John K. Townsend, 1834 - "Here one of our men caught a young antelope ... in a few days became so tame as to remain with the camp without being tied, and to drink, from a tin cup, the milk which our good missionaries [Jason Lee] spared from their own scanty meals. The men christened it `ZIP COON' and it soon became familiar with its name, running to them when called, and exhibiting many evidences of affection and attachment."

Asahel Munger, June 10, 1839 - "About 7 or 8 miles from us is what is called Scotch Bluff. It looks like an old castle with a rounding top...."

Rufus Sage, Oct 6, 1841 - "Named for Hiram Scott, left for dead here by fur trapping comrades."

Rev. Joseph Williams, 1841 - "On Friday evening the company had a terrible alarm. One of our hunters, who was in the rear, was robbed of all he had by the Indians. They struck him with their ram-rods, and he ran away from them. Soon a war party of the Siouz Indians appeared in view. We soon collected together in order of battle, to be ready in case of an attack. The Indians stood awaile and looked at us ... they soon showed signs of peace. Captain Fitzpatrick then went to them, and talked with them, for he was acquainted with them. Then they gave back all that they had taken from the young man and our men gave them some tobacco, and they smoked the pipe of peace."

Rachel Fisher, July 2, 1847 - "Sixty miles from Fort Larima 7th mo 2th 1847 Dear Parents I will again endeavor to prepare A letter for you not withstanding the anguish and bitter mourning it exites when I recall the past think of the present and imagine the future. John still continued sick some times better and then worse untill the 7th of 6th mo he appear worse and the 5th the com[pany] stoped before night for he still grew worse. 6th I had ti bid him farwell and see him breathe the last breath of Earthly Life without A strugle or groan. appearing to fall into a sweet sleep of eternity."

Fr. Pierre-Jean DeSmet, S.J., 1851 - [Returning east] "I directed my course toward `the springs,'... in the vicinity of Robidoux' trading-house, for Colonel Mitchell had named this as the rendezvous for all those who proposed going directly to the United States."

Abigail Jane Scott, June 14, 1852 - "We are now camped in full view of Scott's bluffs; These bluffs derived their name from a melancholy tradition A traveler (of the name) was once taken sick near these bluffs and becoming unable to travel was, at his own request abandoned by his companions; He was never after heard of but a party in passing these bluffs some times afterwards found the bones of a man some distance from the spot where the unfortunate person had last been seene"

Margaret Scott, June 15, 1852 - "About noon we stopped nearly opposite the "Scott bluffs" sometimes called capital hills These hills have a truly grand romantic appearance calculated to fill the mind with indescribeble amazement approaching almost to sublimity. There are numerous cedars growing uppon them, which gives them a still more grand appearance."

Kirk Anderson, 1858 - "There ought to be a Heaven for all ox that perish under the yoke, where they could roam in the fields of sweet clover and timothy."

Richard Burton, 1860 - "Scott's Bluff ... from a distance of a day's march it appears in the shape of a large blue mound.... As you approach within four or five miles, a massive medieval city gradually defines itself, clustering with a wonderful fullness of detail, round a colossal fortress, and crowned with a royal castle. Buttress and barbicon, bastion, demilune and guardhouse, tower, turret, and donjon-keep, all are there ... quaint figures develop themselves; guards and sentinels in dark armour keep watch and ward upon the slopes."

William Lieuallen, June 18-22, 1864 - "June 18, Saturday Travel about 10 miles. Lay over on Platte R & I waid in to get some wood to wash with & we went 2 miles out on the bluff & got some sedar wood & got up on the bluff & seen the Chimney Rock.

    June 19, Sunday Travel about 18 miles. We past Willis & Co. Some sandy road. Campt on Platte R about faremence the court house rock. that rock is on the south side of Platte river. we was on the north side of Platte. Came in site of the telegraf wire it on the south side of Platte river.

    June 20, Monday Travel about 16 miles. It was a warm day. Willis & Co. past us. We campt on Platte R. oppusit the Chimney rock. That rock is on the south side of Platte R. we was on the north side of Platte R.

    June 21, Tuesday Travel about 17 miles. We campt in about 3 miles below Scotts bluffs which is on the south side of Platte R. We had a little rain storm last night. June 22, Wednesday Travel about 18 miles. We went out of site of the chimney rock. We

campt on Platte River."


Mile 603.8 Robidoux Pass

The main route around Scotts Bluff through 1850, when it was supplanted by the shorter Mitchell Pass. This pass was used sparingly during the time of Mitchell Pass overcrowding as a bypass. It was named (and misspelled) for Joseph Robidoux, who discovered it. This Robidoux brother had started the town of St Joseph and would later run a trading post in Mitchell Pass.

James Clyman, July 29, 1844 - "...I must not omit to mention that I took my rifle [and] walked out in the deep ravin to guard a Beautiful covey of young Laides & misses while they gathered wild currants & choke chirries which grow in great profusion in this region and of the finerst kind. ... Keen claps of thunder with a profusion of Electrick fluid in all directions in a dry clear sky set the dry grass on fire in several places in sight of our traveling caravan which was soon extinquished by the rain Just mentioned."

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