Thursday, September 01, 2016

Oregon Trail Landmarks

On August 12, Day #3 of our trip West, we drove from Lewellen, Nebraska to Dubois, Wyoming, where we would be staying five nights. We traveled this same route in 2013, so, again, some of these scenes may be familiar to you.

The first noteworthy sight along the way was Chimney Rock, a major landmark along the Oregon Trail, located on U. S. Highway 26 in Nebraska, between the cities of Ogallala and Scottsbluff. I've read that nearly all the diaries of travelers along that famous route describe Chimney Rock.

Chimney Rock
Next, we paid a quick visit to Scotts Bluff National Monument. I'm just including one picture of Scotts Bluff in this post. If you're interested in more pictures and a little more information, you might want to check out this 2013 post.

Scotts Bluff National Monument
After leaving Scotts Bluff, we entered Wyoming, continuing on U. S. Highway 26 to Interstate 25 to the town of Casper. From there, we dropped south a little on Wyoming Highway 220, so we could visit some more Oregon Trail landmarks.

First was Independence Rock, notable primarily for its location. It marked the halfway point between the Missouri River, from which most of the wagon trains started, and the Pacific coast.

Independence Rock
Next was Devil's Gate, visible from Independence Rock, but about a day's travel by wagon train.

The Sweetwater River flows through the notch in the rock known as Devil's Gate.

The Tom Sun Ranch National Historic Landmark, located on the Oregon Trail along the Sweetwater River near Devil's Gate and Independence Rock, is both historic and scenic. The historic ranch buildings are now home to the Martin's Cove Mormon Handcart Historic Site. The area is open to the public and allows a closer look at the Devil's Gate landmark.

Devil's Gate and Sun Ranch corrals, from Martin's Cove

The next photo is of Split Rock, another Oregon Trail landmark, about a day's travel from Devil's Gate by wagon train. This picture was actually taken in 2013, but it hasn't been posted on the blog before.

Split Rock
Although I hadn't used this Split Rock photo on the blog, it was on Flickr and visible to the public. I received an email from a representative of the Bureau of Land Management, asking my permission to use the photo in a technical publication. I was flattered, of course, and readily gave my permission. It subsequently appeared in the Bureau of Land Management's Technical Note 446, "The Use of Color for Camouflage Concealment of Facilities," published April, 2015. It's not a publication I'd likely ever have seen, but the man who initially contacted me graciously sent me two copies of it.

Now, I close with one last shot of some of the Wyoming scenery we drove through that evening as we continued on, through Lander, Wyoming, to our ultimate destination for that night and four more nights, Dubois, Wyoming.

Wyoming Landscape

The Wyoming landscape, although often barren and stark, has a unique beauty all its own. The first time I saw it, nearly fifty years ago now, it made me think of a moonscape; and I couldn't imagine what kind of people would choose to live there. But, through repeated visits, I've learned to see its beauty, even in its starkness. And I'm beginning to understand what draws people to the lifestyle it offers.

More to come from Dubois soon.


  1. There is so much diversity and beauty in our countries.Thanks for sharing these images.

  2. GREAT photos Linda! You make me feel as if we're traveling with you! Your descriptions are so full of details...keep those western trip pics and posts coming!

  3. Though mostly barren the various rock formations make the landscapes come alive. The Chimney Rock is equally fascinating as the sunset over the hills. A wonderful collection of images Linda. I wish you a great weekend!

    Mersad Donko Photography

  4. Linda, I'm really enjoying your trip! It's, actually, a shame your pics weren't in the books I've read of people who blazed the Oregon Trail long ago, but how interesting and an honor to have one published by the Bureau of Land Management, though. We never know where our photos will end up. O.O
    Hope you and your husband have a great Labor Day weekend!

  5. We get spoiled with all the trees and plants around us. I saw a lot similar to this when working in the Sandhills and Badlands, but grew to believe it as a treasure to behold.Lovely shots Linda.

  6. how awesome to have your photo used! such unique landscapes. chimney rock is amazing. the panoramic view of devil's gate is really something.

  7. I really like the Wyoming landscape as well, although I'm not sure I'm ready to live out there. We're going to have to take the time to visit some of these Oregon Trail sites on a trip west.

  8. Gorgeous scenery, Linda! Thank you so much for sharing this lovely tour!

  9. Your photographs are exvellent and indeed should be used. I fell like I amm travellog along with you on your journey Linda

  10. Ruth - You're so right. North America has some amazing beauty, and it's relatively short history is full of pioneer adventure.

    Thanks, Diane. It's fun having you along. :)

    Thank you, Mersad. We can find beauty in almost any scene, if we just look, can't we?

    Toni - Thanks kindly. You'll have to share your reading list with me. I think I'd enjoy those books you've mentioned. Yes, it was quite an ego booster to have the BLM ask to use one of my photos.

    So true, Steve. I do prefer to live among trees, flowers, and grass; but that doesn't prevent me from appreciating the beauty of places like this.

    Tex - It did make me feel good that the BLM wanted to use one of my photos. We do love the rock formations found in the West. I guess they make us think of all those cowboy movies we watched as kids.

    George - Why would you want to live anywhere else when you already live in "God's country?" You know how we love your Tennessee mountains. There is so much more to see along the Oregon Trail route than we've seen to date. I need to do better research before our next trip out that way.

    Thanks, Linda.

    Thank you, Margaret.

  11. I really love that detail of the Devil's Gate!
    The Chimney Rock looks impressive although it rather reminds me of a bell tower than a chimney... :)
    People live in so many quite unbelievable areas, why not in Wyoming? The landscape has its beauty... Great colours in your capture!

    1. Thanks for the comment on the detail of the Devil's Gate, Petra. I like that one myself. There aren't many bell towers in this country, so that's probably why Chimney Rock looks more like a chimney to us. That colorful landscape shot was taken from the moving car. It's not as sharp as it could be; but I, too, liked the colors.


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