Markers Along the Oregon Trail

Traveling the Oregon Trail must have been quite an ordeal. Along with the lack of food, lack of good water, lack of fuel and the constant fear of attack from Indians, travelers had to put up with walking most of the way. They experienced freezing cold mornings and often scorching afternoons. But finding the way west was, after the first few years, not as difficult as many novels and stories seem to make it. Many good scouts, or pilots as they were sometimes called, worked the trail, many had earlier trapped and traded in the west and knew much of life on the trail.

Wagons followed the Platte River across present-day Nebraska and looked forward to their first view of the west, Chimney Rock and soon after if the days were clear Laramie Peak.

Chimney Rock – Near Bridgeport Nebraska and along Highway - 26, was a towering marker letting travelers know they were leaving the flat and easy part of the journey west. Chimney Rock stood more than 400 feet above the North Platte River and could be seen for days from the wagon trains. Today Chimney Rock is still striking but stands about 100 feet less than it once did.
Chimney Rock

Laramie Peak – Often Laramie Peak could be seen before the wagons reached Chimney Rock. The highest point of the Laramie Range, the peak stands 10,276 feet high. By most standards a mountain a bit over 10,000 feet high is not much, but when viewed from the prairie, after weeks of traveling the flat land, it was most impressive. The peak, as it is referred to by locals now, also meant the wagons would soon be turning north with the river toward present-day Casper, Wyoming. As a side note, famed mountain man Jim Bridger* often claimed he’d been in the mountains so long that when he came west, Laramie Peak was, “nothin’ but a hole in the ground.”
 *Bridger came into this country on his first trip west 195 years ago.
Laramie Peak as it looked from the wagon trains

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