Oregon Trail

Scottsbluff, NE
Scotts Bluff National Monument

One of the highlights of my recent photo safari to western Nebraska was walking along the Oregon Trail, which used the large bluffs as landmarks to mark the route.

Looking through the spokes of a covered wagon, I took this picture of the most prominent of multiple bluffs in the area, Scotts Bluff.  Named after a fur trader, Hiram Scott, who died near the bluff during a winter storm, this bluff rises 800′ above the plains.

Mitchell Pass
Mitchell Pass

As the settlers followed the Oregon Trail across Nebraska, they would spread their covered wagons across the prairie so they wouldn’t be eating the dust stirred up by the wagons ahead.  But, when the wagons approached the Scottsbluff area, the wagons formed a single file to get through Mitchell’s Pass, thousands of wagons, livestock and people going single file following the easiest route through the bluffs.   It is a deep narrow path, permanently etched into the prairie by the mass migration, with time caving in the path’s sidewalls making it feel like the bottom of a bowl.  Only a half-mile of the original trail (above) still exists, but it was a thrill to walk on.

Thought for the Day:  No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars or sailed an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.   Helen Keller

2 thoughts on “Oregon Trail

  1. This photo is worth framing! I hope you exhibit it someday. The two photos brought back memories of our trip and wish we had taken time to walk some of the trail. At the time, it seemed perfect to go to the top of the bluff and enjoy the landscape, admiring the wide expanse, and recalling memories of pioneers who traversed the narrow passageways .



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