WyoHistory.org

The Online Encyclopedia of Wyoming History

WyoHistory.org

WyoHistory.org

WyoHistory.org is an online historical encyclopedia featuring articles, essays, oral histories and field trips about Wyoming history.

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Encyclopedia | Westbound wagon-train emigrants got their first glimpse of the Rocky Mountains when they first saw the blue cone of Laramie Peak, 85 miles away. Snowcapped in early summer, the mountain stayed in sight for a week or more, dominating many diarists’ accounts and foreshadowing drier, more difficult country ahead.
Encyclopedia | West of Rock Avenue on the Oregon Trail in what’s now central Wyoming, emigrant oxen often got stuck in an alkaline mire historians sometimes refer to as Clayton’s Slough, in memory of the Mormon diarist who called it “one of the most horrid, swampy, stinking places I ever saw.”
Encyclopedia | Oregon Trail emigrants faced high risks crossing the North Platte River near present Casper, Wyo. River crossings were extremely dangerous; operators of commercial ferries and bridges charged steep prices. Until bridges were built, many people and animals drowned in the swift, deep, shockingly cold water of the Platte.
Encyclopedia | Fifteen miles from Prospect Hill, Oregon Trail emigrants as they neared Independence Rock began passing shallow, sometimes dry lakes. If dry, the lake floors were encrusted with snow-white alkali—essentially baking soda—which the pioneers called saleratus. It worked well for raising bread baked over sagebrush campfires.
Encyclopedia | Poetry, shouts and song—year after year, reactions were similar when Oregon Trail emigrants managed the steep climb up Prospect Hill, also called Ryan Hill, on the road from the North Platte to Independence Rock. The sight of range after range of mountains greeted them—a sweeping view of new country.
Encyclopedia | Early Oregon Trail travelers were enchanted by clear, cold water at Willow Spring, halfway between the North Platte and Independence Rock. But after traffic boomed with the 1849 gold rush, they were more often disappointed: Pioneers had cut down trees; livestock had eaten all the grass and muddied the water.
Encyclopedia | About 20 miles west of present Casper, Wyo., the Oregon Trail wound through a gap between two rocky hogbacks. Emigrants called it Rock Avenue. In the 1960s and 1970s, road builders blasted away some of the rocks. Part of the pioneer flavor of the place was lost, but much remains.
Encyclopedia | After leaving the North Platte River near present-day Mills, Wyo., Oregon Trail travelers journeyed 10 miles or so through windswept, sometimes rocky terrain before coming through a shallow pass, now known as Emigrant Gap. Beyond it, at the base of a hill lay Mineral Lake, an alkali pond.

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