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Transportation

Rocky Ridge

Their wagons lurching over sharp boulders up a steep grade, westbound emigrants found a particularly difficult stretch of trail about 40 miles east of South Pass. The late-starting Willie Company of Mormons pulling handcarts suffered terribly here in 1856. For many, the end of the journey was a grave.

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Encyclopedia | When famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart piloted an autogiro coast to coast in 1931, she drew big crowds at stops in Cheyenne, Laramie, Parco, Rock Springs and Le Roy. Earhart and her husband, publisher George Putnam, were having a vacation cabin built near Meeteetse, Wyo., when she disappeared in 1937.
Encyclopedia | In 1850, 19-year-old Alvah Unthank left Indiana to head to California with the Newport Mining Company. In late June, he carved his name at Register Cliff, but a few days later, he succumbed to cholera. His grave near present Glenrock, Wyo. is among the best preserved on the historic trails.
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.

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