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.

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.

Saleratus Lake

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.

Rock Avenue

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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Encyclopedia | Names Hill, a cliff of soft sandstone by the Green River, was a popular stopping place for travelers on the Sublette Cutoff of the Oregon Trail. Many emigrants inscribed or painted their names on the cliff face. But earlier people, too, had left marks on the cliff.
Encyclopedia | Oregon Trail emigrants along the Sweetwater River came to a place where steep hills forced them to cross the stream three times within two miles—a dangerous option at high water—while a detour through deep sand was safer but slower: just another day on a long journey with hard choices.
Encyclopedia | Iced drinks on the Oregon Trail? Early emigrants refreshed at the fabled Ice Springs near the Sweetwater River—now known as Ice Slough. But after a decade of trailside chopping and trampling, the spot became less attractive. Later travelers felt deceived by the stories they had heard.
Encyclopedia | Just beyond the summit of South Pass stand the Oregon Buttes—two flat-topped hills and a smaller, conical one. To Oregon Trail travelers coming from the east, the buttes, more often called Table Rocks, dominated the horizon of that vast, treeless landscape for a day’s travel or more.
Encyclopedia | 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.
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.

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