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Historic Spots & Monuments

Split Rock

Westbound emigrants in the Sweetwater Valley on the Oregon Trail saw the distinctive gunsight notch of Split Rock and “steered to this cliff with a steadiness that was astonishing,” according to one diarist. The landmark stands 11 miles west of Devil’s Gate and about 75 miles east of South Pass

Devil's Gate

Devil’s Gate on the Sweetwater River became an important landmark for emigrants on the Oregon/California/Mormon trails. Trader Charles Lajeunesse ran a post there in the 1850s, not long before a Mormon handcart company sought shelter from a blizzard at nearby Matins Cove. Later, the famous Sun Ranch was headquartered there for 125 years.

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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.
Encyclopedia | The amazing sight of Ayres Natural Bridge, a natural limestone arch across La Prele Creek near Douglas, Wyo., inspired numerous Oregon Trail emigrants to comment in their diaries. California-bound Cephas Arms on July 4, 1849, described it as “one of the wildest scenes I ever beheld.”
Encyclopedia | About 70 miles northwest of Fort Laramie, the Oregon Trail crossed La Prele Creek, flowing north from the Laramie Range toward the North Platte River a few miles away. On a high bluff above the creek mouth the U.S. Army in 1867 would build Fort Fetterman, which became an important supply base in the wars with the Cheyenne and Lakota Sioux in the following decade.
Encyclopedia | In July 1864, several members of the Kelly-Larimer wagon train were killed by a large party of Oglala Sioux. The graves of five victims—7-year-old Mary Kelly and four men—are located near present Glenrock, Wyo. Fanny Kelly, held captive by the Sioux, later wrote a book about her trials.
Encyclopedia | At Red Buttes, west of present Casper, Wyo., Oregon Trail travelers left the North Platte River and started for the Sweetwater and the Continental Divide. Long a boundary marker for tribes, the spot quickly became well known to emigrants for its beauty and for marking a new stage of the journey.
Encyclopedia | Three-year-old Ada Magill of Kansas, died of dysentery in 1864 on the Oregon Trail west of present Glenrock, Wyo. The Magills were bound for Oregon. In 1912, road surveyor L. C. Bishop moved the grave to a site nearby, where it is now marked by the Oregon-California Trails Association.

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