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Historic Spots & Monuments

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.

Peace, War, Land and a Funeral: The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868

In March 1866, when whites and Indians together at Fort Laramie mourned the death of Mni Akuwin, daughter of Spotted Tail, chief of the Brulé Lakota, a colonel at the post hoped it was a sign of peace between the peoples. Peace hopes were shattered later that spring however, by the arrival of hundreds of troops to build forts on the Bozeman Trail, and two more years of bitter warfare followed. Finally in 1868, the tribes of the northern plains gathered at the fort and signed a treaty, ending the war—for a while.

Separate Lands for Separate Tribes: The Horse Creek Treaty of 1851

In 1850, the U.S. Congress authorized a conference to persuade Plains Indian tribes to live and hunt within newly designated, separate territories, and to accept payment for the damage caused by emigrants crossing their lands. The conference in September 1851 drew 10,000 Indians to the confluence of Horse Creek and the North Platte River, 30 miles east of Fort Laramie. The treaty that was signed there, the Horse Creek Treaty of 1851, permanently changed the terms of Indian-white relations on the northern Great Plains.

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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.
Encyclopedia | When pilots on United Airlines Flight 409 took a shortcut in bad weather en route from Denver to Salt Lake City in October 1955, the plane crashed into Medicine Bow Peak and 66 people died. It was the worst airline disaster up to that time, and its cause is still unknown.
Encyclopedia | Frederick Fulkerson, 17, died in 1847 on the Oregon Trail after becoming exhausted and ill from swimming his family’s livestock across the North Platte River near present Casper, Wyo. His grave, located on state land near Devil’s Gate, is one of the oldest identified graves along the trail. 
Encyclopedia | In 1988, following extensive research regarding her identity, 1852 Oregon Trail traveler Quintina Snodderly’s remains were re-interred where they had been found in 1974 on private land east of present Casper, Wyo., as part of the Oregon-California Trails Association project to preserve graves of trail travelers.
Encyclopedia | Many Oregon Trail diarists noted the distinctive, conical shape of 70-foot-high Knob Hill, southwest of present Douglas, Wyo., and compared it to a sugar loaf; others whetted their knives on rocks at its base. British travel writer Richard Burton was skeptical of the tale that Brigham Young had preached a sermon there.

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