Day 12 (June 8): Scotts Bluff was our first stop this morning! It served as a signal to settlers that
they were nearing the end of the prairie and heading into the mountains. Early wagon trains avoided the steep bluff until the Mitchell Pass opened in 1850, which offered an easier way to get through them. As amazing as it would have been to hike to the top, we didn’t have time and opted to drive. The sights were simply breathtaking! The bluff itself was something to see, but the top view was worth sitting and gazing at.
Friday, June 9th: Today we reached Fort Laramie where we mailed a number of letters to our friends in the east. Here we also found a large village of Indians.http://www.oregonpioneers.com/Condit_Diary.htm
We went from there to Fort Laramie, the first outpost along the Oregon Trail, one of the most
popular stops, and in later years, serving as a military outpost. I was so completely delighted to finally see this fort I’ve read so much about, and even more so when I realized many of the buildings had been restored to various points in the fort’s history. We strolled through many of the buildings, had some soda at the Soldiers’ Bar, and… Yes, bought another book.
Oregon Trail Ruts State Historic Site: “Rugged terrain forced the wagons to travel across a narrow ridge of sandstone, wearing ruts that are up to 5 feet deep” (Traveling the Oregon Trail). The ruts were just as good as promised and Daniel and I both loved standing in and admiring them. While they were not quite as deep as some of the other ones we’ve seen, they were certainly the most clear cut.
Register Cliff was another popular camping site for emigrants, the travelers also signed their
names to show how far they had made it. As I thought about this, I realized…I always thought that people just signed their names because, well, it was the thing to do. A way of making their mark on the trail. But the more I think about it, the more I wonder – was it to build up some hope after the devastation they had no doubt experienced by this time? The deaths by Cholera, by trampling, snake bite, and illness? A reminder to themselves and others that there was still life? I think I’ll add a part in my book about this. I was disappointed that I couldn’t see any clear-cut dates from the trail, but it was still pretty cool to see the thousands of names inscribed.
We hurried from there to Ayres Natural Bridge. Apparently emigrants used to travel a mile out
of their way to see this area, and I agree that it was completely worth it! We’ve never seen this such a cool natural bridge, and we had to climb to the top of course.
And now we are headed off on our grandest adventure yet! We splurged and booked an overnight trek by Historic Trails West, which means! we get to go on an adventure in an actual wagon train! Eek! I am so excited! And I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.