Today we went to Guernsey Wyoming a little town on the east side of the Platte river. On the west side close to the river is the Oregon trail. We visited the Trail Ruts national historic area and the Register Cliffs historic site. At the time of the Oregon trail Guernsey did not exist, nothing did, except Fort Laramie 10 miles to the south, also along the Platte river. These two sites are parts of the Oregon trail that have been preserved. Either site would be your first stop after leaving Fort Laramie as the wagon trains only traveled about 10 miles a day. Being near the Platte river, it was a good stop as there was water and large areas for cattle, horses. Register Cliffs is named for thousands of people who put there names on the side of the soft sandstone cliffs, where they stopped. As early as 1840 there are names. It was a really cool place to visit and ponder if we would have signed our names or even ventured on such a hazardous trek to begin with . There is a small cemetery there also for those who died along the way. The Oregon trail Rut site was an amazing place, there are ruts from the thousands, and thousands of wagons that crossed, five feet deep or so. As the sandstone was soft the wheels just dug deeper and deeper. If you were on the trail, you did not deviate from it, it was too risky, and also the trail goes along ridges and smooth hills, not lowland like we thought. This was for two reasons, one on the hill tops you could see for miles so if anyone was lurking around you would see them. Second during the fall and early winter, the wind would keep the snow off the hill tops, so you could move and not get stuck in the snow. These were two very neat places to go and we learned a lot. Next we are going to Fort Laramie, will post on that soon.
The wagons were ten to twelve feet long, four feet wide, and two to three feet deep, with fifty-inch diameter rear wheels and forty-four-inch front wheels made of oak with iron tire rims. The wagons weighed from 1,000 to 1,400 pounds and carried loads between 1,500 and 2,500 pounds. They had sturdy hardwood box frames that were made as watertight as possible to facilitate stream and river crossings. Most overlanders used two or four yoked oxen to pull their wagons, because they had more endurance and were less expensive than horses or mules and they were less likely to be stolen by Indians. Prudent travelers carried spare parts, grease for axle bearings, heavy rope, chains, and pulleys to keep wagons repaired and to aid in rescue from predicaments.
More Ruts . . . . Oh Nuts . . .
And Now . . .
By the time the last wagon trains crossed in the 1880s, mass migration on the Oregon Trail had left an indelible mark on the American frontier. Decades of prairie schooner traffic carved up certain sections of the trail, leaving imprints in stone and wearing down grasslands so much that nothing grows on them to this day. These pioneer wagon ruts can still be seen in all six of the states that once encompassed the trail.
Truly incredible places and incredible people who left their homes back East for a new start out West.
A Pony Express Stop
Next to a beach