Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ruts, Cliff, and Fort

For a couple of nights, we stayed at Pioneer Park in Torrington, WY. Torrington is a town that understands the value of RVers to the local economy. By providing a free place to park for a few nights, they encourage RVers to stop in their town. We showed our appreciation by leaving a donation and, while there, we ate a meal out, shopped at the local grocery store, and bought gas. Everybody wins!

About 30 miles west of Torrington, outside of tiny Guernsey, are three historical sites. I have always been fascinated by ruts carved by the wagons and carts of the many thousands of brave emigrants in the mid 1800's. These at the Oregon Trail Ruts National Historic Landmark are the most impressive I've ever seen.

The terrain here forced the travelers to follow a single set of tracks across relatively soft sandstone. Some of the ruts are quite deep.

The heyday of this western movement began in the 1840's and ended in 1869 when the transcontinental railroad was completed. During this time, many of the hopeful emigrants stopped at Register Cliff and left their mark. You just have to wonder what happened to these adventurous people.

Mr. (or Miss) Willard was determined to leave a lasting mark. This name was deeply etched.

We noticed several of the names had letters printed backwards - a glimpse into another era.

We're not sure about old 'Tex' here since he seems to be claiming the title of Wagonmaster twenty years after the wagon trains ended. Maybe he returned years later to sign the cliff.

Of course not all the emigrants made it to their destinations. One sign stated that 20,000 died enroute, mostly of cholera and other diseases.

The third site was Fort Laramie. It was built in 1834 by a fur trader as a trading post. In the 1840s it became a stopping point for the emigrant parties following the Oregon Trail. In 1849, the Army bought the fort and made it a military outpost which protected the emigrants and hosted major treaty councils.

Since I was melting from the heat by then, this is the only picture I took and that was mostly for the nice clouds. This is the remains of the fort hospital.

But I did admire this bridge built in 1875 by the Army over the North Platte River. The North Platte is a wide flat river and unnavigable. This is only a third of the bridge with two more spans out of the shot. It seems to be quite a feat for the time.


  1. Ooooooo! Ruts! I really wanted to see some, but we flew through Nebraska. I'm so jealous. Interesting how they are in sandstone.

  2. I was in Torrington not too long ago. But I missed the wagon ruts. Thanks for the tour.