Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Carving A Path

Brenda and Marilyn M.
(my niece and sister)
standing in the Oregon Trail Ruts
near Guernsey, WY
circa mid-1970s
In 2009, I wrote about the Oregon Trail winding through Wyoming. In my opinion, the most preserved section of the Oregon Trail is in Southeastern Wyoming near Guernsey. The ruts at that location are carved from solid rock as the wagon trains made their way over the hillside.

Dwight, Marilyn, and Brenda M.
(my nephew, sister, and niece)
circa mid-1970s
In the 1970s the ruts were accessible via a cement path straight up the hill. Today, the Oregon Trail ruts are easily accessible, even to the handicapped, via a meandering cement walkway wide enough for a wheelchair. Alongside the current pathway are benches so weary visitors can rest. It is still possible to stand in the ruts and to feel the rock that was steadily worn down by wagons and carts from 1836 - 1869.

Oregon Trail ruts
south of Guernsey, WY
circa 1978
The photo above gives a clear view of the hill's incline. The ruts offer not only a glimpse into the westward migration of the pioneers but also provide a testament to their character. These images reveal that the way was not easy. The ruts illustrate that the determined pioneers forged ahead day after day towards something that they had never seen: they had a goal, and they persevered. In this area, the pioneers carved the trail out of solid rock, and over 150 years later that path can still teach many lessons.

Did any of your ancestors travel the Oregon Trail?


  1. Amazing!! I had forgotten about these ruts! Just north of Baggs (my hometown) you can still see the ruts of the Overland Trail!! It is amazing how these have lasted for over 150 years! And you are right - we can learn so much just contemplating the tenacity and perseverance of those pioneers! To my knowledge, none of my ancestors traveled the trails west, mine all came after the west was settled.

    Have a great day!

  2. Great photos! I'd love to see this one day. I think the well defined trail must have given later pioneers hope that they would make it through the tough spots, because so many others already had.

  3. Oh memories....those were taken when you lived in Wheatland , right?

  4. Very nice photos!! I find the history of the Oregon Trail fascinating. My mom's side of the family never made it past the Mississippi River. My dad's side got to Nebraska, but not sure how they got there. It may well have been after the West was opened and you could hop a train.

  5. I had know idea the Orgeon Trail went thru WY...will have to check it out some holiday!!

  6. How wonderful! I don't know much about my great-grandmother's family, and she was from Missouri (maybe?) so who knows?!

  7. I've never seen those before. I had heard about the ruts but had no idea they were that deep. None of my ancestors ever traveled the Oregon Trail, and I've never heard of any of their siblings on it either.

  8. I've seen these ruts in Oregon too. Most of my ancestors stopped in the Midwest; some came to IL up the Mississippi River. But one of my grandmother's sisters came west to Victoria, BC, along with horses and probably a bit later. Makes history come alive though, doesn't it?

  9. Nancy you are amazing!! You never fail to post thought provoking and fascinating information and photos!! I have never seen the Oregon Trail and I don't know why because DH and I have crisscrossed the country many times. I am going to put it on my bucket list right now!

  10. Nope. My people were firmly rooted in Pennsylvania since 1752. I was the first of my family to move from the state. Oh wait ...I had a radical aunt. She actually had the audacity to move to Arizona!!!

    I do believe the family never talked to her again, but it may not have been BECAUSE of her move. Maybe it IS what CAUSED her to move though.

    Can you IMAGINE riding a wagon over that rock. That would shake your milk for sure.

  11. Oh I've particularly enjoyed hearing about this littler piece of history. When I was little I had the Oregon Trail computer game, it was a pretty difficult game to play, I cannot even begin to imagine the challenges those settlers faced.

  12. Oh my gosh nancy!!!!!!!

    We stood there too.....did you go to pioneer rock too?

  13. Now I will have to look up where Guernsey is. Awesome photos! No our relatives gave up in Minnesota and Iowa..softys:)


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