Wandering WY: Guernsey Trail Ruts & Register Cliff
Last week we learned about the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in Guernsey State Park, but there is actually even more interesting history in the Guernsey area. There are three different Historic Sites within a 15-minute drive from Guernsey: The Oregon Trail Ruts, Register Cliff, and Fort Laramie. The first two we're going to explore today.
The Oregon Trail Ruts
Imagine the air choked with dust, horses, and oxen complaining under the strain of pulling entire households behind them, children crying, mothers scolding, men driving their teams, and the loud creaking of the Prairie Schooners inching their way across the plains. Around 400,000 pioneers journeyed along this trail cutting a deep impression into the sandstone of this particular spot along their route.
So much of the Oregon Trail is lined with the stories of those who did not make it, yet here we are today because these courageous families were willing to brave the hardships of the west in hopes of a better future for their descendants. To stand where their journey is still so visible upon the land they traveled is truly surreal. I stood for quite a while wondering if I would have made the same choice to leave family and comfort behind, packing all my earthly possessions and children into a cramped wagon for such a tedious voyage when the reward at the end of their adventure was anything but guaranteed.
Register Cliff is one of three such sites along the Oregon Trail: Register Cliff, Independence Rock, and Names Hill. At each of these sites, westward immigrants carved their names, their year of travel, and sometimes their place of origin.
Fun Fact: All three Oregon Trail Registers are in Wyoming!
It is illegal to leave your own personal mark on these historic registers now, however that hasn't stopped many vandals over the years. It is very helpful to use online guides by archaeologists to verify that the really cool signature you found is truly historic. The one thing I will caution you about these sites is that they often have snakes, please walk the trails carefully.
Did you have ancestors who traveled the Oregon Trail? Have you found their names on the trail registers? Have you visited Guernsey's historic treasures? Do you think you could have made the journey by wagon along the Oregon Trail?
Thank you, fellow adventurers! You can follow the lilmissbearpaw blog page on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @lilmissbearpaw for sneak peeks into upcoming posts and my adventures. This will also be a great place to share your own adventures!