Chimney Rock near Bayard, Nebraska is the signature landmark on the Oregon Trail. The stone column rises nearly 300 feet above the North Platte river valley. The national historical site and visitors center is maintained and operated by History Nebraska. The museum inside the center has been expanded and updated. The exhibits are interesting and the staff is knowledgeable and helpful.
Scotts Bluff National Monument is another must see attraction. The setting looks much the same as the scene in William Henry Jackson’s painting of a westbound wagon train crossing beneath Scotts Bluff.
Fort Laramie just across the state line in Wyoming was built at the confluence of the Laramie and North Platte rivers in 1834 as a trading post where the Lakota traded tanned buffalo robes for trade goods. In 1849 the US Army bought the old post which was called Fort John and renamed it Fort Laramie.
“This ‘grand old post’ witnessed the entire sweeping saga of America’s western expansion and Indian resistance to encroachment on their territories.” (US National Park Service)
West of Fort Laramie near Gurnsey, Wyoming is the locationof what the National Park Service describes as the most spectacular ruts along the entire Oregon-California Trail. Wagons crossing a ridge of soft sandstone in exactly the same place carved deep ruts to more than five feet in some places that are preserved in the stone.
Also located near Gurnsey is Register Cliff where travelers carved their names into the soft rock. Unfortunately there is more twentieth century graffiti than signatures from the 1840’s, 50’s and 60’s.