of SARA, MACK and
NEALIE (Mack's mother) in
MAY 25 thru JUNE 1, 1996
3,928 MILES OF DRIVING
OKLAHOMA BOMBING SITE BEFORE THE NEW MEMORIAL SITE WAS BUILT.
ARRIVED IN DENVER AT NIGHT AND WE DID NOT HAVE A CHANCE
TO TAKE A PICTURE OF THE COLORADO SIGN.
What is the Oregon Trail?
In its earliest days, the Oregon Trail was a 2000 mile long string of rivers and natural landmarks that could be followed from Missouri to Oregon. It was easy to get lost without a guide who knew the way. In later years, after thousands of pioneers had followed the Oregon Trail to settle in the Oregon Country, there were well-worn paths to follow. On the other hand, there were also local roads, military roads, and even shortcuts, so while it was harder to get really lost, it was still easy to take a wrong turn.
Why did people want to go there?
Lots of reasons. There were some families that just had the habit of moving west every five or ten years to follow the frontier. They liked the extra freedom of life on the frontier, but civilization kept catching up to them. It seemed to them like emigrating to Oregon would be the last move they would ever have to make. Others were in search of opportunity -- there were hard times back East, but in the 1840s married settlers could claim a square mile of the Oregon Country, 640 acres, at no cost. Oregon had a reputation not only for having good farmland and vast forests of huge, ancient trees, but also for being free of disease. This made the Oregon Country even more attractive, since epidemics were common in the East and little was known about the causes of disease and infection. The idea of allowing such valuable land to fall into the hands of the British inspired patriotic Americans to head for Oregon, and gold strikes in southern and eastern Oregon during the 1850s inspired other sorts of Americans.
How long did it take to get to Oregon?
At least four months. Emigrants who finished the trip in five months were thought to have made good time. Stragglers who needed six or seven months to reach Oregon risked running into winter weather in the mountains -- and after the 1846 ordeal of the Donner-Reed Party, the thought of being that slow was enough to frighten anyone into action.
How many people came west on the Oregon Trail?
At least 80,000 emigrants followed the Oregon Trail to settle in the present-day states of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. That estimate has been creeping upwards over the years, and as many as 200,000 people may have traveled the Trail by wagon.
When was the Oregon Trail in use?
The Trail was in regular use from 1843 until the 1870s. When the Union Pacific completed the first railroad link to the West Coast in 1869, the preferred route became by train to San Francisco, then north to Oregon by ship, but wagon trains could still be seen on the Oregon Trail as late as the 1880s. The last wagon widely known to have traveled the length of the Trail was driven in 1906 by Ezra Meeker, an aging Oregon Trail emigrant who was conducting a one-man publicity campaign to remind people of the historic significance of the Oregon Trail. However, we've had visitors at the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center who recalled that because their family couldn't afford the train fare, they traveled the Trail by wagon as late as 1912.
NEAR GUERNSEY, WYOMING
The 5+ foot deep ruts found on this steep hillside are among the best preserved anywhere
along the overland trail routes. Thousands upon thousands of wagon wheels literally cut
into solid rock as oxen strained to pull heavy wagons out of the North Platte River valley.
FORT LARAMIE, WYOMING
Fort Laramie, the military post, was founded in 1849 when the army purchased the old Fort John for $4000, and began to build a military outpost along the Oregon Trail.
For many years, the Plains Indians and the travelers along the Oregon Trail had coexisted peacefuly. As the numbers of emigrants increased, however, tensions between the two cultures began to develop. To help insure the safety of the travelers, Congress approved the establishment of forts along the Oregon Trail and a special regiment of Mounted Riflemen to man them. Fort Laramie was the second of these forts to be established.
The popular view of a western fort, perhaps generated by Hollywood movies, is that of an enclosure surrounded by a wall or stockade. Fort Laramie, however, was never enclosed by a wall. Initial plans for the fort included a wooden fence or a thick structure of rubble, nine feet high, that enclosed an area 550 feet by 650 feet. Because of the high costs involved, however, the wall was never built. Fort Laramie was always an open fort that depended upon its location and its garrison of troops for security.
In the 1850s, one of the main functions of the troops stationed at the fort was patrolling and maintaining the security of a lengthy stretch of the Oregon Trail. This was a difficult task because of the small size of the garrison and the vast distances involved. In 1851, a treaty, the Treaty of 1851, was signed between the United States and the most important tribes of the Plains Indians. The peace that it inaugurated, however, lasted only three years. In 1854, an incident involving a passing wagon train precipitated the Grattan Fight in which an officer, an interpreter, and 29 soldiers from Fort Laramie were killed. This incident was one of several that ignited the flames of a conflict between the United States and the Plains Indians that would not be resolved until the end of the 1870s.
The 1860s brought a different type of soldier to Fort Laramie. After the beginning of the Civil War, most regular army troops were withdrawn to the East to participate in that conflict, and the fort was garrisoned by state volunteer regiments, such as the Seventh Iowa and the Eleventh Ohio. The stream of emigrants along the Oregon trial began to diminish, but the completion of the transcontinental telegraph line in 1861 brought a new responsibility to the soldiers. Inspecting, defending, and repairing the "talking wire" was added to their duties. During the latter part of the 1860s, troops from Fort Laramie were involved in supplying and reinforcing the forts along the Bozeman Trail, until the Treaty of 1868 was signed.
Unfortunately, the Treaty of 1868 did not end the conflict between the United States and the Plains Indians and, by the 1870's, major campaigns were being mounted against the plains tribes. The discovery of gold in the Black Hills, in 1874, and the resultant rush to the gold fields had violated some of the terms of the treaty and antagonized the Sioux who regarded the Hills as sacred ground. Under leaders such as Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, they and their allies chose to fight to keep their land. In campaigns such as the ones in 1876, Fort Laramie served as a staging area for troops, a communications and logistical center, and a command post.
Conflicts with the Indians on the Northern Plains had abated by the 1880s. Relieved of some of its military function, Fort Laramie relaxed into a Victorian era of relative comfort. Boardwalks were built in front of officers' houses and trees were planted to soften the stark landscape.
By the end of the 1880s, the Army recognized that Fort Laramie had served its purpose. Many important events on the Northern Plains had involved the Fort, and many arteries of transport and communication had passed through it. Perhaps the most important artery, however, the Union Pacific Railroad, had bypassed it to the South. In March of 1890, troops marched out of Fort Laramie for the last time. The land and buildings that comprised the Fort were sold at auction to civilians.
Ruins of Old Hospital
The 1866 Guardhouse
Towering eight hundred feet above the North Platte River, Scotts Bluff has been a natural
landmark for many peoples, and it served as the path marker for those on the Oregon,
California, Mormon, and Pony Express Trails.
Located in the valley of the North Platte River, this landmark has been remarked upon by people for centuries. Chimney Rock is known as the most famous landmark on the Oregon-California Trail, but it had made an impression on earlier residents of the area as well. According to early fur traders, Native Americans named the rock "Elk Penis" after the penis of the adult male elk. This made more sense to those who had lived for centuries on the plains than comparing the rock to a feature from a white man's building. Prim and proper usage among Anglo-Americans, though, overwhelmingly preferred the more delicate name "chimney."
Nearly half a million westbound emigrants and other travelers saw Chimney Rock. Many remain nameless; a few left words and pictures describing their trip west. All were part of a great movement of people and ideas that passed by Chimney Rock in the years 1812-1866. Many emigrants, surveyors, and members of military expeditions drew sketches of Chimney Rock as they passed in proximity. In later years photographs of Chimney Rock became popular. In the days prior to sophisticated scientific techniques disputes surrounding Chimney Rock were - how tall is it? and - will it last?
Carhenge in alliance, nebraska
Carhenge, which replicates Stonehenge, consists of the circle of cars, 3 standing trilithons within the circle, the heel stone, slaughter stone, and 2 station stones, and the Aubrey circle, named after Sir John Aubrey who first recognized the earthworks and great stones as a prehistoric temple in 1648. It was not until excavations undertaken in the 1920's that they were found to be holes cut to hold timber uprights. A total of 56 holes were discovered and named the Aubrey Holes in honor of John Aubrey's observation.
The artist of this unique car sculpture, Jim Reinders, experimented with unusual and interesting artistic creations throughout his life. While living in England, he had the opportunity to study the design and purpose of Stonehenge. His desire to copy Stonehenge in physical size and placement came to fruition in the summer of 1987 with the help of many family members.
Thirty-eight automobiles were placed to assume the same proportions as Stonehenge with the circle measuring approximately 96 feet in diameter. Some autos are held upright in pits five feet deep, trunk end down, while those cars which are placed to form the arches have been welded in place. All are covered with gray spray paint. The honor of depicting the heel stone goes to a 1962 Caddy.
Carhenge was built as a memorial to Reinders' father who once lived on the farm where Carhenge now stands. While relatives were gathered following the death of Reinders' father in 1982, the discussion turned to a memorial and the idea of a Stonehenge replica was developed. The family agreed to gather in five years and build it. The clan, about 35 strong, gathered in June 1987 and went to work. They held the dedication on the Summer Solstice in 1987, with champagne, poetry, songs and a play written by the family.
Carhenge has been preserved by Friends of Carhenge, a local group, who now owns and maintains it. Reinders donated the 10 acres of land where Carhenge is located. They have added a paved parking lot, picnic tables, and an educational display board.
CRAZY HORSE MEMORIAL WAS CLOSED DUE TO
HEAVY SNOWSTORM EVEN DURING THE LAST WEEK OF MAY.
IT WOULD LOOK LIKE THIS WITH A GOOD WEATHER.
Crazy Horse Memorial, home of the world’s largest mountain sculpture in progress, is in the Black Hills of South Dakota on U.S. Highway 16/385 just 17 miles southwest of Mount Rushmore.
Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski began the project in 1948 at the request of Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear and other Native American elders. Korczak died in 1982. His wife, Ruth, and some members of their family continue the project, working with the nonprofit Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation.
The Memorial's visitor complex includes the 40,000 square foot Welcome Center and theaters, the Indian Museum of North America, the Native American Educational & Cultural Center, the sculptor’s log home studio and workshop, indoor and outdoor galleries, museum gift shop, restaurant and snack bar areas and expansive viewing veranda.
Many Native American artists and crafts people create their artwork and visit with guests at the Memorial during the summer season.
SNOWING WAS HEAVY AND THICK.
SO WE DROVE TO MOUNT RUSHMORE NATIONAL MEMORIAL SITE
NOT FAR FROM CRAZY HOUSE SITE AND IT WAS OPEN BUT WITH SNOWSTORM.
IT WOULD LOOK LIKE THIS WITH A GOOD WEATHER.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial, located 23 miles southwest of Rapid City, is something you don't want to miss. "Until the wind and the rain alone shall wear them away." Those are the famous words Sculptor Gutzon Borglum used to describe the length of time his most famous work, Mt. Rushmore, will endure.
The mountain itself was originally named after Charles E. Rushmore, a New York lawyer investigating mining claims in the Black Hills in 1885. Gutzon Borglum chose this mountain due to its height (5700' above sea level), the soft grainy consistency of the granite, and the fact that it catches the sun for the greatest part of the day. The presidents were selected on the basis of what each symbolized. George Washington represents the struggle for independence, Thomas Jefferson the idea of government by the people. Abraham Lincoln for his ideas on equality and the permanent union of the states, and Theodore Roosevelt for the 20th century role of the United States in world affairs. The carving of Mt. Rushmore actually began on August 10, 1927, and spanned a length of 14 years. Only about six and a half years were spent actually carving the mountain, with the rest of the time being spent on weather delays and Borglum's greatest enemy - the lack of funding. The total cost of the project was $900,000. Work continued on the project until the death of Gutzon Borglum in 1941. No carving has been done on the mountain since that time and none is planned in the future.
The granite faces of four American presidents' is scaled to men who would stand 465 feet tall! President Calvin Coolidge believed Mount Rushmore was "decidedly American in its conception, magnitude and meaning. It is altogether worthy of our country," Coolidge proclaimed at the dedication of the project in 1927.
THEN WE DROVE THRU DEADWOOD, SOUTH DAKOTA WHERE
MANY COWBOYS MET AT BARS TO PLAY POKER, ETC.
IN THE SAME CITY, WE VISITED THE BURIAL SITES OF "WILD BILL" HICKOCK
AND MARTHA BURKE KNOWN AS "CALAMITY JANE"
JAMES BUTLER HICKOK BORN MAY 27, 1837 IN TROY GROVE, ILLINOIS
MARTHA CANARY BURKE BORN MAY 1, 1852 IN PRINCETON, MISSOURI
THE DEVIL'S TOWER IN WYOMING
Of all the unique natural wonders to be found in America, the Devil's Tower in Wyoming is one of the most fascinating. It is America's counterpart to Australia's Ayers Rock. It stands alone in the desolate Wyoming wilderness near the Belle Fourche River and on a clear day it can be seen from as far as 100 miles away. Because of the way it looms over the countryside it can be seen long before it is reached thrusting itself high into the wild prairie sky.
It is as mysterious as it is beautiful and native Americans used to call it Grizzly Bear Lodge in their own language. According to one legend an evil spirit used the top of the tower as a drum to frighten the land during a thunderstorm. Another legend attributes the lines running down the sides of the rock to the claws of a giant grizzly bear who tried to climb the sheer walls of the rock to get to some native Americans living on the top.
Early pioneers who were traveling across the Great Plains by Conestoga wagons on the journey further west, used the tower as a guidepost as did the native Americans before them.
Geologists and scientists have been fascinated by the rock which is said to be over 50 million years old and yet it remains a geological mystery. It is said by some to be the remnant of a volcanic rock intrusion now exposed by erosion. The tower has a flat top and its fluted sides are 865 feet high. The tower was probably formed when molten rock, pushing upward, encountered a hard-rock layer and was forced to spread into a flat-topped mountainous structure.
In 1906 the Devil's Tower was declared America's first national monument and today visitors are welcomed to come and climb it. Although there are several trails to the summit, the climb is not an easy one, but the view from the top becomes its own reward. Its color is light gray and it is covered with lichens, sage, moss and grass on its top. As one climbs to the peak falcon and hawk nests can be seen along the trail and an occasional mule deer will make a solitary appearance. Finally, having reached the top of Devil's Tower, the vista is breathtaking and magnificent. The crest of the tower is inhabited by chipmunks and prairie dogs who spend their whole lives at the top of the structure without ever venturing to go beyond the tower's rim to the prairie below.
A museum at the tower's headquarters has exhibits explaining the geology, history and natural environment of the monuments region. For campers there are places to stay during the spring and summers months and a pine forest covers some of the surrounding countryside.
Besides being a monument, the tower starred a lead role in a popular feature film. In Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind it was used as the site for man's contact with alien creatures from outside the solar system. What an ideal place for a rendezvous with an extraterrestrial!
BUFFALO BILL DAM WITH BEAUTIFUL SHOSHONE RIVER
AT CODY, WYOMING IN THE EARLY MORNING
BIGHORN NATIONAL FOREST
WE TOOK A BREAK JUST TO LOOK AROUND.
WE THEN TOOK A BRIEF DETOUR TO "TOUCH" MONTANA.
MONTANA'S BEAUTIFUL PRAIRIE
THAT BUFFALO IS RUNNING SIDE BY SIDE WITH ME.
EVENTUALLY IT SLOWED DOWN AND FOLLOWED US.
BRIGHAM YOUNG'S HOME WITH SEVEN WIVES
CLOSE-UP PICTURE OF DELICATE ARCH
The Four Corners National Monument is the only place in the United States
where you can in four different states at the same time. Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico
and Utah. The monument is located in the desert on the Navajo Indian Reservation.
Around 14 centuries ago, the nomadic Anasazi people chose to settle down and build permanent homes near their planted crops. As the tribe prospered, members migrated outward to build "cliff dwellings" in a variety of locations — Mesa Verde chief among them. From this network of cities, Anasazi culture flourished for hundreds of years. Then, approximately 400 to 500 years ago, the Anasazi vanished suddenly and mysteriously.
RIO GRANDE GORGE BRIDGE
Built in 1965, it was called the "Bridge to Nowhere," as there was not enough funding
to continue the road from the other side. At 650 feet above the Rio Grande and 1200
feet across, it is the second highest suspension bridge in the United States.
HOLDING THE FENCE AGAINST TOO STRONG INCOMING WIND
Inside Loretto Chapel
Two mysteries surround the spiral staircase in the Loretto Chapel; the identity of its builder and the physics of the staircase construction.
When the Loretto Chapel was completed, there was no way to access the choir loft, 22 feet above. Carpenters were called in to address the problem but they all concluded access to the loft would have to be via ladder as a staircase would interfere with the interior space of the small Chapel.
To find a solution to the problem, the Sisters of the Chapel made a novena to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. Legend says on the ninth and final day of prayer, a man showed up at the Chapel with a donkey and a toolbox looking for work. Months later the elegant circular staircase was completed and the carpenter disappeared without pay or thanks. After searching for the man (an ad even ran in the local newspaper) and finding no trace of him, some concluded that he was St. Joseph himself.
The stairway's carpenter, whoever he was, built a magnificent structure. The design was innovative for the time and some of the design considerations still perplex experts today.
The staircase has two 360 degree turns and has no visible means of support. Also, it is said that the staircase was built without nails -- only wooden pegs. Questions also surround the number of stair risers compared to the height of the choir loft and about the types of wood and other materials used in the stairway's construction.
Over the years many have flocked to the Loretto Chapel to see the Miraculous Staircase. The staircase has been the subject of many articles, TV specials, and movies including "Unsolved Mysteries" and the Kraft movie called "The Staircase".
The miraculous staircase with added rails later
SANTA FE CATHEDRAL
NEW MEXICO SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF IN SANTA FE
THE DRIVING TRAVEL ENDED WHEN WE REACHED TEXAS.