Sunday, June 16, 2013

More Oregon/California/Mormon/Pony Express Trail(s)

We were up at out of the RV park by 7:30.  As we headed West-Northwest on highway 26 we can see the mountains (Laramie Peak, Eagle Peak, Bear Head Mountain, etc).  Could not see the top of the larges one, however, which I think is Bear Head Mountain.
We soon hit I-25, and another view of the mountain range showed the many peaks of the various mountains.  One could certainly see why the early pioneers would travel so far north to go around these monsters.  Look at the terrain in the foreground….they had lots to deal with.  The line of trees to the left is the North Plat River just north of Glendo Reservoir. I-25 is just starting to take a large left turn to head west to Casper before it cuts due north to Buffalo Wyoming. 
We went through Casper and caught highway 220, and continue our path along the wagon trails.  The highway was under construction near Casper, but there were no delays and enjoyed the fresh, new asphalt to drive on, and the red look of these mountains.
Eventually we came upon Alcova Reservoir, which was built in the 1930’s, and is supplied by the North Platt River.  I am sure that the Pioneers would have loved a lake this size to play and clean up in…but alas, they just had the river.....let alone have a house like this one to live in with that view.
Our journey continued toward Independence Rock, which is up by those mountains ahead.  Below you can see more of the terrain that the pioneers had to deal with.
We finally made it to Independence Rock.  There is plenty of RV parking, and truck parking, and car parking because this place also doubles as a Rest Area.  There are plenty of informational signs, you can take a short walk up to and around a portion of the rock, and most of this walk was along concrete sidewalks, which was good for Marcia who was on her little GoGo.
Many a pioneer signed their initials or names into the rock….most of which have long disappeared. 
Above is probably some carvings which were from the 1800’s, but the “J” and the “B” are probably from the 1900’s.  But there was no one around to ask, so it is up to each person’s own judgment.
Around the back side of the rock you come upon these various plaques.  You can click on the image to enlarge it (remember to come back to the blog though), and most of the carvings on the rock are from the early 1900’s, though some fainted ones can be seen in the area which definitely look like they are from the early pioneers.  Regardless, it was nice to see Independence Rock, and it made me think of my third great grandfather Jacob Willis (on my dad’s side) who brought his family to Oregon along the Oregon Trail around 1847.  He and his wife Mary Ellen had four children born in Missouri, and one born in Oregon.  Jacob died soon after they arrived in Oregon, probably before the birth of his last child.  The oldest child, Sarah Anne, was my second great grandmother, and was around nine years old when they traveled to Oregon.  One has to wonder if she ever played on or near Independence Rock as so many of them did. 
We made our way down to I-80 at Rawlins, and traveled the “familiar to me” I-80 to Fort Bridger near Evanston, a few hours away from Salt Lake City.  I don’t know how many times I have traveled along this route….mostly in the first 30 years of my life when I lived in Sacramento.  Cities are bigger, the road is in fair shape, and the wind always seems to blow along I-80 in Wyoming. We are at the Fort Bridger RV Park, a Good Sams park which is nothing to write home about, but is going to make for a quiet night's sleep.  Good Internet, 14 channels of cable, and we did not have to unhook the HHR...but the price is twice that of last night's Passport park, and this place is not much better than what we had last night.


  1. You certainly are motoring! I love that you are following so much of the Oregon Trail. I use to "travel" the trail with my students through stories and photos. It was always so much fun. We needed to get to Independence Rock by July 4th so we could get over the mountains before the snow. Someday we will adf Independence Rock into our plans. How extra neat that you have a real connection to the pioneers! Travel safely!

    1. Oh if you only knew the connection to American Pioneers this boy has....Mayflower Ancestry on my dad's side, a true "49er" (not only a fan of the football team, but having ancestry in California before the end of 1849) also on dad's side, heritage on mom's side in Delaware in the late 1600's. President Grant, related on dad's side, as a young man helped move a large stone from the yard of a relative on my mom's side of the family in Ohio. So much American Heritage that in the 2000 Census when I was picked to do the "long form", I put my ancestry down as something like "Pre-America American" with a side note of early American Heritage, and then named just about every country in Europe as from where my ancestor's came from, and ended with "Adam and Eve" along with

      Thank you for being a good days it seems the Govt doesn't allow good teachers to really teach. --Dave

    2. How interesting to have all that research into your family background. You read like a history book!

    3. Read more like a Librarian, which is what I was. You could only imagine how I felt when doing research on my mom's side and came across this tidbit of info which talked about how a younger Grant and a few other young men removed this large boulder from the yard of my mom's ancestor. At that point I already knew that Grant was a distant cousin (many times removed, as they say) from my dad. Gave me a bit of the chills....another example of just how small this world really is.

  2. Very cool connections to US history through your ancestors! Tony's family all came over on the immigrant boats in the early 1900s. Half of mine came over then and half of then have been here since the 1700s but they weren't doing anything as neat as traveling the Oregon Trail or searching for gold in California.

  3. You guys are booking some serious miles! Thanks for the description of the area(s). I especially loved the photos of the open road.

    (I agree that the wind always seems to blow along I-80 in Wyoming. When I crossed it last year I was exhausted at the end of the day.) :-(

  4. The scenes are really breathtaking. Enjoy your adventure.


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