Thursday, October 31, 2013

Standing on History - Split Rock

I almost missed it. Along State Highway 287 in central Wyoming (near Riverton) is a very small sign directing you to stop and gaze upon this broad valley. Near the parking area, three information signs tell the story. This is Split Rock, a natural gap between stone mountains that anchor a broad plain containing a freshwater river and green grasses.

Why is it famous? In the 1800s some half million pioneers traveled west through this valley while on the Oregon Trail and Mormon Pioneer Trail. Both routes converged through this passage. Even the short lived Pony Express ran through this valley. Descriptions of this vista and its history are on display near where the photo was taken. 

Highway 287 to Lander parallels much of the Oregon trail for several miles in this region - sometimes just a few yards from the paved highway. Had I known this historic fact I would have been treated to seeing the actual ruts of metal wagon wheels made by pioneers over one hundred and fifty years ago. Do your trip research ahead of time is the lesson.