Time to feature a National Monument since so many of them are under fire right now. These places are our shared history as a people, and we come to them to learn and to appreciate the courage and struggle that most of them represent.
Scotts Bluff (named for Hiram Scott, who died here after being left for dead) was a major stop on the trails west: The Oregon Trail, The California Trail, the Mormon Pioneer Trail, and the Pony Express. Here’s the pass they went through on their way west.
It is the Mormon Trail that my dad’s ancestors took to get from Nauvoo to Salt Lake City to where they finally settled in eastern Arizona. From 1850, after the pass here was improved, the Gold Rush joined the constant flow of people looking for a better life in the West. Between 1841-1869, over 350,000 people moved westward, some in wagons, but most walking alongside them at an average rate of eight miles per day.
When they reached Scotts Bluff, they knew they were a third of the way through their journey. The Continental Divide, the Great Basin, and more than a few mountain ranges still stood between them and the coast, but at least they had survived the Plains.
The visitor center has a nice history of the area as well as some nature exhibits, so it’s well worth a look. That road you see in the photo below leads to the summit, which is where I took the photo.
Someday, I’d like to come back and trace more of these westward trails.