Thursday, September 22, 2011
Monday, September 5th - The roads (Highway 385) in the year of 2011 were much improved compared to 1874 when the miners and pioneers started pouring into the Western Trails (Oregon/California Trail) in search of gold. Instead of the Conestoga wagons that carried essentials items such as barrels of flour, cornmeal, sugar and coffee, pots and pans, tools and all household items, we travelled on paved roads in the Mustang and only had to bring enough clean clothes, cell phones, iPod, cameras and credit cards to pay for hotels, gas and meals. (Conestoga, Pennsylvania was where the wagons were made, thus the name of the wagons.)
Along scenic US-64 was a clay and sandstone spire resembling a factory chimney, rooted in Nebraska's North Platte Valley. Chimney Rock was the most famous landmark on the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails during the great migration West. It was a comfort to million weary travelers/pioneers to see this landmark, like a beacon, letting them know that they were on the right path trudging westward across the continent. Early travelers also knew that Chimney Rock marked the end of the prairies and the beginning of treacherous mountain range and steep canyons lay ahead.
Chimney Rock rose almost 500 feet above the south bank of the North Platte River. Starting as a cone-shaped mound, it became a narrow 150-foot column after being striked by lightening, and erosion from wind and rain.
I read on a website that the native American had a different name for Chimney Rock. They did not have chimney back then, so the appropriate name for such rock formation was given a name as a "private part" of a male elk. (No comment about this bit of information, please. This is a clean, family, PG-13 blog.)