One of the highlights of my recent photo safari to western Nebraska was walking along the Oregon Trail, which used the large bluffs as landmarks to mark the route.
Looking through the spokes of a covered wagon, I took this picture of the most prominent of multiple bluffs in the area, Scotts Bluff. Named after a fur trader, Hiram Scott, who died near the bluff during a winter storm, this bluff rises 800′ above the plains.
As the settlers followed the Oregon Trail across Nebraska, they would spread their covered wagons across the prairie so they wouldn’t be eating the dust stirred up by the wagons ahead. But, when the wagons approached the Scottsbluff area, the wagons formed a single file to get through Mitchell’s Pass, thousands of wagons, livestock and people going single file following the easiest route through the bluffs. It is a deep narrow path, permanently etched into the prairie by the mass migration, with time caving in the path’s sidewalls making it feel like the bottom of a bowl. Only a half-mile of the original trail (above) still exists, but it was a thrill to walk on.
Thought for the Day: No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars or sailed an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit. Helen Keller