• Chimney Rock was an important emigrant landmark in western Nebraska

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    National Historic Trail CA,CO,ID,KS,MO,NE,NV,OR,UT,WY

Scotts Bluff

Mitchell Pass at Scotts Bluff National Monument.

Mitchell Pass at Scotts Bluff National Monument.

The Wagner Perspective

Scotts Bluff National Monument/Mitchell Pass

Scotts Bluff was the last famous landmark along the "Great Platte River Road" in Nebraska.

In 1845, General Philip St. George Cooke marveled at the strange formation that rose before him. "Looming afar over river and plain was 'Scott's Bluff,' a Nebraska Gibralter; surmounted by a colossal fortress and a royal castle, it jutted on the water. . . . This morning marched three miles still nearer to that mysterious mountain . . . without being disenchanted of its colossal ruins and phantom occupants."

This immense sandstone and clay formation blocked wagon travel along the south bank of the North Platte River, forcing early travelers to swing south and go through Robidoux Pass, a natural gateway in the great bluffs. In 1850, a shorter route was opened through Mitchell Pass, which stayed closer to the river and eliminated the eight-mile swing south.

A short section of deep and eroded trail ruts in Mitchell Pass has been developed as a walking and interpretive trail. A paved road allows visitors to drive to the top of the bluffs. From this vantage point, a magnificent panoramic view is available well into Wyoming. On a clear day, visitors can see Laramie Peak, almost 60 miles to the west. The National Park Service also maintains a museum, which contains many of William Henry Jackson's paintings of the 19th century American West.

Scotts Bluff National Monument
PO Box 27
Gering, NE 69341-0027
308-436-4340
 
Location of Scotts Bluff National Monument in Nebraska.
Location of Scotts Bluff National Monument in Nebraska.
NPS Image

Did You Know?

Gates of the Bear River, WY. Photo courtesy of The Wagner Perspective.

Rivers played an important role in establishing the 1840s - 1860s Emigrant Road to Oregon and California. In general, the route left the Missouri River to follow the Platte, then the Sweetwater to the Bear, the Snake and then either North to the Columbia or South to the Humboldt. More...