• Chimney Rock was an important emigrant landmark in western Nebraska

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South Pass

Photo image of South Pass, Wyoming

The Wagner Perspective

South Pass - Fremont County, Wyoming

South Pass was perhaps the most important landmark along the emigrant trails. It marked the end of the long ascent to the Continental Divide and the emigrants' arrival at the frontier of the Oregon country. It was also thought to be the halfway point along the trail.

South Pass dictated the location of the emigrant trail, for only via its gradual ascent was wagon travel over the Continental Divide practical for large-scale emigration. South Pass is the wide, flat summit of a long and gradually ascending plateau, with low ridges and hills on both sides and a wide sage and grass-covered saddle between. Many emigrants commented that they scarcely noticed the ascent or the crossing.

On July 12, 1846, Edwin Bryant made his way "up a very gentle ascent to the SOUTH PASS OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS, or the dividing ridge separating the waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific. The ascent to the Pass is so gradual, that but for our geographical knowledge . . . we should not have been conscious that we had ascended to, and were standing upon the summit of the Rocky Mountains-the backbone . . . of the North American Continent."

For info on visiting South Pass, contact:

Bureau of Land Management
Rock Springs Field Office, Wyoming
280 Hwy. 191 N.
307-352-0256

 
Image map location of South Pass, Wyoming.
Image map location of South Pass, Wyoming.
NPS Image

Did You Know?

Picture image of Farewell Bend on the Snake River along Interstate 84 west of Boise, Idaho.

Oregon bound emigrants bid "farewell" to the Snake River as they entered the Oregon Territory in the 1840s - 60s heading for the Columbia River. The site is managed today by Oregon State Parks. More...