• Martin's Cove at Devil's Gate in Wyoming

    Mormon Pioneer

    National Historic Trail IL,IA,NE,UT,WY

Sand Hill Ruts

Sand Hill Ruts - Sutherland, Nebraska

The great sand bluffs that plunge to the river's edge near Southerland, Nebraska created a formidable barrier for pioneer wagon trains, forcing emigrants to leave the north side of the North Platte River and go across the hills. Loose sand created a hard pull for the wagon teams.

William Clayton recorded the detour on May 14,1847: "We passed among and around the high bluffs, our course lying nearly in a north direction for some time, then turning south and on approaching the river, nearly southwest. When within about three-quarters of a mile of the river, we stopped to feed at twenty minutes to two, having traveled six and a quarter miles. We have got on the level bottom again and are probably not more than three miles in a direct line from where we started this morning."

The excellent swales, still visible in the sand hills, mark the passage of hundreds of overland wagons.
 
Map image of the auto tour route driving directions for the Mormon Pioneer NHT across Nebraska.
Map image of the auto tour route driving directions for the Mormon Pioneer NHT across Nebraska.
NPS Image
 

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Did You Know?

Mormon Church founder, Joseph Smith, Jr.

Mormons, as Latter-day Saints are popularly called, practice a unique religion that arose in 1830 from the teachings of church founder Joseph Smith, Jr. Early converts followed their prophet from New York to Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. They were driven from each state by threats and violence. More...