• Scotts Bluff National Monument is located in western Nebraska, landmark for the Pony Express, Oregon, California and Mormon Pioneer national historic trails

    Oregon

    National Historic Trail ID,KS,MO,NE,OR,WY

California Hill

Photo image of California Hill where Oregon & California bound emigrants crossed the Platte River on their way west.

California Hill, where Oregon & California bound emigrants crossed the Platte River on their way west.

Jim Riehl

California Hill/Upper Crossing of the South Platte River - Brule, Nebraska

Near North Platte Nebraska, the Platte River splits into two major forks, with the South Platte running generally southwest towards Denver and the North Platte heading northwest towards Fort Laramie. Sooner or later, the emigrants were forced to cross the South Platte in order to reach and follow the North Platte towards South Pass.

Several crossing sites were used, but the Upper Crossing was the most important because it led directly to Ash Hollow, the best approach to the North Platte River. California Hill, encountered immediately after crossing the South Platte, was the first major grade faced by the emigrants. This necessitated a climb of 240 feet in just over 1½ miles in order to reach the plateau between the North and South Platte Rivers. Imposing trail ruts are still plainly visible most of the way up the hill.

The Nebraska State Historical Society, who owns the resource, invites you to get out of your car and walk in the footsteps of the pioneers. The panoramic views back toward California Crossing are spectacular.

Visit a marker on Highway 30, about 4.5 miles west of Brule.
 
Map image showing the location of California Hill.
Map image showing the location of California Hill.
NPS Image

Did You Know?

Laurel Hill descent near Mt. Hood Oregon

Emigrant wagons headed for Oregon in the 1840s-1860s tied off their wagons with ropes lashed around trees or held them back with stout logs that locked the wheels inorder to descend this rocky slope on Mt. Hood - named Laurel Hill by early travelers from the resemblance of native leaves to laurel. More...