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.

 
A map of Nebraska depicting major highways.

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Last updated: February 10, 2020

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