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Scotts Bluff, Nebraska

Robidoux Pass

Robidoux Pass
Robidoux Pass
National Park Service

Robidoux Pass is one of two historic passes travelers used to traverse the Wildcat Hills range. Located south of the North Platte Valley near the present-day town of Gering, this narrow pass carried thousands of emigrants traveling the Oregon-California Trail between 1843 and 1851. Robidoux Pass provided travelers with their first glimpse of the Rocky Mountains and offered a good supply of spring water and wood—both essential on the journey. The trail crossed through a narrow valley at the base of the pass, then wound its way west to the summit.

The earliest travelers to use the pass were probably fur traders and missionaries in the 1820s and 30s. The first transcontinental wagon train through the pass was the Bidwell-Bartleson Expedition, 80 emigrants bound for Oregon with the Catholic missionary Father De Smet in 1841. East of the pass lies the site of a trading post established by a Frenchman, either Joseph or Antoine Robidoux, in the late 1840s. Robidoux sold a variety of goods and provided blacksmithing services for travelers.

Modern Replica of the Robidoux Trading Post
Modern Replica of the Robidoux Trading Post
J. Nabb, Nebraska DED

One emigrant described the post as a log shanty with a blacksmith’s forge on one end and a grog shop on the other. Other trading posts are known to have existed near the pass at that time, including one owned by the American Fur Company, but Robidoux’s is most often mentioned in diaries. The heaviest use of the pass was during the Oregon Migration and the California Gold Rush of the 1840s. Following the opening of Mitchell Pass in 1851, which provided a shorter trail, Robidoux Pass and the trading posts fell into disuse.

Today, none of the historic buildings remain at Robidoux Pass.  Wagon ruts and several markers show the original path of the trail. Early accounts of the trip through this area note several burials at the pass, two of which can still be seen today. Tools, wagon implements, bullets, and other materials have also been found in this area, helping to location the trading post and the blacksmith shop.

Plan your visit

Robidoux Pass is located south of Scotts Bluff National Monument, 0.5 mile south and eight miles west of Gering, NE off Highway 71 on Robidoux Road. Robidoux Pass has been designated a National Historic Landmark. Click here for the National Historic Landmark registration file: text and photos.A life-size reconstruction of the Robidoux Trading Post can be found in Carter Canyon, located one mile south of Gering on Highway 71 and eight miles west along Carter Canyon Road. Visitors wishing to explore both Robidoux Pass and the reconstructed Robidoux Trading Post can access both sites by driving to Robidoux Pass then following Rifle Site Pass Road south to Carter Canyon Road. The site is open to visitors who can take self-guided tours. Guided tours of the reconstructed trading post can be arranged in advance by calling 308-436-6886.

Four National Historic Trails run near Robidoux Pass: Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail, California National Historic Trail, Oregon National Historic Trail, and Pony Express National Historic Trail. See the National Park Service National Historic Trails website for more information.

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