Celebrating 100 Years of Pioneer Spirit

100 Logo
Scotts Bluff National Monument celebrates 100 years in 2019.

NPS

"On behalf of the citizens and public we desire to request you to do whatever lies within your power to have a National Monument of Scottsbluff Mountain, near the cities of Scottsbluff and Gering, Nebraska......We desire that the scant pines left on its top be preserved, the grass protected and an ideal spot preserved for the public to spend a pleasant day, where they may commune with nature, and while Nebraska may not have a National Park, its people may at least enjoy a National Monunment."

Petition Letter to the Secretary of the Interior. March 4, 1918.


On December 12, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson signed Proclamation No. 1547 formally establishing Scotts Bluff National Monument, marking the first time that the Antiquities Act was used to preserve a landscape based on the westward expansion movement "Manifest Destiny."

Despite being founded by Presidential Proclamation, it was the Gering and Scottsbluff community that initiated the request to preserve Scotts Bluff and petitioned that the area be set aside as a unit of the National Park Service. In fact, an inquiry was made to the Department of the Interior in 1914, two years before the National Park Service was even established.

The purpose of Scotts Bluff National Monument is to preserve the scenic, scientific, geologic and historic integrity of Scotts Bluff. The monument preserves remnants of the Oregon Trail through Mitchell Pass and affords views of surrounding formations that, along with Scotts Bluff, were primary landmarks along the emigrant trails (the Oregon, California, Mormon Pioneer and Pony Express National Historic Trails) used for westward expansion.

The following statements express why Scotts Bluff National Monument resources and values are important enough to merit national park unit designation.

  • Historic Trail Corridors - The overland trail ruts or swales through Mitchell Pass at Scotts Bluff are the remnants of one of humankind's most epic migrations to America's western frontier.
  • Landmark - Scotts Bluff was a physical and emotional landmark for emigrants and had cultural significance to American Indians. Views to and from this landmark were critical for pioneers traveling west.
  • Topography & Trail History - The land formations of the area influenced the locaitons of historic trails, which evolved from the time of the earliest plains inhabitants 8,000-10,000 years ago.
  • Geology & Palentology - The monument contains more geologic history than any other location in Nebraska. The exposed strata at Scotts Bluff National Monument span a time period extending from 33-22 million years before present. These geologic deposits yield fossils used as type indicators of the Oligocene epoch (34 to 23 million years before present).
  • William Henry Jackson Collection - The monument preserves the largest single collection of watercolor paintings by photographer and artist William Henry Jackson, one of the greatest chroniclers of the Oregon Trail and the westward expansion. Fifty of those paintings and many of his personal items now reside in the Scotts Bluff National Monument archives. (Only select digital prints of William Henry Jackson's paintings are on display)

Considered a “landmark of the ages,” Scotts Bluff still serves as a landmark for weary traveling families and continues to be woven into the fabric of the North Platte River Valley community. Whether you are interested in westward expansion trail history, advances in telecommunications and the telegraph, ancient volcanic activity that shaped the geology of the Midwest or the intricate prairie ecosystem, Scotts Bluff National Monument is home to it all.


Centennial logo design by Matt Turner, National Park Service.

 

Last updated: October 31, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 27
Gering, NE 69341

Phone:

(308) 436-9700

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