Scenic USA - Nebraska

Chimney Rock National Historic Site

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Chimney Rock National Historic Site - Bayard, Nebraska

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website

     An exceptional segment of American history follows the western movement over the Oregon Trail. For early emigrants, the trail itself was the only practical route to the western states. The journey over the Oregon Trail, also noted as the Mormon and California trails, was a most difficult ordeal taking the lives of one in ten settlers. Considering the half million pioneers who used the trail, their numbers tell of a powerful attraction held by the western states. Chimney Rock Cemetery - Chimney Rock National Historic Site
     The first pioneers began this arduous trip in the mid 1830s, but the massive migration began in 1843. Some lured by California's gold, while others headed to Oregon's Willamette Valley. Long lines of wagons hauled the family's worldly possessions, while others walked barefoot the entire 2000 miles.
     Nebraska's Chimney Rock, the most famous of America's half dozen Chimney Rock formations, presents a striking and rather curious landmark along the Oregon Trail. This pioneer milepost looms 325 feet above the rippling plains. Its lone spire at the peak is estimated at 120 feet. Today's Chimney Rock is slightly smaller, whittled away over time by Nebraska's relentless prairie winds. The Chimney Rock National Historic Site, near Bayard, features a digital presentation of this massive western movement and a close-up of the 19th century pioneer. Cholera, prevalent in the mid 19th century, killed more emigrants than any other type accident or disease. Across the road from the historic site is a small cemetery, holding a few of the graves of those that died along the trail. All too often, pioneers did not receive a proper burial.

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