Chimney Rock

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After my last rip to the South Dakota Badlands, I decided to head south to explore western Nebraska and the Scotts Bluff National Monument, and I was not disappointed. The landscape is stunning, not what one expects to find in Nebraska.

Indians called Scotts Bluff “Me-a-pa-te”, or “hill that is hard to go around”.

Today Scotts Bluff refers to the range of hills which parallels the North Platte River, and is the largest isolated land mass in Nebraska.

During the 19th century emigrants traveling west along the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trail encountered Chimney Rock, Their first real landmark in hundreds of miles. Most of the travelers noted in their diaries that they were glad to see they were going the right direction.

Scotts Bluff

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About 23 mile to the west lies Scotts Bluffs."We arrived at Scotts Bluffs on the afternoon of the 25th. This is a bold escarpment of sand and clay, about a half a mile in length and near a thousand feet in height, extending southward from the river and rising like a gigantic barrier to obstruct our way."Thaddeus S. Kenderine

In 1858 most traveled within the Platte River Valley, however, at Scotts Bluff, the badlands which extended from the base of the bluff to the river, forced the emigrants out of the valley in search of a pass through or around the Bluffs. In the early 19th century, because Mitchell Pass was not fit for wagons, most emigrants were forced to travel through Robidoux Pass, nine miles to the south of the river.

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Around mid-century improvements were made to Mitchell Pass, allowing for the safe passage of wagons and is today Old Highway 92 (Old Oregon Trail Road). Early travelers described it in 1834 as "a large and deep ravine . . . very uneven and difficult, winding from amongst innumerable mounds six to eight feet in height, the space between them frequently so narrow as scarcely to admit our horses."

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