Oregon Trail Adventure

Email me with comments or questions here Richard Franke

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May 25, 2010

I've been planning (a little bit) on driving along the Oregon Trail (insofar as it is possible, more or less - weasel wordy enough?) in the Dart. The first part of the trip will be to head for Kansas, my 55th High School Reunion, and the spasmodic, but famous, Herndon Ox Roast. This event happens every 4, 5, 6, 10 years, or so, whatever time lapse is sufficient that the townspeople have forgotten how much work it is. But fun! The last was held in 2004 and you can look at my report on it.

First, the Dart. It's been going along prettyflawlessly (well, put on a new starter and a new fuel pump in the past few years) since the episode in West Bend, Indiana (see my trip report, down around 04-22-03). Of course, it usually makes less than a thousand miles around here in the summer before being put away for the winter. Anyway, I decided a few things were in order.

  • It has never gotten mileage as good as I thought it should. So, a carb rebuild seemed to be in order. Done.
  • The timing has always been iffy, as I reported initially. So, I took some pains to try to identify TDC for cylinder 1, and probably have it within a few degrees now, or a least, the best that could be done without taking off the pan or the head. New mark is about 20 degrees from the original mark, between it and my one of 7 years ago, and about 5 degrees from the latter. Specs are 2.5 degrees BTDC. I set it at 10 degrees BTDC. Even timed much earlier, I've never gotten a knock. Must have good gas here (hahaha).
  • Noticed the idler arm had a little play, so procured a new one and put it on. Alignment check carried out.
  • Rear brake cylinders were weeping, so I got new ones, discovered that while rear brake shoes had lots of material left, it was crumbling. New brake shoes installed. Had drums machined. Flushed the brake system using gravity. That seems to work well.
  • Gasoline gauge never worked quite right, so I got a new sending unit, and now it looks OK, but I haven't used much gasoline yet. I don't expect there to be an occasion like the one in New Mexico in 2003.
  • Took it out for the first drive last Friday (5-21-10). Slight grinding noise in right rear wheel bearing. Was unable to remove old bearing from axle, so I took it to a machine shop, where they also pressed on the new one. Installed it today (5-25-10) and it sounds wonderful.
  • So, after a little road test of 70 or 80 miles later this week, we'll know whether I'm game for trying it out on a longer trip. Then a general spiffing it up. I think it will go.

    The adventure begins in earnest on Thursday, June 3, 2010. The early part of the trip is Talent to Klamath Falls, where I'll pick up Duane at the train station early in the morning. We'll head east on HW140 to Lakeview, then drop down to Winnemucca, NV. I plan to spend the night, and win enough in a casino to have enough gas money for the next day. Or at least not lose so much I won't have gas money for the next day. Friday we'll head on to Salt Lake City, where we'll have dinner with Hailey before she heads back to Medford. And also with Fletcher and Sally, who have graciously volunteered to put us up for the night. For the next three days, we will take a leisurely drive through Utah and Colorado to Denver. Duane will meet Marv in Denver and leave me to my own devices. Those are to head on to Herndon, Kansas and the above mentioned activities. Plus lots of family. There will probably be a report on the Herndon blow out, but not until later.

    I'm thinking I will try to document my travels along the Oregon Trail every day or two, but that remains to be seen. Keep your eye on www.richardfranke.com after June 22 (the date I will be starting back toward Oregon) or so to see if I'm following through.

    May 31, 2010

    Preliminary plans for following the Oregon Trail

    I'll try being a little more specific in exactly what I want to do. First, top down is the preferred mode. Second, if it is raining - top up. The Dart won't melt, and neither would I, but it will eventually rust, and I'm getting wrinkled enough already. But, that has nothing to do with anything important.

    That interlude between the Ox Roast and starting on the OT ride will be taken up by a trip to Lincoln, NE, leaving the Dart at a Park and Fly hotel, then flying to Baltimore on June 15 to spend time with son, Evan, and grand-daughter Fiona. Amelia will also be there, so we'll have a reunion after a couple of weeks apart. On the 22nd, I fly back to Lincoln.

    There are, of course, lots of resources on the WWW about the Oregon Trail (call it the OT from here on).

  • Idaho State University: The Oregon Trail
  • Wikipedia: Oregon Trail
  • History Globe: Map of the Oregon Trail
  • American West: The Oregon Trail
  • National Park Service: oreg. You can order maps and state-by-state guides (all free) by email from this site. Or print them online.
  • I have a book, Traveling the Oregon Trail, a Falcon Guide by Julie Fanselow that seems to be a good resource.

    I'll pick up the Dart and head for the part of the OT south of Lincoln. It crosses the Kansas-Nebraska line near the Jefferson-Gage County line. I'll probably turn west at Beatrice (fond memories of Beatrice: I had my tonsils removed at a hospital there when I was 10 or 11, and managed to hemorrhage beyond normal. I won't be trying to find the hospital). Then I'll probably head south through Diller and pick up HW8, taking a detour up to the Rock Creek Station State Historical Site. Or, depending on the timing, I might head for Fairbury for overnight and hit the RCSSHS the next morning. From there on, I only list a few of the things I might stop to see. Or not, as the spirit moves me at the time. And I'll probably stop to see things not on the list.

  • George Winslow Grave, north of Fairbury
  • Kiowa Station, nw of Deshler
  • Emery Stagecoach Ambush Site, east of Oak
  • Oak Grove Station/Comstock Ranch, east of Oak
  • The Narrows, nw of Oak
  • Smith-Simonton Site, south of Hastings
  • Harold Warp Pioneer Village, Minden. This doesn't really have to do with the OT, per se, but should be interesting to see.
  • Great Platte River Road Archway, east of Kearney
  • From Kearney, the road route follows HW30 for quite a ways, but I may go south of I80 to more closely follow the Platte River, which would be closer to where the OT actually went. The road route leaves HW30 near Big Springs and heads northwest to HW 26 to near Scottsbluff. As before, although the road route is north of the North Platte River, the actual trail was south of the river, and I may try to get a little closer to it some of the time. More things to see, of course, but I'm about worked out before I leave - maybe more planning later. Keep your eye on this webpage.

    June 18, 2010

    Off on the trip to the Reunion and Ox Roast

    Right on schedule on June 3 I took off for Klamath Falls to pick up Duane at the Amtrak station. After slight difficulties finding it (dang GPS wanted me to go to the Amtrak station in Chemult, some 75 miles north of Klamath Falls). But, I persevered and found it. Then we took off for Winnemucca, following HW140 to HW95, then into Winnemucca. We even got in a little top down time for the last few miles. Oh yes, I won 12 cents at a casino.

    The next day we were on I80 almost all the way. Took a little rest stop in the Humboldt River area where the California Trail made its way. A nice lady offered to take a picture of both Duane and I. Just past the Nevada-Utah state line is a rest stop overlooking the Salt Flats raceway, the site of many land speed records. Here's another shot with me in the foreground. From there on, it was top down all the way to Kansas. That night in Salt Lake City, we were the house guests of Sally and Fletcher, and Hailey joined all of us at the Cucina Toscana, perhaps the finest restaurant in all of Utah.

    The next morning Duane and I took a short tour down to 6600 South, where I once lived when a graduate student at the U of U. I found that the neighborhood now has a few hundred houses instead of a few. The house three of us lived in has been turned into a learning center, run by the two women in the picture. It is now considerably nicer than it was 49 (!!!) years ago. Off to I80 and on to Park City, where we took a little look around the old mining town. Here's a shot of Duane, showing there were only minor changes made to turn it into a world class (and Olympic) ski area. Then we were heading east on HW40, with a brief stop to admire Strawberry Reservoir. Near the Starvation Reservoir area we stopped at an overlook and saw this wildflower, and this one, too. We overnighted in Vernal, where we were sorry to find that the Dinosaur Museum was not open on Sunday.

    The next morning it was down the road to Colorado. Sixty-six miles into the state, we had to stop an take this picture. We stopped for the night in Steamboat Springs, after touring F. M. Light, of course (didn't buy anything).

    The next day we headed on for Berthoud Pass. Here's a shot of Duane and some of the countryside. We limped up Berthoud Pass, where there was snow. And even more snow than that. After that it was downhill, until we came to a little grade outside of Idaho Falls. So, why is this man smiling? Well, grimacing. It gave up. Had it hauled in to Golden, where it was diagnosed with plugged air filter. Yes, it had a new one this spring. (OK, I lied about top down all the way to Kansas; but I wasn't driving it when the top was up.) But, the engine had developed an exhaust leak a few days before leaving Oregon, and not wanting to risk getting into trouble putting on a new manifold gasket, I put it off until Kansas. Maybe a mistake, since that is what clogged the air filter. Anyway, new air filter was a temporary fix. More about the complete fix later. We spent the night in Golden.

    Tuesday morning we headed for downtown Denver, where I dropped Duane off where he could catch a bus to Colorado Springs. Then, after numerous stops at auto parts stores for a spare filter, maybe a new fuel pump, I reached the endless vistas of eastern Colorado, stretching in both directions, but interrupted once in a while by an abandoned house. And sometimes a farm or ranch. In due course, I came to Kansas. I stopped to take a picture of the old Wright Motel in Bird City, once owned by an uncle, but now apparently no longer in business. Interstate highways were hard on such places. A couple of hours later I was in Herndon, where What happens in Herndon stays in Herndon, or so they said.

    Wednesday, under the quasi-tutelage of brother David, I removed the exhaust (and intake - they are together) and installed a new gasket. Turns out, it didn't need to be replaced. Also replaced the gasket for the heat well in the exhaust manifold for the automatic choke. That I knew had to be replaced, and if I had followed the simple advice (so simple I overlooked it) to replace the simplest thing first, I could have saved some time, work, and maybe even not had a problem at all. Live and learn, even at my advanced age. Oh well, all is well now.

    Festivities during my stay in Herndon will (maybe) be chronicled in a separate posting at a later date. On Monday, the 14th, I picked up my g-niece Kate, and we headed off for Lincoln, NE. She met a friend for the rest of the trip to Omaha, and I checked in at my Park&Fly motel, where I was later joined by Bonnie and David. We had dinner at the Shogun Japanese restaurant, enjoying both the food and the show.

    Too early the next morning I was off for BWI, and there may also be a later report on the week I'm spending in Montgomery Village, MD.

    June 23, 2010

    Finally, the Oregon Trail

    A week passes quickly. Yesterday I flew back to Lincoln, picked up my car, and was on the way south by about 2pm. But first, I digress: I forgot to post this picture that should have been in the previous post. Just before I reached my nephew Kent's house in Culbertson, NE, to pick up Kate, my odometer rolled over to 88888.8 miles. So, there you have it!

    Anyway, I first headed to a non-Oregon Trail place, the Homestead National Monument, but only had time to visit the Heritage Center. Lots of exhibits and a short video, with all the good and bad things about the Homestead Act. Couldn't resist taking a picture of this picture, since that was pretty much the sign I had on the Dart for the Ox Roast parade. Well, I was going to leave that for later, but here it is. There was also the Palmer-Epard Cabin on the grounds. From there I headed to the Rock Creek Station, which was on the OT, and also a Pony Express Station. Alas, I arrived just as the visitor station was closing at 4pm (budget problems, of course). So, I went on into Fairbury, NE, and stayed the night there. It was top-down all the way.

    Fairbury is an interesting little town. Seems bigger than it is, perhaps because the downtown area (plus) is all paved in red brick. I didn't count, but this is no token remembrance of the past. About 10 or 12 blocks, maybe more, in both E-W and N-S directions are so paved. After breakfast,I decided to go look at George Winslow's grave nw of Fairbury some miles. Found some markers for the Pony Express and the Oregon Trail along the way. The directions given in the National Trails System booklet were less than wonderful. Instead of "if you cross the creek, you've gone too far", it should have said "if you haven't crossed the creek, you haven't gone far enough". Also, it was about 400 yards off the road, not 200 yards. Also, it was behind a closed gate with "no trespassing" signs, although the booklet said be sure to leave the gate as you find it. I did. Here's a long distance shot of the marker for George Winslow grave marker (24x zoom). Then, on to (or, I guess I should say, back to) the Rock Creek Station. There are visible signs of the wagon trail going away from the creek, and coming from the creek. There was a toll bridge there, but this is only a foot bridge, now. There is a log building nearby. There is a repica of initials carved in a rock nearby in 1842. I seem to remember that the rock was undercut by the creek and fell into it at some point. Upon leaving RCS I headed for the Kiowa Pony Express Station nw of Deshler. More information here, and a sign here. And a little further on the Oregon Trail crossed the road. A bit further down the road was a fine looking cornfield. 1864 was a tough year to be heading out along the Oregon Trail. Since back in Kansas, the OT has been following along the Little Blue River, not even looking a little blue. Heading north and west, one sees quite a few of these markers. NW of Deweese was the Spring Ranch. Here's a bit fancier marker for the Oregon Trail, having been put up by the DAR. In one of many Indian attacks in 1864 the Simonton-Smith wagon train was demolished south of Hastings, and all six drivers died (this was a commercial wagon train returning to Denver with goods). Here's an Oregon Trail marker west of Hastings. I had better luck finding the grave marker for Susan C. Haile, NW of Kenesaw. However, it would be impossible to get there using the instructions in the National Trail System booklet, since it sends one on roads that don't exist. However, there is a much simpler way to get there, using roads that do exist. Oh, by the way, was that Susan C. Haile, or Susan O. Hail? The grave is on a little mound, overlooking pretty countryside. From there I headed off to Minden to see the Harold Warp Pioneer Village. Much of it post-dates the OT, but here's a shot that does relate: A Land Office for filing claims under the Homestead Act. I took a lot of other pictures there, and perhaps I'll get up a page with some of those later. Just south of Kearney I came on The Great Platte River Road marker. I'm spending the night in Kearney. It was another top down day.

    June 27, 2010

    Once again, I start by recalling something I left out. One of the things Rock Creek Station is famous for is that it is where James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok gunned down his first man (unarmed, he was) in 1862, and promptly followed that by gunning down two more. This is according to information at the Station. Other accounts claim it was a fair fight. Still more claim the gunees were part of a gang, but since the first (McCandles) was former owner of the station trying to collect a payment, it seems unlikely. Oh well.

    I started off on June 24 by visiting the Great Platte River Road Archway in Kearney. They have a large bison out front. It is a good source of information if you want to know some things, but I didn't find it very extensive (of course, I was anxious to get on, too). One of the things I was lax about until too late, was getting some good pictures of the Little Blue River. I've not been that way about the Platte River. Here it is, at several places along the way on the 24th.

  • First
  • Second
  • Third, this starts the North Platte views
  • Fourth
  • Fifth
  • Sixth
  • There is lots of water coming down the Platte. Fortunately, none came down from the sky today. But, it has been. The corn looks good.

    There are numerous markers, some noted in guide books, and others just along the way. Here they are, in order.

  • Platte Valley marker
  • A Commemorative
  • The Plum Creek Massacre
  • Another Massacre
  • There are numerous of these Lincoln Highway signs
  • Another Great Platte River Road marker, this one at the O'Fallon Bluff (see below)
  • An Oregon Trail marker near the California Hill (see below)
  • John Hollman grave
  • Narcissa Whitman marker
  • A marker noting Amanda Lamme buried nearby
  • A word about the massacres. There were lots of them, mostly Indians vs. pioneers or US Army, but also the Mormons participated in some against the Army. However, in the early years of the migration Indians were often helpful with not so many acts of violence. The really violent Indian actions (and resulting reactions) came after the Homestead Act became operative in 1863 and the emigrants started to settle along the way instead of passing through. 1864 was a particularly bad year.

    The Mormon Pioneer Trail to Zion was nearby the Oregon Trail, but generally north of the Platte River, whereas the OT was generally south of the river. North of Sutherland there are the Sand Hill Ruts. I confess I found it hard to really place them well in person, and the panorama I pasted together isn't very good, either, but they can kind of be seen in a semicircle from the right top around to front center to left top. Closer to the river, looking toward the direction of the previous picture, is better (I think). This marker is pretty much on the OT at the O'Fallon Bluffs rest stop. Here the ruts can be seen coming up the hill, with the symbolic wagon wheels. Here's the emigrant's view coming up the hill (minus the dust and a few other things). Then, here's a close-up of one set of wheels. West of Brule is the California Hill. Here the site is in a private pasture and requires a couple hundred meter walk through grass and droppings (step with care) and past a windmill. But it is worthwhile, and these are the ruts to be seen. There was the bonus of a blooming cactus (lots of them, actually). Then, one more shot of some impressive, but Dart navigable ruts. A bit further along the road I shot this picture.

    A couple of asides. The town of Cozad claims to be on the 100th meridian. My GPS shows that they missed by about three-fourths of a mile. I suppose that is not too bad. Second, I took to the gravel roads south of the Platte (and I80) from Kearney to Lexington. As a large truck was coming, trailing lots of dust, I turned off on a road that had a bridge, so went to inspect. It was an irrigation ditch, but as I backed up to turn around a fellow on a 4-wheeler came along and pulled in beside me. He exclaimed that he could scarcely believe that he saw a 64 Dodge Dart, and a convertible, to boot. Turns out he used to drag race Slant 6 engines in California. I took a picture of the sign in front of his house, with his BUZZIN' HALF DUZZIN'. I made it to Bridgeport, which fortunately had two motels, one with room available. A very nice top-down day.

    Friday morning I went on down (or was that up?) down HW26. Somehow I managed to miss Courthouse and Jail Rocks, south of Bridgeport. Oh well, I wasn't taking as much time as the pioneers were, or maybe I was ready to get to a motel. Anyway, the next stop was a few miles from Bridgeport, Chimney Rock. This was a famous landmark along the way and its form suggested other informal names. The next big feature is Scotts Bluff. This was another big landmark. Here is a view to the right approaching on HW92, and just to show I'm even-handed, here's a view to the left. And to be completely even-handed, here's a straight ahead view. I took the short drive to the "top" and this shot shows the town of Gering in the background. This shot shows HW92 and the visitor center.

    Continuing on, one more shot of the North Platte River west of Scotts Bluff. Since I'm on the topic of the river, here's a shot of the river with an old bridge near Ft. Laramie.

    And, speaking of Ft. Laramie, I stopped for lunch at the Ft. Laramie American Grill (FLAG) where everything turned out to fresh made, including the sliced and cooked on site french fries. I recommend it when you go past it on your next trip.

    As I mentioned before, the Mormons basically stayed north of the river. Here's a marker commemorating their journey. Here's another roadside marker on the journey west. There were blooming cactus nearby, and a view that stretched to the horizon (and those may even be wagon ruts in the foreground). But, speaking of wagon ruts, the REAL ones can be seen at the Oregon Trail Ruts ... near Guernsey. Here's some ruts, looking at the uphill side, and here looking at the downhill side. Nearby is the grave of Lucinda Rollins, and not too far from that is a Pony Express marker, with the river in the background. Also near Guernsey is Register Cliff. The passersby could not resist leaving some evidence of their passing by, so the cliff is basically covered in initials and dates, and so on. Most of the original seem to have been eroded away or covered over by later (very recent, some of them) grafitti, but here's one reasonably old. Here's a stitched panaramic shot of most of it.

    I arrived in Douglas after 4pm, after seeing many of these Western Trails markers. Later I went for a spin around Douglas (at least the important parts of it) with Robbin, Spencer, and Nathan. Here's Spencer and Nathan with the town mascot (?), a Jackalope.

    This posting does not catch up to where I am now (a 1 day layover in Kemmerer).

    June 29, 2010

    After a leisurely and wonderful Saturday breakfast, I snapped some shots of Michelle, Robbin, Nathan, and Spencer. Then it was on west, where I shortly reached an odometer reading of 90000.0. There were other more interesting things, such as this triceratops lumbering over the hill. Back to the topic at hand, however this OT marker, and a shot of the Alcova Reservoir west of Casper. On just a bit further down the road is Independence Rock, which was good place to be by July 4th if you were heading to Oregon. I decided to not try to stitch closer shots together, but just line them up here. A bit west of Independence Rock is Devil's Gate, a narrow passage through volcanic rocks. The picture was taken from the Mormon Handcart Visitor Center (which I did not visit), and near the parking lot are these three markers:

  • In honor of pioneer women buried there
  • The Oregon Trail and Devil's Gate
  • Pioneers buried there
  • Heading west from there, I saw these four pronghorns. I also saw a pronghorn with a magnificent set of horns, long and curved near the end, and I've been kicking myself for a few days that I did not slam on the brakes, back up, and see if I could get any kind of decent picture of him. Bahhh. Just a ways beyond Devil's Gate is another landmark for the emigrants, Split Rock. We are now along the Sweetwater River, alas, you can't see it there. Split Rock is visible over a long distance. Here's are two shots of it, the first at 6x zoom, and the second at 24x. Continuing west, we come to Ice Slough. This is one that requires a shot of the bog behind it, but I'm not going back for it. Sorry about that one, too. We'll it is just a marshy bog, but now different than 160 years ago. From here I had to go out of my way into Lander to get gas. Along the way, it sprinkled some, but didn't look threatening enough to put up the top. As I continued back south from Lander, it was sprinkling a bit, and then I saw lightning and heard a big KaBoom. I stopped and put up the top. A little later on, it poured with very strong winds from my right. Sure did wash the Nebraska mud (from nw of Fairbury) off the car at last. Here's a shot back after I came out of the storm. Doesn't look so bad, huh? After about 12 miles, the top came back down. Here's a few signs along the way:
  • Lander Cutoff Lots of cutoffs, some good, some bad.
  • The Way West
  • The Corridor West
  • South Pass
  • I didn't take time to go close to where the emigrants went over South Pass, but there is little to distinguish it as a pass. Eventually they would see water running in the direction they were going and know that something important had happened. Near the South Pass marker above, there are some faint tracks that can be seen, looking first in one direction, and then the the other. In earlier days, the fur trade folks came this way. The Big Sandy River was only about 35 miles from the Pass and was a natural beacon for animals and man. West of Farson is the Pilot Butte pullout. Here one can definitely see wagon ruts, as well as Pilot Butte in the distance. Here's another Pilot Butte marker at the same pullout, and these symbolic graves of unknown emigrants.

    I then took a shortcut to Kemmerer instead of following the OT down to Ft. Bridger (thereby missing also the site of the 1834 Trapper Rendezvous). But, important things await in Kemmerer, home of J.C. Penny and his first store. I spent the night in Kemmerer, and as it turned out, because I had little 24 hour something, Sunday as well. Last night I was in Twin Falls, and tonight off the OT in Burns, OR. Home tomorrow, and I'll post more later.

    July 01, 2010

    All right, here we are back on Monday, June 28. I've recovered from whatever ailed me, and am on my way to Idaho. Top up, as it turns out. It was downright cold this morning. However, after breakfast in Montpelier (not easy to find, as it turned out), the top came down. First sign of note is the one for Thomas Fork. This short cut followed the current HW30 for a long ways. Here's what the land behind the sign looks like, and it is alleged that wagon ruts can be seen to the west. Could be. Here are some signs seen along the way.

  • Big Hill
  • McCauley's Road
  • Smith's Trading Post Peg-Leg Smith was a far more colorful charactor than noted here.
  • Rotten Eggs out toward Soda Springs (lots of different flavors).
  • Soda Springs as we mentioned.
  • John Bidwell and the parting of the ways to Oregon or California.
  • Bear River Lava Oh yeh, were along the Bear River now.
  • A marker for William Henry Harrison
  • Horatio's Journey Didn't have much to do with the Oregon Trail since it was the first trans-continental car trip, but did follow the OT part of the way.
  • The value of a Shortcut
  • Guiding Landmarks
  • Idaho's Emigrant Trails
  • Hudspeth's Cut Off
  • Here's a shot taken near to where the McCauley's Road sign was. This view is toward Smith's Trading Post. Near the Rotten Egg marker, the view was across some fields to snow capped mountains. Here is the Bear River near Soda Springs. The view beyond the Shortcuts/Landmarks/Trails markers was a pleasant one. Proceeding west of Pocatello, there are some nice pictures: wildflowers, sagebrush grassland and mountains, first picture of the Snake River, which plays a really important part from now on, second picture, more wildflowers, and a sign pointing toward the most important stop of the day.

    This was the Snake River Overlook and Trail Interpretive Rest Stop, west of American Falls. But, before that, I'm pretty sure these are not old wagon ruts. This is, however, the Snake River from the area of the rest stop. Some nice flowers were blooming. There is a bit of what in Arizona would be called a ramada where plaques commemorated The Emigrants' Unyielding Determination, and One Day on the Trail, and The Oregon/California Trail. After a hike of a half-mile, or more, going through tunnels under both directions of I86 and up a hill, one comes to Trail Ruts. Looking uphill, and downhill, and then walking further uphill, one sees real ruts, not those things that one has to pretend a bit to see. On the way back down, some more wildflowers. Here's another shot of the Snake River, and what was an interesting landform, at least to me.

    Next stop was Register Rock, which is much smaller than Register Cliff in Wyoming, but also much better preserved, being behind a chain link fence, and roofed. Some old grafitti can be discerned without being overwritten with new. And interesting, and separate boulder has carvings of a preacher and an Indian done by J.J. Hansen at the age of seven in 1866, and signed in 1908. Amazing! Nearby, another shot of the Snake River. And another. This is an important river, here, and back then.

    River crossings were always dangerous, so enterprising folks would construct ferry crossings for those that could afford to pay. Others were less fortunate. Starrh's Ferry was important enough to have two signs for it.

    After arriving in Twin Falls, I checked into a motel, cleaned up, went out to eat dinner, and then drove back to Shoshone Falls. Here is a closer shot of the spectacular main part of the falls. It was a top down most of the day, and quite pleasant day when it warmed up a bit, and into the mid-90s before I got to Twin Falls.

    July 03, 2010

    Getting under way in Twin Falls on Tuesday, June 29, I headed to the south side of the Snake to follow along as closely as possible to the OT. This is HW30. First two roadside signs were for Payne's Ferry, which came into use in 1852. Fishing Falls was a point where salmon were (possibly) easier to catch because of the long rapids. Here's what it looks like behind the signs. A little further down the road I saw these falls, which are definitely not Fishing Falls. A few miles further on is the Thousand Springs area and also a marker for Salmon Falls. There may not be a thousand spings, but there are a lot of them spread over the river bank. A little later I crossed over to the north side of the Snake River (yes, I know that looks like I was driving with one hand and taking a picture with the other).

    There is some lava near Hagerman, and fossil beds, too. There are nice views across the river, as well as up and down.

    The most spectacular site (and sight) of the day is Three Island Crossing near Glenns Ferry, ID. The first place I went to was the Three Island Crossing State Park. Unfortunately, the visitor center is only open Thursday throught Sunday, so my Tuesday visit didn't pass muster for that. Anyway, still interesting. They have a Conestoga Wagon there, as well as a lighter wagon that most emigrants used. Then there is a plaque about The Three Island Ford, and one about the approach The Oregon Trail took to the crossing. Here's a picture of roughly the same area shown in the previous picture, only this one is real. The scar down the hillside indicated on the plaque is clearly visible today. There is a plaque commemorating the Snake River Ferryboats, and an old ferry boat. Just in front of the ferry one can see the ruts coming up the riverbank from the ferry. Just to the left is the anchor for the cable operated ferry, while the other anchor can be seen on the opposite shore near the right side of the picture. The Snake looked pretty peaceful, but nearby salmon were roiling up the river. I then headed across to the south side of the river for a look from the bank above. (Aside: Hope someone recognizes Jeremy's scrawl and he has to paint the whole bridge.). (Second aside: Along the way, I saw some good-looking potato fields - makes me hungry for a baked Idaho potato.) It is about a 6 mile trip, much of it on graveled road, to the overlook. However, it is not to be missed, as the view is really spectacular. There is a marker showing the path(s) of the OT in Idaho. The crossing was reputed to be A Most Dangerous Crossing, which accounts for the trail splitting at the crossing, with some remaining on the south side of the Snake River until later in the journey. Here's a shot over the markers and toward the three islands. Around to the right, one can see the State Park and the ferry. Here's a shot still further a little to the left of the previous and with less zoom, showing one of the islands and the State Park. On the way out from the overlook, one can see the the wagon ruts.

    As an interlude, here's some shots of the Snake River:

  • The Snake west of Hammett, I think.
  • Birds on the Snake
  • Crossing the Snake west of Hammett
  • The Snake, maybe out around Bruneau
  • The Snake, north of Murphy.
  • Just about all war stuff from here on out. This marker is for the Bannock War, in a later year, 1878. Our next Indian problem along the way was the Utter Wagon Train Disaster. The marker is about 3.7 miles on a gravel road off HW78 northwest of Grand View. The marker is in a fenced area approximately on the site of the second attack. Being well after noon, and me with no lunch yet, I dug out what supplies I had and had a bit of a repast beside the road at the marker. (Oh yes, the computer was to recall the map out the next stop). To the east was this rock, which is where the first attack occurred. Here's a closeup of the prominent feature of the rock. As I was munching, a pickup truck with a man and small boy came by and stopped. Turns out he was in the process of rebfurbishing some houses built in the 1800s and knew quite a lot about the Utter party. I had an interesting conversation with him, and pawned one of the Famous Amos cookies off on the boy. From there I headed to The Ward Massacre near Caldwell. The information is in a pretty park with a number of markers. This one lists those who were massacred, and three markers show the progression from hostility, to violence, to vengeance.

    From there it was about 30 mile drive to the Oregon border, and I parted ways with the OT as I crossed the Snake River for the last time, and arriving in Oregon once more. It was mostly a top down day. I pressed on toward Burns, but about 120 miles out of Burns, it was threatening rain. I put the top up and went on to Burns, where I spent the night. On Wednesday I put the top down (even though I was thinking top up the night before) because it was a beautiful (bit chilly early on) day, and arrived home about 3pm.

    Thought or two: It was a nice trip, even though there were some minor problems with the Dart. One I didn't mention before, I guess, was that the starter relay seemed to have a bad connection that I could fix temporarily by scraping the terminal. Eventually that didn't work. Fortunately, any old farm boy knows how to start the car using a screw driver to short the appropriate terminals on the starter. I explained to passersby that this was my way of keeping anyone from stealing the car. Worked, too, since I got home with it. Oh yes, proof of that. One thing that has to give pleasure is when I'm driving and someone gives me a thumbs up, or a verbal compliment on the car. Sometimes when I'm parked people will say something. At the Shoshone Falls there was a large family about to get into their van as I left. We had some conversation about the car and what I was doing. As I explained what I had been doing, a young girl with them kept saying "Awesome!". I have to agree. Total trip was just about 4000 miles in the 21 days that I drove.