Landmarks and Registers


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Landmarks and Registers

These Landmarks were often used to determine the progress of travel,
sometimes they named a location. The Registers, often landmarks themselves,
told of those who had passed by…
Presented here in alphabetical order.


Algodones Dunes – California

A sand dune field (erg) in the southeastern portion of the U.S. state of California, near the border with Arizona and the Mexican state of Baja California. Approximately 45 miles long by 6 miles wide, it extends along a northwest-southeast line that correlates to the prevailing northerly and westerly wind directions. In the old days, these dunes were a formidable obstacle to cross.  {001}

OWDR Algodones Dunes

The Algondones Dunes from Space
Photo: U.S. PD 2005 ISS photo

OWDR algodones dunes - north

North Algodones Dunes vegetation
Photo: U.S. PD 2010, USBLM – Valerie Kastoll







see also:
The Originals Index – Lost Treasures in the Old West – 1889 Algodones , MX


Beckwourth Pass – California

Beckwourth Pass - Landmarks and Registers

Looking east, at the crossing of the
ex-Western Pacific RR’s Feather River Route
towards Beckwourth Pass.
Photo: U.S. PD 2011 by moabdave

Beckwourth Pass
, located in Plumas County, CA. is the lowest mountain pass in the Sierra Nevada Mountains (5,221 ft – 1,591 m). Discovered in 1850 by mountain man James Beckwourth, who soon developed his Beckwourth Trail from Truckee Meadows (today’s, Sparks, NV) through the pass to Marysville, CA.
Beckwourth led the first wagon train of settlers along the trail into Marysville in the late summer of 1851. An estimated 1,200 emigrants used the trail between 1851 and 1854 and it was used during the California Gold Rush*until about 1855, when the railroad quickly replaced the wagon train as the preferred method of traveling to California.
Between 1895 and 1916, the pass was used by the Sierra Valley & Mohawk Railway (narrow gauge). The abandoned right-of-way is still visible on the eastern slope of the pass. In 1906, the Chilcoot Tunnel was constructed beneath the pass by the Western Pacific Railroad as part of its Feather River Route. Owned and operated today by the Union Pacific Railroad.
In 1937, the Native Daughters of the Golden West erected a bronze plaque at Beckwourth Pass by to commemorate the discoverer and the pioneers who passed along the Beckwourth Trail. Beckwourth Pass was designated California Historical Landmark Number 33, 08/08/1939.  {001}
see also:
Wk. 44, 10/29/1866 – James Beckwourth
Wk. 04, 01/24/1848 – Sutter’s Mill
*Photo Gallery Index – Mining Photos – Gold Rushes


Bighorn Medicine Wheel – Wyoming
The Medicine Wheel/Medicine Mountain National Historic Landmark

OWDR Bighorn Medicine Wheel 1922

Bighorn Medicine Wheel c. 1922
Photo: U.S. PD, unknown

A pre-Columbian Medicine Wheel located at an altitude of 9,642 feet, near the summit of Medicine Mountain in Wyoming. Built from locally gathered, loaf-sized stones, the circular rim is about 25 yards in diameter, with 28 spokes extending from the rim to the center. A center rock cairn, approximately ten feet in diameter, and six smaller ones placed in carefully chosen locations about the rim. These cairns revel the structure to be an astronomical observatory; certainly used by shamans of several tribes to accurately predict the Summer Solstice. Sighting over the correct pairs of cairns, determines the rising day of certain major stars and thereby, the day of the solstice. As it happens, the placement of the cairns can also help date the Wheel itself. It has likely existed, in some form, since at least 1050 AD. Due to the Earth’s precession, the rising points of the stars do slowly change. Newer cairns that reflect this, have been added to the Wheel. Therefore, predictions were relatively accurate from about 1050 to 1700 or so, if, you knew which cairns to use. That information was likely in the various tribe’s oral tradition* about the Wheel. Numerous tribes** were present in the greater area and it not known for certain, which may have visited the Wheel. Young Crow men made journey here for Vision Quest. The shamans came, and, as always, prayers and offerings were and are today, made here by the people, for healing, atonement, for harm done to others and Mother Earth.  {001}
National Historic Landmark in 1970.
Renamed Medicine Wheel/Medicine Mountain National Historic Landmark in 2011.

OWDR Bighorn Medicine Wheel old photo

Bighorn Medicine Wheel
Photo: U.S. PD internet

OWDR Bighorn Medicine Wheel diagram

Bighorn Medicine Wheel
Operational diagram






for sure.
**Bannock, Blackfeet, Cheyenne, Crow, Gros Ventre, Kiowa, Nez Perce, Sioux, Shoshone and Ute.


Brown’s Park – Utah
aka: Brown’s Hole

OWDR Browns Hole 1937 DPL

Browns Hole, UT
Photo: U.S. PD c. 1937 DPL 1937 DPL


Brown’s Park (aka: Brown’s Hole) is an isolated mountain valley along the Green River in Moffat County, Colorado and Daggett County, Utah.  In the early 1800’s, when the Euro-Americans first entered the area, the area was inhabited by Comanche, Shoshoni, and Ute tribal groups. The Blackfoot, Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Navaho tribes also visited or used the area. The presense of the Native Americans was documented by the 1776 Dominguez-Escalante Expedition and again in 1805 by the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In the 1830s the valley became a favorite location for fur trappers and settlers. In 1837 Fort Davy Crockett was constructed as a trading post and a defense against attacks by the Blackfoot; abandoned in the 1840s as the settler population declined. After the discovery of gold in California in 1848, the valley emerged among ranchers as a favorite wintering ground for cattle.
By the 1860s it had acquired a reputation alongside Hole-in-the-Wall, WY and Robbers Roost, UT as a haven for cattle rustlers, horse thieves, and outlaws; such as Butch Cassidy and Tom Horn. It was the birthplace of Ann and Josie Bassett, considered female outlaws and girlfriends to several of Cassidy’s Wild Bunch gang. During its outlaw heyday, the Browns Park ethic allowed for most “outlaw deeds” except murder. Butch Cassidy reportedly acquired his nickname while working for a local rancher, and returned to the region repeatedly during his outlaw career.
Today, it is the location of the Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge (1965).  {001}

OWDR Browns Park Utah O Sullivan

Browns Park, UT
Photo: U.S. PD Timothy O’ Sullivan LOC

The Originals Index – Brothels, Saloons, Dance Halls, GamblingBrown’s Hole Saloon c. 1822)


Canyon de Chelly National Monument – Arizona

750 foot, Spider Rock
at the junction of Canyon de Chelly and Monument Canyon
Photo: U.S. PD 2004 – Brian W. Schaller


Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Archeological evidence indicates that the canyon has been occupied on and off for some 4,000 years. Following previous residents, the Ancestral Puebloans (Anasazi) and the Hopi, the Navajo people, who had only recently arrived in the southwest (c. 1300) came to the canyon some time in the mid-late 1300’s or early 1400’s. They were invaded by forces led by future New Mexico governor Lt. Antonio Narbona in 1805 and in 1863, Col. Kit Carson defeated the Navajo and forced their removal to Bosque Redondo, NM.
Today, some 40 Navajo families live in the canyon which is wholly owned by the Navajo Tribal Trust and jointly managed in cooperation with the U.S. National Park Service, a relationship unique in the nation. It is one of the most visited of the country’s National Monuments.  {001}

Canyon de Chelly
Map: U.S. PD? Arizona for Visitors


Castle Rock – Kansas

OWDR Castle Rock, KS BPL

Castle Rock, KS
Photo: U.S. PD 1867-68 Alexander Gardner
Boston Public Library


Castle Rock, a large limestone pillar in Gove County, KS, was a landmark on the Butterfield Overland Dispatch route (Overland Trail). Said to have received its name because it looks like a castle rising above the prairie. The chalk was deposited in the area by the Western Interior Seaway in the Cretaceous era. The formation was created by the weathering of wind and water. In modern times, weathering of the rock formation is increasing due to visitors climbing on the rocks. Following a 2001 thunderstorm, the tallest spire fell.  {001}

see also:
Wk. 26, 06/25/1865 – David Butterfield
Wk. 38, 09/23/1865 – The Smoky Hill Route
Photo Gallery Index – Transportation Photosconveyances


Chimney Rock – Colorado

Chimney Rock, in southwestern Colorado.

Chimney Rock, in southwestern Colorado.
Photo: U.S. PD ?


Located in Archuleta County in Southwestern Colorado. This landmark, is not so prominent or important as an emigrant trail marker as the one in Nebraska. The paleo-Indian site at Chimney Rock, CO is thought to be one of many outposts of the much larger Chaco Canyon settlement in northern New Mexico, about 55 miles away.  {001}


Chimney Rock – Nebraska

OWDR Chimney Rock NE

OWDR Chimney Rock NE
Photo: U.S. PD


Located in Morrill County in Western Nebraska and rising nearly 300 feet (91 m) above the surrounding North Platte River valley, the peak of Chimney Rock is 4,226 feet (1,288 m) above sea level. Probably the most important progress marker on the California/Mormon/Oregon Trail.  {001}

The Originals Index – TrailsOregon TrailEzra Meeker)


Chimney Rock – New Mexico

Chimney Rock at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, NM

Chimney Rock at Ghost Ranch, NM
Photo: U.S. PD Peeping Lizzy


Located in Mckinley County, Northwestern New Mexico.  {001}


Church Rock – Utah

OWDR Church Rock Web

Church Rock, UT
Photo: 2015 Doc Boyle


Located in San Juan County, Southeastern Utah, south of Moab.  {001}


Cochise’s Head

OWDR Cochise's Head - GililandIn the Chiricahua National Monument, AZ
Photo: U.S. PD 2012 Clay Gililand


Devils Tower – Wyoming

OWDR Devils Tower

Devils Tower, WY
Photo: U.S. PD NPS


An igneous intrusion (laccolith), near Hulett and Sundance in the Southwest corner of Crook County in Northeast Wyoming, above the Belle Fourche River in the Bear Lodge Mountains (part of the Black Hills). It rises 1,267 feet (386 m) above the surrounding terrain, the summit is 5,114 feet (1,559 m) above sea level. The name Devil’s Tower originated during an 1875 expedition led by Col. Richard Irving Dodge. His interpreter misinterpreted the Indian name to mean Bad God’s Tower, which then became Devil’s Tower. Well before Europeans came to the West, Native American Tribes, including the Arapaho, Crow, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Lakota, and Shoshone had geographical and cultural and ties to the monolith  which they called: Bear’s Tipi (Arapaho, Cheyenne), Bear’s House (Cheyenne, Crow), Bear’s Lair (Cheyenne, Crow), Daxpitcheeaasáao, “Home of bears” (Crow), Bear’s Lodge (Cheyenne, Lakota), Bear’s Lodge Butte (Lakota), Grizzly Bear Lodge (Lakota),  Aloft on a Rock (Kiowa), Tree Rock (Kiowa). The discussion continues yet today about re-naming the the tower more in keeping with the actual Indian names. Seems like it ought to be “Bear” something.   {001}

Devils Tower, c. 1900

see also:
Wk. 39, 09/24/1906 – First National Monument


El Morro – New Mexico

OWDR El Morro 01

El Morro
Photo: U.S. PD 2006 Joel Mills

OWDR El Morro Petroglyph & inscription

Petroglyph and inscription
Photo: U.S. PD








El Morro is located in Cibola County, NM. It is a prominent sandstone bluff with a shaded oasis at its base and a reliable pool of clear water. On an ancient East-West trail it is also a trail register with centuries of use. Zuni Indians call it “A’ts’ina” (Place of writings on the rock). Spanish explorers called it El Morro (The Headland) c. 1620 and new arriving Anglo-Americans called it Inscription Rock. The U.S. government banned further inscription on the rock in 1909.  {001 & 021}


Enchanted Rock – Texas

OWDR Enchanted Rock TX 2012

Enchanted Rock, TX
Photo: U.S. PD? 2012, unknown Internet


Enchanted Rock is an enormous (largest in the U. S.) pink granite pluton batholith (monadnock) located in the Llano Uplift in Llano County, TX, south of the Llano River. Covering some 640 acres, it rises approximately 425 feet (130 m) above the surrounding terrain, topping out at 1,825 feet (556 m) above sea level. Folklore of local Tonkawa, Apache and Comanche tribes ascribes magical and spiritual powers to the rock. The name “Enchanted Rock” derives from Spanish and Anglo-Texan interpretations of such legends and related folklore; the name “Crying Rock” has also been given to the formation. The Tonkawa, who inhabited the area in the 16th century, believed that ghost fires flickered at the top of the dome. In particular they heard unexplained creaking and groaning, which geologists attribute to the rock’s night-time contraction after being heated by the sun during the day.
The first European to visit the area was probably Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca in 1536. The Indians said they would hide from the Anglo settlers in the area on the top two tiers of the rock, where they were invisible from the ground below.
A memorial plaque reads: “From its summit in 1841, Captain John C. Hays, while surrounded by Comanche Indians who cut him off from his ranging company repulsed the whole band and inflicted upon them such heavy losses that they fled”.  {001}


Glass Buttes – Oregon

Glass Butte, OR
Photo: U.S. PD USFS


Glass Buttes Obsidian
Photo: U.S. PD – USFS

Glass Buttes are a group of volcanic mountains made up of two prominent peaks and several smaller adjacent hills (A Rhyolitic Dome created approximately 4.9 million years ago.). A major landmark, rising approximately 2,000 feet above the surrounding, arid, high desert plain in an area once known as the Oregon’s Great Sandy Desert. The highest point is known as Glass Butte, 6,388 feet (1,947 m) above sea level. A secondary peak, Little Glass Butte, southeast of the main summit, has an elevation of 6,155 feet (1,876 m). These steep buttes have a number of massive basalt outcroppings scattered along the slopes.
They are named for the numerous large deposits of obsidian found there. Clovis people appear to have collected obsidian at Glass Buttes beginning around 9,000 years ago. Native Americans used the colorful volcanic glass for making cutting tools, arrowheads, and spear points. Also an important trade good, Glass Buttes obsidian has been found at archeological sites throughout the Pacific Northwest, from British Columbia in the north, to California in the south. There are also reports of Glass Buttes obsidian artifacts at sites in Idaho and as far east as Ohio. Today, Glass Buttes is a historical and recreational site managed by the BLM. Located between Bend and Burns, in the remote northeast corner of Lake County, central OR.  {001}

see also:
The Originals Index –  Trade in the Old West
Photo Gallery Index – Mining Photos – Mining Minerals


Great Salt Lake – Utah

OWDR Great Salt Lake Satt photo USGSOWDR Great Salt Lake map Kids BritannicaThe Great Salt Lake and the harsh desert country around it were formidable obstacles to travel in the Old West. The map view helps get an idea of its size. Today, the lake is slowly shrinking away. Map: © Kids Britannica – fair use; Photo: U.S. PD USGS.  {001}
see also:
The Originals Index – – Expeditions
Bonneville Expedition (1832-35)



Huerfano Butte – Colorado

OWDR Huerfano Butte

“Huerfano,” is Spanish for “orphan”
Photo: U.S. PD aberjame


Huerfano Butte stands alone, some 300 feet above the high plains north of Walsenburg, CO. Visible for up to 80 miles, the landmark served early explorers, marking the presence of rivers flowing from the nearby Rocky Mountains.  Noted by natives, the Spanish, and noted land surveyor, John C. Fremont. It attracted pioneers who built a fort and later, a small settlement nearby.
Rising from an ancient sea bed of Pierre Shale, the igneous intrusion, that never reached the surface, was the result of the uplift of the Spanish Peaks some 40 miles to the west. Because of intense heat, surrounding the intrusion, out to a distance of some 270 feet the Pierre Shale has been cooked into argillite, a metamorphic rock. The hard core of the intrusion is formed of cooled lava, black basalt.  {003}


Hole in the Wall – Wyoming

OWDR Hole in the Wall 01

Hole in the Wall
Photo:U.S. PD ? unknown – Internet


Outlaw Hideout in Southwest Johnson County Wyoming

Hole-in-the-Wall is really a pass, located in the Big Horn Mountains of Johnson County in northern Wyoming. Remote and secluded, easily defended because of its narrow passes, and impossible for lawmen to approach without alerting the outlaws. From the late 1860s to around 1910, the pass was used frequently by numerous outlaw gangs. Late in the 19th century, the Hole in the Wall Gang, Black Jack Ketchum‘s Gang and Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch had all spent time at the pass. At its height it featured several cabins that gangs used to lie up during the harsh Wyoming winters, and it had a livery stable, a corral, livestock, and supplies, with each gang contributing to the upkeep of the site. The variable selection of cattle rustlers, desperados and outlaws met at a log cabin in the Hole-in-the-Wall country which had built by Alexander Ghent in 1883. In the ever changing west and with the gangs using it less frequently, Hole-in-the-Wall eventually faded into history…  {001}

see also:
Wk, 05, 02/01/1896
Wk. 17, 04/25/1901
Wk. 45, 11/07/1908
Wk. 46, 11/18/1944)
and PLAYERS – Timelines Index
Timelines A-L Index – Butch Cassidy Timeline
Timelines M-Z Index – Sundance Kid Timeline and Wild Bunch Timeline


Independence Rock – Wyoming

OWDR Independence Rock WY on the Oregon Trail 1870

Independence Rock WY on the Oregon Trail 1870
U.S. PD c. 1870, USGS

OWDR Independence Rock WY names

Names carved on Independence Rock WY
Photo: U.S. PD Gortexguy








The middle of the three California/Mormon/ Oregon Trail “Registers” in Wyoming. A large rounded monolith of Archean granite typical of the surrounding region, an isolated peak at the southeast end of the Granite Mountains. Located in the high plateau region of central Wyoming, north of the Sentinel Rocks ridge and adjacent to the Sweetwater River. About 130 ft. tall (40 m).  {001}

Wk. 27, 07/04/1862
Quotes Index – Commentators Quotes,
Commerce, Industry , Mining and TransportationJohn C. Fremont (1843)


Mexican Hat Rock – Colorado


Mexican Hat Rock near Mexican Hat, UT
Photo: 2015 Doc Boyle


About 60-feet (18 m) wide by 12-feet (3.7 m) thick – San Juan County, Southeastern Utah.  {001}


Monument Rocks National Natural Landmark – Kansas

Monument Rocks
Photo: U.S. PD 2011 – Brian W. Schaller


Monument Rocks National Natural Landmark (aka: Chalk Pyramids). The formations were the first landmark chosen by the US Department of the Interior as a National Natural Landmark. They are a series of large chalk formations including buttes and arches, some reaching a height of  70 ft (21 m). Rich in fossils, these carbonate deposits are estimated to have been laid down 80 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period in what was then the Western Interior Seaway, which had split the continent of North America into two landmasses. Located in Gove County, KS.  {001}
see also:
Wk. 29, 07/20/1943 – Charles H. Sternberg


Monument Valley – Arizona/Utah

Monument Valley
Photo: U.S. PD? – internet


Monument Valley (Navajo: Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii – Valley of the Rocks) lies within the confines of the Navajo Nation Reservation. It is a region of the Colorado Plateau characterized by a cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 1,000 ft (300 m) above the valley floor, whose elevation of the valley floor ranges from 5,000 to 6,000 feet (1,500 to 1,800 m) above sea level. Iron oxide exposed in the weathered siltstone accounts for the valley’s vivid red rock while the darker, blue-gray rocks in the valley are colored by manganese oxide.
Beginning in the 1930s, the spectacular scenery of Monument Valley has been featured in many forms of media. Movie director John Ford used the location for a number of his best-known western films. The valley is located on the Arizona–Utah border just north of Kayenta, AZ. Nearly a thousand people live in the valley, the settlement known as Oljato.  {001}
see also:
Wk. 35, 08/31/1973 – John Ford
Wk. 21, 05/24/1986 – Yak Canutt


Names Hill – Wyoming

OWDR Names Hill WY

Names Hill WY
Photo: U.S. PD NPS

OWDR Names Hill WY names

Names Hill WY
A close-up of some of the names…
Photo: U.S. PD 2014, Realwyo








Names Hill is the westernmost of the California/Mormon/ Oregon Trail “Registers” in Wyoming; a sandstone bluff located on the bank of the Green River near a heavily used crossing. Earliest human recordings at the site are Native American pictographs. European American names began appearing as early as 1822 as mountain men crossed the river on their way to the beaver streams of the Western Rocky Mountains. In 1844, Caleb Greenwood and Isaac Hitchcock lead the first wagon train over what would later be called the Sublette-Greenwood Cutoff, along the way crossing the Green River at Names Hill. The wagon trails would rest at the Green River following a 40 miles (64 km) waterless trek across the prairie, providing an opportunity for travelers to add their names to the hill.  {001}

see also:
Wk. 16, 04/16/1969 – Historic Place


Newspaper Rock – Utah

OWDR Newspaper Rock cu

Closeup of a portion of the Rock
Photo: U.S. PD Jim

OWDR Newspaper Rock UT

Newspaper Rock UT
Photo: U.S. PD c.1972 NARA, David Hiser







The first carvings at the Newspaper Rock site were made perhaps 2,000 years ago. Since then, the signs and symbols have been left by people from the Archaic, Anasazi, Fremont, Navajo, Anglo, and Pueblo cultures (and, unfortunately, modern culture as well). In Navajo, the rock is called “Tse’ Hone'” which translates to a rock that tells a story. The petroglyphs* were carved by Native Americans during both the prehistoric and historic periods. Some of the over 650 rock art designs are of different animals, including deer, buffalo, and pronghorn antelope. Various symbols and human figures also appear. Some glyphs depict riders on horses (therefore are from after about 1530 ish…). Other images depict past events as in a newspaper.
Precisely dating the rock carvings is difficult, but, repatination of surface minerals reveals their relative ages. These images were inscribed into the dark coating on the rock, called desert varnish; a blackish manganese-iron deposit that gradually forms on exposed sandstone cliff faces owing to the action of rainfall and bacteria. The ancient artists produced the many types of figures and patterns by carefully pecking the coated rock surfaces with sharpened tools to remove the desert varnish and expose the lighter rock beneath. The older figures are themselves becoming darker in color as new varnish slowly develops. The reason for the large concentration petroglyphs at this particular location is unclear.  Located east of the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, San Juan County, Southeastern UT.{001}
FYI: – Rock paintings are called
*References – Dictionarypetroglyphs
References – Dictionarypictographs


Pikes Peak – Colorado

OWDR Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak, CO
Photo: U.S. PD


Located in El Paso County, CO, just 12 miles (19.3 km) west by south of downtown Colorado Springs. The icon of the gold seekers in 1859, Pikes Peak is the highest summit of the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. This ultra-prominent 14,115-foot (4,302.31 m) mountain is located in Pike National Forest and named in honor of American explorer Zebulon Pike. The summit is higher than any point in the United States east of its longitude. It can be seen nearly 100 miles away from out on the eastern Colorado prairie.  {001}
see also:
Wk. 46, 11/15/1806 – Pike’s first view


Pilot Butte – Oregon

OWDR Pilot Butte OR

Pilot Butte


Pilot Butte is an extinct cinder cone volcano located in the city of Bend, OR; rising nearly 500 feet (150 m) above the surrounding plains (elevation above sea level – 4,132 ft.). Named Pilot Butte by Thomas Clark in 1851. The Clark wagon train approached  from the east, after recovering from the Clark Massacre*.  They were the first party of European settlers to camp on the future site of Bend.  {001}
Wk. 32, 08/06/1851 – Clark Massacre


Register Cliff – Wyoming

OWDR Register Cliff WY

Register Cliff WY
Photo: U.S. PD c. 2006 NPS

Register Cliff WY names
Photo: U.S. PD? Internet








Geographically on the eastern ascent of the Wyoming portion of the Continental divide leading upward out of the great plains, Register Cliff is the easternmost of the Oregon Trail “Registers” in Wyoming. Prominently noted in Oregon Trail guidebooks of the 19th century, this sandstone cliff was one of the key checkpoint landmarks for parties heading west along the Platte River valley west of Fort John, WY. Sighting it allowed travelers to verify that they were on the correct path to South Pass and not moving into impassable mountain terrain. It is notable as a historic landmark for ‘registering’ hundreds of emigrants and their families on the Oregon Trail (thus also the other northern Emigrant Trails that split off farther west such as the California Trail and Mormon Trail) who came to follow custom and inscribed their names on its rocks during the western migrations of the 19th century.  {001}


Round Rock, Texas

The Round Rock of Round Rock, TX
Photo: U.S. PD 2006, Larry D. Moore


This round rock in Brushy Creek, marked a convenient low-water crossing for wagons, horses, and cattle. In 1851, a small community was formed on the banks around the crossing and the new postmaster called the place “Brushy”. However, in 1854, the postmaster suggested the settlement be renamed Round Rock in honor of the increasingly famous rock. After the Civil War, Jesse Chisholm began moving cattle up from South Texas. The trail crossed Brushy Creek at the round rock, on the way to Abilene, KS. The route he pioneered became known as the Chisholm Trail. Today, the historic area around the rock is called “Old Town.” and preserves most of the old buildings, including the Saint Charles Hotel.  {001}


Sandhills – Nebraska

OWDR Sandhills - NE - Hooker CntyOWDR Sandhills from space






Covering just over one quarter of the state in twenty counties, some 23,600 mi2 (61,100 km2), in north-central Nebraska, the Sandhills are a region of mixed-grass prairie on grass-stabilized sand dunes which may exceed 330 ft (100 m) in height. Temporary and permanent, sand bottomed, shallow lakes are common in low-lying valleys between the grass-stabilized dunes and these help recharge the part of the massive Ogallala Aquifer which underlies the dunes. The eastern and central sections of the region are drained by tributaries of the Loup River and the Niobrara River, while the western section is largely composed of small interior drainage basins. The average elevation of the region gradually increases from about 1,800 ft (550 m) in the east to about 3,600 ft (1,100 m) in the west. For all of that, the dunes are a dry desert in the winter when all of the water is frozen. A formidable obstacle to travel and no place to be in a Great Plains Blizzard. Photos: U.S. PD, LH 2010 Ammodramus – Sandhills in Hooker, County, NE, south of the Dismal River – RH 2001 NASA Terra sattelite – the Sandhills from space.
The dunes were designated a National Natural Landmark in 1984.  {001}
see also:
Wk. 06, 02/06/1865 – Tribes on the move…
Wk. 06, 02/09/1865 – dealing with the army…


Scotts Bluff – Nebraska

Scotts Bluff National Monument, NE
Photo: U.S. PD 2010, Podruznik
An Oregon Trail Landmark


Located in Scotts Bluff County in western Nebraska, the bluff stands more than 800 feet (240 m) above the plains at its highest point. A well known landmark for Native Americans before the collection of bluffs was charted by Europeans in 1812; noted by the Astorian Expedition of fur traders traveling along the river as the first large rock formations along the river where the Great Plains started giving way to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Rediscovered in 1823, fur traders in the region relied on the bluffs as a landmark on the route to the Rocky Mountains. European/Americans named the most prominent of the bluffs after Hiram Scott, a fur trader who died near there in 1828.
More and more fur traders, military expeditions and missionaries began passing Scotts Bluff during the 1830s. Beginning in 1841, the emigrant Trail to Oregon and later to California and Utah passed by Scotts Bluff on the way west. Wagon trains used the bluff as a major navigation landmark. The route through Mitchell Pass was tortuous and hazardous as the trail passed through a gap in the bluffs flanked by two large cliffs. However, many emigrants preferred this route to following the North Platte river bottom on the north side of the bluff. Passage through Mitchell Pass became a significant milestone for many wagon trains on their way westward. In one of its first engineering deployments, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a smoother road through Mitchell Pass in the early 1850s. Use of the Emigrant Trail tapered off in 1869 after the trail was superseded by the completion of the transcontinental railroad.  {001}

OWDR Mitchell Pass looking east

Today, Mitchell Pass looking east
Photo: U.S. PD c. 2004 Decumanus

see also:
Wk. 50, 12/12/1919 – National Monument


Shiprock – New Mexico

OWDR Shiprock NM

Shiprock NM
Photo: U.S. PD Snodgrass

Shiprock, the landmark of the Navaho Nation, is the erosional remnant of the throat of a volcano, a monadnock, rising nearly 1,583 feet (482.5 m) above the high-desert plain. Its peak is 7,177 feet (2,187.5 m) above sea level. It is located in San Juan County in northwestern New Mexico, 10.75 miles (17.30 km) southwest of the town of Shiprock, which is named for the peak. It is the most prominent landmark in the Four Corners region (northwestern New Mexico). Located in the center of the lands of the Ancient Pueblo People, Shiprock and the surrounding lands, governed by the Navajo Nation, have mythological, religious and historical significance to the Navajo people. The formations Navajo name is: Tsé Bitʼaʼí, “rock with wings” or “winged rock”. It is mentioned in many myths and legends.  {001}

Shoshone Falls – Snake River, Idaho

Shoshone Falls on the Snake River, ID - Timothy O'Sullivan - Landmarks and Registers

Shoshone Falls
Timothy H. O’Sullivan (1874)

Shoshone Falls – On the border of Jerome and Twin Falls Counties, 615 miles (990 km) upstream from the Snake River’s confluence with the Columbia River, in the Snake River Canyon,  it is the tallest of several cataracts along this stretch of the Snake River. About 2 miles (3.2 km) downstream from Twin Falls and 1.5 miles (2.4 km) upstream from Pillar Falls, the appearance of the falls varies significantly depending on the amount of water flowing in the Snake River. Directly above Shoshone Falls, the Snake narrows to less than 400 feet (120 m) wide and rushes over a series of rapids split by islands, before plunging over the vertical, horseshoe-shaped cliff 212 feet (65 m) high and 925 feet (282 m) wide. During high water, the falls appear as a single massive stream stretching the full width of the river. In low water, the falls split into four or more separate drops; the widest, northern section, also known as Bridal Veil Falls.
Shoshone Falls are named for the Agaidika people (“Salmon eaters”) aka: Lemhi Shoshone, who depended on the Snake River’s immense salmon runs as their primary food source. Because the falls are the upstream limit of salmon migration in the Snake River, they served as a central food source and trading center for other Native Americans as well. The Bannock people also traveled to Shoshone Falls each summer to gather salmon. Everyone fished with willow spears tipped with elk horn.
All of these tribes would have supplemented their diet with various roots, nuts and large game such as buffalo, deer and elk.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition, led by Lemhi Shoshone Sacajawea in 1805-06 did not pass through the Shoshone Falls area, nor did the 1811 Wilson Price Hunt Expedition. John C. Frémont passed by Shoshone Falls during his 1843 expedition. He described them as “Fishing Falls”… “a series of cataracts with very inclined planes, which are probably so named because they form a barrier to the ascent of the salmon; and the great fisheries from which the inhabitants of this barren region almost entirely derive a subsistence commence at this place.” He also observed that the salmon were “so abundant that they [the Shoshone] merely throw in their spears at random, certain of bringing out fish.” Early relations between Europeans and Native Americans were generally friendly, however, land ownership issues soon led to conflicts.  After the Bear River Massacre (1863)* the Shoshone were forced onto reservations. As early as 1900, locals called for the creation of a national park at Shoshone Falls. This proposal was never approved by Congress.  {001}
*Wk. 05, 01/29/1863 – Bear River Massacre
The Originals Index – Expeditions Lewis & Clark, Wilson Price Hunt, John C. Frémont.


Split Rock – Wyoming

OWDR Split Rock WY

Split Rock WY
Photo: U.S. PD? unknown – Internet
Oregon Trail Landmark

OWDR Split Rock Marker - Johnson

Split Rock Marker with Split Rock in the Background
Photo: U.S. PD Margie Johnson









Staked Plains – Texas


Table Rocks – Oregon

OWDR Table Rock - OR crp

Upper and Lower Table Rock are two prominent volcanic plateaus in Jackson County, OR. Created by a medium-grained (andesitic) lava flow around seven million years ago and shaped by erosion, they now stand about 800 feet (240 m) above the surrounding Rogue Valley just north of the Rogue River. Based on the age of Clovis points discovered nearby, it is thought that the Takelma tribe of Native Americans, inhabited the Table Rocks for at least 15,000 years. They gathered food such as acorns and tarweed seeds, caught salmon in the nearby Rogue River and hunted deer for clothing and food. They had several names for the rocks, including Di’tani (“rock above”), Titanakh (“little Indian plums”), and possibly Kwenphunkh.
The first recorded use of the names Upper Table Rock and Lower Table Rock was by mountain man James Clyman in 1845. Table Rock City (later renamed Jacksonville) was established several miles south of the rocks during the 1850’s Gold Rush. After some years of struggle, the Takelma were finally forced from the rocks and onto reservations in 1856. The surrounding area was quickly developed by the white invaders.A post office was established nearby in 1872. Home to over 70 species of animals and 340 species of plants, the plateaus were not protected until the 1970’s. Today, they are jointly owned by The Nature Conservancy and the Bureau of Land Management. A popular hiking location in the Rogue Valley, they see some 45,000+ visitors annually. Upper Table Rock is 2,091 feet (637 m) above sea level at its highest point and Lower Table Rock’s elevation is 2,049 feet (625 m). Upper and Lower refer to their location along the Rogue River, not their height. Photo: U.S. PD?, old photo or postcard from the internet.  {001}


Weavers Needle – Arizona

OWDR Weavers Needle 03

Always prominent in the legend and on the maps of the Lost Dutchman’s Mine. Located East of Phoenix in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona. Photo: U.S. PD? Internet  {001}
Wk. 43, 10/25/1891 –Jacob Waltz


For related information on Old West Daily Reader
see also:
The Originals Index – Trails
The Originals Index – Western Forts and Trading Posts

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