Chimney Rock National Historic Site

In many ways we are modern day pioneers.  Like the original American Pioneers, we packed up our home in the east, loaded our limited belongings into a wagon, and headed out in search of a new life.  Although life on the trail is often challenging and the effort required to start anew is great, the reward of living life as you define it, was and is worth the cost.  The pioneer spirit lives.

Today we visited Chimney Rock, a major landmark along the Oregon, California, and Mormon trails traveled by the American Pioneers.  Located in western Nebraska, this stone pillar rises 300′ above the surrounding river valley and can be see for at least 15 miles as you approach from the east.  For the American Pioneers, Chimney Rock was a road sign of sorts that was recorded in more diaries, journals and letters home than any other feature along the trail.  Today it stands as it did then (maybe a little shorter due to erosion and lightning strikes) and is accompanied by a small visitor center and museum.

Morgan and Derek have been learning about the American Pioneers in their latest unit study and a stop at Chimney Rock was a perfect way to tie in our travels with their learning.  The museum had many artifacts from the pioneer days, but the biggest hit was the 1/2 scale wagon designed to allow kids to get a feel for packing for the trail.  Morgan and Derek packed cooking kits, rice, beans, flour, apples, water, molasses, cloths, bedding, a crib for the baby and a whole lot of other gear.  They packed until the attached scale indicated that they had overloaded their wagon and then faced the difficult decision of what to leave behind as they headed west.  What a fun exercise.

I sat down and studied the story of the Donner party and their bizarre path into American History.  Luckily, the modern pioneer can usually find a Chick-fil-A or Panera Bread when hunger strikes…

On to Denver…


Our modern day covered wagon with Chimney Rock in the distance


Setting up camp along the trail


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