Blair's Travel and Photography Blog

Have You Ever Wondered?

When we are on one of our driving trips almost all the places we visit and things we do occur on the outward-bound portion of our trip. This is not necessarily planned, it just seems to happen. Perhaps it is a subconscious “nesting” desire, but once we begin our homeward-bound trek it is “peddle-to-the-metal”, with stops for bathrooms breaks, infrequent food acquisition, short “juice-runaround” periods, and sleep when dictated by safety and exhaustion.

However, when driving along, have you ever passed a roadside sign designating a historical marker and said to yourself “I wonder what the marker is about”? And then you say “It would really be neat if there was a phone app that would tell what the sign says and give some related history”.

Well, wait no more! On this trip, as we returned home, we chose to leave the Interstate and trek along a historic route that follows the Oregon, Mormon, and California Trails (through Nebraska, Kansas, and Wyoming).

While driving along in Nebraska, Meriam said “I think I’ll see if a new marker app for my phone is available (we have tried several times over the years with little success). Surprise, surprise, an app called Explorehere (ExploreHere – History Everywhere) pops up. As she was investigating the app, it “pops up” a notification of the Windless Hill Entrance to the Ash Hollow segment of the Oregon, Mormon, and California trails just a few miles ahead!

COMMERCIAL: This app is quite outstanding. It gives accurate and detailed information on historical sites and signs AND gives notification of those in a surrounding or upcoming area. It really works! There is a free version and for $10/year you get the expanded version…end advertisement.

P.S. We have no affiliation with this app J.

So we decided to stop and check out Windless Hill and its covered wagon trail marks.

Windlass Hill pioneer homestead (reconstruction). Built-in the late 1800s by Reverend Dennis B. Clary, a pioneer Methodist Minister. For years, this house was a landmark for Ash Hollow, marking the location of Windlass Hill. The Oregon Trail passed with yards of this house. It was used by early travelers to repair damage on the wagons caused by the hazardous trip down Windlass Hill.
Off the subject of Trails, one finds an interesting tradition in the area of placing old shoes and boots over the ends of fence posts. We speculate it started as a humorous ploy. Perhaps the shoes keep the fence posts from rotting.
Marker near the Homestead directing us to the Trail in Ash Hollow. The Hollow was famous on the Oregon Trail. A branch of the trail ran northwestward from the Lower California Crossing of the South Platte River and descended here into the North Platte Valley. The hollow, named for a growth of ash trees, was entered by Windlass Hill to the south. Wagons had to be eased down its steep slope by ropes.
A rather unique representation of a covered wagon used to present the site’s technical and area information.
At the top of Windlass Hill, one finds a marker locating the original Oregon Trail. Note the date of 1912, not many years after thousands of covered wagons passed in the location.
On top of Windlass Hill, looking down to Ash Hollow, one can see the deep ravine created by the ruts caused by the iron rails of the wagon wheels. It was from here that the settlers had great difficulty restraining the wagons as they descend the Hill. (Note: one can barely make out the parallel tracks.
Another view of wagon wheel tracks. Just think, these tracks were made almost 150 years ago and they are still visible!

So back to our covered wagon for our trek back to Texas!!

13 comments
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  • mao  When we traveled in England (in the ancient days before GPS an apps) we had a wonderful book that had maps, and fold out pages that told the flora and fauna d history of the places we were traveling.ReplyCancel

    • HaroldMAO, that’s awesome. The best we ever had back then was AAA TripTics.ReplyCancel

  • maryWhen will you be back home?ReplyCancel

  • mao  I can’t wait to see the last last post!!!ReplyCancel

    • HaroldIt’ll still be a few more days. Still selecting, etc.ReplyCancel

  • SwannLoved traveling with y’all!!   Everything you post is soo interesting!!ReplyCancel

    • HaroldThanks, Swann. We very much appreciate you and the others who take time to comment.ReplyCancel

  • The BurksAmazing one can still see the wagon trail ruts!  Thks for all you two share (&educate) 🙂ReplyCancel

    • HaroldYou are most welcome. The first ruts we saw were near Fort Laramie, about 15 years ago. They were very distinctive. I wonder if they are still that way now.ReplyCancel

  • The BurksAmazing one can still see the wagon trail ruts!  Thks for all you two share (&educate) 🙂ReplyCancel