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Oregon Trail Through the Platte River Valley - Page 3

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Fort Mitchell - An important stop along the Oregon Trail during its later days, Fort Mitchell was built and manned in the fall of 1864 by Company "H" of the Eleventh Ohio Volunteer Cavalry under Captain J. S. Shuman. It was named in honor of General Robert B. Mitchell, who ordered the establishment of several sub-stations along the Great Platte River Road between Julesburg, Colorado and South Pass, Wyoming. The post was surrounded by a stockade with a sally-port, firing loop-holes, and a sentinel tower. A nearby "road ranch" served as the Scott's Bluff stage station. In February, 1865 they helped defend Mud Springs Station against an attack by the Cheyenne. In June 1865 they rescued Fort Laramie troops ambushed by Sioux Indians near Horse Creek. Fort Mitchell was abandoned after the Fort Laramie peace conference of 1867. Today, there are no remains of the fort located about ½ mile south of the junction of Highways 92 and 29 east of Mitchell, Nebraska. See more HERE!



Fort Mitchell, Nebraska

Fort Mitchell by William Henry Jackson.





Robidoux Pass - One of two historic passes travelers used to traverse the Wildcat Hills range, it is located south of the North Platte Valley near the present-day town of Gering, Nebraska. This narrow pass carried thousands of emigrants traveling the Oregon-California Trail between 1843 and 1851 and offered a good supply of spring water and wood—both essential on the journey. The trail crossed through a narrow valley at the base of the pass, then wound its way west to the summit, providing travelers with their first glimpse of the Rocky Mountains


The earliest travelers to use the pass were probably fur traders and missionaries in the 1820's and 30's. The first transcontinental wagon train through the pass was the Bidwell-Bartleson Expedition, comprised of 80 emigrants bound for Oregon with the Catholic missionary Father De Smet in 1841. East of the pass lies the site of a trading post established by a Frenchman, either Joseph or Antoine Robidoux, in the late 1840's. Robidoux sold a variety of goods and provided blacksmithing services for travelers.

Reconstructed Robidoux Trading Post near Gering, NebraskaOne emigrant described the post as a log shanty with a blacksmith’s forge on one end and a grog shop on the other. Other trading posts are known to have existed near the pass at that time, including one owned by the American Fur Company, but Robidoux’s is most often mentioned in diaries. The heaviest use of the pass was during the Oregon Migration and the California Gold Rush of the 1840's. Following the opening of Mitchell Pass in 1851, which provided a shorter trail, Robidoux Pass and the trading posts fell into disuse.

Today, there are no remains of the historic buildings at Robidoux Pass, but, wagon ruts and several markers show the original path of the trail. Early accounts of the trip through this area note several burials at the pass, two of which can still be seen today. Tools, wagon implements, bullets, and other materials have also been found in this area, helping to pinpoint the location the trading post and the blacksmith shop.


Robidoux Pass, which has been designated a National Historic Landmark, is located south of Scotts Bluff National Monument, ½ mile south and eight miles west of Gering, Nebraska off Highway 71 on Robidoux Road.


A life-size reconstruction of the Robidoux Trading Post can be found in Carter Canyon, located one mile south of Gering on Highway 71 and eight miles west along Carter Canyon Road. Visitors wishing to explore both Robidoux Pass and the reconstructed Robidoux Trading Post can access both sites by driving to Robidoux Pass then following Rifle Site Pass Road south to Carter Canyon Road. The site is open to visitors who can take self-guided tours.


Scotts Bluff National Monument - The National Park Service administers Scotts Bluff National Monument to protect 3,000 acres of unusual land formations that rise over the otherwise flat Nebraska prairie land. Scotts Bluff itself is an ancient landmark that was once part of the ancient High Plains. In addition to being a prominent geological feature, Scotts Bluff was a major landmark to travelers in the North Platte Valley who were part of the great westward overland migration during the 19th century. American Indians lived in the area for many years prior. The vast herds of buffalo that inhabited the region made Scotts Bluff a major hunting ground of the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho. An Indian name for the bluff is Me-a-pa-te or "the-hill-that-is-hard-to-go-around." The bluff takes its name from a fur trapper, Hiram Scott, who died in the vicinity in 1828. 


See full article HERE!


Horse Creek Treaty Grounds - From all directions they came in September, 1851 -- Plains Indian tribes, summoned by government officials so their chiefs could smoke the peace pipe and sign a treaty with representatives of "The Great Father." Never before had so many American Indians assembled to parley with the white man.


Scotts Bluff National Monument, Nebraska

Welcome to Scotts Bluff National Monument, Kathy Weiser, September, 2009.

This image available for photographic prints and downloads HERE!



Horse Creek Treaty Grounds, NebraskaThomas Fitzpatrick, a fur trader and Indian agent to the Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho, organized the council, which was originally planned to take place at Fort Laramie, Wyoming However, the size of the crowd and a shortage of forage for the thousands of horses caused the parley to be moved downstream to Horse Creek, a tributary of the North Platte River near the Nebraska-Wyoming border.


Among others who helped to put the council together were David D. Mitchell, superintendent of Indian Affairs at St. Louis, Missouri; Jesuit missionary, Father Peter De Smet; and mountain man and trailblazer Jim Bridger

Coordination took some time as most Indian camps were widely spaced as some tribes had been at war for generations. Estimates of the number of Indians gathered range from 8,000 to 12,000. Present were Oglala and Brule Sioux Cheyenne, Arapaho, Crow, Arikara, Assiniboine, Mandan, Gros Ventre and Shoshone It was perhaps history's most dramatic demonstration of the Plains tribes ' desire to live at peace with the whites.


The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 outlined each tribe's territory, and they agreed to no longer fight each other. They also recognized the right of the government to build roads and forts on their lands in exchange for the Army's protection of the tribes from white depredations. About 270 soldiers were present to help keep the peace; however, during the gathering, a spirit of friendliness prevailed.


With the exception of hostilities following the Grattan Massacre in 1854, tribes along the trail remained peaceful until the Indian War of 1864. Near here on the Wyoming-Nebraska line is the site of the first Red Cloud Agency, established for the Oglala Sioux in 1871.

Historical markers are located four miles west of Morrill, Nebraska on Highway 26 that tell the story of the Horse Creek Treaty.


Continue your journey along the Oregon Trail into Wyoming, with more fascinating stops at Fort Laramie, Register Cliff, Guernsey Ruts, and more.



Compiled by Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated March, 2017.


Primary Source: National Park Service

Also See:

Oregon-California Trail

Oregon Trail

Fort Laramie


Grattan Massacre


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