The Oregon Trail Ruts are actual, highly visible ruts carved by the hundreds of thousands of travelers along the Oregon Trail. These ruts were left by the iron wagon wheel tires as well as cuts made by the emigrants who were moving westbound from 1841 to 1869 to ease the grade.
The first person to officially use the route was Robert Stuart and six companions in 1812. Over the years, many others also used the path, including trappers and traders.
The Bartleson-Bidwell party was the first wagon train of settlers to use the route in 1841. The goal of many of the more than 300,000 emigrants was to reach Oregon or California.
The road was used consistently until 1869 when the Union Pacific Railroad was completed.
Historical Marker Inscription
Oregon Trail Ruts
Registered National Historic Landmark
Wagon wheels cut solid rock, carving a memorial to Empire Builders. What manner of men and beasts impelled conveyances weighting on those grinding wheels? Look! A line of shadows crossing boundless wilderness.
Foremost, nimble mules drawing their carts, come poised Mountain Men carrying trade goods to a fur fair — the Rendezvous. So, in 1830, Bill Sublette turns the first wheels from St. Louis to the Rocky Mountains! Following his faint trail, a decade later and through the 1860’s, appear straining, twisting teams of oxen, mules, and heavy draught-horses drawing Conestoga Wagons for Oregon Pioneers. Trailing the Oregon-bound avant-garde but otherwise mingling with those emigrants, inspired by religious fervor, loom footsore and trail worn companies — Mormons dragging or pushing handcarts as they follow Brigham Young to the Valley of the Salt Lake. And, after 1849, reacting to a different stimulus but sharing the same trail, urging draft animals to extremity, straining resources and often failing, hurry gold rushers California bound.
A different breed, no emigrants but enterprisers and adventurers, capture the 1860’s scene. They appear, multi-teamed units in draft — heavy wagons in tandem, jerkline operators and bullwhackers delivering freight to Indian War outposts and agencies. Now, the apparition fades in a changing environment. Dimly seen, this last commerce serves a new, pastoral society; the era of the cattle baron and the advent of settlement blot the Oregon Trail.
N 42° 15.363, W 104° 44.908
Near Guernsey, WY