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STORIES FROM THE ROAD


July 30, 1997

SPLIT ROCK

A couple of miles past Muddy Gap, Wyoming, I started to ride along the Oregon Trail "Emigrant Road" just south of the Granite Mountains. The Oregon Trail was in existence between 1812-1869. It was opened by the Astor's Pacific Fur Company in 1812.

In 1841, the first wagon train traveled along the trail. During 1846 and 1847, the Mormon Trail went through this area. Between 1848 and 1850, seventy-five thousand people traveled westward to California to possibly get rich during the California Gold Rush. This area was part of Mexico and was fought over during the Mexican American War between 1846 and 1848.

For about fifteen minutes, I took a short break at Split Rock. Split Rock was a major landmark along the "Trail" and told the travelers that the Rocky Mountains were not very far away. Split Rock is a cleft on the top of the Rattlesnake Ridge just north of the Sweetwater River.

In 1860, the California Overland Mail and Pike's Peak (Pony) Express traveled through this area. For eighteen months, the sixteen hundred mile trip from St. Joseph, Mo. to Sacramento, CA. traveled through the area and took ten days. Split Rock was a relay station. Mail relay stops were between ten and fifteen miles apart. There were five hundred horses stationed along the "Trail". Postage for a letter was between a dollar and five dollars according to weight and size.

Seventy Riders traveled a seventy mile round trip each. Relay stops only lasted two minutes. The company wanted boys under the age of eighteen and orphans. Wage was twenty-five dollars a week. The Pony Express lasted between April 9, 1860 and October 24, 1861.

Buffalo Bill Cody was one of the fastest riders. He rode three hundred twenty-two miles in twenty-one hours forty minutes. Twenty-one horses were used in the attempt.




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