Independence Rock (Wyoming)


Independence Rock (Wyoming)

Infobox nrhp
name = Independence Rock
nrhp_type = nhl


caption = Independence Rock
location = 60 mi. SW of Casper on WYO 220
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designated = January 20, 1961
added = October 15, 1966
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refnum = 66000757
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governing_body = Wyoming State Parks

Independence Rock is a large granite rock, approximately 120 feet (36 m) high, in southwestern Natrona County, Wyoming, along Wyoming Highway 220. During the middle of the 19th century, the rock was a prominent and well-known landmark on the Oregon Trail and Mormon Trail. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961. It is now part of Independence Rock State Historic Site, owned and operated by the state of Wyoming.

Description

The rock is a large rounded extrusion of Archean granite typical of the surrounding region. Its appearance is somewhat like the rounded Enchanted Rock of Texas or the Uluru in Australia (also called Ayer's Rock) , although smaller in size. It is located in the high plateau region of central Wyoming, north of the Green Mountains and close to the Sweetwater River. It is accessible from a rest area on Wyoming Highway 220, approximately 20 miles (32 km) northeast of Muddy Gap. There have been several theories regarding how the rock was carved.

History

The rock derives its name from the fact that it lies directly along the route of the Emigrant Trail and that emigrant wagon parties bound for Oregon or California, which usually left the Missouri River in the early spring, attempted to reach the rock by July 4 (Independence Day in the United States), in order to reach their destinations before the first mountain snowfalls.

During the period of westward emigration on the trail (from 1843 to 1869), it was common for emigrants to carve their names in the granite rock, especially near the summit. Other emigrants left behind messages, sometimes for parties behind them on the trail, in axle grease. Many instances of such carved graffiti are visible today at the summit of the rock, which is accessible by an easy free climb up the surface of the rock.

The rock is located near several other important landmarks on the Trails, including Devil's Gate and Martin's Cove. An LDS-run museum is located near these sites and is open year-round.

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