Backbone


From the Comprehensive Management and Use Plan: Oregon National Historic Trail, Appendix III (1981):

Rock Avenue, sometimes called the Avenue of Rocks [or Devil’s Backbone], is an Oregon Trail landmark 10 miles west of Emigrant Gap. Here, natural rock formations jut up out of the Wyoming rangeland, and the Oregon Trail was forced to wind down through the rocks.

At the end of Rock Avenue is the Devil’s Backbone, described by British explorer and traveler Richard Burton in 1860 as “a jagged, broken ridge of huge sandstone boulders, tilted up edgeways, and running in a line over the crest of a long roll of land … like the vertebrae of some great sea-serpent…”.

At one time, wagon ruts were visible throughout Rock Avenue, where numerous wagon wheels had cut into the soft rock. However, road and pipeline construction crews have thoughtlessly blasted away large portions of Rock Avenue over the past decade, damaging the formations and destroying the ruts. Rock Avenue can still be appreciated for its geological features, but much of its historic value has been destroyed.

Rock Avenue is accessible via the Oregon Trail Road, a slightly improved dirt and clay road following close to the line of the original Oregon Trail across the high Wyoming range country. The road is passable to normal passenger vehicles only during dry weather.

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‘Backbone’

Camera: Bolsey Jubilee (c1955)
Film: Polypan F (x-2006); 50iso
Process: Xtol; 1+1; 7min; 21C

Avenue of Rocks, Oregon Trail, Wyoming

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