RESTING AT ASH HOLLOW
Friday, May 10, 1850
John App and Jake have just crossed (from the south side to the north side) the South Platte River that they have been following. The crossing is at a point on the trail just west of Brule, Nebraska. Rain is becoming less frequent the further west the emigrants go, but when it does rain the rivers can become full of water with dangerous currents. Even the shallow Platte could be dangerous to cross because of its quicksand.
The section of the California-Oregon Trail that they are on now is called the Platte River Road. This part of the trail leads to Fort Laramie in Wyoming, and along the way there will be some incredible geologic sights that fascinate the emigrants. Just before reaching the first popular resting place, Ash Hollow, was Windlass Hill. The hill marked the main entrance from the high table lands from where they came into the Ash Hollow area and the North Platte River valley. Wagon ruts are still visible on the hill since travelers had a difficult time going down Windlass Hill at a 25-degree angle for about 300 feet. Sometimes they would use ropes to ease wagons down the hill, and many “rough-locked” their wagon wheels. This made for very distinctive ruts in the trail.
The main entrance to Ash Hollow, named for a growth of ash trees, was made by going over Windlass Hill. The hollow with its water, wood, and grass was a welcome relief for the travelers after the difficult trip from the South Platte. Emigrants usually stopped here for a period of rest, and to make repairs. It was a wooded canyon and was a major landmark along the Platte River Road. Four miles wide, 250 feet (76 m) deep and ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 feet wide (300 to 600 meters), it is a relatively small canyon but it is the largest canyon anywhere along the Platte.
May 10 we passed 25 Teams- very Pleasant this day,
Yesterday’s diary entry:
9th May – Rained last night for the first time,