Pioneers encounter a spooky landmark on the trail
Emigrants who made their way across the Oregon Trail to new lives on the West Coast traveled by many intriguing sights on their journeys. Although some landmarks they passed by provided them with necessary items, such as bubbly water at Soda Springs and supplies at Fort Laramie, others simply spooked these trailblazers. In particular, Devil's Gate was a frightening sight for pioneers on the Oregon Trail, especially for those emigrants who had heard tales of the rock formation's ghostly past.
Most pioneers passed Devil's Gate about a day after leaving Independence Rock. Located in Wyoming, this large natural monument served as an important landmark for wagons traveling along both the Oregon and Mormon Trails. Devil's Gate is a natural rock formation that was carved by the rushing rapids of the Sweetwater River. The 328-foot gorge, or deep slot, that has been carved in the stone both impressed and astonished emigrants, although it did not leave enough room for wagons to pass through.
The pioneers did not just avoid Devil's Gate because it blocked their way, however. During their journeys, many heard tales of the rock formation's supposed supernatural powers. According to trailblazers who passed through the area, nearly 20 pioneers on the trail had been murdered at Devil's Gate, giving it a sinister reputation. Even the Native Americans thought the site was haunted, believing that an evil monster had cut the large hole in the rock. Regardless of the truth behind these legends, the spooky stories were enough to frighten pioneers away from Devil's Gate. However, today it is a popular landmark that is often visited by historians who are interested in learning about the trail's more interesting sites.