When the pioneers headed west they of course first traversed the vast prairies of Nebraska before hitting the first rock formations. We have shown you the unmistakable Chimney Rock but before that the travellers came across the first true rock formations on the trail, Courthouse and Jail Rocks.
Perhaps the first true rocky landmarks heading west, these rocks were actually five miles from the Oregon Trail itself but journals have shown that many took a detour to take a closer look. If you drive today along Highway 88 near Bridgeport you cannot miss them.
In the 19th Century when the travellers were passing by the rocks would have been quite a lot higher, a bit like Chimney Rock that was 12 or so miles further along the trail. Weather and erosion has taken its toll on these unique looking monuments of sandstone, volcanic ash and clay.
Even today though they stand up proudly rising out of the North Platte Valley and can be seen for miles around. When you get close you can certainly feel their splendour. The names came about over time with the way people perceived their shape. early travellers compared the main prominent rock to an old castle. However what stuck was that the main rock resembled a courthouse and thus the other must be the jail.
Chimney Rock as I have said is close by and relatively close also is the majestic Scotts Bluff. A fantastic part of Nebraska to wander, view and admire. These rock formations helped to show the way in history but even now very much catch the eye and imagination.