Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Nebraska- 4 Reasons to Visit Ash Hollow

Most of the pioneers followed the Oregon Trail, which followed the Platte River through Nebraska, as their route to the West. Generally, they would travel on the south side of the river, according to “Platte River/ Ash Hollow.” The river split in west central Nebraska into the North and South Platte. The pioneers needed to cross the Platte and begin following the north branch, because the south branch came to a dead end, in Colorado.

Ash Hollow

. The pioneers usually chose to cross the Platte River near Ash Hollow, outside of what is now Lewellen. They crossed there because even though the Platte was a mile wide, some years two miles wide, the water was only one or two feet deep.
As more pioneers traveled West, Ash Hollow became a favorite rest area

Water and Trees

Ash Hollow was named for the Ash trees and fresh water left in an area hollowed out by erosion. The descent to Ash Hollow was steep, and the wagons had to be lowered by rope to the bottom of the hollow. The brave travelers hadn’t tasted fresh water or seen trees in two or three weeks, and the fresh water and shade awaiting them made the work worth the effort. They usually decided to linger a day two.

Violent Past

Ash Hollow was not always a peaceful place to rest, says “Battle of Ash Hollow.” In the early fall of 1854 Sioux Indians were camped near Ft. Laramie, Wyoming and a pioneer accused a brave of stealing one of his cows. A Lieutenant, and some soldiers, went to the camp to arrest the alleged thief. There was a confrontation, fighting broke out and the soldiers were killed.

For revenge the United States War Department commissioned 600 soldiers to track down the Sioux responsible for the killings. In 1855 the soldiers found 250 of the Sioux camped outside Ash Hollow, opened fire and killed 80 of them, including women and children. After the encounter the Calvary skirted the area, for safety purposes, but the Sioux never retaliated.

An interesting sidelight is famed warrior Crazy Horse, as a child, was one of the 250 Sioux who lived through the massacre. Legend says that at that time he saw a vision of his future warrior status.

State Historical Park

Today, the Ash Hollow State Historical Park comprises 1000 acres, according to “Ash Hollow.” The Park includes a visitor’s center, an archeological cave and the spring water that attracted soldiers, Indians and pioneers. The Park also includes a hiking trail to the hill where the wagons were lowered by rope, and there you will see wheel tracks scarred into the side of the hill. Wheel ruts can also be seen at the bottom of the hollow.

The archeological cave contains evidence of four cultures residing there, over a period of 1500 years.

The Oregon Trail: Platte River/Ash Hollow: isu.edu
NationMaster.com: Battle of Ash Hollow: statemaster.com
GardenCoNe.com: Ash Hollow: gardencone.com

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