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  This is one of the most noted landmarks along the emigrant trails. Popular legend says thaIndependence Rockt the emigrants needed to reach this point by July 4, thereby giving it its name. But emigrants arrived at this site throughout the traveling season. Its name actually comes from a party of fur trappers who camped here on July 4, 1824. The large granite outcropping is 1,900 feet long and 700 feet wide and rises 128 feet. J. Goldsborough Bruff said it looked "like a huge whale" from a distance. The site was a popular camping site.

While encamped here, many many emigrants inscribed their names on the sturdy granite. AsMilo J. Ayers Incsription early as 1842, fur trapper Rufus B. Sage noted that "the surface is covered with names of travelers, traders, trappers, and emigrants, engraved upon it in almost ever practicable part, for the distance of many feet above its base…"* The Jesuit missionary, Pierre Jean De Smet, is credited with giving it the name "Great Register of the Desert."**

Names were placed on the rock through engraving or by painting them with wagon grease, tar or a combination of buffalo grease and glue. Over Independence Rock 2001time, many of these name have flaked off or been obscured by lichens. Despite this, thousands of names remain and are a source of delight to those who climb the rock.

Ownership
Public. (State of Wyoming)

Directions
Natrona County, Wyoming. T29N/R86W.
At mile marker 63 on State Highway 220. Independence Rock State Historic Site includes a large rest area complex right off the highway. There is an interpretive kiosk and paved Top of Independence Rock 1870footpath leading to the Rock. Well-preserved ruts run along the pathway next to the Rock.

National Park Service Comprehensive Management Plan
The site is threatened by overuse. Lichen growth threatens a number of panels of inscriptions. Vandalism is also a problem.
The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Additional InformationDrawing of the scene above
Tour Guide: National Historic Trails in Natrona County, Wyoming. The Natrona County Historical Preservation Commission and Rosenberg Historical Consultants, 2001.

Hileman, Levida. In Tar and Paint and Stone (Glendo, WY: High Plains Press, 2001)

 

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