Split Rock Historic Marker Highway 287

Early explorers of this region, most often mountain men engaged in the fur business, mapped out this area using a series of landmarks to chart the path. In the early 1840s, many of the first parties of westward bound emigrants hired these now out-of-work fur trappers to guide them along the known routes. As the years went on, the route became more and more clearly trod. Moreover, guidebooks became increasingly common and these gave advice on camping sites, routes and springs, spelling out the various markers you could expect to encounter during your journey.

Today, some of the emigrants’ most noted landmarks – Laramie Peak, Independence Rock, Devil’s Gate, Split Rock – maintain their singular and distinctive character. No one could miss them on the landscape. Others – Knob Hill, Plume Rocks, Oregon Buttes – seem so ordinary or small or insignificant that it is hard to imagine how they could have been deemed "prominent" by the emigrants. This perception results primarily from the fact that, today, we do not approach the small landmarks as the emigrants did. Minor, yet distinctive, features on the landscape become more remarkable when traveling on foot. In addition, some of these features stand out because of the difficulty of sighting between navigational points on the horizon. In addition, at least by the 1850s, the emigrants could follow fairly easily the road carved by those who had traveled over this same route for a decade. For them, the landmarks represented a way to chart progress as much as they guided them on their journey.