This was a well-known point on the emigrant trails. Here, the road ran between two ragged ridges of sandstone and shale rocks. At the western edge of this natural formation rose the Devil’s Backbone. In 1860, Sir Richard Burton described it this way: "…we descended a steep hill, and were shown the Devil’s Backbone. It is a jagged, broken ridge of huge sandstone boulders, tilted up edgeways, and running in a line over the crest of a long roll of land … like the vertebrae of some great sea-serpent."*
Many emigrant signatures once existed along this stretch of trail. Unfortunately, a great many were lost when portions of the rock formation were blasted away to upgrade the road. Another section of inscriptions was lost in 1995 when natural conditions caused a section of rocks to fall away. Additionally, several miles of pristine trail ruts were destroyed during pipeline construction in the 1970s. Nonetheless, sections of this road still offer a glimpse into the past unconstrained by modern visual intrusions.
From the BLM interpretive panel at Emigrant Gap, travel west for 1.4 miles to the intersection with County Road 12. Turn right (north) and travel .1 mile to the paved road. Turn left and travel westerly for 1.8 miles to the intersection with County Road 318. Turn left and proceed southwesterly for 7.2 miles.
National Park Service
Comprehensive Management Plan
* Tour Guide: National Historic Trails in Natrona County, Wyoming. The Natrona County Historical Preservation Commission and Rosenberg Historical Consultants, 2001.