When traveling around Glenrock and Converse County, keep an eye out for historic trail markers. Five pioneer era trails came through our county including the Oregon, Mormon Pioneer, Pony Express, California and Bozeman trails.
Glenrock was one home to Deer Creek Station, an important stop along the trails in early ears and a telegraph relay point following the demise of the Pony Express.
- Rock In The Glen
- Deer Creek Station
- Emigrant Crossing
- Mormon Mines
- A.H. Unthank Grave
- Brigham Young Mail Station
- Parker-Ringo Grave
- ADA Magill Grave
- Hayden Pioneer Monument
1. Rock In The Glen
On the south face of this landmark for the Oregon-California Trail are carvings of some of the names and dates of only a few of the estimated 350,000 immigrants that passed this way from 1841-1869. Lt. John Charles Fremont and his expedition to the far west camped here on July 26th, 1842. The “Pathfinder” was following the trail used by trappers and traders since 1812 and Indians since prehistory.
2. Deer Creek Station
Originally a pioneer and Indian trading post during the 1850s, the settlement first took the name of “Deer Creek Station” as a relay terminal for the Overland Stage system. In 1860, it became a “home station” for the Pony Express. A remarkable feat of courage by pony rider Henry Avis took place here, resulting in the Pony Express Co. paying him a bonus of $300 for exceptional bravery. Upon reaching Horseshoe Station Avis found the relay rider unwilling to carry the mail. Up ahead marauding Sioux Indians were on the warpath, making the trail a veritable death trap. Undaunted, Avis changed horses and rode into the night. He reached Deer Creek only to find the station abandoned, the station keeper missing and all the relay mounts stolen. To compound matters, the eastbound pony rider arrived, he too refusing to ride further. So, once more Avis took the saddle, returning to Horseshoe Station, without a rest he had covered 220 dangerous and bone-weary miles.
3. Emigrant Crossing
A narrow gorge a few miles west of present day Casper, Wyoming, forced all pioneers traveling the south bank of the North Platte to cross to the other side. Three such crossings were in general use near old For Casper but with the hordes of 49ers glutting the trails during the Gold Rush wagon trains were forced to wait for days to be ferried across. Impatient gold seekers unwilling to waste precious time, began crossing just above the mouth of Deer Creek. Imprudent prospectors tempted to swim across, resulting in a long list of drownings reported daily. More cautions pioneers took time to build adequate ferries.
4. Mormon Mines
The first group of Mormons to reach Deer Creek, that balmy June 10th 1847 described it as a “lovely place to camp, swift current clear water, abundance of fish and a nice grove of timber on the banks that stretched a quarter mile up to the coal mine on the east side”. Upon reaching the crossing place over the Platte where mountain men suggested crossing, they encountered a river running high from spring run-off, making it necessary to build a ferry to float their wagons. Having finished ferrying on the 20th Captain Grover chose two men to go to Deer Creek for a load of coal thus recording the first coal mine in the Wyoming.
5. A.H. Unthank Grave
Traveling with friends and relatives. Alvah Unthank left West Port (Kansas City) bound for the gold fields of California. Not yet turned 20, he carefully carved his name in the sandstone of register cliff only to be struck down with in the first week by dreaded cholera. His grave can be found one half mile east of the paved road leading to the Dave Johnson Power Plant.
6. Brigham Young Mail Station
Anxious to obtain better mail service from the states, Hyrum Kimball acting as agent for the Mormon-BYX operation with headquarters being located in Salt Lake Cit, was low bidder for a US Postal contract to carry the mail between western Missouri and that city. The contract was formally awarded Oct. 9th 1856. Construction of a “Mail Station” at Deer Creek began the follwoing spring. Fifteen acres had been planted with crops, a corral had been completed and so was a fort that enclosed 42 houses. The United States government acting on rumors of a Mormon insurrection, ordered federal troops to march against Utah that very summer. Upon learning of Col. Albert Johnson’s advancing army the Mormons hastily withdrew from Deer Creek, returning to the sanctuary of Salt Lake City.
7. Parker-Ringo Grave
Located two miles west of Glenrock stands two sandstone markers. One simply reads “J.P. Parker Died July 1 1860 Age 41 from Iowa. The other bears only the name M. Ringo. Historic research has shown that this is the final resting place of Martin Ringo. Martin’s son grew up to be the infamous gunman Johnny Ringo,
8. ADA Magill Grave
Mr. & Mrs. G.M Magill and their two children joined up with a Kansas wagon train en-routed for Oregon. While camped at Fort Laramie their daughter Ada came down with dysentery. Ada passed just 5 miles past Deer Creek at a nooning location. The grieving family laid Ada to Rest with a little tombstone over her head and stones piled high upon the grave.
9. Hayden Pioneer Monument
The only known granite monument erected to the memory of Dr. Hayden was placed in Glenrock. Dr. Hayden first came to the Deer Creek area while attached to a military operation called the Expedition of the Yellowstone. Hayden had the first love for geology and did research along the way as well. Credited for later founding the US Geological Survey he began writing annual geological reports the first was published in 1867.