Pioneer Graves – Scottsbluff, Nebraska
Surrounded by a small barbed wire plot, the Pioneer Graves south of Scottsbluff, Nebraska on Roubidoux Road marks the fallen who dared to traverse the harsh prairie in the mid to late 1800’s. The Pioneer Graves mark the last destination of those who dared dream of a brighter future for themselves and their families.
These travelers became known as the original pioneers who crossed the Wyobraska territories in search of a better life for themselves and their children. The journey was hard and riddled with hazards. Breaking a limb could mean disaster or even death. The threat of Native Americans on the war-path, raging Bison herds in the millions, rattle snakes, venomous spiders and other insects had the potential to end not only a life but the dream of completing the journey. An amazing amount of courage was needed to take on this immense challenge and see it through to its end. Some never witnessed the journeys end. They lost their lives pursuing the dream.
Marked by little more than a brown sign that reads Pioneer Graves at Roubidoux Road off HWY 71 south, south of Gering, Nebraska the graves themselves are several miles west overlooking a small valley at the west end of Scottsbluff National Monument. If you’re a tourist the graves are hard to find unless you know where to look or who to ask. Very little maintenance is applied to the graves site where a historic marker overshadows the remains of the unknown. A small plaque marker tells the story of who occupies the graves but even this is left under scrutiny of historians. It’s more likely than not that the true occupants of the graves will never be discovered.
The Oregon-California Trails Association has placed a plaque at the site detailing the history of the graves and the demise of Fleming Dun who died at the age of 26 years of age on June 13, 1849 following the Oregon-California in Nebraska territory from Cholera.
The Badlands of Scottsbluff promontory (pictured above). The Oregon Trail took a southerly turn 8 miles south of what is now Scottsbluff National Monument (Gering, NE), and away from the river, because there was no available, safe, location to cross the river near Gering because of these bad lands. It wasn’t until 1850 that a road was cut through Hells Gate AKA Mitchell Pass (The road that runs between Dome and Eagle Rock).
“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”