John App’s May 25, 1850, Gold Rush Diary Entry

John does not have a diary entry for this day, but there are some interesting things for him to see between Ft. Laramie (Wyoming) and his next stop at Independence Rock (Wyoming).

Just west of the trail ruts at present day Guernsey, Wyoming is a place known as “Register Cliffs. Following a day’s journey from Fort Laramie, emigrants spent the night at Register Cliff and inscribed their names into the rock face (it is soft, sandstone rock). The earliest signatures date to the late 1820s when trappers and fur traders passed through the area, but most of the names visible today were carved during the 1840s and 1850s when the Oregon Trail was at its height. Today, you can walk along the cliff base to view the signatures up close. Beware, however, that there are some forgeries from the present day among the carvings. Luckily, some of the original carvings are protected behind locked steel bar structures.

The emigrants inscribed their names on a variety of “register rocks” all along the trails. These signatures served a number of purposes. Many emigrants inscribed their names for the simple purpose of declaring, to one and all, that they had made the trek. Others hoped their signatures would signal to family and friends behind them on the trail the date at which they had reached this point.

 See video for this day

Register Cliffs sign

Register Cliffs sign


About storiesretoldblogger

I am an Elkhart, Indiana native and became interested in applying video to history when consumer video cameras were first introduced on the market in the late 1970’s. My production company, Stories Retold, specializes in preserving oral history, traditions, and values with video. Primarily interviewing individuals, I sometimes document families, and on occasion document an entire community. My niche is developing a personal relationship with clients which helps me to tell their story just the way they would like to have it told. Everyone has a story worth preserving, and I enjoy discovering interesting stories from people with whom I come into contact on a daily basis. In years to come, these videos will be priceless as they portray original stories complete with visual images and actual voices filled with all the primary material and emotion that was intended to be. I gain a strong sense of personal satisfaction with each completed project whether it involves an individual or an entire community.
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1 Response to John App’s May 25, 1850, Gold Rush Diary Entry

  1. Pat Hillman says:

    I have three 4th grade presentations to make this week on the California migration and I am taking your pictures of trail ruts. Can’t believe they are still visible. This is what makes the story so real.


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