Lewellen in Garden County, Nebraska — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
The Way West -- The Oregon Trail
For the wagon-traveler, the road from Independence, Missouri, to the Far West was “2,000 miles, one step at a time.”
The most common wagon brake was the rough-lock. It slowed the wagon by making the wheels drag on the ground.
Uphill travel could be still more difficult. Sometimes wagon drivers lightened their loads and made double trips on difficult grades.
No evidence, historical or archeological, found to date tells of any such device here. Historians class the legend of “Windlass Hill” as an interesting folktale created during later years.
Covered wagon emigrants were often skilled in taking wagons through rough terrain such as this. Some of their methods are shown in an adjacent exhibit.
Wagon breaks were inadequate for hills such as this, and for the many steeper grades further west. Faced with such slopes, wagon drivers locked the wheels with various devices and sometimes had all available hands hold back on ropes attached to the wagon.
Stream crossings posed the worst hazard for the wagon traveler.
Far more emigrants, freighters and soldiers were drowned attempting river crossings than were killed by hostile Indians.
Location. 41° 15.786′ N, 102° 6.848′ W. Marker is in Lewellen, Nebraska, in Garden County. Marker can be reached from U.S. 26, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is located in the Windlass Hill section of Ash Hollow State Historical Park. Marker is in this post office area: Lewellen NE 69147, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Wagons in the West (here, next to this marker); Wagon Ruts (within shouting distance of this marker); Oregon Trail (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Descent of Windlass Hill (approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also named The Oregon Trail (approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also named Oregon Trail (approx. 0.3 miles away); Windlass Hill Pioneer Homestead (approx. 1½ miles away); School District 55 (approx. 1.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Lewellen.
More about this marker. A map on the upper left
Categories. • Roads & Vehicles •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 26, 2015, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 243 times since then and 60 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on August 26, 2015, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.