Register Cliff -- Register Cliff State Historic Site, nr Guernsey WY
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
N 42° 14.865 W 104° 42.692
13T E 523797 N 4677324
The state historic marker at Register Cliff, the famous landmark on the Oregon Trail, where Mama Blaster got buzzed at by a rattlesnake.
Waymark Code: WMK1YJ
Location: Wyoming, United States
Date Posted: 01/31/2014
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member lumbricus
Views: 7

Blasterz LOVE the Oregon Trail, and especially those places along it where you can feel a connection with the emigrants who braved the journey. This is one of those places, BUT . . .

---> STAY ON THE TRAIL AT ALL TIMES DUE TO RATTLESNAKES <--- Mama Blaster was off the trail and got buzzed at by a BIG Western Diamondback rattlesnake. He buzzed because he didn't want to be stepped on, and she was about to do just that. Mama Blaster heard the buzz, froze, and spotted the snake near her left foot. He was moving to the left away from her, so she SLOWLY moved right. He went between the boulders and back into the brush, and she went between the barbed wire and back on the sidewalk. Everyone lived and let live in harmony.

TIP: If buzzed at by a rattlesnake, DO NOT run, scream or jump. Freeze in place, and look around carefully to see where the snake is. Rattlesnakes buzz as a warning, and do not want to bite you. Slowly move away, and you will be fine.

Back to the waymark: Register Cliff is a wonderfully human landmark on the Oregon Trail. Tens of thousands of emigrants passed by here, some camped, and many carved their names into the soft sandstone of the cliff. Some included their hometowns,others inscribed the exact date of their passing, or their role in the Wagon Train to Oregon.

The waymarked historic marker reads as follows:


Register Cliff is one of the most prominent of many places along the Oregon Trail where emigrants would carve their names into the soft rock; more than 700 names can still be seen on this cliff and on other rock outcroppings nearby. But the rock has a history to tell beyond the names inscribed in it. It is, of course, a memorial to the emigrants who felt the need to leave their mark on the significant journey of their lives in which they left behind the world they were born into and traveled for months to a new one. But it is also a record of others. At one time the names included dates as early as 1829 and one reportedly from 1797, both of which were judged authentic. If those dates were accurate, the represented the first white people to pass by here, mountain men involved in the fur trade. Many dates, too were placed on the rock after the decline of the Oregon Trail. Soldiers from Fort Laramie occasionally inscribed their names. Ranchers and cowboys also scratched their names into the rock in the years of Wyoming Territory and early statehood. Others since then have occasionally tried to join their historic predecessors by adding their names to the list. But there is more. To Native Americans the marks on this cliff represent a different legacy, one of loss rather than achievement. They also used the rock for inscribing their own marks and at one time some of the Indian pictographs and petroglyphs on the rock were still visible, but like the land surrounding us that was once the hunting grounds of several Indian nations, those images have been lost in the flood of the white names on the rocks."

There is a Frasier Oregon Trail medallion marker in the fenced-off brushy area (where Mama Blaster got buzzed at) has a plaque that reads as follows:

"OT Medallion

Dedicated to the Pioneers of Wyoming
Acquired by the State of Wyoming
through gift of the
Henry Frederick Family

From the Wyoming Heritage website: (visit link)

"Register Cliff rises more than 100 feet above the North Platte River Valley south of Guernsey, Wyo. The area was the first night camp west of Fort Laramie for Oregon Trail travelers. Under the shadow of the chalky limestone bluffs on the south bank of the river, the emigrants paused to set up camp, pasture their animals and rest from the hardships of the trail.

The stopover gave them time to record their names and the dates of their passage. Many of the inscriptions at Register Cliff are from the 1840s and 1850s, the peak years of travel along the trail. Several states, especially Ohio, are well represented in the carvings.

It is likely that the cliff and its surroundings were a familiar stopping place as early as the fur trade era, though most inscriptions from that time have weathered away. The earliest known carving on the cliff reads, ''1829 This July 14,'' perhaps cut by a French speaker to commemorate Bastille Day. One unusual series of names, representing three generations of Register Cliff scribes, is that of T. H. Unthank, dated 1850; O. N. Unthank, 1869; and O. A. Unthank, 1931.

Register Cliff is one of the three best-known "registers of the desert." The other two are Independence Rock, in central Wyoming, and Names Hill, in western Wyoming. Register Cliff is a short distance from the ranch buildings of Charles A. Guernsey, a cattleman of the 1890s for whom the town of Guernsey was named. Henry Frederick, who later owned the ranch, donated the site to the state of Wyoming as a memorial to the pioneers. Register Cliff was named to the National Register of Historic Places on April 3, 1970."

Blasterz favorite inscription at Register Cliff is from Tex Serpa, "The Oregon Wagon Train Wagonmaster" dated 1889. Blasterz are from Texas too, so we were pretty excited (and a little homesick). :) THEN -- we found this: (visit link)

"My name is Scott Serpa. I just ran across your blog and thought I would clear up a little history for you. Gordon “Tex” Serpa was my father. In 1959 Oregon celebrated its 100th birthday. A group calling themselves “The On To Oregon Cavalcade”, led by my father, reenacted the historic path of the pioneers by traveling by horse drawn wagon train from Independence Missouri to Independence Oregon. The carving my father made on the rock was originally dated 1959 only to be vandalized to read 1859 and then 1889." So, HA!

The oldest name we saw that we think is genuine was "S. Cummings, Akron Ohio, May 26 1850." <-- in the fenced-off part of Register Cliff where MB ran into the snake. Fair warning!

What's yours? :)
Marker Name: Register Cliff

Marker Type: Rural Roadside

Addtional Information:

Group Responsible for Placement: State of Wyoming

Web link(s) for additional information: [Web Link]

Date Dedicated: Not listed

Marker Number: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
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Casper&Aero visited Register Cliff -- Register Cliff State Historic Site, nr Guernsey WY 09/07/2018 Casper&Aero visited it
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