It must have been something to be part of the westward expansion of the United States of America. Those brave souls must have felt the excitement of their historical significance, frightened by the unknown and hopeful for a better future as they faced the hardships of traveling by wagon and walking the plains and western states. These are things that we thought about as we travelled along or near the trails of the westward expansion.
The modern day traveller has the opportunity to drive through ranches with cows roaming freely alongside and over the unpaved roads near Courthouse and Jail Rocks in western Nebraska. We may have been lost and it may not have been necessary to travel these roads, but it definitely added to our experience.
We stopped next to a historical marker sign and took pictures with the rock formation behind us. There, we learned that people traveling west on the Oregon, California, Mormon and Pony Express trails found this to be a landmark on their journey. That location was probably the same place that weary travelers stopped to admire the view and wonder how much longer it would be before they would arrive at a place to permanently settle.
We arrived at Courthouse and Jail rocks to see one other couple exploring it. After meeting Wilma and her husband, we walked along dirt paths that led up and around the formation. The trail was not well marked and had loose dirt in parts of it. My parents decided to stay close to the car while my brother put his newly purchased hiking shoes to use as the trail leader.
On the opposite side of the formation from our car we could see Chimney Rock in the distance. The tallest point did not seem safe to climb to in tennis shoes, but we did enjoy the view of the flat Nebraska land with occasional buttes and plateaus from where we stood. I have a feeling that Courthouse and Jail Rocks is often overlooked as a destination to visit and hike. However, it was a fun stop for us to do a little hiking and sightseeing of Nebraska’s non-interstate landscape.