By Judy Rickard, author, Torn Apart: United by Love, Divided by Law, Findhorn Press, 2011
This stop was momentous – for us and for Oregon Trail pioneers. If you reached Independence Rock by July 4, you should be safe going the rest of the way to Oregon Territory without being caught in killer snowstorms before you made your destination. Although emigrants needed to reach this point by July 4, thereby giving it its name, emigrants arrived at this site throughout the traveling season. Its name actually comes from a party of fur trappers who camped here on July 4, 1824, according to one site. The large granite outcropping is 1,900 feet long and 700 feet wide and rises 128 feet. Overland traveler J. Goldsborough Bruff said it looked “like a huge whale” from a distance.
The site was a popular camping site for pioneers. In my ancestors’
case, they were two weeks late, but successfully made it to the Chahalem Valley safely, where they settled.