Scotts Bluff National Monument

Scotts Bluff National Monument

Scotts Bluff National Monument

Gering, NE

Exhibit: August 1 – October 1, 2016

Exhibit location: Scotts Buff National Monument, 190276 Old Oregon Trail, Gering, NE, 69341

Scotts Bluff National Monument

Theme: For this exhibit, you may pick from two themes: Painting Life or Emigration and Arts on the Trail

Painting Life: 2016 not only marks the Centennial for the National Park Service, it marks 150 years since William Henry Jackson first traveled by Scotts Bluff. Jackson had strong artistic ties to the national parks as well as the emigrant trails. He was the photographer on the Hayden Expedition to Yellowstone in 1871/1872 which played a prominent role in convincing congress to create the first national park. Later in life, Jackson created over 50 watercolor paintings depicting landscapes and life along the emigrant trails. Jackson’s ties to Scotts Bluff include his having spent the night on the west side of the bluff in 1866; he dedicated the original museum in 1936 and the monument has the largest collection of William Henry Jackson watercolor paintings in existence.

Emigration and Arts on the Trail: The artwork can span more than just the era of the wagon trains. Native American tribes traveled around the bluffs which also served as a lookout. Fur traders were the first white men to see and record their travels past the bluff. In fact, it is named for one of their number who died near the bluff. Oregon, California and Utah bound emigrants passed the bluffs and many mentioned them in their diaries. The army used the trail and even improved it in places. Stagecoaches and the Pony Express Trail followed the emigrant trails through Mitchell Pass as did the first transcontinental telegraph. The railroad did not come through here in the beginning, so that would not be a good subject.

The monument has a variety of resources that are available online or that can be mailed. The monument collection of William Henry Jackson paintings, drawings and photographs may be viewed at www.whjcollection.com. The monument also has a variety of site bulletins that are also online at www.nps.gov/scbl/planyourvisit/brochure or one of each can be sent to participants.