No single sight along the Oregon and Mormon trails attracted more attention than Chimney Rock, 1 1/2 miles south of here. Rising 475 feet above the Platte River, the natural tower served as beacon to pioneers.
Tired travelers described it in many ways during the three to four days it was part of their horizon. For some it created mirage-like effects. Some judged it to be 50 feet high, others 700. Many tried to scale it, but none succeeded. Later it became the setting for pony express, telegraph, and stage stations.
Many pioneers speculated on the fragility of the tower. They feared the Brule clay with interlayers of volcanic ash and Arikaree sandstone would soon crumble to nothingness on the prairie.
Hundreds of names were scratched on the soft base. The names have washed away, but the tower remains, as do references in faded diaries that attest Chimney Rock was one of the celebrated landmarks on the pioneer trunklines to the west.
Historical Markers Council (credit line)
Southwest of Bayard on Nebraska 92