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WYO Independence Day Celebration in November

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November 12, 2008

Casper, WY – Thousands carved their names at the site, and now another family name is being added. The Park family's name is being added to the Independence Rock historical site to thank them for donating part of their ranch land so the area could become a State Historic Site.

Independence Rock is the spot along the emigrant trails that told people they were almost halfway to Oregon. Reaching the rock by July 4th meant travelers could make it the rest of the way before winter; those passing through carved their names into the granite.

Jason Marsden with the Alliance for Historic Wyoming says the organization hopes other property owners will be inspired to find ways to honor history on their land.

"If you have historic sites or treasures on your property, there're a lot of things you can do to protect them - one of which would be to donate it and make it into something special like this."

Designating a site as historic doesn't mean putting it into a glass case where no one can touch it, according to Marsden. He says many landmarks can be designated on active ranches and farms.

"A lot of the most important work in historic preservation is to keep things that are historic operating in the way that they always have."

Marsden says there are many other areas along the South Pass web of trails that need similar designations as "living history" to keep them out of the path of development and drilling. Some of the trails and surrounding landscapes are on public lands targeted for drilling to meet the nation's energy demand.

Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Public News Service - WY