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New Historical Park for WYO: New Fork River Crossing

September 28, 2010

PINEDALE, Wyo.- A section of the Lander Road emigrant trail will soon be open to the public in the Pinedale Anticline area as part of a historic park. Energy companies are funding the purchase of the private property as part of 'making good' for damages done to other cultural and historic resources nearby.

Local trails expert Lesley Wischmann with the Alliance for Historic Wyoming says Lander Road is already a National Historic Trail, and calls it a unique route that included a crossing over the New Fork River.

"It is the first federally-funded road built west of the Mississippi, whereas all of the other trails had just kind of grown up organically from old Indian trails."

The Lander Road started near South Pass and ended at Fort Hall in Idaho as an alternative to the original Oregon Trail. It saved up to a week of travel time.

Wischmann says parking lots need to be designed for public access, and there is still some archaeological work to be done. Several artifacts have already been discovered, and she expects more.

"There's this area that's fairly denuded of any sort of vegetation, but there's a whole bunch of rocks piled up on it. It looks suspiciously like it might be a grave."

The new publicly-accessible parcel will be called the New Fork River Crossing Park, and is expected to open in the spring. Shell, Ultra Resources and PacifiCorp are the three energy companies paying for the property.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - WY