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Sketches and Paintings of Chimney Rock

At least twenty-one early sketches of Chimney Rock appear in the records of Oregon-California Trail travelers.  The majority of trail diarists agreed that Chimney Rock was indeed well named, discerning the likeness of a factory chimney or the chimney ruins of a burned house.  Others saw instead an inverted funnel, a lighthouse, the trunk of a gigantic tree, and a shot tower.  Some with poetic fancy thought they recognized the Bunker Hill Monument, "the contemplated Washington Monument," an Egyptian obelisk, the spire of a cathedral, and the "pharos of a prairie sea."  Those less poetic spoke disparaging of "a potatoe-hole" or "a haystack with a pole through its top."

1859, Albert Bierstadt
In 1859 Chimney Rock inspired Albert Bierstadt, the great painter of western landscapes.  This engraving of a Sioux Village along the North Platte River was based on one of his paintings.

Father Nicholas Point, 1841
Father Nicholas Point, traveling in John Bidwell's party in 1841, drew Chimney Rock, the basis for a later engraving. [C538-32]

Charles Preuss, 1842
Charles Preuss, a cartographer and draftsman assigned to John Fremont's party of army explorers, drew a sketch on July 10, 1842.  Because of his training Preuss's depiction of Chimney Rock, later turned into this engraving, is probably one of the more accurate.

William Quesenbury, 1850
William Quesenbury traveled from Arkansas to California in 1850 but returned to the states the following year.  During his journey he produced a series of finely-pencilled sketches, including this magnificent view of Chimney Rock from the east.  Courtesy the Omaha World-Herald Quesenbury Sketchbook.

Richard Burton, 1860
"I took occasion to sketch the far-famed Chimney Rock," wrote Richard Burton in 1860.  An engraving accompanied his popular account of his trip.

George Ottinger, 1867
George Ottinger, a Mormon sketch artist, went to Salt Lake City in 1861 to avoid being drafted into the Confederate army.  His rendition of Chimney Rock appeared later as an engraving in Harper's Weekly, November 2, 1867.

The following sketches were added from the Western Trails Project database.

 Franklin Street
Franklin Street

 Cyrenius Hall, 1852
Cyrenius Hall, 1852

Margaret Irvin Carrington, 1866

 Eugene Ware, 1864
Eugene Ware, 1864

Frederick Piercy, 1853

Illustrated Times,
June 12, 1858

Frederick Piercy, 1853

A. J. Miller, 1837

 chimney rock

J. Goldsborough Bruff, 1849

Father Nicolas Point, 1852

 chimney rock

Randolph B. Marcy, 1859

National Wagon Road Guide,




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