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Independence Rock is a large granite rock, approximately high, in southwestern Natrona Countymarker in the U.S. state of Wyomingmarker, along Wyoming Highway 220. During the middle of the 19th century, the rock was a prominent and well-known landmark on the Oregon, Mormon and California emigrant trails. It was designated a National Historic Landmark on January 20, 1961. It is now part of Independence Rock State Historic Site, owned and operated by the state of Wyoming.

Description

The rock is a large rounded extrusion of Archean granite typical of the surrounding region. Its appearance is somewhat like the rounded Enchanted Rockmarker of Texasmarker or the Ulurumarker in Australia (also called Ayers Rock), although smaller in size. It is located in the high plateau region of central Wyoming, north of the Green Mountains and close to the Sweetwater River. It is accessible from a rest area on Wyoming Highway 220, approximately northeast of Muddy Gap.

There have been several theories regarding how the rock was carved. It is considered the highest point of the short Granite Mountains sub-rangemarker.

History

Image of Independence Rock in 1870
rock derives its name from the fact that it lies directly along the route of the Emigrant Trail and that emigrant wagon parties bound for Oregonmarker or Californiamarker, which usually left the Missouri Rivermarker in the early spring, attempted to reach the rock by July 4 (Independence Day in the United Statesmarker), in order to reach their destinations before the first mountain snowfalls.

Graffiti on the summit of Independence Rock, dated July 4, 1850
the period of westward emigration on the trail (from 1843 to 1869), it was common for emigrants to carve their names in the granite rock, especially near the summit. Other emigrants left behind messages, sometimes for parties behind them on the trail, in axle grease. Many instances of such carved graffiti are visible today at the summit of the rock, which is accessible by an easy free climb up the surface of the rock.

The rock is located near several other important landmarks on the Trails, including Devil's Gatemarker and Martin's Cove. A LDS-run museum is located near these sites and is open year-round.

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