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Courthouse Rock & Jail Rock

Photo by Steve & Bobbi Olson

Wildcat Hills Guided Pioneers West

Courthouse Rock and Jail Rock are ruggedly beautiful and prominent in the pioneer history and ancient legends of the region. Courthouse Rock rises 340 feet above the valley floor and got its name because of its blocky shape. Oregon Trail migrants thought it looked like a stately courthouse; the smaller rock formation nearby was therefore the jail. Both were mentioned in pioneer journals and diaries. They are the easternmost rocky outliers of Western Nebraska’s Wildcat Hills escarpments. 

The story is told of a band of Skidi Pawnees who fled their Sioux enemies by climbing Courthouse Rock. With cliffs on three sides and only one difficult path to the top, the Pawnee seemed trapped. The Sioux warriors camped at the base of the rock and waited for their enemies to give up from thirst and hunger. But late at night, the Pawnees made a long rope from their pony lariats and escaped down a cliff one by one.

The area is five miles south of Bridgeport on Highway 88. You won’t need to ask directions. The rocks are visible from many miles away. The area is open year-round and charges no admission.

For more information, contact the Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce at (308) 262-1825 or visit www.bridgeportneb.com.

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