Photo by Steve & Bobbi Olson
Modern travelers descend into the North Platte Valley by an easy grade. Pioneers faced a steeper route. To this day, Windlass Hill at Ash Hollow State Park bears the scars from the countless wagons that made the steep descent. Visitors can follow a paved walking path to the top. An old sod house stands at the bottom of the hill, enclosed with a fence with a wagon wheel gate. “Close gate, please,” a sign reads. “Otherwise cattle get in and rub the old house down.”
Ash Hollow’s abundant water and trees made it a favorite resting place. The park offers picnicking and a visitor center. Multiple hiking trails lead to a cave once inhabited by American Indians. Their relics have been found nearby. The park is 1 1/2 miles southeast of Lewellen on Highway 26. A state park entry permit is required. Experience life on the Oregon Trail on Father’s Day weekend at the Ash Hollow Pageant, an outdoor performance using historical diaries and music. (308) 778-5548.
Rachel Pattison was just 18 years old when she died of cholera here in 1849. Her grave is at Ash Hollow Cemetery, east of Lewellen. A drive north brings you to the Clear Creek Wildlife Refuge.
For more information, contact the Village of Lewellen at (308) 778-5421.