The Online Encyclopedia of Wyoming History

Thirteen ways to think about Independence Rock

Thirteen ways to think about Independence Rock

Quiz Yourself

Here are some questions to ask before you visit Independence Rock, while you’re there, and again after you return:

  1. How did Independence Rock get its name?
  2. Why did it become so famous?
  3. Did anyone live here all summer? All year? Why or why not?
  4. What was the Oregon Trail? The California Trail? The Mormon Trail? What connection do they have with Wyoming?  With Independence Rock?
  5. How did the Sweetwater River get its name?
  6. What did Independence Rock look like to the emigrants on the trails? What would you have seen from the top of Independence Rock on a summer day in 1852 that you don’t see now? What would you have seen that looks the same?
  7. What would you want to do if you were with a wagon train stopping here to rest? What would you have to do? What would your chores be?
  8. Why did so many different people carve their names on the rock?
  9. What different methods did they use to carve their names?
  10. By the early 1850s, there was a small bridge over the Sweetwater and a trading post about a mile downriver—northeast—from the rock. In the 1860s, this became a Pony Express stop and later, an army post. What different sights and kinds of people would you have seen in the different decades?
  11. What was a trading post? An army post? What was the difference?
  12. Did any famous people spend time at Independence Rock? Who were they?
  13. Who was Ezra Meeker? Can you find a plaque about him at the rock?

THERE ARE HUNDREDS of more good questions a person could ask about Fort Caspar.

SEND US three interesting Indpendence Rock questions of your own. Be sure to identify your school and classroom teacher or note if you are home schooled when you send in questions. Contact editor@wyohistory.org for information on a 2014-2015 contest for submitting the most questions.

Note to teachers:

This lesson addresses a number of the Wyoming State Social Studies Standards detailed in the 2013 draft of Wyoming Social Studies Content and Performance Standards, benchmarked for the ends of grades 2, 5, 8 and 12. All are available at http://edu.wyoming.gov/sf-docs/publications/DRAFT_2013_Social_Studies_Standards.pdf?

More specifically, the lesson addresses Content Standard 4, Time, Continuity and Change, under which students analyze events, people, problems, and ideas within their historical contexts, and Content Standard 5, People, Places and Environments, under which students apply their knowledge of the geographic themes (location, place, movement, region, and human/environment interactions) and skills to demonstrate an understanding of interrelationships among people, places, and environment.

Under Content Standard 4, the lesson addresses standards SS5.4.4. SS8.4.4 and SS12.4.4, which call for students to discuss, identify or describe historical interactions between and among individuals, families, and cultural/ethnic groups, and standards SS5.4.5, SSD8.4.5 and 12.4.5, which call for students to understand the difference between primary and secondary sources, and how to use them in their research.

Under Content Standard 5, this lesson addresses the Human Place and Movement standards SS2.5.3, SS5.5.3 (which specifically mentions American Indians and the Oregon Trail), SS8.5.3 and SS12.5.3, and the Environment and Society standards SS2.5.4, SS5.5.4, SS8.5.4 and SS12.5.4, which call on students to understand how people in Wyoming adjust and have adjusted to their physical and geographical environment.