Ash Hollow

“While Ash Hollow was renowned among California-bound emigrants for its springs, its spectacular entrances, and its sylvan charm, it is best remembered today as a place of tragedy and terror. The ‘perpendicular,’ bone-shattering decent of Windlass Hill, the graves of cholera-stricken emigrants, and the tales of Indian ambush contribute to this, but Ash Hollow will be forever haunted because of its link with one of the catastrophes of the Indian frontier, the Battle of Ash Hollow, September 3, 1855. It is one of the ironies of history that this bloody engagement didn’t occur in Ash Hollow at all, but six miles northwest, across the North Platte River in the valley of the Blue Water, now called Blue Creek. . . .

The event that finally put an end to the Ash Hollow miseries [for emigrants] was the discovery of gold in Colorado in 1858 and the rapid development thereafter of the Pike’s Peak Road down the South Platte to Denver. Although this did not mean the the abandonment of the North Platte road to Fort Laramie, South Pass, and Salt Lake City, it did make Julesburg a major junction point. Beginning in 1860, freighters, stagecoaches, and Pony Express riders reached the North Platte via Julesburg and Court House Rock, even though this was twenty-five miles longer than the time-honored Ash Hollow route. They were doubtless happy to go a little farther and avoid the dubious blessings of California Hill, Windlass Hill, and the sandy drag up the North Platte River from the Hollow to Court House Rock.”