Courthouse and Jail Rocks, Bridgeport

#30 of 40 in Nature in Nebraska
Geologic Formation · Hidden Gem · Nature / Park
Courthouse and Jail Rocks are two rock formations located near Bridgeport in the Nebraska Panhandle.
The Oregon-California Trail, the Mormon Trail, the Pony Express Trail and the Sidney-Deadwood Trail all ran near the rocks. The pair of rock formations served as a landmark along the trails for many pioneers traveling west in the 19th century. Many travelers would stray as much as five miles (8 km) from the Oregon Trail just to get a glimpse of the rocks.
Hundreds of westward-bound emigrants mentioned Courthouse Rock (originally also McFarlan's Castle) in their travel logs and journals. The name "Courthouse" was first used in 1837. In 1845, one traveler described the rock as "resembling the ruins of an old castle rises abruptly from the plain....It is difficult to look upon it and not believe that art had something to do with its construction. The voyagers have called it the Courthouse; but it looks infinitely more like the Capitol."
Courthouse and Jail Rocks, which rise 400 feet (121 m) above the North Platte Valley, are composed of Brule clay, Gering sandstone and volcanic ash. The rock formations are listed in the National Register of Historic Places and in the Nebraska Natural Areas Register.
To visit Courthouse and Jail Rocks on your holiday in Bridgeport, and find out what else Bridgeport has to offer, use our Bridgeport.
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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.0
36 reviews
  • If you are staying in Bridgeport, definitely take the few miles trip to view the historical sign and see the large rock formations. Maybe we took the incorrect access road, but "route 88" is a rough....  more »
  • I'm a huge fan of anything related to the Oregon Trail. I love seeing the places they saw and wrote about. Being at these spots I try to imagine how it was for them back then. How they felt and.....  more »
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Side trips from Bridgeport

Duration: 2 hours
Duration: 30 minutes