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The Ice Slough

The Ice Clough. (Jonathan Wheeler via Panoramio)

The Ice Slough is an amazing natural Wonder. It has been an oasis of sorts for centuries, for those that happen onto it. And it really became a welcome landmark for travelers along the Oregon Trail during the Great Migration in the mid-1800’s. Oh, how those weary and scorched wayfarers must have relished at the sight of the Ice Slough. Can you imagine? After days of wagon or horse, or even foot travel on the Road, as they called it back then, these hearty souls would come upon a marshy tributary which drains into the Sweetwater River. And just under the tufted plants, called sedges, they would find…ice.

For the early pioneers and emigrants, it was a minor miracle. The Ice Slough became a perfect place to stop and replenish, and of course, a great source for refrigerating meat. The Ice Slough is located about 40 miles east of Lander, Wyoming, and emigrants would hit the slough after many days on the hot Wyoming prairie. Early explorers, trappers, and Indians made good use of the Ice Slough long before the Oregon Trail brought thousands of travelers its way. And there it was, this treasure that is formed when the water from the tributary flows through unseen beneath the peat-like vegetation, and freezes during the harsh winter months in Central Wyoming. And because of the natural grassy protective layers of cover above, the ice remains frozen during the spring and early summer.

It really is an amazing phenomenon. Crystal-clear, hard, and frozen. Ice, undercover, at the Ice Slough.

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