Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Chimney Rock

with 25 comments

On May 28th we drove through intermittent rain as we wended our way west toward Chimney Rock National Historic Site in Nebraska. The showers had stopped by the time we reached that pioneer landmark on the old Oregon (and Mormon and California) Trail but you can see that rain was still coming down in the distance farther to the west. If you’d like to visit this place, whether by wagon train or car, here’s more information.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 24, 2017 at 5:00 AM

25 Responses

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  1. Nice write up at the highlighted “here’s more information”.

    Paul McCormack

    June 24, 2017 at 7:11 AM

  2. The background rain is a nice touch, given the evidence of rain in the rock’s erosion. If I’d seen the image without its traditional name, I don’t think I would have seen a chimney. Seen as a whole, it reminds me of a Southern belle in her hoop skirt, or a different kind of bell. Of course, from a distance it would be the top part which appeared first, and then the resemblance to a chimney would be more pronounced.

    It’s another great example of the importance of rocks as landmarks for those early travelers.


    June 24, 2017 at 8:16 AM

    • From what I’ve recently read, pioneers heading west could get a first glimpse of chimney rock when they were still two days’ walk from it. In Colorado and New Mexico I grew accustomed to assuming I was seeing mountains at least 50 miles away.

      I’m glad we stopped at Chimney Rock, but the quantity and magnitude of formations we saw later on the trip made this one seem less impressive afterwards.

      As for wasp-waisted Scarlett O’Hara, pareidolia strikes again.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 24, 2017 at 9:27 AM

  3. Yes, I’ve read accounts from that time and they depended on those rocks they could see from such a distance. In the days of smart phones it is hard to imagine. I love the graceful form that you have captured in this image.


    June 24, 2017 at 8:38 AM

    • The West is so vast, and much of it so sparsely settled even now, that we passed through many places where we didn’t get a cell phone signal. I wonder if young people who are addicted to their phones go temporarily crazy in remote places.

      This form is graceful, and so were the great many more that we saw in the days yet to come on the trip. Now that I’m back in Austin, I wish I could look outside and see some of those geological formations.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 24, 2017 at 9:49 AM

  4. We visited this site several years ago while on a road trip to a family reunion in Montana. I was mildly disappointed to note that the name I remember learning while there was not mentioned in the “more info” link. It had to do with the particular anatomy of a male elk (albeit imagined upside-down).


    June 24, 2017 at 9:23 AM

  5. This is a powerful photo. With the dark skies and rain in the background, it makes the rock look like it’s standing taller. Beautiful.


    June 24, 2017 at 11:12 AM

    • Merci. On pourrait dire que ça a été une bonne trouvaille. J’aime bien votre analyse de la photo.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 24, 2017 at 12:32 PM

      • I don’t speak French, but surprisingly I understood most of what you said! (I just think the words look pretty.)


        June 24, 2017 at 1:05 PM

        • You use the words “Trouvaille, mon cher” as the title of your blog, so I thought you might speak French. What I wrote was: “Thanks. You might say that that was a good find. I like your analysis of the photo.”

          I’m not sure I’d heard of Chimney Rock before researching this trip. I’m glad we stopped there. If you get the chance, it’s worth visiting, along with nearby Scott’s Bluff, which will be the subject of the next post.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 24, 2017 at 1:20 PM

          • Great, thank you! I look forward to reading it.


            June 24, 2017 at 1:26 PM

  6. Very Nice Steve! And informative!!

    Reed Andariese

    June 24, 2017 at 6:28 PM

  7. […] spending a couple of afternoon hours at Chimney Rock, Nebraska, on May 28th, we drove the short distance west to Scottsbluff and even before checking in […]

  8. This photo is breathtaking! I hope to cross Nebraska off my bucket list soon!

  9. That is stunning, both from a photographic point of view and a geological one.


    June 25, 2017 at 9:33 AM

    • The rain clouds made the image more dramatic than it would have been, especially in the harsh light of midday. Chimney Rock and Scott’s Bluff were the first really dramatic western formations we saw on this trip, but others just as dramatic and even more so lay ahead.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 25, 2017 at 11:00 AM

      • I think that would have looked dramatic to me – a Brit, not used to seeing such land formations – in any weather, but yes I’m sure the clouds enhance it.


        June 26, 2017 at 11:19 AM

        • Yes, the American West knows how to do geology and weather. I’ve lived in less spectacular parts of the country, including central Texas for the past four decades, which is why I crave trips westward. New Zealand is no slouch, either.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 26, 2017 at 11:38 AM

  10. […] Nebraska’s Chimney Rock? When we visited on May 28th, I photographed these flowers of Sphaeralcea coccinea, called scarlet […]

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