Willow Springs Pony Express Station
After the last crossing of the North Platte River in the present Casper area, twenty to twenty-five miles east of here, wagons followed the Oregon-California Trail entered a dry, dreary alkali area where fresh water was scarce. Willow Springs was the first dependable source of good water to be found after leaving the river. For wagons it was normally a two-day drive from the river to these springs and its drainage, Willow Creek.
There were two main alternate routes from the Casper area, and from the junction of the routes at Iron Creek. eleven miles northeast of here, the Oregon-California Trail followed a single track to Independence Rock on the Sweetwater River. Nearly 400,000 covered wagon emigrants, the Overland Stage route, and the Pony Express followed the trail to Willow Springs.
James Shields reached the Springs on June 8, 1850 and wrote:
Two hours having fled by, we moved onward 3 miles to Willow Springs where we found about 4 springs of excellent clear & cool water. These springs are on the right about 1/4 of a mile apart. This looks something like an Eden spot in a deserts, the springs being surrounded with flowers and roses of different hues. There are also several cottonwood and willow trees growing upon the bank of each spring. The last of the Willow Springs is more beautiful than the others,
being in the midst of a grove of small trees. The water boils up from the center among the sand as clear as a crystal & has a delicious flavor.
Sir Richard Burton was aboard the Salt Lake stage when he reached the Springs on August 17, 1860:
We nooned at Willow Springs, a little dogger boasting of a shed and a bunk, but no corral; and we soothed, with a drink of our whiskey, the excited feelings of the Rancheros. The poor fellows have been plundered of their bread and dried meat by some petty thief, who had burrowed under the wall... The water was unusually good at Willow Springs: unfortunately, however, there was nothing else.