Mileposts Along the Oregon Trail

Compiled by Prof. Jim Tompkins

Disclaimer:  Prof. Jim Tompkins has compiled the following information for classes he has taught.  He has kindly contributed them for general use.  This information has been gathered from a variety of sources and, while it is free to use, copyright infringements may make it unsuitable for commercial purposes.


Mile 641 Grattan Massacre Site (Bordeaux Station) 

Robert Campbell, Sept 14, 1854 - “There are mountaineers settled here and they do blacksmithing and trade oxen and horses. It was at this place that the Indians killed the 29 soldiers with their officer.”  [Aug 19, 1854, 2nd Lt John Grattan, 28 soldiers and an interpreter were killed while attempting to arrest several Sioux who had killed and eaten a stray cow of a Mormon emigrant. The

Brule Sioux chief “The Bear” also died.]


Richard Burton, 1860 - “...we passed the barrow which contains the remains of Lieut. Gratton and his thirty men. A young second lieutenant of Irish orifin and fiery temper.... The whites in the neighborhood narrowly preserved their own scalps, - M. badeau owned that he owed his to his Sioux squaw.... The ‘city’ ... still appertains to the category of things to be ... a single large

‘store,’ with outhouses full of small half-breeds ... articles of traffic are liquors and groceries for the whites, and ornaments for the Indians, which are bartered for stock (i.e., animals) and peltries.”


Mile 644.0 Fort Bernard A trading post established by Joseph Bissonette in 1845 in opposition to the American Fur Company’s post at Fort John, six miles west (now Ft Laramie). This post was operated by John Baptiste Richard [Reshaw] until it burned in the winter of 1846-47. Over the years there have been six trading post/forts near the mouth of the Laramie River - Ft Bernard, Gratiot Houses, Ft Platte or Richard’s Fort, Ft William, Ft John and Ft Laramie.


Dr. E.A. Tompkins, 1850 - “ assemblage of log huts surrounded by great piles of buffalo hides, the size and shape of eastern haystacks.”


Mile 648.0 Laramie River Crossings Over the years the Laramie River was crossed in one of nine locations by the Oregon Trail. Here also emigrants following the north bank of the Platte River crossed over to the Oregon Trail at one of four locations.


Washington Irving, May 26, 1832 [written in 1843] - “On the 26th of May [1832], the travelers [of Capt. Bonneville’s party] encamped at Laramie’s Fork, a clear and beautiful stream ... winding through broad meadows.”


John Ball, June 12, 1832 - “We arrived at the Laramie Fork of the Platte. It was high, cold, and rapid, and comes from the mountains of the same name. The bank of this stream were covered with willows. Here we made a halt to make ‘bull boats’ and rafts to carry ourselves and goods across....”


Nathaniel Wyeth, June 13, 1832 - “...crossed Larrimee fork getting over one of my rafts broke a tow line ... went down stream lodged on a snag and upset wetting most of the goods on it and losing two Horse loads as it lodged in the middle of the river and the stream very rappid the goods were with difficulty passed ashore.”


Nathaniel Wyeth, June 1, 1834 - “ Laramie’s fork....forded this fork with ease....”


Frederick A. Wislizenus, 1839 - “We crossed the Laramie toward noon, and encamped outside the fort....”


Mathew C. Field, July 6-7, 1843 - “...Laramee Fork 30 yards wide, very swift, and 7 feet deep at the crossing - Camp moved to this crossing. Unloaded, and packed over in two skiffs - all over by noon.”


Overton Johnson, July 13, 1843 - “...came to Lauramie Fork, oposite Fort Lauramie [Fort John] ... obliged to ferry ... two small boats from the Forts, lashed ... platform made of wagon beds ... placed the loaded wagons by hand....”


Francis Parkman, 1846 - “We tried to ford Laramie Creek at a point nearly opposite the fort, but the stream, swollen with rains, was too rapid. We passed up along its bank to find a better place. ... soon found a ford ... the water boiled against our saddles, but our horses bore us easily through. The unfortunate little mules were near going down with the current, cart and all; and we

watched them with some solicitude scrambling over the loose round stones at the bottom.... All landed safely at last; we crossed a little plain, descended a hollow, and, riding up a steep bank, found ourselves before the gateway of Fort Laramie....”


James A. Pritchard, June 3, 1849 - “The water just struck the fore part of the beds of the wagons.”


J. Goldsborough Bruff, July 9, 1849 - “...we had to block some of the wagon-beds up, to keep the contents dry, as there was a deep place in the ford.”


James Abbey, June 1, 1850 - “The water being up to the after axle.”


O. Allen, 1859 - “...if too high to ford cross on the bridge one mile east of the fort....”


Irene Paden, 1943 The Wake of the Prairie Schooner - “Recorded history of [this] section ... begins about the year 1818 when Jacques La Ramie, a French Canadian, built a trapper’s cabin near the junction of the North Platte and the Laramie River. ... Four years later the Indians clinched his claim to permanence by leaving his bones to bleach on the headwaters of the river that

bears his name.”


Mile 648.1 Fort William In 1834 Robert Campbell built a trading post near the mouth of the Laramie River, on the north bank. It was constructed of Cottonwood logs. This was the oldest of six trading posts within a mile of each other over a period of 25 years.


William Anderson, June 1, 1834 - “This day we laid the foundation log of a fort, on Laramee’s fork, and a friendly dispute arose between our leader and myself, as to the name. He proposed to call it Fort Anderson, I insisted upon baptising it Fort Sublette, and holding the trump card in my hand (a bottle of champagne), was about to claim the trick. Sublette stood by, cup reversed, still objecting, when [William] Patton offered a compromise which was accepted, and the foam flew, in honor of Fort William, which contained the triad prenames of clerk, leader and friend.... Leaving Patton and fourteen men to finish the job we started upwards.”


Nathaniel Wyeth, June 1, 1834 - “ Laramies fork.... At the crossing we found 13 of Sublettes men camped for the purpose of building a fort he having gone ahead with his best animals and the residue of his goods he left about 14 loads.”


F.A. Wislizenus, 1839 - “It is on a slight elevation, and is built in a rectangle of about eighty by a hundred feet. The outside is made of cottonwood logs, about fifteen feet high, hewed off, and wedged closely together. On three sides there are little towers on the walls that seem designed for watch and defense. In the middle a strong gate, built of blocks, constitutes the entrance. Within, little buildings with flat roofs are plastered all around against the wall, like swallows nests. ...dwellings not unlike monks cells.”


Rev. Joseph Williams, 1841 - “I tried to preach twice to these people, but with little effect. Some of them said they had not heard preaching for twelve years.”


Mile 648.9 Fort Platte (Richard’s Fort) Begun as early as 1839, this adobe-walled post was built by Lancaster P. Lupton to compete with Fort William. In 1841 it was still unfinished when it was sold to Sybille, Adams & Co., in 1843 to Pratte & Cabanne and abandoned in 1845.


Rufus B. Sage, 1841 - “...occupies the left bank of the North Fork of the Platte river, three fourths of a mile above the mouth of Larramie ... and stands upon the direct waggon road to Oregon. ... It’s walls are ‘adobies’ (sun-baked brick) four feet thick, by twenty high - enclosing an area if two hundred and fifty feet in length, by two hundred broad. At the northwest and southwest

corners are bastions which command its approaches in all directions. Within the walls are twelve buildings in all, consisting as follows: office, store, warehouse, Smith’s shop, carpenter shop, kitchen and five dwellings, - so arranged as to form a yard and corel, sufficiently large for the accomodation of more than two hundred head of animals. The number of men usually employed

about the establishment is thirty.... The night of our arrival at Fort Platte was the signal for a grand jollification to all hands ... who soon got most gloriously drunk.... Yelling, screeching, fireing, shouting, fighting, swearing, drinking and such like interesting performances, were kept up without intermission.... The scene was prolonged till near sundown the next, and several made their egress from this beastly carousal, minus shirts and coats - with swollen eyes, bloody noses, and empty pockets ... liquor, in this country, is sold for four dollars a pint.”


John C. Frémont, July 15, 1842 - “ it was built of earth, and still unfinished, being enclosed with walls, or rather houses, on three of the sides, and open on the fourth to the river.”


John Boardman, July 14, 1843 - “At night to Fort Platte to a dance, where some of the company got gay. Pleasant.”


Mathew C. Field, 1843 - “...was sometimes called Richard’s because it had been built by the three Richard brothers, Jean, Noel and Pierre, of St. Charles....”


Francis Parkman, 1846 - “...beyond was green meadow, dotted with bushes, and in the midst of these, at the point where the two rivers joined, were the low clay walls of a fort. This was not Fort Laramie, but another post of less recent date, which having sunk before its successful competitor, was now deserted and ruinous.”


J. Goldsborough Bruff, July 9, 1849 - “Several hundred yards back from the river’s bank, on the right, stood the old adobe walls of Fort Platte ... now in ruins; and looks like an old castle. - It is rectangular.”


Mile 649 North Platte River Crossings (Mormon Trail)

Apostle Orson Pratt and Elder William Clayton, June 2-4, 1847 - “Wednesday, June 2. - Quite early in the morning several of the Apostles and other brethern crossed the North Fork in their skiff of sole leather and walked up to Fort Laramie, where they were kindly received by James Bordeaux ... they walked down to see his flatboat, which the brethern engaged at the reasonable

price of $15 to ferry the wagons of the pioneer company across, as they had learned that traveling farther upon the left bank of the North Fork, would, if not altogether impracticable, be attended with much difficulty. Thursday, June 3 ... Early in the morning the pioneers commenced ferrying across the North Fork, which at that point was 108 yards wide, being deeper than usual. They averaged about four wagons an hour. ... Friday June 4 - The pioneers resumed their labor of ferrying their wagons across before 5 o’clock in the morning, and by 8 o’clock the last wagon was over! Elder Clayton put up a quide board on the north side of the river at the ferry with the following inscription on it” ‘Winter Quarters 5431/4 miles; junction of the forks, 2271/2 miles; Ash Hollow, 1421/2 miles; Chimney Rock, 701/4 miles; Scott’s Bluff, 501/2 miles. William Clayton, June 4, 1847’.”


Mile 650.0 Fort John (Fort Laramie)

John Ball, June 15, 1832 - “We came to the Black Hills [Laramie Range], so called because of the thick growth of cedar. Here, also, we found red sandstone. It was a region of rattlesnakes, and large fierce bears.”


Rev. Samuel Parker, 1835 - “...the Ogallallah [Sioux] Indians had a buffalo and dog dance.... In the buffalo dance, a large number of young men dressed with the skins of the neck and head of buffalos with their horns on, moved round in a dancing march. They shook their heads, imitated the low bellowing of the buffalo, wheeled and jumped at the same time men and women

sung a song, accompanied with the beating of ... drum. I cannot say I was amused to see how well they could imitate brute beasts ... rational men imitating beasts, and old greyheaded men marshalling the dance and enlightened white men encouraging it by giving them intoxicating spirits, as a reward for their performance.... The women are graceful, and their voices are soft and

expressive. I was agreeably surprised to see tall young chiefs, well dressed, walking arm in arm with their ladies.”


Fr. Pierre-Jean DeSmet, 1840 - “We found some forty lodges of the Cheyennes ... the head chiefs of this village invited me to a feast.... The chief embraced me and greeted me, saying, ‘Black robe, my heart was very glad when I learned who you were.... Be welcome, I have had my three best dogs killed in your honor, they were very fat.’ This is their great feast, and that flesh of

the wild dog is very delicate and extremely good; it much resembles that of a young pig.... Finally I learned that one may get rid of his dish by passing it to another guest, with a present of tobacco.”


Rufus B. Sage, Fall 1841 - “One mile south of [Fort Platte], upon the Larramie, is Fort John, a station of the American Fur Company. Between these two posts a strong opposition is maintained.”


John C Fremont, July 15, 1842 - “A few hundred yards [from Fort Platte] brought us in view of the post of the American Fur Company, called Fort John, or Laramie ... its lofty walls, whitewashed and picketed, with the large bastions at the angles, gave it quite an imposing appearance ... the fort, which is a quadrangular structure, built of clay, after the fashion of the Mexicans ... walls are about fifteen feet high, surmonted with a wooden palisade.... Over the great entrance is a square tower, with loopholes.... At two of the angles, and diagonally opposite each other, are large square bastions, so arranged as to sweep four faces of the walls....”


Matthew Field, July 5, 1843 - “...visited Fort Laramee, a large square structure of mud, strongly knitted with wood timber - painted palisades around the parapets - towers - large cavayard - comfortable dwellings - like old low Spanish structures in New Orleans - Dimensions 150 by 125 feet - about 7 years old.”


Overton Johnson, July 13, 1843 - “ belongs to the American Fur Company ... is built of Dobies (unburnt bricks). A wall of six feet in thickness and fifteen in height encloses an area of one hundred and fifty feet square. About one mile below Fort Lauramie is Fort Platte....”


Nineveh Ford, 1843 - “All those forts were made of adobe walls like the wall around a lot and inside of [5] that wall were adobe buildings, generally small. The wall around the lot was 6 or 8 feet high, and about 18 inches thick. It could have been knocked down very easily, but the Indians had nothing but arrows and could not shoot through it. They had a few guns but very few at that time.”


James Clyman, 1844 - “I purchased a dressed deer skin for 2.50 cents and returned to camp satisfied that money was allmost useless while all kinds of grocerys & Liquors were exorbitantly high for instance sugar 1.50 cents per pint or cupful and other things in proportion Flour Superfine 1.00 dollars per pint or 40 dollars per Barrel ... no dried Buffaloe meat could be had at any price so our stores of provisions did not increase.”


Rev. Edward L. Parrish, 1844- “The Indians, men, women and children, visited our camp. They are the nicest looking and best behaved Indians we have seen. They had fine splendid banners, four of which were waving all the time.... They wanted presents of tobacco, powder, lead, etc.”


Samuel Parker, June 20-22, 1845 - “Stayed at Fort Laramey, plenty of Indians.”


Samuel Hancock, 1845 - “...we came up to an encampment of Indians who proved to be a war party of two hundred or more of the Crow Tribe, and equipped for battle. They asked us through an interpreter, whether we had seen any of the Sioux Tribe ... an Indian approached a wagon in the rear, having a mule team attached, which became frightened and rushed forward, causing all the other teams to start also, and the whole train of forty wagons dashed across the plains, the drivers having no control over the frantic animals, and the women and children who were inmates of the wagons, screaming with all their voices, some of the wagons upset ... and it was some time before we could ... stop them; when we finally did, it was ascertained that we had sustained considerable injury, some of our wagons lying on one side and teams detached from them in some instances, other with the wheels broken, and the contents strewn promiscuously around, while some of our company were lying out with broken legs, and other seriously injured, the whole scene presenting a most disastrous appearance. The Indians having witnessed the entire affair, were hastening to us ... but we, entertaining no very kind feeling for them just then ... request they should advance no nearer....”


Joel Palmer, June 25, 1845 - “Our camp is staionary today; part of the emigrants are shoeing their horses and oxen; others are trading at the fort and with the Indians. Flour, sugar, coffee, tea, tobacco, powder and lead, sell readily at high prices. In the afternoon we gave the Indians a feast, and held a long talk with them. Each family ... contributed a portion of bread, meat, coffee or sugar, which being cooked, a table was set by spreading buffalo skins upon the ground, and arranging the provisions upon them.... Having filled themselves, the Indians retired, taking with them all that they were unable to eat.”


Henry Garrison, June 1846 - “...we came to Larimy fork of the Platt, we crossed the stream and came to Fort Laramie, which is located about one mile from the stream. It stands on a beautiful plain, from the Fort you have a fine view of the snow capped Mountains, the country around the Fort is so level, that you can see evry thing that goes on for miles around. I hearded a

man ask the person in charge, why the Fort was built so far from the stream, he replied, it was built there, so it would not be so liable to surprised by the Indians. He said, if you will look over there in the North you will [see] something mooving, now take this glass and you will see that it is some persons driving in some horses. He said he knew that to be the case, or he would send a man out to see what was going on. At this time, there were but few white men at the fort, about 25 I think, there was no white women, but plenty of Squaws or Indian women. Those squaws that were living inside the quarters were dressed very fine. I heard a lady say that she did not think that the wives of those men at home, was dressed as well as their Squaws.”


Francis Parkman, 1846 - Emigrants crossing the river, and thronging into the fort - part of Russel’s company.... These people are very ignorant, and suspicious for this reason - no wonder - they are grossly imposed on at the store. The men occupied themselves in procurring supplies for their onward journey; either buying them, or giving in exchange superfluous articles of their own. The emigrants had a ball in the fort ... the other night. Such belles! One woman, of more than suspected chastity, is left at the Fort; and [chief trader] Bordeaux is fool enough to receive her.”


James Madison Coons, June 27, 1847 - “Camped at a Sioux Indian town. Quite a trade was got up between the women and Squaws trading beads and other trinkets for bread and meat. At Fort Laramie the old Chief told us we had to pay him for passing through his country. The commander at the Post told us it was customary to give him something. He spread down his blanket

and each man put on his pay, some flour, some meat, coffee, beans, peas, dried fruit, etc. He was well pleased.”


Francis Parkman, June 19-26, 1846 - “Gifts pass here as freely as the winds. Visit a trader, and his last cup of coffee and sugar, his last pound of flour, are brought out for your entertainment; and if you admire anything that he has, he gives it to you. Little thanks expected or given on either side.... [Dakota chief] Old smoke had a fat puppy killed and put into the kettle for

us this morning. It was excellent."


Dr. T., May 31, 1849 - “I thought I had seen destruction of property but this morning beat anything I had ever seen.... Trunks, clothes, Matrasses, Quilts, Beef, Bacon, Rice, Augers, Handsaws, planes, Shoes, Hats, Thread, Spools, Boss Soap, mowing sythes etc. These were thrown out yesterday by one train in order to make their loads lighter. ... Good waggons here bring from 4

to 30 dollars. Mules from 100 to 150 dollars.... Everything you buy cost four times as much as it is worth and everything you sell bring perhaps one tenth its value."


Osborne Cross, June 22, 1849 - “This fort is built in the form of a quadrangular figure and of unbaked clay or adobes. The wall is about twenty feet high, with a small palasading on a part of it. There are two blockhouses at the corners, diagonally from each other. Over the main entrance, which faces the river, there is also another small blockhouse. The buildings are inside, the wall

forming a part of them. They are very small, and have but few comforts ... no trees about the fort ... two companies of the rifle regiment are stationed....”


Ann Dougherty Ruff, June 22, 1849 - “Our animals are a good deal wearied & it is for this that the command is delayed here ... the dust ... is insufferable. The road for 4 or 5 days back of this place is nothing but sand, most of the time nearly a foot deep. This has worn down the mules....”


Capt. Howard Stansbury, July 12, 1849 - “Fort Laramie, formerly known as Fort John.... The [American Fur] company sold it to the United States [June 26, 1849] ... and their people ... temporarily encamped near the ford of the creek, having recently surrendered possession.”


Margaret W. Inman, 1852 - “I carried a little motherless babe five hundred miles, whose mother had died, and when we would camp I would go from camp to camp in search of some good, kind motherly women to let it nurse, and no one ever refused....”


O. Allen, 1859 - “...sutler’s store, blacksmith shop and post office, at the fort.”


E.S. McComas, May 26, 1862 - “...went to the Fort and had an ‘adventure'.”


H.S. Schell, Dec 8, 1870 - “A portion of the old adobe fort was standing until 1862, when it was entirely demolished and the adobes used in the construction of the front portion of the magazine.”


Mile 650.3 Fort John Cemetery

Mathew C. Field, July 6, 1843 - “...Milton Sublette’s grave! ... Laramee fort viewed from the grave yard at sun set!”


Mile 659.0 Ward & Guerrier’s Trading Post At a bend of the North Platte River is the site of the 1841 trading post. In 1859 it became a stage station and in 1860 a Pony Express stop. It is adjacent to a cliff that starting in 1847 would become popular for inscribing names - hence its future name Register Cliff.


Indian Agent Thomas S. Twiss, August 29, 1855 - “...Oglalas [Sioux] had a council with me at Ward and Guerrier’s, seven or eight miles above the fort....”


Mile 662.2 Warm Springs (Big Spring)

Thomas Jefferson Farnham, 1839 - “Above you rise in sublime confusion mass upon mass of shattered cliffs ... below you spreads far and wide the burnt and arid desert, whose solemn silence is seldom broken by the tread of any other animal than the wolf or the starved and thirsty horse....”


Rufus B. Sage, Spring 1842 - “...upon an Indian trail ... A transparent spring gushes from the right bank with considerable noise, furnishing a beautiful streamlet to its hitherto dry bed, which is known as the ‘Warm Springs'.”


John C. Frémont, July 21, 1842 - “ a very large spring gushes with considerable noise and force out of the limestone rock. It is called ‘the Warm Spring,’ and furnishes to the hitherto dry bed of the creek a considerable rivulet.”


James W. Nesmith, July 16, 1843 - “ to the big spring on Sand Creek, about eight miles [from Fort Laramie].”


James Clyman, August 5, 1844 - “Shortly after dark their came on a thunder Shower with such a Squall of wind that allmost all our Tents ware fluttering on the ground in a moment the large cold drops of rain pelting us furiously all over & not even sparing the delicate Ladies & small children which ran helter skeltter in all directions seeking for shelter....”


Horace and Jane Baker, 1846 - At one point, the party's dogs ran ahead of the wagons to slake their thirst at an inviting spring only to discover that it was a hot spring, so near to boiling that the party didn't need to build cookfires that night -- they cooked their rice and meat in the spring water.


Virgil Pringle, June 24, 1846 - “...the spring is very bold and rather warm.”


William Clayton, 1848 - “This is a very strong spring of clear water, but it is warmer than river water, at all seasons of the



Osborne Cross, June 25, 1849 - “...a fine spring that breaks from the side of the hill ... affords an abundance of water. The men made an excavation that collected a sufficient quantity in a few minutes for the whole command. no means warm, although not as cold as springs generally are among the hills....”


Capt Howard Stansbury, 1852 - “...we passed today the nearly consumed fragments of about a dozen wagons that had been broken up and burned by their owners: and near them was piled up, in one heap, from six to eight hundred weight of bacon, thrown away for want of means to transport it further. Boxes, bonnets, trunks, wagon wheels, whole wagon bodies, cooking utensils, and, in fact, almost every article of household furniture, were found.”


O. Allen, 1858 - “Lime Kiln Springs.”


Mile 668.6 Porter’s Rock

William Clayton, 1848 - “’Porter’s Rock,’ left of road - a mile beyond this, you descend to the lower land again. The descent is steep, lengthy and sandy.”


Mile 670 Laramie Peak (Black Hills)

Reuben Cole Shaw, July 4, 1849 - “Early in the morning we fired several rounds, and made as much noise as possible in honor of the day of Independence. We started in the morning and soon passed an encampment where we had the pleasure of beholding the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ floating in the cool breeze. We traveled a few miles farther and passed another camp with two large American flags waving above it.”


Margaret Scott, June 15-16, 1852 - [Margaret is keeping the journal because Abigail has contracted cholera.] “We came in sight of a peak called Laramie's peak [in the] afternoon whose lofty summit appeared to reach above the clouds in the distant horizon, It is supposed that we are about 70 miles from it. We passed seven new made graves to day and camped about three quarters

of a mile from the Platte where we get good water and grass but no fuel of any kind even Buffalo chips are impossible to [obtain] and we will be obliged to eat sea biscuits for supper. We are camped this evening one (half) mile from the Platte where we have good grass and use the water from the Platte. We passed ten new made graves to day, and heard of considerable sickness in diferent trains. Laramie's peak is distinctly in view it is the highest peak of the black hills.”


Agnes Stewart, June 29-30, 1853 - “We had the worst roads yesterday. We had dreadful places to come down, ugly places to go up, and.... Oh, dear, I wish we were in Oregon, or even out of these Black Hills. I am tired of them; they are so dismal looking. [30th] Oh, dear, we have to stay here two or three days and it will appear two or three weeks. I want to go on and never stop at all it could be helped, but the oxen’s feet are all tender.... We must stop and let them get well again.”


E.S. McComas, July 4, 1862 - “Passed Larramie Peak ... went hunting, killed one sage hen and crippled a wolf. ‘played hell’. Layed bye, washed, and baked ... rained which stopped the mosquitoes.”


Mile 672.0 Cottonwood Creek Crossing

Rufus B. Sage, spring, 1842 - “Towards night we arrived at a large creek, bearing the name of Bitter Cottonwood Creek - so called from the abundance of that species of poplar in its valley. These trees grow very tall and straight with expansive tops, - averaging from twenty-five to onehundred and fifty feet in height.”


John C. Frémont, July 22, 1842 - “We halted at noon on the Fourche Amére, so called from being timbered principally with the liard amére (a species of poplar)....”


William Taylor, June 12, 1846 - “...Camped on the Bitter Cotton Wood a Smal Stream.”


James Madison Coons, June 29, 1847 - “Divided the Whitcomb company on Bitter Cottonwood Creek. In camp on Horseshoe Creek.”


Mile 681 Laramie Point (Castle Hill)

Abigail Jane Scott, June 20-21, 1852 - “Sabbath Day: How mysterious are the works of an all wise and overruling Providence! We little thought when last Sabbath's pleasant sun shed upon us his congenial rays that when the next should come it would find us mourning over the sickness and death of our beloved Mother!” [June 21] “We this morning dispatched our breakfast

in silence and with sorrowful hearts prepared to pay the last tribute of respect to the remains of the beloved lamented dead; She now rests in peace.... The place of her interment is a romantic one and one which seems fitted for the last resting place of a lover rural scenery such as she when in good health always delighted in."


John Tucker Scott, Jan 29, 1853 - [inserted by Abigail’s father in a space she left after the June 21 entry for that purpose]


1. T'was midnight and he sat alone-

2. The world is full of life and light

The husband of the dead, But ah no world for me

That day the dark dust had been thrown My little world once warm and bright

Upon her buried head; Is cheerless as the sea

Her orphan children round me sleep Where is her sweet and kindly face

But in their sleep do moan Where is her cordial tone

Now bitter tears are falling fast I gaze around my dwelling place

I feel that I,m alone And feel that I,m alone

3. The lovely wife - maternal care -

4. I slept at last and then I dreamed

The self denying zeal- (Perchance her spirit woke)

The smile of hope that chasd despai[r] A soft light oer my pillow gleamed

And promised future weal A voice in music spoke

The clean bright hearth nice table spread ‘Forgot forgiven all neglect

The charm oer all things thrown- Thy love recalled alone

The sweetness in what e'er she said The babes I loved o love protect

All gone- I am alone I Stille am all thine own

Lafayette O.T. Jan 29th 1853”


Mile 706 LaBonte Creek Crossing

J. Goldsborough Bruff, July 14, 1849 - “...good water, but rather low. Plenty of timber and brush in the bottom. Close by the Camp lay lay a large trunk of a Cotton-wood tree; inscribed all over with names, initials, dates, & as usual.”


O. Allen, 1858 - “La Bonte’s Creek, U.S. Mail Station No. 26....”


Richard Burton, 1860 - “The land was a red waste ... which after rains sheds streams like blood ... presently we emerged from the red region.”


Mile 708.0 LaBonte Cabin


Rufus B. Sage, spring 1842 - “At night we encamped at the forks of a small stream called La Bonte’s creek. Near the confluence of its waters with the Platte are the remains of a log cabin, occupied by a trading party several years since.”


John C. Frémont, July 24, 1842 - “...encampe on the right bank of the Platte, where a handsome meadow afforded tolerably good grass. There were the remains of an old fort here....”


Mile 711 Knob Hill

James A. Pritchard, June 8, 1849 - “...this morning we passed the red hills.”


Richard Burton, 1860 - “...we saw on the left of the path a huge natural pile or barrow of primitive boulders, about 200 feet high and called ‘Brigham’s Peak,’ because, according to Jehu’s whiskeyfied story, the prophet, revelator, and seer of the Latter-Day Saints had there, in 1857, pronounced a 4th of July oration....” [Jehu is a reference to the mad charioteer of the Bible and an

insult to the professional pride of stage coach drivers.]


Mile 722.0 Joel Hembree Grave In December 1961 the owner of the property was collecting rocks for a dam when he overturned one with a flat face that had been chiseled “1843. J. Hembree” with the ‘4’ reversed. The grave was exhumed to be moved from the dam site. The perfectly preserved bones were laying on a bed of branches and covered with a decaying oak

dresser drawer. The body was reinterred in a new pine box.


Dr. Marcus Whitman, July 20, 1843 - writing from Big Butte Creek to the Rev. David Greene, Mission House, Boston: “We buried a small boy this morning that died from a wagon having passed over the abdomen.” The accident happened on July 18 as the boy was riding on the wagon tongue between the animals and with a hand on each. The unconscious boy was carried to

LaPrele Creek where he died at 2 pm the next day as the company lay by.


William T. Newby, July 18-20, 1843 - “[18] A very bad road. Joel J. Hembree’s son Joel fel off the wagon & both wheels run over him. [19] Lay buy. Joel Hembree departed this life about 2 o’clock. [20] We buried the youth & in graved his name on the head stone.”


John Boardman, July 20, 1843 - “...nooned on a creek where Applegate's Company had buried a boy that got killed by a



James Nesmith, July 20, 1843 - “I came on ahead with Captain Gantt ... at noon came up to a fresh grave with stones piled over it, and a note tied on a stick, informing us that it was the grave of Joel J. Hembree, aged six years, who was killed by a wagon running over its body. At the head of the grave stood a stone containing the name of the child, the first death on the expedition. The grave is on the left hand side of the trail close to Squaw Butte Creek.”


Mathew C. Field, 1843 - “But one death seemed to have occurred among them, and this was far from the mountains. Here the loose riders of our moving camp gathered one morning to examine a rude pyramid of stones by the roadside. The stones had been planted firmly in the earth, and those on top were substantially placed, so that the wolves, whose marks were evident about the

pile, had not been able to disinter the dead. On one stone, larger than the rest, and with a flat side, was rudely engraved: Joel Hembree and we place it here, as perhaps the only memento those who knew the West, as soundly as though chiseled marble was built above his bones.”


Mile 724.0 Ayers Natural Bridge (LaPrele Creek)

Mathew Field, July 12-14, 1843 - “...a remarkable mountain gorge - a natural bridge of solid rock, over a rapid torrent, the arch being regular as tho’ shaped by art - 30 feet from base to ceiling, and 50 to the top of the bridge - wild cliffs, 300 feet perpendicular beetled above us, and the noisy current swept along among huge gragments of rock at our feet.. We called the water ‘Bridge Creek’ [LaPrele Creek].”


Rev. Samuel Parker, 1835, near Laramie Peak - “At this place the caravan halted, and ... the men were allowed a ‘day of indulgence,’ in which they drink ardent spirits as much do they please, and conduct as they choose. Not unfrequently the day terminates with a catastrophe of some kind, and to-day one of the company shot another ... the ball entered the back and came out at the side. The wounded man exclaimed, ‘I am a dead man.’ After a pause, said, ‘No, I am not hurt.’ The other immediately seized a rifle to finish the work, ball entered the back and came out at the side. The wounded man exclaimed, ‘I am a dead man.’ After a pause, said, ‘No, I am not hurt.’ The other immediately seized a rifle to finish the work, but was prevented by the bystanders, who wrested it from him and discharged it into the air. The next day a quiet day.”


Mile 729.9 Boxelder Station

James A. Pritchard, 1849 - “...a fine bold running stream.... The stream is called Foaurche Bois River.”


O. Allen, 1859 - “Box Elder Creek - Wood, water and grass in abundance, U.S. Mail Station No. 27.”


Richard Burton, 1860 - “The master, Mr. Wheeler, was exceptionally civil and communicative, he lent us buffalo robes for the night, and sent us to bed after the best supper the house could afford....”


Mile 739 Deer Creek Station

James A. Pritchard, June 8, 1849 - “...Deer Creek - a fine camping spot. The Stream is large & handsom & said to contain an abundance of fish.”


J. Goldsborough Bruff, July 16-17, 1849 - “ Deer Creek, which we crossed, passing through hundreds of tents, wagons, camp fires, and people of every age & sex, congregated on its banks, and turned down to the right, camped on the banks of Platte, at the Ferry.... [July 17] The abandonment and destruction of property here - at Deer Creek, is extraordinary.... Discarded effects

generally rendered useless....”


Thomas Christy, June 4, 1850 - “Deer Creek.... Lovly place to camp....”


Richard Burton, 1860 - “The station boasts an Indian agent Major Twiss, a post office, a store, and of course a grog-shop. M. Bissonette, the owner of the two latter and an old Indian trader, was the usual creole, speaking a French not unlike that of the Channel Islands and wide awake to the advantages derivable from travellers ... large straggling establishment.... I wish my enemy no more terrible fate than to drink excessively with M. Bissonette.... The good creole, when asked to join us, naively refused ... a delay of fifteen minutes and we hurried forwards.” [Twiss moved the agency to Deer Creek in 1857 and Bissonette followed. Lincoln removed Twiss from office in 1861. Bissonette remained four more years until he lost his stock to raiding Sioux.]


Mile 739.1 North Platte Ferry (Bissonette’s Ferry)

J. Goldsborough Bruff, July 16, 1849 - “...Ferry 1/3 of a mile above the mouth of the Creek ... kept by 3 men.... Ferry-boat here, made and tended by 3 or 4 men, is composed of 8 dugouts, or canoes, - of cotton-wood; and grooved timber pinned over, connecting them, forming a railway to run the wagons on. [Revised copy] This ferry is kept by 3 men from Iowa. They are

emigrants, but think this is a speculation worth their attention ... an inclined plane is cut in the bank on this side, for a landing, and, the opposite shore is low. The animals are swum over....”


Howard Stansbury, July 25, 1849 - “...there was a ferry over the North Fork of the Platte ... rudest and simplest kind ... constructed of seven canoes, dug out from cotton-wood logs, fastened side by side with poles, a couple of hewn logs being secured across their tops, upon which the wheels of the wagons rested ... drawn back and forth by means of a rope stretched across the river, and secured at the ends to either bank. Frail and insecure ... yet all the wagons were passed ...two hours, without ... accident ... many ... heavily laden ... an emigrant had been drowned here, the day before ... [tried] to swim his horse made the twenty-eighth victim ... charge for ferrieage was two dollars for each wagon ... by no means extravagent.”


Agnes Stewart, July 4-5, 1853 - “July 4th. This brings to mind hurry and bustle, preparations for pleasure excursions throughout the union. Scarcely any person but what is going to have, or expects to have, a little more than usual today, while we are going on our weary journey. Crossed the North Platte yesterday.... The sand was so heavy that it was hard to haul the wagons down hill. We paid five dollars for each wagon, and four yoke of oxen, and 12 1/2 cents per head for the rest of the cattle, and the same for each man except one driver for each team. The ladies went across free for their dear little feet would not wear out the bridge.... They are playing the fiddles and dancing, and I can shut my eyes and think I am at some gathering ... just like I used to be. It recalls old times to me. Tuesday, 5th. Such a warm day. Everyone is worn out and tired with the heat. We finished the Fourth of July by dancing. After Helen and I sitting on the hill and moralizing so serious we came down and cut capers like a parcel of



Mile 739.2 Reshaw’s Bridge (1st Bridge on North Platte)

[In 1851 John Richard (Ree-shaw in French pronunciation) built two bridges that were engineering failures, but financial successes. One was built over the Laramie River at Fort Laramie and this one on the North Platte River at Deer Creek. Both bridges washed out that winter and were rebuilt. The North Platte bridge was relocated 22 miles further upstream.]


Mile 748.5 Muddy Creek Crossing [This was the westernmost extent of the 1849 cholera epidemic]

Thomas Christy, 1850 - “...bad to cross.”


Richard Burton, 1860 - “...arrived at a station ... a wretched place, built of ‘dry stones,’ viz, slabs without mortar, and the interior was garnished with certain efforts of pictorial art, which were rather lestes than otherwise. The furniture composed of a box and a trunk, and the negative catalogue of its supplies was extensive, - whiskey forming the only positive item.”


Mile 761 Reshaw’s Bridge (2nd Bridge on North Platte) [This bridge was built in 1852 after a first bridge 22 miles lower washed out. This bridge lasted until 1865, putting the nearby Mormon ferry out of business.]


Thomas S. Williams, April 1855 - “...the very morning we got to the bridge on the Platte river, the [Indians] had taken 75 head from Racheau and the traders at that point.”


Richard Burton, 1860 - “A wooden bridge was built at this point some years ago, at an expense of $26,000, by one Regshaw, who, if report does not belie him, has gained and lost more fortunes than a Wall Street professional ‘lame duck’ ... the indispensable store ... drank our whiskey with ice....”


Mile 765.8 North Platte River Crossing Emigrants could only ford in low water. In 1847 this ford was replaced by a Mormon Ferry and in 1852 by Reshaw’s [Richard’s] Bridge.


John C. Frémont, July 28, 1842 - “...we reached the place where the regular road croses the Platte. There was two hundred feet breadth of water ... the channels were generally three feet deep, and there were large angular rocks on the bottom, which made the ford in some places a little difficult. Even in its low stages this river cannot be crossed at random, and this has always been

used as the best ford.”


James W. Nesmith, July 24, 1843 - “Drove across in the afternoon without difficulty....” Samuel Penter, 1843 - “...North Platte, we tied all the wagons together. Someone had a long rope which was tied to the ring of the first wagon and men on the other side helped the train across.”


Jesse Applegate, 1843 - “ they formed the entire train in single file, and attached the teams and wagons to a chain extending through the entire length of the train. The crossing here severely tried the courage and endurance of the men, for they waded the river alongside their oxen, at times clinging to the ox yokes, and swimming.”


William Taylor, June 18-21, 1846 - “Came to the Crossing of platt not fordable ... 19. Remained trying to cross our cattle ... 20. Do [ditto] 16 more waggons came up 21. got all over rafted the waggons Swam the Cattle....”


Henry Garrison, July 1, 1846 - “After passing the Black hills, we came to the North Platt. After leaving the Fort, we saw a great many buffaloes, in fact it was seldom that they were out of our sight. The evening we got to the River some men that was returning from Oregon to the states, drove one into our camp and there killed, it was a fine fat cow and we had a fine feast off of

her. The driving of this buffalo into camp caused quite a little excitement, there were some little girls on a hill near camp and discovered the men as they were after the buffalo, they came running into camp hallowing Indians, some of the men ran to the fr top of the hill, and then just as they were disappearing in a small hollow they had to cross, the men ran back calling out, get ready for the savages would be on us in a few minutes, there was great excitement until the buffalo and men appeared about two hundred above camp on the River, they had followed down the hollow, well might the men be mistaken, and taken them for Indians, for they were all dressed in bucksin clothing from macksins to the hat which was made of wheat. These were the first men that any of [us] had ever saw direct from Oregon, the land to which we were going, and they were welcome visitors. They told us wondrous things about the land from which they came. But that which interested us most, they were the bearers of a great many letters & Father got one from each of his Brothers that was then in Oregon. They cheered us up, and we left that [meeting] with great encouragement, for our visitors held out great encouragements for us, and it was with lighter hearts that we started on our journey the next day.”


Dr. Charles E. Boyle, June 8, 1849 - “There is snow in sight on the mountains. Ten days ago snow fell in the bottom where we are now encamped, the Mormons informed us. Up to this altitude, about 5,000 feet, the cactus has grown in abundance, as well as variety of peas and beans. I here saw a young black eagle. the old one had been killed. It is a large and powerful bird with

prodigious strength of claw.”


Mile 766.3 Mormon Ferry (Guinard’s Bridge) A bridge was built at this location in 1858 and operated as a toll bridge until Fort Caspar was abandoned in 1867, when it was promptly burned by the Indians along with the fort.


James A. Pritchard, June 10, 1849 - “...kept by some Mormons from Salt Lake who had come clere there to keep ferry for the season. We found about 175 wagons ahead of us & we had to take our turn. We however joined another company or 2 & constructed a raft to cross our wagons on. After several efforts we succeded in crossing 2 wagons, but we found the current so

strong and the Raft so heavy and unwiealdy that we abandoned the project and awaited our turn which came in on Wednesday morning.” [They had arrived on Sunday.]


Osborne Cross, July 2, 1849 - “Mormon ferry could be hired for four dollars per wagon....”


Thomas Christy, June 5, 1850 - “Upper Platte Ferry.... Arrived at the ferry 3 o’c PM, and got our wagons taken right across.... There is four boats running here....”


John B. Hill, June 21, 1850 - “...we ferried our wagons across the North Platte, and had to pay five dollars for each....”


O. Allen, 1858 - “Platte Bridge - Trading post and blacksmith shop at this point....”


Richard Burton, 1860 - “Our station lay near the upper crossing or second bridge, a short distance from the town. It was also built of timber at an expense of $40,000, about a year ago, by Louis Guenot, a Quebecquois, who has passed the last twelve years upon the plains. ...the usual toll is $0.50, but from trains, especially Mormons, the owner will claim $5; in fact, as much as he

can get without driving them to the opposition lower bridge [Reshaw’s], or to the ferry boat....”


William Lieuallen, July 5, 1864 - “We came by another bridge 5 miles from the first one where there is a rite smart store. Beacon, 5.0 &c. We come through what some of the boys call the little Devel gate [Rock Avenue]. We came to the telegraph wire....”


William H. Jackson, August 18, 1866 - “We crossed at once over the very finest, if only because it was the first - bridge yet encountered, a sturdy and workmanlike structure of logs....”


Mile 773.6 Red Buttes Crossing(Bessemer Bend) This was the uppermost ford of the North Platte when the lower crossings had too high water.


Rufus B. Sage, spring 1842 - “...where the Oregon Trail crosses the Platte; and, after fording the river, we encamped upon the opposite side.”


Henry Garrison, July 3-4, 1846 - “We continued up the River to the ford, we found it a very hard matter to cross, the River was very wide, and the ford was so crooked that it was hard to follow, we all got safely over and camped on the North side of the River. The next morning we were all turned around. All the way from the time we reached the Platt, we had been traveling on the left side of the River, consequently when we were facing it, the water ran to the right hand, but this morning when we found it running to our left, we felt completely lost. This was the fourth of July, and at sunrise fired a saloot of thirteen guns. The saloot was fired in this way, there were two men in the platoon, and they loaded and fired their rifles thirteen volleys, and at each volley we would give three cheers. Of course this made a lot of noise. A company of emigrants that was camped a short ways above us, not thinking of the Fourth, thought we were attacted by Indians. When we got to their camp, we found them [ready] to defend their selves, when they found out their mistake, we all had a good laugh. They concluded as they had got ready to burn powder, they would not be disappointed, so their entire company joined in giving a saloot for Independence day, and our company joined them in the cheering.”


Lewis Barney, June 1847 - “followed the Oregon road until we came to the upper crosing of the Platt River.”


Abigail Jane Scott, June 27, 1852 - [On north side having previously crossed] “We took a new road this morning and traveled along the Platte until near noon when we came to a place of tolerably good grazing when we halted and turned our cattle upon the grass, pitched our tents eat a cold dinner and prepared to rest untll evening; we are now opposite to the red Buttes These hills are

the color of well burnt brick and are about three hundred feet high A storm came up in the afternoon, and the rain fell where we were, very rapidly for about one hour when it ceased and left the atmosphere quite pleasant but the musquitoes are so

troublesome and annoying us so much that it quite hard to keep one's patience; While raining where we are some men [from] a train camped near us, crossed the river and ascended to the top of the red Buttes informed us that that there the snow fell thick and fast for one hour while at the same time our men who were out one and a half miles from the camp watching the cattle, were in a hard hail storm The Platte river here is not one fourth as wide as where we first struck it below fort Kearny but it is very deep and swift and it is almost impossible for a man to swim across it We have heard of two men being drowed in the act of swiming this river where to look at it one would had waded much more dangerous looking streams.”


Mile 777.5 Poison Spring

Osborne Cross, July 6, 1849 - “ alkali swamp and mineral spring ... very cold, and its taste that of stone-coal....”


J. Goldsborough Bruff, July 23, 1849 - “As the mineral springs were supposed to be poisonous, I would not allay the mule’s thirst at the risk of their lives.”


Thomas Christy, June 6, 1850 - “Mineral Spring and Lake Not much poisonous ... [unless stirred up]. In that case it becomes black, and is doubtless poisonous....”


Mile 784.5 Rock Avenue

William Clayton, 1848 - “The road passes between high rocks, forming a kind of avenue or gateway, for a quarter mile.”


J. Goldsborough Bruff, July 23, 1849 - “Passed through a very singular defile, called ‘Rock Avenue’ about 50 ft. wide, and some 200 long.... After emerging from the Defile, the road descended a very steep hill.”


Richard Burton, 1860 - “...we descended a steep hill, and were shown the Devil’s Backbone. It is a jagged, broken ridge of huge sandstone boulders, tilted up edgeways, and running in a line over the crest of a long roll of land ... like the vertebrae of some great sea-serpent.”


E.S. McComas, 1862 - “Had to let our wagon down with ropes ... and stopped where masquitoes were thicker than any person ... could imagine.”


Mile 792.0 Willow Springs

John Boardman, July 25, 1843 - “Nooned at Willow Springs, where Stewart's Company made meat.”


Overton Johnson, July 25, 1843 - “On the 25th we came to Willow Springs.... We found a beautiful spring, of very clear cold water, rising in a little green valley, through which its water flowed about one mile, and sink in the sand.”


Mile 798.6 Alkali Slough

William J. Scott, August 14, 1846 - “Look out about 12 miles the other side of the willow Springs the Soap factory it looks like it was solled on top and if you step on it you will go under head and ears and if not washed off it will take the hair off.”


James Madison Coons, July 9, 1847 - “At Soap Springs six miles from Willow Spring. Passed Poison Springs at noon.”


William Clayton, 1847 - “The trail passes between considerable alkali lagoons.... They remind one strongly of ponds of ice - dazzling white in the snow. Sal eratus encrusts all the mud and grass near them; and the main surface of it is about the consistenci and appearance of imperfectly frozen milk.”


Elizabeth Dixon Smith, July 26, 1847 - “passed the noted saleratus bed ... this saleratus is far from being equeal to artificial saleratus although looks as good we got a great deal of it some kept and used it others threw it away it will not foam buter milk one bit I knew a person to fetch some through and sell it to a merchant for 50 cents per pound not telling him what it was.”


Mile 803 Greasewood Creek

Heinrich Lienhard, 1846 - “This creek flowed by rapidly in its narrow bed, and its water was clear and good tasting. The grass unfortunately had been compeltly grazed off by the cattle of the emigrants who had camped here before us, so that there is little left for ours. The creek doubtless took its name Sage from the great quantities of the large plants of this species, which

seem to thrive well on the sandy slopes.”


Henry Garrison, July 10, 1846 - “We did not have far to go before we came to the Sweetwater, this is a beautiful stream that flows from the Rockies, and the water is clear and cold. We now bid good by to the Platt with its sands, and its muddy water. Here we found a man by the name of Tanner, he was sitting by the Road with his belongings in a sack, he said the parties he had

been traveling [with] was getting scarce of provisions, and they could not board him any longer. As we had plenty of grub, and we thought that his help would pay his way, we to our sorrow took him in, for he prooved to be worthless, and the worst of it was, we could never trust him.”


Angelina Farley, Aug 27, 1850 - “Camped by the side of a small running brook. The smell of the so called sage is almost intolerable to me.”



O. Allen, 1858 - “Grease Wood Creek and crossing - Grass limited; good water, sage brush for fuel.”


Mile 809 Wagon Train Debris

Henry R. Herr, July 13-15, 1862 - [July 13] “Camped 25 miles from Ft. Laramie. Heard the Indians at South Pass were very unfriendly having completely butchered some 40 soldiers and a large number of emigrants.” [July 15] “We are expecting a Govt train from Ft. Laramie to escort us to the mountains. A number of Govt soldiers and whole train of emigrants were completely

butchered at Sweetwater som 200 miles.” [Henry Herr did not confirm finding any debris from this rumored fight, but in 1931

evidence of a circled group of burned emigrant wagons was found here. The soldiers in 1862 could have been US Army escorts, such as the Oregon Escorts led by Medorem Crawford, or similar civilian militia recruited to fortify key spots along the trail, such as at Sweetwater Station less than five miles distant. Regular soldiers were off fighting the Civil War.]


Mile 814 Saleratus Lake (Saleratus Playa)

Richard Burton, 1860 - “ the west of the road a curious feature, to which the Mormon exodists ... gave the name of Saleratus Lake. of a chain of alkaline springs ... Cattle drinking of the fluid are nearly sure to die ... appearance ... solidly overfrozen ... on a near inspection the icy surface turns out to be a dust of carbonate of soda, concealing beneath it masses of the same ... solidified by evaporation. The Latter-Day-Saints ... laid in stores of the fetid alkaline matter ... for their bread.... Near the lake is a deserted ranch which once enjoyed the title of ‘Sweetwater Station'.”  [Emigrants preferred artificial saleratus (bicarbonate of soda or baking soda) as the natural alkali gave bread a slightly green color.]


Mile 814.8 Independence Rock

John Ball, June 23, 1832 - “It is like a big bowl turned upside down; in size about equal to two meeting houses of old New England style.”


William Marshall Anderson, 1834 - “On the side of the rock names, dates and messages, written in buffalo-grease and powder, are read and re-read with as much eagerness as if they were letters ... from long absent friends ... being a place of advertisement, or kind of trappers’ post office...”


John K. Townsend, June 9, 1834 - “...we see carved the names of most of the mountain bourgeois. We observed those of the two Sublettes, Captain Bonneville, Serre, Fontinella....”


Rev. Samuel Parker, Aug 7, 1835 - “This is the first massive rock of that stupendous chain of mountains which divides North America.”


Fr. Pierre-Jean DeSmet, June 14, 1840 - “It is the great register of the desert; the names of all the travelers who have passed by are there to be read, written in coarse characters; mine figures among them.”


Fr. Pierre-Jean DeSmet, June 28-29, 1841 - “I called this rock on my first journey ‘The Great Record of the Desert'.”


Rev. Joseph Williams, 1841 - “This night we have the sound of the violin but not much dancing. ‘Woe unto the wicked; for they shall have their reward.’ Our company is composed mostly of Universalists and deists.” [At Ham’s Fork, August 1, 1841] - “At night I tried to preach to the deists and swearers. Some of them seemed angry, but I thought I cleared my conscience ... the next day I felt weak from living on dry buffalo meat, without bread. Employment is still fishing and hunting, and such swearing I never heard in my life before.”


Rufus Sage, Spring 1842 - “...a solid and isolated mass of naked granite, situated about three hundred yards from the right bank of Sweet Water.”


John C. Fremont, Aug 1, 1842 - “Except in a depression of the summit ... with a solitary dwarf pine, it is entirely bare. Everywhere within six or eight feet of the ground ... the rock is inscribed with the names of travelers.”


Charles Pruess, 1842 - “What a miserable rock is this Independence Rock compared to the rocks we saw in the mountains. And what a name! Many a human wretch, too, bears a highsounding name.”


Overton Johnson, July 26, 1843 - “ to the stream, which runs within ten yards of its base, it is almost covered with the names of different persons.... It was called Independence Rock, by Wm. Sublet, an old Indian Trader; who several years ago, celebrated here the 4th of July.”


John Boardman, July 27, 1843 - “...started out to take a view of the scenery, and climbed Independence Rock ... on one side is an extended plain with a small stream meandering through it; while in view, at three encampments, consisting of 120 wagons, with their 700 or 800 animals feeding, and in the distance of the wild buffalo, feeding at their leisure."


William T. Newby, July 28, 1843 - “We reached the Independent Rock about 10 o'clock a.m. The rock about 200 feet high and about 1400 yards around it. There is a number of names engraved on it.”


James Nesmith, July 28-30, 1843 - “...had the pleasure of waiting on five or six young ladies to pay a visit to Independence Rock. I had the satisfaction of putting the names of Miss Mary Zachary and Miss Jane Mills on the southeast point of the rocks, near the road, on a high point. Facing the road, in all the splendor of gunpowder, tar and buffalo greese, may be seen the name of

J.W. Nesmith, from Maine, with an anchor. Above it ... may be found the names of trappers, emigrants, and gentlemen of amusement, some of which have been written these ten years. Sweetwater River runs at the foot of it about fifty yards distant.”


James Nesmith, July 28-30, 1843 - “Came up to Martin’s Company about 2:00 o’clock, and found some very sick men in the Company.... Ol Zachary, a man fond of rows, has been excluded from Martin’s Company for defrauding a young man by the name of Matney and of his provisions, and throwing him off in the wilderness. The old rogue, with the two [Oto Indians]

encamped a young man by the name of Matney and of his provisions, and throwing him off in the wilderness. The old rogue, with the two [Oto Indians] encamped about a mile ahead, alone; a small camp, but a big rascal.”


Mathew Field, Summer 1843 - “...we penetrated deep into its center through the gaping fissures, and drank from a spring that is there hidden. From the numerous names inscribed Tilghman assisted me copying the following. Many others are obliterated, and many are made in such hieroglyphican mystery that they are wholly illegible. The female names are, many of them, sweethearts of the wanderers, except some of the newest, which may have been left by ladies of the Oregon party.” [Two pages of names follow, including:] “Wm L. Sublette, with Moses Harris, on express, Jan. 1827, again on July 4th, 1841 [1831] when the rock was christened.”


James Clyman, August 16, 1844 - “...I observed the names of two of my old friends the notable mountaineers Tho.Fitzpatrick & W.L. Sublette as likewise one of our noblest politicians Henry Clay coupled in division with that of Martin Van Buren....”


Samuel Parker, July 4, 1845 - “Wrote my name on Independence Rock this morning.”


Samuel Hancock, 1845 - “...found inscribed on its eternal sides the names of many of the company who passed by in the first emigration, besides many others, doubtless of mountaineers and trappers.”


Horace and Jane Baker, 1846 - At Independence rock, many of the group climbed up and recorded their names on the massive rock formation.


Margaret M. Hecox, July 3-4, 1846 - “...on the third day of July, we encamped in the shadow of Independence Rock.... The next day being the 4th of July we concluded to lay by and celebrate the day. The children had no fireworks, but we all joined in singing patriotic songs and shared in a picnic lunch. Some spent considerable time carving their names on the great rock. This

seemed to be the rule of all emigrants passing that way.”


Henry Garrison, July 12, 1846 - “This is simply a ledge, or mountain of rock that runs down to within a short distance of the stream. We remained here one day to give the teams a chance to rest. Hoover, Brother David and myself climed to the top of the rock, my recollection is, the rocky ledge was five or six hundred feet high, on top, it was quite level, after looking around as long

as we wished, we started to return to camp. After getting a part of the way down, we discovered a crevice that seemed to go to the bottom, as we could see a glimmer of light in the distance. We concluded to venture down, Martin Hoover first, and David next, we had a hard time of it after going quite aways down the crevice, we would have been glad to have been on-top again, but concidering it more dangerous to try to return than to keep on down, we kept, some places, the chasm was so narrow, that we could scarcely squeeze through. I think we must have been two hundred feet high when we started down the crevice. When we got to where it was light enough, we left our names engraved on the rocks, but I doubt not to this day ... that there is any names in that crevice than those of Martin Hoover, David Garrison, and A.H. Garrison. When we returned to camp, and it had

become known what we had done, we got two free lectures, one from Captain Gragg, and one from Father, we was more frightened after hearing of the dangers the lectures cited than we was while creeping down the crevice.”


Robert Caufield, July 4, 1847 - On Independence day this party fired a cannon from the top of the rock, and planted a flag there.


James Madison Coons, July 10, 1847 - “Nooned at Rock Independence. In camp on the Sweet Water. Saw snow at Horse or Crooked Creek.”


James A. Pritchard, June 15, 1849 - “This morning all the curious were clambering to the top of Indipendance Rock I among the rest. I saw name to the number of several thousand - some graven some painted. I did not follow their example.”


Osborne Cross, July 8, 1849 - “This rock bears the name of almost everyone who can take time to carve or write his name on it. There is nothing very remarkable about it ... looking, as it were, like some huge monster rising from the ground.”


J. Goldsborough Bruff, July 26, 1849 - “...reached ‘Independence Rock’ ... at a distance looks like a huge whale. It is being painted & marked every way, all over, with names, dates, initials, &c - so that with difficulty I could find a place to inscribe on it: - ‘The Washington City Company July 26, 1849.’[Revised copy] It is covered over every accessible portion, with names, initials, dates, &c, in black and red, scratched and painted. It was only at the expense of marking over half-obliterated names, that for the information of friends in the rear, and to gratify my men, I painted about 4 feet above the base - ‘WASHINGTON CITY COMPY July 26, 1849'.”


Howard Stansbury, July 31, 1849 - “It was covered with names of the passing emigrants, some of whom seemed determined, judging from the size of their inscriptions, that they would go down to posterity in all their fair proportions.”


Abigail Jane Scott, June 29, 1852 - “My sisters and I went to the base of the rock with the intention of climbing it but a we had only ascended about thirty feet when a heavy hail and wind storm arose obliging us to desist; We then started on after the wagons and before we reached them they had all crossed the river except the last wagon in the train which by hard runing we managed to

over take They had intended to let us wade it (it was waist deep) to learn us not to get so far behind the team; I would have liked the fun of wading well enough but did not like to get joked about being left...”


Cecelia E. Adams, 1852 - “Stopped for dinner opposite Independence Rock. It is a great curiosity, but we were so tired that we could not go to the top of it. It is almost entirely covered with names of emigrants.”


Maria A. Parsons, June 30, 1853 - “Mr. Belshaw and I climbed the Rock. I felt very dizzy when I reached the top. There I saw hundresd of names, not one I knew.”


Agnes Stewart, July 7, 1853 - “On top of Independence Rock. How often I have read and thought about it, and now I am on top of it. The wind blows very hard. That is the reason it is so unpleasant for those wearing skirts. It is quite easy to ascend, but I think it will be more difficult to descend.”


Richard Burton, 1860 - “ Rock Independence.... The Indians have named it Timpe Nabor, or the Painted Rock ...much of the writing has been washed away by rain, 40,000-50,000 souls are calculated to have left their dates and marks....”

Grave board at Independence Rock, 1862 -

“Here is the body of Caroline Todd

Whose soul has lately gone to God;

E’re redemption was too late,

She was redeemed at Devil’s Gate.”


Mile 820.0 Devil’s Gate

Father DeSmet, Aug 16 +, 1841 - “Travelers have named this spot the Devil's Entrance. In my opinion they should have rather called it Heaven’s Avenue. ... For several days now we have had on our right a chain [Rattlesnake Hills] of those rocks, so properly called Rocky Mountains. They are nothing but rocks heaped upon rocks.”


Rufus Sage, Spring 1842 - “...a place where the stream cuts its way through a high ridge of hills.... Its walls arose perpendicularly to a height of between four and five hundred feet, and consisted of trap rock, sandstone, and granite.”


Charles Preuss, with John C. Frémont in 1842 - “Fremont is roaming through the mountains collecting rocks and is keeping us waiting for lunch. I am hungry as a wolf. That fellow knows nothing about mineralogy or botany. Yet he collects every trifle in order to have it interpreted later in Washington and rag about it in his report. Let him collect as much as he wants - if he would

only not make us wait for our meal. ... Our fare is getting worse and worse. No thought of bread any longer. Ham and bacon are likewise gone. Dried buffalo meat, hard as wood, and antelope prepared in buffalo fat - that is all. How glad we would be if we only had the pork which we buried at the Platte.”


Mathew Field, 1843 - “After dinner attempted the passage of Hell Gate ... was compelled to return on account of the fright of my mule, but the old hunters who came in far enough to look on acknowledged the effort was a gallant one.”


James Nesmith, July 31, 1843 - “Visited the Canyon of the Sweet Water.”


Jesse Applegate, 1843 [son of Lindsay] - “I fancied that when we got to [the Sweetwater River] I would have all the sweet water I could drink. When we came to the river ... I ran down to the water’s edge and, bending over, resting my hands, took a drink of the water, but ... the water was very common indeed, and not sweet.”


John Minto, Aug 17, 1844 - “Devil's Gate. I did not attempt to go through.”


Heinrich Lienhard, 1846 - “ on either side was inscribed, as at Independence Rock, a large number of names. here again I wrote my name, but not in particularly large letters, which very likely have long since disappeared.”


J.M. Harrison, 1846 - “...a short distance from Independence rock was the Devil’s gate where Sweetwater had worn its way through Sweetwater Mtns. We walked down into the passage of thye river and looking overhead it looked like we might jump from one wall to the other, it was so narrow at the top ... climbed mountain saw signs of mountain sheep. Some of the party killed a bighorn sheep.”


James Monroe Fulkerson, July 1, 1847 - "When crossing the Platte River [Frederick] swam the river below the crossing to ford the stock over, as the river was so swift it tended to wash them downstream. He became so chilled and exhausted..." James continued on for four days, with his son lying ill in the wagon, to a place near Devil's Gate called Rattlesnake Pass. Here he and two other families remained for five days to tend to the sick boy. Young Frederick died in the camp on the First of July, 1847, and was buried at the foot of the boulder. An epitaph was painted on the face of the rock headstone, "FREDERIC RICHARD, SON OF JAMES M. & MARY FULKERSON, DIED JULY 1, 1847, AGED 18 Years" A traveler in 1849 found an inscription on a large granite boulder near their campsite: "J.M. Fulkerson, June 26, '47"


Lester Hulin, July 25, 1847 - “Pursued our way over sandy roads and in 10 miles came to Independence Rock on Sweet Water. This rock bears the names of many travelers. We crossed Sweettwater. Passed up six miles to a pass of the river through the rock called the Devils Gate. The bluffs tower up on each side for 3 to 5 hundred feet.”


Dr. Charles E. Boyle, June 11, 1849 - “The chasm is one the wonders of the world. The water rushes roaring and raving into the gorge, and the noise it makes as it comes in contact with the huge fragments of rock lying in its course is almost deafening. When looking at the profile of the rock on the other side of the stream, where it enters the gate the outline of an enormous human face may be seen. These are the petrified geni of the Devil's Gate.”


James A. Pritchard, June 15, 1849 - “...what is called deavels gate It a singular fissure or cannon in the Mountains through which Sweetwater forces its way. The fissure is about 30 feet wide and about one half mile through, with vertical walls from 350 to 400 feet high.”


J. Goldsborough Bruff, July 26, 1849 - “Some of the boys clambered up the rocks on the N. Side of the gate, and reached some cavernous places, where they fired pistols and threw down rocks, pleased with the reverberation, which was great. I made a careful sketch of this remarkable gorge. ...near the outlet a grave attracted my attention ... Painted on stone at head: - ‘Frederic Richard, son of James M. and Mary Fulkerson, Aged 18 years....” [Farther along the trail, just over the Green River crossing on the Sublette Cutoff, was the grave of the mother, which Bruff also recorded; “Mary, Consort of J.M. Fulkerson, Died July 14, 1847.”]


Abigail Jane Scott, June 29, 1852 - “Immediately after leaving Independence rock we came in sight of the well known Devil's Gate five miles ahead of us and when we came near enough we turned off the road about one mile and halted for the night opposite to it in a bend of the river We in company with many others paid this gate a visit; It is indeed a sight worth seeing;

The Sweet water passes through it, and it really seems left by providence for the river to pass through as we can see no other place where it can find its way through the rocks; The cliffs of rock on either side are at least four hundred feet in highth and on the South side almost perfectly perpendicular; The rocks are in many places covered with names of visitors to this place a few of

which were of as early date as '38 a great many were dated '50 and '51 but the majority were '52; We passed seven graves..."


Dr. William Keil, 1855 - “Many people complain that Ash Hollow is the entrance to hell and Devil’s Gate its exit. But I maintain that Devil’s gate is the entrance.”


Mile 823 Martin’s Cove

John E. Dalton, 1852 - “Horace Dolly ... killed Charles Botsford yesterday by shooting ... for which the company killed said Dolly today, by hanging. Said Dolly had a wife and two children.”


Abigail Jane Scott, June 30, 1852 - “We to-day passed seven graves Two were placed tolerably near each other one bearing the inscription "Charles Botsford murdered June 28th 1852; The murderer lies in the next grave": The other bears the inscription of "Horace Dolley hung June 29th 1852" It appears Dolley had contracted a grudge towards Botsford with regard to some little

difficulty between them- had persuaded him to accompany him in a excursion and while alone with him he dealt the blow at which humanity would at any time recoil Vengeance however quickly followed him and he was doomed to the the penalty which his conduct so complety deserved...” [A protected pocket on the Sweetwater Rocks, where a portion of Capt. Edward Martin’s

Mormon Handcart emigrants took shelter from wintery storms early in November 1856, awaiting assistance from Salt Lake City. Many died there from cold and exhaustion. Martin’s Company lost between 135 and 150 persons and Willie’s Handcart Company lost 66.]


Daniel W. Jones, 1856 - “A condition of distress here met my eyes that I never saw before or since. The train was strung out for two or three miles. There were old men pulling and tugging their carts, sometimes loaded with a sick wife or children, women pulling sick husbands, little children six to eight years old struggling through the mud and snow. As night came on the mud would freeze on their clothes and feet. We gathered on to some of the most helpless with our riatas tied to the carts, and helped as many as we could into camp.... Such assistance as we could give was rendered to all until they finally arrived at Devil’s Gate fort, about the first of November. There were some 1200 in all, about one-half with handcarts and the other half with teams. The winter storms had now set in in all their severity. The provisions we took amounted to almost nothing among so many people, many of them now on very short rations, some almost starving. Many were dying daily from exposure and want of food.”


Mile 837.9 Split Rock Station

Henry R. Herr, July 30, 1862 - “Camped at Split Rock, where there is quartered 50 soldiers for protection of the emigrants. 200 wagons passed today on their way to Salmon River [Idaho] mines. Soldiers composed of 6th Ohio Reg.”


Mile 850.5 Three Crossings (Sweetwater River Crossings)

Reuben Cole Shaw, 1849 - “...we had among us the prince of cranks. He was a chronic grumbler and nothing ever met his approval. He was always hungry and thirsty, forever tired and sleepy, too indolent to carry wood or water, and too lazy to wash himself or bathe the saddle galls on his mules. He would lie, cheat, and steal, shirk guard duty whenever he could frame an excuse,

and was a regular all-around nuisance. He ... had no eye for the beautiful unless it was cooked, he never saw a grand old mountain until he had thumped his head against it, and then cursed because it was in his way.... On one occasion as we were about to encamp on the bank of a stream, in alighting from his mule he sprained an ankle. Seating himself on a rock he called the Doctor, who gave the foot a glance and said, ‘wash it,’ and then pressed on. After washing his foot the Doctor was again consulted, who ordered him to wash the other foot. He obeyed the order, after which his hurt was properly cared for.”


Dr. Charles E. Boyle, June 15, 1849 - “, as for some time past, we could see snow on all the mountain tops around. Our altitude is now so great that snow may be seen lying in all the little vales and depressions, in some of them eight or 10 feet in depth or perhaps more. Decker, myself and several others went to one of these snow banks or rather ponds to have a match

at snow-balling. Rather fine fun for June. A few rods from our encampment, which was on the south side of the Sweetwater, there was a huge snow bank probably 20 feet or more in thickness. Within eight or 10 feet of the edge of the bank there were flowers of several varieties in full bloom. Winter and spring here have strangely blended, making a most interesting scene. I here witnesses the phenomenon of the red snow. By scraping off the surface of the snow, which had become dusty, the snow presented the appearance in color of a finely granulated pink watermelon core and had a peculiar and not unpleasant taste.

The snow held up to the light looked something like the artificial pink pearl button.”


Angelina Farley, Sept 1, 1850 - “Crossed the river 3 times and passed between rocky ridges where thousands of emigrants had written their names. Saw three that I knew.”


Abigail Jane Scott, July 2, 1852 - “A dispute arose among us with regard to a white substance on our left on the summit of one of the Sweet Water hills which some declared to be snow others as firmly beleived it to be a species of white granite or white gravel; To settle the dispute and satisfy their curiosity two of the company went to it and found it in reality to be snow.”


Mile 862 Ice Spring (Ice Slough)

William Clayton, 1847 - “Ice Spring.- This is on a low, swampy spot of land on the right of the road. Ice may generally be found by digging down about two feet.”


Dr. T. Pope, 1848 - “We gathered several buckets of ice, from which we had Mint Juleps in abundance.”


James A. Pritchard, June 16, 1849 - “The Ice is found about 8 to 10 inches beneath the surface. There is from 4 to 6 inches of water above the Ice, and of turf or sod of grass appearantly floating on the water, upon which you can walk over it. ... The Ice is clear & pure entirely free from any Alkali and other unpleasant tast. It is from 4 to 10 inches thick, and as good as any I ever cut

from the streams in Kentucky. I cut and filled my water bucket & took it with me.”


Osborne Cross, July 14, 1849 - “...alkaline marsh, which may be looked upon as a natural curiosity ... bed of excellent ice, which was very acceptable to us.”


J. Goldsborough Bruff, July 29, 1849 - “The surface is dug up all about by the travellers - as much from curiosity as to obtain so desireable a luxury in a march so dry and thirsty....”


Angelina Farley, Sept 2, 1850 - “We passed where there is said to be a ice bed.”


Granville Stuart, 1852 - “We dug up enough to put into water-kegs and enjoyed the luxury of ice-water all that hot day....”


Mile 905.0 Barnette & Bryan Graves The graves of Joe Barnette, who died Aug. 26, 1844, and a Mrs. Bryan, who died in July 1845, probably the 25th. The Barnette grave is six feet to the left of the Bryan grave. Grazing cattle have obscured all trace of the Barnette grave.


Mile 905 Burnt Ranch (Lander Road East Junction)

Abigail Jane Scott, July 4, 1852 - “We see a great difference the exercises of the glorious Fourth this year and last The weather is cold enough for snow; indeed from the threatening appearance of the clouds we look for a storm to-night and have made preparations accordingly.”


Benjamin Franklin Owen, July 7, 1853 - “At this our last camp on Sweetwater, Mr. Coleman & his only Son Alexander through some unexpected turn in domestic affairs seriously differed, both being Irish & not in a good humor in their wits, & sarcasm agravated each other til the Father seeming to get the upperhand in the squabble, & Alex broke down, & began to cry

whereupon his Father, took his Sister Sarah by the arm saying come all this fine music must not be lost. Come let us dance to it. So they began a lively dance, when Alex would turn his back to keep from seeing them, his Father, would swing Sarah, around calling out, face the music, that was kept up, Til the poor boy was aggravated almost to a frenzy. There were some amusing features in the program, yet in Truth it was very cruel for it is impossible to improve an ill Temper by harrassing it. Such were some of the extremes of this noble, generous, Irish Family.”


O. Allen, 1858 - “Last crossing of Sweet water at Gilbert’s station and Forks of Lander Pacific Wagon Road, U.S. Mail Station No. 31....” [The Lander Road was built in 1858 by Frederick West Lander, US Dept of Interior engineer, delibertely for emigration use. Its western terminus was Ft Hall.]


Richard Burton, 1860 - “Near this spot, since my departure, has been founded ‘South Pass City,’ one of the many mushroom growths which the presence of gold....”


Henry Herr, August 3, 1862 - “South Pass City, N.T. Rocky Mtns. At Sweetwater River there is 100 soldiers camped. Sunday evening 50 heads of mules were stolen and several men shot dead by Indians. Indians here are bad. We took the Lander Cut-off here being 100 miles shorter ... there are 150 wagons including the Gov’t train & as it i dangerous to travel alone can only make 20

miles a day with them.”


William Henry Jackson, Aug 30, 1866 - “Laid over a day at South Pass station to fix wagon tongue.”


Mile 913.9 South Pass A shallow pass on the continental divide, approached from the east on an imperceptible grade and with a slightly steeper westerly descent. Two monuments now stand in a fenced enclosure of several acres on the symbolically most important landmark on the Oregon Trail. One marker was placed in 1906 by 1852 emigrant Ezra Meeker and reads “Old

Oregon Trail 1843-57.” The other was placed in 1916 by Capt. Nickerson and reads “Narcissa Prentiss Whitman Eliza Hart Spalding First White Women to Cross This Pass July 4, 1836.”


William Marshall Anderson, 1834 - “...this evening, with the sun, we passed from the Eastern to Western America....”


Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, July 4, 1834 - “Crossed a ridge of land called the divide....A number of Nez Percé ... came out to meet us, and have camped with us tonight. They appear to be gratefied to see us actually on our way to their country.”


Rev Samuel Parker, Aug 10, 1835 - “The passage through these mountains is in a valley so gradual in the ascent and descent that I should not have known that we were passing them had it not been that as we advanced the atmosphere gradually became cooler.”


Fr. Pierre-Jean DeSmet, June 24, 1840 - “The pass across the mountains is almost imperceptible; it is five to twenty-five miles in width, and eighty in length.”


John C. Frémont, 1842 - “I should compare the elevation which we surmounted immediately at the Pass, to the ascent of the Capitol hill from the avenue, at Washington.”


Lansford Hastings, 1842, in his guidebook - “And I may add that the Oregon emigrants are, as a general thing, of a superior order to those of our people.... They are not the indolent, dissolute, ignorant, and vicious, but they are generally the enterprising, orderly, intelligent, and virtuous.”


James Willis Nesmith, August 7, 1843 - “Monday.... Left Sweet Water this morning, it being the last water of the Atlantic that we see. Crossed the Divide ... across a plain of sand and sage, and encamped on [the Little] Sandy.... We now consider ourselves in Oregon Territory and we consider this part of it a poor sample of the El Darado.”


Theodore Talbot, Aug 22, 1843 - “Today we set foot in Oregon Territory.... ‘The land of promise’ as yet only promises an increased supply of wormwood and sand.”


Edward Lenox, Aug 22, 1843 - “Here we saw a grand sight.... Away down the mountain side ahead of us, was an Indian village of three hundred tepees.... Of a sudden we came into their view. There was a quick yell to their horse guards and their ponies were rapidly brought into the village. Men and squaws and children ... tore down the wigwams. They ran to their ponies, the

squaws lashed the tent-poles to them, leaving the ends dragging on the ground. Tepees, buffalo robes, cooking utensils, provisions, and everything pertaining to the village were gathered up in an incredibly short space of time, and ... before we were down the hillside, they were off for the hills that lay to the right. ‘Pegleg’ Smith and another mountaineer came out from the village, telling us that they had tried to quell the Indians’ fears, but it was all in vain. They were afraid of our ‘walking



Joel Palmer, 1845 - “Here ... we hailed Oregon!”


Henry Garrison, July 1846 - “We have now left the SweetWater behind us, and are ascending a small stream a mere springbranch, which leads up to the South pass of the Rockey Mountains. The ascent was so gradual, that we hardly realized, that we were gaining the summit of the great historic Mountains that divide the watters of a continent, from one side the water starts for the Atlantic, from the other side, to the Pacific Ocean's. We passed South Pass, and started down a gently sloping hill, the grade being so light, that we did not have to lock our wagon wheels. That evening, we remembered that we had passed over one side of the Continent, and were just at the edge of the other half. We realized that we were then in Oregon Territory.”


James Madison Coons, July 15-16, 1847 - “Camped on a ravine on the north side of the Sweetwater. Met Captain William Findley going to the States. Fri Jul 16th Nooned at the head of the Sweetwater. In camp at the Pacific Spring.”


Lester Hulin, July 31, 1847 - “Upon leaving Sweet Water we gradually arose the Mt. For about 6 or 8 miles and then the descent was just perceptable....”


William Porter, July 8, 1848 - “8th. Traveled 12 miles to Pacific Spring. We are now in Oregon.”


James A. Pritchard, June 18, 1849 - “About 4 p.m. we stood upon the Summit leavel of the Rocky Mountains ... now upon the dividing Ridge or to use a more forcible figure ‘the Backbone of the North American Continent’....”


Osborne Cross, July 17, 1849 - “...South Pass, which had nothing to mark it....”


Mile 916.5 Pacific Springs

William T. Newley, Aug 7, 1843 - “...struck a large spring in Oregon and camped on a small branch.”


Overton Johnson, Aug, 7, 1843 - “...encamped by a marsh, which is one of the sources of Green River.”


Rev. Edward E. Parrish, 1844 - “Atlantic water forever gone and Pacific water to be our future drink.”


Samuel Hancock, 1845 - “ we soon found an ox mired in apparently solid ground, and in extricating him, observed a peculiarity of the earth which seemed to be floating on the surface of the water, for in walking on it, one would be impressed with this belief, from its waving, rocking motion; this is a somewhat justifiable conclusion as there is an abundance of water in this locality which is known as the Pacific Spring.”


Henry Garrison, July 1846 - “This night we camped at the Pacific springs, not more than a mile from the summit. You may judge of the Altitude by the fact, that in attempting to stake out a horse, the man in trying to drive the stake struck a rock as he supposed, he tried another place and had no more success, the third trial prooved the same. A young man in the Company, that was of an inquireing mind, took his spade and went to investigate, and within a foot of the surface, he found ice, and after investigation, it was had found to extend all over the flat.”


Lester Hulin, July 31, 1847 - “...12 miles from Sweet Water brought us to a green marshy place affording plenty of water but so miry cattle could not approach it with safety this is called the Pacific spring. The water runs to the western Ocean.”


Dr. Charles E. Boyle, June 16, 1849 - “Fisk, Breyfogle, McColm and some others are sick with the ‘Mountain Fever’ probably caused by our great altitude, 7000 or 8000 feet. I indeed began to feel the effects of the attenuation of the atmosphere producing difficulty in respiration as far back as Ft. Laramie, and many of the other boys have felt its inconveniences as well as myself.

The feeling is of want of a sufficient amount of air.”


James A. Pritchard, June 18, 1849 - “It is nothing more or less than a perfect Quagmire or marsh, covered with a mat or turf of grass, Sufficiently strong to bear an Ox with ease. So soft is the mud and water that I could shake 25 or 30 feet in diameter.”


Capt Howard Stansbury, August 6, 1850 - “I witnessed at Pacific Springs an instance of no little engenuity on the part of an emigrant. Immediately along the road was what purported to be a grave ... having a headboard, on which was painted the name of the deceased, the time of death, and the part of the country from which he came. I afterward ascertained that ... the grave, instead of containing the mortal remains of a human being, had been made a safe receptacle for divers casks of brandy, which the owner, could carry no further.”


Benjamin Franklin Owen, July 8, 1853 - “...came to the Pacific Springs, On the Summit of the Rocky Mountains. The water from those Springs ran West toward the Pacific Ocean, hence the name. All hands had to take a drink at one or the other of those Springs because the water was going our way though not nearly so good, & refreshing as our last drink from Sweetwater.... The only Two business places at Southpass were a Small Trading post, & an Ox Shoeing device. There the Ox was swung up bodily without consulting his wishes, giving the Stalwart Blacksmith all the advantages.”


Richard Burton, 1860 - “The springs are a pond of pure, hard, and very cold water surrounded by a strip of shaking bog, which must be boarded over before it will bear a man.”


William Henry Jackson, Sept 1, 1866 - “...the first trading post on the western side of the watershed.”


Mile 927.5 Dry Sandy Crossing The first stream reached after crossing the continental divide. A broad basin collects subsurface water which can be dug down to in dry seasons, but the water is tainted with alkali. Hence the area is much feared and stops made only when absolutely necessary.


Miller-Reed Diary, July 18-19, 1846 - “...about 6 miles from [Pacific] spring is dry Sandy which you will avoid as Several Cattle got poisoned by drink the water in the pools.” On the following day, the loss of three cattle was attributed to the water at Dry Sandy. Three more died two days later.


William Clayton, 1848 - “The water brackish, and not very good for cattle.”


Keturah Belknap, 1848 - “Now we are on to the Pawnee Indians. We must pass right thru their villages; they come out by the thousands and want pay for crossing their country. They spread down some skins and wanted every wagon to give them something so they all gave them a little something and they went to dividing it amongst themselves and got into a fight.”


Howard Stansbury, August 1849 - “Encamped for the night on the banks of Dry Sandy, where we had to dig in the bed of the stream for water; but a very scanty supply was obtained.” [Tanks dug by 49ers to water their stock still survive.]


George B. Currey, 1853 - “From the South Pass the nature of our journeying changed, and assumed the character of a retreat, a disastrous, ruinous retreat. Oxen and horses began to parish in large numbers; often falling dead in their yokes in the road. The heat-dried wagon, striking on rocks or banks, would fall to pieces. As the beasts of burden grew weaker ... teams began to be

doubled and wagons abandoned. ... Every thing of weight not absolutely necessary must be abandoned.”


O. Allen, 1858 - “...spring east of the crossing in the bed of the creek, the water is brackish and poisonous to stock, fuel scarce, and little or no grass.”


Mile 932.3 Parting of the Ways (Sublette Cutoff) The Sublette Cutoff (properly the Greenwood Cutoff), named for mountaineer William Sublette, was opened in 1844, but did not gain popularity until the California gold rush. The cutoff crossed the Little Colorado Desert and required traversing 50 waterless miles, just to save 46 miles on the route to the Bear River and skipping Fort Bridger. The decision here was to save a few miles or their animals.


Jesse Applegate, 1843 [son of Lindsay] - “Strangely, Whitman did not direct the train over Sublette Road. Rather they went by way of bridger from Pacific Springs.”


James Mather, July 16, 1846 - “Our company separated to-day, eight waggons takeing the common rout and the others with Major Cooper took what is called the cutoff.”


Dr. T. Pope, July 19, 1846 - “The Oregon route may be considerably shortened by avoiding Fort Bridger, and passing a stretch of forty five miles without water - but most companies go that way.”


Oregon Spectator, May 13, 1847 - “We would advise the immigrants ... to take Greenwood’s ‘cut off’ into Bear River Valley, by doing which they will save a detour of several days journey.”


Keturah Belknap, 1848 - “My little boy is very sick with Mountain Fever and tomorrow we will have to make a long dry drive. We will stay here at this nice water and grass till about 4 o’clock. Will cook up a lot of provisions, then will take what is known as ‘Green woods cut off’ and travel all night. Must fill everything with water.”


James A. Pritchard, June 19, 1849 - “...the forks of the road. The left hand of which led to Fort Bridger and to Salt Lake, and the right hand road led to the Sublett or Greenwood cutoff.... Here we took the right hand road.”


J. Goldsborough Bruff, August 3, 1849 - “...had a meeting, when all of them followed me on the ‘Cut-off’ except 2 ox wagons ... broad & well beaten trail ... at the Forks there was a stick driven in the ground, with a board nailed on it, plastered with notices, of what companies, men, &c. and when, they had passed, on either route; & desiring friends in the rear to hurry up, &c. A

notice requested travelers to throw stones up against the base, to sustain the stick.”


Thomas Christy, June 15, 1850 - “...we arrived at the junction of the Fort Hall & Salt Lake roads.... Here we judged from the appearance of the roads that the greatest emmigration had gone by way of Salt Lake, so we concluded to take cut off (Subletts) on account of grass, as ther was not so many going that way.”


Abigail Jane Scott, July 8, 1852 - “To avoid the desert of forty miles between Big Sandy and Green River we took a left hand road yesterday morining and are now in the Utah territory...”


Mile 943.1 Big Sandy Crossing (Sublette Cutoff) During hours of darkness, boys were sent ahead of the wagons with lanterns to locate the trail, hence the term “head lights” was born.


James A. Pritchard, June 20, 1849 - “...our intention in the first place to stop here and rest our mules till evening. then start and make a night travel across this desert of 45 ms. without water as the practice has heretofore been ... as the day was cool [we decided] to ... travel till night which would brimg us to the Green River.”


Henry W. Burto, July 6-7, 1849 - “We rested here [Big Sandy] until half-past three o’clock when we commenced our long march on Sublette’s Cut-Off ... 41 miles without water.... Traveled on until sunrise, July 7th. Halted again and let cattle graze, after which we continued our march reaching Green River a little before night.... Had traveled more than 24 hours. Men and

animals nearly worn out. Roads good....”


J. Goldsborough Bruff, Aug 4, 1849 - “The ‘Wolverine Rangers,’ Capt. Potts, had been camp’d on the opposite side of us ... and had broken up a wagon, leaving the sides &c for the benefit of our cooks. We also found on their campground several hundred weight of fat bacon, beans, lead, iron, tools, a cast-iron stove, &c. ... Having filled up our water kegs and canteens, at 4

P.M., we left, for the long drive, variously estimated from 35 to 55ms. without water.”


Thomas Christy, June 16-17, 1850 - “...concluded to stay here until tomorrow morning, when we will start on the desert, a distance of 35 miles - some say, others 43 ... [June 17] Filled up all our water vessels for the desert. We will start in an hour or less and try it and see if it is as large an Elephant as is represented.”


George Miller West, June, 1852 - “We take what is known as Sublette’s Cutoff and at Big Sandy camp and rest making preparations to across the desert ... a dry sandy plain without grass or water. We break camp at two A.M. and commence the dry journey.”


Mile 949.3 Big Sandy Crossing (Ft Bridger Route)

Richard Burton, 1860 - “We halted for an hour to rest and dine; the people of the station, man and wife, the latter very young, were both English, and of course Mormons; they had but lately become tenants of the ranch.”


E.S. McComas, July 3, 1862 - “We will now cook our grub with nothing but a frying pan to cook in but that is enough for two certainly.... This afternoon Baldwin lost a fine stallion with a disease which appears to kill almost all the horses that die on the roads. They get stupid and commence swelling, generally in the breast, and die in a verry short time.”


Mile 959 Simpson’s Hollow (Simpson’s Gulch - Ft Bridger Route)

Charles A. Scott, Oct 5, 1857 - “Our rear followed by a party of mounted Mormons - News received of the burning of a supply train, by Mormons on the Big Sandy.” [Lot Smith, a major in the Nauvoo Legion, led a group of Mormon riders that same day and captured 23 wagons loaded with supplies for Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston’s US Army that was invading Salt Lake City

and the Mormons. The train-master for Russell, Majors & Waddell Company was Lew Simpson.]


Richard Burton, 1860 - “...Simpson’s Hollow ... Two semicircles of black still charred the ground.... Here, in 1857, the Mormons fell upon a corralled train of twenty-three wagons, laden with provisions and other necessaries for the Federal troops....”


Mile 979.0 Bridger-Fraeb Trading Post Jim Bridger and Henry Fraeb operated a trading post near the Green River Crossing for less than one year during 1841 and 1842. Upon the death of Fraeb, Bridger took on a new partner named Vasquez and moved his trading post further south.


Mile 981.0 Green River Crossings (Ft Bridger Route - Kinney Cutoff) There were three crossings of choice during the early trail years. A ford of the river seven miles north was precarious because it had only a narrow strip of gravel that required triple teaming the wagons and numerous outriders to keep the wagons on the narrow passage. Another ford was two miles north near the Bridger trading post. All Green River fords were replaced by ferries. The southern-most ford was replaced by a ferry run by mountain men from Fort Bridger and the other two in 1847 by the Lombard and Mormon Ferries. This was the territory of the famous Rocky Mountain Fur Company rendezvous.


William Marshall Anderson (American Fur Co.) at the Green River Rendezvous,

July 14-18, 1834 - “Into the tent they rushed. Somehow I learned their names. They were [Lewis] Vasquez, the long lost Vasquez, [Thomas] Fitzpatrick, [John] Gray, and the Little Chief. Vasquez and [William] Sublette are shaking hands with their right and smacking and pushing each other with the left. ... 17th.- We have moved our camp a few miles up the river where we were joined by Fitzpatrick, of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. We are a motley set. Whites, French, Yankee, Nez Perces, Flatheads, and Snakes, or Shoshones. Whilst dining in our tent today, I heard the simultaneous cry from English, french and Indian mouths, of a bull, un caiac, trodlum, and oh, Spirit of Nimrod, what a spectacle! A huge buffalo bull, booming through the camp, like a steamboat, followed by an Indian yelling and shaking his robe. Loud shouts of ‘Hurrah Kentuck,’ ‘Oka-hey

trodulum,’ ‘go ahead bull,’ and whiz, whiz, went a dozen arrows, bang, bang, as many guns, and poor Jean Bpatist [the buffalo] leaped from the bank and floated ... down the rapid current of Green River. ... 18.- Capt. Wyeth, of Boston ... came into camp this evening. He is on his way to the mouth of the Columbia river. ... Mr. Edward Christy, of St. Louis, has just arrived from Fort

Vancouver.... Yells, songs and oaths are heard all day and all night long. Like flies on a sugar barrel, or niggers at corn shucking, the red-skins are flocking to the trading tents. We have now perhaps not less than fifteen hundred around us.”


David Cosad, June 15, 1839 - “There are about 40 French men that came thare in A.D. 1814 they ware drove from canida they keep a ferry which we had to pay $3.00 for Each wagon, they live in Indian stile with the Squaws for Wives & many half Bloods children & the hansomest horses I ever Saw, they handle a large quantity of money, & Manage the Indians to Suit themselves.”


Henry Garrison, July/August 1846 - “The night before we got to Green River all the horses strayed from camp. Our train was now reduced about fifteen wagons. The next morning, After the teams were hitched to the wagons, the Capt took all the men but Mr Woods, and Father, and went in search of the lost horses leaving the women and boys to get along the best they could

until they should return. The men soon was on the trail of the horses, and did not overtake [them] until near noon.

    While we were on the way, we was surprised to see a large party of Indians approaching us from the rear, it was a war party of Crow Indians, there was about four hundred of them. As we were traveling along about noon and the Indians all around us, I was eating some bread and milk, the bread was crumbled in the milk, an Indian rode up beside the wagon that I was driving and made motions for me to give him some of my dinner, I was in the front end of the wagon, I shuck my head, he kept crowding his horse closer to the wagon, and finally he reached forward and dipped his hand into my cup and scooped anf out his handful and put it in his mouth, in reaching in, he pulled his horse betwen the nigh ox and the wagon-tongue, I hallowed WO to the team and jumped out of the wagon, and turned the butt of the same old whipstock on him and laid on about half dozen licks before he could extricate his horse from between the oxen. Oh how the Indians hallowed and laughed at him, and an old fellow rode up, and patted me on the haed, and said something to me which I could not understand, but I thought he that I was a brave boy, and served him right. We camped as soon as we came to the River. After camping, we got out our guns and stood them by the wagons, and Mrs Lancefield got her sword she had brought from England, and buckeled it to her waist. The Indians camped right by our side. By this time we felt more easy, Father said, if they were hostile toward us, they would have had all our scalps long before this time.

When the men that had been after the horses came in sight of our camp, they was alarmed, for they had left their guns with the wagons, but they were greatly rejoiced, when they came up and found all hands safe.

    There was two little jars during the evening, one was caused by one of our men swapping horses with an Indian, the Indian became dissatisfied with his trade, and wanted to swap back, the man refused which raised a little excitement among the savages, but our Captain and others intervened, and forced our man to comply, [the] other incident was a little girl stole a large string or roll of beads from the only squaw that was with the Indians, the squaw came to our camp, and when she got sight of the girl, she began to jabber, and made signes until it was understood that the girl had stolen something, the girl said she had stolen nothing, the squaw pointed to the girls neck, when her mother searched her, she found the beads, she took them and gave them to the squaw, then broke off a willow limb and gave her a good whipping, after the whipping the squaw gave a grunt, and went off satisfied. The roll of beads would have weighed 5 lbs. The next morning the red and white men seperated, each going their own way rejoiceing, at least we rejoiced to think we had parted with our neighbors on such easy terms, for they, if they had been

hostile could have massacreed our whole company.”


James Madison Coons, July 19-20, 1847 - “Left Big Sandy at 3 o'clock p.m. and travelled all night. Tue Jul 20th Came to Green River at twelve o'clock, crossed and camped on the bank. We traveled twenty seven hours. Pleasant. Forty five miles.”


James A. Pritchard, June 21, 1849 - “Crossed at the Mountain Men’s ferry.... We were to furnish the hands to man the boat and pay him $1.50 pr wagon or he would furnish the hands & charge $3.00 pr wagon - prefered the former as we had men.... The Green was high and swift in 1849, and no one seems to have forded before Samuel McCoy on July 29.”


Capt Howard Stansbury, 1849 - “The increased altitude, and the consequent dryness of the atmosphere, had so shrunk the woodwork of many of our wagon-wheels, that various expedients had to be resorted to, in order to prevent them from falling to pieces.”


Abigail Jane Scott, July 9, 1852 - “There is a trading station here; Potatoes are sold here for ten cts. per. pound, butter 25 cts. eggs 25 cts. per. doz, flour $6 per. cwt. and other articles in proportion We have a fair specimen here tonight of the various occupations of different persons...; Betting and playing cards is going on at one encampment, music and dancing at another, while at a third persons are engaged singing religious hymns and psalms with apparent devotion; Indians of the Shoshonee tribe are encamped near us in several wigwams...”


Benjamin Franklin Owen, July 12-14, 1853 - “We came to the junction of the Fort Hall & Salt Lake Roads where our Friends; Coleman, & family Goldthait, & wife, Hart, Hardin, & Gillette left us. They going to California, & we to Oregon. Our days drive about 15 M's & camped on Green River. July 13th. We crossed Green River at the middle Ferry on the Road known as the

Kinney Cut-off, Paid $6, to have our wagon, & one yoke of oxen Ferried over.

July 14th. We left camp in the morning crossed Slate Creek, & were driving through a heavy growth of Sage Brush higher than our heads, when all of a sudden our Team, & all our loose cattle took a fright, & away they went as if their lives depended on their getting out of there. Jo.B & I being on Horseback, one on either side of the Team using all the persuasive measures possible to

quiet their fears, but to little purpose. Over big Rocks they ran with the wagon, as if determined to smash into fragments, all our breakable merchandise, and that was very nearly what they did. Our half Doz. Bottles of medicine were Broken, all but two. Our bucket of Lard, the fryings from Bacon was emptied with the medicine on our nicest clothes, which in the hot sunshine emited a very unpleasant odor. Our Team ran a full half mile without stoping or showing any signs of fatigue, all the way up a heavy assent, & when they reached the summit of the hill, they stoped as suddenly as they had started. After quiet was restored, at the top of the Hill we moved on quietly the rest of the day.”


Mile 985 Green River Crossing (Sublette Cutoff)

J. Goldsborough Bruff, Aug 7, 1849 - “A grave, in the bottom ... ‘S.R. Webb, Died Aug. 1, 1849, from Selma, Ala.”


Reuben Cole Shaw, 1849 - [When washing clothes] “We adopted the trapper’s system ... when camping on rapid streams of clear water.... We first secured a pole the length of a fishing rod ... then securely tied the loose ends ... of a blanket ... and as many shirts or other garments as we cared to wash.... [This] outfit was placed in the current. Under favorable conditions a washing of this kind was completed in one or two hours, though we had no facilities for giving our shirts a laundry finish, no Chinaman could more thoroughly wash them.”


Agnes Stewart, August 21, 1853 - “I am weary of this journey, weary of myself and all around me. I long for the quiet of home where I can be at peace once more.... Passed a graveyard with ten graves in it. They lie side by side as peaceful as if the Church bells of their native village tolled over them.” [Many years later (c. 1927), a Mrs. Ira Dodge wrote an article in Recreation Magazine in which she described several graves, included snapshots and the names from wooden headboards that were still legible. Mrs. Dodge received a letter from an old lady living in the East, saying that one of the names she published was that of her father. He had left to go west with the 49ers and no word ever came of his fate. His wife, her mother, had died not knowing of his fate, and she was now an old lady.]


Mile 987.4 Names Hill Located near a campground following the Green River crossings, this 20 foot high cliff served as a bulletin board for trappers, scouts and later emigrants and gold seekers.


Jim Bridger, 1844 - “James Bridger - Trapper - 1844” [Bridger was illiterate so this signature was either done for him or is spurious]


James Monroe Fulkerson, July 14, 1847 - Two weeks after the death of his son, on July 14th, James' wife Mary died of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. She was buried atop Names Hill on the Green River crossing of the Sublette Cutoff, 25 miles north of Kemmerer, Wyoming. Later pioneers saw the engraving on a sandstone slab above the grave: "Mary, consort of J.M. Fulkerson,

Died July 14, 1847"


Mile 1000 Ham’s Fork Cutoff

Abigail Jane Scott, July 13, 1852 - “The country is exceedingly mountainous; much more so than any we have passed over before; The day has been quite pleasant; This morning the teams were obliged to go a semi-circle of about two miles in order to find a practicable place for ascending a ridge known as the ‘Devil's Back Bone’ To save walking this distance a number of us

concluded to climb the mountain and strike the road in advance of the train; We accordingly set out on our enterprise but found the ridge much higher than we had anticipated; I think it must be seven hundred feet above the plain and we walked about two miles from the time we struck the base until we reached the summit; There hills, or rather mountains are composed of rocks and sand and have no vegetation upon them except some sickly looking sage brush and a few stinted aspen bushes in hollows; On their summit we found plenty of excellent looking lime-stone rock and some specimens of quartz...”


Mile 1007.0 Church Butte(Solomon’s Temple)

John Boardman, Aug 12, 1843 - ...crossed Black's Fork and passed Solomon's Temple a surcular mound of clay and stone of the shape of a large temple and decorated with all kinds of images: gods and godesses, everything that has been the subject of the sculptor: all kinds of animals and creeping things, etc. A magnificant sight."


Mile 1026.3 Fort Bridger Jim Bridger checked out possible trading post sites along the Green River and its Ham’s and Black’s Forks as early as 1841. Upon the death of an earlier partner, Bridger and his new partner Lewis Vasquez started this post on Black’s Fork in 1842. A second post was built half a mile above on a grassy bottom in 1844. The second post was sold in 1853 to the Mormons, who enlarged it and used it as a defensive garrison against the US Army. It was burned in 1857 when the US Army approached. It was made a US Army base in 1858. A recreation of the 1844 trading post is on its grounds, now a state park.


John Boardman, 1843Aug 13, 1843 - “Arrived at Bridger & Vasquez's Fort, expecting to stay 10 or 15 days to make meat, but what our disappointment to learn Sioux and Cheyenne had been here, run off the buffalo, killed 3 Snake Indians and stolen 60 horses.”


James Bridger, Dec 10, 1843 - “Pierre Chotau[:] I have established a small fort, with blacksmith shop and a supply of iron, in the road of the immigrants on Black Fork and Green River, which promises fairly. In coming out here they are generally well supplied with money, but by the time they get here they are in need of all kinds of supplies, horses, provisions, smith-work, etc. They bring ready cash from the States, and should I receive the goods ordered will have considerable business in that way with them, and establish trade with the Indians in the neighborhood, who have a good number of beaver among them. The fort is a beautiful location....The streams are alive with mountain trout.”


Overton Johnson, Aug 13, 1843 - “...the Trading House of Messrs Vasques and Bridger....”


James Nesmith, Aug 14, 1843 - “...most of our company and men arrived at Fort Bridger, Monday....”


Pierson Reading, Aug 14, 1843 - “Came 12 miles up stream and camped near Ft. Bridger a small temporary fort built by a Mr. Bridger, an old trapper.”


William T. Newby, Aug 14, 1843 - “We reached Fort Bridger at noon in 8 miles. Lay by rest of day. Mr. Carey's daughter Katherine died. 15. We burry the little girl and travel 8 miles.”


Theodore Talbot, Aug 30, 1843 - “...passing under the bluff on which Vasquez's and Bridger's houses are built. We found them deserted ... they are built of logs plastered with mud.”


John Minto, Aug 29, 1844 - “ a considerable number of mountain men, and some professional gamblers, who went from place to place ... to prey upon the trappers and hunters. These latter generally have native women, and their camps are ornamented with green boughs and flowers. In some we find men playing cards; near others shooting matches are in progress. James

Bridger was doing his own trading.... [How] quick and sharp at a bargain [he was].”


Edward Parrish, Aug 30, 1844 - “...camped near the Green River Fort, known as Bridger's Fort. The water and grass are fine. ...Capt. Walker conducted us to the place of encampment and then returned to his wigwam among his own Indians of the Snake tribe.”


J.M. Harrison, 1846 - “We found Fort Bridger a small stockade used as a rendezvous for trappers & Indian trade. We saw a small band of domesticated mountain goats & sheep.”


Heinrich Lienhard, 1846 - “There were two roads from Fort Bridger: the old one via the so-called Soda Springs and Fort Hall, and the new one called Captain Hasting’s Cutoff, which was said to be much shorter and which led past the Great Salt Lake. Many parties ahead of us had chosen this route ... we, too, preferred it.”


James Reed, July 31, 1846 - Bridger and Vasquez are “two very excellent and accomodating gentlemen, who are the proprietors of this trading post. They now have about 200 head of oxen, cows and young cattle, with a great many horses and mules; and they can be relied on for doing business honorably and fairly.”


Joel Palmer, 1846 - “It is built of poles and daubed with mud; it is a shabby concern. Here are about twenty-five lodges of Indians, or rather white trappers’ lodges, occupied by their Indian wives. They have a good supply of skins, coats, pants, moccasins and other Indian fixins, which they trade for flour, pork, powder, lead, blankets, butcher-knives, spirits, hats, ready made clothes, coffee, sugar, &c. They ask for a horse from twenty-five to fifty dollars, in trade.... They generally abandon this fort during the winter months.”


William Clayton, 1848 - “You cross four rushing creeks, within half a mile, before you reach the Fort, and by traveling half a mile beyond the Fort, you will cross three others, and then find a good place to camp. The Fort is composed of four log houses and a small enclosure for horses. Land exceedingly rich - water cold and good, and considerable timber.”


Howard Stansbury, Aug 11, 1849 - “...received with great kindness ... by ... Major James Bridger ... courteously placing his blacksmith-shop at my service.”


Fr. Pierre-Jean DeSmet, S.J., 1852 - “[Bridger] had had, within four years, two quiversfull of arrows in his body. Being asked if the wounds had been long supparating [suppurating = festering], he answered hunorously ‘in the Mountains meat never spoils'.”

[In 1853 President Brigham Young purchased from James Bridger for $8,000 in gold coin. In 1857, facing attack by Gen. Johnston and Federal troops, the Mormons burned the fort, leaving a stone wall which they constructed for their defense. The US Army under Johnston captured the fort and in 1858 opened a new Fort Bridger using stones from the Mormon Wall for two of the



Mile 1097.5 Smith’s Fork Crossing Early travelers had problems crossing this stream, but later travelers crossed without mention. Possibly named for Thomas L. Smith, but most likely for Jedidiah Smith, who surveyed the Bear River valley in 1824-25.


Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, 1836 - Husband has had a tedious time with the wagon today. It got stuck in the creek this morning when crossing, and he was obliged to wade considerably in getting it out. After that, in going between the mountains ... so steep that it was difficult for horses to pass, the wagon was upset twice; did not wonder at this at all; it was a greater wonderthat

it was not turning sumersaults continually. It is not very graceful to my feelings to see him wearing out with such excessive fatigue, as I am obliged to do. He is not as fleshy as he was last winter.”


John C. Frémont, Aug 21-22, 1843 - “We continued our road down the [Bear] river, and at night encamped with a family of emigrants - two men, women, and several children - who appeared to be bringing up the rear of the great caravan.... It is strange to see one small family traveling along ... so remote from civilization. Some nine years since, such a security might have been a fatal one; but since their disastrous defeats ... the Blackfeet have ceased to visit these waters Smith’s Fork, a stream of clear water, about 50 feet in breadth. It is timbered with cottonwood, willow, and aspen, and makes a beautiful debouchment through a pass about 600 yard wide, between remarkable mountain hills, rising abruptly on either side, and forming gigantic columns

to the gate by which it enters Bear river valley.”


Mile 1100 Along Smith’s Fork of the Bear River

Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, 1836, - “Feel to pity the poor Indian women who are continually traveling in this manner during their lives & know no other comfort. They do all the work, such as getting the wood, preparing food, picking their lodges, packing & driving their animals, the complete slaves of their husbands.”

My name is Stephenie Flora. Return to [
Home Page ] All [ Comments and Inquiries ] are welcome.