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 1108.0 Bear River

James A. Pritchard, June 27, 1849 - “ of the tributaries of the Bear river [Thomas Fork]. After crossing the creek the road turns up a high long hill ... 6 miles ... to where the road strikes the river again. The wife of the Old Chief ... was thrown from her horse today and killed. She was buried according to their custome. She was put into the ground & all her things were put with her, and an equal share of all their provisions. They then shot the horse and put him into the grave for the woman to ride. They then fired a few guns into the grave & put up a most piteous howling, weeping, and waleing - and in that state of agony departed from the place.”


J. Goldsborough Bruff, Aug 15, 1849 - “...cross the stream Found the banks deep and soft, and narrow inclined planes in different places, where the wagons had forded, and worn them in deep ruts.... Saw a grave on the 3d hill side on left, about 3 ms. from creek. On the head was a rude wooden cross, on which was pencilled: - ‘An Indian Squaw; June 27th, 1849, Kill’d by a fall from a horse, near this place: Calm be her sleep, and sweet her rest. Be kind to the Indian.”


Enoch Conyers, July 18, 1852 - [at the summit entering the Bear River valley] “Here we caught up with a widow woman who had buried her husband back on the Platte River. She had four or five little helpless children to care for. All the rest of the Company had gone on, leaving her alone with her team and little ones to get over the mountains the best she could.... After the wheel was repaired Mr. Burns offered to drive the team and help her ... but she very kindly declined the offer,

picked up her whip, gave it a whirl and a crack, and started on down the mountain.”


Benjamin Franklin Owen, July 17, 1853 - “While in camp preparing Breakfast there came a man by the name of Rullege, Hunting his family Whom he had lost track of. Not knowing whether they were ahead or behind him, but as we were sure they were ahead he took Breakfast with us, went on & overtook the same.”


Mile 1120.0 Peg Leg Smith’s Trading Post The trading post dates to 1848. In April of that year Smith gave a letter to Joseph Meek, eastbound with dispatches from Oregon, announcing his intention to start this post. The St. Joseph Adventure printed the notice May 19, 1848.


Dr. Charles E. Boyle, June 24, 1849 - “CAMP No. 58 ... we came to Smith's Fort on Bear River. Smith is a jolly but one-legged man commonly known as Peg-legged Smith. His fort is 125 miles north of Salt Lake I here got a bowl of bread and milk from a Mormon woman. It was quite good. Prescribed for a Frenchman who lives here with a squaw. Saw a Delaware Indian, Jim Hill, a fine looking fellow. He is married to a Nez Perce squaw. He had not been home for eight

years. Smith has many horses and cattle. To him I sold a pint of brandy for P. Decker for $4. It rained In the afternoon and I got wet.”


James A. Pritchard, June 27, 1849 - “...Smith’s trading post. This Old Smith who lives here has a cork leg - a rough looking man he is too. A Salt Lake Mormon & wife were here for the purpose of trading with the Emmegrants, & several Frenchmen.”


J. Goldsborough Bruff, Aug 15, 1849 - “The old mountaineer, - ‘Peg Leg Smith,’ came into camp: he has a cabin on the bank, some distance below, and trades with cattle, whiskey, &c. His leg was injured and he [took] out knife & amputated it himself, and afterward dressed [it], and fortunately recovered.”


Abigail Jane Scott, July 16, 1852 - “We here met the famous mountaineer, Green He has been among the mountains sixteen years, is apparently about forty years of age, six feet three inches in height and muscalar in proportion; He is a Canadian Frenchman, was principal actor in the insurrection in Canada in '36 and fled to the mountians for protection; He has an Indian wife and nine children; dresses in buckskin and appears quite at home during the day; We encamped near

the Bear River and find good grass; The mosquitoes are troublesome in the extreme....”


Mile 1153.0 Hooper Spring

John C. Fremont, Aug 25, 1843 - Issuing from a compact rock of a dark-blue color, a great many springs, the water of which was collected into a very remarkable basin, whose singularity, perhaps, made it appear to me very beautiful. The water is very clear and pure. Gas was escaping in bubbling columns at many places.


Samuel Hancock, 1845 - “Arriving at Bear River we camped and met there with a party of Indians and three Frenchmen, living with them, ... these people were busily engaged in catching the Army crickets by sticking the ends of sticks in the ground, in rows so thick that crickets could not pass through them, and terminating the row in points like the letter V with an opening at the end where they placed a basket to receive the crickets they drove into the traps; in an incredibly brief

time the basket would be filled and they would place another, continuing this all day; they thus caught immense quantities which were dried on a stone kiln and then removed to a mortar ... where with a pestle they reduced these singular insects to meal or flour which seemed to be regarded as a staple and delicate article of food among them, which they eat heartily and grow fat upon.”


Mile 1154.5 Steamboat Spring

Rufus Sage, Nov 1842 - This discharges a column of mineral water from a rock-formed orifice, accompanied with subterraneous sounds like those produced by a high-presure steamboat.


John C. Fremont, Aug 25, 1843 - A white column of scattered water is thrown up, in form like a jet-d'eau, to a variable height of about three feet. It is accompanied by a subterranean noise which makes very much the impression of a steamboat in motion. It is a hot spring [about 87 degrees], and the water has a pungent and disagreeable metallic taste, leaving a burning effect on the tongue.


Overton Johnson, Sept 7, 1843 - A Spring where the water (which is quite warm), at intervals of fifteen seconds, is thrown several feet in the air.


Elizabeth Dixon Smith, August 22, 1847 - “A bout 2 hundred yards below the soda springs is a boiling spring it boils and foams and runs over 30 barrels in a day it boils up out of a stone the hole is a bout as large as a large dinner pot evry few minutes the water will bounce up 3 or 4 feet high the water slightly warm.”


James D. Miller, 1848 - “Steamboat Springs was quite a noted place, a general camping ground for emigrants.... It would spout up four or five feet in height and quit for 15 to 20 seconds. Some of our party thought it would be good water to wash their hands and face in, but it did not turn out as they expected. There was a substance in it of a tarry nature, which made it quite difficult to comb the hair, for it matted the hair together.”


Wakeman Bryarly, July 11, 1849 - “The greatest curiosity of all, however, is ... ‘The Steamboat Spring.’ This is situated upon the edge of the river, half a mile from the first spring. Out of solid rock, with a hole 1 foot in diameter, gushes forth the water, foaming, whizzing, sizzling, blowing, splashing & spraying. It throws it up from two to three feet high. There is a little

intermission of a few seconds every now & then.... A few feet from this large one are two smaller ones, which are phizzing away all the time.... This large one has also a suction power. Some one around reached a cup into it, when it was immediately drawn from his hand into the hole. He, however, delved down for it, & found it the length of his arm in, & required a considerable jerk to get it out.”


Osborne Cross, Aug 1, 1849 - “...water seems to rise out of the river through a tube ... of carbonate of lime which is about three feet high ... a rattling noise not unlike the escaping steam from a steam pipe. It is not loud, but such is the similarity of the sound that it has received the name of ‘Steamboat Spring’ ... forced up by the pressure of the gas below.”


J. Goldsborough Bruff, Aug 17, 1849 - “An old cedar stands near the spr’g, the trunk & branches of which are carved and penciled all over, as high up as can be reached, with names, &c. These springs are really worth a travel so far to see.”


Benjamin Franklin Owen, July 20, 1853 - “...camped at the Steamboat Springs on Bear River. Which to me at that time were about the greatest natural curiosities that I had ever seen, neither am I yet able to solve the hidden mysteries that keep in motion the water that alternately raises & falls in those two pipes, of course it may be explained on philosophical principles, but I have not heard or seen any solution that made it clear to my mind.”


Mile 1154.7 Soda and Beer Springs

Washington Irving (Capt. Benj. Bonnevilles biographer), 1832 - “The most noted curiosity ... is the Bear Spring, of which trappers give wonderful accounts.... Captain Bonneville describes it as having the taste of beer. His men drank it with avidity, and in copious draughts.... The Indians, however, refuse to taste it.... We have heard this also called the Soda Spring.”


Rufus Sage, Nov 1842 - The valley of Bear river affords a number of springs strongly impregnated with various mineral properties. The attention of the traveler is at once arrested by the hissing noise they emit. Two circular shaped openings in the surface are filled with transparent fluid in a state of incessant effervescence, caused by the action of subterranean gases. The water of one he finds tasting to be excellent natural soda, and that of the other, slightly acid and beer-like; the

draught will prove delicious and somewhat stimulating, but, if repeated too freely, it is said to produce a kind of giddiness like intoxication.


Jesse Applegate, 1843 - “Here we met Fremont, with his party.... Fremont’s men were having a high time drinking soda water.”


Samuel Hancock, 1845 - “These soda springs are well worthy a notice, possessing all the properties of pure soda water, the water gushing out in foam about six times a minute. We used this water in making our bread and found it answered all the purposes of yeast, so we carried a quantity away as a substitute for it.”


Rev. Joseph Williams, 1841, upon leaving Soda Springs - “There was some division and strife among us about going; some who set out for California changed their minds to go to the Columbi. Those who went to California ... were much perplexed about getting through, as they had no regular guide.... We turned off from Bear River, and struck on to the waters of the Snake River.”


J.M. Harrison, 1846 - “Some had the form of a cone or crater on a small scale. Some cones entirely sry ... ground sounded hollow. Many of the company professed to relish it but I could not drink it.”


Virgil Pringle, August 2-3, 1846 - “ Soda Springs and camp to enjoy the novelties of the place which are many and interesting. ... We made an early start from the springs, intending to go to the Port Neuf River, but was stopped by an awful calamity in 31/2 miles. Mr. Collin’s son, George, about 6 years old, fell from the wagon and the wheels ran over his head.... The remainder of the day occupied in burying at the place where we leave the [Bear] river [near Sheep Rock].”


William J. Scott, August 14, 1846 - “...the Sody Spring is aquite acuriosity thare is agreat many of them Just boiling rite up out of the ground take alitle sugar and desolve it in alitle water and then dip up acup full and drink it before it looses it gass it is furstrate I drank ahol of galon of it you will see several Spring Spouting up out ove the river.”


Lester Hulin, August 15, 1847 - “Passing up the hill and down again, we were (going) along in sight of the river the rest of the day. In 8 miles passed a branch. In 7 more another fine stream. Just across this stream what are called the Soda Springs commence. There at the creek one hundred yds or less from the crossing below. I call the best though no great similarity to soda. The Steamboat Spring is about 3/4 of mile from the creek on the river bank. This night as well as one

other of Bear River has been frosty.”


Elizabeth Dixon Smith, August 22, 1847 - “saw some of natures curious works here are mounds of perhaps 40 feet in diameter and 10 feet high composed of a shelly stone in the middle of the mound stands a I know not what to call it it looks like a stump a bout 3 feet high it has a hole in the top full of water roiling and runing over all the time it [is] this water that makes the mounds the water is blood warm and has a little of the soda taste a mile or so from here are the famous Soda springs they are not so good as has been represented only one or two of our company like it tasts like weak vinegar with a little saleratus in it they are jenerly ten or twelve feet across and resemble hog wallows more than springs though I saw one that was clear.”


James D. Miller, 1848 - “...there were several soda springs, so we had all the soda water we could drink, free of cost.”


James A. Pritchard, June 29, 1849 - “...reached ... the Soda or Beer Springs. These are so called on account of the acid tast and effervessing gasses contained in the waters. The water is clear and sparkling, and in many places trown several feet in the air. The water is constantly boiling up with a kind hissing nois. There are a great number of springs bursting out of the ground but the principal one is near the river and comes out at the edge of the water near the lower part of the grove. The Springs are situated in a fine seeder Grove with a stony foundation. The Steam Boat Springs are about 1/2 mile below.”


J. Goldsborough Bruff, Aug 17, 1849 - “...the water was fine, only needed lemon syrup, to render it perfect soda



Angelina Farley, Sept 16, 1850 - “The water tastes like soda after the life is gone out of it.”


Enoch W. Conyers, July 22, 1852 - “One of our company, R.L. Boyle [Doyle?], made a wager that he could stop the flow of water from this spring by setting on the crevice. He waited until the water began to recede, then took off his pants and seated himself on the crevice.... Doyle soon began bobbing up and down at a fearful rate.  At this stage of the fun several of the boys took hold of Doyle and tried to hold him on the crevice, but in this they failed, for the more weight they added to Doyle the more power the spring seemed to have, and Doyle kept on bobbing up and down like a cork. Finally Doyle cried out. ‘Boys there’s no use trying to hold the Devil down. It can’t be did. I am now, pounded into a beefsteak’.”


Celinda K. Hines, July 25, 1853 - “About 11 o’clock we arrived at the far famed Soda-Springs.... Placing the face near the surface, the vapor has the same effect which the inhaling of hartshorn [ammonia water] produces.”


George B. Currey, 1853 - “At Soda Springs on Bear river, we received word from the trains ahead of us indicating that increased trouble might be expected from the Snake Indians, whose country we were about to enter.... The means of communication with the trains in front was the ‘Bone Express.’ The road ... was strewn with bones, mostly buffaloes.... On these white bones the passing pilgrim would pencil his message, and place it in a conspicuous place by the roadside,

an open letter to all to read.... Sometimes the lack-luster skull would inform John and Mary was all right, or a shoulderblade would inform Polly that James was going to take the California road, assuring her that wood and water were better on that route.... Information about the Indians was also conveyed....”


Mile 1159.0 Hudspeth Cutoff (East Junction)

James A. Pritchard, July 1, 1849 - “Here, at the great bend of the Bear, was the point of departure for the Hudspeth Cutoff, opened [July 20th] by a company of Missourians captained by Benoni M. Hudspeth and guided by John J.



Henry R. Mann, July 24, 1849 - [At Raft River] “Messrs. Hedspeth and Meyers of the  Jackson Co. Mo. Co.... They intended to come out at the head of Mary’s River, but not understanding their true latitude have struck the old road before it crosses the dividing ridge to the Basin. They would have made some 200 miles on the old road had they succeeded, but as it is they have made nothing. They were thunderstruck, when upon emerging they found they were only 70

miles from Fort Hall.”


Mile 1200.0 Portneuf Plain

Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, July 28, 1836 - “One of the axle-trees of the wagon broke to-day; was a little rejoiced; for we were in hopes they would leave it, and have no more trouble with it. Our rejoicing was in vain, for they are making a cart of the back wheels this afternoon.”


Fr Pierre-Jean DeSmet, August 14, 1841 - “Murmurs arose against the Captain [John Bartleson], who however, was imperturbable....”


Samuel Hancock, 1845 - “The Indians were lurking around all night howling in imitation of wolves, to deceive us, and enable them to approach and occasionally the guard would fire in the direction of one of those noisy visitors, to keep them at a safe distance. As soon as it was light enough we turned the cattle out to feed, and found ... many of them pierced by arrows, whereupon twenty of us armed with rifles charged the thicket close by and five Indians retreated to the hills

adjacent. Upon our return to camp we ascertained a number of the enemy’s shot had penetrated our wagon beds, fortunately doing no other damage, although the families had taken refuge in the wagons during the skirmish.”


Joel Palmer, 1846 - “as at all the other forts the [Snake] Indians swarmed about us ... in consequence of the continual wars which they have engaged in with the Sioux, Crows and Blackfeet, their numbers are rapidly diminishing.”


Wakeman Bryarly, July 14, 1849 - “I have been in musquitoe country but confess I never saw them in their glory. They were so thick you could reach out and get a handful.... Our animals were very near stampeding from them and our guards were so busy saving their own eyes that it was almost impossible for them to watch the animals.”


Capt. Howard Stansbury, 1852 - “...the Port Neuf, with its bright, sparkling waters, flows at our feet. The scene was one of surprising beauty, and richly repaid us, for our dreary ride across the desert plain of sage.”


Abigail Jane Scott, July 21, 1852 - “We encamped near a good and beautiful spring which is the source of a clear stream coursing its rapid way over a rocky bottom into ‘Snake or Lewis Rver’. We this day met a Mountaineer who had been in the mountains since '39- he is a native of Kentucky and the best Spicimen of a backwoods man I ever saw he appeared to be about 35 years of age & I should judge would measure six feet 3 inches in hight & weigh about 200 lbs

strong & muscular in propertion his name is Caldwell, "his uncle Mr Wm Caldwell was one of [our] nearest & most intimate neighbours in the ‘Sucker State’ After inquiring with regard to his relatives and finding that we were acquainted with them he appeared much rejoiced and quite glad to see us, particularly Father whose hand he grasped in honor of old Ky, His broadcloth coat and silk neck kercheif contrasted strangely with his buck skin pants & moccasins; and long , flowing hair

and whiskers; He was mounted on an Indian pony and armed with two horse pistols, and was engaged in driving cattle....”


Benjamin Franklin Owen, July 20, 1853 - “At this camp there was a family of Baker's, in a few yars of us whose male representatives had tried hard to get us join their company. Christy wanted to, but Mr. Kistner nor I were agreed to their plan on account of what we had seen & heard of their rough ways. So in the evening while the Boys were out looking after the stock, & I in camp, preparing supper, there was a feud sprang up in the Baker camp over some Trivial affair, between

the mother, & her Daughterinlaw, their language, & threats, were terrible, But when the old Vixen threatened to knock the Young one in the head with a big heavy Iron fire shovel, she subsided & the affray ended. But I was the more fully confirmed in my determination to travel alone rather than in such company."


Philura Vanderburgh, July 3-5, 1864 - “The third of July we made our camp at the foot of the Bannock Mountains. Here in a circular valley was a regular camp ground where every train cut a few more trees for the ring of campfires that were built around the camps in the center, always making the spot a little safer from Indian attack. The next day we were not to travel but to rest our horses. We were always glad for those rest days; they came so seldom. Our camp was spoiled to

me, however, for here in the beautiful circle we found the cattle train. It was hard to endure them, to find the stream of water trampled and dirty, as well as all the other annoyances they could devise. "They will go on tomorrow and we will be rid of them for a day or two," we hoped once more and felt relieved at the prospect. The next morning, however, we found a new scheme to anger us. Very early in the morning they left, but hanging from a flagpole that they had erected in the night was a Confederate flag. An angry group of men surrounded the pole when Florence and I ran out of our tent. One man had started to chop it down. Mr. Daily was talking, "It's hard to take, boys, but we have to get this train through. The train must go through. Let the flag alone." It was hard for northern eyes to see that flag flying, but there it stayed all that day. When we left the next morning it still hung from the top of the pole. It was hard for northern eyes to see that flag flying, but there it

stayed all that day. When we left the next morning it still hung from the top of the pole. Just before we started Win said, "Drive my team, won't you, Philura? I'm not ready to go." "Not ready!" I said, "Why not?" "Never mind, I'll catch up." He and Henry ran away and I could not see them when we started. After a while Win climbed up beside me. "We fixed their old flag," he said; "chopped it down into the fire." "That's good!" I said. "I'm glad you did, but won't you get into trouble." "I

don't know," he answered, "but the flag is down."


Mile 1215.0 Cantonment Loring (Regiment of Mounted Rifles) Built by American Nathaniel Wyeth in 1834, sold to the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1837 and rebuilt in 1838, Fort Hall ceased to be a fur trapping post after the 1846 treaty put it within the United States, but still belonged to the HBC. In 1856 it was abandoned due to Indian hostilities.


James A. Pritchard, July 2, 1849 - “Fort Hall is occupied by English traders. They pack their goods from Astoria and other trading points on the Pacific coast of Oregon.”


John Mullan, Dec 19, 1853 - “...Cantonment Loring, so called in honor of Colonel Loring of the rifle regiment, and occupied in 1849 and 1850 by two companies ... about five miles above Fort Hall.”


Mile 1217.4 Fort Hall 80 foot square stockaded trading post erected by Nathaniel Wyeth in 1834 on the east bank of the Snake River. It was sold to the HBC in 1837 who rebuilt it by encasing the logs in adobe. It was abandoned in 1856 due to Indian hostility.


Jason Lee, July 14, 1834 - “...camped where the Capt. is going to build a Fort.”


John K. Townsend, July 26, 1834 - “Mr. Lee is a great favorite with the men, deservedly so.... I have oftened been amused and pleased by Mr. L.’s manner of reproving them for the coarseness and profanity of expression which is so universal amongst them. The reproof ... clear, and strong, is always characterized by the mildness and affectionate manner peculiar to the man....”


Cyrus Shepherd, Sunday July 27, 1834 - “Mr. M’Coy [Thomas McKay], a gentleman in the employ of the Hudson’s Bay Company, after which Jason Lee, by his request, held a meeting [at the partially completed Fort Hall].... At the time appointed, about thirty Indians, and as many whites came together to hear the word of the Lord. Brother Lee opened the meeting by reading the fifteenth Psalm, and singing the hymn beginning, ‘The Lord of sabbath let us praise,’ Prayer and an

address followed by J.Lee. The congregation gave the most profound and solumn attention ... being the first season of public worship.”


Jason Lee, July 30, 1834 - “Capt. Wyeth’s Fort is not yet finished.... “


John K. Townsend, August 5, 1834 - “At sunrise this morning, the ‘star-spangled banner’ was raised on the flag-staff at the fort, and a salute fired by the men.... All in camp were then allowed the free and uncontrolled use of liquor, and, as usual, the consequence was a scene of rioting, noise, and fighting, during the whole day; some became so drunk that their senses fled them entirely.... We had ‘gouging,’ biting, fisticuffing, and ‘stamping’ in the most ‘scientific’ perfection; some even fired guns and pistols at each other....”


Mary Richardson Walker, July 30, 1838 - “ going to washing in the room at the fort which in form size and cleanliness resembles your hog sty.”


Jesse Applegate (son of Lindsay), 1843 - “I visited the people in the fort with Mother and other folks, and found [Indian] women and children living there.... Those women wore bracelets of gold or brass on their wrists, broad rings of gold or brass on their fingers, and a profusion of bright colored, mostly red ribbons on their garments. Those bright colors I thought were in beautiful contrast with the brown skin and glossy black hair of the women....”


Edward Henry Lenox, 1843 - “In coming down a hill my little brother five years old, fell over the front gate of my wagon to the ground. I picked him up fearing that he was killed, but his life was spared.... Sad to say, it happened otherwise with G.T. Naler’s little boy who also fell over the front end of the wagon during the journey. In his case the great wheels rolled over the child’s head, crushing it to pieces.”


Jesse Applegate (son of Lindsay), 1843 - “...we boys were at the place where the oxen had been killed, and found the stomach or paunch lying there on the ground; the weather being warm, it was swollen to the size of a large barrel.... The sport consisted in running and butting the head against the paunch and being bounced back.... There was a boy by the name of Andy Baker, much taller than I was; He was slender, had a long neck, and his hair was cut very near to the scalp.

This boy was ambitious to excel all the others, and [he] backed off much farther than anyone had before and then lowering his small head, charged the paunch at the top of his speed, and when within a couple of yards of the target, leaped from the ground, the boys welling, ‘give her goss, Andy!’ and came down like a pile driver against the paunch, but he did not bound back. We gathered around to see what the matter was, and discovered Andy had thrust his head into the stomach, which had closed so tightly around his neck that he could not withdraw his head. We took hold of his legs and pulled him out, but the joke was on Andy, and ‘Give her goss, Andy,’ was a favorite joke among the boys long after.”


Samuel Penter, 1843 - “There we found the wagons of the emirants of 1842.”


James Nesmith, August 28, 1843 - “Capt. Grant, then in charge of the Hudson Bay Company at Fort Hall, endeavored to dissuade us from proceeding further with our wagons, and showed us the wagons of the preceding year had abandoned, as an evidence of the impracticability of our determination. Dr. Whitman was persistent in his assertions that wagons could proceed as far as the Grand Dalles of the Columbia river, from which point he asserted they could be taken down by rafts or batteaux to the Willamette valley, while our stock could be driven by an Indian trail over the Cascade mountains, near Mt. Hood.”


Edward Henry Lenox, 1843 - “...[Father] was to visit the commander ... and I was allowed to go with him. ... We climbed a stairway around a cupula to Captain Grant’s room, where we found a large fat Scotchman. He said, ‘Is this Captain Lenox?’ ‘Yes sir,’ was the answer. ‘I hear you are going through to the Columbia River this fall.’ ‘Yes sir.’ ‘But do not try that, you may lose all these women and children in the snow. You had better pack from here. I will trade you

ponies for your cattle, as I did the forty-two emigrants [1842] last year.’ As proof to our eyes, there stood the nineteen wagons beside the fort, but father replied, ‘We are going to stay with wagons until we are compelled to leave them.’ On returning to the camp we found Dr. Whitman at father’s tent. ‘I have sad news, Captain Lenox.’ he said. ‘I have just received this letter from my wife.... The Indians have burned my mill, and she is afraid they will murder her ... so I must leave you.... I will send Stickas, a Christian chief, to meet you and pilot you across the Blue Mountains.’”


James Nesmith, August 28, 1843 - “[Grant] sells at exhorbitant price; flour, 25 cents per pint; sugar, 50; coffee, 50; rice 33 1/3. Part of the company went on with pack animals, leaving their wagons.”


John Boardman, September 11, 1843 - “...there was neither meat, flour nor rice to be had. Nothing but sugar and coffee at 50 cents per pint; rice worth 35 cents per pound where they have it, flour 25 cents per pint, though dry goods are cheaper than at any other of the posts; ... calico worth $1.00 yard; shirting $1.00, tobacco $1.00 to $2.00; liquor $32 per gallon. They have cattle here but will not sell....”


John Minto, September 16, 1844 - “Grant was, I think, a coarser man than Bridger, but carried more outside polish of manner. He gave me fair treatment in trade, however, furnishing a strong saddle horse for my gun, and finding I could get the bullet moulds for it, he gave me an Indian saddle for that. ... We started with fifteen pounds of buffalo pemmican, purchased from a Kanaka servant of the Hudsn’s Bay Company at Fort Hall. Mr G.W. Bush always watchful, followed us out from the wagon and said, ‘...Take my advise: any thing you see as big as a black bird, kill it and eat it'.”


Benjamin Franklin Bonney, 1845 - “At Fort Hall we were met by an old man named Caleb Greenwood ... an old mountain man ... employed by Captain Sutter to come to Fort Hall to divert the Oregon-bound emigrants to California.... He called the Oregon emigrants together the first evening we were in Fort Hall and made a talk. He said the road to Oregon was dangerous on sections of land of his Spanish land grant. After Greenwood had spoken the men of our party held

a pow-wow which lasted nearly all night. Some wanted to go to California, while others were against it. [Sam] Barlow, who was in charge of our train, said he would forbid any man leaving the train and going to California. ... The meeting nearly broke up in a mutiny. ... My father, Jarvis Bonney, was the first one of the Oregon party to pull out of the Oregon train and head south.... There were eight wagons in all that rolled out from the main train to go to california with Caleb.” [Bonney’s family went to Oregon in 1847 to avoid becoming Spanish subjects.]


William Barlow, 1845 - “Some of our company wanted to go to California and here was where the roads parted. But my father said he was going to drive his teams into the Willamette Valley. Superintendent Grant ... remarked, ‘Well, we have been here many years and we never have taken a pack train over those mountains yet, but if you say you will take your wagons over the mountains, you will do it. The darned Yankees will go anywhere they say they will'.”


Virgil Pringle, August 7, 1846 - “Pass the fort and camp four miles below on Port Neuf. Find the fort located on a rich, fertile plain, well watered with springs and creeks and some scattering timber.”


J.M. Harrison, 1846 - “...arrive Fort Hall. Hudson Bay Co. Fort carried on a considerable trade with surrounding Indians.”


Henry Garrison, 1846 - “This was the first place I ever [saw] Camanded by British subjects. We spent about an hour on this Fort. We intended to layby here, but as the grass was poor, we continued on the Snake River....”


Joel Palmer, 1846 - “...the two crossings of Snake River and the crossing of the Columbia and other smaller streams were represented by those [HBC employees] in charge of this fort as ... being attended with great danger; it was also said that no company heretorfore attempting the passage of those streams succeeded but with the loss of men from the violence and rapidity of the currents.... In case we escaped destruction at the hands of the savages, we were told that a more fearful enemy, famine, would attend our march, as the distance was so great that winter would overtake us before making the Cascade Mountains. On the other hand, as an inducement to pursue the California route, we were informed of the shortness of the route, when compared with that to Oregon, as also of the many other superior advantages it possessed.”


Lester Hulin, August 20, 1847 - “...came to the fort. Drove below on Ross's Fork and camped and repaired waggons and done other business.”


Elizabeth Dixon Smith, Aug 28, 1847 - “passed fort Hall Capt Grant is not that charitable jentleman that we expected to see but a boasting burlesquiing unfeeling man.”


Dr. Charles E. Boyle, June 29, 1849 - “This is a trading post belonging to the Hudson Bay Co. (English) and, although, lying in Oregon, is considered by those who live there to belong to California.”


Osborne Cross, August 8, 1849 - “This place is about three miles below where two companies of the rifle regiment have chosen for the site of their new post. ... Captain Grant ... have been here fourteen years ... will not be required to occupy this post very long.”


J. Goldsborough Bruff, August 24 - “...bade them [at Cantonment Loring] adieu, and started for Ft. Hall ... entered the Great Portal, walked across the open square, and up a pair of stairs, to a balcony, and at the door of an upper apartment met Capt. Grant, the former Hudson Bay commander. ... Grant is permitted, by Col. Porter to retain his old home, and gives him charge of some stores in the lower apartments of the Fort. The old Captain is very English, and anti-Yankee ...

observed that he knew nothing about the treaty, had not seen it.”


A.J. Allen, 1850 - “Fort Hall in charge of Mr. Grant and his associate, McDonald.”


Charles Oliver, 1864 - “We crossed the Snake River at old Fort Hall. After crossing the river we filled every barrel, bucket, and bottle with water for the trip across the lava beds. We traveled two days and two nights before we got to water on Lost River and the cattle by that time were about famished, and the men, women, and children were completely worn out. Women and children were crying, and even the dogs tucked their tails between their legs and looked pitifully at

their masters, mutely begging for water. We laid over a day or so for rest and then proceeded again, fording the Snake River a second time near the mouth of the Owyhee River." [The Olivers took what is called the Goodale Cutoff. It crosses central Idaho along a more northerly route than the old trail. The lava beds they refer to are today called Craters of the Moon National Monument, the desert is the Idaho National Laboratory (their equivalent to Hanford), and the Lost River goes underground after they crossed it and emerges again at Thousand Springs. Hotter and drier, this route is shorter

and bypasses the Three Island Crossing, rejoining the old route at Teapot Dome.]


Mile 1241.0 American Falls

Joel Palmer, 1846 - “The country is extremely barren, being sandy, sage plains These falls derive their name from the following circumstance. A number of American trappers going down this stream in their canoes ... were hurried along by the violence of the current; and passing over the falls, but one of the number survived.”


Elizabeth Dixon Smith, Aug 29-30, 1847 - “very dusty roads you in the states know nothing about dust it will fly so that you can hardly see the horns of your tongue yoke it often seems that the cattle must die for the want of breath and then in our waggons such a specticle beds cloths vituals and children all compleetly covered. ... passed Snake river falls bad roads hilly and rocky camped without feed.”


Dr. Charles E. Boyle, June 29, 1849 - “Our camp was situated on the bank of a small branch of the Lewis River and would have been very comfortable had it not been for the mosquitoes which have been very troublesome for some days, and are more numerous than a person who has not seen them can well imagine. The country around here is so cold that it can never be farmed to advantage.”


James A. Pritchard, July 5, 1849 - “The fall must be 40 or 50 feet in about 70 or 80 yards. There is no more than from 6 to 10 feet perpendicular fall at any place. The roaring of the waters can be heard for many miles. They rush with great velocity over and through the vast lumps that lay in massive piles in the channel. There is a solid mass of Black volcanick rock forming a complete butment on either side of the river.”


Maj. Osborne Cross, August 10, 1849 - “The scene was truly magnificent. Here was an entire change in the face of the country as well as the river. But a few miles back, we had looked on it running quietly through a wide, fertile valley ... and in a short distance was precipitated over huge rocks, to resume its course through a deep canon, the perpendicular walls of which were formed of basaltic rock....”


Harriet Scott, July 30-Aug 1, 1852 - “About 2 miles above the great American Falls we were able to get the cattle down to drink. It so happened that after the yokes of the oxen were removed and the oxen driven into the water, an old headstrong bull plunged into the river and swam across, the rest of the cattle following, except two cows that our man were able to keep back. Our company was in great peril.... My father, generally equal to any emergency, decided that any one or

more of the men who were good swimmers, should go above our camp, swim over and drive the cattle back. This was attempted by two young men, one of whom swum over first, on one of our mares; the other was drowned, and as we with agonized eyes watched the stream we saw the white face of our old mare "Sukey" bobbing up and down in the boiling waters. She was such a loved old mare that we could not bare to leave her at home in Illinois. A third man tried and got safely over. We could see his naked form over the river among the hot burning rocks. It was impossible for him alone to drive the cattle back. My father made a mighty effort to get across. Then he ordered the calking of one of the wagon beds to make a boat, and in this, three more paddled over and took some clothing to cover the poor sunburnt men on the rocks -- he was over there in that awful predicament for three days; his skin all peeled off, and he nearly lost his mind from his awful experience. They got the cattle safely over the river again, but the two cows that stayed behind ate of something poisonous and died during the night.”


Mile 1250.7 Massacre Rocks The name Massacre Rocks refers to an 1862 incident, but the sinister name was not used until the 20th century. It is now well established.


Maj. Osborne Cross, 1849 - “...we passed many ledges of rocks, which formed a complete valley, having an outlet so narrow that but one wagon could pass at a time....” [Along the narrow outlet are several very large rocks which give the location the second half of the name. At the river is one spherical boulder known today as Register Rock due to the inscriptions on it. The trail then crosses a small creek and ascends a steep hill.] “...we came to what is called Fall creek, a rapid little stream.... On the opposite side of this little brook the hill was so steep as to require sometimes sixteen mules to a wagon, and as many men as could well get hold of a rope, to get it to the top..... It was, however, accomplished.”


Hamilton Scott, Aug 9-12, 1862 - 8/9. While nooning below American Falls, word arrived that Indians were robbing emigrants four miles ahead. Scott took a party to assist and found the Adams train looted. There was one emigrant dead, two wounded and several missing. All of the wagon teams were gone. Towing the wagons, they moved down four miles to a campsite near Massacre Rocks. There they found the Smart train, which had been attacked at about the same time

as the Adams train. They had been a mile ahead of Adams and had fought their way to the campground, with the loss of two men dead. 8/10. Thirty-five men from the trains followed the track of the Indians to recover the lost stock. The Indians were nine [actually six] miles away at Cold Creek. The emigrants were attacked, having to retreat three miles under fire, with two dead, two missing, and several wounded. 8/11. The five dead from the three incidents were buried at the south

end of the Massacre Rocks campground. The combined wagon train, now made up of five trains, moved on to Raft River. 8/12. Miss Adams died of wounds and was buried at Raft River.


Jane A. Gould, Aug 10-12, 1862 - 8/10. Their train was a day behind the three involved the battles of Aug 8 & 9. They helped recover the two men killed at Cold Creek and carried them to the campground. 8/11. The two bodies “were buried this morning with the three others” before the combined train moved on. 8/12. Captain Adams’ daughter died and was buried in a wagon box.


John C. Hilman, Aug 10-11, 1862 - [due to darkness, they had] “to camp on the very ground ... red with the blood of innocent men and women” The next day they came to the camp where Captains Kennedy and Newman had gathered the

survivors of the Adams and Smart trains.The combined train totaled 200 wagons and 700 people


Mile 1265.0 Raft River Crossing (California Trail Junction) From 1838 to 1846, this was where the choice was made to go to Oregon or to California. The California Trail cuts off on top of this hill and follows the ridge line south, paralleling the Raft River. In 1846 some Oregonbound emigrants followed the California Trail to Humboldt and then up the Applegate South Road. By 1849, California bound argonauts had developed cutoffs making this junction obsolete. Many 1849 names, written in tar and gunpowder, are painted along the bluff below the trail and above the river.


Joel Palmer, 1845 - “About fifteen wagons had been fitted out, expressly for California; and, joined by the thirty-five [diverted by Greenwood], completed a train of fifty wagons; what the result of their expedition has been I have not been able to learn.”


William Taylor, July 25-26, 1846 - “ Casua Bad Road. ...Left the Oregon Road.”


Virgil Pringle, August 10, 1846 - “ the Casue or Raft River ... at this place the Oregon and California road fork.”


J.M. Harrison, 1846 - “Shortly after leaving Fort Hall we came to where the California road turned off. A number of our company took this road the most of them we believe intending to turn off on the Applegate route to the Willamette Valley.”


Henry Garrison, 1846 - “...we followed down this stream to where the Oregon, and California seperate. Here we met a party of twelve men from Oregon, Jessie Applegate was the leader or Capt of the company. Mr Applegate informed us that he had explored a new road to the Willamette Valley, that it was shorter, and a great deal better route than the old one down Snake River that we would save the fording of the Snake twice, they represented these fords to be very dangerous, they were so bad, that quite a number of [emigrants] had been drowned while attempting to ford the River. And by going their route we would save the crossing the Cascade Mountains, which was represented as being a very dificult undertaking. After consultation those of our Company that were going to Oregon, concluded [to] go the southern route as it was called. Our company was about equally divided, one half for California, the other for Oregon. We now left the Oregon Road, which followed down Snake River. We realized that we were a little late, and it was necessary that we should make as good speed as possible, so we traveled as fast as possible so as not to break our teams down, our teams at this time was getting quite thin.”


Tabitha Brown, August 1846 - “...after we passed Fort Hall; then we were within 800 miles of Oregon City. If we had kept the old road down the Columbia River - but three of four trains of emigrants were decoyed off by a rascally fellow [Jesse Applegate] who came out from the settlement in Oregon, assuring us that he had found a near cut-off; that if we would follow him we would be in the settlement long before those who had gone down the Columbia. This was in

August. The idea of shortening a long journey caused us to yield to his advice. Our sufferings from that time no tongue can tell. (He left a pilot [Levi Scott] with us who proved to be an excellent man; otherwise we never would have seen Oregon.) He said he would clear the road before us; that we should have no trouble in rolling our wagons after him; he robbed us of what he could by lying; and left us to the depredations of Indians, wild beasts, and starvation - but God was with us.”


Osborne Cross, Aug 11, 1849 - “The road turns off to the south for California....”


J. Goldsborough Bruff, Aug 27, 1849 - “...reach’d Raft river, forded it, and just over on our right, a grave just where the Oregon trail turns off right, over basaltic cliffs - ‘To the Memory of Lydia Edmonson who died Aug. 16, 1847, Aged 25 years'.”


Abigail Jane Scott, July 21, 1852 - “This afternoon we were so fortunate as to meet Mr Alexander Johnson, a nephew of Rev, Neill Johnson, (now in Oregon): He brought us a letter from the latter gentleman, which contained the news that he would meet us in the Cascade mountains with fresh teams if he could learn that we were in need of aid...”


David or John Dinwiddie, July 25, 1853 - “Sage, sage, nothing but sage, seems one endless sage plains, here we camped, poor grass.... Myriads of grasshoppers....”


Basil Nelson Longsworth, July 30, 1853 - “Raft River is a very deep and rapid stream and runs north to Snake River. After leaving the river we ascended a hill and found ourselves on a strange plain which, I think, has been the scene of volcanic action.”


Hamilton Scott, Aug 12, 1862 - “Miss Adams, the lady who was wounded in the fight with the Indians, died last night and was buried this morning. We keep the old Oregon road.”


Mile 1318.0 Caldron Linn This is a narrow chute where the Snake River falls 40 feet into a pool, or “caldron,” with such force to earn the Gaelic description “linn” meaning either waterfall. This is the beginning of the disappointing section of the Snake River, where it enters a deep gulch, generally inaccessible by wagons.


Thomas J. Farnham, 1839 - “The sides of the heavens warred like contending batteries in deadly conflict. The rain came in floods; and our tent, not being ditched around, was flooded soon after the commencement of the storm, and ourselves and baggage thoroughly drenched.”


Basil Nelson Longsworth, August 4, 1853 - “...our camp being on a high bluff with the river lying half a mile distant and six or eight hundred feet below us with very bluff banks.... This is a remarkably strange place. The ground is level to the very edge of the bluffs, which are two miles apart and perpendicular ... with rocks ... tumbled down in wild confused masses. ... Through this the river flows with a rapid current and in places considerable falls.”


E.S. McComas, Sept 8, 1862 - “The country all the way down the Snake River is one of the most desolate and dreary waste in the world. Light soft ground with no soil on top, looking like an ash heap, dust six inch deep and as light as flour. When a man travells all day in it he looks like a miller. You can see nothing but his eyes and them look red. The dust is here so light that it sometimes raises 300 feet above the train. The ground is covered with two of the most detestable shrubs that grows, grease would and artemesia or wild sage.”


Mile 1337.0 Shoshone Falls (Canadian Falls) A 212 foot waterfall which could be heard by emigrants on the Oregon Trail, five miles away. Two miles upstream, the Twin Falls of the Snake where mostly unknown to the Oregon Trail emigrants.


Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, 1836 - “Dear Harriet the little trunk you gave me has come with me so far & now I must leave it here alone. Poor little trunk, I am sorry to leave thee. Thou must abide here alone & no more by they presence remind me of my Dear Harriet. This shall be thy place of rest. Farewell little Trunk.... The hills are so steep rocky that Husband thought it best to lighten the waggon as much as possible & take nothing but the wheels, leaving the box with my

trunk.... If I were to make this journey again I would make quite different preparations....”


Rachel Fisher, August 11-12, 1847 - “you may think I had seen trouble before but my trouble in Iowa [where she lost 3 of her four children] was nothing to what I have experienced since I left there being deprived of one of the two objects which I held more dear then any other earthly object, on the Plat river [her husband, John Fisher] I then thought that little [2 year old] Angeline was more dear to me then any thing ever had been she being the last one of my family. but alas the

day was soon to come when I would see her laid in her silent grave. ... I discovered her sickness the 11th of the 8th mo. she appeared well and very playful in the morning, when we stoped to eat dinner she was lame but still very playful & eat her dinner apparently about as usual. soon after eating she became feverish which increased very rapidly her lameness (which we soon found to be in her thigh just above the knee) became very painful, getting worse through the night the following morning she commenced having fits and died about noon. the disease seemed strange but It was not more so then It was distressing. A mortification appeared to take place before her death.”


Elizabeth Dixon Smith, Sept 7-10, 1847 - “nooned at Snake River watered our cattle moved on 2 miles and camped, 2 men were left be hind which was always the case with them they had such heavy loads they came up afterwards and while watering some of their cattle swam over the river one of the men swam after them and before he got a cross he sunk to rise no more he left a wife and 3 children the other came runin to camp to let us know some men went back and stayed with them by this time another company had overtaken them next morning my husband took a horse and went back to swim the horse over after the cattle The man that owned the cattle took the horse and swam after the cattle and while comeing back by some means got off of the horse and sunk and was seen no more he left a wife and 6 helpless children my husband stood

watching him it is supposed that there was a suck in the bottom of the river. ... we moved on for we had neither feed nor water ... camped on Snake river at 10 oclock my husband came up and told the shocking news. ... layed by to wait for those two widowed women.”


Osborne Cross, Aug 15, 1849 - “...could easily hear the sound of a waterfall ... much surprised to learn the next day that within ten miles of this place there is a cascade which is not surpassed by the Niagara falls ... Lieutenant Lindsay [of the mounted regiment was sent] to the place, who pronounced it one of nature’s great wonders ... name [Canadian Falls] said to have been given them by a priest many years since, they decided on that of the Great Shoshonie falls, instead of Canadian, as being the most appropriate. The road does not pass there ... nearest point is not less than eight or ten [actually five] miles....”


Mile 1363.0 Thousand Springs A series of streams from the Lost River, that goes underground a couple hundred miles north near Craters of the Moon, emerges from the face of the northside cliff in several places here.


John C. Frémont, September 30, 1843 - “Immediately opposite to us, a subterranean river bursts out directly from the face of the escarpment, and falls in white foam to the river below.... Here the Indians had constructed wicker dams....”


Elizabeth Dixon Smith, Sept 11, 1847 - “while moving a long to day we saw on the opposite side of snake river the bank was a bout 80 feet high and a bout half way to the top was a large river emptying in to Snake river. it was a half a mile wide it came out on the same highth all a long and was one continued sheet clear down.”


Osborne Cross, Aug 16, 1849 - “...we came to where the water burst forth from the rocks in many places....”


Basil Nelson Longsworth, August 7, 1853 - “Along the river for four miles there is a vast quantity of crystal spring water pouring down the rocky cliffs into the river. In many places it falls down from one to three hundred feet and nearly covers the rocks for hundreds of feet together, forming a most pleasing and sublime spectacle. The water falls in such large quantities that for miles along the river the water is perfectly clear for from thirty to sixty yards from the shore.”


Celinda K. Hines, August 9, 1853 - “Saw some very fine falls from streams on the north side of the river. The first was a perpendicular fall of many feet in height. Most of the others issued out of the banks of the river and falling several feet flowed into the river.”


Mile 1366.0 Salmon Falls (Upper and Lower Salmon Falls) Two rapids about five miles apart, where Indians gathered to spear salmon which were so slowed down by the falls that they could be captured with ease. The Indians traded salmon to the emigrants, probably their first taste of that fish. This came at an opportune time as the emigrants were running out of food.


Asahel Munger, August 17, 1839 - “ we got a supply of fish to last us to Ft Boysa.... These are ... rapids where they catch fish ... with their hands....”


Joseph Williams, 1843 - “...I lay on the bank of the river, where I could scarcely sleep for the Indians, who sung all night in a very curious manner ... the salmon also kept a great noise, jumping and splashing in the water.”


Jesse Applegate, 1843 - “The first sound that struck my ear seemed to jar the earth like distant thunder. As we approached, many Indians were seen, and long lines of something of a red color, which I thought were clothes hung out to dry ... but as we came nearer I learned that those lines were salmon which the Indians were drying in the sun...”


James Nesmith, September 8, 1843 - Went down to the falls and purchased some salmon. Had a fight in camp this evening. Old Zachary stabbed Mr. Wheeler, with his knife.”


John C. Frémont, October 1, 1843 - “These appeared to be unusually gay savages, fond of loud laughter; and in their apparent good nature and merry character, struck me as being entirely different from the Indians we had been accustomed to see....”


Charles Pruess, October 2, 1843 - “These miserable Indians are a happy harmless people. ... These poor devils sew together twenty groundhog skins, and yet the garment does not reach to their knees. Their winter logment is made of reeds, and salmon is their only food, which, to be sure, is never exhausted. ... One hears nothing but the word hagai, ‘fish’....”


Celinda K. Hines, August 10, 1853 - “...Mr. Russel lost an ox in the morning.... Saw at the ferry a horse that had been bitten by scorpions, dying. A short distance below the ferry is Salmon Falls. They are perpendicular ... but not very high ... very scraggy and ... very pretty and interesting. Crossed the ferry, paying $6.00 per wagon. They paid $10.00 to some men for swimming the cattle over on account of the difficulty of doing so.”


Mile 1397.4 Three Island Crossing To avoid a rough, dry trail along the south alternate route, which includes the massive Bruneau sand dunes, it was necessary to cross the dangerous Snake River and head over to the Boise River. Although there are three islands that give this crossing its name, only two were actually used. With the swift current restricted, the Snake River is always dangerous here.


Narcissa Whitman, August 13, 1836 - "They were preparing to cross the Snake River. The river is divided by two islands into three branches, and is fordable. The packs are placed upon the tops of the highest horses and in this way we crossed without wetting. Two of the tallest horses were selected to carry Mrs. Spaulding and myself over. Mr. McLeod gave me his and he rode mine. The last branch we rode as much as half a mile in crossing and against the current too, which made it hard for the horses, the water being up to their sides. Husband had considerable difficulty in crossing the cart. Both cart and mules were turned upside down in the river and entangled in the harness. The mules would have been drowned but for a desperate struggle to get them ashore. Then after putting two men swimming behind to steady it, they succeeded in getting it across. There is one manner of crossing which husband has tried but I have not, neither do I wish to. Take an elk

skin and stretch it over you, spreading yourself out as much as possible, then let the Indian woman carefully put you on the water and with a cord in the mouth they will swim and draw you over....”


William T. Newby, Sept 11, 1843 - “First we drove over a part of the river, one hundred yards wide on to an island, then over another branch seventy-five yards wide to a second island; then we tide a string of wagons to gether by a chane ... we carried as maney as fifteen waggons at one time. We had to go up streeme. The water was ten inches up the waggeons beds in the deepe placees. It was about 900 hundred yards acraws.”


John C. Frémont, October 3, 1843 - "About 2 o'clock, we arrived at the Ford where the road crosses to the right bank of the Snake River. An Indian was hired to conduct us through the Ford, which proved impractical for us, the water sweeping away the howitzer and nearly drowning the mules which we were obliged to extricate by cutting them out of the harness . . . . "


Nineveh Ford, 1843 - “We came to Snake River. Dr. Whitman was with us there and he advised us to fasten our teams together, the whole train with the exception of my own team. I had a strong carriage and I thought I could drive through separately. I fell in behind and the wagons and teams being angling in the current raised the current on the bank side probably some 2 feet or 18 inches higher than the usual height and it pressed so hard against my team that I was about to go over the shoal where several persons had gone over and drowned before that, the animals they rode over themselves too. Seeing that there was a danger of going over I sprung out of the carriage and ran to the team and pressed myself against the team and held the lead ox to his place until the train went on and the water lowered. I remained in that situation till the whole train got across on the land. Dr. Whitman rode back on a large gray horse and threw a rope to me and told me to put it on the near ox's horns. I did so and he put it around the horse's saddle and he then led the way across

and I got into the carriage and drove across. The Doctor the team across with his rope. I learned afterwards that one of the oxen which were temporally in the wagon instead of mules was a weak ox. I consider that Dr. Whitman saved my life.”


William D. Stillwell, 1844 - “We left our wagon at the upper crossing of the Snake River, where the Emigrant road crossed the Snake River at Three Islands.” Samuel Parker, August 14, 1845 - “To Snake River - crossed very deep to hind wheels - 7 yoke to a wagon.”


Samuel Hancock, 1845 - “...two men of the company forded [the Snake River] for the purpose of hunting on the other side, and did not return that night; in the morning four men went in search of them, and found blood and the traces of something being dragged on the ground; they followed this and found the body of one of these men divested of its scalp, clothing, gun, etc. after looking around and making the most diligent search for the other and seeing no trace of him, they

concluded that he had shared a similar fate....”


James M. Fulkerson, August 1847 - At the Emigrant Crossing of the Snake River, near Glenns Ferry, Idaho, illness took a third victim. William T. HINES, the husband of Elizabeth Fulkerson HINES, died of spotted fever. ( His family knocked together a rude coffin, and took the body with them to Pike, Yamhill County, OR.) His death left her with eight children - two of whom were less than ten years old. Their 20-year-old daughter Margaret took her father's place as

teamster, driving the wagon across Idaho and on to their destination in Polk County, Oregon.


Elizabeth Dixon Smith, Sept 14-15, 1847 - “blocked up our wagon beds forded snake river which was wide deep and swift ... layed by this morning one company moved on except one family the woman got mad and would not budge nor let the children he had his cattle hitched on for 3 hours and coaxing her to go but she would not stur I told my husband the circumstance and him and Adam Polk and Mr Kimble went and took each one a young one and cramed them in the

wagon and her husband drove off and left her siting she got up took the back track travled out of sight cut a cross overtook her husband meantime he sent his boy back to camp after a horse that he had left and when she came up her husband says did you meet John yes was the reply and I picked up a stone and nocked out his brains her husband went back to asertain the truth and while he was gone she set one of his waggons on fire which was loaded with store goods the cover burnt

off and some valueable artikles he saw the flame and came running and put it out and then mustered spunk enough to give her a good floging her name is Marcum she is cousin to Adam Polks wife” [Elizabeth Markham, who would mother Edwin Markham, poet-laureate of Oregon]


Osborne Cross, Aug 19, 1849 - “...undertake to cross the river here ... opposite two small willow islands and thought it practicable, as the water in depth would not come up to the wagon beds ... current was discovered to be strong ... [one man drowned] ... cutting down the banks one of the wagons was then tried ... [attempt abandoned] ... remained on the left bank.”


Elizabeth Wood, August 21, 1851 - “We forded the Snake River which runs so swift that the drivers (four to a team) had to hold on to the ox yokes to keep from being swept down by the current. The water came into the wagon boxes, and after making the island we raised the boxes on blocks.... The ‘Telegraph Company,’ as we call them, who passed us in such a hurry on the Platte, have left their goods and wagons scattered over the mountains. We find them every day. Their cattle have given out.... We drove too slow on the Platte, and the ‘Telegraph’ hurried too fast, and ... our cattle are comparatively strong.... We have met some ‘packers,’ and they inform us that we are too late to cross the Cascade mountains this



Basil Nelson Longsworth, August 8, 1853 - “This morning by daylight our wagons were crossing the river. We had to load and unload our wagons, row the skiff and then pay $4 per wagon and 50¢ a head for swimming cattle by the side of the boat. By 8:00 o’clock our wagons were all safely over ... but the wind was high and we did not swim our cattle until in the afternoon.... Three men whom we had employed swam to the island and drove our cattle across the remaining

part of the river. They also swam three other lots of cattle, for which they received $2 per lot....” [A freight road from Salt Lake City to Boise, opened in 1863, and was greatly improved in 1871 by the establishment of a ferry three miles upstream at what is today Glenns Ferry.]


Mile 1398 South Alternate Many emigrant trains chose not to cross the Snake River twice, here and at Fort Boise. They stayed south of the Snake River on a route called the South Alternate. The Bruneau River Crossing, at mile 1428, led into an area of sand dunes known the Bruneau Dunes. Milepost 1450.2, where the South Alternate crossed Castle Creek, is the site of the 1860 Utter Massacre. Givens Hot Springs are located at milepost 1483.6. The South Alternate crosses the Owyhee River and rejoins the main route in present day Oregon between miles 1510 and 1520.


Harriet Scott, Aug 14, 1852 - “Coming to the Snake River and for many miles along, it was impossible to reach it to get water for the oxen. We had to travel all night at times. On one  occasion... the camp was made after dark, and there was such a stench in the air. Early daylight found us camped close between two dead oxen, on one side, and a dead horse on the other -- so we had to move before breakfast.”


Mile 1417.0 Unnamed Hot Springs (near Teapot Dome)

Rev. W.H. Gray, August 15, 1838 - “I put in some dry fish that we had it boiled tender in 10 minutes....”


James Nesmith, September, 13, 1843 - “Passed the Hot Spring about noon. Water almost boiling.”


Peter Burnett, September 14, 1843 - “...we passed the Boiling Spring. Its water is hot enough to cook an egg. ...runs off smoking and foaming....”


Joel Palmer, 1845 - “The Indians along this road are expert in theft and roguery ... at night an Indian stole into the camp, unhobbled the horse, cut the rope, and took him off, leaving the young man undisturbed in his sleep. A few days there after, this Indian effected a sale of the horse to one of a party of emigrants traveling behind us.”


Enoch W. Conyers, August 13, 1852 - “ Hot Springs.... Mrs. Burns tried one of them by immersing her finger, but quickly removed it without being told, declaring it entirely too hot for washing dishes.... There is one cold stream of water issuing from this same rock. I sat down on this rock, putting my right hand in a cold spring of water and my left hand in a hot spring of water, the two springs being only five feet apart.”


Mile 1450.2 Utter-Van Orman Massacre Site (South Alternate) On September 9, 1860, local Indians attacked the Elijah Utter and Van Orman wagon train of 44 persons. Following a two day siege, 11 emigrants were dead. The other 33 were dispersed and 17 of them would die of wounds or subsequent Indian attacks as the wagon train occupants fled. The 28 who died make this the bloodiest recorded attack on a wagon train by Indians. This incident started a troubled decade

that became known as the Snake River War.


Henry M. Judson, Sept 4-5, 1862 - “4 Sep. 62. ...we reach Castle Creek ... 5 Sep 62 I should have mentioned yesterday that it is said the Indians beseiged a party of 30 or 35 men on the very spot on which we were corralled & killed all but 3 after a 3 day fight - some report seeing nearly a whole skeleton on the ground - I myself saw a skull & probably could have found more by searching....”


William H. McNeil, in Dufur Dispatch, 1896 - “Dan Butler joined another group of volunteers who rode up to Boise to punish Indians for the massacre Sept. 13, 1860 of eight wagons of emigrants and 54 people, who surrounded the train in an all-day battle all one night and all the next day. Some of the emigrants scattered over the prairie and became lost and starved to death. The mangled, mutilated bodies of the emigrants was one of the most revolting sights Dan Butler had

ever witnessed!”


Mile 1452.0 Bonneville Point The point from which Capt. Benjamin L.E. Bonneville in 1833, and all subsequent Oregon Trail emigrants first saw the Boise River valley.


John C. Frémont, October 7, 1843 - “...we came suddenly in sight of the broad green line o the valley of the Riviére Boisée (wooded river)....”


James Clyman, September 20, 1844 - “Set down the river west the mountains to our right and the perpendicular rock Bank to the left both receding & diminishing a fine valley opened to our view & we pased down through the dust which was almost past endurance but not much wose than it had been for Several day past ... ourselves & animals are completey tired out with dust & burned Prairies.”


Basil Nelson Longsworth, August 18-20, 1853 - “18th. This morning early we ascended a long hill and after driving three or four miles, one of us saw Boise River ... which is a beautiful river.... The water has a rapid current and is as clear as crystal and quite full of fish.... 20th. ...a very dusty and sandy road which was covered with sage ... and struck the river on

the west side of the bluff.... There is very good soil along Boise River, the bottoms being from two to four miles wide and mostly covered with a heavy growth of grass. There might be thousands of tons of pretty fine hay made here.”


Mile 1465.0 Fort Boise (US Army) Established in 1863 to protect traffic on the Oregon trail and later miners flocking to nearby Idaho mines, this base has become the city of Boise, capital of Idaho. It was the headquarters of Gen. George Crook during the Snake River Indian War of 1866-68 and Gen. O.O. Howard in 1878 during the Bannock suppression. It has become a VA hospital and city park.


Mile 1483.6 Givens Hot Springs (South Alternate)

Osborne Cross, Aug 27, 1849 - “...I visited two hot springs a short distance between the river and the hills. The water was extremely hot - too much so to immerse the fingers. The taste was a little metallic ... no unpleasant smell ... presume they come from the same fountain head ... ground around the springs was extremely dry ... my horse would sink half-leg deep....”


Mile 1486.8 Ward Massacre Site On August 20, 1854, at a point 24 miles east of the old HBC Fort Boise, Indians attacked and killed all but two of a group of 20 traveling to Oregon in the Alexander Ward wagon train. One of the two young boys who survived was rescued by another wagon train and the other made it to Fort Boise with an arrow stuck in him. The decade and a half that followed included enough unrest among the Snake River Indians to cause the HBC to close

Forts Hall and Boise.


J.M.Harrison, undated (possibly 1870s) - “It appears they had been annoyed by Indians for some time, when while they were moving, the Indians being considerably reinforced made a final charge, the men being few in number were soon killed or mortally wounded ... the rescue was due to the combined efforts of the Yantis party of emigrants and the Fort Boise ferrymen ... soldiers made gallows and hung offenders in the vicinity as a warning to all others ...gallows stood there until a year ago when they fell down. Bodies gathered up and put in a mass grave....”


Mile 1510.7 Fort Boise (Hudson’s Bay Company) Established in 1834 by the HBC on the east bank of the Snake River, one half mile downstream from the confluence of the Boise River. Severly damaged by a flood in 1853 and abandoned. The first factor was Francis Ermantinger. By 1843 Payette was factor at Boise.


Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, September 20, 1836 - “Last night I put my cloths in water & this morning finished washing before breakfast. ... This is the third time I have washed since I left the states, or home.... Once at Fort Williams [Laramie] & at Rendezvous [Green River].”


Rev. Joseph Williams, August 21-22, 1841 - “Our [new] Captain, Armington, is one of the most liberal, freehearted men in this country. He has shown us a great deal of kindness, though far from being a religious man.... [Next day] we reached Fort Boise. Here we rested two days. Our Captain Armington is a very profane man, which seems to give fresh spring to our swearers. The first night we staid at Fort Bois I lay on the bank o the river, where I could scarcely sleep for the Indians, who sung all night in a very curious manner. This is their practice when they are gambling.... The salmon also kept a great noise, jumping and splashing about in the water.”


James Nesmith, September 19, 1843 - “Visited ... Payette ... a very agreeable old French gentleman ... in this country ... since 1810.”


John Boardman, September 30, 1843 - “Oregon company had bought all that could be spared....”


Jesse Applegate (son of Lindsay), 1843 - “...we children were much surprised and delighted to find beads, generally small and white in color ... the ground was white with them, and looking up discovered that we were under a broad platform ... thickly strewn with corpses of dead Indians. ... After this ghastly find we did not tarry long, for the shades of evening were now creeping along the ground.”


John Minto, 1844 - “Near Fort Boise, a young Indian signed for us to stop and go with him into the timber; and led the way to a camp under cottonwood trees. He moved away the fire and live coals, then began to carefully remove the sandy soil, uncovering a fair-sized salmon baked in the hot sand. Putting this carefully aside, he dug down further and unearthed a beaver skin, which he wished to sell.... [Later, at the fort] ...mustered among us enough money to purchase twenty

pounds of Oregon flour. The trader in charge refused to sell a little dried elk meat. It was ‘for the master,’ he said. [Later] We purchased some fresh roots to boil with our game; but the sqaws knowing better than we how to use Camas, brought out some cakes of camas bread they had left over from their lunch. These cakes were ... like new cheese; but more glutinous, with a sweet and agreable taste.... We bought all the women had, fishhooks being our money.”


Lucy Jane Hall (Burnett), 1845 - “Near Ft. Boise the Indians made an attempt to attack our train and stampeded the stock, but failed through the prompt action of my father, who ordered the teams unhitched and wagons formed in a circle with the tongues of each run under the wagon just forward, making a strong barricade. The oxen were put inside by the wagons. All the available men were outside standing with guns drawn. The Captain walked out alone toward the Indians with his gun in one hand and a white flag in the other. He motioned the Indians not to come any nearer or his men would fire upon them. The Indians turned and ran away as fast as their horses could go. They had fine horses. The men were nude and painted.”


James D. Miller, 1848 - “We continued on down this river ... to old Fort Boise where it emptied in the Snake River ... before crossing it the first time, and in the early morning when all the men and boys of the train were out after the cattle and women folk were preparing breakfast, about 40 dirty, war-painted Snake Indians drove their ponies right into camp, among the wagons and fires, which caused quite a commotion for a short time. We soon hurried in and got our guns, those who

did not have guns with them. We fully expected trouble, and we did not show any white feather or fear of the red devils. They had scared the women and children. They were more than saucy before we got to camp, riding around among the camp fires, pulling back the front end or back end of our wagon sheets. But when we showed fight, they then wanted bread or something to eat, which we gave to the skunks, and in a short time they left us.”


Osborne Cross, Aug 29, 1849 - “...arrived at Fort Boise about five p.m. and encamped on ... Owyhee about three-quarters of a mile from the trading-post ... on the opposite side of Snake river and immediately on its banks....”


Celinda K. Hines, 1853 - “Pa, ... rode a horse, as he had not done before, and assisted in driving them. By some cause or other he went too far down the river, his horse reared with him, and ... he got off. He endeavored to get hold of the horse as he let go of the bridle, but being on the lower side, the current took him down and the horse swam out of his reach. He tried to go to an island, but finding the current too strong turned to the shore. He soon sank. Most of the men were

near but none of them dared to go in, the danger was too great.”

My name is Stephenie Flora. Thanks for stopping by.
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