Tag Archives: Salt Lake Tribune

Will Bagley “History Matters”

Over the years, the Tribune has demonstrated its support of Utah's history by running columns on Utah history, first with Hal Schindler's "In Another Time" series and then with Will Bagley's "History Matters" series. The Utah State Historical Society and The Salt Lake Tribune are pleased to present these excellent history vignettes and stories here. The original articles can be found in the archives of the Tribune.

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Hal Schindler “Mormon Trail Series”

Over the years, the Tribune has demonstrated its support of Utah's history by running columns on Utah history, first with Hal Schindler's "In Another Time" series and then with Will Bagley's "History Matters" series. The Utah State Historical Society and The Salt Lake Tribune are pleased to present these excellent history vignettes and stories here. The original articles can be found in the archives of the Tribune.

Ailing Young Rolls Out of Canyon, Likes Look of the Salt Lake Valley

 

The Salt Lake Tribune

http://www.sltrib.com

Harold Schindler, Mormon Trail Series

Published: 07/24/1997 Category: Nation-World Page: A2

Editor's Note: To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Mormon Trail, The Salt Lake Tribune is offering this day-by-day account of the Mormon Pioneers' original trek from Winter Quarters, Nebraska, to the Great Salt Lake Valley. Tribune history writer Harold Schindler, using diaries, letters, journals and reminiscences that have come to light this century, has fleshed out the following narrative.

July 24, 1847

Wilford Woodruff wrote in his journal: "This is an important day in the history of my life...Brigham Young has expressed his full satisfaction in the appearance of the valley as a resting place for the Saints and was amply repaid for his journey." These are Woodruff's comments written the day he made them while the memory was fresh in his mind. The remarks that Young was said to have uttered that morning--("This is the place!" "This is the right place!" "This is the place Jim Bridger described!")--are from statements made years after the fact. Only the reader can decide what really was said, not that it matters a great deal.

What is important is that the Mormon pioneers reached their destination--the Great Salt Lake Valley--enduring some hardship, but no loss of life. They succeeded in breaking ground and planting seeds while the season was still with them. And, they made sufficient headway to allow Young to reach out to the members of his church on the overland trail and say their new home in the mountains awaited them. Young and his small company of companions, some sick with the influenza-like fever of the mountains, and others who cared for them in their time of need, rolled through the narrow road at the mouth of Emigration Canyon and saw the pioneer camp a few miles to the northwest.

The messengers John Pack and Joseph Mathews had informed Orson Pratt and Erastus Snow that Young likely would reach the pioneer camp this morning, then the two horsemen backtracked to repair two bridges at the mouth of the canyon. When Young, in Woodruff's carriage, and Heber C. Kimball and his wagons hove into view shortly before noon, it was obvious Young was on the mend from his bout with the mysterious malady that so savaged him these past two weeks.

Most new arrivals said they were pleased with the valley, but worried over the apparent absence of timber in the area. There was unanimous agreement about the richness of the soil and good prospects for fattening stock with little trouble. "But what of the timber and the lack of rain?" was the underlying complaint. William Clayton said, "We can easily irrigate with an unfailing and certain source of water, for springs are numerous and the water appears good." As if to offer a counterpoint, the pioneers were treated to a thundershower later in the day. "The Lord listens to prayers," several pioneers remarked.

Of the three pioneer women who made the journey, Harriet Young, the eldest, had a differing opinion. Said she: "Weak and weary as I am, I would rather go a thousand miles farther than remain in such a forsaken place as this." Ellen Kimball agreed, but Harriet's daughter Clarissa D. Young was less pessimistic: "My poor mother was almost brokenhearted; terribly disappointed because there were no trees. I don't remember a tree that could be called a tree."

Erastus Snow pointed to progress in the pioneer camp. "We have the creek dammed and the water turned onto our land and several acres of potatoes and early corn already in the ground." Woodruff was more specific. "They pitched camp on the banks of two small streams of pure water and commenced plowing; had broke about five acres of ground and planted potatoes. As soon as we were formed in the camp, before I ate dinner, having half a bushel of potatoes, I went to the plowed field and planted, hoping with the blessings of God at least to save the seed for another year...Toward evening, in company with Kimball, Smith and Ezra Benson, I rode several miles up the creek into the mountains to look for timber. It rained." (In the months to come, the pioneers would discover Little Cottonwood Canyon was a trove of excellent timber: rock maple, white oak, fir and Norway pine, all suitable for sawing into lumber.)

The Mormon pioneers had their foothold in the Great Basin and the Great Salt Lake Valley. Within months, their nearest neighbor, Miles Goodyear at Fort Buenaventura on the Weber River in today's Ogden, would discover several thousand emigrants scattered throughout the valley. For the Mormons it was a new beginning. For Goodyear, it was time to move on.

Three Pioneers Share Honor of Plowing First Furrows in Great Salt Lake Valley

 

The Salt Lake Tribune

http://www.sltrib.com

Harold Schindler, Mormon Trail Series

Published: 07/23/1997 Category: Nation-World Page: A2

Editor's Note: To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Mormon Trail, The Salt Lake Tribune is offering this day-by-day account of the Mormon Pioneers' original trek from Winter Quarters, Nebraska, to the Great Salt Lake Valley. Tribune history writer Harold Schindler, using diaries, letters, journals and reminiscences that have come to light this century, has fleshed out the following narrative.

July 23, 1847

First order of business this morning was to move the pioneer camp near the spot Orson Pratt and Erastus Snow had selected as a planting field. And while the routine of eating breakfast and hitching the teams was under way, John Pack and Joseph Mathews saddled up to ride to Brigham Young's camp with a full report. From its initial campsite on Parleys Creek near today's 500 East and 1700 South, the pioneer company backtracked a mile, then headed north for four miles, bringing it to about 400 South and State (where the Salt Lake City-County Building now stands). Pratt reported the camp was near the bank of a beautiful creek of pure cold water (City Creek).

William Clayton observed that, "the grass here is even richer and thicker on the ground than where we left this morning. The soil looks indeed rich, black and a little sandy. Grass is about four feet high and thick on the ground and well mixed with rushes. "If we stay here three weeks and our teams have any rest they will be in good order to return," he said.

Willard Richards took the opportunity to lecture the pioneers on the importance of getting their potatoes, turnips and buckwheat into the ground, and cautioned against greed, selfishness and avarice in regard to sharing the harvest. Otherwise, he warned, they might meet a fate similar to the Donner emigrants. The camp then joined in prayer and asked the Lord to send a little rain. Three plows were unlimbered and William Carter, George W. Brown and Shadrach Roundy shared the honor of running the first furrows plowed by white men in the valley of the Great Salt Lake, according to Erastus Snow.

The planting, "a little northeast of the camp," was done within the two blocks bounded by today's Main and 200 East, and 100 and 200 South. The soil was hard and dry and plows broke several times during the day. Some of the men built a dam across the creek to divert water from the stream to the plowed land. By early afternoon three plows were working at once along with a harrow and a drag. Norton Jacob and Lewis Barney had made two harrows ready to use and by nightfall, three acres of ground had been broken.

Thomas Bullock, who had been copying letters to Brigham Young, enclosed a table of distances and a map of the route from the Weber River to the valley camp, for Pack and Mathews to carry. Then Bullock leaned back to survey his new home. "A hare crossed the road two wagons ahead of me," he said. "We are camped on the banks of a beautiful stream [City Creek] covered on both sides with willows and shrubs. Rich land, deep grass and the intended location for a farm."

Fresh sets of teams were ordered to be ready every four hours during the planting and every pioneer was to plant his own potatoes and seeds as he pleased, Bullock noted. Almon S. Williams was in charge of making and firing a coal pit, while George A. Smith suggested the men collecting firewood only pick up dead timber, leaving live timber standing.

At East Canyon Creek some twenty miles to the east, Howard Egan and Brigham Young's company began moving out on a rough and rocky road to traverse Big Mountain. The descent on the west slope was treacherous as usual, with most of the wagons going down with rear wheels locked. Halfway, Lorenzo D. Young's ox-drawn wagon overturned with his two little boys in it. Providentially, they escaped injury, though part of the load had broken loose and fallen on them, at the same time sealing off the rear. The frightened youngsters were freed by cutting a hole in the wagon cover.

Pack and Mathews rode up as the small company reached Mountain Dell. The wagons made it over Little Mountain and camped on Last (Emigration) Creek as Pack and Mathews made their way back to the valley with word that Brigham Young would join the main camp tomorrow.

Camp of Israel Pioneers Begin First Explorations of Salt Lake Valley

 

The Salt Lake Tribune

http://www.sltrib.com

Harold Schindler, Mormon Trail Series

Published: 07/22/1997 Category: Nation-World Page: A2

Editor's Note: To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Mormon Trail, The Salt Lake Tribune is offering this day-by-day account of the Mormon Pioneers' original trek from Winter Quarters, Nebraska, to the Great Salt Lake Valley. Tribune history writer Harold Schindler, using diaries, letters, journals and reminiscences that have come to light this century, has fleshed out the following narrative.

July 22, 1847

The morning dawned quite cloudy with a mild threat of rain. Orson Pratt's advance party was hard at work chaining, chopping and cutting away the last determined clumps of willow and underbrush choking the creek bed at the mouth of what is now called Emigration Canyon. Pratt, George A. Smith, Erastus Snow, Orrin Porter Rockwell, John Brown, Joseph Mathews, John Pack, J.C. Little and another man, whose name is not recorded, started out as an exploring expedition into the valley. William Clayton watched as they rode off. He walked to the butte above the creek bed and contemplated the valley and all it implied.

"As we near the mouth of the canyon, there is a small grove of elder bushes in bloom and considerable oak shrubbery. It is evident that the emigrants who passed this way last year [the Donner-Reed party] must have spent a great deal of time cutting a road through the thickly set timber and heavy brush wood. It is reported that they spent sixteen days in making a road through from Weber River which is thirty-five miles, but as they did not work a quarter of the time, much less would have sufficed. It has taken us over three days, although a great many hours have been spent improving it. In this thick brushwood and around here, there are many large rattlesnakes, making it necessary to use caution," he explained.

"There is an extensive, beautiful level-looking valley from here to the lake which I should judge from the numerous deep green patches must be fertile and rich...There is but little timber in sight anywhere and that is mostly on the banks of creeks and streams which is about the only objection to my estimation of this being one of the most beautiful valleys and pleasant places for a home that could be found. There may be timber on the mountains...There is doubtless timber in all the passes and ravines where streams descend from mountains. There is no prospect for building log houses without a vast amount of time and labor. But we can make Spanish bricks [adobe] and dry them in the sun.

If I had my family to be with me, how happy I could be, for I dread nothing so much as the journey back again...I could almost envy those who have got safely through having their families with them, yet they will have a hard time of it the coming winter. Robert Crow's family especially has very little breadstuff with them. They say enough to last two months and they are dependent on the success of their hunter for support during the winter."

Once the advance party had opened the road into the valley in mid-afternoon, the pioneer company moved west and made camp on a stream bed (Parleys Creek) five and one-quarter miles from the mouth of the canyon. Here Clayton reported the soil looked black and rich, "sandy enough to make it good to work." Feed for the teams was excellent and the footsore oxen could relish the green grass and soft rushes.

Orson Pratt's exploring party rode up, having been as far as fifteen miles to the north. They reported the immediate area was as suitable as any for planting. On the far north end, they said, were hot sulphur springs, as many as fifty in number. Pack and Mathews of the exploring party were selected to carry a message to Brigham Young that they planned to plow and plant ten acres of potatoes and continue until all the seed was in the ground.

Erastus Snow was enthralled by the hot springs. "The largest and warmest spring...bursts forth from the base of a perpendicular ledge of rocks about ninety feet high and emits a volume of water sufficient for a mill. We had no instrument to determine the degree of temperature, but suffice to say it was about right for scalding hogs. "Here are the greatest facilities for a steam doctor I ever saw. And a stone in the center of the stream before the aperture in the rock seemed to say This is the Seat for the Patient!' At any rate, I tried it but had little desire to remain long upon it."

For Thomas Bullock, it was a day of celebration. He fretted as his wagon rattled through the narrow road, but was stunned when a turn to the right brought the lake into full view with its "bold hills and islands towering in bold relief...I could not help shouting: Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! There's my home at last!" He also lamented the apparent absence of timber (in time, the pioneers would find Little Cottonwood Canyon thick with trees), but he recognized there were mountains of stone "to build stone homes and walls for fencing. If we can only find a bed of coal we can do well and be hidden up in the mountains unto the Lord."

In the evening, the pioneers gathered in camp (near 500 East and 1700 South) to hear Pratt's report on the day's exploration: "About four miles north from this camp are two beautiful streams of water with stony bottoms [confluence of the two branches of City Creek]. Beyond that is saline country and fifty mineral springs. One will do for a barber shop and the largest spring rushes out of a large rock having a large stone in the middle and would make a first rate Thompsonian [referring to herbal medicine] Steam House."

Group Scouts for Wagon Trail; Young Battles ‘Mountain Fever’

 

The Salt Lake Tribune

http://www.sltrib.com

Harold Schindler, Mormon Trail Series

Published: 07/13/1997 Category: Nation-World Page: A2

Editor's Note: To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Mormon Trail, The Salt Lake Tribune is offering this day-by-day account of the Mormon pioneers' original trek from Winter Quarters, Nebraska, to the Great Salt Lake Valley. Tribune history writer Harold Schindler, using diaries, letters, journals and reminiscences that have come to light this century, has fleshed out the following narrative.

July 13, 1847

When the Camp of Israel awoke to the sound of the horn this morning, the pioneers were dismayed to discover that Brigham Young had not caught up with them. He had decided not to move from the previous camping place at the Needles because of a severe attack of a " mountain fever." It was almost noon before Heber C. Kimball and Howard Egan rode up to say that Young had been insensible and raving last night, but felt somewhat better this morning. A.P. Rockwood, who had been sick "almost unto death" these past few days, was showing little signs of improvement. William Clayton described him as "quite deranged."

Kimball's instructions to the main camp were simply that a company of twenty or so wagons with forty men under Orson Pratt should proceed to the Weber River in an effort to locate James F. Reed's wagon route of the year before (Donner-Reed party). Were that not possible, Pratt was to find a way through Weber Canyon; and if that was impractical, he was to scout out a pass over the mountains to Great Salt Lake Valley.

John Brown and Joseph Mathews rode into the Needles camp early this morning to report the location of the main camp to Brigham Young, who was drifting feverishly in and out of lucidity. Kimball selected the following pioneers to form the advance company under the command of Pratt, aided by Stephen Markham:

O.P. Rockwell, Return Jackson Redden, Nathaniel Fairbanks, Joseph Egbert, John S. Freeman, Marcus B. Thorpe, Robert Crow, Benjamin B. Crow, John Crow, Walter Crow, William H. Crow, George W. Therlkill, James Chesney, Lewis B. Myers, John Brown, Shadrach Roundy, H.C. Hansen, Levi Jackman, Lyman Curtis, David Powell, Oscar Crosby, Hark Lay, Joseph Mathews, Gilbroid Summe, Green Flake, John S. Gleason, Charles Burk, Norman Taylor, A.P. Chesley, Seth Taft, Horace Thornton, Stephen Kelsey, David Grant, James W. Stewart, Robert Thomas, C.D. Barnum, John S. Eldredge, Elijah Newman, Francis Boggs and Levi N. Kendall.

"Having been informed that it would be impracticable to pass through Weber Canyon on account of the depth and rapidity of the [river], we started about 3:00 p.m. and went down Red Fork [Echo Creek] about eight and three-quarters miles and camped."

Meanwhile, Wilford Woodruff, who had spent most of yesterday morning wading the Bear River with a fishing rod in an attempt to lure wily trout from its waters, reported himself quite unwell today with "sore throat, mouth, and lips." And Albert Carrington ruefully recorded the fact that his wagon group "began on our last sack of flour."

Woodruff Fly-Fishes the Bear River; An Ill Brigham Young Stays Behind

 

The Salt Lake Tribune

http://www.sltrib.com

Harold Schindler, Mormon Trail Series

Published: 07/12/1997 Category: Nation-World Page: A2

Editor's Note: To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Mormon Trail, The Salt Lake Tribune is offering this day-by-day account of the Mormon Pioneers' original trek from Winter Quarters, Nebraska, to the Great Salt Lake Valley. Tribune history writer Harold Schindler, using diaries, letters, journals and reminiscences that have come to light this century, has fleshed out the following narrative.

July 12, 1847

While the Camp of Israel was preparing to move this morning, Wilford Woodruff saddled his horse and rode three miles to the Bear River; he looked out over the Bear River Valley with anticipation. There was considerable grass in the valley and some timber and thick bushes on the banks of the river. Instead of turning back to join the pioneers, Woodruff dismounted and unwrapped a small thin bundle he carried with him. As his horse grazed on the sweet bunch grass, Woodruff deftly assembled the fourteen-foot cane fishing rod he had purchased nearly two years before in Liverpool.

He opened a wallet of artificial flies and selected a half-dozen, which he fastened two feet apart on the line. Woodruff stood for a moment, contemplating the current and eddies of the deep channel in front of him. He lifted the rod and, in a single easy motion, cast the line upstream and watched as the feathered artificial flies dappled the surface: "My object in visiting the river before the camp was to try my luck in ketching trout as it was a stream famed for containing that kind of fish. The morning was cloudy and cool. I found it a difficult stream to fish in with the fly in consequence of the thick underbrush. I fished for several hours and had all sorts of luck, good bad and indifferent.

"I some of the time would fish a half an hour and could not start a fish. Then I would find an eddy with three or four trout in it and they would jump at the hooks as though there was a bushel of trout in the hole. And in one instance, I caught two at a time. I fished some of the time on horseback riding in the middle of the stream which was about three rods [fifty feet] wide and when I could not descend any longer in the stream for swift and deep water, I would have to plunge my horse through the bear thickets...hard work...I knew not at what moment I would have a grizzly bear on my back or an Indian arrow in my side, for I was in danger of both...I finally wound up my fishing and started after the camp having caught [several speckled] trout in all."

Woodruff caught up with the wagon train about noon as the pioneers rested their teams "a little east of a pudding stone formation" (the Needles), as Orson Pratt described it. The camp had crossed Bear River (a dozen miles or so southwest of Evanston) and followed Coyote Creek to the Needles. Here Brigham Young was taken sick, so sick that he chose to stay behind. A.P. Rockwood had been stricken for several days and, in fact, had been left "quite deranged" by fever. Many historians and scholars have for years thought that Young and others in camp suffered from Rocky Mountain spotted fever. But it is conceivable, even likely, that they were taken with a high-altitude malaria carried by anopheles mosquitoes from infected animals. Heber C. Kimball, Ezra T. Benson, and Brigham's brother Lorenzo Dow Young with their six wagons elected to stay behind with him.

The rest of the camp moved on, following Coyote Creek to where it empties into Yellow Creek. They crossed and made camp five miles farther, just in sight of a cave that Return Jackson Redden scouted that morning. It bore signs of having been used as a camp; the pioneers had been told trappers frequently used it as a cache. And it was home to numerous swallows. They dubbed it Redden's Cave, but today it is known as Cache Cave. Hunters brought in ten antelope and the pioneers unhitched teams to browse. The valley featured excellent spring water and deep black soil from which sprang tender, sweet grass. The pioneers named it Mathews Vale, for Joseph Mathews. Woodruff, a notoriously poor speller, called it "Mallers Valley" in his journal.

In the Platte River Valley this day, John Smith, with the second Mormon emigration, sat down to a breakfast of buffalo meat. "The first we ever tasted. It was excellent."

Perpendicular Descent Was Like ‘Jumping Off the Roof of a House’

 

The Salt Lake Tribune

http://www.sltrib.com

Harold Schindler, Mormon Trail Series

Published: 07/10/1997 Category: Nation-World Page: A2

Editor's Note: To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Mormon Trail, The Salt Lake Tribune is offering this day-by-day account of the Mormon Pioneers' original trek from Winter Quarters, Nebraska, to the Great Salt Lake Valley. Tribune history writer Harold Schindler, using diaries, letters, journals and reminiscences that have come to light this century, has fleshed out the following narrative.

July 10, 1847

The closer the Camp of Israel got to the Great Salt Lake Valley, it seemed the rougher the terrain became. For as the pioneers left Muddy Creek, they passed a clear mineral spring (Soda Springs) that carried the disagreeable taste of copperas and alum. It coursed over red sand, which abounded in the region, until the water took on the appearance of flowing blood. From there the trail wound around the foot of nearby mountains until at last the wagon train faced an almost impassably steep and boulder-strewn patch of ground leading to what now is known as Pioneer Hollow.

There were more hills to climb and steep pitches to negotiate along with a remarkable S-turn that took them to a small creek that smelled of rotten eggs (Sulphur Spring). Here they made camp. Looking back from the bottom of the trail, Thomas Bullock said the nearly perpendicular descent was like "jumping off the roof of a house to a middle story. Thank god, no one was hurt." The wheels on some wagons had to be locked in order to negotiate the drop. William Clayton put up a guide board: "30 miles to Fort Bridger."

Orson Pratt fortunately found a fine spring of clear, sweet, cold water about 100 yards southwest of the camp. As he was returning from the spring, Pratt saw smoke two miles in the distance and immediately suspected it was an Indian campfire. George A. Smith, Porter Rockwell and a few others rode out to determine who their neighbors were. It was a party of seven from "the bay of San Francisco on their way home to the States." One was the mountaineer Miles Goodyear, who was bringing a horse herd back from California. In the party with Goodyear were his two Indian herders as well as John Craig of Ray County, Missouri; Samuel Truitt from Shelby County, Illinois; and two unidentified California immigrants.

Goodyear was a slight, wiry fellow who sported a thatch of fire-red hair. A Connecticut-born Yankee, he had started from Sutter's Fort near Sacramento with three Indian wranglers and his horses when the party tangled with hostile Indians near Truckee Lake. Goodyear was slightly wounded in the fracas; one of his hired hands was killed. He had planned to take the band of horses to Missouri, but when he was told that the Oregon emigration had started, Goodyear changed his plans. He would intercept them at Fort Hall with the idea of doing some horse-trading. His traveling companions, Craig and Truitt, would continue to the States.

From Craig, Wilford Woodruff learned that Levina Murphy, a woman he had baptized, had apostatized and was among the Donner party emigrants involved in cannibalism at Truckee Lake. From Goodyear, Brigham Young learned of two roads from the present camp to the Great Salt Lake Valley; the mountaineer recommended the northernmost route.

Clayton, in his wagon, noted in his journal that Goodyear "is the man who is making a farm in the Bear River Valley." He said it was seventy-five miles to his place. His report of the valley "is more favorable than some we have heard, but we have an idea he is anxious to have us make a road to his place through selfish motives." But Clayton was jumping to unwarranted conclusions. Goodyear not only described the two routes, but guided Porter Rockwell, Jesse Little, Joseph Mathews and John Brown along both. The first was by way of Coyote Creek and the Needles, and the other (the southern route) was along Yellow Creek.

Both routes came together near Cache Cave at the head of Echo Canyon, but the northern trail was considerably shorter. The distance from that point to Goodyear's fort was precisely the same; it made not a whit of difference to him. From Echo Canyon, the Camp of Israel had only to follow the Donner-Reed trail into the Valley. Young and his counselors favored the southern route; the rest of the pioneer camp voted for the high road. They took that route.

‘Captain Young’ Returns Horse Seized in Payment for Stolen Animal

 

The Salt Lake Tribune

http://www.sltrib.com

Harold Schindler, Mormon Trail Series

Published: 07/09/1997 Category: Nation-World Page: A2

Editor's Note: To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Mormon Trail, The Salt Lake Tribune is offering this day-by-day account of the Mormon pioneers' original trek from Winter Quarters, Nebraska, to the Great Salt Lake Valley. Tribune history writer Harold Schindler, using diaries, letters, journals and reminiscences that have come to light this century, has fleshed out the following narrative.

July 9, 1847

Sergeant Thomas S. Williams and Samuel Brannan spent the morning after breakfast bidding goodbye to the pioneers as they set out on the back trail to meet the oncoming Mormon Battalion Sick Detachment from Pueblo, and pilot them until they caught up to the main camp. When the two had departed, Brigham Young contacted Tim Goodale, the trader at Fort Bridger, and returned the horse that Williams had seized in payment for an animal stolen by one of Goodale's men at Pueblo. Young did so quietly and without fuss, reasoning that Goodale was not responsible for the theft. Goodale, in turn, expressed his thanks to "Captain Young" for his understanding in the matter.

The Camp of Israel moved out at 8:00 a.m., taking Lansford Hastings' new route, leaving the waters of Blacks Fork and heading west along a rough wagon trail cut the year before by the Donner-Reed party. The pioneers skirted north of Bridger Butte, and after six and one-quarter miles halted at a spring to rest the teams. Then three-quarters of a mile farther they began ascending the long steep slope of Bigelow Bench. The ground was "tolerably" level for several miles, until the pioneers undertook the slow and dangerous descent, "the steepest and most difficult" thus far encountered, according to William Clayton, who added it was "almost perpendicular."

In the afternoon they crossed Muddy Fork, a stream twelve feet wide, and formed camp for the night on the west bank where there was plenty of tall bunch grass. Muddy Fork here runs north and winds around the hills to the north of Fort Bridger and forms a junction with Hams Fork before flowing into the Green. For Wilford Woodruff, the thirteen miles traveled during the day--were pure agony. "I arose this morning quite unwell, feeling threatened with camp fever. Yet mounted my horse and rode until 10:00.

"William Carter is down with the sickness and there are new cases every day in camp. I took to bed with distressing pain in my head, back, joints, bones, marrow and all through the system. Cold chills and hot flashes. We traveled thirteen miles over as bad a road as we had on the journey, which makes it exceedingly painful to the sick."

The camping place was excellent, with abundant tender and sweet grass that the animals were extremely fond of. "We discovered now and then, a little of this kind of grass on the Sweetwater, but as we continue west it increases in quantity," said Orson Pratt. Again, Albert Carrington, ever the geologist, found several beds of excellent grindstone in the vicinity.

Advance companies of the second Mormon emigration left their campground in the Platte River Valley this morning and camped upriver a dozen miles distant. During the evening, David Boss lost a fine ox by allowing it to eat saltpeter (potassium nitrate), which is found in large quantities on the bottomlands. Another company was delayed for a while by a broken wagon wheel. Patty Sessions said, "In starting out we followed the pioneer track, but the sloughs were so bad we could not keep in the trail. We journeyed upstream, made a bridge of grass and crossed over. During the day we went twelve miles and struck the pioneer trail again on the banks of the Platte."

Woodruff Shows Twelve Wyoming Trout Just What Fly-Fishing Is All About

 

The Salt Lake Tribune

http://www.sltrib.com

Harold Schindler, Mormon Trail Series

Published: 07/08/1997 Category: Nation-World Page: A2

Editor's Note: To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Mormon Trail, The Salt Lake Tribune is offering this day-by-day account of the Mormon Pioneers' original trek from Winter Quarters, Nebraska, to the Great Salt Lake Valley. Tribune history writer Harold Schindler, using diaries, letters, journals and reminiscences that have come to light this century, has fleshed out the following narrative.

July 8, 1847

Some wagon tires needed setting, so it was decided to stay an extra day at Fort Bridger. This offered members of the pioneer company an opportunity to do a little trading and catch up on other small chores. As for Wilford Woodruff, the extra day gave him some leisure, and though he didn't know it at the time, he would make history this day. "As soon as I got my breakfast I rigged up my trout rod that I had brought with me from Liverpool, fixed my reel, line and artificial fly and went to one of the brooks close by camp to try my luck at catching trout."

A man at the fort had told Woodruff there were very few trout in the streams and a good many pioneers were already in the creeks with their rods and lines, trying their skill baiting with fresh meat and grasshoppers, but no one seemed to catch any. That did not dissuade Woodruff from trying his luck: He was a better-than-average angler, and he was equipped with a fly rod. "I went and flung my fly onto the water and it being the first time that I ever tried the artificial fly in America, or ever saw it tried, I watched as it floated upon the water with as much intense interest as Franklin did his kite when he tried to draw lightning from the skies. And as Franklin received great joy when he saw electricity or lightning descend on his kite string, in like manner was I highly gratified when I saw the nimble trout dart my fly, hook himself and run away with the line.

I soon wearied him out and drew him to shore. I fished two or three hours including morning and evening and I caught twelve in all and about half of them would weigh about three-fourths of a pound each, while all the rest of the camp did not catch during the day three pounds of trout in all--proof positive to me that the artificial fly is far the best thing now known to fish trout with." Woodruff's record of his excursion establishes a claim for his being the first fisherman to cast an artificial fly west of the Missouri River.

Elsewhere in camp, a council was conducted to settle differences between George Mills and Andrew Gibbons, the former having charged the latter with assault and abuse. The dispute was resolved amicably. Sgt. Thomas S. Williams of the Mormon Battalion reminded Brigham Young that he came clothed with authority to arrest the horse thief who helped steal a dozen animals from the battalion at Pueblo. And Williams was prepared to exercise that authority against Tim Goodale, the trader who brought a pack train up from Pueblo; and if not Goodale, at least one of his men, for stealing horses. Trouble was, Williams could get no encouragement from Young to make the attempt.

However, Williams was a headstrong and independent soul. He seized a horse of Goodale's in lieu of a mule stolen by one of Goodale's men; and he gave Goodale a receipt, leaving it to the trader to recover damages from his own man. "Goodale seemed anxious that no other man should come upon his man for it; the receipt satisfied him," said Thomas Bullock.

Howard Egan traded two rifles--one belonging to Edson Whipple, the other to George Billings--and received in return nineteen buckskins, three elk skins, and some other articles for making moccasins. At this stage in the trek west, many pioneers were in tatters and going barefoot. Later in the afternoon Woodruff swapped his flintlock rifle for four buffalo robes, large and nicely tanned and dressed. The trader rated the firearm as worth $20 and put the price of buffalo robes at $5 each.

Woodruff complained that prices at Bridger's post were at least one-third or one-half higher than at any other trading post in America "that I ever saw." He then compared prices with those at Fort Hall. But Woodruff, if his diaries are any indication, had no firsthand experience with trading posts, having seen only Fort Laramie at that point in his life, and could have learned of Fort Hall's prices only through Sam Brannan, who visited that outpost the month before as he made his way to meet the pioneers.

By the end of the day, Brigham Young had decided that Thomas Williams and Brannan should double back on the trail until they met Captain James Brown and the Mormon Battalion sick detachment, and then guide them to the main company. Thomas Bullock made a copy of Lansford Hastings' directions from Fort Bridger to the settlements of California and a map of the route--and returned the originals to Brannan.