This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – July 15, 1850
“I was unwell this morning; had the diarrhea for the first time since I have been on the road; confined to the wagon most of the day. Our road was a little rough as it lay over the spurs of the mountains; the valley quite narrow. We camped at the celebrated Soda or Beer Springs, a beautiful spot. Ivan was taken very ill in the afternoon and continued getting worse and was extremely bad when we stopped. Dr. Miles who was in company with us faithfully attended him – pronounced his disease cholera; we are much alarmed and fear he will not recover.” – Andrew Hall Gilmore. Gilmore’s diary can be downloaded from the OCTA website at https://www.octa-journals.org/merrill-mattes-collection/overland-journey-to-california-andrew-hall-gilmore-1850. The photo of the Idaho historical marker at Soda Springs was downloaded from https://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMJNZY_Soda_Springs.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – July 16, 1849
“This morning finished going up the hill. Then made a winding decent of 8 miles down it There was an old road to descend by a Shorter distance But in order to descend waggons had to be taken apeart This afternoon came on to the Valley of Bear River One of the most levil that I ever saw Barley here grows luxurient and there are large extensive patches and they present the apearance of grain fields one or two weeks before harvest This is a good fertile loking valley and looks capable of producing grains of various Kinds as well as any land in the States Yet there is no timber here only small willow bushes that grow close to the margin of the stream Had a sprinkle of rain this afternoon We find the musquetoes to be numerous about here and have to keep our hankerchiefs brigsly playing to keep them off At evening we turned off to the right and camped between two hills one the most rugged that I ever saw and camped on a little stream a tributary of the River After cooking and supper were done away with some went a fishing but did not succeed well and others kept at their old bussness of playing cards Those that have been using all their spare time since we started in playing seem as eager now to play when they get a chance as and others who at first seemed to be dreadfully opposed to seeing others play now seem to enjoy themselves the best when at a game Thus have some men [changed] in their notions” – Elijah Bryan Farnham. The second half of Elijah’s diary can be downloaded at https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/imh/article/view/8010/9734. The image is from an early 20th century postcard downloaded at https://www.hippostcard.com/listing/the-cow-boys-call-cowboys-playing-cards/2088201.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – July 17, 1846
“We determined to encamp here two or three days, for the purpose of recruiting our animals, which, being heavily packed, manifest strong signs of fatigue. We pitched our tent, for the first time since we left Ft. Laramie, near the camp of Messrs. Hastings and Hudspeth. These gentlemen left the settlements of California the last of April, and travelling over the snows of the Sierra, and swimming the swollen water-courses on either side, reached this vicinity some two weeks since, having explored a new route, via the south end of the great Salt Lake, by which they propose the distance to California is shortened from one hundred and fifty to two hundred miles. My impressions are unfavorable to the route, especially for wagons and families; but a number of the emigrant parties now encamped here have determined to adopt it, with Messrs. Hastings and Hudspeth as their guides; and are now waiting for some of the rear parties to come up and join them. ‘Fort Bridger,’ as it is called, is a small trading-post, established and now occupied by Mssrs. Bridger and Vasquez. The buildings are two or three miserable log-cabins, rudely constructed, and bearing but a faint resemblance to habitable houses. Its position is in a handsome and fertile bottom of the small stream on which we are encamped, about two miles south of the point where the old wagon trail, via Fort Hall, makes an angle, and takes a northwesterly course.” – Edwin Bryant. Edwin’s book can be downloaded from the Library of Congress at https://www.loc.gov/item/55048851/. The 1851 illustration of Fort Bridger was downloaded at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fort_Bridger_on_the_Green_River.jpg.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – July 18, 1852
“We remained in camp. Our mules being a distance from camp some of the company (as their turns came) were obliged to watch them; while others spent most of the day in cooking. I spent nearly all day in the tent; having done my duty in the mess, in the morning Our road for several days, has been truly romantic. Lofty mountains of various shapes, deep ravines, and shady groves of Poplar, bounded it on each side, small streams bordered with thrifty growing willows, occasionally cross it & often for miles follows along its side, then suddenly disappears behind the mountains. O, there is wisdom and grandeur displayed in the works of Nature!” – Holmes D. Van Schaick. Holmes’ diary is part of the OCTA collection and can be downloaded at https://www.octa-journals.org/merrill-mattes-collection/diary-of-holmes-d-van-schaick-1852. Images of his handwritten diary can be viewed at https://collections.carli.illinois.edu/digital/collection/nby_eeayer/id/33762.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – July 19, 1864
“still waiting for my mule to come, that we left on South Platt. Cris and Latta left us for the Oregon Trail. The reason Cris left, was, I overheard he and Alma planning to run off and get married so I discharged him, he had been driving the team to one of the wagons, Alma riding with him, Adda with Jim Andrews, who drove the other team. We had a saddle mare, which the girls rode for a change when they wanted to, they did not have to only as it pleased them, I believe Mary rode more than the other girls.” – George Edwin Bushnell. George’s diary can be viewed at http://freepages.rootsweb.com/~steelquist/genealogy/GeoBushnell.html. The pack mule painting was downloaded from https://mcasco.com/Connections/connections-18.html.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – July 20, 1849
“Left Box Elder Creek at 5 o’clock and drove 15 miles to a spring left of the road and took dinner. Roads good. After dinner we drove to Bear River which we found too high to ford, but we found a man who had a skiff for carrying goods over. We crossed our goods over in the skiff, and by tying kegs to our wagons we floated them over. By the time we got all over it was dark and the wagons being wet we did not pack our goods untill morning. We drove 20 miles today.” – Amos Josselyn. Amos’ diary is part of the OCTA collection and can be downloaded at https://www.octa-journals.org/cave-springs-collection/diary-amos-piatt-josselyn-1849. The painting of the Bear River Crossing was downloaded from https://history.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/trek/bear-river-crossing?lang=eng.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – July 21, 1849
“Left camp & traveled to what we were told was the Big Sandy – very sick & rode in the Capts waggon – we strike the desert of 35 miles in a short time – we have learned that the Big Sandy is 5 miles ahead – this is the little Sandy.” – Judge Charles Fayette Lotts. The Judge’s diary can be downloaded from the OCTA collection at https://www.octa-journals.org/merrill-mattes-collection/the-overland-trip-of-judge-charles-fayette-lotts. The photograph of the Little Sandy crossing was downloaded at https://www.wyohistory.org/encyclopedia/crossing-little-sandy-creek.