This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – July 22, 1850
“This [Great Salt Lake] valley is perhaps 25 by 40 miles square, they have settlements in two other valleys and number 12 to 14 thousand inhabitants, they expect a large emigration in this season. Their city is laid out in 2 and a ½ acre lots so every man has a large garden. In the city, there are numerous little streams running through the city brought from the city creek in small canals so they can let water into every garden which they have to do to all their crops in order to raise anything, for it seldom rains here in the summer. It is very beautiful to see an artificial creek running through or parallel with every street in a city to, let alone the convenience.” – Chauncey B. Hubbard. Hubbard’s diary can be downloaded from the OCTA website at https://www.octa-journals.org/merrill-mattes-collection/diary-chauncey-b-hubbard-1850. The Samuel Manning 1850 engraving of Salt Lake City was downloaded from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Salt_Lake_City#/media/File:Salt_lake_city_1850.jpg.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – July 23, 1852
“About 18 miles today. 10 mi. brat us to the N. fork of S.W. [Sweetwater] here is a trading post good water 5 m further brat us to willow creek good water no grass 3 mi brat us to the main S. water here we encamped good water sage for fuel grass is shalo the Wind R. Mountains is about 15 or 20 mi to our right they have a grand apperance the snow looks as cold as it did in the states this day we got plenty of ice this was very cooling there is some traders here that say there was snow here 10 inches deep on the 4 day of July and it is mostly gone now and the wether is very hot the plain here is extremely baren” – John N. Lewis. Lewis’ diary is part of the OCTA collection and can be downloaded at https://www.octa-journals.org/merrill-mattes-collection/the-diary-of-john-n-lewis.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – July 24, 1850
“Rolled out this morning after throwing one more waggon away (yesterday by a comity appointed and waggons all examined and unloaded and changes made) rolled on about 9 miles from the last creek mentioned where the [Sweetwater] river runs between 2 gorges of high Bluffs, the road passing between the gorge on the right and one not near So high on the left forming a Kind of avenue or gateway 3/4 of a mile brings yet another high peak of Soft rock on the left and near the river here you cross the river Keep up about 1/2 of a mile and cross again the old road takes up the river 1/2 mile then out on the hill this new road goes about 2 1/2 miles where you come to another peak of rock on the left pass between it and the river it is about a 1/4 mile from the river there is a large mountain of Granate Some 6 or 800 feet high on the right all the way up So far Some of the peaks are very high all perfectly bare of grass or timber there is very little grass any where except on the river about 7 or 8 miles brings you to a small creek with a few cottonwood trees where we are encamped in all today I think we have come nearly 20 miles. Passed 5 graves today…” – M. Littleton. Littleton’s diary can be downloaded from the OCTA collection at https://www.octa-journals.org/merrill-mattes-collection/journal-of-a-trip-across-the-plains-from-independence-missouri-to-california-m-littleton-1850. The 1870 photograph of the Sweetwater valley was downloaded at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweetwater_River_(Wyoming)#/media/File:Oregon_Trail’s_Sweetwater_River_1870.gif.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – July 25, 1859
“After delaying until noon to shoe some cattle, we traveled about twelve miles to Echo Canyon, which we reached through the prettiest little valley that one could desire to see. The point at which we are now encamped is one of singular beauty, being a deep angle, or rather two of them cutting each other at right angles, and enclosed by fresh green hills, which look like they had just left the mint, or as if they had just heard the fiat ‘All is good’. Here we find the finest wild currants, which make us an excellent pie. We were overtaken by three Mormons traveling in a wagon from Fort Bridger to Salt Lake City. A very unlikely looking set of scoundrels, one of them a Mexican mongrel named George, who said he did not believe Mormon doctrine, but like Morman ways.” – Thomas Cramer. Cramer’s diary is part of the OCTA collection and can be downloaded at https://www.octa-journals.org/merrill-mattes-collection/journal-containing-incidents-of-travel-across-the-plains-from-kansas-to-california-thomas-cramer-1859. The painting by William Henry Jackson was downloaded from https://ntir.oncell.com/en/8-a-1-echo-canyon-entrance-information-68169.html.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – July 26, 1849
“Left camp at ½ passed 6 oclock the country through which we have travieled to day has been quite rolling however no difficult hills to clime and a few places that required us to lock down our road lay to day from 2 to 3 Miles from the [Bear] river no water except in one place whare there is a spring south of the road at which we watered our cattle. 5 Miles from our morning camp. The road striks the river at the Soda and Steamboat Springs at which place our curiosity was highly gratified these springs are situated about 200 Miles from the South pass and about 50 Miles from fort Hall and within 20 rods of Bear river on its North side They are in a beautiful grove of cedar, and surrounded by rich valleys and plains, high rolling hills, and volcanic vales, and mountains. There waters are perfectly clere and very delicious to the taste when dipping the watter from the springs the effervescence is still going on in your cup untill you place it to your lips when if you can withstand its suffocating fumes you have a most delicious draught In the vicinity of these springs there are several other soda springs which however are much less important then those I have just discribed Nere them are several conical elevations about 5 or 6 feet in heigth in the top of which is an aperture of 6 inches in diameter from which the water gushes out. these look more like the work of art than that of Nature but they are realy natureal About 100 rods below is the Steemboat Spring as it is called which discharges water and gas in the same manner but in much greater quantities and with a report quite similar to that produced by the emition of steam from the escape pipe of a steamboat hence the name Steam boat Spring It is located on the river bank and flows from the top of a rock about 4 feet above the surface of the river The top of the rock is in form of a tunnel some 3 feet across the top forming a holle in the center 8 inch in diameter the water spouting at intervals 3 or 4 feet above its surface the water is warm and highly impregnated with soda we camped to night one Mile from Steamboat spring Travieled to day 14 Miles” – Elisha B. Lewis. Elisha’s diary is part of the OCTA collection and can be downloaded at https://www.octa-journals.org/merrill-mattes-collection/diary-of-overland-trip-to-california-elisha-b-lewis-1849. The sketch of Steamboat Springs on Bear River is by James F. Wilkins in 1849 from his book An Artist on the Overland Trail and was downloaded at https://ruftydogblog.wordpress.com/2017/10/11/the-journey-5-does-your-panorama-include-an-elephant/
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – July 27, 1850
“This morning we got the boys together and laid before them all the information I had in relation to the two routes, and told them they might say which way they would go. After some discussion they took a vote which resulted in the cut-off or hastings route. At this our Doctor left us and went the other way. Ogle and I went to work to recruit our provisions. We found that we wanted one thousand pounds of flour and it was worth 25 cents a pound. We had however, a few pounds of bacon to sell which helped us out. The first lot I got, I paid seventy-six dollars for three hundred and four pounds, in the hard dust which is our currency here, and to see the way it is handled, it don’t seem to be much account. I could not help thinking of our merchants at home standing behind their counters wating for a customer to buy more or pay for what he had already got, while here it is just the reverse. There is more money here than any thing else; you can sell most anything at your own price. Dried apples are a ready sale at from sixty to ninety cents a pound. I sold some at that price. We got what we wanted regardless of the price and we were ready to start. The boys scattered themselves through town to board, in order to get vegetables, milk, butter, &c. for which they paid fifty cents per meal and sometimes, no butter at that. It is Saturday evening and we have all concluded to rest for a few days before we start; We also are in good health now – no sickness in the city.” – Anonymous (“Fayette County Boys”). This diary is part of the OCTA collection and can be downloaded at https://www.octa-journals.org/merrill-mattes-collection/fayette-county-boys-en-route-to-california-1849. An early view of Salt Lake City from the north, taken from Howard Stansbury’s Great Salt Lake of Utah (1852) was downloaded from the Utah Historical Quarterly at https://issuu.com/utah10/docs/uhq_volume84_2016_number3/s/10121916.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – July 28, 1853
“Six miles brings us to the junction of this great road, the left leading by Salt Lake the other to Oregon and the cutoff. The junction of the road is in the midst of a vast sage plain. This the spot where many halt between two opinions, some of our company take to the left we keep to the right and on towards the west. Seven miles over good roads to Little Sandy and six miles more we are to Big Sandy a second tributary to Green River, the great Colorado of the west which flows into the Gulf of California. Here we camped and found some good grass and wood.” – Isaiah William Bryant. Bryant’s diary is part of the OCTA collection and can be downloaded from https://www.octa-journals.org/merrill-mattes-collection/diary-isaiah-william-bryant-1853. The photograph of the “Parting of the Ways” in Wyoming was downloaded at https://www.wyohistory.org/encyclopedia/parting-ways.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – July 29, 1853
“Cool but pleasant Rolled on this morning at about 4. O. Took break[fast] at Blue springs. The water of these springs has a temperature of about 80⁰ They are about 30 in number and the water has an insipid taste will do for stock but is not very good to drink. After breakfast rolled on to Hensels spring where we arrived about 2. O. and camped for the day. This is a very fine spring about ½ mile to the left of the road Water little insipid Near this spring obtained some rhombic pearl spar & radiated gypsum with compact lime rock. Road somewhat uneven Very warm.” – Dr. J. R. Bradway. Bradway’s diary is part of the OCTA collection and can be downloaded at https://www.octa-journals.org/merrill-mattes-collection/diary-j-r-bradway-1853. The image of Idaho gypsum was downloaded at https://www.mindat.org/photo-406015.html.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – July 30, 1849
“Road runs west of south, ten miles, round the southern point of the mountain – then westerly to the crossing of Black’s Fork, a fine stream of clear water, twenty yards wide, which come doen from the north, and on the west side of the mountain range and runs south east into Green River. Here is the best grass we have yet seen on the route. The valley is long and wide and the hill sides covered with grass. Camped one mile above the crossing. Ball and I made a cut off over the mountain. Saw no loarge game except antelopes, and they were too shy for a shot. Killed eight sage hens, one of which we roasted and ate without salt at noon. The whole country abounds in squirrels, which burrow in the ground. They are of two kinds, one like our chip squirrels – the other as big as a large rat, very fat, dark dun color, with a short bushy tail. Sometimes as many as twenty or thirty are in sight at the same moment. Road excellent. Made twelve miles.” – Israel Shipman Pelton Lord. Israel’s diary is available in book form, but also was published in The Western Christian newspaper in Elgin, Illinois. A photocopy of this newspaper publication is available in the OCTA collection and can be downloaded at https://www.octa-journals.org/merrill-mattes-collection/journal-of-isaac-s-p-lord. The photo of roasting fowl was downloaded from https://www.ramblingangler.com/cornish-hens-cooked-over-fire/.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – July 31, 1861
“started at 3 a.m. and drove ten miles in the morning to the north fork of Piney Creek, and in the afternoon three miles farther to the middle fork of the same stream. Thornton and I went back to the last camp on Bitter Root after a calf whose mother died and was left there, the calf going back to seek its dam. We found the calf and with some trouble we caught him with a rope (we were not very expert with the lasso) and led him back. It was dark long before we reached the place of noon camp but we could see well enough to follow the road. We crossed the creek and kept on to the next fork where we expected to find camp. It was now midnight and we had had nothing to eat and were tired, as were our horses. We expected that they would keep a light for us but we could see none. We called as loud as we could but no answer. I suggested firing my revolver but Thornton would not listen to that as we were in an Indian country. We finally gave it up, tied our horses and the calf to some small trees and waited until morning, keeping watch by turns. It was a dreary night for us two. In the morning, one of the men on guard at the camp acknowledged that he heard us call but was so afraid of Indians that he dared not make reply. Thornton and I were at least disgusted with his cowardice.” – Ira Butterfield, Jr. Butterfield’s diary is part of the OCTA collection and can be downloaded at https://www.octa-journals.org/merrill-mattes-collection/michigan-to-california-ira-h-butterfield-jr-1861. The calf photo was downloaded from https://onecowrevolution.wordpress.com/2016/03/16/lost-calf/.