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US 30 


Compiled and written by the 

of the 

Sponsored by 

and published by 


All Rights Reserved Including the Right to Reproduce 
This Book or Parts Thereof in Any Form 



The Oregon Trail, third in the series of main-highway guidebooks 
prepared by the Federal Writers' Project, presents a story particularly 
pertinent to our times. 

The great migration westward came largely as a result of the ter- 
rific depression of 1837; a depression brought on by speculation in 
railroads and canals and by overexpansion of industry. The great dif- 
ference between then and now is to be found in the fact that today there 
are no longer western frontiers. Since we cannot migrate to undeveloped 
land as a solution for our troubles, we are now cultivating our neglected 
human and material resources. However, without a knowledge of the 
period between 1800 and 1870 it is impossible to understand the trends 
of our own times. 

The American spirit of independence that carried thousands of emi- 
grants from the East to the Pacific Coast is still alive, and though the 
problems to be solved require a new technique, the American people 
are competent to find a satisfactory solution. 

Director of Federal Writers 9 Project 


F. C. HARRINGTON, Administrator 

FLORENCE S. KERR, Assistant Administrator 

HENRY G. ALSBERG, Director of Federal Writers' Project 






Section 1. Independence to Council Bluffs, US 24, US 71, 

and US 275 37 


Section 2. Omaha to Kearney, US 30-Alt. and US 30 55 

Section 3. Kearney to Ogallala, US 30 70 

Section 4. Ogallala to Wyo. Line, US 30 77 


Section 5. Nebraska Line to Laramie, US 30 83 

Section 6. Laramie to Rawlins, US 30 88 

Section 7. Rawlins to Idaho Line, US 30 and US 30N 93 


Section 8. Wyoming Line to Pocatello, US SON 103 

Section 9. Pocatello to Twin Falls, US SON and US 30 107 

Section 10. Twin Falls to Boise, US 30 114 

Section 11. Boise to Oregon Line, US 30 120 


Section 12. Idaho Line to Pendleton, US 30 123 

Section 13. Pendleton to Portland, US 30 132 

Section 14. Portland to Astoria, US 30 151 


viii Contents 


Ogallala, Neb., to Granger, Wyo., US 26, US 87, US 87E, 

US 287, and unnumbered dirt road 162 


A. Rock Springs, Wyo., to Jackson, Wyo., US 187 197 

B. Pocatello, Idaho, to Jackson, Wyo., US 91, US 191, 
Idaho 33, and Wyo. 22 202 

C. Bridgeport, Neb., to Horse Creek Treaty Grounds, 
Neb. 86 211 


Jefferson's Instruction to Lewis 215 

Necessary Outfits for Emigrants Traveling to Oregon, by 

Palmer 220 

The United States, 1837-1860 (a chronology) 224 

Bibliography 228 

INDEX 231 


1. Devil's Tower, Wyoming Frontispiece 


2. Chinook Woman (The Chinooks called their neighbors Flat- 

heads) Catlin 20 

3. Nebraska Settlers (1886) Neb. Hist. Soc. 21 

4. Cavalry Escorting the Mail Bolmar 36 

5. The Mail Smithsonian Institution 36 

6. Independence Courthouse, Missouri (1855) 37 

7. Wagon Trains (c. 1871) 52 

8. Block House near Omaha 53 

9. The Platte Ferry 68 

10. Pony Express Station, Gothenburg, Neb. 69 

11. Arapaho (c. 1868) 84 

12. Green River Valley/ 1 . S. A. Rothstein 85 

13. The Sand Hills 100 

14. The Lonely Trail W. H. Jackson 101 

15. Building the Union Pacific U. P. R. R. Museum 101 

16. Union Pacific Workers (1867) U. P. R. R. Museum 116 

17. Wagon Train (c. 1871) 117 

18. Union Pacific Construction Train (1867) U. P. R. R. 

Museum 132 

19. Breaking Camp Leslie's Weekly 133 

20. Methodist Mission near The Dalles (1845) 133 

21. Scalped Hunter (1869) Smithsonian Institution 148 

22. The Columbia Gorge 149 

23. Crossing the Plains Appleton's Journal 164 

24. Scottsbluff Kirsch 165 

25. Settlers (1864) Neb. Hist. Soc. 180 

26. Along the Trail 181 

27. Map (Northwestern Explorations) Inside back cover 


The Oregon Trail is primarily a guidebook, but it is also history, 
told, after the first chapter, in geographical rather than chronological 
or topical sequence. The explorers Lewis and Clark, the fur trader 
Manuel Lisa, the refugee Mormons, and the construction gang of the 
Union Pacific Railroad are tied together by campgrounds near the same 
place on the bank of the muddy Missouri. The first chapter gives the 
background and paints in the broad outlines of the story; it also intro- 
duces some of the leading characters whose activities and trials are 
related in their rich details, sometimes bizarre and occasionally tragic, 
in the following sections. 

When possible the story has been told through extracts from the 
diaries and other writings of the actors and their contemporaries. Lewis, 
Clark, and the men who accompanied them, tell of the satisfactions of 
the explorer and also of the price paid for them in hunger, danger, and 
physical discomfort; the reactions of the Indians to the white expro- 
priators appears in Clark's comments on little Sacajawea, the Shoshone 
guide and interpreter, and in conversations reported by other overland 
travelers. The nature of the wilderness, and of the traders who first 
dared to face it, is made clear through the story of the Astorians, as told 
by Irving, and the incredible, even though well-authenticated, epic of 
Hugh Glass's nine-month pursuit of revenge. The very human quali- 
ties and motives of the migrants who captured the West are presented 
through fragments from diaries, some of them never before published; 
these make clear, as no abstract discussion could, that the pioneering 
forefathers were not different from their descendants; they enjoyed the 
overland journeys in exactly the same way that modern Americans enjoy 
their holiday cruises and week-end ski trips. No motorist today is more 
interested in his speedometer records than were the pioneers in those 
of their ox-cart "roadometers." 

No modern highway closely follows throughout any of the historic 
trails between the Missouri and the Pacific Northwest; but these trails 
were in many places merely broad courses and the routes changed from 
year to year. US 30, the modern trail to Oregon, with its feeders 


xii Notes on the Book 

and its alternate route through Nebraska and Wyoming, most nearly 
follows the general course of the mass migration; almost every mile 
of its roadbed covers ruts made at one time or another by covered 

Those reading the book as narrative are advised to turn to the Alter- 
nate Route description after finishing Section 3; the Alternate Route 
covers the section of the Mormon and Oregon Trails generally used 
before 1862, and Sections 4, 5, and 6 the short cut developed after that 

Only adventurous travelers should attempt to follow the last quar- 
ter of the Alternate Route; though it will probably be improved soon, 
this section is now (1939) in very poor condition. The route can be 
followed, however, to Muddy Gap near South Pass in central Wyoming; 
this point is accessible from US 30 at Rawlins, Wyo., over paved 
US 287. 

In order to give The Oregon Trail to the public at a low price, with 
a clarifying map and some illustrations, the wordage had to be lim- 
ited. This has meant that editing was highly selective, that material 
not pertinent to the story of exploration and development was omitted. 

Numerous advisers have given their time freely in checking the 
material. But it is impossible that any book covering such a range of 
history should be free from errors. If readers who find misstatements 
will report them to the Federal Writers' Project in Washington, cor- 
rections will be made in future editions. 

The Oregon Trail contains no list of recommended accommoda- 
tions; a Government-compiled publication cannot enter this field. 

Population figures are from the last Federal census (1930). 

Tour Editor American Guide Series 


THE HISTORY of the Oregon Trail is the history of how two mil- 
lion square miles of land, some of the richest in the North Temperate 
Zone, came under the control of a weak new nation and made it one 
of the mighty powers of all time. The process took place in a period 
so brief that many men saw it all saw a vast wilderness explored, 
acquired, settled, and united under one government. In 1800 half the 
territory now covered by the United States was either a blank on the 
maps or was decorated with imaginary topographical features and 
names of Indian "kingdoms"; it was claimed by European powers 
and inhabited by a few hundred thousand aborigines, most of whom 
still had a late Stone Age culture. In 1880 the region was occupied 
by more than 11 million citizens of the United States, and had been 
charted and divided into political subdivisions with stable govern- 
ments; it had been spanned by two railroads, partly spanned by sev- 
eral others, and covered with a web of trails and telegraph lines; 
the aborigines had been either exterminated or penned up in reserva- 

No other conquest in history has been accomplished with so little 
military force and leadership, and few with so little organized direc- 
tion. Yet from the time, covering only a few weeks, when Napoleon, 
idol of dictators, and Thomas Jefferson, philosopher of democracy, 
had mutual interests and moved swiftly to realize them, the history 
of the West is filled with the names of those whose ideas and activities, 
at decisive moments, determined the course of events. 

There were many trails to Oregon but their general direction was 
determined by Lewis and Clark when in 1804-5 they traveled up the 
Missouri to its headwaters, crossed the Continental Divide, and worked 
their way down the Columbia River to its mouth. The next transcon- 
tinental travelers, the Astorians, went only part way up the Missouri 
and swung southwest, crossing the Divide below what is now Yellow- 
stone National Park in order to avoid the hostile Blackfeet Indians; 


The Oregon Trail 

they followed the Snake River to reach the Columbia, where they re- 
traced the route of Lewis and Clark. West of the Divide much of their 
route was later part of the Oregon Trail. By the 1830's fur traders 
had further shortened the distance to the Snake by leaving the Missouri 
at the point where it turns north near Independence, Mo., which was 
established in that period as a frontier supply post. Following the 
Santa Fe Trail for a few miles they usually cut northwest to follow 
the south bank of the Platte River and then the south bank of the 
North Platte, swinging southwest through South Pass, which came 
into use in 1824. From the pass they crossed to the Snake and more 
or less followed the route of the Astorians to the Columbia. The fur 
traders helped to blaze the way for the emigrant trains of the follow- 
ing decades. 

The Oregon Trail in time developed numerous cut-offs, feeders, 
and outlets. As congestion increased around Independence, half a 
dozen places to the north of it developed as outfitting points. Some 
emigrants followed a route on the north side of the Platte, traversed 
in 1847 by the first Mormon party, and reached the main trail at 
Fort Laramie. The Overland route left the Oregon Trail near the 
junction of the North and South Plattes, taking a short cut to Fort 
Bridger in southwestern Wyoming. Two cut-offs, the Sublette and the 
Lander, crossed north of Fort Bridger to reach the Snake. The route 
to Salt Lake City which was later extended to California turned 
southwest at Fort Bridger; two other trails to California left the 
Oregon Trail along the Snake River. 

In many places the trail was 10 to 20 miles wide, succeeding wagon 
trains making detours to avoid the dust and ruts of those ahead of 
them; in other places passing wheels wore a single pair of deep ruts 
that are still visible. Fort Laramie, Fort Bridger, and Fort Hall 
established as trading posts rather than forts were goals that deter- 
mined the course of the trail in their neighborhoods. 

The story of the Oregon Trail begins in the Middle Ages when men 
were seeking a route to India. Newly discovered America was for a 
time regarded as part of Asia, then as an annoying barrier on the 
way to the Far East. The Spanish were the first to appreciate the fact 
that the new land offered riches; within a few decades they had found 
the culturally advanced native kingdoms in Mexico and in Central and 
South America, had conquered and enslaved the inhabitants, and were 
carrying fabulous fortunes back to Europe. The existence of America 

Why a Trail to Oregon? 

had been known for more than a hundred years before the nations of 
northwestern Europe awoke to the fact that Spain and Portugal had 
already pre-empted the Western Hemisphere. 

But the Spanish were primarily conquerors, not colonizers; hence 
they had made little attempt to establish themselves in the lands north 
of Mexico where the inhabitants were largely nomads hard to tame 
and still ignorant of the use and value of metals. Sir Humphrey 
Gilbert and his half-brother, Sir Walter Raleigh, were the first northern 
Europeans to attempt to take physical possession of land in the 
Americas. Gilbert was lost at sea before he had an opportunity to 
carry out his plans. Shortly afterward Raleigh succeeded in planting a 
colony on Roanoke Island in what is now North Carolina. Though his 
means were too limited to insure the success of the venture, which 
ended tragically, he did bring the potential wealth of the country to 
the attention of English merchants, with the result that 20 years later, 
in 1607, two more English colonies were started in America, one suc- 
cessful and the other unsuccessful. 

Two years before this, however, the Sieur de Monts, a careful and 
far-sighted Frenchman, had made a successful settlement in eastern 
Canada, the first in the region north of Florida. The French, the Eng- 
lish, the Dutch, and the Swedes then started colonization in earnest, 
the English more aggressively than the others. The English soon cap- 
tured the Dutch and Swedish settlements, the inhabitants resigning them- 
selves to English rule without prolonged struggle because of the English 
colonial policy that permitted a large measure of self-government and 
extended considerable religious and social toleration as long as the col- 
onies returned profits to the proprietors and the Crown. This was the 
"wise and salutary neglect" that suffered "a generous nature ... to 
take her own way to perfection," as Edmund Burke phrased it in de- 
fending the colonies before the Revolution. 

Settlement was the decisive factor in establishing political owner- 
ship of the lands along the Atlantic seaboard, just as it was later to 
settle the question of ownership along the Pacific. The Spanish had 
made small military settlements in Florida and they continued to hold 
the region, except for a brief interval, until the end of the second decade 
of the nineteenth century; the French brought colonists to eastern Can- 
ada and held that region for 150 years; British supremacy between 
the French and Spanish possessions was established by the number of 
people who were persuaded to come over to live under British rule. 

The Oregon Trail 

The settlements of the French grew slowly, in part because of the 
severe climate of Canada and in part because of the monopolies granted 
in the fur trade, the most important industry of the area. 

The first attempts to penetrate the interior of the continent north 
of the region held by the Spanish were made by the French, who worked 
west chiefly along the shores of the Great Lakes. Between 1654 and 
1660 two particularly enterprising Frenchmen, Medard Chouart, later 
Sieur de Groseilliers (whose name was translated "Mr. Gooseberry" 
in Hudson's Bay Company records), and his brother-in-law, Pierre 
Radisson, crossed to the western end of Lake Superior and wintered 
on the shores of Lake Nipigon. Upon returning to Quebec, they ap- 
plied to the Governor for a license to trade for furs in the interior, but 
he would grant it only on such exorbitant terms that they departed for 
the West without it; when they came back to Quebec two years later 
they were fined 10,000 for their illegal trading operations. After vainly 
attempting to have their case reviewed in France, they approached Bos- 
ton merchants with a plan for reaching the rich fur country of the 
interior by way of Hudson Bay; the Americans sent a ship north to 
test the practicality of the idea but because of the lateness of the season 
the master turned back. 

The Frenchmen then went to England where they quickly reached 
the ear of Charles II ; the royal family, always much interested in any 
scheme that offered high profits, gave backing to the enterprise. In 
May, 1670, after the ketch Non Such had visited the bay and confirmed 
the reports of the Frenchmen, a charter was given to the King's dear 
cousin, Prince Rupert, and his associates "the Governor & Company 
of Adventurers of England, trading into Hudson's Bay," a corpora- 
tion that has come down in history as the Hudson's Bay Company. 
The King, his brother (later James II), and his cousin were among the 
first stockholders. The charter, covering trading rights in the vast re- 
gion west of the country occupied by the French, gave to the company 
complete feudal rights, including that of making war on infidels. The 
company was also granted the territory, which was named Rupert's 
Land, in which it was to operate; the payment to the Crown for this 
enormous grant was to be two elks and two black beavers, paid an- 
nually whenever the sovereign should visit the land. The enterprise 
was very profitable. 

The French soon began to feel the effects of English competition 
and attempted to end it, but with only temporary success; in 1713, when 

Why a Trail to Oregon? 

the Treaty of Utrecht was signed, the west coast of the bay went to the 
British, and the French gave up all forts and posts near the bay. Not 
long after this, however, an obscure Irishman began attacking the com- 
pany for its failure to find the Northwest Passage; its failure to ex- 
plore and develop the interior from which it was receiving furs at its 
post on Hudson Bay; and for its failure to carry religion to the In- 
dians. He finally succeeded in so arousing public opinion that in 1736 
the company sent out a small exploring expedition; it accomplished 

Meanwhile, French traders were slowly working westward along 
the shores of the Great Lakes, though the French Government, em- 
broiled in European affairs, gave little encouragement to the mission- 
aries and adventurers who had dreams of extending French domain and 
of finding a route to the Pacific Ocean. In 1673 Marquette and Joliet 
explored the country south of Lake Superior, reaching the Mississippi 
River; La Salle crossed from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi, rest- 
ing "upon the majestic bosom" in February, 1682, and descended it 
to the Great Gulf. On April 9 he took possession for "Louis Le Grand, 
Roy de France et de Navarre Regne." As Parkman said, "by virtue of 
a feeble human voice, inaudible at half a mile," he claimed for France 
"the vast basin of the Mississippi from its frozen northern springs to 
the sultry borders of the Gulf; from the woody ridges of the Alle- 
ghenies to the bare peaks of the Rocky Mountains a region of savan- 
nas and forests, suncracked deserts and grassy prairies." 

Between 1731 and 1743 Pierre Verendrye and his sons also worked 
their way westward and southward from Lake Superior into the Da- 
kotas; some contend they reached the foothills of the Rockies, then 
known as the Stonies. By the Treaty of Paris (1763), France lost Can- 
ada and her possessions east of the Mississippi, except the port of New 
Orleans, to Great Britain ; all of Louisiana west of the Mississippi went 
to Spain by cousinly arrangement, Spain supposedly holding Louisiana 
for France in order to keep it out of British hands. 

Among the British troops brought to Canada were many young Scots 
who, facing the prospect of return to a poverty-stricken homeland, de- 
termined to remain in America. They were later joined by some Scot- 
tish Jacobeans. The Scots rapidly took over the fur trade along the St. 
Lawrence River; one of them, Alexander Henry, spent the years 1760-66 
in the Middle West, exploring for some distance north of Lake Su- 
perior toward the Hudson's Bay Company domain. By 1770 the aggres- 

The Oregon Trail 

sive newcomers were beginning to divert trade from this powerful riva 
and a conflict had begun that did not end until 1821. In 1783-4 some 
of the Scots, led by Benjamin and Joseph Frobisher and Simon Me 
Tavish, organized the North West Company, and established a post a 
Grand Portage, on the northern shore of Lake Superior, as the centei 
of their trading activities. Other Scots, among them Alexander Mac 
kenzie, formed a rival company, but because competition was expensive 
the differences between the groups were ironed out in 1787, the seconc 
group joining the North West Company. An extensive organization wa: 
developed, with an army of partners, sub-partners, clerks, interpreters 
and boatmen, that met at a grand annual rendezvous on the Great Lakes 
later celebrated in song and legend. 

In addition to being a trader, Alexander Mackenzie was an explorer 
In 1789, while his penny-pinching partners objected to his expense ac 
counts, he traveled with two canoeloads of Indians and French Cana 
dians down the river that now bears his name to its mouth on the Arctic 
Ocean. In 1792, still against the will of his partners, and therefore with 
out notifying them, he left his post in central Canada, accompanied b} 
one Scot, two French Canadians, and two Indians, went up the Peace 
River, crossed the Divide on July 17, 1793, and shortly afterwarc 
reached the Pacific Coast. Mindful of the grumbling partners, he mime 
diately returned to his post in central Canada. 

In 1798 several members who disliked the dominating McTavish lef 
the North West Company to form the New North West Company, knowi 
as the XY, which in turn became so aggressive that order in the fui 
country was disrupted, the traders of the Hudson's Bay, the North West 
and the XY Companies demoralizing the Indians with liquor to gair 
their trade and instigating Indian attacks on one another. Mackenzi( 
joined the XY in 1801. 

In 1796 David Thompson, a young English surveyor, had been senl 
out by the North West Company to survey the 49th parallel west oi 
the Great Lakes in order to determine whether the company posts wen 
in Canada or the United States. During the winter he visited the Man 
dan village on the great bend of the Missouri near which Lewis anc 
Clark were to spend the winter of 1804-5. Later, in 1806, he was senl 
out again and went through the Rockies to the head of the Columbia 
where he wintered in 1808-9. 

Since the sixteenth century the Spanish had been sending expedi 
tions north to explore what is now Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, 

Why a Trail to Oregon? 

After the cession of Louisiana to Spain in 1763, Spanish traders began 
to work their way up the Mississippi, and in 1793 a Spanish trading 
company was granted a license to explore and trade along the Missouri 
River ; the company's activities lasted only four years but they extended 
to the Dakotas. 

The English were slow to penetrate inland, making little attempt 
to look beyond the Appalachians, though a few, such as Maj. Robert 
Rogers, whose story was told by Kenneth Roberts in Northwest Passage, 
could not forget the dream of a northern route to the Orient. After the 
Treaty of Paris of 1783, which gave the United States the country east 
of the Mississippi between Canada and Florida, settlers began to move 
across the mountains in large numbers. 

Thomas Jefferson, who was notable for the diversity of his interests 
even in an age when many believed that it was possible for one man 
to cover the full range of knowledge, was early fascinated by the vast, 
little-charted area beyond the Mississippi River. In 1783 Jefferson sug- 
gested to George Rogers Clark that he lead an exploring expedition 
through it; and he expressed the belief that England had colonization 
designs for the region, even though it belonged to Spain. Nothing came 
of the plan, so three years later Jefferson, while Minister to France, 
encouraged John Ledyard, a Yankee who had traveled around the world 
with Capt. James Cook, to attempt to explore the western country by 
traveling across Siberia, proceeding to the west coast of North America, 
and penetrating inland toward the Missouri. But Ledyard was arrested 
by the Russian authorities when near the Pacific shores, and sent back 
to Europe. 

In 1793 Jefferson, as a vice-president of the American Philosoph- 
ical Society, made arrangements for a French botanist, Michaux, to at- 
tempt an overland journey to the Pacific by way of the Missouri River, 
and persuaded members of the society to subscribe to a small fund for 
the expedition ; the botanist, however, became embroiled in French poli- 
tics and the plan was abandoned. The report of Capt. Robert Gray of 
Boston, who had visited the mouth of the Columbia River in 1792, con- 
vinced Jefferson of the existence of the legendary River of the West 
with headwaters close to those of the Missouri, which would provide a 
nearly complete water route between the Mississippi River and the Pa- 
cific Ocean. He constantly studied maps and reports. In 1801, the year 
in which the account of Alexander Mackenzie's successful trip across 

8 The Oregon Trail 

Canada to the Pacific was published, Jefferson became President of the 
United States. 

Just when Jefferson determined to use his official position to further 
the realization of his long dream of finding a route to the Pacific Ocean 
is unknown. But he knew that the idea was also cherished by Meri- 
wether Lewis, because in 1793, when Jefferson was trying to send the 
French botanist west, Jefferson's neighbor, Lewis, then only 19, had 
begged to be permitted to go with the party. Doubtless they had often 
discussed the problems and joined in conjectures before Jefferson, about 
to assume the Presidency, asked Lewis to leave the Army and become 
his secretary. 

Between 1800 and 1802 Napoleon, in a series of secret negotiations. 
had coerced the stupid Charles IV of Spain into retroceding Louisiana 
to France in return for a small Tuscan kingdom for Charles' son-in-la\v 
and the promise that the territory should not be alienated to any other 
power. The public transfer of New Orleans, planned to take place in 
October, 1802, was deferred because of an uprising in Santo Domingo. 
Though news of the agreement was not made public, the diplomatic 
grapevine brought it quickly to Jefferson. 

In the summer of 1802 Jefferson quietly sent Lewis to Philadelphia, 
scientific headquarters of the country, to learn the "technical language 
of the natural sciences, and readiness in the astronomical observations.'' 

The ruthless energy of Napoleon and the colonial ambitions of his 
minister Talleyrand were well known to Jefferson and his advisers. The 
transfer of Louisiana from Spain to France filled them with consterna- 
tion, particularly because of the increasing swarms of settlers thai 
poured over the mountains into the Northwest Territory, Kentucky, and 
Tennessee; the Mississippi River provided the main marketing outlet for 
their products. To add to the tenseness of the situation, word arrived 
in 1802 that the Spanish Intendant at New Orleans, still in command 
as the French had not yet taken possession, had arbitrarily closed the 
port of New Orleans to products from the United States. Jefferson en- 
deavored to keep his followers under control but could do nothing to 
quiet the rule-or-ruin Federalists, who screamed for war and demanded 
the seizure of New Orleans. He conferred with the Spanish Ambassador, 
who knew of no orders from Spain on the matter, and sent official rep- 
resentations to Madrid. Jefferson also wrote to Robert Livingston, his 
Minister to France, on the need of negotiations with the French to safe- 
guard the interests of the United States in New Orleans. 

Why a Trail to Oregon? 9 

On January 18, 1803, a month after Congress met, Jefferson sent a 
secret message to Congress, asking for funds for exploration west of the 
Mississippi; as a pretext for the message he used the expiration of an 
act establishing governmental trading posts among the Indians and the 
need of extending it. This message was exceedingly tactful; it pointed 
out the necessity for acquiring more land for white settlers east of the 
Mississippi by domesticating the Indians and proving to them that they 
needed less land to live on, and it pointed out the advantages of rais- 
ing the standard of living of the aborigines to increase their consump- 
tion of manufactured goods. It went on to remark that it might be worth 
while for Congress to find customers for the private traders deprived of 
incomes by the extension of the act and the establishment of more gov- 
ernmental trading posts among the Indians in the United States, and 
that there were numerous tribes along the Missouri who should be able 
to pay for goods with valuable furs. It added that if a few men, 10 or 
14 with an officer, were sent up the Missouri they could report on these 
trade prospects and might also find a short portage to the Columbia, 
which would provide a commercial route for the Pacific trade free from 
competition with the French and Spanish traders who were along the 
Mississippi and lower Missouri. The men needed for the enterprise could 
easily be spared from the military posts, and their army pay, continu- 
ing while they were away, would lessen the amount of money that would 
have to be appropriated for the expedition; $2,500 was the sum sug- 
gested. Congress made the appropriation and by midsummer plans were 
well under way for the start. (Jefferson had expected the expedition to 
leave in the spring, having underestimated the time it would take to 
collect supplies and select men.) 

At the time Jefferson made his proposal for this expedition, the Fed- 
eralists were carrying on a campaign against him that has seldom, if 
ever, been equalled in America for virulence ; word from Spain that the 
Intendant had acted without authority in closing New Orleans did not 
stop their attempts to instigate war and to discredit the President. When, 
shortly afterward, Congress, at the President's request, authorized nego- 
tiations to buy an outlet at the mouth of the Mississippi, their rage went 
beyond all bounds. Why buy what could be seized? The President ap- 
pointed James Monroe as special envoy to assist Robert Livingston in 
conducting negotiations, in part because there were instructions for Liv- 
ingston that were too delicate to be trusted to paper, and in part be- 

10 The Oregon Trail 

cause Monroe was trusted by the westerners, whom the Federalists were 
trying to alienate from the Jeffersonian leadership. 

Monroe sailed on March 8, 1803. Jefferson and Madison in last min- 
ute conferences had formulated the lines of negotiation. The envoys 
were to attempt to buy the Floridas and New Orleans; if acquisition 
of the Floridas were impossible, the acquisition of New Orleans and 
some territory near it on the east bank of the river should be attempted ; 
if the second offer failed also, the envoys should attempt to purchase 
some land on which the United States could build its own port of de- 
posit at the mouth of the Mississippi; and if Napoleon rejected all 
offers to buy, the envoys were to attempt to negotiate a treaty permitting 
goods to pass freely through New Orleans. 

There was dramatic neatness in the series of events that determined 
the future of the United States Charles IV's move to provide for a 
son-in-law; the Negro Toussaint's successful resistance of Napoleon's at- 
tempt to suppress the Santo Domingan revolt, which diverted Napoleon 
from his plans for immediate extension of the colonial empire; and the 
virulent attacks of the Federalists, which forced Jefferson to act swiftly 
in clearing up the question of a trade outlet on the Mississippi. Acting 
on hurried instructions from Jefferson, Livingston had approached 
Talleyrand on the subject of obtaining New Orleans, pointing out that in 
case of war with England a bit of extra money might be useful to France 
and that the sale of New Orleans would free France from the need of 
defending her American possessions. Talleyrand, scornfully dismissing 
the proposal, said that his master was planning to send a minister to 
Washington to negotiate a treaty covering American relations in Louisi- 
ana. Shortly after this, at a diplomatic reception, Livingston heard Na- 
poleon address the British Minister in terms that indicated he had sud- 
denly determined to fight, whether England wanted to or not. 

In making his plans for war, Napoleon remembered Livingston's 
proposal, which Talleyrand had apparently not feared to communicate 
to his master. On April 11, knowing that he could not trust Talleyrand, 
Napoleon abruptly summoned Barbe-Marbois, his young Minister of 
Finance, who was friendly to the Americans and also faithful to the 
First Consul, telling him, "I renounce Louisiana. . . . Have an inter- 
view this very day with Mr. Livingston." That day Talleyrand asked 
Livingston, who believed he was joking, whether the United States 
would like to have all Louisiana and what it would pay for it. Monroe 
arrived in Paris that night. Late the following evening Livingston was 

Why a Trail to Oregon? 11 

asked to visit Barbe-Marbois' home. After various preliminaries Barbe- 
Marbois quoted Napoleon's statement: ". . . let him give you one hun- 
dred million of francs . . . and take the whole country." The price 
and the proposal staggered Livingston; Barbe-Marbois added quickly 
that he thought the sum suggested was too high but that sixty million 
francs ($15,000,000) seemed fair and he would like an immediate de- 
cision. Livingston protested that the whole thing was impossible; that 
neither he nor Monroe had authority to negotiate such a purchase or 
to pledge such a sum. Barbe-Marbois was friendly but firm, reminding 
him that Napoleon was mercurial in temperament and it was quite pos- 
sible the offer might be withdrawn if it were not speedily accepted ; the 
terms were all or nothing. Both Livingston and Monroe, to whom he re- 
ported the conversation, were impressed by the warning, but neither 
knew how tenuous was the string offered to them. 

Word of the offer reached the Consul's brother, Joseph; he took it 
immediately to Lucien Bonaparte, who had negotiated the transfer of 
Louisiana from Spain to France and shared Talleyrand's imperialistic 
dreams. Lucien and Joseph dashed post-haste to their brother, who was 
in his bath when they arrived; they ranted without effect, the Consul 
splashing them with bath water to show his contempt. But he realized 
the danger of the Chambers' finding out about the offer and pressed 
Barbe-Marbois to obtain a decision. Still the Americans hesitated, the 
magnitude pf the deal and their lack of authority to handle it terrify- 
ing them. They knew Jefferson's desires, however, and on May 2 with 
great trepidation completed the purchase; the price to be paid was 
80,000,000 francs, 20,000,000 of it going to satisfy claims of American 
citizens against the French. Later they exulted a bit at their own daring, 
appreciating the fact that they had more than doubled the size of the 
United States. 

The news reached Jefferson late in June but was not made public 
until July 14. The President, though delighted, was troubled by the 
unconstitutionality of the affair, while the Federalists raged, fearing 
the result of acquiring more land to be peopled by agrarians. But the 
national pride was touched and the treaty was ratified. The size of the 
area bought was uncertain ; though the United States later asserted that 
the purchase included the Oregon country, it was unable to establish 
any claim to land west of the Rockies by the deal with Napoleon. 

Thus the Lewis and Clark expedition, secretly authorized to extend 
the "external commerce of the United States" but announced to the 

12 The Oregon Trail 

Spanish and French authorities as an "innocent literary journey," be- 
came in part a legitimate enterprise needing little camouflage. 

Jefferson, who had studied every available map and report on the 
country west of the Mississippi, himself drew up the plans for the ex- 
ploring expedition. It was to proceed up the Missouri, find the head- 
waters of the Columbia, and travel down that stream to the Pacific 
Ocean ; it was to confirm Indian tales reported by early travelers about 
the Shining Mountains at the head of the Missouri, report on climate, 
topography, and inhabitants of the country ; and it was to find out what 
men of other nations were entering Louisiana and Oregon to trade. 
(See Jefferson's Instructions in APPENDIX.) In addition to Jefferson's 
lists of points on which he wanted information, Lewis carried others 
prepared by eminent scientists of the American Philosophical Society, 
including printed English vocabularies with spaces for the Indian equiv- 

The equipment was carefully planned; besides the usual supplies 
of food including soup cubes clothing, ammunition, scientific in- 
struments, and medical supplies (the list of which is surprisingly mod- 
ern and comprehensive when examined today), the explorers carried 
large quantities of goods to be presented to the Indians medals, 
plumed hats, gaudy military coats, garters, and even odds and ends for 
"women of Consideration." 

Jefferson had desired that at least the co-leader of the party should 
be a scientist well trained in many fields. He came to the conclusion, 
however, that the primary qualification for both leaders should be ex- 
perience in handling Indians and in meeting wilderness conditions. 
Lewis chose his long-time friend, William Clark, a younger brother of 
George Rogers Clark; no choice could have been more fortunate, the 
two men complementing each other and working in perfect harmony. 

Lewis left Pittsburgh in August, 1803, and, meeting Clark at Louis- 
ville, proceeded to St. Louis, where they recruited a staff to accompany 
them on their journey, had boats built, and added to the supplies. The 
party started up the Missouri on May 14, 1804, "in the presence of many 
of the neighboring inhabitants and proceeded on under a jentle brease," 
according to Captain Clark, whose orthography is convincing argument 
against the preciosity of spelling rules. That the explorers had no false 
modesty about the importance of their expedition is shown by Captain 
Lewis' notes as the party was starting into the unknown territory after 
the winter spent among the Mandans: "The little fleet altho' not quite 

Why a Trail to Oregon? 13 

so rispictable as those of Columbus or Capt. Cook, were still viewed 
by us with as much pleasure as those deservedly famed adventurers ever 
beheld theirs. . . . We are now about to penetrate a country at least 
two thousand miles in width, on which the foot of civilized man has 
never trodden. ... I could not but esteem this moment of my depar- 
ture as among the most happy of my life." 

The long journey up the Missouri to the Mandan village was a 
course of training in which the party of what Clark called "robust 
healthy hardy young men" was disciplined, tested for loyalty and en- 
durance, and forged into a working unit. At the end of the winter the 
misfits and malcontents were weeded out and sent back to civilization 
with some of the boatmen, the most trustworthy carrying "Sundery 
articles to be sent to the President of the U.S." horns of mountain 
rams, animal skins and skeletons, plants, Indian clothing and utensils, 
a parcel of roots "highly prized by the natives as an efficatious remidy 
in cases of the bite of a rattle Snake or Mad Dog," a tin box containing 
insects and mice, a "liveing burrowing Squirel of the praries," four 
live magpies, and a living prairie hen; the list is a commentary on 
the range of Jefferson's interests. 

Throughout the journey the explorers worked hard to satisfy the 
President's mighty curiosity, the petty officers as well as the leaders sit- 
ting down each night, in rain, snow, or fair weather, to bring their 
journals up to date. Apparently the only question that they dared not 
risk attempting to satisfy was the one asking "What is the State of the 
pulse in both (Indian) Sexes, Children, grown persons, and in old age, 
by feeling the Pulse Morning, Noon & Night &c.?" 

While at winter quarters on the Missouri the leaders faithfully car- 
ried out Jefferson's instructions to make friends among the Indians; 
sent firm but tactful warnings to British trappers that the country now 
belonged to the United States and that the Indians must not be made 
hostile to American traders; spent hours collecting countless scraps of 
gossip based on hearsay and experience concerning the country they 
were to face ; and hired the half-breed Charbonneau, chiefly for the sake 
of Sacajawea, one of his wives, who was a stolen Shoshone "Squar" 
(squaw), and could act as an "interpeter" beyond the mountains. The 
"Squar," starting out with a newborn child on her back, became one 
of the most esteemed members of the party, bearing difficulties uncom- 
plainingly, nursing the sick, interceding for the party when among her 
kin, advising on routes, and saving lives by teaching the white men 

14 The Oregon Trail 

how to dig for roots and utilize other resources of the harsh mountain 
country. The deep affection Clark developed for her appears in the of- 
ficial Journals, in which he sometimes called her "Janey." 

The charming Original Journals of Lewis and Clark exhibit the 
fine judgment of the two commanders that enabled them to carry out 
their mission with the loss of only one man and he of a "Billiose 
Chorlick" early in the journey. They met handicaps and barriers 
precipitous passes in very high mountains, volcanic deserts where game 
and water were lacking, and rivers choked with rocks and rendered 
dangerous by falls much of which the reports of Mackenzie and others 
had not led them to anticipate; yet they managed to reach the Pacific 
Coast in safety in the dismal mid-November rains of 1805, too tired 
and starved for much rejoicing, eager only to make some kind of shelter 
and find food. 

After leaving the coast in March, 1806, the party was divided near 
what is now Missoula, Mont. Clark swung south to come down the Yel- 
lowstone, and Lewis went north with a very small party to explore the 
Marias River. At the northern limits of his side trip Lewis killed one 
of a band of Blackfeet who were making off with his horses and sup- 
plies; the tribesmen never forgot this act, and carried on relentless 
warfare against the whites until after many decades the whites had 
almost exterminated them. The two parties united at the mouth of the 
Yellowstone and made the return trip to St. Louis with speed, arriving 
there September 23, 1806. The men wept with joy when they again saw 
a cow, symbol of civilization. The people of St. Louis, Sgt. John Ord- 
way reported, "gathred on the Shore and Hizzared three cheers." 

Patrick Gass, a sergeant, was the first to publish his Journal, be- 
cause both Lewis and Clark were immediately given responsible admin- 
istrative positions and had little time or skill to prepare the polished 
accounts they thought the material deserved. The condensed Lewis and 
Clark Journals, edited by Nicholas Biddle and Paul Allen, appeared 
in 1814; the publisher made only $154.10 net profit. In spite of the 
meager circulation of these books, they did in time stir many restless 
minds and stimulate interest in the Far West. 

When Jefferson told Congress that the Missouri country would pro- 
vide new customers for the traders, he spoke better than he knew. In 
the winter of 1808 Manuel Lisa, an experienced trader born of Spanish 
parents in New Orleans, organized the St. Louis Missouri Fur Com- 
pany, and turned over to it a post he had established in 1807 at the 

Why a Trail to Oregon? 15 

mouth of the Bighorn River, in what is now Montana. In 1810 Andrew 
Henry, a member of the firm, crossed the Divide and built a small post, 
known as Fort Henry, on the North Fork of the Snake River. Before 
Lisa's death in 1820 the company had aroused the envy of other busi- 
nessmen by its profits. 

The second important fur-trading venture was made by John Jacob 
Astor, who had come to the United States from Germany in 1784. He 
had early entered the fur business, beginning with beating and dress- 
ing, progressed to the collection of pelts from hunters in rural New 
York State, and eventually dealt with the traders of Montreal. Astor 
had long been annoyed by the fact that many of the furs he bought in 
Canada, and paid duty on, had been collected by North Westers south 
of the International Line; he had been planning ways and means of 
invading this part of the field when, first, the Louisiana Purchase and 
then the Lewis and Clark reports stirred him to action. He planned to 
establish posts in the Middle West and at the mouth of the Columbia 
River, from which he could carry furs direct to the Orient, the prin- 
cipal fur market, with an advantage over the Canadian traders who, 
because of the monopoly held by the East India Company, had to send 
their furs to the Far East by way of London. 

The American Fur Company was incorporated in April, 1808, and 
the Pacific Fur Company in June, 1810. Washington Irving told the 
story of the enterprise, from Astor's viewpoint, in Astoria (1836). 
Utilizing his wide acquaintance among the Canadian traders, Astor per- 
suaded three veteran Nor' Westers, including Alexander McKay, who 
had accompanied Mackenzie to the Pacific Coast, to join him as part- 
ners in the Oregon enterprise. He also brought in Wilson Price Hunt, 
who had had some experience in fur operations around St. Louis. The 
partners and clerks were divided into two parties, one to go around the 
Horn in the Tonquin with supplies for the post, and the other, under 
the leadership of Hunt, to go overland to the Columbia, establishing 
friendly relations with the Indians on the way and selecting sites for 
trading posts. 

Both parties set out in 1810 but were dogged by calamity and mis- 
fortune. The members of the group that went by sea quarreled with 
the martinet who was the ship's captain, and with one another. The boat 
finally reached the mouth of the Columbia late in March, 1811, where 
the calamities of the voyage were crowned by the loss of eight men 
as a result of the captain's error in judgment in attempting to enter 

16 The Oregon Trail 

the river. The land crew, including clerks and partners, left the ship 
to establish Astoria and on June 1 the captain took the ship up the 
coast for trade. Lacking any understanding of the Indians, he created 
enmity that resulted in the complete destruction of the ship and everyone 

Astoria had been left in charge of Duncan McDougall, one of the 
Nor' Westers. The fort had been built and trading had begun when the 
land party, led by Hunt, straggled in by small groups after a series of 
misadventures, chiefly resulting from Hunt's lack of experience in the 
wilderness. There were now approximately a hundred men at the post, 
a number that lessened the danger of Indian attack but did not add to 
the harmony. On July 15 David Thompson, surveyor for the North 
West Company, completed his methodical progress down the Columbia 
to find to his chagrin that the Americans had reached the river ahead 
of him. In London the representatives of the North West Company, un- 
aware that Astor had stolen a march on them, were petitioning for 
exclusive trading rights along the Pacific Coast between Alaska, occu- 
pied by the Russians, and California, held by the Spanish. 

In the meantime, on June 18, 1812, the United States had declared 
war against Great Britain. Astor, who had heard of the London activi- 
ties of the North West Company, was working frantically but in vain 
to obtain naval protection for his Pacific post. Word of the war arrived 
in Astoria on January 15, 1813, one of the Astor party having picked 
it up from members of a North West expedition along the Columbia. 
The Astorians became discouraged; they were certain that Astor would 
be unable to send a supply ship that would take away the considerable 
number of pelts they had collected. The Nor' Westers who visited them 
encouraged the feeling and made McDougall regret that he had em- 
barked on such an amateurish enterprise. Astor had managed to send 
a ship, but his plans were again dogged by bad luck; the ship did not 
arrive until after the partners had sold the collected furs to the North 
West Company, rather than risk sending them overland. The Nor' 
Westers returned in the fall, triumphantly exhibiting the message dated 
May 9, 1813, saying that a British frigate was on its way to "destroy 
everything that is American on the N.W. coast." McDougall then took 
it upon himself to sell all the property of the Pacific Fur Company to 
the North West Company; the terms were not as illiberal as some of 
McDougalFs critics have contended. While the Astorians were winding 
up their affairs the British frigate arrived and on December 12 took 

Why a Trail to Oregon? 17 

possession of the country and the post for Britain. While the sale was 
a lucky stroke for the Astor company, it was later an embarrassment 
to the United States in claiming the territory by priority of settlement. 

The War of 1812 did not last long, being unpopular in the United 
States to such an extent that some of the New England States threat- 
ened to secede from the Union; England was also willing to end hos- 
tilities because her attention was deeply occupied with European af- 
fairs Napoleon was insecurely held on Elba. Negotiations following 
the war resulted in the settlement of the boundary between Lake Su- 
perior and the Oregon region, but the Oregon question was evaded by 
an agreement made in 1818, on "joint occupation" for a period of 10 
years. In the following decade the Russians accepted a southern boun- 
dary at 54 40' (the Alaskan Line) on the coast and the Mexicans a 
northern boundary at 42 (the present Oregon-California Line). The 
joint occupation agreement on Oregon was later renewed but from 
1818 on, nationals and officials of both Great Britain and the United 
States, as well as those of other countries notably Spain and Russia 
kept wary eyes on the country, watching one another's activities and 
waiting for situations that could be turned to their advantage. In the 
two decades before migration of settlers to Oregon began, the country 
was visited by a stream of spies, some of whom were naval and army 
officers ingenuously pretending to be sportsmen, health seekers, or jour- 

Astor's plans for capturing the fur trade of the Great Lakes and 
the upper Mississippi had been hampered by the War of 1812, but some 
of the terms of the peace negotiations were to his advantage. In 1816 
Congress passed an act, largely through Astor's efforts, excluding for- 
eigners from participation in the American fur trade except in sub- 
ordinate capacities. While this nominally ended the activities of the 
British south of the International Line, considerable poaching was car- 
ried on. British agents did not scruple to carry to the Indians the liquor 
forbidden by law in the trade, and made continuous efforts to prejudice 
the aborigines against United States traders and stir up attacks on them ; 
these were the same tactics used by the British companies against one 

The cutthroat competition between the North West and the Hud- 
son's Bay Companies reached a crisis in 1818. Early in the century the 
Earl of Selkirk, moved by the suffering of the landless Scots, had 
bought a controlling interest in the Hudson's Bay Company in order 

18 The Oregon Trail 

to obtain land for settlement along the Red River of the North. The 
Nor' Westers, very much opposed to settlement in the area they de- 
pended on to provide buffalo meat for their inland staffs, carried on a 
warfare against the settlers and the Hudson's Bay Company officials 
that resulted in several deaths in 1818. At this point, with Parliamentary 
interference imminent, officials of the two companies, exhibiting the 
British ability to compromise in the face of a crisis involving profits, 
began to work for the amalgamation of the two groups. 

The North West leader in the movement was Dr. John McLoughlin, 
a nephew of the veteran Nor' Wester, Alexander Fraser; he had mar- 
ried the capable half-breed widow of Alexander McKay, who was killed 
in the explosion on the Astor ship. The companies were united in 1821 
under the name of the older company. In the summer of 1824, in rec- 
ognition of his ability, McLoughlin was made Chief Factor of the De- 
partment of the Columbia, which embraced the country west of the 
Rockies between Russian Alaska and Mexican California. 

The North West Company had done little to develop trade in this 
area, though it held Astoria (Fort George) and maintained several 
posts. McLoughlin set out almost immediately for his new post, closely 
followed by the energetic George Simpson, field Governor of the new 
Hudson's Bay Company. The Governor made the journey from York 
Factory on Hudson Bay to Fort George on the Columbia in 84 days, 
proof not only of his energy but also of the efficient organization of 
the Hudson's Bay Company and the control it had over the Indians 
of Canada. 

The new Chief Factor and the Governor soon decided that Astoria 
was in a poor position; the Governor wanted to move the headquarters 
north to the mouth of the Fraser River, but McLoughlin preferred to 
keep it on the Columbia and his desire prevailed. He selected the new 
site, naming it for the British commander Vancouver whose expedition 
had gone up the river in 1792 just after the Bostonian, Captain Gray, 
had entered the mouth. Fort Vancouver became the capital of the coun- 
try between Alaska and Oregon. Under George Simpson the Hudson's 
Bay Company developed a policy of withholding liquor from the In- 
dians (within British territory) and of conserving the fur-bearing ani- 
mals by limiting operations whenever signs of depletion appeared. 
McLoughlin quickly established respect for the company among the 
Indians, thus making trading operations orderly and reasonably safe. 

When Fort Vancouver was established in 1824 it was placed on the 

Why a Trail to Oregon? 19 

north bank of the Columbia because the realistic Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany Council had come to the conclusion that when the Oregon question 
was settled there would be a compromise; the company, and Great 
Britain, hoped to hold the land north and west of the Columbia River, 
which embraced more than half of the present State of Washington. 
McLoughlin was told that he must, as far as possible, make the De- 
partment of the Columbia independent of outside supplies by raising 
foodstuffs around his post. This he undertook to do at once. 

In 1816 Astor's American Fur Company began to be active in the 
Great Lakes and the upper Mississippi fur trade, making its headquar- 
ters at Mackinac Island. By 1822 its business had expanded to the point 
that a Western Department was established with headquarters at St. 
Louis and activities covering the Illinois, the middle Mississippi, and 
the Missouri areas. 

In the same year the Missouri Republican carried this advertisement: 
"To enterprising young men. The subscriber wishes to engage one hun- 
dred young men to ascend the Missouri river to its source, there to be 
employed one, two, or three years. For particulars enquire of Major 
Henry . . . who will ascend with, and command, the party. . . ." It 
was signed by William H. Ashley. Many of the men assembled by 
Ashley in this enterprise appear sooner or later in every history, no 
matter how brief, of the American fur trade. Among them were Jede- 
diah S. Smith, the trailmaker who was the only praying Methodist 
among the wild and reckless fur-trading crew; Andrew Henry, who 
had built the post on the Snake in 1810 and had survived a sanguinary 
struggle with the Blackfeet; William Sublette, who in 1826 with Smith 
and David Jackson bought out Ashley's interests in the fur company, 
that later provided the only serious opposition to the Astor operations 
and gave trouble even to the Hudson's Bay Department of the Colum- 
bia; Jim Bridger, canniest of all western scouts, explorer of the Great 
Salt Lake and a creator of folklore; Thomas Fitzpatrick, who was a 
leader of the party that early in 1824 discovered, or rediscovered, South 
Pass, through which went most of the early travelers; fitienne Provot, 
another trailmaker; Hugh Glass, whose duel with a grizzly bear is a 
classic of the early West; James Beckwourth, the gaudy liar whose au- 
tobiography long filled small boys with envy; Mike Fink, the tough 
keelboatman whose exploits passed rapidly into legend ; Carpenter, who 
was killed by Mike ; and Talbot, who in turn killed Mike. 

In 1821-22 the Astor interests had had the governmental trading 

20 The Oregon Trail 

posts abolished; this gave the trade completely to private concerns, re- 
sulting eventually in a virtual monopoly for the Astor interests east of 
Oregon. Long before that had been achieved, however, private competi- 
tion had thrown the Indian tribes into turmoil similar to that which had 
forced the Hudson's Bay-North West Company merger. Rival groups 
plied the Indians with banned liquor, and stirred them up against other 
tribes, against the traders of other companies, and even against factions 
within their own companies, by bewildering them with contradictory 
statements all inculcating contempt for white men and white govern- 
ment. Though the monopoly of the Hudson's Bay Company in Canada 
and in the Oregon country had a quieting effect, making the country 
fairly safe for the passage of small groups of white persons, the Astor 
monopoly increased the tension because of the intracompany competi- 
tion. Another result of the rivalries was the early exhaustion of the fur 
field, since conservation was impossible under the circumstances. 

Rufus Sage, who traveled through the West before the great migra- 
tion began, came to the conclusion that vice was all the white men had 
given to the Indians. One early traveler reported that an Indian chief, 
noting the conduct of the white men with the Indian women, asked in- 
nocently whether there were any white women; another reported that 
an Indian had asked him seriously whether the whites were not delib- 
erately debauching them with intent to weaken them. An emigrant wrote 
that the only English words some tribes knew were "Whoa," "Gee," 
and "God damn," which they used as polite greetings; he added that 
one company that asked Indians where there was good camping ground 
was told that there was plenty of grass nearby for the "Whoa-haws" 
but no water for the "God-damns." 

Almost from the beginning the relations between the whites and the 
Indians were strained, the people of the two races having different ethi- 
cal values and material standards. Joseph Whitehouse of the Lewis and 
Clark expedition summed up the friendliest white attitude toward the 
Indians: "they are or appear as yet to be the most friendly people I 
ever Saw but they will Steal and plunder if they can git an opportu- 
nity. . . . Some of them & indeed most of them have Strange & un- 
common Ideas, but verry Ignorant of our forms & customs, but quick 
& Sensible in their own way & in their own conceit &c &c." 

The first white men in a region were greeted with curiosity and were 
often welcomed because of the gadgets they brought. Nonetheless, even 
when the welcome was warm and friendly, the white men were ex- 


The Chinooks called their neighbors Flatheads 




Why a Trail to Oregon? 21 

asperated by the aborigines, chiefly because of the Indian attitude to- 
wards private property. Among all tribes there was a limited amount 
of personal property, and title to it was respected within the tribe. Non- 
tribal property was legitimate loot in the complicated game of skill 
that played a large part in Indian warrior life. Scoring rules for the 
game were intricate; so many points went to the man who could steal 
such property, the number dependent on the value of what was taken. 
War was a sporting event. Many points went to the man who took a 
prisoner ; if the attempted capture resulted in death, it was still counted 
provided the scalp was obtained, because the Indians believed that body 
and spirit were one. Killing with a tomahawk was more meritorious 
than killing with an arrow because it involved greater physical risk. 
A great hero was a man who could touch an enemy before he killed 
and scalped him. Enemies were those who had scored unfairly against 
the tribe or who had humiliated its members. 

Training in theft was given from the earliest years, property within 
the tribe being used for this vocational guidance. The small boy caught 
stealing was thoroughly shamed by his parents as a bungler. The In- 
dian who could slip into the Lewis and Clark camp and make off with 
a knife or a kettle was merely a clever fellow, in the eyes of his tribes- 
men; and the Indians did not understand why the visitors should par- 
ticularly resent this if they had been lax about guarding their prop- 
erty. Had the whites stolen in return, the Indians would have regarded 
it as wholly natural. Friendly chiefs were quite willing to force the 
return of stolen odds and ends if the visitors could point out the un- 
skilled person who had taken them. 

The whites, misunderstanding this attitude, frequently beat Indians 
for theft, not realizing that the Indians considered death less humili- 
ating. Once a tribal member had been beaten, his tribe felt that it could 
save face by nothing short of capturing dead, if necessary as many 
of the beater's fellows as possible; and since all white men looked alike 
to them, they avenged themselves on the first party to appear after the 

On the other hand, the Indians had a deep sense of justice and of 
gratitude. McLoughlin controlled those in his area by punishing of- 
fenders whose guilt could be clearly demonstrated, rewarding those 
shown worthy of trust, caring for the sick among the Indians as faith- 
fully as he cared for ailing whites, and by observing Indian taboos and 

22 The Oregon Trail 

demanding that the Indians observe his; the Indians called him the 
White-Headed Eagle. Fort Vancouver was never attacked. 

McLoughlin, however, could not entirely prevent the Indians from 
selling to his rivals, because of the agreement on joint occupancy of 
the Oregon country, renewed in 1827. In 1826 American traders, prob- 
ably belonging to the aggressive Ashley company, had been so suc- 
cessful in underselling the second Hudson's Bay expedition into the 
Snake River country that Peter Skene Ogden, its leader, reported he 
was happy to return to Fort Vancouver without serious loss. When 
American traders came to the area by sea or land the Chief Factor 
received them cordially but used all his influence to make their quests 
for furs fruitless. The competition of one ingenious Yankee, Capt. Wil- 
liam McNeill, who arrived in 1832 with a shipload of such gay novel- 
ties as jumping-jacks, wooden soldiers, and whistles which seemed far 
more desirable to the Indians than the Hudson's Bay staples was sup- 
pressed only by the purchase of the ship, its cargo, and the captain's 
services for the Hudson's Bay Company. 

Occasionally Dr. McLoughlin smothered competition with courtesy; 
in 1828 Jedediah Smith limped into Fort Vancouver after having lost 
part of his men and all his furs among the Umpquas of southern Ore- 
gon. The Chief Factor had personal sympathy for Smith, a brave man, 
but he acted largely as an overlord for the Hudson's Bay Company 
when he sent an expedition to punish the Umpquas and recover the 
furs; no molestation of whites would be tolerated in his domain. Gov- 
ernor Simpson, who was visiting the post, approved the purchase of 
the furs at market price to save Smith from the dangers of transporta- 
tion overland with a small escort, at the same time making it clear that 
in doing so the company was trusting Smith to keep out of the Oregon 
area in the future. The praying Methodist did not violate the obligation. 

In the meantime, however, more serious attacks on McLoughlin's 
territory were developing. The English colonies had been settled by 
protestants against authority in church and state, protestants against 
unfavorable economic conditions, and protestants against the dullness 
and monotony of life in settled communities. The great majority of 
the settlers were people who had different values from those who stayed 
at home, counting physical risk and hardship a small price to pay for 
adventure, fortune, or freedom to do as they pleased. Some found what 
they had sought; others did not, and they moved restlessly on from 
place to place. People dissatisfied with Massachusetts had settled Con- 

Why a Trail to Oregon? 23 

necticut and New Hampshire; people dissatisfied with Connecticut and 
New Hampshire had settled Vermont and upper New York; people 
dissatisfied with New England and nearby States had settled Ohio. 
People who had left the seaboard for Kentucky, Tennessee, and the 
Northwest Territory had moved across the Mississippi River soon after 
Louisiana was acquired, many abandoning fertile farms they had 
cleared, because of some undefined dissatisfaction and the vague belief 
that Utopia must exist somewhere west. 

All explorers, nearly all pioneers, and certainly all the fur traders 
belonged to this restless breed, though many who write of their adven- 
tures do not understand their heroes; they judge them by their own stay- 
at-home values and waste "heroic," "intrepid," "hardy," "valiant," and 
like words on them until the adjectives are meaningless. When, after a 
hard winter in a hut along the Missouri, Lewis wrote that the moment 
of departure for the untrodden wilderness was among the happiest of 
his life, he was voicing the feeling of all who followed him westward. 
Time and again the traders and mountain men vowed that they were 
through with hardships and were going back to the security of the set- 
tled East; but the first person who asked them to return to the moun- 
tains was sure to start them west again. Those who returned to the 
East, even briefly, spread unrest and stirred up the adventurous blood 
dormant in most of the descendants of the first pioneers. 

In the early decades of the nineteenth century a large part of the 
population of the United States was in a particularly disturbed state of 
mind. The more perfect union envisioned by the Constitution had not 
abolished taxes or created idyllic communities ; the new factories, belch- 
ing forth smoke and cinders, provided many new comforts but did not 
pay wages that enabled the hands to buy them in quantities; farmers 
were receiving lower prices for their products because of competition 
from the newly settled lands; the blow dealt to the spiritual authority 
of the churches by the Revolution had robbed many of their feeling of 
spiritual security; and the ideas let loose by the French Revolution, 
widely aired by those who had fled to America to escape the reactionary 
regimes of the post-Revolutionary period, added to the mental ferment. 
Messiahs appeared daily, offering mesmerism, socialism, vegetarian- 
ism, love-communism, Millerism, dress reform, transcendentalism, and 
countless other panaceas for social, economic, and religious ills. Al- 
most every prophet gained at least a few followers, some a great many. 

The Journals of Lewis and Clark and of other explorers, the diaries 

24 The Oregon Trail 

and letters of travelers and journalists, turned public attention to the 
Far West. European philosophers, poets, and novelists had long been 
romanticizing the American wilderness and, to some extent, the pio- 
neers. James Fenimore Cooper, however, was the first American to 
idealize the frontiersmen. Washington Irving began the literary exploita- 
tion of the Far West. The romantic attitude gradually spread downward 
from the literate to the illiterate, and restless migrants who had never 
read a book in their lives began to see themselves as participants in 
heroic drama and to act and pose accordingly. 

One of the first to advocate emigration to the Oregon region was 
Hall J. Kelley, a teacher in a school near Boston, who began writing 
letters and memoranda to the newspapers on the subject in 1818, bas- 
ing his statements largely on his own interpretations of what Lewis and 
Clark had reported. In time he organized emigrant meetings, addressed 
memorials to Congress for aid, and eventually founded an Oregon Emi- 
gration Association to travel west in 1832. His first appeals were 
commercial and agrarian; but as the clergy, fearful of losing more 
parishioners, and factory owners, determined not to have their cheap- 
labor market diminished, began to attack him and his propaganda, his 
writings became somewhat socialistic. 

Kelley interested the well-to-do Nathaniel Wyeth in the scheme. 
Wyeth clearly indicated the state of mind of the average emigrant when 
he wrote: "I cannot divest myself of the opinion that I shall compete 
better with my fellow men in new and untried paths than in those 
which require only patience and attention." But Wyeth early discov- 
ered Kelley's impracticality and determined to lead his own expedition, 
but as a fur trader, not a settler. His plans were like those John Jacob 
Astor had made earlier; a ship would carry supplies for the Indian 
trade to the Columbia and Wyeth would travel overland to meet it. In 
late October, 1832, Wyeth reached Fort Vancouver after many difficul- 
ties resulting from his lack of experience; his ship had not arrived. 
Dr. McLoughlin, liking the young man, took him into the Hudson's Bay 
mess with his usual hospitality, but at the same time warned him frankly 
that he would do all he could to oppose his business venture. Wyeth 
did not learn for many months that his ship had been wrecked and that 
it was useless for him to remain in Oregon. 

In 1832 Capt. Benjamin de Bonneville also arrived in Oregon, osten- 
sibly as a fur trader but, judged by the maps and reports he made and 
by recently discovered pay-roll records, actually as a United States se- 

Why a Trail to Oregon? 25 

cret intelligence officer. The Adventures of Captain Bonneville, written 
by Washington Irving from Bonneville's notes, was read by many peo- 
ple, who in 1837, the year the book was published, were sharing the 
results of the disastrous financial crash that had been caused by mad 
speculation in public utilities and unsound public and private financing. 
To them the West began to seem a place of refuge, offering unlimited 
land without mortgages. 

It was a rule of the Hudson's Bay Company that an employee reach- 
ing the end of his term of service must return to the point of enlist- 
ment for discharge. A number of French Canadians employed in the 
Department of the Columbia asked McLoughlin's permission to settle 
near Fort Vancouver when their time was up; they liked the country 
and had taken wives from local tribes. Ignoring the company regula- 
tion, the doctor sent them down the Willamette and aided them with 
tools and supplies; he did this partly from kind-heartedness and partly, 
perhaps, because he had an idea that settlement south of the river by 
loyal Canadians might enable him to hold the country. As the settle- 
ment expanded and the number of half-breed children increased, he 
became anxious to provide education and religious training. He several 
times asked headquarters to obtain a clergyman for the post, but none 
was sent in spite of promises. 

In 1831 four members of the Flathead tribe had journeyed to St. 
Louis to ask for instruction in the white man's religion, having heard 
from a wandering band of Canadian Iroquois of the superior efficiency 
of the "medicine" of the "black robes" (priests). Their action aroused 
such interest in religious circles that in 1833 the General Conference 
of the Methodist Episcopal Church appointed the efficient Jason Lee 
"Missionary to the Flatheads." Lee rapidly organized a small party of 
assistants and, learning that Nathaniel Wyeth was returning to Oregon 
to make another attempt to compete with the Hudson's Bay Company, 
obtained permission to travel overland with the Boston merchant. In 
July, 1834, the party reached the Snake River, where Wyeth established 
a small post, which he named Fort Hall; the party reached Fort Van- 
couver on September 16. McLoughlin greeted them cordially, in spite 
of his knowledge of Wyeth's intentions, and was soon advising Lee that 
it was dangerous to establish a mission among the Flatheads and that 
he had a congregation ready for his ministrations along the Willamette. 
In giving this advice the Chief Factor spoke as a Hudson's Bay man, 

26 The Oregon Trail 

eager to keep the Americans well south of the Columbia. Lee accepted 
the advice and almost at once set out to build his mission. 

Despite Dr. McLoughlin's disapproval, Wyeth built a post close to 
Fort Vancouver, but he was no match for his entrenched rival and after 
a very discouraging struggle he left the field. 

Another arrival at Fort Vancouver in 1834 was Hall Kelley, who 
had traveled from Boston by way of California. During his first visit 
Wyeth had told Dr. McLoughlin of Kelley's activities and the doctor, 
ordinarily kind and courteous, had worked up an intense hatred of the 
man who was trying to stimulate what was, in the Factor's opinion, an 
invasion of a country he had developed. When Kelley arrived, penni- 
less, almost alone, and preceded by a report that he had stolen horses 
in California, the doctor permitted him to live at the post but treated 
him as a pariah. Kelley lingered miserably until 1836, his hatred of 
McLoughlin increasing daily. When Kelley returned to Boston his 
stored-up venom found outlet in a bitter pamphlet in which he accused 
the doctor of tyranny and of activities inimical to the American cause. 
This pamphlet was called to the attention of the Secretary of State, who 
at once arranged to have a Captain Slacum investigate the situation on 
the Columbia. Slacum's report, which was not free from bias, aroused 
considerable feeling in the United States. 

In the meantime, more missionaries had arrived along the Columbia. 
Other religious people besides the Methodists had been moved by the 
Flathead plea; in 1834 an interdenominational board appointed the 
Rev. Samuel Parker and Dr. Marcus Whitman to study the needs. In 
1835 the two men traveled with fur traders to the annual rendezvous 
in the Green River Valley of western Wyoming. When they reached the 
valley Dr. Whitman had seen enough Indians to be convinced that he 
need go no farther before reporting to the board that the aborigines 
needed religious attention. Parker traveled on with only a few Indians, 
arriving at Fort Vancouver on October 16 immaculately dressed and 
wearing a plug hat, as was his wont. The Chief Factor, though some- 
what worried by the advent, was courteous as usual ; but this missionary 
was not to be diverted to the Willamette Valley. After looking over 
sites for missions he left Vancouver for Boston by way of the Pacific. 

Not long after Parker's departure for reinforcements, the Hudson's 
Bay Company answered the doctor's six-year-old prayer for a clergy- 
man; the Rev. Herbert Beaver arrived from London with his wife and 
within a short time managed to set the post by its heels. Neither the 

Why a Trail to Oregon? 27 

clergyman nor his wife had anything but scorn for the Indians and 
they disapproved of the Hudson's Bay contract marriages, going so far 
in their dislike of inter-racial marriage as to snub the doctor's wife, 
who was a half-breed and married by contract. The situation was made 
increasingly tense by the severely critical letters the clergyman wrote 
to London; it culminated in 1838, when the doctor lost his temper and 
caned Mr. Beaver. The act was unfortunate for Dr. McLoughlin be- 
cause the Beavers, after their return to England, helped to work up 
opposition to the Chief Factor's activities. Up to this time the doctor 
had been accorded great respect from headquarters. He had extended 
his posts to the north and east, was raising enough foodstuffs to enable 
him to have a surplus for exportation, and was also trading in the 
Sandwich Islands. 

About the time Mr. Beaver put in his delayed appearance, Dr. Whit- 
man and the Rev. Henry Spalding arrived at Fort Vancouver with their 
wives the first white women to make the overland trip. Dr. McLough- 
lin treated the party hospitably and, when they insisted on going at 
once to found missions near Walla Walla and on the Clearwater River, 
gave them what assistance he could, by permitting them to replenish 
their exhausted supplies from his stores; he warned them, however, of 
the danger of isolating themselves inland near the treacherous Cayuses. 

In the meantime Jason Lee had called for reinforcements, and in the 
summer of 1837 two ships arrived with supplies and more missionaries, 
bringing the total in the Willamette Valley to 60. 

The Chief Factor watched their arrival with mixed feelings; the 
Protestant missionaries had made slight progress, their type of religion 
having little appeal for the natives. Indian converts had been few and 
the French Canadians, who were Roman Catholics, had held aloof. The 
doctor began to hear rumors that the Americans were turning their at- 
tention to real estate and politics and were considering the setting up 
of a provisional government. As the failure to win the Indians became 
more apparent, the missionary group became concerned to show some 
other results to their financial backers. In 1838 Jason Lee determined 
to visit the East and place a memorial before Congress asking that 
Oregon be made a part of the Union. 

In the same year the Chief Factor took his first vacation away from 
the Columbia since he had arrived there in 1824; he went straight to 
London to lay before his chiefs his plans for the extension of Hud- 
son's Bay activities, In addition to obtaining permission to trade into 

28 The Oregon Trail 

Russian Alaska, with Russian consent, he was also authorized to make 
settlements south of Puget Sound, as a means of reinforcing Britain's 
claim to the territory that is now the State of Washington. 

In May, 1840, not long after McLoughlin's return to his post, Jason 
Lee reappeared, by way of the sea, at the head of a party of 52 persons. 
When the doctor asked why they had come, Lee assured him that they 
were to work in the mission. Not long after this, however, it became 
quite apparent that many were interested in settlement rather than in 
missionary work. Long afterward the Chief Factor was to learn that 
Lee on his trip east had traveled widely on lecture tours, mixing his 
discussion of Indian needs with large doses of propaganda on the de- 
sirability of Oregon as a place of settlement. No professional imperialist 
could have been more enthusiastic than Lee about the justness of seiz- 
ing Oregon for the United States. Lee's speeches and the Journal of his 
travels, published in 1838, did much to spread the Oregon fever. The 
question of the ethical propriety of Lee's imperialistic activities has 
provided meat for a hundred years of argument ; he had accepted much 
help from the doctor in establishing his mission, with full knowledge 
that McLoughlin would have opposed him if his announced purpose 
had been commercial or imperialistic. It is probable that Lee was less 
sensitive than Jedediah Smith and that to him McLoughlin was merely 
a symbol representing Britain, which the average American believed 
should be outwitted by fair means or foul. 

Less easily condoned was the act of the Reverend Mr. Waller, who 
deliberately pre-empted land by the Falls of the Willamette that Mc- 
Loughlin had taken possession of in 1830 and where he had blasted out 
a millrace. McLoughlin gave notice of the claim when Waller started 
to build, but permitted the Methodist as a tenant to erect a small build- 
ing, even giving him some lumber. Later Waller and others ignored 
the doctor's claim entirely and did all in their power to take from him 
the spot to which he had planned to retire. 

In 1841 Governor Simpson, then Sir George, arrived at Fort Van- 
couver on an inspection trip. McLoughlin had been permitted far more 
freedom than were most Chief Factors, but he knew that in allowing 
the missionaries to establish themselves so strongly he had betrayed 
company policy. Though Sir George was noncommittal, it was clear 
that he was not satisfied. 

The Hudson's Bay Company was well aware that there was a grow- 
ing sentiment in the United States for the seizure of Oregon; in fact, 

Why a Trail to Oregon? 29 

American claims disputed title to all the West Coast country up to 
the Russian boundary. The American claim rested in part on the fact 
that Robert Gray had visited the mouth of the Columbia in 1792, 
though it was Vancouver's lieutenant who, in the same year, had ex- 
plored the river for a hundred miles and verified its course; it also 
rested on the explorations by the Americans, Lewis and Clark. The 
British, however, could show that they had been developing the country, 
had made some settlements, and had established civil rule for British 
subjects in the territory. The weakness of the American claim was ap- 
parent and the missionary-imperialists in the critical years were frank, 
in the States if not in Oregon, in stressing the need of rushing settlers 
in to attain predominant numbers for the United States. Conservative 
members of the Government had resisted the shouts of jingoes for mili- 
tary penetration of the Oregon country, as they had resisted pleas for 
forts near the Rockies to protect the fur traders. Settlements, however, 
were rapidly increasing between the Mississippi and Indian territory, 
particularly since the depression of 1837 had added to the popular 

In May, 1841, a group of people assembled at Independence, Mo., 
for migration to California; they had been collected largely by John 
Bidwell who had heard stories of the country from a traveling French- 
man. Most of the would-be emigrants became discouraged and withdrew 
from the party, which became so small that the remainder joined some 
trappers, including Thomas Fitzpatrick, on their way to Green River, 
and a party of Roman Catholic priests, including Father Pierre DeSmet, 
who were journeying to the Flathead country at last to answer the call 
for "black robes." When the priests left them at Soda Springs, the 
party, now consisting of 64 people, was split; half of them, fearing to 
attempt the uncertain California route, followed the better -known trail 
to Whitman's mission at Walla Walla and then went down the Columbia. 

In 1842 the real march on Oregon began. In this year the imperi- 
alists, led by Sen. Thomas H. Benton of Missouri, had succeeded in 
having an official trail-exploration expedition sent as far west as the 
Wind River Valley; this was led by Benton's new son-in-law, J. C. 
Fremont. Fremont's report, issued early in 1843, roused wide enthu- 
siasm ; in 1843 he again went out and he spent most of the two following 
years exploring foreign land Oregon and the Mexican possessions in 
what is now the United States. His reports of these expeditions became 
the chief guidebook of later emigrants. At the time Fremont was mak- 

30 The Oregon Trail 

ing his first trip, a party of about a hundred started for Oregon under 
the leadership of Dr. Elijah White, a member of the Willamette mis- 
sion who had quarreled with Jason Lee but was returning with the 
peculiar Federal title of "Indian subagent for Oregon." McLoughlin's 
agent at Fort Hall sent a guide to lead them to the Willamette. This 
party did not pass Fort Vancouver, but McLoughlin later helped many 
of its members by extending credit at the company commissary to them. 
In the following year nearly half the members of the White party moved 
on to California; their arrival had, however, stimulated the Americans 
in the Willamette Valley to form a loose civil government for them- 
selves. The British subjects in the valley first joined the movement, but 
withdrew when they discovered the nationalistic character of the ac- 

At the time the organization meeting was held nearly a thousand 
persons were assembling at Independence,, Mo., and preparing to start 
west. White in 1842 had brought news of this assembly and also orders 
to Dr. Whitman that part of his missions were to be closed because 
the board was tired of the dissension among the workers and disap- 
pointed in the number of conversions. Whitman and his colleagues de- 
termined to disregard the instructions. In the fall of this year Whitman 
suddenly decided to rush east, regardless of the weather. After a quick 
trip across the mountains, he went straight to Washington to urge his 
ideas on Government officials, asking for forts to protect emigrants along 
the Oregon Trail; he then visited New York, where he met Horace 
Greeley and filled him with enthusiasm for the disputed territory; and 
finally he went to Boston to consult with his board. Almost immedi- 
ately he started west again, lecturing as he went, to join the travelers 
at Independence and turn them toward Oregon. 

About 875 persons straggled into Oregon in November and Decem- 
ber of 1843; like those who preceded them, they were assisted in vari- 
ous ways by the Hudson's Bay Chief Factor of the Columbia. In the 
following year the settlers reorganized and strengthened their provi- 
sional government, and welcomed 1,400 more arrivals. Still Dr. Mc- 
Loughlin extended credit to the straitened newcomers, who promised 
repayment in wheat and other commodities to be produced on the new 
lands; it is possible that he yet hoped to redeem himself in the eyes 
of his superiors by making Fort Vancouver the export center for the 

In 1845, which saw the arrival of more than three thousand immi- 

Why a Trail to Oregon? 31 

grants, the provisional government was fully established. In the same 
year the Hudson's Bay Company forced the resignation of its Chief 
Factor on the Columbia; after winding up his affairs he moved south 
in an attempt to regain the land he had laid claim to 15 years before 
and in the expectation of some repayment from the many newcomers 
he had helped. Many of the settlers had not paid their debts to the 
Hudson's Bay Company and McLoughlin's later years were embittered 
because he had to use his lifetime savings to reimburse the company. 
Though he soon became a citizen of the United States, his land claim 
was not recognized until five years after his death. 

A leader of one 1845 section was Joel Palmer, whose Journal, 
published in 1847, gave sound advice to future emigrants (see AP- 

By 1846 the boundary controversy had become acute; Folk's cam- 
paign slogan "Fifty-four forty or fight" and the Mexican War had 
whipped the United States into a state of imperialistic belligerency. 
War between the United States and Great Britain seemed so inevitable 
that the representatives of the two countries hastily brought the 30-year 
negotiations to an end with a compromise extending the international 
boundary westward along the 49th parallel to the Strait of Georgia. 

The same force settlement that had brought Oregon territory 
into the Union was already bringing in the Southwest; by 1853 war 
and purchase had rounded out the present boundaries of the United 

The acquisition of vast western lands swelled the stream of migra- 
tion to all parts of the West. By 1848 the Oregon Trail was deeply 
rutted. The discovery of gold in California in that year drove it deeper 
into the prairies, for it carried the great bulk of the gold seekers at 
least to a point west of South Pass. 

Much maudlin sympathy has been wasted on the pioneers; few of 
them asked for it. They were taking part in one of the great mass 
movements of history and they knew it, as is shown by the diaries 
they kept under difficult conditions, by the letters they wrote to the home- 
town newspapers and to friends, and by the efforts they made to leave 
their names on various rocks along the way. To many the journey was 
an exhilarating picnic, with gossip, chatter, love-making, sightseeing, 
and adventure providing them with something to boast about for the 
rest of their lives. If the hardships were greater than they anticipated, 
the majority was undismayed. Cholera epidemics along the trail in 

32 The Oregon Trail 

1849, 1850, and 1852 took heavy toll, as such epidemics did in cities. 
On the whole the emigrants had such good health on the trail that 
hordes of sick and anemic persons journeyed to the Missouri to travel 
at least for a time with the parties. Had the emigrants stayed at home, 
the average annual death rate would have been 500 in every 20,000; 
probably the death rate on the trail from natural causes was lower 
than at home. Most deaths not resulting from epidemics were the result 
of rashness or carelessness. Loaded guns in the hands of amateur fron- 
tiersmen were a leading cause of accidents. 

Every party had some members who were sure that they could find 
shorter and better routes than could experienced guides; the tragic ex- 
perience of the Donner party (see SECTION 7) took place because the 
members acted on advice given in a letter written by a man of whom 
they had never heard. 

As Army posts were opened along the way, the officers became in- 
creasingly annoyed by the foolhardiness of the travelers; finally, to 
save themselves the labor of rushing about rescuing the foolish, they 
forcibly though without authority organized the trains under military 
rules and passed them along under escort. 

While many of the emigrants feared the Indians and were always 
alert, others could not be made to take reasonable precautions against 
surprise. The Indians stole when they could and caused occasional 
deaths during raids, but they were not serious menaces until the sixties, 
when they began to realize that the invaders were driving away and 
killing off the buffalo and other animals on which the natives depended 
for their food and clothing. By this time, moreover, the Indians had 
become thoroughly disillusioned of any hopes that the whites would 
keep the land treaties. By these agreements the whites took the best 
lands and gave the Indians the worst; in addition comparatively little 
of the promised compensations in money and goods ever reached the 
aborigines. Even the Army officers sent to quell uprisings when the 
Indians became desperate, reported, with a stern sense of justice, that 
the natives had just cause for their frantic last stands. For many years 
the forces sent against the Indians were inadequate, but when at length 
the Government undertook to finish the job of expropriation, the results 
were swift and final. 

Great hardship was caused by the settlers' determination to carry 
their prized possessions with them. Many a cherished chest and spinet 
on the West Coast was carried overland at the price of semistarvation. 

Why a Trail to Oregon? 33 

By 1850 the immigrants were beginning to clamor for quick mail 
service and better transportation, but it was 1859 before an overland 
stage went as far west as Colorado. The Pony Express, which gave 
the first fast mail service to California, was inaugurated in 1860; 
though it lasted only 16 months and ruined its promoters, it provided 
the country with one of the most exciting series of relay races in his- 
tory. In 1861 a telegraph line connected the Pacific Coast with the 
East. After much talk about building a railroad to the Far West, the 
Federal government accepted the responsibility. A Congressional act 
permitted the Central Pacific to built eastward from Sacramento and 
the Union Pacific to build westward from Council Bluffs until their 
lines should meet, with a bait of princely land grants to stimulate 
rivalry between the two companies for distance covered. The most 
formidable engineering difficulties were encountered at the western end, 
but the building of the Union Pacific was a far more dramatic enter- 
prise; it was carried through at a time when many of the Indian 
tribes of the plains were actively and fiercely hostile. On May 10, 
1869, at Promontory, Utah, a golden spike was driven into a cross-tie 
of California laurel, celebrating the junction of the rails pushed from 
the East and the West, and the completion of an iron span across 
the continent. 

Wagons continued to follow the Oregon Trail until late in the 
eighties, but the days of pioneer travel were over and the physical 
frontier was almost gone. Many who went west remained only a short 
time, then turned back to settle in the Middle West, or to resettle in 
their native States east of the Mississippi. Relatively few of the immi- 
grants found the quick wealth and happiness they had sought. Through 
the years the migrations grew steadily smaller; they have not yet 
stopped, though there is no free land today. 

The biological genes transmitting the characteristics that drained 
Europe of much of its vitality and made the United States an empire 
extending from coast to coast have not been bred out. 


US 30 

The Missouri River to the Pacific 
2,110 miles 

Alternate Route 


570.4 miles 


Smithsonian Institution 



The United States Illustrated 



Independence, Mo. Kansas City St. Joseph Council Bluffs, Iowa 
(Missouri River) ; 218.1 m. US 24, US 71, and US 275. 

Burlington Route and Missouri Pacific R.R. roughly parallel route between Kansas 
City and Council Bluffs. 

Paved roadbed. 
Accommodations chiefly in towns. 

". . . from this river is time reconed & it matters not how far you 
you have come, this is the point to which they all refer, for the 
question is never, when did you leave home? but, when did you 
leave the Mississouri river?" 

Mrs. Frizzell, Across the Plains to California in 1852. 

"Last spring, 1846," wrote Francis Parkman in The California and 
Oregon Trail, "was a busy season in the city of St. Louis. Not only 
were emigrants from every part of the country preparing for the journey 
to Oregon and California, but an unusual number of traders were 
making ready their wagons and outfits for Santa Fe. The hotels were 
crowded, and the gunsmiths and saddlers were kept constantly at work 
in providing arms and equipment for the different parties of travellers. 
Almost every day steamboats were leaving the levee and passing up the 
Missouri, crowded with passengers on the way to the frontier. 

"In one of these, the Radnor, .... my friend and relative, Quincy 
A. Shaw, and myself left St. Louis on the twenty-fifth of April on a 
tour of curiosity and amusement to the Rocky Mountains. The boat was 
loaded until the water broke alternately over her guards. Her upper 
deck was covered with large wagons of a peculiar form, for the Santa 
Fe trade, and the hold was crammed with goods for the same destina- 
tion. There were also the equipments and provisions of a party of 
Oregon emigrants, a band of mules and horses, piles of saddles, and a 
multitude of nondescript articles, indispensable on the prairies. 

". . . . In five or six days we began to see signs of the great western 
movement that was taking place. Parties of emigrants, with their tents, 
and wagons, were encamped on open spots near the bank, on their way 
to the common rendezvous at Independence." 

Section 1. Independence to Council Bluffs (Missouri River), 
218.1 m. US 24, US 71, and US 275. 

INDEPENDENCE, m. (949 alt., 15,296 pop.), is a pleasant resi- 
dential and manufacturing suburb of Kansas City, Mo., lying about 
five miles south of the Missouri River and a dozen miles west of the 
mouth of the Kansas. There is little in its appearance today to suggest 


38 The Oregon Trail 

that it was at one time the busiest town in the United States west of 
St. Louis. 

A few settlers appeared in the area after 1808, when little Fort 
Osage was established some miles to the east; it was chiefly a Govern- 
ment trading post. Missouri became a State in 1821 but Independence 
was not organized until 1827, after the Indians occupying the territory 
had been sent (1825) west of the State Line, and Fort Leavenworth, 
some miles up the Missouri, had been garrisoned. 

Traders and trappers from the United States were roaming toward 
the Rockies soon after the Louisiana Purchase was made. A few pene- 
trated to Santa Fe, then under Spanish rule, though the Mexicans were 
attempting to obtain independence. These early traders in the Southwest 
were treated with suspicion and hostility by the Spanish. In the fall of 
1821 a party of 20 traders and trappers went up the Arkansas, crossed 
to and explored the headwaters of the Rio Grande, and in the following 
summer returned to Missouri by a route to some extent approximating 
the later Santa Fe Trail; this was called the Fowler expedition for 
Jacob Fowler, second in command, who reported the results of the 
explorations. Not long after this expedition started out William Beck- 
nell, a trader, returned from Santa Fe with the report that the Mexicans 
were free from Spanish domination and eager for trade with the United 
States. In 1825-27, through the effort of Thomas Hart Benton, an 
expansionist and Missouri's first Senator, three United States commis- 
sioners were sent out to survey a trail to the Southwest; since the 
area that is now New Mexico was then Mexican territory, they did not 
work beyond the United States boundary, but as far as they went they 
laid out the Santa Fe Trail. Though the route nominally started at 
Fort Osage, Independence soon became the headquarters of the South- 
west traders. It maintained its importance in this capacity until after 
1868, when construction of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry. began. 

This area, rather than St. Louis, became the jumping-off -place for 
the West and the Southwest because traders could avoid 250 miles of 
travel over mire and rough roads by traveling up the Missouri River to 
the point where it made a sharp bend at the beginning of its long swing 
north. By 1830 the town had a busy blacksmith shop and other facilities 
needed by those setting off on long journeys overland through unsettled 

The earliest traders along the Santa Fe Trail used pack horses, but 
they soon acquired mules, which were abundant in Mexico and had a 
reputation for sturdiness, sure-footedness, and ability to carry heavy 
loads. Later traders found oxen even better for the purpose. The first 
wagons used on the Santa Fe Trail were made in Pittsburgh, Pa., but 
"Murphy wagons," originally made by a man of that name in St. Louis, 
soon became popular. Later Samuel Weston and other local men manu- 
factured trail wagons, and in the last years of the prairie-schooner traf- 
fic there were wagonmakers in a number of nearby towns. 

Missouri-Iowa 39 

A loaded wagon weighed from three to seven thousand pounds. Ten 
or twelve mules, or six yoke of oxen, were needed to pull each wagon; 
reserve animals were driven with the train to take the places of those 
that gave out. 

In the thirties and forties a trip or two to Santa Fe was the popular 
means of occupying the "Wander jahr" before young men settled down 
to business and family life; those who could afford it went as traders 
and the rest took employment with the trains. The skilled employees 
were the packers and drivers, who received each month between $25 and 
$50 and "found." Wealthy young men often accompanied the trains as 
tourists, paying for their own equipment and sometimes paying also for 
protection on the route. Yet others accompanied the trains for only a 
hundred miles or so. 

Josiah Gregg, the trader who made his first trip on the trail, as a 
health seeker, in his Commerce of the Prairies (1844) related that 
"among the concourse of travellers at this 'starting point,' besides 
traders and tourists, a number of pale-faced invalids are generally to be 
met with. The Prairies have, in fact, become very celebrated for their 
sanative effects more justly so, no doubt, than the most fashionable 
watering-places of the North. Most chronic diseases, particularly liver 
complaints, dyspepsias, and similar affections, are often radically 
cured; owing, no doubt to the peculiarities of diet, and the regular 
exercise incident to prairie life, as well as to the purity of the atmos- 
phere of those elevated unembarrassed regions. An invalid myself, I 
can answer for the efficacy of the remedy, at least in my own case. 
Though, like other valetudinarians, I was disposed to provide an ample 
supply of such commodities as I deemed necessary for my comfort and 
health, I was not long upon the prairies before I discovered that most 
of such extra preparations were unnecessary, or at least quite dispen- 
sable. A few knick-knacks, as a little tea, rice, fruits, crackers, etc., 
suffice very well for the first fortnight, after which the invalid is gen- 
erally able to take the fare of the hunter and teamster. Though I set 
out myself in a carriage, before the close of the first week I saddled 
my pony; and when we reached the buffalo range, I was not only as 
eager for the chase as the sturdiest of my companions, but I enjoyed 
far more exquisitely my share of the buffalo, than all the delicacies 
which were ever devised to provoke the most fastidious appetite." 

At the time Gregg wrote his book, the transient population of In- 
dependence had been augmented by emigrants, missionaries, tourists, 
journalists, and traders bound for Oregon and, in some cases, for Cali- 
fornia. After 1838, when Washington Irving's books on the West were 
becoming popular and Jason Lee made his lecture tour through the 
States bordering on the Mississippi, the Oregon fever burned higher 
annually. One of Lee's converts, Thomas J. Farnham, a lawyer who 
a few years earlier had migrated from Vermont to Illinois, became 
very enthusiastic; he was going to trade in the Oregon country and 

40 The Oregon Trail 

take possession of it for the United States. He reached Independence 
early in 1839 with others who wanted to join him in the venture, and 
was elected leader of the company, which called itself the Oregon Dra- 
goons and carried a flag embroidered by Mrs. Farnham with the slogan 
"Oregon or the Grave." The group was poorly equipped, each member 
having contributed only $160 to the enterprise. Despite the fact that 
there were no experienced hunters in the party, the supplies were suf- 
ficient for only 400 miles of travel; Farnham had believed they could 
live on game. (The naive belief that the trip overland could be made 
with limited facilities and equipment was not singular to this group; 
many of the tragedies of the trail resulted from ignorance of the fact 
that a man had to be reasonably well-to-do to make the journey.) 
Farnham's experiences are described in his Travels in the Great Western 
Prairies (1841). 

Each year thereafter emigrants straggled into Independence and 
the towns farther north, alone or in small groups; some reached the 
town early in April, and joined those who in the previous year had 
arrived too late to start. May was considered the best month for de- 
parture. Because of the danger of Indian attacks and lootings, emi- 
grants and other travelers usually endeavored to find or organize a 
party in the Missouri outfitting towns with which they could travel. 
Despite the seriousness of the business of making the last arrange- 
ments, of buying equipment and foodstuffs, of having wagons repaired 
and horses shod, and of finding suitable fellow travelers, there was 
generally a festive air along the Missouri in the spring. The newcomers 
collected information and misinformation, made friends and enemies, 
changed proposed destinations, and behaved in general as though they 
were on a picnic. The children frolicked and the women cooked, sewed, 
gossiped, and did the family washings. 

When a wagon train had been assembled, a quasi-military organi- 
zation was formed. Instructions were given by Capt. R. B. Marcy in 
the Prairie Traveler: "After a particular route has been selected to 
make the journey across the plains, and the requisite number have ar- 
rived . . . their first business should be to organize themselves into a 
company and elect a commander. The company should be of sufficient 
magnitude to herd and guard animals, and for protection against In- 
dians. ... In the selection of a captain, good judgment, integrity of 
purpose and practical experience are the essential requisites. . . . His 
duty should be to direct the order of march, the time of starting and 
halting, to select the camps, detail and give orders to guards, and, 
indeed, to control and superintend all the movements of the company. 
An obligation should be drawn up and signed by all the members of 
the association, wherein each one should bind himself to abide in all 
cases by the orders and decisions of the captain and to aid him by 
every means in his power .... and they should also obligate them- 

Missouri-Iowa 41 

selves to aid each other, so as to make the individual interest of each 
member the common concern of the whole company." 

A typical pact made by emigrants is found in Silas Newcomb's 
Journal (1850-1): 

"At a meeting of a Company of Californians on the Banks of the 
Missouri, May 6th, 1850, the following Preamble and Resolutions were 
unanimously adopted: 

"Whereas we are about to leave the frontier, and travel over In- 
dian Territory, exposed to their treachery, and knowing their long and 
abiding hatred of the whites; also many other privations to meet with. 
We consider it necessary to form ourselves into a Company for the 
purpose of protecting each other and our property, during our journey 
to California. 

"Therefore Resolved, That there shall be one selected from the Com- 
pany, suitable and capable to act as Captain or Leader. 

"Resolved, That we, as men, pledge ourselves to assist each other 
through all the misfortunes that may befall us on our long and dan- 
gerous journey. 

"Resolved, That the Christian Sabbath shall be observed, except 
when absolutely necessary to travel. 

"Resolved, That there shall be a sufficient guard appointed each 
night regularly, by the Captain. 

"Resolved, That in case of a member's dying, the Company shall 
give him a decent burial." 

The reason for this last pledge is easily found. In 1830 Asiatic 
cholera had, with the aid of a Mecca pilgrimage, spread into Europe, 
and by 1832 had appeared to a serious extent in American port cities, 
particularly New Orleans. By 1833 it had moved up the Mississippi and 
some of its tributaries. The bacteria causing the disease live in human 
discharges and are transmitted chiefly through infected water and food- 
stuffs. Europe was experiencing a second serious cholera epidemic in 
1847-8, when a wave of emigration to the United States brought thou- 
sands eager to settle in the lands newly acquired in the Far West. Many 
of these European immigrants brought cholera with them, and infected 
those who followed them up the Mississippi and down the Ohio. By 
the middle of June, 1848, Dearborn County, Ind., with a population of 
two thousand, was burying 14 people a day. In January, 1849, more 
than a hundred victims of cholera were landed at St. Louis; in that 
year 4,500 to 6,000 died of the disease in that city alone. Fleeing west- 
ward from the plague-stricken city, the emigrants carried the disease 
with them. In 1849 nearly sixty thousand people passed through Inde- 
pendence and other outfitting towns north of it along the river, most 
of them with California as their goal. They carried death across the 

The early symptoms of cholera often pass unrecognized and many 
who thought they were escaping from the disease had already con- 

42 The Oregon Trail 

traded it; they polluted the campgrounds along the Platte, and those 
who came behind them picked up the bacteria far from the stricken 
centers. The onset of the acute stage of the infection is sudden and ter- 
rifying; some who started the day's journey on the trail, apparently in 
good health, were writhing with pain by noon, and were in graves by 
sundown. Lacking any knowledge of the cause of this horror, fellow 
travelers, pressing handkerchiefs to their noses, fled from those who 
became ill, often leaving people to die alone. Some who fled were like- 
wise deserted in a day or two. "It is sometimes just a case of Death 
snapping his finger at you and you are gone," wrote one forty-niner. 
The disease spread to the Indians, who, believing that the whites were 
poisoning them, retaliated by senseless attacks. In 1849 cholera was 
carried as far west as the Mormon Ferry on the North Platte. The epi- 
demic was not so acute in 1850-1, but there was a resurgence in 1852. 

Mercifully, the period of suffering with cholera was brief; though 
the death toll on the trail can never accurately be estimated, it was 
probably lower there than in some of the worst-infected cities and the 
death rate did not raise a barrier of fear against further migrations; 
even in the epidemic years many thousands made rollicking starts from 
the frontier. 

Those who left it in the neighborhood of Independence followed the 
Santa Fe Trail for about 40 miles, passing through Westport and cross- 
ing into the Indian lands. They then turned northwestward and crossed 
the Kansas somewhere in the neighborhood of the present Topeka. 
There the caravans usually stopped to consider plans and reorganize 
their companies. Some would-be emigrants had had enough of frontier 
life when they reached this point, and turned back. From Kansas the 
trail early called the Oregon and later the California continued 
northwestward in the general direction of Grand Island in the Platte 
River, at intervals meeting feeders from other towns along the Missouri. 

The inhabitants of Independence early attempted to divert the flow 
of business from other settlements that were growing up near the river. 
By 1846 they had laid a rock road to the bank of the Missouri and 
established stores near the wharf. 

The year 1850 saw the first overland mail and stagecoaches leave 
this town for Salt Lake City, by Government contract with Samuel H. 
Woodson ; in the following year a summer service was extended to Cali- 
fornia. The coaches first ran on a monthly schedule; in the early sixties 
the overland stage left each day. The Missouri Commonwealth for July 
1860, described the new mail and passenger coaches as "in elegant style, 
each arranged to convey eight passengers. The bodies are beautifully 
painted and made water-tight, with a view of using them as boats in 
ferrying streams." There were six mules to each coach. The mail was 
guarded by eight armed men. 

Until after the railroads had been built there was a steady stream 
of private vehicles on the trail in summer; a few emigrants of the 

Missouri-Iowa 43 

gold-rush period rode horseback, traveling without wagons, and others 
pushed or pulled their belongings in carts. 

The rush in the 'fifties was so great that supplies often ran low and 
prices advanced. Repeated orders were sent to St. Louis but river boats 
bringing provisions also brought additional people eager to begin the 
westward trek. Cargoes arrived here for points along the trails as well 
as for local consumption and for the caravans. On the riverbanks were 
unloaded boxes, barrels, hogsheads, and crates filled with sugar, dry 
goods, bacon, rice, dishes, and glassware; there were also barrels of 
liquor from Kentucky and occasional casks of brandy from France. 
Local freighting finally became so heavy that Independence men formed 
a company to build a railroad from the landing to the town. The train 
used on this road consisted of Independence-built flatcars drawn by 
mules, and it ran along three or four miles of hand-hewn hardwood 
rails. In the late fifties river commerce turned to the new City of Kansas, 
which offered a better landing place; and Independence gradually lost 
its commercial importance. 

Mormonism was introduced into Independence in 1830, when five 
elders of that faith arrived to spread their gospel among the Indians. 
Discouraged in their attempt, they sent one of their number back to 
report defeat. But Joseph Smith had a vision in which he saw Inde- 
pendence as the City of Zion, and sent other elders into the Ohio and 
Mississippi Valleys to seek converts and bring them here. Smith him- 
self with other officials of the church arrived in the summer of 1831 
and bought 40 acres of land. Two years later the Mormon Evening and 
Morning Star reported that Mormons and their families living here 
numbered more than 1,200, about a third of the total population of the 
county. Many gentiles resented the influx, and their bitterness increased 
as the Mormon influence grew. There were minor persecutions ; the Mor- 
mon newspaper editor was tarred and feathered; then came mob vio- 
lence, and in 1834 the Mormons agreed to move to Clay County. But 
they found themselves equally unwelcome in other parts of Missouri; 
in 1838 Gov. Lilburn Boggs asked Gen. John B. Clark to take command 
and subdue the Mormons. After further imprisonments and disturb- 
ances, the Saints left the State and in time built up Nauvoo, 111., as 
their headquarters. 

part of which was erected in 1836. While Independence is the seat of 
Jackson County, the courthouse here serves only the eastern part of 
the county; that in Kansas City serves the western part. 

The FIRST JACKSON COUNTY COURTHOUSE (open weekdays 8 a.m.- 
6 p.m.), 107 W. Kansas Ave., was built in 1827 at the southeast cor- 
ner of Lynn St. and Lexington Ave. The building cost $150, and is of 
white-oak and walnut logs cut by a slave. Weatherboarding, put on the 
west end to preserve the structure, and a porch have been added. 

Construction on the AUDITORIUM, south side of W. Walnut St. be- 

44 The Oregon Trail 

tween S. River Blvd. and Grand Ave., was begun in 1926; it belongs 
to the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. When 
the building is completed its cost is expected to exceed $1,500,000. The 
structure, of massive proportions, was designed by Henry C. Smith 
of Independence. The circular main arena, with a seating capacity of 
seven thousand, is topped with a large elliptical, unsupported dome. 
West from Independence on US 24. 

KANSAS CITY, 9 m. (963 alt., 399,746 pop.) (see MISSOURI 

Railroad Station. Union Station, 24th and Main Sts., for Chicago & Alton 
R.R.; Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific R.R.; Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe 
Ry.; Chicago, Burlington & Quincy R.R.; Kansas City Southern Ry.; Missouri, 
Kansas & Texas R.R.; Missouri Pacific R.R.; St. Louis-San Francisco Ry.; Union 
Pacific R.R.; Wabash Ry.; Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Ry.; Chicago Great 
Western R.R.; and Kansas City, Kaw Valley & Western R.R. 

Accommodations. Numerous first-class hotels with standard rates. 

Points of Interest. Municipal Auditorium, Liberty Memorial, Nelson Gallery of 
Art and Atkins Museum of Fine Arts, and Livestock Exchange. 

Kansas City embraces the early town of Westport, which was built 
just east of the Missouri Line, four miles south of the Missouri River. 
Westport is now bounded by Main, Thirty-fifth, and Forty-seventh Sts. 
Westport Avenue, once part of the Santa Fe Trail, is a short distance 

Before settlers arrived at this place it was a camping ground of 
traders. In 1831 the Rev. Isaac McCoy entered a claim for a tract of 
land here and in the following year John C. McCoy, his son, opened a 
store and platted the townsite. 

John McCoy was canny in opening a store at this point, since the 
Santa Fe Trail ran by his door and he could cater to the most urgent 
needs of those returning from Santa Fe and the wilderness and catch 
some of the outfitting overflow from Independence. The first consign- 
ments of goods came to McCoy through Independence; but he soon 
found a rocky ledge along fairly deep water in the Missouri within a 
few miles of his land, and in the fall of 1832 the John Hancock chugged 
up to land goods there. 

Four years later Missouri was increased by two million acres by 
"extinguishing the Indian title" to the triangle formed by the Missouri 
River, the western extension of the State's northern boundary, and the 
extension of the western boundary. This addition to slave territory was 
immediately thrown open to settlement and both Westport and Inde- 
pendence, at the inverted apex, benefited by the rush of immigrants. 
Before many years local workshops were turning out wagons, harnesses, 
saddles, tents, covers for prairie schooners, yokes and bows for oxen, 
candles, and other commodities. 

Missouri-Iowa 45 

The gold rush brought on a further boom ; here, as elsewhere along 
the river, stores of foodstuffs and equipment were quickly exhausted. 
Orders rushed to St. Louis and other wholesale markets could not be 
filled rapidly enough to meet the demand. The goods available sold at 
fantastic prices as the fortune hunters sought to hurry their departures 
in order to overtake and pass those who had already left for California. 

In the fall of 1849 cholera broke out among Mormon immigrants 
camped on the edge of the town; soon afterward many Westport in- 
habitants became victims of the disease and others left the town, never 
to return. For a time the normal activity of the area was paralyzed. 

In spite of the competition being offered by the City of Kansas, 
Westport continued to thrive and was particularly prosperous between 
1855-60. It was incorporated in 1857. 

The HARRIS HOME (open on request), 4000 Baltimore Ave., West- 
port's social center in the early 1850's, was removed in 1922 from its 
original site at the corner of Main St. and Westport Ave. This build- 
ing was used as a nursing home for wounded Civil War soldiers on 
both sides after the Battle of Westport. 

The REARDON HOME (private), 4260 Clark Ave., is one of the oldest 
structures in the former Westport. It was built of logs by an early-day 
blacksmith for his Irish bride. The logs have been covered with weather- 

The JOSEPH STEGMILLER HOME (private), 708 Westport Rd., was 
built in the early 1850's by one of the pioneer wagonmakers. 

and scout, at the northwest corner of Westport and Pennsylvania Aves., 
is now occupied by a red-brick liquor store. Bridger settled late in life 
on a farm that was here. 

The SITE OF THE HARRIS HOUSE, a widely known hostelry run by 
Col. and Mrs. John Harris, is at Fortieth and Main Sts. Among its 
famous guests was John C. Fremont, who in 1843 started on his sec- 
ond western exploring expedition from nearby Kansas Landing on the 
Kansas River. 

Fremont, who was born in 1813, had as a lad gained many friends 
by his alert mind and personal charm; one of these friends obtained 
an appointment for him in the U.S. Topographical Corps, where he 
became a protege of the distinguished Frenchman, Jean Nicholas Nicol- 
let, whom he accompanied in 1838 on an exploring expedition to the 
western tributaries of the Mississippi. This expedition gave him social 
entree in Washington during his work on the Nicollet report. He soon 
met Jessie, the delightful and intelligent daughter of the Missouri war- 
horse, Sen. Thomas Hart Benton, and the young people before long 
evaded Benton's opposition to what seemed an undistinguished match 
by eloping. Benton swallowed his resentment and immediately began 
to further his expansionist dreams by promoting his son-in-law's ex- 
ploration ambitions. In 1842 the young man was sent on a preliminary 

46 The Oregon Trail 

reconnaissance along the Platte River to the Rockies; the object of his 
activities, as conceived by the powerful Benton, was to provide a guide- 
book for settlers who would take possession of Oregon for the United 
States, and maps for the use of military expeditions that might be 
needed to complete the work if the settlers failed. 

When Fremont returned from this journey he found to his dismay 
that it was beyond his powers to write the kind of report that he and 
Senator Benton wanted one that would stir the imagination as had 
Irving's Adventures of Captain Bonneville (1837). His 18-year-old wife, 
an unusually gifted person, supplied the skill he lacked; Fremont dic- 
tated to her daily and his report was published by Congress early in 
1843, about the time he left on his second expedition, which was to carry 
him to Oregon and California. The report added to his prestige in the 
Capital. His wife and her parents traveled west to St. Louis with him, 
and before continuing his journey he asked her to open all mail ad- 
dressed to him. He was still completing his preparations here in West- 
port when he received a letter from his wife, sent by special messenger ; 
without explanation it told him to leave immediately. Fremont's faith 
in Jessie was such that he did not question the command; writing 
"Good-bye. I trust and GO," he hastily set out the next morning on the 
two-year expedition that was to determine his future career and help 
to fulfill his father-in-law's schemes. Not until after his return did he 
learn that Jessie had sent her peremptory letter because she had opened 
an order from the War Department instructing him to return immedi- 
ately to Washington to explain why he was taking a howitzer with him 
into Oregon and into Mexican territory. Jessie attributed the order to 
jealousy on the part of Fremont's chief, who, she believed, wanted to 
send his son as leader of the glory-giving western expedition. 

Francis Parkman also lived at the Harris House while preparing to 
go west in 1846. Parkman wrote: "Westport was full of Indians, whose 
little, shaggy ponies were tied by the dozen along the houses and fences. 
Sacs and Foxes, with shaved heads and painted faces; Shawnees and 
Delawares fluttering in calico frocks and turbans; Wyandottes dressed 
like white men, and a few wretched Kanzas wrapped in old blankets, 
were strolling about the streets or lounging in and out of the shops and 
houses." He then added this observation: "Whiskey, by the way, cir- 
culates more freely in Westport than is altogether safe in a place where 
every man carries a loaded pistol in his pocket." 

On US 24 (Independence Ave.) in downtown Kansas City is the 
junction with US 71-69; R. here on US 71-69, which leads north, cross- 
ing a free bridge over the Missouri River. US 71 (L) leaves US 69 (R) 
in North Kansas City, swinging northwest toward the Missouri River. 

At TRACY, 41.2 m. (777 alt., 169 pop.) , is a junction with Mo. 92. 

Left on this paved road and across the Missouri River, in the center of which 
is the Kansas Line, 6.8 m. At 7 m. is the FORT LEAVENWORTH MILITARY 

Missouri-Iowa 47 

Soon after the establishment of Fort Atkinson (see SECTION 2), the first mili- 
tary post of importance along the Missouri River, the War Department came to 
the conclusion that the post should have been placed nearer Independence, then 
the outfitting point for those setting out for the West. Fort Leavenworth was estab- 
lished on March 7, 1827, and the older fort to the north was abandoned three 
months later. In the early decades of the post's existence, the chief function of 
its commander was to police the nearby Indian reservations. Later he occasionally 
provided military protection for trading expeditions. Fort Leavenworth, now the 
seat of the Command and General Staff School of the U.S. Army, is garrisoned 
by demonstration troops of several branches of the Army. 

Grant Avenue is the main thoroughfare of the reservation. Behind the old, wide- 
spreading trees that line the streets are well-kept lawns and clusters of trim build- 

Frontier garrisons were often lax in discipline. The situation became so criti- 
cal here that on April 28, 1832, Gen. Winfield Scott ordered: "Every soldier or 
ranger who shall be found drunk or insensibly intoxicated after the publication 
of this order will be compelled, as soon as his strength will permit, to dig his 
grave at a suitable burying place large enough for his own reception, as such grave 
cannot fail to be wanted for the drunken man himself or for some drunken com- 

In 1834 the efficiency of the fort was increased by the arrival of the First 
Dragoons, which had been organized the preceding year at Jefferson Barracks in 
Missouri. This was the first cavalry regiment of the Army and was formed as an 
experiment; Congress had been reluctant to establish many military posts in the 
West, and the infantry could not be moved with the speed requisite for the pur- 
suit of well-mounted nomads. Military advisers had come to the conclusion that 
demonstration parades of a well-equipped cavalry regiment might impress the 
Indians living in remote places with the might of the Federal Government and 
frighten them into keeping the peace. The Dragoons left Fort Leavenworth on 
May 29, 1835, and followed the Platte to the Rockies. The commander held coun- 
cils with the Otoe, the Omaha, and the Pawnee, admonishing them that they must 
behave; their leaders were placated with presents. Other conferences were held 
in Colorado. The troopers returned to this post in the fall in good condition after 
a 1,600-mile journey on horseback. 

Later the fort became the principal point of departure for troops and supplies 
being sent to posts farther west, and was stocked with large numbers of horses, 
mules, oxen, and wagons. It was an outfitting point for troops during the Mexican 
War. A host of officers later well known acquired their training during service at 
this post. 

Although Congress originally designated Fort Leavenworth as the temporary 
capital of the Territory of Kansas, it heeded objections of the Secretary of War 
that suitable quarters were not available. Andrew H. Reeder, first Territorial Gov- 
ernor, arrived here October 7, 1854, on a river steamer, Polar Star, accompanied 
by his secretary and the U.S. Attorney for the Territory. 

At the south end of Scott Ave. is the COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF SCHOOL, 
housed in Sheridan, Grant, Sherman, and Wagner Halls. 

The STONE WALL, part of the defenses erected by Col. Henry H. Leavenworth, 
is near the junction of Scott and Grant Aves. 

On the northwest corner of McPherson and Riverside Aves. is the U.S. PRISON 
ANNEX, formerly the U.S. Military Prison and Disciplinary Barracks, opened in 
1875 for military prisoners, who had previously been confined with civilian convicts. 
The walls and buildings are of gray stone quarried on the reservation. During 
the World War this prison confined a large number of prisoners who had been 
convicted of publicly opposing the Government's participation in the war and 
refusing on non-religious grounds to obey the Selective Service Act; it also con- 
tained a number of people convicted of espionage. 

In 1929 the prison was placed under the jurisdiction of the Department of 
Justice, which had once previously (1895-1906) used the building as a Federal 

48 The Oregon Trail 

prison. The old prison, now an annex of the LEAVENWORTH FEDERAL PENITENTIARY, 
is used principally for the confinement of narcotic addicts. 

The NATIONAL CEMETERY (open 9 a.m.-4 p.m.), Biddle Ave., contains 
hundreds of neatly aligned small stone markers over the graves of soldiers who 
served in various American wars. Here is the GRAVE OF GEN. HENRY H. LEAVEN- 
WORTH, the fort's founder, who died July 21, 1834, while leading an expedition 
against the Pawnee. His body was first buried at Delhi, N. Y. 

South from the military reservation on US 73E. 

LEAVENWORTH, 9.7 m. (760 alt., 17,466 pop.) (see KANSAS GUIDE). 

After the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill in 1854, large numbers of squat- 
ters moved across the river to settle on this spot; the land, which had been part 
of the Delaware Indian territory, was to have been platted and sold to the highest 
bidders, a fact that the newcomers did not realize until after they had organized 
a company and platted the town. Leavenworth was not legally organized until 
1857. In the meantime William H. Russell, Alexander Majors, and W. B. Waddell 
had organized a freighting company with headquarters here, close to Fort Leaven- 
worth. This soon became the leading firm of its kind operating in the West, owing 
its prosperity in large part to contracts for freighting military supplies. Business 
boomed in 1857 when the firm obtained the contract to transport supplies for the 
troops sent to Utah Territory. The freighting operations alone would have brought 
local prosperity. The streets were constantly filled with dust raised by the moving 
freight trains, and with shouting, free-spending teamsters. 

The members of the freighting firm were ambitious; in April, 1859, when the 
banks of the river were again filled with frantic hordes of gold seekers, this time 
with wagons labeled "Pike's Peak or Bust," they enlarged their services to include 
stage transportation to the mining area. In May, Russell, of the freighting firm, 
united with John S. Jones and others to establish the Leavenworth and Pike's Peak 
Stage and Express, with weekly service over a route running almost directly west. 
At first the coaches traveled in pairs for protection; the first ones westbound 
reached Denver in 19 days. Soon the firm obtained the Missouri River-Salt Lake 
City mail contract and transferred its stages to the Oregon Trail; coaches bound 
for Denver left the route at Julesburg (see SECTION 4). 

Early in 1860 the Central Overland California and Pike's Peak Express Com- 
pany, an outgrowth of the Russell, Majors, and Waddell firm, was chartered by 
the Kansas Territorial Legislature. 

Horace Greeley in his Overland Journey thus describes the establishment at 
Leavenworth: "Russell, Majors & Waddell's transportation establishment, between 
the fort and the city, is the great feature of Leavenworth. Such acres of wagons! 
such pyramids of extra axletrees! such herds of oxen! such regiments of drivers 
and other employees! No one who does not see can realize how vast a business 
this is, nor how immense are its outlays as well as its income. I presume that 
great firm has at this hour two millions of dollars invested in stock, mainly oxen, 
mules and wagons. (They last year employed six thousand teamsters, and worked 
45,000 oxen.)" 

The new stage company gradually bought up competing lines. Having a prac- 
tical monopoly on all overland transport and freighting, Russell was anxious to 
obtain an overland mail contract from the Government for daily service. To do 
this, he felt.that it was necessary first to demonstrate the practicality of the central 
route he proposed to use. The idea of the Pony Express (see below) was there- 
fore hit upon. Sen. W. M. Gwin of California, whose constituents were in favor 
of a central rather than a southern mail route, was the most important backer 
of the plan. The Central Overland California and Pike's Peak Express Company 
was operated successfully for two years, but the costly Pony Express demonstra- 
tion and the company's failure to obtain the overland mail contract sent it into 
bankruptcy. In March, 1862, Ben Holladay bought the line at public sale. He reor- 
ganized the firm and named it the Overland Stage Line. 

North from Tracy on US 71. 

Missouri-Iowa 49 

ST. JOSEPH, 76.1 m. (814 alt., 80,935 pop.) (see also MISSOURI 
GUIDE), generally known as "St. Joe," is built on the bluffs above the 
Missouri River. Joseph Robidoux, later an employee of Astor's Ameri- 
can Fur Company, opened a trading post here in 1803. Prior to the 
Platte Purchase in 1836, "Uncle Joe," as Robidoux was called, had 
practically no competition and few neighbors; after the Indians had 
been expelled he had both. In 1842 he platted the town and named it 
for his patron saint. 

St. Joseph soon became the leading freight depot in the district de- 
spite the fact that the trails between the town and the junction with the 
Oregon Trail lay through rugged country with few watering places. The 
town increased rapidly in size, being one of the chain that shared pros- 
perity as outfitting points for westbound travelers. 

Eleaser Ingalls' Journal (1850-1), in describing the community he 
found here, voiced a complaint made of all the river towns : "St. Joseph 
is quite a village, and doing quite a great deal of business at this time; 
but the way they fleece the California emigrants is worth noticing. I 
should advise all going to California by the Overland Route to take 
everything along with them that they can, as every little thing costs 
three or four times as much here as at home. The markets are filled 
with broken down horses jockeyed up for the occasion, and unbroken 
mules which they assure you are handy as sheep. It is the greatest place 
for gambling and all other rascality that I was ever in. We had to stand 
guard on our horses as much as if we were in the Indian Country. It 
is said that one or two men have been shot by the Emigrants, while in 
the act of stealing." 

In the same year Silas Newcomb wrote: "This place contains some 
two thousand five hundred inhabitants and at present is a very busy 
place on account of the California emigration which seems to centre 
here; hills and dales are white with their camps. Many have crossed 
the river and encamped on the west side in the Indian Territory. Find 
all classes well represented here and to find a drunken Indian at every 
square is nothing uncommon. Place contains four good sized Hotels, 
about twenty Stores and the residue is made up of groceries, bak- 

<? f 5? 

eries, &L. 

By 1851, when the gold fever was abating, the community's busi- 
nessmen began shipping supplies overland to the thousands who had 
recently passed through on their way to the Pacific coast. Many herds 
of cattle were driven from this town across the country to California, 
where they were rested and fattened before being placed on sale. From 
the early freighting business developed the present wholesale activities 
of the city. 

On February 13, 1859, Joseph Robidoux drove the last spike, a 
golden one, according to the fashion of the day, to complete the Han- 
nibal & St. Joseph R.R. line whose advent gave impetus to the town's 

50 The Oregon Trail 

In St. Joseph on the evening of April 3, 1860, a rider, generally be- 
lieved to have been Johnny Frey, mounted a pony in the Pike's Peak 
stable and started westward, thereby inaugurating the Pony Express. 
At about the same time Harry Hoff took off from Sacramento, Calif. 
(see above). This first relay race to the West required 10 days. The St. 
Joseph Gazette of April 4, 1860, described the event: "Yesterday eve- 
ning at 7:00 and fifteen minutes, the first carrier of the Pony Express 
left the office of the company in this city. ... At the hour of starting, 
an immense crowd had gathered around the Express office to witness 
the inaugurating of the novel and important enterprise Mayor Thomp- 
son, in a few remarks to the spectators, briefly alluded to the signifi- 
cance of the Express from our city over the Central Route. Mr. Majors, 
being loudly called for, responded in a speech characterized by his 
usual practical manner of thought, in which he reviewed the rapid 
changes which have taken place in the condition and prospects of the 
West, predicting that the day is not far distant when other and power- 
ful communities will spring up in the shadow of the mountains, a region 
lately regarded as wild and sterile beyond the power or desire of recla- 
mation . . . But a dozen years ago the entire season was thought 
scarcely time enough to make the trip from Missouri to California, and 
companies of a less number than fifty, armed and organized, were 
deemed too weak to venture on the perilous route. Now a single man, 
aye, a defenseless woman, so far as Indians were concerned, need fear 
no ev,il." (Mr. Majors could not foresee the uprisings of the following 

Another St. Joseph newspaper of the same date, the Weekly West, 
contained the following: "The rider is a Mr. Richardson, formerly a 
sailor, and a man accustomed to every degree of hardship, having sailed 
for years amid the snow and icebergs of the Northern ocean. He was 
to ride last night the first stage of forty miles, changing horses once 
in five hours ; and before this paragraph meets the eyes of our readers, 
the various dispatches will have reached the town of Marysville on the 
Big Blue, one hundred and twelve miles distant, an enterprise never 
before accomplished, even in this proverbially fast portion of a fast 

Most old-timers, however, agreed that the Weekly West reporter was 
in error as to the identity of the rider. 

During the 16 months of the Pony Express service, such men as 
Bob Haslem and Jack Keetley carried the mail. There were about 180 
riders; relay stations were usually about 9 to 15 miles apart. Some of 
the riders were attacked by Indians and had narrow escapes; several 
keepers of relay stations were killed, but only once was a mail pouch 
lost and not recovered. Letters had to be written on thin paper, and 
transcontinental delivery for the thinnest cost $5. In 1861 the service 
came to an end upon the completion of the first transcontinental tele- 
graph line. 

Missouri-Iowa 51 

One of the most picturesque tourists who ever traveled west through 
St. Joseph was Richard Burton, English scholar, adventurer, diplomat, 
and later the translator of the Arabian Nights. During his travels in the 
Near East, Burton had developed a lively curiosity about polygamy and 
came to America in 1860 chiefly for the purpose of visiting the "City 
of the Saints," which became the title of his report of the journey. As 
a traveler of wide experience in primitive lands he was equipped for 
every emergency; in addition to the usual supplies he carried a rifle, a 
brace of revolvers, a Bowie knife, a whistle for stopping railway trains 
as was the custom in rural England of the day, reference books, an air 
gun to entertain the aborigines, opium to relieve the tedium of the 
plains journey, and patent notebooks; he also carried a top hat, a 
morning coat, and a silk umbrella to enable him to call on Brigham 
Young in formal attire. 

The EUGENE FIELD HOME (private), 425 N. llth St., is a two-story 
gray-brick house, where the poet and his bride lived when he was editor 
of the St. Joseph Gazette (1876-80). 

The JOSEPH ROBIDOUX HOUSE (private), 219-25 Poulin St., is part 
of Robidoux Row; here the founder of St. Joseph lived at the time of 
his death in 1868. It is a long story-and-a-half brick structure with a 
stone foundation. 

The JESSE JAMES HOUSE (open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; adm. 10$), 
1318 Lafayette St., is a small shabby one-story frame cottage. Here, on 
April 3, 1882, the outlaw was killed by Bob Ford. James had been 
living here under the name of Howard. 

North of St. Joseph US 71 is united with US 275-59. At 90 m. 
L. from US 71 on US 59-275. 

At 164.1 m. US 275 crosses the Iowa Line and runs through an 
area of large vineyards. About September acres of blue Concord grapes 
are seen from the highway. 

COUNCIL BLUFFS, 218.1 m. (984 alt., 42,045 pop.) (see IOWA 

Railroad Stations. 1115 W. Broadway for Chicago & North Western Ry., Union 
Pacific R.R., and Wabash Ry.; 1216 W. Broadway for Illinois Central R.R.; 1201 
S. Main St. for Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Ry., and Chicago, Milwaukee, St. 
Paul & Pacific R.R.; 900 S. Main St. for Chicago Great Western R.R.; and 407 
Eleventh Ave. for Chicago, Burlington & Quincy R.R. 

Accommodations. First-class hotels with standard year-round rates. 

Points of Interest. Mormon Trail Memorial, Father DeSmet Memorial, and 
Lewis and Clark Monument. 

Council Bluffs is one of the most important railroad transfer points 
in the United States. Manufacturing plants here produce a wide range 

The Oregon Trail 

of articles, including playground equipment, apiarists' supplies, artifi- 
cial limbs, batteries, candy, and wheels. 

In 1804 Lewis and Clark held council with the Indians on a bluff 
some distance up the river and called the area Council Bluff. In 1827 
Francis Guittar was appointed agent of the American Fur Company to 
establish a post here that was called Hart's Bluff. 

Father Pierre DeSmet in 1838 wrote of the place: "We arrived 
among the Pottawattamies on the afternoon of May 31. Nearly 2,000 
savages, in their finest rigs and carefully painted in all sorts of pat- 
terns, were awaiting the boat at the landing. I had not seen so imposing 
a sight nor such fine-looking Indians in America." The Jesuit mission- 
ary and his companions went at once to talk with the half-breed chief, 
Billy Caldwell, who was happy to have the white teachers come among 
his people. For three years a mission was operated here. 

A military post, Fort Croghan, was established on the site in 1842 
to keep the Indians in order while they were being removed to lands 
farther west. Few were left when the vanguard of the Mormons arrived 
in the early summer of 1846. After an Illinois mob had killed Joseph 
Smith, the Mormons at Nauvoo lived under constant threat of violence. 
Brigham Young, who soon became their leader because of his executive 
ability, was convinced that it was useless for the Latter-Day Saints to 
attempt to establish themselves permanently in the East or the Middle 
West; so he made plans to evacuate the settlement on the Mississippi 
and salvage what he could of the local property by sale. He sent scout- 
ing groups ahead to examine routes through Iowa, and at the end of 
February, 1846, started off with the first of the emigrants men, women, 
and children. The weather was bitterly cold and the people suffered 
greatly ; but, comforting each other and sure that they were acting under 
divine guidance, they managed to maintain an amazing cheerfulness. 
As they plowed through the snow and mud, a brass band led by the 
English Captain Pitts provided lively music. Their provisions were lim- 
ited, but the inhabitants of the scattered settlements showed tolerance 
toward them and paid willingly for evening entertainment by the band. 
Young established several relay stations along the route in Iowa, leav- 
ing small groups to plant crops for the provisioning of later Mormon 

When the vanguard reached this place it was too late in the season 
to start the overland trip to an undetermined goal. Young therefore de- 
cided to spend the winter in this area and prepare for the arrival of 
other refugees. A second factor entering into his decision was the for- 
mation of the Mormon Battalion ; soon after the group had arrived here 
a U.S. Army captain visited them to recruit for the Mexican War. Young 
made an agreement that the Mormons should enlist but merely perform 
guard service in California and not be sent to the front. He was forced 
to this decision by the dire need of his followers, who had limited op- 
portunities for employment that would add to the community funds. 

WAGON TRAINS (c. 1871) 


Missouri-Iowa 53 

The headquarters of the Mormon colony here was near the old fort 
at a place called Miller's Hollow; this later became a semipermanent 
Mormon relay station and was called Kanesville for Thomas L. Kane, 
a U.S. Army officer who was long helpful to the Saints. The community 
was also known as Winter Quarters, as was the camp on the west side 
of the river at this point (see SECTION 2). Ruling over the commu- 
nity was Orson Hyde, priest, editor, lawyer, and one of the leaders 
among the Twelve Apostles of the Church. 

During the California gold rush of 1849, westward travel over the 
trail on the north side of the Platte increased greatly, and Kanesville 
became one of the jumping-off-places. The Mormon population in this 
district reached its peak in 1848, but there were still several thousand 
here in 1852, when word came that all the faithful should go on to 
Utah. Farms, cabins, and stores were immediately sold to the incoming 
settlers, often at a great sacrifice. A few Mormons remained to provide 
assistance to the Saints who had been recruited abroad to fill up the 
Promised Land. 

After the Mormon departure, Kanesville was for a time without gov- 
ernment, for the Mormons had ruled not only the church but also the 
town. The remaining inhabitants adopted the name of Council Bluffs. 

In 1863 the town was chosen as the eastern terminus of the Union 
Pacific R.R. Actual construction of the railroad to the West was begun 
in 1866. By 1870 five railroads had made connections with the Union 
Pacific here. 

Thomas Beer (1889- ), best known for his Mauve Decade (1926) 
and a biography of Stephen Crane (1923) , was born here. Amelia Jenks 
Bloomer (1818-1894), active in the women's rights movement, lived 
in the town from 1855 until her death. Mrs. Bloomer, an advocate of 
dress reform, while serving as editor (1848-54) of The Lily advertised 
a costume designed by Elizabeth Smith Miller. The public has since 
associated her name with the baggy lower part of the costume, dubbed 

In Council Bluffs is the junction with US 30- Alt. Left on it, cross- 
ing the Missouri River on the Douglas St. toll bridge (car and driver 
15$, passengers 5$ each) ; in the middle of the river is the Nebraska 


Omaha (Missouri River) Fremont Grand Island Kearney North 
Platte Sidney Kimball Wyo. Line; 460.8 m. US 30- Alt. and US 30. 

Union Pacific R.R. and United Air Lines parallel route throughout. 

Union Pacific, Chicago & North Western, Interstate Transit, and Burlington Trail- 
ways buses follow route. 

Accommodations available at short intervals in eastern section, less frequently in 
western section; hotels chiefly in cities. 

Road hard-surfaced throughout. 

Change between Central Standard and Rocky Mountain time at western limit of 
North Platte. 

US 30 is the chief east-west road traversing Nebraska. The eastern 
two-thirds of it follows the long curves of the Platte River on the north 
bank; at the confluence of the North and South Platte Rivers US 30 
crosses to the north bank of the South Platte, follows it for a time, and 
then runs almost directly west. The Platte, which one writer described 
as "a thousand miles long and six inches deep" and Washington Irving 
called "the most magnificent and most worthless" of streams, was im- 
portant in western history because it formed a natural guide for the 
emigrant routes. 

The east-bound Astorians (1812-13) were the first known white men 
to follow the north banks of the North Platte and Platte Rivers to a 
point below Grand Island; there they obtained a canoe from the In- 
dians to complete the wearisome journey they had been pursuing on 
foot with a single pack horse. Ashley's men (1824-25) traveled along 
the north bank of the Platte, and switched to the north bank of the 
South Platte, as US 30 now does, instead of following what later became 
the major emigrant trail. 

The Long party (1819-20) approached the Platte River from the 
south near the center of the State and followed the south banks of the 
Platte and South Platte Rivers. Wyeth's party (1832-33), on its way 
west, also reached the Platte near the center of the State. 

The first large group of emigrants to travel west along the north 
bank of the Platte and of the North Platte were the Mormon Pioneers 
of 1847. Thousands of Mormons and non-Mormons followed the route 
in the next decade. The Oregon Trail was south of the Platte, and most 
of its feeders from the Missouri reached the river near Grand Island; 
it followed the south bank of the North Platte to Fort Laramie in 
Wyoming, where the Mormon Trail joined it. 

In only a few places where natural conditions forced traffic into 
a single track were the emigrant trails anything but broad general 
courses. Succeeding parties drove to the right or left of tracks left by 


Nebraska 55 

earlier trains, in order to avoid dust, to find grass and fuel, or to find 
drinking water and camp sites unpolluted by their predecessors. Every 
train had a few companies that attempted short cuts, hoping to reach 
the day's camp first and occupy the best places. After the big migration 
had begun, those who started late constantly attempted short cuts, fear- 
ing that the hordes ahead of them would pre-empt all the desirable land 
before they arrived; some of the worst tragedies of the trail were the 
result of these breaks from the beaten path. 

US 30 runs through one general type of country prairie ; and there 
is little if any contrast between the undulating hills of eastern Nebraska 
and the flat land of the central and western sections. The highway 
touches the edge of the sand hills west of Gothenburg. 

Section 2. Omaha (Missouri River) to Kearney, 191.1 m. US 30- Alt. 
and US 30. 

US 30-Alt. leads west from the Nebraska Line, m. Below the 
bridge rolls the "Big Muddy," useless from the standpoint of modern 
navigation, though the channel is now being deepened in the hope of 
making the stream again navigable. Between its banks at this point 
passed the white traders and explorers who gradually toiled farther and 
farther upstream until they arrived at the western end of what is now 
North Dakota. Up this river went Meriwether Lewis and William Clark 
with the party that was to make the first and second transcontinental 
journeys across the broadest part of North America. Up and down the 
river went Manuel Lisa and Andrew Henry on the earliest trading ex- 
peditions carried on west of the Mississippi by citizens of the United 
States ; and up this river went the Astorians. The stream has also borne 
most of the other men famous in the western fur trade, from Ashley, 
Smith, and Fitzpatrick to Hugh Glass and Mike Fink. 

The Missouri, like the Mississippi, changes its course with a fre- 
quency that is exasperating to those who hopefully built on its banks. 
The lower part of Council Bluffs, Iowa, was swampy river bottom less 
than a century ago; a third of the blunt peninsula that is the north- 
eastern part of Omaha is still under the jurisdiction of Iowa, though 
cut off completely from that State by the river and surrounded on the 
other sides by Omaha. 

OMAHA, m. (1,040 alt., 214,006 pop.) (see NEBRASKA 

Railroad Stations. Union Station, 10th & March Sts., for Union Pacific R.R.; 
Burlington Route; Chicago & North Western Ry.; Chicago Great Western R.R.; 
Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, & Pacific R.R. ; Rock Island Ry. 

Points of Interest. Creighton University, Omaha Municipal University, Joslyn 
Memorial Art Gallery, Douglas County Courthouse, South Omaha Stockyards, and 

56 The Oregon Trail 

The early journalist, J. Hanson Beadle, wrote in the Undeveloped 
West: "Omaha was laid out in 1854, soon after the organization of 
Nebraska Territory, and for several years gave little promise of future 
greatness; in fact, it was quite outrun by the little settlement of Flor- 
ence, six miles north, of which the Omahas now speak patronizingly 
as a 'very pretty suburb', destined in their sanguine view to be the 
Spring Grove or Brooklyn to their future Gotham. . . . Omaha con- 
tained, in 1860, two thousand people; in 1864, four thousand; then the 
Union Pacific got fairly under way, and in three years the population 
doubled. A census taken by the city authorities a few days before my 
arrival (June, 1868) returned the population at 17,600, and the next 
year they made it 25,000. One year thereafter came a fearful epidemic 
and swept away 12,000 of these at least, that strikes me as the easiest 
explanation, for the National Census of 1870 only credited Omaha with 
some 13,000 people. . . . 

"The growth of Omaha was encouragingly rapid; but the Western 
mind is queerly constructed, and great on anticipation. The air is light, 
dry and healthy, and the world looks big west of the Missouri; every 
man feels that the range of all outdoors is his pasture, and is hopeful 
as a millionaire if we have a few corner lots, and ten dollars in his 
pocket. Hence magnified reports, and glowing promises of more rapid 
growth in the next two years; ancf thousands of young men in the 
Northern and Eastern States imagined that all they had to do was to 
come to Omaha, and fortune would shower her favors on them. There 
was an immense immigration in 1868, of just such material as a new 
State does not want, and for every clerk's or bookkeeper's position 
there were a hundred applicants. . . . But each of the disappointed 
wrote to his friends or to the press, and for the rest of that year Omaha 
was the best abused city in the West. . . ." (For Omaha 9 s fulfillment 
of the early hopes, see NEBRASKA GUIDE.) 

Right from Omaha 5 m. on US 73 to the SITE OF WINTER QUARTERS, in 
the Florence section of Omaha. When the first section of the Camp of Israel, as 
the Mormons called their emigrant train, reached the Missouri in midsummer of 
1846, it camped on the Council Bluffs side of the river to make preparations for 
the long trip west (see SECTION 1) . Brigham Young, one of the most farsighted 
leaders in the history of mass migrations, was planting a colony at Kanesville to 
provide shelter and foodstuffs for the later emigrants. As other Saints arrived he 
sent them across the Missouri to form a camp here; one of the chief advantages 
of establishing a 'camp on the western bank was that the crossing of the broad 
river with wagons, cattle, and people always a problem would be over when the 
first spring day favorable for travel should arrive. 

The winter of 1846-7 was unusually severe, and a lack of proper food caused 
scurvy and other diseases. Some Saints were smothered to death by snow that 
crushed the roofs of their dwellings. 

Early in 1847 the Pioneers, as the first party was called, had completed their 
preparations. On April 7 a small band set out for a rendezvous on the Elk Horn, 
25 or more miles west. In the following week there was a busy rushing back and 
forth between this camp and Winter Quarters; the personnel of the advance party 
changed daily. 

Nebraska 57 

Appleton Harmon wrote on April 13: "Brother Kimball said to me last night 
that he wanted that I should git readey and go with the Pioneers & drive an ox 
team for him. I consulted my Father, left my wife and child in as good circum- 
stances as I could which was but poor as best got my clothes readey and started 
about 4 A.M. in company with Br Everett Jacobs & traveled 4 miles camped in 
hollow for night." 

On April 14 William Clayton, Clerk of the Camp of Israel, wrote in his 

"This morning severely pained with rheumatism in my face. ... At 11:00 a.m. 
Brigham and Dr. Richards came. Brigham told me to rise up and start with the 
pioneers in half an hour's notice. I delivered to him the records of the K. of G. 
and set my folks to work to get my clothes together to start with the pioneers. 
At two o'clock I left my family and started in Heber's carriage. . . . We went 
about 19 miles and camped on the prairie." 

The spring of 1863 saw the last Mormon wagon train leave Florence. The 
place was also used by the forty-niners as an outfitting station and camping place. 

US 73 continues north to FORT CALHOUN, 15.8 m. (100 alt., 309 pop.), 
a sedate, tree-shaded community on a bluff above the Missouri. It is near this 
spot that in 1804 Capt. Meriwether Lewis and Lt. William Clark held a confer- 
ence with Indians and named the place Council Bluff. John C. Calhoun, Secretary 
of War, in 1818 planned to send a military expedition up the Missouri to advance 
the interest of the fur traders by enforcing the law forbidding foreigners that 
is, British subjects to trade for furs in the United States (see WHY A TRAIL 
TO OREGON?), and to push trade to the Pacific. The expedition, under Col. 
Henry Atkinson, reached this place in September, 1819, and established what was 
called Camp Missouri. A grandiose plan for military penetration to the Columbia 
was eventually dropped and in 1820 the camp was moved a mile south and became 
a permanent army post, Fort Atkinson. After the fort had been abandoned in 
1827, the settlement disappeared for nearly 25 years; when a new one appeared 
it was named in honor of Calhoun. 

Right from Fort Calhoun on Court St. 0.5 m. to the SITE OF FORT ATKIN- 
SON, now a farm. There are no traces of the fort, which during its brief life had 
barracks for a thousand men, a brickyard, a limekiln, a sawmill, a gristmill, and 
other facilities. 

US 30-Alt. follows Dodge St. in Omaha. 

As the highway moves westward the tracks of the Union Pacific R.R., 
which curves southward to leave the city, again near it. The building 
of this railroad was one of the dramatic flourishes in the history of the 
United States. Though there had been agitation from the late 1830's on 
for the construction of a railroad to connect the East with the Pacific 
Coast, and though there was general agreement that the Federal Gov- 
ernment should help to finance it, action was long delayed by sectional 
jealousies and political logrolling. A survey of possible routes was au- 
thorized in 1853. It was not until 1862, however, when southern oppo- 
nents of northern routes had been removed from Congress by the seces- 
sion of the southern States, that a route was finally decided on and the 
Pacific Railway Act was passed. Two years later a second act increased 
the munificent subsidies to the builders and gave the Government merely 
a second mortgage on the road. 

The Union Pacific Railroad Company was to build westward to the 
borders of Nevada and the Central Pacific Railroad Company was to 
build eastward from the Pacific Coast to meet the Union Pacific. The 

58 The Oregon Trail 

Union Pacific was granted a two-hundred-foot right-of-way, land for 
all necessary buildings, and the right to take earth, stone, timber, and 
"other materials" from the public lands for construction purposes. In 
addition, "for the purpose of aiding construction . . . and to secure 
the safe and speedy transportation of mails, troops, munitions of war, 
and public stores thereon," the company was granted "every alternate 
section of public land ... to the amount of five alternate sections per 
mile on each side of said railroad, on the line thereof and within the 
limit of ten miles on each side of said road." The Government also 
issued bonds of $1,000 each at the ratio of 16 bonds to a mile. Because 
of the higher cost of construction in the mountains, the number of 
bonds issued per mile to the Central Pacific Company for some sec- 
tions of the route was doubled or trebled. The Union Pacific obtained 
4,846,108 acres of land in Nebraska alone. 

The building of the Union Pacific began in earnest on July 10, 1865, 
at the time the Indians were becoming frantic in the face of white inva- 
sion (see WHY A TRAIL TO OREGON?)-, the road builders were 
special targets of attack. According to the chief engineer of the road, 
"every mile had to be surveyed and built within range of the rifle and 
under military protection." 

The thousands of railroad workers were housed in tents and port- 
able shacks; every few weeks the shelters and facilities were packed 
upon freight cars and moved westward to the end of the completed 
section. And in their wake followed gamblers, whiskey vendors, sneak 
thieves, and unattached women, who earned for the camp the nickname 
of Hell-on-Wheels. Occasionally the portable community left behind it 
the germ of a settlement, such as Cheyenne or Laramie; but for the 
most part only a series of rubbish dumps and trampled ground re- 
mained to mark its progress across the plains. 

Rivalry soon developed between the workers of the two companies; 
the westward line advanced 250 miles in 1866, 240 miles in 1867, and 
425 miles in 1868. When the two sets of rails met at Promontory, Utah, 
on May 10, 1869, the whole country had been whipped into a state of 
frantic excitement by the race. 

The railroad companies were in excellent position to profit by the 
settlement of the area, because the acres nearest the long thin strip of 
rails were, inevitably, the ones most desired by pioneers; those nearest 
railroad stations brought top prices. The companies were little discom- 
moded by the proviso designating alternate sections as public lands 
open to settlement under the Homestead Act of 1862; dummy home- 
steaders and obliging local officials usually remedied the Congressional 
obtuseness on this point. The boom literature of the homesteading pe- 
riod of the West makes the more recent Florida boom literature seem 

Many settlers who had cherished visions of fine landed estates en- 
gendered in the days when "Vote yourself a farm" was a political cam- 

Nebraska 59 

paign slogan, rushed west without carefully investigating the fertility 
and advantages of the advertised areas; their disillusionment was pro- 
portionate to the magnitude of their dreams. 

WATERLOO, 21.2 m. (1,122 alt., 432 pop.), is on the west bank 
of the Elkhorn River. The place was laid out in 1871 and named by 
the Union Pacific R.R. for the Belgian battlefield. 

VALLEY, 24.8 m. (1,140 alt., 1,039 pop.), was first named in 
1867 by John Sanders for himself. The town was later called Platte 
Valley by the citizens, but when it was incorporated the first part of 
the name was accidentally omitted, and the name became simply Valley, 
though the precinct is still called Platte Valley. Railroad officials called 
the place Valley Station because it was the first station established on 
the Union Pacific in the valley of the Platte River. At Valley are stock 
and feed yards; here cattle in transit to Omaha are fed and watered. 

At 38.4 m. is FREMONT (1,195 alt., 11,407 pop.), a college town 
and agricultural trading center on the north bank of the wide, muddy 
Platte River just opposite Fremont Island. The city is a distributing 
center for the rich Elkhorn Valley farm land. It once gave promise of 
becoming an industrial town, but the hopes of the citizens on this point 
early disappeared; nonetheless the town has poultry-packing plants, 
creameries, and incubator factories. 

On August 23, 1856, the first claim stake was driven for "Pinney, 
Barnard, & Co.'s Town Site." Since no surveyor's chain was handy when 
the town was laid out, a rope, which may have stretched, was used. 
That, at least, has been offered as the explanation of some for the ir- 
regularities in the first plat. The town was named Fremont in honor 
of John C. Fremont, who was then Republican candidate for the Presi- 
dency; it is said that this was the company's answer to some Democrats 
25 miles to the west, who had named a town Buchanan. Fremont had 
many admirers among the settlers because of his valuable maps and 
reports. A resolution passed in 1856 by the Fremont Town Association, 
which developed from the earlier company, provided that two lots be 
given anyone erecting a hewn-log house 16 by 20 feet and a story and 
a half high within the following six months. The association agreed to 
furnish timber for the cabins, as well as firewood for a year. 

The town prospered even before the railroad arrived. It was on the 
military road between Omaha and Fort Kearney a fact commemo- 
rated in the name of the town's main street Military Avenue and 
provided a convenient supply point for soldiers and emigrants. During 
the Pikes Peak gold rush of 1858-9 there was a steady stream of 
through travelers. Merchants were able to make extra profits as dis- 
appointed miners sold their outfits cheaply on their way home; these 
could be resold at high prices to the next westbound group. 

Encouraged by the prospect opening before their city when the 
Union Pacific R.R. routed its line through Fremont in 1866, the citi- 

60 The Oregon Trail 

zens established the Fremont Tribune. In 1869 the rails of the Sioux 
City & Pacific R.R. joined those of the Union Pacific at this point. This 
was an occasion for bell ringing, parades, and speeches on the future 
of Fremont and the Elkhorn Valley. Of even more importance was the 
building of the Elkhorn Valley R.R. branch, which was begun in 1870. 
The town was incorporated a year later. 

Here is MIDLAND COLLEGE, coeducational, so named because it is 
near the center of the country. The institution, established at Atchison, 
Kan., in 1887, was the only college founded directly by the Board of 
Education of the General Synod of the Lutheran Church, now the United 
Lutheran Church in America. In 1919 the campus and buildings of 
the Fremont Normal School and Business College were purchased by 
the college, with the help of liberal subscriptions from Nebraska Lu- 
therans and Fremont citizens. The present 10-acre campus holds six 

It was not far from Fremont that the Mormon Pioneers made their 
final arrangements for the overland trip. The company included 143 
men, 3 women, and 2 children. They had 72 wagons, 93 horses, 52 
mules, 66 oxen, 19 cows, 17 dogs, and a number of chickens, in addi- 
tion to supplies of food, clothing, agricultural and craft implements, 
books, musical instruments, and furniture. For real as well as psycho- 
logical security the party carried one cannon. The men were organized 
into companies with "Captains of 100's," "Captains of 50's," and "Cap- 
tains of 10's," following good biblical precedent, as they started west 
"to find a home where the Saints can live in peace and enjoy the fruits 
of their labors," and where they would "not be under the dominion of 
gentile governments, subject to the wrath of mobs," as Clayton wrote. 
Clayton carried on the duties assigned to him, though suffering acutely 
from the "rheumatism" in his face. 

BARNARD PARK, formerly called Dead Man's Park, was the cemetery 
of the settlers. 

FREMONT CITY PARK was planned when the town was laid out. In 
it are two monuments, one honoring Abraham Lincoln and the other 
commemorating Fremont soldiers killed in the World War. 

At Fremont US 30-Alt. joins US 30, which crosses the Missouri some 
miles north of Omaha. 

At 42.4 m. (L) are the wooded FREMONT STATE RECREA- 
TION GROUNDS (adm. free; camping facilities; fishing permitted 
4 a.m.-lOp.m.). Here are 15 sand-pit lakes stocked with bass, crappies, 
sunfish, catfish, and bullheads. Signs indicate the varieties of fishes 
found in each lake and the legal limits of each catch. 

At 43 m. (L) is the NEAPOLIS MARKER, a white stone monument 
almost obscured by bushes; it is a reminder of the establishment of the 
capital of Nebraska Territory at Neapolis, two miles south of this point, 
in January, 1858. 

In spite of the slow steady rise of the land from east to west the 

Nebraska 61 

country through which US 30 runs in Nebraska has a monotonous 
flatness that is depressing to people born among the hills and mountains 
of the East and West. But overland travelers of early days were grateful 
for the easy passage it offered. They even spoke of these plains with 
affection because on westbound journeys they usually crossed them at 
the time of the year when the grass was fresh and green and meadow 
larks were crying their triumphant "Spring is here." The people who 
chose to settle along the Platte and force livings from the land had to 
face extremes of heat and cold, floods, prairie fires, blizzards, hail- 
storms, drought, lack of wood, and great loneliness. Only the hardiest 
remained. The little towns along the route, the solid farm buildings, 
and the occasional schools and public institutions are the results of 
unremitting toil. The groves about farmhouses and the trees in public 
parks and along streets are not gifts of nature; every single one has 
been coaxed and coddled into growth. 

AMES, 45 m. (1,231 alt., 500 pop.), was named for an official of 
the Union Pacific R.R., probably Oakes Ames. About 1880 the Standard 
Cattle Company had a cattle-feeding station here. 

For about a mile between Ames and North Bend the highway runs 
past tall trees. 

NORTH BEND, 53.2 m. (1,275 alt., 1,108 pop.), was settled on 
July 4, 1856, by several Scottish families from Illinois. Not far from 
this place Clayton decided that his facial "rheumatism" came from a 
decayed tooth. He asked Brother Luke Johnson to pull it, but before 
this could be done the amateur dentist was told to take the Revenue 
Cutter to a nearby lake for the use of Pioneer fishermen. (The Revenue 
Cutter was a bullboat, a tub-shaped craft made of leather. "Brother 
Johnson drives the team which draws the boat," Clayton explained, 
"and rides in the boat as in a wagon.") Clayton decided to go with the 
fishermen and on the trip discussed the possibility of constructing an 
instrument to measure mileages. The Pioneers were eager to leave 
signboards for the benefit of the Saints behind them; the guesses on 
distances traversed had been so divergent that Clayton, to obtain 
exact mileages, had resorted to the tedious device of counting the revo- 
lutions of a wagon wheel. There was no time to draw the tooth when 
the fishermen returned, and the clerk spent another sleepless night and 
day before he could again ask Brother Luke's services. Unfortunately 
the nippers extracted only half the tooth and Clayton had to endure 
many more days of pain. 

SCHUYLER, 68.2 m. (1,350 alt, 2,588 pop.), seat of Colfax 
County, was named, as was the county, for Schuyler Colfax, Vice Presi- 
dent of the United States in 1869 when the town was platted. Schuyler 
was the first shipping point on the Union Pacific for cattle driven north 
from Texas. 

62 The Oregon Trail 

At 81.8 m. is a junction with a country road. 

Right on this road is the COLUMBUS POWER HOUSE of the Loup River Project 
(see below) , 1.8 m., where three turbines under a 112-foot head of water develop 
39,900 kilowatts. 

COLUMBUS, 86 m. (1,447 alt., 6,898 pop.), seat of Platte County, 
was founded in 1856 by a group from Columbus, Ohio. It was settled 
10 years before the Union Pacific R.R. reached this point and was a 
stopping point for emigrants traveling on the north bank of the Platte. 
The population is in part of German, Swiss, and Polish descent. 

Most of the town's 26 industrial plants are typical of those found 
in midwestern towns of this size. A SHOE FACTORY makes wooden-soled 
shoes for use in packing houses, foundries, steel mills, and other places 
where leather and composition soles disintegrate rapidly. At the LIVE- 
STOCK SALES PAVILION a sale is conducted every Saturday, beginning 
at 1 p.m. and often lasting until midnight. 

The town, which is on the Loup River near its confluence with the 
Platte, is the headquarters of the LOUP RIVER PUBLIC POWER DIS- 
TRICT PROJECT, first called the Columbus-Genoa Project. In 1936 
the State's three major power and irrigation projects were co-ordinated 
into what has been called a little TVA, extending 200 miles across cen- 
tral Nebraska. The main purpose of the Loup River Project is power 
development; it is intended to augment a system supplying Columbus, 
Fremont, Norfolk, Lincoln, Omaha, Sioux City, and other points. A 
35-mile canal, supplied by a diversion dam at Genoa, is tapped at the 
Columbus Power House (see above] and at the Monroe Power House. 

At Columbus the Mormon Pioneers left the bank of the Platte to 
follow for a time the north bank of the Loup, which runs directly west, 
not far from the Platte, and is hard to ford near its mouth. The cross- 
ing of streams was always a major and time-consuming chore in the 
ox-cart days. In some places wagons could be taken through the waters 
without danger to the contents, but in others the goods had to be re- 
moved and ferried over on rafts. On the plains it was often difficult to 
find wood to make the rafts, so in time the beds of some emigrant 
wagons were made with calked seams, in order that they might be 
turned into clumsy barges. 

The country for hundreds of miles north and northwest of the Platte, 
and the Platte itself though farther upstream provided the stage for 
the saga of Hugh Glass. Glass was a member of the party with which 
Andrew Henry started for the Yellowstone Valley in the fall of 1823, 
traveling up the Missouri and then the Grand, which is in the north- 
eastern section of what is now South Dakota. One day Glass, who was 
a hunter and often traveled somewhat in advance of the main party, 
found himself suddenly confronted by a grizzly bear and her cubs. 
(The grizzly is one of the most ferocious and dangerous animals in the 
world as some San Francisco gamblers proved long ago when they 
staged a fight between a grizzly and a tiger; the tiger was dead in a 

Nebraska 63 

few seconds.) Before Glass could shoot or retreat, the animal had 
seized him and bitten out a large chunk of his flesh, which she dropped 
to her younglings. Glass screamed for his fellows but before they could 
kill the bear he had been mangled from head to foot. 

Though he was not yet dead, his injuries were so frightful that 
Henry and his followers did not believe it possible for him to survive; 
they could not carry him with them, and because of the approach of 
winter they did not dare stay with him till he died. With the aid of 
a purse of $80, two men were persuaded to stay with Glass to bury 
him decently. But Glass lingered, and on the fifth day his volunteer 
nurses, fearful lest they be left too far behind their companions, de- 
termined to leave him; slipping away, they took with them all his be- 
longings his gun, knife, flint, and other essentials of wilderness life. 
These they gave to Henry, and asserted that Glass had died. 

When Glass awoke and realized that he had been deserted, he was 
filled with a rage that provided the vitalizing will to live. For a short 
period he lay in the thicket, subsisting on fruits and berries; then, still 
unable to stand, he started to drag himself to the nearest post, Fort 
Kiowa, on the Missouri a hundred miles away. At a time when it 
seemed that he could not reach the river because of lack of food, he 
had a bit of luck; he came upon wolves attacking a buffalo calf and, 
as the wind was toward him, the wolves did not scent his approach. 
As soon as the cowardly animals had killed the calf, he frightened 
them away and, lacking a knife and flint, ate the flesh raw. Resuming 
his dogged journey he took part of the calf with him 

The day he arrived at the post he met another trapping party on its 
way up to the Yellowstone and, in spite of his condition, set off post- 
haste with it. Some distance north of the present Bismarck, N.D., the 
trappers were attacked by Aricaras; all were killed but Glass, who was 
rescued by Mandans and taken to nearby Fort Tilton. 

The same day he started again on his interrupted journey, this time 
traveling alone, though with a kit. He arrived at the Big Horn post, in 
the present Montana, 38 days later, only to find that those on whom 
he planned to take revenge had left for Fort Atkinson (Council Bluff). 
Off went Glass, joining a party of four carrying a report to that place. 
The couriers followed the Powder River south, crossed to the North 
Platte, where they built bullboats of buffalo hide, and started down 
stream. Somewhere along the river they met a band of Aricaras whose 
chief had been killed a year before in a brush with trappers; the In- 
dians seemed friendly, however, and invited them into the current chief's 
tepee. Too late the whites realized that they had walked into a trap. 
Two of them were killed and the others escaped independently. 

Glass was once more alone. Though he had lost the rest of his out- 
fit, including his gun, he still had his flint and knife. As he said later, 
"These little fixin's make a man feel right pert when he is three or four 
hundred miles from anybody or anywhere." He started again for Fort 

64 The Oregon Trail 

Kiowa, to the northeast. By this time spring had arrived; weak-legged 
young buffalo calves were numerous in the region, so he had no diffi- 
culty in finding food. Reaching Fort Kiowa he immediately started off 
down river. In June he walked into the fort at last to face those who 
had deserted him. Reports of his superhuman journey and vengeful de- 
sire had already reached the fort; he was received with awe and expec- 
tation, but his rage had been completely exhausted by the nine-month 
trek. Nothing happened. 

DUNCAN, 94.1 m. (1,495 alt., 241 pop.), laid out in October, 
1871, was first named Jackson. 

Left from Duncan on a marked graveled road to the KUENZLI MUSEUM, 2.5 m. 
(open 7 a.m.-6 p.m.; adm. 154, children 10$), owned by Dr. Frank Kuenzli and 
his son, Lindo. Dr. Kuenzli, a Swiss, came to America with his father in 1879 and 
studied to become a veterinarian. His interest in animal and plant life early led 
him to preserve specimens. In the museum are hundreds of curious articles from 
all parts of the world: reptiles, octopi, Australian birds and butterflies, pioneer and 
Indian relics, and military equipment. Free lectures on the collections are given 
daily. On Sundays and holidays the lectures are often continuous. 

CLARKS, 115.8 m. (1,623 alt., 540 pop.), was named for Silas 
Clark, a Union Pacific R.R. official. The town's first white settler came 
in 1867, and found the Pawnee quite friendly. 
At 118.5 m. is a junction with State 16. 

Left on this graveled road and across the river to the Dexter farm, 2 m., 
GROUNDS, as well as the SITE OF A PAWNEE VILLAGE. A second village 
site lies southwest of the farm. A hundred years ago the course of the Platte River 
was a mile farther south than it now is, and the two villages stood on the former 
riverbank. Neither village site has been excavated or investigated to any great 
extent, as the land is now under cultivation. Traces of the houses can be found 
by examining the banks of the ditches where the charred remains of the house 
poles and posts are imbedded in the soil. Burnt clay and charcoal from the fire- 
places are also present. Such relics as arrowheads, hoes, axes, pipes, tomahawks, 
and flintlock muskets have been unearthed. 

At 127.1 m. is CENTRAL CITY (1,699 alt., 2,474 pop.). Years ago 
this section was a wide tract of rolling prairie with little vegetation 
and few trees; some miles away from this spot stood a lone giant cot- 
tonwood that served as a landmark for travelers on the trail. This tree, 
10 or 12 feet in circumference at its base, stood tall and straight and 
was easily discernible for miles. In 1858 a ranch, known as the Lone 
Tree, was established here; it later became one of the "20-mile stop- 
ping places" of the stage on its weekly trips. Later, when the Union 
Pacific R.R. station was built three miles from the ranch, a station was 
established here and called Lone Tree. 

A settlement grew up around the Lone Tree station a town of 
three stores, six houses, and a tavern owned by a man named Parker, 

Nebraska 65 

who claimed the land around the lone tree. Later the town of Central 
City was laid out around the railroad station and the Lone Tree settlers 
moved to it. 

Right on Avenue C and its graveled continuation to NEBRASKA CENTRAL COL- 
LEGE, 2.5 m., a small coeducational school established in 1899 by members of the 
Society of Friends. 

At 127.7 m. is a junction with River Road. 

Left on this dirt road to the LONE TREE MONUMENT, 3 m. (L). This stone 
monument, about 10 feet tall, resembles the trunk of a tree. The pioneer passion 
for carving names on everything in sight caused the death of the original giant 
cottonwood tree, which was blown down in 1865. The region along the Platte 
River is now well wooded. 

CHAPMAN, 135.2 m. (283 pop.), was named by the local section 
boss, who was also the first postmaster, for his superior officer, the road- 
master of this section of the Union Pacific. 

LOCKWOOD, 143 m., only a point on the railroad, is distinguished 
by a marker alongside the right-of-way. 

Left from Lockwood on a graveled road to a junction at 0.7 m.; L. here to 
the GOTTSCH-TRAMM GRAVES, 1.2 m., on the farm of William Johnson (visitors 
welcome). Early in January, 1868, when the Loup River was frozen solid and 
snow covered the ice, two men went off to hunt deer, accompanied by two boys, 
Christian Gottsch and Christian Tramm. On the second day the men left camp 
alone, leaving the boys in charge of the supplies. When the men returned, they 
found that the boys had been killed, presumably by Indians; the team, blankets, 
robes, and other supplies were missing. The boys were buried on the Gottsch 

GRAND ISLAND, 149 m. (1,861 alt., 18,041 pop.), was named 
for the narrow, 42-mile-long strip of land lying nearby between two 
channels of the Platte. French trappers first called this strip La Grande 
Isle. In 1856 a detachment of cavalry killed 10 Cheyenne on the island 
in reprisal for an attack the Cheyenne had made on a carrier of the 
U.S. mail. 

In 1857 a group of Germans from Davenport, Iowa, started a west- 
ward trek in the general direction of the present Grand Island, believ- 
ing that the national capital would be moved to the center of the country 
and wanting to be early settlers in such a region. The three leaders of 
the band traveled with a four-mule team, while the others followed in 
five covered wagons drawn by oxen. They settled here. 

During the sixties the Union Pacific reached the settlement, a post 
office and flour mills were established, and a General Land Office opened. 
It was not until 1872, however, that the town was incorporated. 

The town is a distribution and shipping point for a large agricul- 

66 The Oregon Trail 

tural area. Old buildings, showing the German predilection for elabo- 
rate architecture, contrast with more recent structures; the economy 
and thrift of the early German inhabitants are exemplified in the neat, 
narrow, downtown streets. The town is flanked by railroads and dotted 
with manufacturing plants. 

The agriculture of the territory surrounding Grand Island is of a 
diversified nature. Although this region has been counted as part of the 
Wheat Belt, large crops of sugar beets, rye, oats, barley, and corn are 
also grown. 

One of the outstanding commercial activities of the town is its horse 
market. There are two good-sized livestock markets. 

lic) was one of the first beet-sugar factories in the Plains States. 
Though in February, 1873, the Grand Island Independent, in an article 
on the beet-sugar industry in Europe, made the suggestion that beets 
could be grown in Nebraska, it was not until 1887 that any practical 
action was taken. In that year Nebraska soil was tested and found adapt- 
able to the culture of sugar beets; seed was imported from France and 
Germany, and $100,000 raised by subscription for the new factory. 

PIONEER PARK was the site of the first Hall County Courthouse. 

Twenty-five miles or so northeast of Grand Island the Mormon Pio- 
neers, on April 24, 1847, began to raft their belongings across the 
Loup. Not far away they saw the remains of a large Indian village. 
Indians were several times found lurking in the vicinity of the Mormon 
camp in this area, but thanks to the vigilance of Brigham Young's well- 
organized guard the emigrants were not molested. Once or twice men 
on guard were caught asleep; but though Young severely reprimanded 
them for endangering their fellows by such laxness, Clayton made ex- 
cuses, commenting that it was hard for men who had been driving and 
walking all day in the open air to keep from nodding. 

While by this time of the year travel by ox-cart was fairly comfort- 
able on the prairie, it was never entirely so for long. Many pioneers 
felt at times as Clayton's mother had in crossing Iowa on the flight 
from Nauvoo; Clayton had noted in his Journal that she felt too sick 
to ride in the wagon and had walked all day in the rain. 

It was perhaps in part a memory of the extreme discomfort some- 
times experienced when riding in the jolting, lurching wagons and of 
the number of emigrants who preferred to walk that caused Brigham 
Young in 1855 to plan the handcart expeditions across the plains to 
Salt Lake City. Between 50,000 and 60,000 people had reached Utah 
by 1855, many of them Mormons who had followed the route laid out 
by the Pioneers. Perhaps the majority were converts recruited in north- 
western Europe, chiefly in the British Isles. While Young made great 
effort to have the emigrants finance their own journeys to Utah, the 
Saints in the West had made heavy contributions to the Immigration 
Fund. Utah crops were very bad, however, in 1855, and early in 1856 

Nebraska 67 

a large company of new Saints left Liverpool. Since the Utah Saints 
could give little toward outfitting the many hundreds of converts with 
ox-carts and supplies for the trip west, it was determined that two- 
wheeled carts should be built to carry the smallest children and rigidly 
limited amounts of food and clothing; the men and women were to pull 
them from the Missouri to Salt Lake City. 

The Handcart Expedition left in five brigades for the thousand- 
mile walk; those in charge of arrangements along the Missouri lacked 
Young's foresightedness and were not prepared to send off the final 
groups until very late in the travel season. The brigades that started 
early reached Salt Lake City without serious hardship, though many 
went through a painful period while their muscles and feet were harden- 
ing. Those leaving late underwent severe trials, walking over the prairies 
during the hottest part of the year and reaching the mountains after 
the weather had become bitterly cold. In one division of 401 people, 
67 froze or starved to death. When word of the situation reached 
Utah, ox-carts were commandeered and sent to meet the last division. 
Young repeated the handcart experiment in the following year to prove 
that the plan was sound, but after 1857 the Saints went west with teams. 

ALDA, 156.7 m. (1,916 alt., 153 pop.), was named for an emi- 
grant's child born here in 1860. On the site of the town was once a 
Pawnee Indian village. 

At 164 m. is the junction with a graveled road. 

Right on this road to the Howe Farm, 1 m.; R. on a private dirt road leading 
across the field to a decaying elm tree, 2 m., on the banks of Wood River, that 
marks the SITE OF A PIONEER TRAGEDY. The Smith and the Anderson families 
came to the Platte River Valley in January, 1862. One morning Smith, his sons, 
and an Anderson boy started to the Platte to fell trees for the construction of 
cabins. At noon Anderson arrived and saw Smith's wagon standing in the willows. 
The men and horses were gone. In the sand of the river bed lay Anderson's son, 
face downward, his body filled with arrows, while a few feet away was Smith, 
grasping the hands of his sons. All had been killed, presumably by the Sioux. 
The surviving members of the families returned to their former home. 

When WOOD RIVER, 164.6 m. (1,967 alt., 751 pop.), was laid 
out in 1874 by the Union Pacific R.R., it had already been settled for 
two or three years. The moving of the railroad station resulted in the 
moving of the town. 

SHELTON, 172 m. (927 pop.), grew from a settlement known as 
Wood River Center that stood several miles east of the present town. 
A Mormon party from England, led by Edward Oliver, was traveling 
to Salt Lake City when a broken axle forced them to camp and attempt 
to repair the break. The wagon was irreparably damaged, and Mrs. 
Oliver persuaded her husband to turn back. The family spent the winter 
in a log hut on the banks of Wood River and decided to remain; Oliver 

68 The Oregon Trail 

built the first store. The community that grew up near them was later 
named Shelton in honor of Nathaniel Shelton, another settler. 

In Shelton is the SITE OF A LOG STOCKADE, once used as a shelter 
against Indians and as a depot for the Great Western Stage, which ran 
through the town. The town had a newspaper, the Huntsman s Echo, in 

GIBBON, 178.2 m. (2,000 alt., 825 pop.), came into existence as 
a soldiers' colony. The cheap land offered by the Homestead Act of 
1862 and the advance of the Union Pacific R.R. caused Col. John Thorp 
of West Farmington, Ohio, to advertise and promote a colonization plan 
with the co-operation of the Union Pacific and the War Department. 
Offers included free home sites along the Union Pacific R.R. and re- 
duced railroad fares to these points. Soldier colonists were recruited, 
largely from New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Massachusetts. The 
men arrived here on April 7, 1871. Each soldier was entitled to file 
claim on a quarter section of land, and 61 such claims were drawn up. 
At the time of the drawing for lands, numbers from 1 to 61 were placed 
in a hat which was shaken. The drawings were made for choice rather 
than for prescribed lands that is, number 1 had first choice, number 
2 had second, and so on. Until they established their homesteads, the 
colonists lived in freight cars. 

When the colony reached its twentieth birthday the settlers held a 
celebration; though the last member of the original group has died, a 
"reunion" has since been held every year on April 7. 

At 180 m. US 30 traverses the FORMER JAMES E. BOYD RANCH, 
which was earlier called Nebraska Center. The ranch became a caravan 
stop and supply station; Boyd, who later served as Governor of Ne- 
braska (1891-1892), acquired the ranch about 1858. Doubtless the ear- 
liest settler felt that this site about 3 miles from the Platte and 12 
or 13 miles northeast of Fort Kearney would have some measure of 
protection from Indian attacks, and offer opportunities for trade with 

The ranch had the first brewery in this region. The small plant, on 
the banks of the Wood River, made about 10 kegs of beer at a time, 
which were sold near the fort and at Dobytown for $6 to $8 each. 
There was also an icehouse here; the storage hole can be seen from 
the highway. 

KEARNEY, 191.1 m. (2,146 alt., 8,575 pop.), seat of Buffalo 
County, lies on a flat plain on the north side of the Platte River. The 
town was named for Fort Kearney, known originally as Fort Childs; 
the misspelled name of the fort honored Gen. Stephen Watts Kearny. 
The first settlement on the present townsite was called Kearney Junc- 
tion. The Union Pacific R.R. and the Burlington & Missouri River R.R. 
(now the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy) had received grants of land 
from the Government, and the charter of the Burlington required that 





Nebraska 69 

it make connection with the Union Pacific somewhere east of the 100th 
meridian. They met at this point and the plat of the town was filed 
on October 27, 1871. 

At one time it was hoped that because of its central geographical 
position Kearney might become the capital of Nebraska. Local boosters 
once held a convention in St. Louis to launch a drive for making 
Kearney the capital of the United States. The population was larger 
during the eighties and nineties than it is today. 

Surrounded by a fertile, irrigated region, Kearney is an important 
shipping point for grains and livestock. Industrial plants include a 
cigar factory, a candy factory, and flour mills. 

Here are a STATE HOSPITAL with accommodations for 160 tuber- 
cular patients, and a STATE TEACHERS COLLEGE, which has an enroll- 
ment of more than two thousand. Both institutions are at the western 
end of the town (R). 

Kearney is near the western end of the long low strip of land, called 
Grand Island, that divides the Platte for many miles. 

The several eastern feeders of the emigrant route best known as the 
Oregon Trail united insofar as any trails united on the prairies on 
the south shore of the Platte near the head of Grand Island. Endless 
confusion has resulted from the fact that the names of the emigrant 
roads were popular, rather than official; that the same general section 
of an overland route might bear different names at different periods, 
as the goals of the major migrations changed; and that the routes 
themselves might move a hundred miles to the right or to the left within 
a year's time. One foresighted forty-niner predicted this, saying that 
future generations would not realize how slight the things were that 
brought major switches in the directions taken by succeeding wagon 
trains, even in the same year. The establishment of a new trading post 
or a ranch, the drying up of a spring or the finding of a new one, the 
outbreak of an epidemic at a camp site, a prairie fire, the pollution of 
a watering spot, the creation of a slough around a ford any one of 
these was sufficient to turn the course of thousands of wagons. As a re- 
sult, hundreds of towns in a very wide band have erected markers indi- 
cating that they were on the Oregon Trail, and old-timers, upholding 
their towns' right to the honor, tell of ruts they saw in the early days. 
Many emigrants bound for Oregon and California used the trail on 
the north side of the Platte, known as the Mormon Trail because the 
first large groups to use it were Saints; but some Mormons also used 
the route on the south bank. Emigrants bound for the West traveled on 
the north or south bank of the Platte according to where they crossed 
the Missouri. 

Left from Kearney on State 10, a paved road, crossing the Platte to FORT 
KEARNEY STATE PARK, 7 m. (camping free; picnicking and other recrea- 
tional facilities}. The park includes 80 acres of grass and giant cottonwoods, on 
the site of the famous frontier military post. Still visible on the grounds are rifle 

70 The Oregon Trail 

pits and other earthworks, one of the corner blockhouses, and a grass-covered 
mound that was the magazine in which munitions were stored for use along the 
trail between this point and Fort Laramie. 

The first Fort Kearney was a blockhouse on the Missouri River at what is now 
Nebraska City; it was built and occupied in 1846-1847. The post was transferred 
to this place in order to give emigrants protection against Indian attacks. 

Lt. Daniel P. Woodbury, who chose the site, returned here from the first Fort 
Kearney in June, 1848, with 175 men, who began the construction of the post, 
first making adobe blocks; they also set up a sawmill and erected sod stables. 
Plans drawn in 1852 show that the fort included two two-story corner blockhouses 
of heavy timbers, powder and guard houses, a lookout accessible by ladder, extend- 
ing along the entire ridge, and officers' quarters. Numerous barracks and other 
facilities were added in succeeding years. 

During the Civil War regular troops were withdrawn and the fort was manned 
by volunteers that included a number of former Confederate soldiers, called Gal- 
vanized Yankees. In 1865 Pawnee were enlisted to help hold the Sioux in check, 
and they continued to serve during the building of the railroad. When the railroad 
displaced the wagon trains, the fort was no longer needed. It was abandoned in 
1871, and a few years later the military reservation was thrown open to settlement. 

Section 3. Kearney to Ogallala, 145.4 m. US 30. 

West of KEARNEY, m., US 30 follows Watson Boulevard 
through an archway of trees so dense that it is almost like a tunnel. 

At 2.3 m. is the STATE INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL (R), which occupies 
11 buildings and is equipped to care for 210 boys. 

It was in this area that the Mormon Pioneers saw their first herds 
of buffalo, an event always eagerly anticipated by emigrants. For sev- 
eral days before the animals were seen, the travelers had noted buffalo 
tracks and on April 30, 1847, had started using dried buffalo dung 
chips, in emigrant parlance for fuel. Brother Heber Kimball imme- 
diately invented an efficient method of obtaining the maximum heat from 
the chips by burning them in the middle of three pits with ventilating 
holes between them to create a draught. On the first of May the com- 
pany sighted three buffalo through their telescopes, and three of the Pio- 
neers started off on horseback in the hope of augmenting the dwindling 
food supply. After proceeding a few miles farther the travelers saw 
a herd "about eight miles away." Clayton said he counted 72 through 
his glass and Orson Pratt 74. Another and larger herd was seen later 
in the day. Clayton noted that the view of the animals "excited con- 
siderable interest and pleasure in the breasts of the brethren, and as 
may be guessed, the teams moved slowly and frequently stopped to 
watch their movement." Clayton's Journal was fat for several days 
thereafter with details of the hunts. 

There was one other exciting event for the Pioneers in this area. 
Three wagons were observed on the south bank of the broad, shallow 
Platte River. Though the Mormons did not dare attempt to cross the 
river, a member of the other party came to talk with the Mormons. 
He said that the wagons carried nine fur traders on their way back 
from Fort Laramie. The Pioneers inquired eagerly about the condition 

Nebraska 71 

of the road ahead and then requested that he carry letters back to 
the Missouri for them. 

At 4.8 m. US 30 passes the former 1733 RANCH HOUSE, now a 
roadhouse with an electric sign, "1733." At one time there was a marker 
on the section line at this point reading, "1733 miles to San Francisco, 
1733 miles to Boston"; hence the name of the farm. The original 1733 
Ranch, which contained eight thousand acres, has been broken up into 
many smaller farms since the death of its owner, H. D. Watson, who 
was the first promoter of alfalfa as a Nebraska crop. 

By May 6 the excitement over buffalo hunting was beginning to im- 
pede Pioneer progress. Appleton Harmon recorded that "about 8 o'clock 
the camp was called togeather by Pres* Young ... he also instructed 
the captains of tens to Stay by their teams in times of traveling. . . . 
He also said that thair should be no more game killed until such time 
as it should be needed for it was a Sin to waste life & flesh." 

ELM CREEK, 15.8 m. (2,266 alt., 708 pop.), settled by a few 
families in 1873, has had a history marked by misfortune. Blizzard 
followed blizzard in the eighties, killing many cattle and sweeping away 
most of the possessions of the inhabitants. The town was rebuilt, but 
it was almost wiped out again in 1906 by a fire that destroyed every 
building along the main street. 

The town is now a shipping point for prairie hay. It lies in an irri- 
gated region producing alfalfa, corn, sugar beets, potatoes, livestock, 
and dairy products. 

On May 8, as the Mormon Pioneers moved westward, Harmon wrote: 
"had to drive the buffalo out of the way whare we halted the buffalo 
seemed to form a complete line from the river their watering place 
to the bluffs as far as I could se which was at least 4 m. they stood 
their ground appurently amased at us until within 30 rods of the 
wagons when their line was broken down by some taking fright & 
runing off others to satisfy thar curiosity came closer within gun shot 
of the camp snuffing and shaking their Shaggy heads, but being pur- 
sued by the dogs ran off, at this time I could stand on my waggon & 
see more than 10,000 Buffalo from the fact that the Plain was purfectly 
black with them on both sides of the river & on the bluff on our right 
which slopes off gradualy." 

LEXINGTON, 34.9 m. (2,385 alt., 2,962 pop.), a market town, is 
the successor of a Pony Express station and trading post called Plum 
Creek that stood on the Oregon Trail, south of the river. After the com- 
ing of the railroad the inhabitants of the settlement moved across the 
river, and the name was changed to one commemorating the Battle of 
Lexington. Plum Creek was once a rendezvous for gamblers, thieves, 
and hold-up men, who preyed upon miners having gold or silver. Even 
after legal bodies had been established, they were ineffective against the 

72 The Oregon Trail 

well-organized outlaw gangs; eventually the citizens formed a vigilante 
committee that drove out most of the lawbreakers. 

In 1867 the Cheyenne aroused by the building of the railroad 
through their hunting grounds and the patrolling activities of Maj. 
Frank North and his Pawnee scouts led by their chief, Turkey Leg, 
tore up a culvert four miles west of this place and wrecked the train, 
a west-bound freight. They scalped the crew, broke open the boxcars, 
and stole the contents; some of them took bolts of bright-colored calico, 
which they tied to the tails of their ponies to make a brave display as 
they fled across the plains. 

In the early days, travel on railroads was quite as dangerous as 
travel on steamboats had been and even more hazardous than flying 
was to be. Most cars, locomotives, roadbeds, and bridges were jerry- 
built and were likely to fall apart with or without unusual strain. The 
engineers treated the locomotives as personal possessions, decorating 
them to suit their fancies and speeding them up, backing them, and 
stopping them as they pleased. One early Mormon autobiography tells 
how the engineer of a train carrying a group of emigrants to the point 
where they were to start westward in oxcarts "swore he would drive the 
Mormons to Hell and opened the throttle to verify his threat. The train 
was roaring across the plains . . . when someone noticed the baggage 
car was aflame. The engineer stopped the train, put it in reverse and 
backed seven miles to the nearest watering station where the fire was 
extinguished. The baggage car was a charred mass of wreckage." 

Such fires, caused by sparks from the locomotives, were common 
and not confined to the baggage cars, for both they and the coaches 
were made of wood. The railroad death toll was frightful until well 
after the Civil War, when the increasing number of damage suits moved 
the companies to adopt safety measures and devices. A typical cartoon 
in Harper's Weekly of 1859 depicted a frightened traveler in a berth 
listening to a conversation between a brakeman and a conductor : "Jim, 
do you think the Millcreek Bridge safe tonight?" The answer was, "If 
Joe cracks on the steam, I guess we'll get the Engine and Tender over 
all right. I'm going forward." 

COZAD, 48.7 m. (2,486 alt., 1,813 pop.), a hay-shipping center, 
is in a region where in summer the acres of alfalfa and fields full of 
haystacks line the highway. Several alfalfa mills and feed-making 
plants are near US 30 in this town. 

Whereas the Mormon Pioneers seldom traveled more than 10 or 15 
miles a day even in this level country, later emigrants were sometimes 
able to do 20, provided the weather was dry. The rate of travel of the 
Mormon handcart brigades was painfully slow. An emigrant who drove 
past them wrote: "We met two trains, one of thirty and the other of 
fifty carts, averaging about six to the cart. The carts were generally 
drawn by one man and three women each, though some carts were 

Nebraska 73 

drawn by women alone. There were about three women to one man, 
and two-thirds of the women single. It was the most motley crew I ever 
beheld. Most of them were Danes, with a sprinkling of Welsh, Swedes, 
and English, and were generally from the lower classes of their coun- 
tries. Most could not understand what we said to them. The road was 
lined for a mile behind the train with the lame, halt, sick, and needy. 
Many were quite aged, and would be going slowly along, supported 
by a son or daughter. Some were on crutches; now and then a mother 
with a child in her arms and two or three hanging hold of her, with 
a forlorn appearance, would pass slowly along; others, whose condition 
entitled them to a seat in a carriage, were wending their way through 
the sand. A few seemed in good spirits." 

At 59 m. is GOTHENBURG (2,561 alt., 2,322 pop.), in whose park 
stands a FUR TRADING POST HOUSE (adm. free] that was erected in 
1854 on the Oregon Trail four miles east of Fort McPherson. In 1860-1 
it was the Fred Machette Pony Express station; later it was an Over- 
land Stage station, and after the coming of the railroads became a ranch 

Left from Gothenburg on State 47, a graveled road that crosses the Platte and 
passes the GOTHENBURG GUN CLUB GAME PRESERVE (L) ; at 2.7 m. is (R) an 
Oregon Trail marker. 

Left from the marker to the first dirt road; L. here to the LOWER 96 RANCH, 
6 m. (visitors welcome). A lean-to of the tree-shaded black and white ranch 
house is a former Pony Express station, a log cabin in good condition; the crevices 
between the logs have been cemented. This old house was known as the Pat 
Mullaly station. There is a black "96" painted on the big concrete silos of the 

Right from Lower 96 Ranch to the SITE OF THE GILMAN RANCH HOUSE, 10 m., 
where stage riders used to stop and Pony Express riders came when off duty. 
Mark Twain stopped here on the trip across the plains described in Roughing It. 

The story of the western migration has usually been told in terms 
of those who made mistakes of those who suffered Indian attack be- 
cause they chose to travel in small groups or failed to maintain guards 
at night; who made unsuccessful attempts to short-cut the well-known 
routes; who started with inadequate equipment and supplies; or who 
set out on the journey in advanced stages of ill health. But for every 
person who became a symbol of pioneer tragedy there were thousands 
who thoroughly enjoyed the overland journey. One emigrant who be- 
came wealthy remarked wryly in his later years that he suffered more 
and had less enjoyment on de luxe hunting trips than he had on his 
oxcart journey across the plains. A Utah woman who had crossed the 
country about 1850 remembered the trip as a picnic from beginning to 
end; how she ran beside the slow-moving cart with her arms full of 
wild flowers; how she and her playmates played hide-and-seek around 
the wagons; how her mother knitted placidly, day in and day out, and 

74 The Oregon Trail 

always had time to tell stories; how in the evening the children ran 
from one campfire to the other while their parents gossiped and sang. 
People quarreled, made love, played cards, danced, wrote poetry and 
letters, honeymooned, joked, and carried on other normal activities 
under conditions that gave them added zest. 

The migrant was able to indulge his passion for writing or chipping 
his name on every available surface the old-fashioned equivalent for 
the postcard writing of the modern tourist even on the plains; in this 
area he smeared names and messages with axle grease on the skulls and 
long bones of the buffalo skeletons lining the routes. 

C. S. Abbott, who traveled overland to California shortly after the 
gold rush started, wrote of the reason for the prevalence of buffalo 
skeletons: "There were wagon-trains all along the road and everybody 
was banging away at the buffalo, scaring them away, or killing them 
and cutting out choice pieces and leaving the rest to rot, while the In- 
dians were starving. It was the most flagrant injustice this Government 
ever permitted its people to practice. The lines between the different 
tribes were as distinctly marked as the boundaries between the differ- 
ent States of the Union, each of these tribes claiming the ownership of 
all the game within its borders, and they looked upon the emigrants as 
a white tribe infringing upon their rights. . . . We shudder at the 
massacre of the whole nation of Armenians by the Turks, but no pen 
can describe the misery and despair of a Pawnee village, of men, 
women and children dying of hunger, while the white tribe was kill- 
ing, or scaring their game off into the mountains, and I say that our 
Government here caused as much misery by negligence as the Turks 
have by savagery." 

At 72.5 m. is BRADY (387 pop.). 

Left from Brady on a graveled road that crosses the river to a junction at 
4 m.; R. to the UPPER 96 RANCH, 9 m., now the property of V. H. Davis. A 
monument here commemorates the Pony Express riders. The blacksmith shop, 
built of red cedar logs, belonged to the Fred Machette Pony Express station; the 
station itself has been moved to the Gothenburg City Park (see above). 

The highway crosses the North Platte River near its confluence with 
the South Platte at the eastern end of NORTH PLATTE, 94.7 m. 
(2,821 alt., 12,061 pop.), seat of Lincoln County. 

The Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho occupied this territory ; the forks 
of the Platte were near the border line between the hunting range of 
these tribes and that of the Pawnee. 

In the 1860's William Peniston and Andrew J. Miller were running 
a trading post at Cold Water, some 30 miles east of this point. While 
in Omaha, Miller learned that the Union Pacific R.R. was going to 
establish a station at the Fork of the Platte. The men opened a post 
here on November 9, 1866, with merchandise fitted to the needs of the 

Nebraska 75 

railroad builders, after Gen. G. M. Dodge had established North Platte 
for the Union Pacific. The population increased to more than two thou- 
sand during the winter of 1866-67. By June, 1867, the railroad had 
reached Julesburg, Colo., and construction headquarters was moved to 
that point, leaving behind it a settlement of only three hundred people. 
Everything had been moved business houses, barracks, even the town's 
newspaper. Only 20 structures remained. But that same year North 
Platte was made a division point on the line, and the Union Pacific 
built machine shops, a 20-stall roundhouse, and a hotel. Thereafter the 
increase in population was steady; the city is the leading trade center 
of western Nebraska. 

On April 7, 1893, a prairie fire struck the city, destroying many 
houses, barns, outbuildings, fences, farm implements, and stock. Other 
prairie fires wrought damage in 1910 and in 1915. 

A tense period in local history was reached in 1902, when ma- 
chinists and boilermakers employed by the Union Pacific struck in 
opposition to the introduction of the piecework system. The machinists 
quit on June 30, joining the boilermakers, who had struck the week 
before. The company brought in carloads of strikebreakers; the boiler 
shop and several boxcars were fitted with bunks and utilized as living 
quarters for them, and they were protected by armed guards. A request 
that the Governor send troops was denied. The strike lasted for nearly 
a year, and workmen looked for employment elsewhere. The pickets 
grew lax and finally gave up. Local sympathy was with the strikers 
from the beginning; merchants would sell nothing to the strikebreakers, 
barbers would not shave them, and landlords refused to rent houses to 
them. After a time, however, they were accepted by the town and the 
strike seemed lost. But on June 8, 1903, the strike was settled ; the ques- 
tion of piecework was ignored, and the strikers returned to their old 
jobs with a small hourly pay increase. A request that all strikebreakers 
be discharged was denied, but within three months nearly all of them 
had left. 

Following the drought of 1890, I. A. Fort of North Platte converted 
Congressman William Neville of North Platte to his plan of "enlarged 
homesteads" as a way of settling this region. Estimating that it would 
take two square miles for a rancher to support a family and not let his 
stock overgraze the land, Fort advocated two-square-mile homesteads. 
Although Neville introduced a bill to this effect in 1900, it was not 
enacted into law until Congressman Moses Kinkaid of O'Neill brought 
it forward again in 1904. The Kinkaid Act was successful in its purpose 
and the homesteaded land was used mainly for cattle raising. Irriga- 
tion, which was begun in 1866, makes possible some crop raising, espe- 
cially of sugar beets. 

On the second floor of the LINCOLN COUNTY COURTHOUSE are many 
relics of pioneer days, among them a battered chariot presented to 
"Buffalo Bill" Cody by Queen Victoria. 

76 The Oregon Trail 

North Platte lies at the tip of a long narrow delta between the 
mouths of the North and South Platte Rivers; the bluffs that line the 
Platte more than halfway across Nebraska here spread somewhat apart. 
From this point the Mormon Pioneers continued west along the north 
bank of the North Platte. Travelers of early days who had followed the 
trail on the south bank of the main stream to this point usually con- 
tinued westward for some distance on the south bank of the South 
Fork before crossing the stream, though some forded it near the con- 

(At the western limit of North Platte the time changes from Cen- 
tral Standard to Rocky Mountain.) 

At 96.7 m. is the junction with a dirt road. 

Right on this road to SCOUTS' REST RANCH, 0.5 m. (adm. free). This was the 
home of "Buffalo Bill" Cody, who entertained many notables here. William Fred- 
erick Cody (1846-1917) spent his boyhood in Leavenworth, Kans., headquarters 
of the freighting line of Russell, Majors, & Waddell. Young Cody first appeared 
in the Platte country as an outrider for this company an office boy on horseback 
and is believed to have been a Pony Express rider for a short time. He served 
in the Civil War and afterward, when the Kansas Pacific (now part of the Union 
Pacific) was building westward from Kansas City, he contracted to furnish buffalo 
meat for workers on the Kansas route. Within 17 months he is said to have de- 
livered 4,280 animals. 

Later he went on the stage and toured the United States in a production called 
the Prairie Waif. Out of this experience he conceived the Wild West shows that 
made him famous. His collection of Indians, covered wagons, bronco-busters, cow- 
boys, stagecoaches, and marksmen did much to build up the popular, romantic mis- 
conceptions of early western history. 

At Scouts' Rest Ranch, where the Wild West show was rehearsed, are a solid 
ranch house, rebuilt since Cody's day, and an immense barn, shaded by cotton- 
woods. The eaves of the ranch's main corral, built in 1887, are hewn in the shape 
of gunstocks, and the cattle-stall partitions are shaped like horses. 

The plat of the ranch resembled the map of Nebraska. 

West of O'FALLONS, 111.6 m., the bluffs again draw near the 
stream and here the early Oregon Trail, like a branch of the Union 
Pacific R.R. today, crossed the stream to the south bank of the North 
Platte, reaching it at Ash Creek. After the establishment in 1864 of 
Fort Sedgwick (see SECTION 4) , near the present Julesburg in north- 
eastern Colorado, many trains following the route of the Overland 
Stage, dipped down to the fort before striking northwest to Fort Lara- 
mie, the next point providing protection and supplies. The trail was on 
the south bank of the South Fork. 

SUTHERLAND, 114.6 m. (2,959 alt., 753 pop.), was named for 
an official of the Union Pacific R.R. in 1869, when the town was laid out. 

Left from Sutherland on a marked, graveled road crossing the South Platte 
to a junction at 1.7 m.; L. here to the SUTHERLAND RESERVOIR, 3.5 m., 
a natural depression of five thousand acres, walled off with dikes. Its design pro- 
vides for a maximum height of 80 feet, and the impounding of two hundred thou- 

Nebraska 77 

sand acre-feet of water. A tunnel of reinforced concrete, 14 feet in diameter and 
7,800 feet long, conducts the water from the Kingsly Diversion Dam under the 
South Platte River. 

PAXTON, 127 m. (3,054 alt., 507 pop.), was named for W. A. 
Paxton of Omaha. 

At 136 m. is a marker (L) indicating that the ALKALI LAKE PONY 
EXPRESS STATION was south of the South Platte at this point. 

OGALLALA, 145.4 m. (3,211 alt., 1,631 pop.), the seat of Keith 
County, was named for the Oglala (also spelled Ogallala, scatter one's 
own) tribe of the Teton Sioux. 

After the Civil War disruption of the cattle market, the ranchers 
of Texas were very anxious to find new markets. As soon as the Gov- 
ernment-financed railroads had been carried across the plains the cat- 
tlemen started roundups of the herds on the vast unfenced range and 
sent the animals north to the railroads for shipment to eastern markets. 
Ogallala became an important cattle-shipping point of the early years; 
the first herd arrived in June, 1867, in charge of yippi-shouting cow- 
punchers who had been fighting Indians and stampedes for many hun- 
dreds of miles. In later years there were sometimes 15 outfits camped 
along the South Platte by the middle of July. The physical demands 
of such cattle drives were great and the punchers, who sometimes had 
to ward off sleep by plastering their eyelids open with wet tobacco, 
felt that they had a right to celebrate the end of the drives as long and 
as loudly as they desired. 

Five blocks west of the main street of Ogallala is a plot of ground 
that rises 80 to 100 feet above the river level. This is BOOT HILL CEM- 
ETERY, one of many so called because those interred in them died and 
were buried with their boots on their feet. The graveyard, a relic of 
the old lawless, gambling, gun-blazing town, has not had a burial since 
the eighties. Though the hill bears a sign with the name, no mounds 
are visible and there are no tombstones. 

In a park at the western edge of town (R) is an OREGON TRAIL 
MEMORIAL, and next to it is a round yellow CHISHOLM CATTLE TRAIL 
MARKER. Chisholm was the most famous of the cattle trails from Texas 
to Kansas, running in the neighborhood of US 81, but it never reached 

At Ogallala is the junction with US 26, which closely parallels the 
Oregon and Mormon Trails through Fort Laramie (see ALTERNATE 

Section 4. Ogallala to Wyo. Line, 124.3 m. US 30. 

West of OGALLALA, m., is BRULE, 9 m. (3,287 alt., 329 pop.), 
named for the Brule (Fr., burned) tribe of the Teton Sioux. The South 
Platte River bank here is a mass of tangled undergrowth, sand, and 

78 The Oregon Trail 

US 30, westbound, here leaves the South Platte, which turns south- 
ward into Colorado. Travelers following the Oregon Trail detour that 
ran through Julesburg crossed the river at several points between Brule 
and Julesburg. These were the Lower and Upper California Crossings. 

At 10 m. (R) is a marker calling attention to the SITE OF THE 
DIAMOND SPRINGS PONY EXPRESS STATION, which was eight miles south 
of this point. 

At 13 m. (R) is CALIFORNIA HILL, where the Oregon Trail in 
the early Julesburg days turned northwest to reach the North Platte 
near Courthouse Rock (see SIDE ROUTE C) . This was before the route 
that followed the South Platte and then turned north on the Cherokee 
Trail into southern Wyoming was developed by the Overland Stage. 
Holladay in July, 1862, abandoned the trail by Fort Laramie and 
through South Pass largely because of the hostility of the Indians, and 
many emigrants followed his lead. 

At 18.2 m. is a junction with US 138. 

Left on US 138, through BIG SPRINGS, 2.2 m. (595 pop.). JULESBURG, 
Colo., 11.8 m. (3,468 alt., 1,467 pop.), is a respectable successor to three former 
towns of the same name, each of which was important in its day because of its 
position on the trail to the West and to Denver and the Colorado mines. The 
present town was founded in 1881 when the Union Pacific branch to Denver was 
projected. Viewed today among the broken hills in a curve of the South Platte 
River, the quiet town gives no evidence that it sprang from the ashes of "the 
Wickedest Little City East of the Rockies." 

Left from Julesburg 1 m. on State 51 to the junction with a side road (R) 
that leads to the ITALIAN'S CAVE, 1.5 m. (L), a natural fissure running back 
into a hill, open at both ends and artificially enlarged. Broad shelves for mangers 
and storage rooms have been cut in the rock. At the mouth of the cave are the 
ruins of a two-story stone building whose walls, more than two feet thick, are 
pierced with loopholes. A primitive but effective water system served the house. 
Many maintain that this was once the hide-out of Jules Reni, founder of Old 
Julesburg. The truth seems to be that the house was built by Uberto Gabello, an 
Italian miner, reputed to have amassed a fortune in the gold fields at Cripple 
Creek. A strange man was Gabello, who dwelt in solitary state in his fantastic 
castle, and repulsed all the well-meant overtures of his neighbors. In time he 
came to be regarded as a madman by some, and feared as a sorcerer by the more 
superstitious. After his death, his house was found to be a temple to the sun; 
prayers and esoteric symbols were carved on the walls. Unfortunately, the searchers 
considered these finds of insufficient importance for preservation, so no traces 
remain today to give a clue to the exact nature of Gabello's one-man cult. 

The dirt side road continues past the SITE OF THE SECOND JULESBURG, 
4 m. (R), which sprang up immediately following the destruction of the first 
town (see below), but was short lived, because when the Union Pacific was ex- 
tended into Colorado in 1867 this town was off the route. Of the three early Jules- 
burgs, it was by far the least notorious, having, in fact, no particular history. 

West of the second town is the SITE OF OLD JULESBURG, 8 m., the first 
of that name. It developed as an important Overland Stage station and was a 
station of the Pony Express. Old Julesburg was the rendezvous of traders, Indian 
fighters, buffalo hunters, and adventurers of the most devil-may-care kind, as well 
as of desperados and bandits who came to divide their loot and squander it in 
riotous celebrations. Jules Reni, the French Canadian who was first stage station 

Nebraska 79 

master here, was himself reputed to have been the leader of a band of outlaws; 
this may have been merely ill-natured gossip, however, because Jules was disliked 
by those who were jealous of his influence among the French Canadians of the 
area. At the time wagon trains were frequently looted and burned and solitary 
travelers murdered in this area. The outrages were naturally blamed on the In- 
dians, but the presence of white men among the raiding parties was testified to 
by more than one survivor. Released prisoners told of white men who came and 
went freely in the Indian camps and shared the loot. Rumor grew that Jules him- 
self was at the bottom of the business; it was remarked that the richest trains 
were almost invariably attacked and burned after leaving Julesburg. 

Jack Slade, who was one of the most fearless men on an extremely tough 
frontier, was division superintendent of the early stage route. Slade distrusted 
Reni, and Reni resented Slade's methods of punishing his (Reni's) cohorts. The 
feud came to a head when Jules suddenly and without warning filled Slade with 
enough buckshot to have killed an ordinary man. But Slade lived and from his 
sickbed warned Jules that he would cut off his ears and wear them as watch 
charms. Slade had to go to St. Louis for treatment and when he returned to this 
place Jules had disappeared. 

After Slade returned to his post he was told of repeated boasts by Reni that 
he would come back to finish the killing he had attempted unsuccessfully. Slade 
was at Pacific Springs, at the western end of his division, when he was told that 
Reni was hunting him. At each station, as he traveled back to Julesburg, Slade 
received a fresh warning. Slade did not meet him on the route and at Fort Laramie 
he talked over the situation with army officers because, in spite of many stories 
to the contrary, Slade was not a vicious man and the punishments he had dealt 
out were merely those of a man protecting his employers' interests in a lawless 
country. The army men advised Slade to catch Jules and kill him, because there 
would be no peace for the stage company until he was put out of the way. Slade 
acted on the advice in a way that made him a symbol of border ruthlessness for 
many decades. (See ALTERNATE ROUTE.) 

The operations of the white renegades and desperados have led to search for 
treasure in this area. Even today there are many who firmly believe that the trail 
robbers buried much of their loot in some secluded place near the old town. Slade 
himself was of the opinion that there was a treasure cache nearby, and was untir- 
ing in his search for it. None has ever been found, and it is likely that the 
spoilers squandered their wealth. Old Julesburg passed out of existence in 1865, 
when it was completely destroyed during an Indian attack. 

At 9 m. on this road is the SITE OF FORT SEDGWICK (R), a military trad- 
ing post established to protect travelers from marauding Indians and white robbers. 
The post was built in 1864 and garrisoned until 1871, when the efforts of the late 
sixties resulted in the subjugation of the Plains Indians. A few traces of sod 
buildings remain, but most of the fort, constructed of wood, has disappeared. 

CHAPPELL, 39.3 m. (3,697 alt., 1,061 pop.), was named in honor 
of Charles Chappell, a division superintendent of the Union Pacific, 
who assisted in laying out the townsite. It is a trade center for the 
chief wheat-raising area in Nebraska. 

West of Chappell the highway follows Lodgepole Creek, so named 
because several Indian tribes procured poles for their tepees near the 
headwaters of the stream. The gradual rise in the land that takes place 
steadily as the route runs westward from Omaha becomes more ap- 
parent in this area. The growing season here is short but conditions are 
favorable for the raising of winter wheat. Some corn is also grown. Irri- 
gation is carried on in the valley to a limited extent. 

80 The Oregon Trail 

Soapweed grows on the hillsides; its ivory, bell-shaped blossoms 
rise above the green spike leaves in May or June. Cactus is also seen, 
and occasionally a coyote; but prairie dogs, prairie owls, and rattle- 
snakes are not found in the numbers that once existed here. 

LODGEPOLE, 48.7 M. (3,832 alt., 436 pop.), is the scene of 
the Cheyenne County Old Settlers' Reunion, held annually on Labor 
Day. Such events are held in many western towns, though their original 
character has changed because the great majority of the participants 
cannot be considered old settlers. 

Numerous fossils found in the Ogallala formation of this area indi- 
cate how great a change has taken place in its physical condition. Sev- 
eral million years ago this high arid country was swampy lowland 
harboring now extinct animals such as three-toed horses and rhinoc- 

SIDNEY, 66.5 m. (4,085 alt., 3,306 pop.), seat of Cheyenne 
County, was named for Sidney Dillon, New York agent of the Union 
Pacific R.R. The town is surrounded by high rolling plains, broken 
here and there by imposing cliffs. High bluffs on the north protect it 
from winter winds. 

The town grew up around FORT SIDNEY, which was originally a 
sub-post of Fort Sedgwick in Colorado and was called Sidney Barracks; 
in 1870 it was made an independent post. The fort was built for the 
protection of the railroad workers and of the wagon trains passing 
through the area. Near the highway is a 20-foot grassy mound that 
formed part of the rifle range. A small hexagonal structure, built of 
limestone, that was the Fort Sidney ammunition storehouse, is now part 
of a residence. Two old barracks are now used as dwellings. A large 
well-preserved building opposite them was the officers' quarters. A stone 
structure now serving as a sales pavilion and barn is said to have been 
the stable. The post was abandoned in 1894. 

Most of the gold prospectors on their way to the Black Hills in 
1876 bought their supplies in this town, which was the nearest rail- 
road point to the New Eldorado. In those boom days the dance halls, 
gambling houses, and saloons seldom closed their doors. There were 
23 saloons in one block at the time when approximately 1,500 people 
were passing through daily. The town boasted of introducing the all- 
night theater to the world. 

Gun fights were daily events that caused little excitement. One night 
during a dance one of the participants was shot to death; someone 
propped him up in a corner and the dancers continued to whirl past 
his feet. Later another man was shot and his body was placed beside 
the first. It was not until the third corpse joined the group that the 
party came to an end. 

Lynchings were also common and the townspeople were exceedingly 
critical of the conduct of the victims. One who gained approval was 

Nebraska 81 

Charlie Reed. He had been living with Mollie Wardner. One day in the 
spring of 1879 several citizens, among them Henry Loomis, were walk- 
ing past Mollie's house; Mollie called to Loomis, "Come in, darling, 
and bring your friends along." Loomis, feeling that she had betrayed 
her position as Reed's consort, shouted at her indignantly, telling her to 
go back into the house; he then apologized for speaking in such man- 
ner to a lady. Gossips eagerly carried word of the rebuke to Reed, but 
apparently neglected to clarify the cause of Loomis' rebuke. Reed im- 
mediately hunted up Loomis and shot him. By the time Loomis had 
died, after acute suffering, public opinion against Reed had mounted 
and a mob went to the jail with a rope. Reed accepted the situation and 

fenerously confessed that he had previously killed five other men in 
exas; he added, however, that three of the shootings had been in self- 
defense. Western Union telegraph poles were popular hanging trees in 
the treeless country ; as Reed was taken to a ladder that had been placed 
against one he was asked whether he preferred to jump from the ladder 
or to have it pulled from under him. "I'll jump off, gentlemen, and 
show you how a brave man can die," he said. "Goodbye, gentlemen, 
one and all." His body was cut down two or three days later and put 
in Boot Hill Cemetery. Reed's reply became a popular exit line that 
was used later by others. 

There is a legend that, during the peak of the boom, the Union 
Pacific R.R. would not allow its passengers to risk their lives by getting 
off the train during a stop here. 

Opposite the Union Pacific depot is the UNION PACIFIC HOTEL, 
built at the time the railroad was under construction. Near it is a frame 
building that was a FREIGHT HOUSE, erected in the days when this was 
the distributing point to the forts and Indian agencies to the north. 

West of Sidney the highway is level and nearly straight. In former 
days railroad passengers welcomed such flat stretches of country not 
only because the trains crossing them moved with fewer bounces and 
jerks and there was less danger of a wreck, but also because there was 
less chance of a train robbery. Such robberies were almost daily events 
in the early days of the West. The hold-up men sometimes wrecked 
trains in order to loot the mail cars and rob the passengers, but more 
often they merely flagged them at night in lonely spots and took what 
they wanted at the point of a gun. Trains carrying large quantities of 
gold to the mints were particularly marked for attack. 

At 80.5 m. is POINT OF ROCKS (R) , which provides a good view 
of the craggy and pine-dotted country. From this point the Indians are 
said to have rolled rocks down on Union Pacific trains. Air currents in 
this area cause trouble for planes flying between North Platte and 
Cheyenne, Wyo. An airplane beacon is on top of the rock. 

POTTER, 85 m. (4,389 alt., 515 pop.), was named for a General 
Potter who at one time commanded troops in western Nebraska. Nearby, 

82 The Oregon Trail 

LODGEPOLE CREEK disappears underground and reappears several 
miles downstream. 

KIMBALL, 103.2 m. (4,709 alt., 1,711 pop.), a wheat- and potato- 
shipping center, was the southern terminus of the old stage route that 
passed through the Wild Cat Range to Gering on the North Platte River. 

BUSHNELL, 115.2 m. (4,871 alt., 341 pop.), was named for a 
civil engineer of the Union Pacific R.R. 
At 124.3 m. is the Wyoming Line. 


Neb. Line Cheyenne Laramie Rawlins Rock Springs Granger 
Kemmerer Idaho Line; 459.4 m. US 30 and US SON. 

Union Pacific R.R. parallels route throughout. Union Pacific Stages and Burlington 
Trailways follow route between Cheyenne and Granger. 

Oiled roadbed, occasionally closed for brief periods during severe blizzards. 
Accommodations chiefly in towns. 

US 30 in Wyoming runs through a land often referred to as "the 
last frontier." The stages that in the first months followed the Oregon 
Trail (see ALTERNATE ROUTE) through central Wyoming were in 
1862 rerouted. In March, 1862, the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho, in 
a united movement, had attacked all the stage stations between the 
Platte and Bear Rivers, burning many and capturing every horse in the 
service. Stage passengers were not molested in this period, but many 
were left stranded in the coaches from which the horses had been taken. 

By the middle of 1862 the coaches, after leaving Julesburg (see 
SECTION 4) , continued to follow the South Platte until they reached 
the Cherokee Trail ; after Overland stages were transferred to this route, 
it was called Overland Trail. The Cherokee Trail came north from Fort 
Smith on the Arkansas River and in Colorado followed Cherry Creek 
to the point where it emptied into the South Platte, gradually swinging 
northwestward to cross Laramie Plains and then westward to round 
the northern flank of the Medicine Bow Mountains; it crossed the Divide 
through Bridger Pass. 

The Cherokee Trail was a natural route well known to trappers. 
It received its name because the first large groups to follow it were the 
Cherokee on their way to California in the gold rush of 1849-50. The 
remnants of this intelligent and able tribe of the Southeast, which had 
attempted to adopt white men's ways and forms of government, set- 
ting themselves up as an autonomous nation, had been forced out of 
Georgia after the discovery of gold on their lands. Even though the 
U. S. Supreme Court had recognized their sovereign autonomy, Presi- 
dent Andrew Jackson in 1838 refused to restrain white land-grabbers 
and permitted the natives to be herded west by military force. The 
Cherokee were segregated in the territory that is now the States of 
Arkansas and Oklahoma. 

Section 5. Nebraska Line to Laramie, 92.4 m. US 30. 

US 30 crosses the Wyoming Line, m., just east of PINE BLUFFS, 
0.7 m. (5,047 alt., 670 pop.), whose name is descriptive of its sur- 
roundings. This was near the center of the hunting grounds over which 


84 The Oregon Trail 

the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Ute, Sioux, Blackfeet, and other tribes wan- 

West of Pine Bluffs US 30 runs through semi-arid rolling plains 
and short-grass country. In this vicinity are grown seed potatoes, many 
carloads of which are shipped annually, particularly into Texas and 
the Southwest. 

At ARCHER, 33.8 m., is a STATE EXPERIMENT FARM (L) that spe- 
cializes in dry farming and in growing altitude grains. 

CHEYENNE, 41.6 m. (6,062 alt., 17,361 pop.) (see WYO. 

Railroad Stations. Union Pacific R.R., 15th St. and Capitol Ave. ; Chicago, Bur- 
lington & Quincy R.R. and Colorado & Southern R.R., Capitol Ave. between 15th 
and 16th Sts. 

Accommodations. Good hotels. 

Points of Interest. State Capitol, State Supreme Court Building, Fort Francis 
E. Warren, Frontier Park, U.S. Horticultural Field Station, and others. 

West of Cheyenne US 30 rises 1,773 feet in 31 miles to cross the 
Laramie Mountains. Colorado snow peaks, 60 miles away, are plainly 
visible (L) ; rugged pine-topped ridges and mountains form the back- 
ground (R). 

GRANITE CANYON, 60.5 m. (7,315 alt.), has springs of excep- 
tionally pure water. 

BUFORD, 68.8 m. (7,862 alt.), is a loading point for Sherman 
granite, used for railroad construction and other purposes. 

At 71.9 m. (R) is an old PINE TREE growing out of a large granite 
rock. It was kept alive in early days by firemen of the Union Pacific 
R.R., who drenched the tree daily with a bucket of water. 

At 73.7 m. is the junction with the Tie Siding road. 

Left on this dirt road to the AMES MONUMENT, 1 m., built in 1881-2 at a 
cost of $80,000 to honor Oliver and Oakes Ames, promoters who played a large 
part in financing the construction of the Union Pacific R.R. It is a pyramid 60 
feet square at its base and 60 feet high, surmounted with an oval cap. In the 
center of one side is a medallion of Oliver Ames, and on another one of his 
brother. The monument was erected about six hundred feet from the original rail- 
road bed and marked the highest elevation (8,235 feet) reached by the Union 
Pacific in the Laramie Range. The Ames brothers were the manufacturers of Ames 
shovels, the most popular implements of their kind in the days of the gold rush. 
In the 1860's the brothers became heavily involved in the financing of the first 
railroad to the West. Oliver was later involved in the Credit Mobilier scandal, and 
received heavy public censure, though his practices differed little from those of 
other railroad financiers of his day. 

Near the monument is a small graveyard, the sole remnant of old Sherman Sta- 
tion, a construction terminus and military camp in 1868 during the building of 
the railroad. 

ARAPAHO (c. 1868) 

F. S. A. Rothstein 


Wyoming 85 

Nearby are several large piles of granite. Soon after the monument had been 
completed, some of these stones were used for advertising purposes; inscriptions 
were painted on them, such as "Plantation Bitters" and "S.T. 1860." An ambitious 
agent of one patent medicine manufacturing concern contracted with a Wyoming 
newspaper correspondent to have an advertisement put across the face of the 
monument itself. When the job was done, the newspaper man was to furnish the 
Associated Press with a story severely censuring the vandalism, thus insuring the 
wide distribution of an advertisement of the nostrum. One morning the whole 
country read of the disfigurement of the monument. The newspapers denounced 
the so-called outrage, naming the patent medicine as the agent had planned. But 
the campaign of indignation was short-lived; the correspondent had not had the 
sign painted, reasoning that if people merely read that it had been done, the same 
result would be achieved. 

The monument was again the subject of publicity when a Laramie justice of 
the peace named Murphy learned that the monument had been placed on public 
land instead of on railroad property; he hastened to file a homestead claim on the 
site, then notified the railroad company to take the pile of stone from his property. 
A railroad representative tried to arrange a settlement with Murphy, who insisted 
that the company remove the monument or pay an exorbitant price for his home- 
stead. An agreement was eventually reached whereby the company gave the "home- 
steader" several lots in Laramie in exchange for his claim to the land. 

A FOREST SERVICE SHELTER HOUSE (open to public), 74.7 m. (R), 
is equipped to render aid during storms. (Blizzards frequent in this 
vicinity October to April; usually come very suddenly; seek shelter 
at once.) 

At 81.6 m. the highway crosses the crest of the Sherman Range 
(8,835 alt.). Near the highway at this point are bridle paths and a 
ski course. Near Summit Tavern is a wooden OBSERVATION TOWER main- 
tained by the Forest Service; it is on the summit of Crow Creek Hill 
(8,877 alt.) in the Pole Mountain District of the Medicine Bow Forest. 
The tower commands a view of the Laramie Plains to the west, and of 
most of the drainage area of the Cache La Poudre River in Colorado. 

West of this point US 30 drops quickly down the western slope of 
the range, descending about 1,670 feet in nine miles. (Steep grade and 
almost blind curves; keep cars in gear.) The highway traverses pic- 

KIWANIS SPRING is at 86.3 m., where drinking water can be ob- 

In early autumn this canyon and the upper hillsides in the Laramie 
Mountains are brilliant with the gold of the aspens, which stand out 
against the dark green of the lodgepole pines. 

Emerging from the western end of the canyon, the highway runs 
across a stretch of sagebrush-covered land. 

LARAMIE, 92.4 m. (7,165 alt., 8,609 pop.), seat of Albany 
County, lies at the eastern edge of an extensive plateau known as the 
Laramie Plains. It is an outfitting point for hunting and fishing excur- 
sions into the nearby mountains and valley, and a trade center for 
cattle and sheep ranches and oil fields. The town was named for Jacques 

86 The Oregon Trail 

La Ramee, a French-Canadian free trapper who in the early 1800's 
operated in the territory that is now Wyoming. He is said to have been 
killed by Arapaho Indians in 1820 or 1821. His name appears fre- 
quently in the American Fur Company correspondence. 

The Indians of various tribes that formerly roamed over this area 
left many artifacts behind them; in the city are a number of extensive 
private collections of primitive weapons found in the neighborhood. 

By 1866, when Ben Holladay's stages were running over the Chero- 
kee Trail on fairly regular schedules, increasing numbers of emigrants 
followed the ruts worn by the swaying vehicles, and a military post, 
Fort Sanders, was established not far south of this point for the pro- 
tection of travelers. 

When, early in 1868, the Union Pacific R.R. tracks were nearing 
the big Laramie River, a small settlement appeared at his place, the 
inhabitants living in tents, sheds, and shanties, or in the open. 

In April the Union Pacific R.R. Company began the sale of lots; 
within a week more than four hundred were sold or contracted for. 
Ten days later more than five hundred structures had been erected; 
some were built of logs, some of crossties with canvas tops, and some 
of rough lumber. 

On May 9 the rails were laid through the town. The next day the 
first train clanked in and iron rails, crossties, ploughs, scrapers, tents, 
lumber, and provisions were unloaded. Peddlers also arrived with packs 
of notions, cooking stoves, crockery, tinware, and liquor. On the same 
train, riding on flatcars with their household goods, came men, women, 
and children. 

Within three months Laramie's population was about five thousand. 
A temporary town government had been organized in May and a mayor 
and trustees elected. After three weeks, however, the mayor had resigned 
and the rest of the government disintegrated, leaving the inhabitants 
free to settle their difficulties with revolvers and knives. By August, 20 
law-and-order citizens had formed a vigilance committee, which within a 
week hanged a young desperado called "The Kid." The hanging merely 
served to stimulate the ruffians to new endeavors; they boasted that they 
would run the town to suit themselves. Violence increased and a new 
vigilance committee with three or four hundred members was formed. 
They planned a complete cleanup, to be accomplished by simultaneous 
raids on all the notorious hell-holes and by the hanging of the leaders 
of the peace-breakers. On October 18, 1868, the members of the squads 
began to gather, one by one, in the saloons and dance halls to which 
they had been assigned. Unfortunately, an impatient vigilante in the 
group sent to care for a dance house called the Belle of the West fired 
a shot prematurely; the alert ruffians immediately grasped the signifi- 
cance of the presence of those who ordinarily shunned their company. 
In the ensuing affray three men one from each faction and a neutral 
were killed and 15 were wounded. Three of the leading ruffians were 

Wyoming 87 

captured and immediately hanged from telegraph poles; the next day 
Big Steve, another badman, received the same treatment. After this 
affray many of the desperados moved on to other places, but a few 
allied themselves with the forces that wanted order and became blatant 
advocates of public virtue. 

Out of the vigilance committee was evolved another local govern- 
ment. Late in 1868 the Legislature of Dakota Territory, of which Wyo- 
ming was then a part, approved a charter for Laramie and appointed a 
mayor. But the first legal government was no more successful than its 
predecessors, and in 1869 the legislative assembly of the new Territory 
of Wyoming revoked the charter and placed the town under the direct 
jurisdiction of the Federal Government. Under this regime order was 
established. On December 10, 1869, the Wyoming Territorial Legisla- 
ture enacted a law granting suffrage to women, and in March, 1870, 
the first jury panel in the Territory containing women members was 
drawn here. Many important newspapers and periodicals of the day 
sent correspondents and special artists to cover the event. Five women 
served on the grand jury and six on the petit. The latter jury convicted 
a man of manslaughter. 

In 1873 Laramie was re-incorporated under an act of the Wyoming 
Territorial Legislature. The town's position aided its development from 
a terminal camp to a trade and industrial center of importance in 
the area. Four oil fields are operated within a radius of 50 miles. 
Today Laramie is a city having many comfortable homes and attractive 

At the corner of 3rd and Gar field Sts. is the SITE OF THE BOOM- 
ERANG PLANT, now occupied by a warehouse. The office of this news- 
paper, which was founded in 1881 by Bill Nye, was in the former hay- 
loft of a livery stable; at the first-floor entrance was a sign with the 
direction: "Twist the Tail of the Gray Mule and Take the Elevator." 
Nye, whose given names were Edgar Wilson, came to Laramie in 1876 
and opened a law office. In the course of his life in this town he served 
as justice of the peace, superintendent of schools, councilman, editor 
of the Sentinel, and postmaster. The Boomerang was founded as an 
organ of the Republican Party in the State, but it soon became na- 
tionally known because of Nye's brand of humor. In time Nye went to 
work on the New York World and later formed a lecture and writing 
team with James Whitcomb Riley. In 1886 the two men produced Nye 
and Riley's Railway Guide. The authors announced : "What this country 
needs is a railway guide which shall not be cursed by a plethora of 
facts or poisoned with information. In other railway guides pleasing 
fancy, poesy, and literary beauty have been throttled at the very thresh- 
old by a wild incontinence of facts, figures, and references to meal sta- 
tions. For this reason a guide has been built at our own shops and 
on a new plan. It will not permit information to creep in and mar the 
reader's enjoyment of the scenery." 

88 The Oregon Trail 

The UNIVERSITY OF WYOMING occupies a 96-acre landscaped campus 
on a rolling hill in the northeastern section of town. It is the only insti- 
tution of higher learning in the State; all colleges are on this campus. 
The university, coeducational from the beginning, was established in 
1887, largely through the efforts of Col. Stephen W. Downey, a Laramie 
attorney. (See also WYOMING GUIDE.) 

Section 6. Laramie to Rawlins, 117.2 m. US 30. 

US 30 runs almost due north from LARAMIE, m. Near the city 
limits is an excellent view of the surrounding country, with snow- 
capped Medicine Bow Peak (see above) in the Snowy Range 30 miles 
distant (L), Corner Mountain to the north, and Sheep Mountain to the 
south. Pine-covered PILOT KNOB tips the Laramie Mountains, just 
east of the city. It was a landmark for those crossing the Laramie Plains 
in the days of migration on the Cherokee and Overland Trails. In sum- 
mer the fields north of Laramie are red with loco weed and, in spots, 
blue with lupine. 

BOSLER, 19.2 m. (7,074 alt., 75 pop.), on the Laramie Plains, 
bears the name of a ranchman who formerly owned the Diamond Ranch 
(R). The ranch was for some time the headquarters of Tom Horn, 
who was hanged in Cheyenne in 1903, charged with the killing of little 
Willie Nickell near Iron Mountain, Wyo. Horn, one of Bosler's range 
riders, was alleged to have shot the Nickell boy and to have wounded 
the boy's father during a range war between the cattlemen and sheep- 
men. It was believed that Horn was paid by some of the big cattlemen 
to keep the range clear of sheepmen. 

US 30 crosses the Laramie River at Bosler and swings northwest 
past Cooper Lake (L) . 

At ROCK CREEK, 37 m., in 1865 Indians attacked a camp occu- 
pied by members of a train of 75 wagons with which an English family 
named Fletcher was traveling. The Fletchers were camped on the banks 
of the stream a short distance from the main party; the Indians killed 
the mother and wounded the father. The two daughters, Mary, 13, and 
Lizzie, 2, were captured by the Indians, while the three sons escaped. 
Mary, who had been wounded by several arrows, saw an Indian seize 
Lizzie and ride off with her. Mary was carried off to the mountains, 
where the squaws were waiting; from the Indian camp she watched the 
burning of the wagons in the valley below. The girl was given Indian 
garments and, like other prisoners, had to care for ponies and gather 
firewood for the squaws of her captors. 

In the spring of 1866 the band came to a white trading camp in 
charge of a man named Hanger. Despite the fact that she had been 
ordered to keep out of sight of white men, Mary Fletcher walked into 
Hanger's tent and asked in English if he had any soap. An Indian who 

Wyoming 89 

overheard her knocked her to the floor and carried her away; but the 
squaws, who were jealous of her, aided her in communicating with 
Hanger. He gave the Indians a large amount of cash, a good horse, and 
a gun to obtain her release and placed her in the charge of an Indian 
agent who took her to Fort Laramie. She was soon sent to friends in 
Illinois. In later years, while on a trip to Salt Lake City, she found her 
father, who had recovered from his wounds. 

Thirty-five years after the Rock Creek raid, some Indians from the 
Wind River Reservation came to Casper, Wyo. With them was a white 
woman wearing Indian garb, and speaking only the Arapaho language. 
She attracted the attention of some Casper citizens, who learned from 
the reservation authorities that the woman had been captured by Indians 
when she was two years old, and was married to John Brokenhorn, an 
Arapaho. This story, published in a Casper newspaper, came to the 
attention of Mary Fletcher, who went to the Arapaho reservation and 
identified Mrs. Brokenhorn as her sister; the white woman refused to 
leave her Indian home. 

Over the railroad tracks, (L) north of Rock Creek, are large con- 
crete snow sheds that were erected by the Union Pacific R.R. after a 
severe blizzard in 1916 had tied up overland trains at this point for 
several days. 

ROCK RIVER, 39.2 m. (6,892 alt., 260 pop.), is a livestock-ship- 
ping point and a trade center for many ranches. Here in 1916 two cow- 
boys, while excavating a caved-in cellarway on property owned by a 
man named Taylor, unearthed glass jars containing several thousand 
dollars' worth of old gold coins. Taylor claimed the money and recov- 
ered it through legal proceedings that were carried to the Wyoming 
Supreme Court. According to one theory, the money had been hidden 
in the cellar by an innkeeper who had occupied the place and who 
was not seen after he was reported to have left for a visit to his home- 
land, Germany. Another theory was that the coins were loot from a 
stagecoach robbery. 

At 42 m. (L) is the SITE OF THE WILCOX ROBBERY of a Union 
Pacific train. On June 2, 1899, two men flagged an express train, pointed 
revolvers at the engineer, and ordered him to take the train across the 
bridge beyond Wilcox and stop. The men blew up the bridge with 
dynamite in order to prevent the arrival of the second section of the 
train, which was due in 10 minutes. They then forced the engineer to 
run the train two miles farther west, where they looted the cars, blew 
open the express safe, and escaped with $60,000 in unsigned bank notes. 
More than a hundred pounds of dynamite were found near the scene 
on the following day. Though pursued by a posse, the robbers made 
their escape on horseback into Montana. "Flat Nose George" Currie 
was supposed to have been responsible for the crime. 

West of Rock River US 30 runs through rolling, short-grass coun- 

90 The Oregon Trail 

try where great herds of buffalo once roamed. Some of the old buffalo 
wallows can be seen from the highway. 

At COMO BLUFFS, 52.2 m., is the CREATION MUSEUM, in a store. 
Many fossils and relics are on display. 

Right from Como Bluffs on a dirt road to the COMO BLUFFS FOSSIL BEDS in 
the bluffs, 1.3 m., from which in 1877 -was taken the first complete dinosaur 
skeleton; two others were discovered in Colorado the same year. The largest her- 
bivorous dinosaur skeleton found here was, when assembled, 70 feet long. Four- 
teen complete skeletons have been recovered here since 1880; they have been sent 
to the leading natural history museums of the world. 

MEDICINE BOW, 58.1 m. (6,563 alt., 264 pop.), provided the 
experiences that enabled Owen Wister to write The Virginian. Wister 
had ridden the range with the Two Bar outfit at one time. The first 
scene in the book was laid in Medicine Bow; here the narrator stepped 
off the train and was met by the Virginian. Later in the day he wit- 
nessed the first clash between the Virginian and Trampas, when during 
a card game Trampas called the Southerner a name that, according to 
the custom of the day, was omitted from the book, but which caused the 
spectators to look anxiously for cover. The Virginian stared at his 
enemy for a moment and then drawled, "When you call me that, 
smile," a remark that entered the popular speech during the days of 
the book's great popularity. 

The town has grown little since the days when Wister knew it but 
local life is now quieter. 

1. Right from Medicine Bow on a dirt road to the PETRIFIED FOREST, 
30 m., covering 2,560 acres and judged by scientists to be 50 million years old. 

2. Right from Medicine Bow on a dirt road to the EPSOM SALT BEDS, 
11 m., one of the natural wonders of the State. 

West of Medicine Bow US 30 runs through country occasionally 
dotted with bands of sheep and sheepherders' wagons. 

HANNA, 78.2 m. (6,777 alt., 1,500 pop.), is owned by the Union 
Pacific R.R., for which it supplies coal. The coal deposits of the area, 
discovered by Fremont in 1843, were a decisive factor in determining 
the course of the railroad in this area; early plans routed the railroad 
along the Oregon Trail. The coal is sub-bituminous and burns so freely 
that locomotives using it throw out cinders that have frequently set 
the grass of the plains on fire. 

Many fossils, including the bones of dinosaurs, are found in the 
rocks west of Hanna; they belonged to the last of the species. 

Left from Hanna on a partly graveled road to the town of ELK MOUNTAIN, 
17 m. (7,100 alt., 54 pop.), on the Medicine Bow River. The town is picturesquely 

Wyoming 91 

situated at the base of ELK MOUNTAIN (11,162 alt.), a landmark of the covered- 
wagon days. What is said to have been the first band of sheep brought into 
Wyoming was trailed from California to the Sederlin ranch south of the town. 

a. Right from Elk Mountain 6 m. on an improved dirt road to the Quealey 
ranch, the SITE OF FORT HALLECK, established in July 1862; it was named for 
Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck, who was appointed commander of the Missouri 
Department of the U. S. Army in 1861 and became General in Chief in 1862. 
The post was a stage and express station of the Overland stages. It was situated 
at a strategic point and consisted of several substantial buildings. The post was 
constructed when the mail route was transferred (see Section 5). Escorts were fur- 
nished from the fort for the surveyors of the Union Pacific R.R. route. In February 
1864, the post store was turned into a hospital to care for a party of 28 soldiers 
who had been caught in one of the worst blizzards of the area's early history. 
Two of the men died, and many of them had frozen hands and feet. 

b. Left from Elk Mountain about 1 m. on a rough road to a point near the 
CABIN OF JOHN SUBLETTE, an early settler believed by some to have been a 
nephew of William L. Sublette. Hand-made furniture and other old relics remain 
in the cabin. (Specific directions for reaching cabin obtainable in Elk Mountain.) 

At 87 m. is the junction with a dirt road. 

Left on this road to DANA, 0.5 m., a small station on the Union Pacific R.R., 
near which in 1934 an attempt was made, by an ex-convict named Lovett, to rob 
the Portland Rose Overland Limited. Lovett succeeded in derailing the locomotive, 
a baggage car, and one coach; but owing to the fact that the coach was filled 
with marines, who swarmed outside as soon as the wreck occurred, he beat a hasty 
retreat without robbing the passengers. The fireman on the train, who was almost 
totally buried under the coal, was quickly extricated by passengers. Lovett was 
subsequently captured. 

At 102.6 m. is the junction with a graveled road. 

Right on this road to FORT FRED STEELE, 1 m. (6,480 alt., 139 pop.), a 
village that bears the name of a military post established during the construction 
of the Union Pacific R.R. The post was occupied from June 20, 1868, to August 
7, 1886. On Sept. 14, 1879, Major Thomas F. Thornburg led a party from the post 
to rescue Nathan C. Meeker, Indian agent for the White River Utes in north- 
western Colorado. When within about 24 miles of the agency the relief party 
was attacked by Indians; Major Thornburg and 12 of his men were killed and 47 
others were wounded. The Utes set fire to the brush along Milk River, and de- 
stroyed all supply wagons. A scout, Joe Rankin, escaped, crawled through ravines, 
and, obtaining a horse, carried the news of the disaster to Rawlins; he made the 
164-mile trip in 24 hours. More troops were sent but meanwhile Meeker had been 
killed, and the women and children from the agency had been carried off by the 

Here US 30 again crosses the North Platte River and continues 
across rolling plains. 

At 107.9 m. (R) is the SITE OF BENTON, perhaps the most no- 
torious mushroom town that sprang up during the construction of the 
Union Pacific. It was the first terminus established west of Laramie; 
within two weeks the place was occupied by about three thousand peo- 

92 The Oregon Trail 

pie. According to Beadle's Undeveloped West: "There were regular 
squares arranged into five yards, a city government of mayor and alder- 
man, a daily paper, and a volume of ordinances for the public health. 
It was the end of the freight and passenger, and the beginning of the 
construction division; twice every day immense trains arrived and de- 
parted, and stages left for Utah, Montana, and Idaho; all the goods 
formerly hauled across the plains came here by rail and were reshipped, 
and for ten hours daily the streets were filled with Indians, gamblers, 
'Cappers', and saloon keepers, merchants, miners, and mulewhackers. 
The streets were eight inches deep in white dust as I entered the city 
of canvas tents and polehouses ; the suburbs appeared as banks of dirty 
white lime, and a new arrival with black clothes looked like nothing 
so much as a cockroach struggling through a flour barrel. The great 
institution of Benton was the 'Big Tent', sometimes called the 'Gamblers' 
Tent. This structure was a nice frame building 100 feet long and 40 
feet wide, covered with canvas and conveniently floored for dancing, 
to which and gambling it was entirely devoted. It was moved succes- 
sively to all the mushroom terminus cities." 

PARCO, 110.9 m. (6,592 alt., 727 pop.), is variously known as 
"the million-dollar town" and as "an oasis in the desert." It is com- 
pletely modern from its waterworks to its 80-room Spanish-type hotel, 
which occupies an entire block. The principal buildings of the town are 
grouped around three sides of a large expanse of lawn, the plaza. 

RAWLINS, 117.2 m. (6,755 alt., 4,868 pop.), seat of Carbon 
County, is a distribution and supply point for operators of sheep 
ranches, oil fields, coal mines, and lime and stone quarries. "Rawlins 
Red" paint, whose basic ingredient is a natural pigment found in the 
nearby hills, is manufactured here. The product is used particularly 
for painting roofs. In 1874 a carload of the product was shipped east 
for use on Brooklyn Bridge, then under construction. 

Gen. John A. Rawlins, for whom the town was named, served with 
distinction during the Civil War and became Secretary of War in 1869, 
but died shortly afterward. The town came into existence with the ar- 
rival of the Union Pacific R.R. because the site had an excellent spring, 
a rarity in this arid region. 

The usual tent town sprang up here; in the wake of the construc- 
tion workers,, and the settlers who hoped to profit by serving them, 
came the gamblers and badmen. Crimes of the neighborhood received 
a large amount of publicity. In June, 1880, George Parrott "Big Nose 
George" and Charlie Burris "Dutch Charley" with two other men 
attempted to derail a westbound Union Pacific pay car by drawing 
spikes that held some of the rails in place. A passing section boss no- 
ticed the loose rails, flagged the train, and then notified the sheriff's 
office. A posse, headed by Tip Vincent and Ed Widowfield, was quickly 
formed. The leaders became separated from the other men but found 

Wyoming 93 

the trail of the bandits and followed it to a grove of willows, where 
they discovered a campfire. While testing the ashes to find whether 
they were still warm, both men were killed from ambush by the ban- 
dits, who seized the mounts of the officers and fled farther into the hills. 

Four months later word was received from Miles City, Mont., that 
the robbers had been arrested on charges of murder and robbery in 
that State. "Big Nose," while under the influence of liquor, boasted of 
his Wyoming escape, and he and "Dutch Charley" were turned over 
to Wyoming authorities. The latter was taken off a train at Carbon by 
a group of local citizens and hanged to a telegraph pole. 

"Big Nose George" was tried here and sentenced to death by hang- 
ing. Because of his desperate character his legs were shackled at all 
times. One day, however, he managed to file through one of the shackle 
bolts with a knife, and that evening used the shackles to fell the jailer. 
The jailer's wife closed the door on the bandit and gave alarm. 

Before midnight a mob formed and took "Big Nose George" from 
the jail. The bandit was made to climb upon a big box beside a tele- 
graph pole with a rope around his neck; when he would not jump, 
the box was kicked from under him, but the fall broke the rope. An- 
other noose was applied and this time the bandit was ordered to climb 
a ladder; when he reached the top he wrapped his arms around the 
telegraph pole and hung on until he dropped in exhaustion. Dr. John 
E. Osborne, later Governor of Wyoming, officially pronounced him 
dead, and was permitted to retain patches of hide from George's body, 
which he had made into a pair of shoes. The Rawlins city records re- 
veal that 24 ruffians were notified that night to leave town within a day 
if they did not want the same treatment. The next day the railroad agent 
reported that 24 tickets had been sold for the morning train west. 

Owing to the presence of Rawlins Spring, the first settlements were 
made on the south side of the railroad tracks. Within a year, however, 
many people were living on the north side, where most of the city 
stands today. 

The STATE PENITENTIARY, on the northern side of town, has land- 
scaped grounds. Inmates of the institution formerly made brooms and 
shirts; they now manufacture woolen goods, including blankets, from 
wool produced on the surrounding ranches. The penitentiary has a 
lethal gas chamber for administration of the death penalty; the system 
was adopted by the legislature in 1936. 

US 287 (R) leads north from Granger to a junction with the un- 
numbered dirt road running through South Pass (see ALTERNATE 

Section 7. Rawlins to Idaho Line, 249.8 m. to US 30 and US SON. 

West of RAWLINS, m., US 30 runs slightly southwest and climbs 
to CRESTON, 26.5 m. (7,178 alt.), on the Continental Divide. The 

94 The Oregon Trail 

approach to the Divide is so gradual that it is difficult to recognize 
the highest point. For approximately a hundred miles west of Rawlins, 
US 30 runs through barren and, for the most part, uninhabited coun- 
try. (Few filling stations or other facilities available along this part 
of route.) Bridger Pass, used by the Overland Stages after 1862, is 
about 25 miles southwest of Creston. 

Left from Creston on State 87, which has an oiled gravel roadbed and runs 
due south through a land of sagebrush and cactus. BAGGS, 51 m. (6,245 alt., 
192 pop.), named for Maggie Baggs, an early settler in the valley, is on the banks 
of the Little Snake River near the Colorado Line. 

Owing to its isolated position, Baggs, during the 1880's and 1890's, was a 
favorite rendezvous and hide-out for badmen of every description train and stage 
robbers, horse thieves, bank robbers, and killers. 

The notorious Powder Springs gang of outlaws, led by Butch Cassidy, came to 
the town to celebrate successful hold-ups in surrounding States. Their biggest haul, 
about $35,000 in gold taken in Winnemucca, Nev., caused a celebration lasting 
several days. The inhabitants, while not terrorized by the outlaws, nevertheless 
experienced considerable uneasiness until the event was over. Baggs, like other 
Snake River towns of the area, profited by the celebrations because the gang, even 
when engaged in amusing itself, took no unnecessary risks, including that of wear- 
ing out its welcome in the towns where it loafed. On reaching Baggs, the leaders 
would appoint one man to care for the horses and to keep them ready for a 
quick get-away, if that should be necessary; another would guard the arms and 
ammunition, which was stacked in an orderly fashion. The leaders took turns in 
remaining sober during the spree in order to prevent excesses that might cause 
innocent bystanders to suffer. And it was a rule that ample compensation must 
be made to the owners of local property destroyed by accident. 

Powder Springs, the gang headquarters, was on a mountain side about 40 miles 
to the west. Cassidy and Longabaugh in time fled to South America, where they 
are said to have been killed after a pack-train robbery. 

Visible west of Creston is the RED DESERT, where the colorings 
change hourly with the light. Although the desert seems barren and 
worthless, hundreds of thousands of sheep are wintered here annually. 

WAMSUTTER, 40.5 m. (6,709 alt., 150 pop.), ships large amounts 
of wool and has extensive shearing jugs (pens). 

North of the highway, for nearly a hundred miles, is a great stretch 
of sand dunes, many of them a hundred feet high. They shift constantly 
with the prevailing winds in a direction a little north of east. Mirages 
are frequent. The region has great beauty in spite of its barrenness; 
every shade of red is here russet, brick, vermilion in addition to 
grays, browns, greens, and purples. Late in the afternoon the landscape 
is bathed in a purple haze. 

Left from Wamsutter on a dirt road (guides advisable) to weird, eroded for- 
mations of gumbo clay called ADOBE TOWNS, 30 m. 

On the desert west of Wamsutter are still many traces of the early 

Wyoming 95 

trails. Occasionally remnants of wagons, human and animal skeletons, 
Indian artifacts, and the like are found. 

POINT OF ROCKS, 84.6 m. (6,509 alt.), is a ghost town named 
for the rocks that rise 1,100 feet above the railroad tracks. In the vicin- 
ity are sulphur springs. In the 1870's Point of Rocks was the nearest 
railroad station to the South Pass and Sweetwater districts, and was 
an outfitting station for the mines. In 1870 a daily stage, mail, and 
express line operated between here and a point near the eastern end 
of South Pass. The Wells Fargo Overland Express Company maintained 
offices at the station and carried on a large business. The buildings, 
chiefly adobe, stood until the late 1880's. 

1. Left from Point of Rocks, 25 m., on a dim, unimproved trail to the SITE 
OF THE BARREL SPRINGS STAGE STATION of 1862. The trail that carried the Over- 
land Stage dipped slightly south in the area because of the springs. 

Beadle wrote of the region: "For sixty miles on Bitter Creek, Wyoming, the 
soil is a mass of clay, or sand, and alkali a horrible and irreclaimable desert 
which has made the place a byword. ... On the stage routes across such tracts 
the animals labor through a cloud of dust and the coach drags heavily, the wheels 
often causing a disagreeable cry in the sand and soda, while the passengers endure 
as best they can the irritation to eye and nostril, and the slime formed upon the 
person by dust and sweat. This penetrating alkaline dust sifts in at the smallest 
crevice, and even the clothing in a close valise is often covered with it." A popular 
local phrase describing such desert areas was: "A jack rabbit can't cross it without 
a haversack, while an immigrant crow sheds tears at the sight." 

2. Right from Point of Rocks on a trail that nearly parallels US 30 to the 

3. Right from Point of Rocks on a dirt road (sometimes impassable; carry 
ropes) that leads to large SAND DUNES, 30 m. 

ROCK SPRINGS, 110.6 m. (6,271 alt., 8,440 pop.), is the railroad 
station and United Airline stop nearest to the Jackson Hole recreational 
region (planes to area available at municipal airport). It is also an 
outfitting point for big-game hunting and fishing expeditions. 

The Rock Springs, for which the town is named, were discovered by 
a Pony Express rider while making a wide detour to avoid a band of 
Indians. The water, which is impregnated with minerals, comes from a 
rock at what is now known as No. 6 mine, just northwest of the town. 
There are few sources of potable drinking water between Rawlins and 
Green River. An Overland Stage station was established northwest of 
the place and in 1866 Archie and Duncan Blair, the founders of the 
town, built a rock bridge and a stone cabin opposite the stage station 
for the accommodation of travelers and emigrants. The REMAINS OF THE 
BLAIRS' TRADING POST, which was surrounded by a stockade, still stand. 
Becky Thomas, the station master here, charged 10 cents a head for 
watering horses, and the Blairs served venison steak and coffee to hun- 
gry travelers. Back of the station is a great rock that was the usual 
emigrant register. 

96 The Oregon Trail 

The first settlers built their shacks in whatever spots suited their 
fancy and' the early town looked as though it had been scattered from 
a pepperbox. Though the original lack of design has been corrected 
the town is still picturesque, with Parisian bakeries, Greek candy shops, 
and Jewish markets to emphasize its international character. 

Rock Springs is primarily a coal-mining town. Most of the males 
in the population, which is made up of people of 47 nationalities, work 
in the mines; these have been owned and operated by the Union Pacific 
R.R. since 1868. 

The valuable coal beds of Wyoming were the cause of considerable 
scandal between 1903 and 1906 because of collusion between railroad 
agents, General Land Office agents, and local officials to turn over pub- 
lic lands rich in coal to the railroad corporations. 

As the result of a miners' strike in 1875, Chinese workmen were 
brought into the area. In 10 years Chinatown contained ten or twelve 
hundred people, chiefly men, and was much larger than the white set- 
tlement. At this time San Francisco had become a center of anti-Chinese 
agitation, which spread throughout the West wherever the Chinese of- 
fered labor and business competition because of their willingness to 
accept wages lower than those demanded by the whites. In 1885 a mob 
of white miners attacked the Chinese here, burned their buildings, in- 
cluding a large clubhouse, killed 30, and attempted to drive them all 
out of the area. A detachment of troops, rushed in to preserve order, 
remained here for some time. Chinatown was later rebuilt and the Chi- 
nese Government called on the U. S. Government to pay indemnities 
to the relatives of those killed in the riot. 

About 1886 two old prospectors "salted" some nearby sagebrush 
country with rough diamonds. They interested a group of financiers in 
the property, led blindfolded inspectors to the place, and later suc- 
ceeded in fleecing several people, including Horace Greeley and one 
of the Tiffanys; they obtained about half a million dollars before the 
fraud was discovered by a cook with a Government surveying party, 
who kicked from an anthill a diamond that plainly showed traces of 
a cutter's tool. 

An annual International Night, first held about 1924, is given here 
in May; in addition to a program conducted by people of various na- 
tionalities, there is an exhibition of relics and examples of handicraft. 

At Rock Springs is the junction with US 187 (see SIDE ROUTE A). 

Southwest of Rock Springs, PILOT BUTTE (R), a trail landmark 
called "the Sphinx of the Desert," can be seen from the highway. US 
30 continues westward, crossing Green River Valley, in which, to the 
north, is the site of the first big Rocky Mountains rendezvous of white 
traders and trappers; employes of William Ashley's company met him 
here in July, 1825. This valley played an important part in the history 
of the fur trade of the West, being in an area that was a popular hunt- 
ing and trapping ground of both Indians and whites. 

Wyoming 97 

Small truck farms and sheep ranches are widely scattered in Green 
River Valley. The ranches with their barns and corrals are typical of 
those in the West. Oats, alfalfa, corn, and a variety of other vegetables, 
cultivated with the aid of irrigation, are the chief products of the farms. 
In the valley wild flowers are numerous, the more common varieties 
being Indian paintbrush, rock and sand lilies, and bluebells. Wild cur- 
rants are the only edible berries growing in abundance along the river- 
banks. Cactus, greasewood, sagebrush, mesquite, and grama grass are 
found on the hills and in canyons. The region near the river is arid, 
rocky, and sparsely wooded. Cottontail and jack rabbits, prairie dogs, 
gophers, chipmunks, coyotes, badgers, weasels, beavers, deer, and an- 
telope are seen in the region. Trout, grayling, whitefish, and squawfish 
are found in the river. 

GREEN RIVER, 125.7 m. (6,100 alt., 2,589 pop.), seat of Sweet- 
water County, is on the east bank of the river of the same name. It is 
surrounded by picturesque cliffs and strange formations, the most 
prominent of which, CASTLE ROCK, rises a thousand feet above the 
river. A path beginning at the edge of the city (R) leads to the sum- 
mit and circles the rock. TOLLGATE ROCK, just north of Castle Rock, 
was named for the tollgate established in a passage widened by the 

The Overland Trail crossed Green River at a point south of the city. 

The site for the town was selected by speculators in April, 1868; 
in July it had been platted, lots had been sold, and houses were being 
built ; by September there was a population of two thousand people. 

When the Union Pacific tracks reached the town, however, the rail- 
road company did not do what the promoters had naively hoped it 
would show interest in the supposed strategic position of the place 
and buy the townsite at inflated prices; the company already had plenty 
of land to be exploited for townsites. Nor did the company establish a 
rail-end camp here, which would have produced a temporary boom. 
Nonetheless, the town grew gradually in importance, justifying the first 
settlers' faith in its position. 

Here is the small HUTTON MUSEUM (private; visited by appoint- 
ment), containing fossils and relics of the Indians and early settlers. 

Green River, although reported by Bancroft to have been named for 
a partner of William Ashley, was so named because of its apparent 
color, which comes from the green shale over which it flows. The name 
is a translation of that given by the Spanish. The Crow called the 
stream the Seeds-ke-dee-agie, or Prairie Hen. 

While calm enough here, farther down stream the river is rapid and 
dangerous, a fit feeder of the Colorado, into which it drains. The Green 
and the Colorado Rivers run through canyons for most of their course; 
in 1,100 miles there is a drop of 5,000 feet, as a result of which there 
are 365 major rapids and quite as many minor ones. The stream, be- 

98 The Oregon Trail 

tween the town of Green River and Boulder Dam, has been continu- 
ously traversed only a few times the first in 1869 by an elaborately 
equipped party under the leadership of Maj. J. W. Powell. Two pho- 
tographers, Ellsworth and Emory Kolb, made the journey in 1911. On 
October 3, 1936, a young filling-station attendant, Buzz Holmstrom, left 
this town in an attempt to reach Boulder Dam alone; he arrived at his 
goal on November 25. 

Green River was usually forded by travelers using South Pass at 
some point near the mouth of the Sandy, north of US 30 (see ALTER- 

Left from the town of Green River on a dirt road to FIREHOLE BASIN, 
0.5 m., whose rugged and picturesque beauty is reminiscent of that of the Grand 

At 152.6 m. US 30 divides into US 30N, leading northwest, and 
US SOS, leading southwest. 

Left here on US SOS. CHURCH BUTTES, 10 m. (L), composed of blue and 
black sandstone, rise 75 feet above the level of the surrounding hills and resemble 
a cathedral. 

LYMAN, 27.6 m. (6,693 alt., 377 pop.), whose population is predominantly 
Mormon, has a successful co-operative marketing association. 

At 32.6 m. is FORT BRIDGER (6,657 alt., 100 pop.), a settlement on Black's 
Fork of the Green River. 

On the grounds of old FORT BRIDGER (L), now owned by the State, are several 
well-preserved army post buildings and a PONY EXPRESS STABLE. In the little 
museum (free) are such relics as ox yokes, wagon bows, old maps, Indian trophies, 
furniture, books, and rifles. 

Fort Bridger was established as a trading post by Jim Bridger, one of the most 
picturesque figures in the history of the American fur trade. He was born in Vir- 
ginia in 1804, was apprenticed to a St. Louis blacksmith for a period, and in 1822 
went west as a trapper with the Andrew Henry party. From then on until his 
death in 1881, Bridger was constantly in view; the vast range of his wanderings 
and the speed with which he moved were amazing. Everyone who traveled between 
the Missouri and the Pacific Northwest seemed to meet him. After the fur trade 
had declined in part with the substitution of silk hats for beaver^-Bridger became 
a scout and guide. Every post commander desired his services because he never 
forgot the features of any region he had traversed, and he had visited most of 
the West. He had, moreover, acute sensitivity that enabled him to see, smell, or 
feel the presence of Indians when no one around him did. In time no officer dared 
to disregard his warnings on the subject. As he became the oldest white inhabitant 
of the Rockies he acquired an increasing scorn for tenderfeet, perhaps .because 
his stories of the wonders of the Great Salt Lake and Yellowstone regions were 
disregarded in the early days; he in time mingled fact with tall tales to the utter 
confusion of newcomers. 

In the course of his life Bridger handled enormous quantities of furs and at 
various times announced his intention of retiring with a fortune; but he was not 
a businessman and lived his final years in poverty. Like most other men who had 
tasted wilderness life even for a brief time, he was unhappy away from it and 
could never settle down in any spot. He had an Indian wife and lived as the 
Indians did, eating and sleeping when he felt like doing so, without regard to 
conventional hours for such activities. 

One of Bridger's business ventures was the founding of a trading post at this 
key spot. In a letter written in December 1843, probably dictated since Bridger 
was practically illiterate, Bridger told Pierre Chouteau, Jr., the St. Louis mer- 
chant: "I have established a small fort with a blacksmith shop and a supply of 
iron in the road of the emigrants on Black's Fork of Green River which promises 
fairly. They, in coming out, are generally well supplied with money, but by the 
time they get there are in want of all kinds of supplies. Horses, provisions, smith 
work, etc., bring ready cash from them, and should I receive the goods hereby 
ordered will do a considerable business in that way with them. The same estab- 
lishment trades with the Indians in the neighborhood, who have mostly a good 
number of beaver among them." 

But Bridger could not stay at home long enough to run his post, so he took a 
partner, a Mexican named Louis Vasquez. Vasquez seems to have been little more 
satisfactory than Bridger as a post trader at least from the standpoint of travelers 
on the Oregon Trail. The emigrants would count eagerly on collecting news of 
road conditions ahead of them and on supplying their needs at this post, the first 
west of Laramie; but frequently, in the midst of the migration seasons, trains 
would find no one here when they arrived. The blacksmith shop, which could 
have had plenty of business, was nearly always without a smith. The partnership 
continued, however, until 1854 and additions were sometimes made to the facilities. 
Meanwhile other trappers settled in the neighborhood. 

In July 1847 the first Mormon caravan, led by Brigham Young, camped here 
for two days of rest and repairs before proceeding to the Great Salt Lake, where, 
as J. W. Gunnison wrote, they were to "endure perils and tribulations for a time, 
before their final triumph over fear." 

Bridger had none of the contemporary prejudices against polygamy and for a 
time he had friendly relations with the Mormons. The causes of the feud that 
culminated in the Mormon occupation of Fort Bridger are obscure. There are 
stories that the Saints captured the place because they were jealous of the flour- 
ishing business done at Fort Bridger; this, however, does not seem in line with 
Mormon procedure. There are other stories to the effect that they took it because 
they believed that Bridger was selling ammunition to the Indians to be used 
against the Saints. 

The relations between the Federal Government and the Mormons had become 
strained; the Saints had "left the United States" to settle in Mexican land but 
had arrived in the Great Salt Lake basin to find that the United States was taking 
over the territory. Eastern enemies continued their persecution of the Mormons 
because of their non-orthodox customs and beliefs and were determined to force 
"gentile" government on the territory. 

The discovery of gold in California brought a rush of non-Mormon emigrants 
through the territory that Young had chosen because of its isolation; while the 
Saints profited by catering to these travelers, the President and the Twelve, as 
the church council was called, soon saw the demoralizing effects of the influx of 
non-Mormons, some of whom insisted on settling in the area. Utah Territory was 
established in 1850, to the dismay of the Saints who had dreamed of an inde- 
pendent State of Deseret; settlement on the land became subject to Federal con- 
trol, and a tactless non-Mormon Territorial judge was appointed. Friction between 
the Federal Government and the Mormons increased rapidly. 

In the meantime the Mormon Church had been pushing its plans for filling 
up the territory with Mormon converts from abroad and was establishing way 
stations to provide aid and provisions for its emigrant trains. In the fall of 1853 
the Annual Conference of the Church commissioned Orson Hyde to lead a com- 
pany to this neighborhood to establish such a station. Hyde and a small group 
left on November 2 and selected a place of settlement nine miles upstream from 
Bridger's post, naming it Fort Supply. Behind them came a second company bring- 
ing horses, mules, cattle, and wagons loaded with seed, farming implements, and 

100 The Oregon Trail 

other supplies. A two-story log building with wings, large enough to house the 
entire population, was immediately erected. 

In 1853 or 1854 Bridger moved away from the post and the primitive buildings 
were burned. Bridger said the Mormons drove him out; he asserted that he had 
held the land under a Mexican grant, but the Mormons insisted that they had 
paid for the land. 

In 1857 President James Buchanan appointed a Governor and other Federal 
officers for Utah Territory, and a military force was assigned for their protection 
in taking office. The troops proceeded west under Col. Albert Sidney Johnston. 
When Johnston and his forces arrived here they found little but ruins in the 
valley. The Mormon colonists had been recalled to Utah, and had burned all the 
buildings and such goods as could not be moved. Colonel Johnston established 
winter quarters on Black's Fork about a mile and a half south of the former 
trading post, calling the place Camp Scott. In June 1858 a detachment of Johnston's 
troops took possession of the Bridger site and built a military post. The tact of 
the new Governor, and Brigham Young's sensible acceptance of the inevitable, 
had quieted the Utah situation; but suspicious enemies of the Mormons wanted 
a military post in the area as a threat. It was maintained almost continuously 
until 1890. Bridger later filed claims against the Federal Government for having 
taken possession of his land; the Mormons did also, but neither of the claims 
was allowed. 

It was at Fort Bridger, in July 1846 that the Donner party left the established 
Oregon and California Trail to take the route advised in an open letter addressed 
"To all California Emigrants now on the Road." They had seen this letter, written 
by a man unknown to them, near South Pass; the writer, L. W. Hastings, said 
that he had found a shorter and safer route to California across the desert around 
Great Salt Lake. George Donner, leader of the party of 81 people, had sold his 
large fertile farms east of the Mississippi and was taking his family to California 
to settle; with him were friends, neighbors, and some emigrants who had joined 
the group on the road. Half the members were less than 20 years old. Donner 
had excellent equipment for the undertaking and carried about $10,000 in cash in 
a secret pocket. Only Mrs. Donner opposed taking advice on this serious subject 
of routes from a stranger. Hastings had promised to be at Fort Bridger to con- 
duct emigrants, but when the Donner Party arrived they found that he had already 
gone and had left word for late comers to follow the tracks he was making with 
the first party. 

The message said that pasturage ahead was good and that there was only one 
stretch where an unusually long journey must be made to find water at the end 
of the day. The emigrants set off from Fort Bridger in high spirits, but before 
long ran into difficulties. They lost the tracks left by Hastings' party but pressed 
on, each day hopeful that they would soon find the wonderful new short cut. By 
the time the leaders were convinced that they were in serious trouble, the season 
was so late that they dared not turn back to the beaten road. One calamity after 
another overtook them murder, illness, and dissension. Donner was seriously in- 
jured and the minds of some of the emigrants broke under the strain. At the 
end of October, when they were near the summit of the pass through the Sierra, 
they were caught in blizzards and had to stop. Windbreaks were erected and dug- 
outs made. Supplies gave out completely. At length a small, hardy group man- 
aged to reach the Sacramento Valley and summon help. The story of the winter 
will never be completely known. Some members of the party finally ate the flesh 
of those who had died; the survivors (33 left the camp but 3 of these died on 
the way to the valley) were either too young or were too much afraid of public 
opinion to give details of what occurred. 

It was in the neighborhood of the post in the fall of 1843 that the mysterious 
Indian woman believed by some historians to have been Sacajawea, who had fled 
from the neighborhood of St. Vrain's Fort after her husband had been killed, left 
Fremont's party, with which she had been traveling, in the hope of finding her 



IV. H. Jackson 

U. P. R. R. Museum 


|K -"'" 


Wyoming 101 

relatives nearby. This woman was often near the post in later years. (See ALTER' 

Beyond Fort Bridger, for a few years after 1842, the Oregon Trail turned 
northwest, crossed to Little Muddy Creek, crossed the northern end of the Bear 
River Divide, and then followed Bear River toward Fort Hall. Later travelers 
omitted the dip down to Fort Bridger and took the Sublette Cut-off, which went 
due west from the Big Sandy (see ALTERNATE ROUTE). (For the Mormon 
and California Trails beyond this point see THE CALIFORNIA TRAIL, Ameri- 
can Guide Series.) 

US 30 swings northwest from the junction with US SOS. 

At 154.6 m. (R) is GRANGER (6,240 alt., 135 pop.), the trade 
center of a large sheep- and cattle-growing area. The OVERLAND STAGE 
STATION established here is still standing. 

The stage stations of the early days were rough-and-ready affairs. 
The owners, lacking competition, made little effort to satisfy the guests 
who were forced to depend on their services. Richard Burton's account 
of his trip to Utah in 1860 is a series of diatribes against the accom- 
modations or lack of them at the halting places and against the mis- 
erable substitutes for food he managed to buy from the agents and their 
indifferent wives. Some coaches drove day and night with the passen- 
gers eventually sleeping upright from exhaustion. Other coaches halted 
at night and the passengers were allowed to stretch out in dormitories 
having tiers of bunks, usually covered with filthy quilts and buffalo 
robes. Flies swarmed everywhere. Under the circumstances it is not sur- 
prising that whiskey was the chief commodity sold at the stage stations. 

Just north of Granger on US 30N is the junction with the South 
Pass unnumbered dirt road, part of an alternate route between Ogallala, 
Neb., and this point (see ALTERNATE ROUTE). 

US 30N here runs through long stretches of open country used 
chiefly for livestock grazing. 

OPAL, 182.2 m. (6,668 alt., 147 pop.), is a trade and shipping 
point, so named because of the fact that opals have been found in the 
vicinity. There are large wool-shearing pens here. 

DIAMONDSVILLE, 195.8 m. (6,885 alt., 812 pop.), a coal-mining 
town, is virtually a suburb of Kemmerer. In 1868 Harrison Church, a 
trapper who became a prospector, discovered coal on the Hamsfork, 
and built a cabin a mile below the site of the present town. Later a 
company was formed to develop the mines. Coal mining was for a time 
the only industry in the vicinity, but now oil production and sheep 
raising are important. The nearby valleys are dotted with farms and 
cattle ranches. 

KEMMERER, 197.4 m. (6,927 alt., 1,884 pop.), is the Scranton 
of the area. The town was named for M. S. Kemmerer, who invested 
money in developing the coal of the region. Kemmerer is an important 
outfitting point for fishing and big-game hunting expeditions. 

102 The Oregon Trail 

Right from Kemmerer on graveled US 89 to EMIGRANT SPRINGS, 26 m., used 
by travelers on the Oregon Trail. Nearby are the graves of several emigrants, 
marked by stone slabs. Sagebrush five or six feet high covers the graves. 

At 40 m. is the SITE OF A MORMON FERRY on Green River used largely by 
travelers on Sublette's Cut-off. 

NAMES HILL, 42 m. (L), has the names of trappers and emigrants dating 
back to 1820, when the first white men entered the area. Even Jim Bridger's is 
among those inscribed in early days. 

FOSSIL, 207.2 M., is a small post office. 

Left from Fossil on a dirt road to the FOSSIL FISH BED, 2 m. (guides 
available), one of the largest known deposits of fossilized fish in the world. The 
formation is Tertiary. 

West of SAGE, 221.4 m. (6,332 alt.) , US 30N turns north and runs 
through a rolling country that is used chiefly for grazing; the highway 
follows Bear River. 

At Fort Bridger (see above) the Oregon Trail swung northwest to- 
ward this stream, which one branch of the trail followed in this area. 

At 240.6 m. (L) is COKEVILLE (6,191 alt., 430 pop.), on Smith's 
Fork of the Bear River. The town is the trade and shipping center of 
a sheep-raising district. Coke ovens for filtering illuminating gas were 
put into operation here at an early date. 

At 249.8 m. US 30N crosses the Idaho Line. 


Wyo. Line Montpelier Pocatello Burley Twin Falls Boise Ore. 
Line, 451 m. US SON and US 30. 

Union Pacific R.R. parallels route throughout. Bear Lake Stages follow route be- 
tween Montpelier and Pocatello, Union Pacific Stages between Pocatello and Boise. 

Surfaced highway. 

Accommodations chiefly in larger towns. 

US 30N runs through the southeastern part of Idaho, an area of 
lakes, rivers, creeks, and small valleys. The valleys are farmed and the 
uplands used for grazing. West of Pocatello the route roughly parallels 
the Snake River; it traverses a dry-farming belt and also large arid 

Section 8. Wyoming Line to Pocatello, 120 m. US SON. 

US SON runs through Bear Lake Valley. Little of the area lies at 
an elevation of less than six thousand feet; winters are severe and sum- 
mers cool. In the Caribou National Forest (R) and the Cache National 
Forest (L) most of the old-growth timber has been exhausted, and the 
somewhat denuded watersheds offer the same problems in erosion and 
overgrazing that exist in many other parts of the State. 

BORDER, m. (6,100 alt.), is a small village practically on the 
Wyoming Line. 

MONTPELIER, 22 m. (5,941 alt., 2,436 pop.), is the largest town 
in this area. Founded in 1864, it was first known as Clover Creek and 
later as Belmont; but when Brigham Young visited the town, he re- 
named it in honor of the capital of Vermont, his native State. 

Left from Montpelier on State 35 into one of the chief recreation areas of 
eastern Idaho. PARIS, 9 m. (825 pop.), has finer buildings than any other small 
town in the State. Here (L) is a typical TABERNACLE of the Church of Jesus 
Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon). The dominant sect in eastern and south- 
eastern Idaho is Mormon, and the most attractive structures throughout this region 
are the tabernacles. 

At 12 m. on State 35 is the junction (R) with a road that goes up a canyon 
9 m. to lovely BLOOMINGTON LAKE (camp sites available). This clear, deep lake, 
lying under huge cliffs, covers 12 acres and is fed by innumerable springs. In 
season the lake is framed by an unusually luxuriant growth of wild flowers, in- 
cluding larkspur, columbine, dogwood, and mountain ash. The lake is stocked 
with the rare California glacial or golden trout. 

US SON between Montpelier and Soda Springs follows circuitous 
Bear River, which, west of Soda Springs, turns sharply and weaves its 
way south to the Great Salt Lake. 


104 The Oregon Trail 

At 46 m. is the junction with a poor road. 

Right on this road, which leads 2 m. up a canyon to the SULPHUR SPRINPS. 
The rock around these springs is so nearly pure sulphur that it will burn with 
a steady flame. 

SODA SPRINGS, 51 m. (5,777 alt., 831 pop.), at the northern 
bend of Bear River, is one of the oldest settlements in the State. 

Fort Connor, the southwestern part of the present town, was estab- 
lished in 1863 by Gen. Patrick Edward Connor and a little band of 
Morrisites, dissenters from the orthodox Mormon creed. According to 
the diary of John Bidwell, who promoted the first sizable emigration 
to the West, Soda Springs was "a bright and lovely place. The abun- 
dance of soda water . . .; the beautiful fir and cedar covered hills; 
the huge pile of red or brown sinter, the result of fountains once active 
but then dry all these, together with the river lent a charm to its 
wild beauty and made the spot a notable one." Some of the trappers 
called the place Beer Springs, imagining that they experienced alcoholic 
stimulation after drinking the bubbling water. 

Beadle in The Undeveloped West says: "The springs on the soda 
mounds are mere tanks, but a few inches wide, sending out such faint 
streams that all the solid contents are precipitated and the water quite 
evaporated before reaching the plain. Thus it is easily seen how these 
mounds were built by the water ; and many of them have risen so high 
that they have no springs, the water having broken out at some other 

Many springs, highly charged with carbonic acid gas and most of 
them cold, gush out in this area. Some of them, however, including 
STEAMBOAT SPRING two miles west of town, now emerge at the bottom 
of an artificial lake created by a dam. Steamboat still boils up through 
40 feet of water and explodes at the surface; the name of the spring 
derives from the sound made by the explosions. Among the mineral 
springs the HOOPER, a mile north of town, is popular with visitors. 
Close by is the CHAMPAGNE SPRING, and to the north is the MAMMOTH 
SODA SPRING, which is almost precisely the same size as the Mammoth 
Hot Springs in Yellowstone Park. 

Just south of the town, where Little Spring Creek crosses the road, 
is the spot where a family of seven was killed by Indians ; the cemetery 
in which these persons were buried, with their wagon box serving as 
a coffin, is west of the town. 

At Soda Springs the oldest California trail branched from the Ore- 
gon Trail to follow the course of Bear River to the Great Salt Lake. It 
was at Soda Springs that 32 of the Bidwell party of 64 people, afraid 
to attempt the little-known route to California, decided to go on to 
Oregon. The party that turned south, which included one woman and 
an infant, reached California only after great hardship. Many other 

Idaho 105 

emigrants changed their minds on destination in this area. (See FORT 

Right from Soda Springs on a country road to STAMPEDE PARK, 2 m., where 
an annual stampede and rodeo are held in August. This park is a natural amphi- 
theater, bordered by peaks and flanked by peculiar stone formations and rock 
crystals. The road to the park winds through cedar and pine woods and is known 
as the Red Road because of the brightly colored rock formations nearby that 
were sculptured long ago by the springs. Flowing into the park is EIGHTY PERCENT 
SPRING. There was formerly a bottling plant at NINETY PERCENT SPRING, near 
Stampede Park; though the plant no longer operates, thousands of persons come 
here annually to drink the waters. Of this spring Beadle, the gossip, reported: 
"The Ninety-per-cent. Spring, which Gentiles call the Antipolygamy Spring, is some 
two miles west of Hooper's, and about the same distance from the river. Of the 
solid contents ninety per cent, is soda, and the rest of some peculiar mineral 
which has a remarkable effect on the male human. Many ridiculous stories are 
told of its anti-Mormon properties, but fortunately the specific effect lasts but a 
few weeks." 

Visible from the highway at 57 m. (L) is SODA POINT, which Fre- 
mont in 1842 called Sheep Rock because of the great number of moun- 
tain sheep seen on it. It is an important lava formation inasmuch as 
it caused Bear River to turn southward and eventually enter Utah in- 
stead of following the natural watershed of this region. 

At 58 m. is a junction with State 34. 

Left on this road is GRACE, 6 m., where there is a large hydroelectric plant. 
At 8 m. is VOLCANO HILL, a few hundred yards east of which is ICE CAVE. 
The entrance hall pitches down for 50 yards, but thereafter the floor is fairly 
level. About halfway through is a skylight. The remarkable thing about the cave 
is its structural symmetry: 50 feet in width and about 25 in height, it runs in 
an almost perfect corridor for half a mile and looks like the upper half of an 
enormous barrel. Because this was once a volcanic outlet, the walls and ceiling 
look as though they had been plastered with hot lava. The far end, which ter- 
minates in piles of lava, once molten, is known as the DEVIL'S KITCHEN. Though 
there is not much ice in it, this has been known as an ice cave since its discovery 
many decades ago. 

LAVA HOT SPRINGS, 85 m. (544 pop.), is situated on the lovely 
Portneuf River at the base of great cliffs. The river, so named for a 
Canadian trapper who was murdered nearby by Indians, has a rare 
feature: low rocks dam it, forming quiet pools that are separated by 
cascades of unusual beauty. The town has springs that are remarkable 
in volume and mineral content. Even in prehistoric times the Indians 
visited the hot springs because of their curative properties and set the 
spot aside as neutral ground to be shared by all tribes. The daily flow 
from the hot springs, each with a different mineral content, is 6,711,000 
gallons. Natatoriums have been established here, two by the State and 
one by the town, and there is a fully equipped sanatorium. 

Both the State and city natatoriums have established large indoor 

106 The Oregon Trail 

pools. The State also maintains an outdoor pool called the Mud Bath, 
which has varying degrees of temperature in its waters, which are fed 
by 30 springs. It is not a large pool, but a swimmer can stroke from 
almost cold water into hot water, through various degrees of cold and 
warmth between the two extremes. Just below the balcony of the River- 
side Inn runs the clear cold water of the Portneuf River with hot 
springs steaming almost at its edge. 

To the south of Lava Hot Springs is a great mountain that is almost 
a solid pile of unquarried building stone, which because of its strength 
and lightness is valued by construction men. It has been used in build- 
ing two cabins across the river from the Mud Bath. Interesting, too, are 
other rock formations of limestones, shales, sandstones, and quartzites. 
Upon the river within the radius of a mile are 50 small waterfalls ; and 
the smoke holes of old volcanoes are within hiking distance. The 
canyons and glens offer camping retreats. 

At 97 m. US SON turns north and follows the Portneuf River and 
Canyon. With its abrupt walls and innumerable crevices cut in lime- 
stone and shales, the canyon was formerly a favorite hide-out for ban- 
dits as well as Indians. It was here in 1865 that a stage carrying several 
passengers and $60,000 was betrayed by its driver to a gang led by 
Jim Locket, a notorious bandit. Two passengers were killed and their 
bodies buried in a gulch near the scene of the crime. Another robbery 
of the period occurred not far south of Pocatello in a grove of trees 
near the Big Elbow of the river; ten robbers held up the Wells-Fargo 
stage, murdered six of the seven passengers, and escaped with $110,000 
in gold dust. 

INKOM, 107 m., has the largest cement plant in Idaho. For its ma- 
terials the factory draws on the limestone mountain that stands behind 
the village. 

POCATELLO, 120 m. (4,464 alt., 16,471 pop.) (see IDAHO 

Railroad Station. Oregon Short Line, end of W. Bonneville St. 
Bus Station. Union Pacific Stages, Fargo Building, S. Main St. 

Pocatello is the seat of Bannock County, and the second city in size 
in Idaho. It was named for a marauding Chief Paughatella (Ind., 
he who does not follow the beaten path) of the Shoshone tribe. 

Standing at the northern end of Portneuf Canyon and upon a bed 
of the ancient Lake Bonneville, of which the Great Salt Lake is the 
remnant, the city began as a collection of tents in 1882, when the Union 
Pacific branch was completed to this point. It is now an important junc- 
tion and repair and maintenance point of the Oregon Short Line R.R. 
The city is bisected by the network of railways, and the mountains flank- 
ing it are denuded and formidable. West of the black tangle of rails is 

Idaho 107 

most of the business area; beyond this and against the mountains are 
many of the most attractive homes. East of the tracks is also a resi- 
dential section. 

There are a number of Basque and Greek families here, as well as a 
colony of Negroes. 

MEMORIAL BUILDING, overlooking Memorial Park and Portneuf 
River, was erected to Idaho veterans of all wars. It has a spacious 
ballroom and a terrace that opens upon the river. 

eastern part of the city at the base of Red Bluff. It is housed in seven 
buildings, scattered over 225 acres of land, and has an enrollment of 
about 850. Its HISTORICAL MUSEUM contains old records and journals, 
Indian handicraft, and fossils that have been gathered in various parts 
of the State. 

Ross PARK, just south of the city, has a nine-hole golf course, a 
small zoo, and a delightful rock garden. Of greater interest are the 
lava rocks above the park, which carry Indian petroglyphs recording a 
part of the legends and histories of the Bannock and Shoshone tribes. 

West of the city, highly tinted Cambrian quartzite is overlain with 
rhyolite, a light-colored volcanic rock that flowed to the surface before 
the basalt. Across the bare plateau of the Snake River country the Twin 
Buttes are dimly visible. 

Above the city in the west is KINPORT PEAK, which offers a far- 
reaching view. Stretching westward as far as the eye can see is Snake 
River Valley, which in times past was deluged with overwhelming out- 
pourings of molten lava. 

At Pocatello is the junction with US 91 (see SIDE ROUTE B). 

Section 9. Pocatello to Twin Falls, 124 m. US SON and US 30. 

US SON goes northwest from POCATELLO, m. At 6 m. (R) is 
the municipal airport, McDoucALL FIELD. 

SNAKE RIVER (R), not visible from the highway, is tributary to 
the Columbia, but larger. It is a thousand miles in length and the ex- 
treme breadth of its basin is 450. For more than half its distance it 
flows through a gorge, and already upon it and its feeders are 80 huge 
reservoirs, and 70 hydroelectric plants that use less than one-tenth of 
its potential power. Most of its waters are unnavigable. 

In the earliest geologic period most of the Snake River basin was 
covered by a shallow sea in which were deposited great quantities of 
sand and mud. These have hardened into quartzites. After the sea 
receded there were tremendous upliftings of granitic materials, which 
were consolidated into the Idaho batholith and its smaller but related 
masses of rock. Following this there was an epidemic of volcanic up- 
heavals and explosive eruptions accompanied by flows of lava and ash. 
Erosion came next and slow sculpturings by glaciers, but the region 

108 The Oregon Trail 

was not yet ready to accept its alluvial deposits, and tremors and 
gigantic quakings shook the area from time to time, and basaltic uplifts 
rose like black monuments on the landscape. Within recent centuries 
earthquakes have been infrequent and never severe, but there are still 
deep and troubled rumblings. After peace came, Snake River settled 
down to the business of eroding its gorge. In the upper valleys here it 
flows too lazily to achieve much, but beyond Milner it gathers speed 
and has been impressively busy. 

The Snake River area was the most trying one traversed by early 
travelers on their way to Oregon. The west-bound Astorians, who 
attempted to go down the stream in canoes, were finally forced to travel 
along the rim of the gorge (see below). The land, now irrigated in a 
number of places and under cultivation, was formerly barren. Game 
was so scarce that the area was shunned even by the Indians who were 
forced from the Great Plains by the powerful tribes dwelling there. 
Though the Oregon Trail ran near the river, it was often difficult for 
travelers to find water for themselves and their animals; with the river 
constantly in sight they sometimes traveled a day or two without finding 
any place where they could descend into the gorge and drink. 

At 20 m. (R) is the AMERICAN FALLS RESERVOIR, one of the 
largest of many along the Snake that are making farming possible. The 
dam is a mile wide and has a maximum height of 87 feet. The reservoir 
it creates is 12 miles wide, 26 miles long, and covers an area of 56,000 
acres. The cost of the dam was $3,060,000, of the entire project three 
times that sum. 

The former site of AMERICAN FALLS, 25 m. (4,330 alt., 1,280 
pop.), was a favorite camping spot on the trail in this area; an elevator 
in the artificial lake marks the area where the early settlement stood. 
The new town is the trade center of a huge dry-farming wheat belt; 
reclamation projects reach for 170 miles westward. 

Close by the Idaho Power Company's hydroelectric plant is the 
TRENNER MEMORIAL PARK, dedicated to an engineer who helped to 
develop this region. A rocky terrace made of lava from the Craters of 
the Moon, a fountain and a landscaped lawn, a lava monolith, and a 
miniature power station make this park a pleasant oasis. The park is 
illuminated at night. Nearby is one of the State's large fish hatcheries, 
with a capacity of 2,500,000 fingerlings a season. 

A part of the Oregon Trail can still be seen in the town and for a 
short distance south. 

At 27 m. is the junction with an unimproved road. 

Left on this road are the INDIAN SPRINGS, 1 m., where pools and baths 
are available. This resort is one of the most popular of the mineral hot springs of 
the State, not only because of its reputed therapeutic properties but also because 
it is easily accessible. 

Idaho 109 

At 35 m. is a monument commemorating an emigrant tragedy; the 
site is called MASSACRE ROCKS. 

By 1862 the western Indians had reached a point of desperation. 
They had been misled and coerced into signing agreements that con- 
fined them to lands far too small and quite unsuitable for the ways of 
life to which they had been accustomed. Promised payments in goods 
were either not being made, or were inadequate to support them. Game 
on which they depended for food was being destroyed recklessly by the 
invaders. Faced with starvation they were easily influenced by the 
medicine men and other leaders who urged them to fight. When the 
Civil War broke out, word spread that the whites, quarreling among 
themselves, could be attacked successfully and driven away. 

In the Pacific Northwest there had been trouble ever since the 
settlement of the boundary question ; the Hudson's Bay Company, which 
had maintained order until 1846, had become merely a trading firm 
without power to reward or punish the Indians. The new territorial 
government, established by the United States, did not inspire the Indians 
with respect because its agents neither understood the Indians nor 
treated them with the fairness and kindness exercised by the Chief 
Factor of the Hudson's Bay Company's Department of the Columbia. 
Whereas earlier travelers had journeyed with a fair degree of safety 
on the Oregon Trail, by 1862 small groups were in constant peril of 

On August 10 of that year a train of 11 wagons drawn by ox teams 
and carrying 25 families from Iowa was winding over the sagebrush- 
covered plain at this point. A hot luminous haze covered the landscape. 
The ox teams moved slowly, covering only a mile or so in an hour. 
Thirst, weariness, and the monotonous sameness of earth, sky, and sun 
had far diminished the adventurous spirit of the pioneer. The journey 
was beginning to seem endless, with the fabulous valleys of Oregon as 
remote as ever. 

The driver of the first wagon, sitting high on the seat, was doubt- 
less looking ahead, trying to distinguish between the blue gray of the 
desert and the gray blue of the sky. Behind him in the crawling wagons, 
reaching back for a quarter of a mile, were men, women, and children 
sitting in a half stupor. The yellow earth was turned up by the wheels 
in lazy blinding clouds that rolled back from wagon to wagon and 
settled upon freight and travelers in thick layers. When the first wagon 
came to the crest of the slight rise, the driver could see a long slope 
with great piles of stone on either side of the trail. For 15 minutes the 
wagons plowed down this hill toward the bluffs, and it was not until 
the leader had passed into the small gorge, with its refreshing shadow, 
that a sudden movement in the stones above threw terror into the 
emigrants; they realized that they had been ambushed by Indians. The 
confusion and panic, the awful horror of the next few minutes, are 
imaginable. The chronicle relates that nine whites were slain, six were 

110 The Oregon Trail 

scalped, many were injured, and a few miraculously escaped. Wagons 
were plundered and burned and the beasts were driven off; on the 
following day another wagon train reached this spot and buried the 

At 38 m. is the junction with an unimproved road. 

Left on this road to EMIGRANT ROCK, 3 m., a stone 20 feet high on which 
early travelers left their autographs. Some of the names carved into the rock 
and even some of those painted with axle grease as early as 1849 are still visible. 

For eight miles US SON continues to follow the river, then climbs 
to arid plains that have not been reclaimed by irrigation. On a clear 
day the Lost River Mountains are visible in the north, and on the south 
is a spur of the Goose Creek Range. The hilltops here offer a broad 
panorama of the Snake River Valley and the haze of the Burley and 
Twin Falls areas. At 49 m. the highway crosses Raft River. 

RUPERT, 73 m. (4,200 alt., 2,250 pop.), is one of the few towns 
in Idaho that were not allowed to grow aimlessly. Laid out by the 
engineering division of the Bureau of Reclamation and named for the 
engineer who planned it, Rupert looked ambitiously into the future and 
arranged itself around a central plaza. Like many of the towns along 
the Snake, it is of recent origin, and sprang up almost overnight. At 
the beginning of the present century the whole area between American 
Falls and Buhl was a domain of sagebrush and coyotes, bunch grass 
and bromegrass, cheat grass and lizards. Swiftly, section by section, it 
is being transformed into a huge irrigated garden. Today the long 
sweep down the valley to the west is one of the State's three principal 
agricultural areas. 

Right from Rupert an unimproved road leads to the MINIDOKA DAM, 15 m. 
The Minidoka Reclamation Project involved the construction of a dam across 
Snake River, a main canal and tributaries, and an elaborate pumping plant. This 
last has three units, each lifting water 20 feet. The diversion system irrigates 
about 116,000 acres. The body of water impounded, now called LAKE WALCOTT, 
has a capacity of 107,000 acre-feet. 

BURLEY, 82 m. (4,240 alt., 3,826 pop.), is the center of reclama- 
tion project covering 121,000 acres. It is a thriving little city of recent 
origin. It has an alfalfa-meal mill with a capacity of 125 tons, a beet- 
sugar factory with a capacity of 800 tons, and a large potato-flour mill. 
West of Burley US SON and US SOS became US 30. 

Left from Burley on a graveled road is OAKLEY, 24 m.; thence L. over a 
dirt road to the SILENT CITY OF ROCKS, 38 m., which covers an area of 25 
square miles. Because the California Trail ran through it and the Lander Cut-off 
ended here, its walls bear thousands of names and dates, as well as messages left 
for persons who were presumably soon to follow; it is evident that some of the 

Idaho 111 

more ambitious and foolhardy scribes must have suspended themselves by ropes 
from the tops of the cliffs, so high and remote are the records they left. 

This formation has been carved by erosion from an enormous dome of granite 
that was anciently pushed up here. Because the weathered granite has become 
indurated or case-hardened on the surface, while its inner structure has often 
more rapidly disintegrated, the rocks form not only bizarre mosques, monoliths, 
and turrets, but also bathtubs, hollow cones, shells, and strange little pockets and 
caverns. BATHTUB ROCK towers two hundred feet, and can be climbed to its sum- 
mit whereon is a large depression that catches rainfall; in this depression, accord- 
ing to Indian legend, a bath before sunrise restored youth to the aged. Near the 
southern end of the formation are the gleaming turrets and fortresses, which stand 
on a low saddle against the road. North of these are spires that rise two hundred 
and fifty feet from the floor of the basin and from a distance suggest the sky line 
of New York City. Still others, fantastically grouped, look as if heathen temples 
had been rocked with dynamite and had rearranged their structure but refused 
to fall. Many so closely resemble one thing and another as to have been named; 

It is believed that treasure is buried here. When a stage from Kelton to Boise 
was held up in this city in 1878, $90,000 in gold is said to have been taken. 
One of the bandits was slain, and the other subsequently died in prison; but 
before his death he revealed that he had buried the treasure among five junipers. 
Five cedars growing in the shape of a heart were found in the city long ago, and 
frantic excavations were undertaken, but the treasure has never been found. 

At 96 m. on US 30 is the junction with an improved road. 

Right on this road to MILNER DAM, 4 m., a structure of earth and concrete. 
Less impressive than some other dams in the State, it marks, nevertheless, the 
most successful large reclamation project in Idaho. Undertaken by the Twin Falls 
Land and Water Company in 1903, it was completed in 1905, and impounds enough 
water to irrigate 240,000 acres on the south side of the Snake and 32,000 on the 
north. The storage of 80,000 acre-feet is supplemented by a right to 98,000 acre- 
feet in the Jackson Reservoir in Wyoming and 155,480 acre-feet in the American 
Falls Reservoir. The number of acres actually farmed under the South Side Milner 
Project is 203,000, and the number under the North Side is 128,000. 

The town of MILNER is just below the dam. Here in the Snake River is 
CALDRON LINN, where the Astorians in October, 1811, experienced a disaster that 
finally convinced them that the Indians were right when they warned them against 
attempting to navigate the Snake (see SIDE ROUTE 3). "The leading canoe," 
wrote Irving, "had glided safely among the turbulent and roaring surges, but in 
following it Mr. Crooks perceived that his canoe was bearing toward a rock. He 
called out to the steersman, but his warning voice was either unheard or un- 
heeded. In the next moment they struck upon the rock. The canoe was split and 
overturned. There were five persons on board. Mr. Crooks and his companions 
were thrown amid roaring breakers and a whirling current, but succeeded, by 
strong swimming, to reach the shore. Clappine and two others clung to the shat- 
tered bark, and drifted with it to a rock. The wreck struck the rock with one 
end, and swinging round, flung poor Clappine off into the raging stream, which 
swept him away, and he perished." 

After this event the party camped on the border of Caldron Linn (lin, Scotch, 
ravine) and held council to determine a course of action. Exploring parties re- 
ported that for nearly 40 miles westward the river foamed, roared, and twisted 
through a steep canyon where access to the stream from the rim was rarely pos- 
sible. But the prospect of carrying the luggage through the rough arid country 
was so discouraging that the members of the party determined again to attempt 

112 The Oregon Trail 

navigation, entering the river six miles below the caldron. One canoe with its 
contents was swept away while being launched and three others were caught on 
the rocks. Even the voyageurs were now willing to admit that the river route 
would have to be abandoned. To add to the distress the food supply was reduced 
to an amount sufficient for only five days. The party was divided into four groups, 
which were to make their ways as best they could toward the Columbia. Hunt, 
left with 31 men and the squaw of Dorion far advanced in pregnancy and 
her two children, made a cache for the luggage that had to be abandoned, a 
process that required three days. During this period one party, which had at- 
tempted to return to Fort Henry (see SIDE ROUTE 5), arrived and reported that 
it was impossible to go back by land. 

The Hunt party, having no other recourse, set out on foot to follow the Snake 
westward across the terrifying wasteland. Hunt led the majority along the north 
bank while the minority traveled on the south bank. 

US 30 continues to follow the general course of the Snake, which 
in this area takes a relatively direct route. For most of its length the 
Snake winds and twists convulsively; old-timers say that the river was 
formed the night Paul Bunyan started out from Idaho Falls for Seattle, 
with his Blue Ox, after drinking nine kegs of rum. It was a wet, black 
night and Paul's wandering trail filled up with water. 

Because of varying degrees in the hardness of the stone through 
which the river runs and the consequent variations in the ease and 
speed of erosion, the river has sculptured several waterfalls, including 
Dry Creek, Twin, Shoshone, Pillar, Auger, and the Upper and Lower 

At HANSEN, 115 m., are the junctions with country roads. 

1. Left on a country road is the SITE OF A TRADING STATION, 7 m., that was 
for years the first west of Fort Hall. It was a camping site, a Pony Express station, 
and then in 1863 a settlement. The old store still stands. 

2. Right from Hansen on a country road that leads to the HANSEN BRIDGE, 
4 m., which spans the Snake River gorge. It is 345 feet high and 688 feet long 
and is suspended on enormous cables. The gorge here is narrower than below 
and offers from the bridge a beautiful summary of what time and a mighty river 
have been able to do with lava rock. 

TWIN FALLS, 124 m. (3,492 alt., 8,787 pop.), is the largest city 
and the metropolis of south-central Idaho. Three miles south of Snake 
River and on the bank of Rock Creek, it stands on gently rolling 
terrain that was covered long ago by lava flows. The overlain soil in 
the surrounding country is uncommonly deep, and its richness has made 
this part of Idaho notable in crop yields. Twin Falls is one of the 
towns that have risen suddenly and swiftly after water reclaimed the 
arid valley. It was settled chiefly by families from the Middle West and 
was carefully planned. 

There are several small museums in the city. The CRABTREE (adm. 
211 Addison Ave. W., has an excellent collection of Indian 


artifacts, including arrowheads from many parts of the United States; 
there are also a few fossils and archeological relics. The WEAVER 
MUSEUM (free), 149 Main Ave. W., has a collection of guns, fossils, 
Second Ave. S., has, in addition to Indian artifacts, an interesting group 
of mounted game animals, wild birds, moths, and butterflies. The 
GASKILL BOTANICAL GARDEN (adm. 15$), 266 Blue Lake Blvd., is a 
beautifully landscaped spot. Surrounded by trees, shrubs, and vines, the 
concrete pools within are stocked with water plants and fish. The 
GARDEN OF YESTERDAY (adm. 25$), just southeast of the city, is note- 
worthy for its miniature reproductions of frontier structures, including 
a tiny log house, and a gristmill operated by water from a ditch. 

A natural CAVE in the wall of Rock Creek Canyon (R) was the first 
jail in Twin Falls County, and prisoners were incarcerated here until 
a Federal statute made it illegal to keep persons below the surface of 
the earth. Just south of the depot is a private fishery where rainbow 
trout can be bought fresh from the ponds. 

Right from Twin Falls on US 93, which turns L., following Blue Lakes Blvd. 
(The roads beyond this point are unmarked and confusing; inquiry should be 
made locally.) 

There is a toll-gate at about 3 m., on the rimrock (adm. to the area and its 
attractions 25$ ) . From the rim there is a magnificent view of the gorge, which here 
is seven hundred feet in depth and almost sheer, and of the Twin Falls-Jerome 
Bridge. Far below, by the river, is the PERRINE RANCH, which Douglas Fairbanks, 
Sr., considered buying before he decided to settle in England. A narrow but safe 
road leads down to the ranch through a corridor of poplars. The PERRINE MUSEUM 
contains Indian artifacts, fossils, and old relics. The Perrine orchard is noted for 
its rare fruits. The road leaves the ranch and crosses the river on a bridge to 
small, lovely BLUE LAKES, 4.3 m., which are as blue as the sky. 

On US 93 is the junction with a country road. 

Right on this road to a second road (L) leading to SHOSHONE FALLS, first 
described by Wilson Price Hunt in 1811, and for many decades thereafter the 
chief scenic attraction in Idaho for the thousands of emigrants passing through 
on their way to Oregon. During years of light snowfall upon the watersheds, only 
about enough water goes over this wide escarpment in August to fill a teacup. 
After heavy winters the reservoirs are soon filled, and the full flow of the river 
is delivered downstream. In May, 1936, Shoshone Falls was roaring mightily in 
unusual splendor. The river here plunges in a sheer drop of 212 feet over a great 
basaltic horseshoe rim nearly a thousand feet wide. 

At 6 m. on the up-river road TWIN FALLS are seen. They are no longer 
twins; the larger one was taken over in 1935 by the Idaho Power Company, whose 
plant here is notable for its compactness and beauty. The larger of the twins was 
a plunge of 180 feet, with more than half the river poured over a narrow escarp- 
ment in a terrific column. The diversion dam has now produced a series of cas- 
cades that are an appropriate prelude to the falls below. The great plunge is 
against the south wall, where the water goes down like a tumbling mountain of 
snow with a part of its body rolling in pale green veins. At the farther side the 
.flood spills in an enormous foaming sheet over a wide and almost perfect arc. 

114 The Oregon Trail 

Section 10. Twin Falls to Boise, 144 m. US 30. 

US 30 runs west from TWIN FALLS, m. There is an unob- 
structed view (R) of the Sawtooth Mountains beyond Snake River. 

At 8 m. is FILER, the home of the well-known Idaho white bean; 
nine bean plants are operated here. 

Right from Filer on a country road to AUGER FALLS, 5 m., on Snake River. 
The water here pours through a partly obstructed channel over a series of escarp- 
ments, and twists and spirals strangely in its descent. 

BUHL, 18 m. (3,792 alt., 1,883 pop.), flanked on the east by roll- 
ing country that in June looks like Iowa, is one of the most attractive 
towns in the State. 

North from Buhl on US 30; at 26 m. (R) Snake River Canyon is 
visible. At 28 m. some of the Thousand Springs can be seen on its wall 
in the distance. At 32 m. (R) is the Thousand Springs (sometimes 
called the Minnie Miller) Farm, known for its blooded Guernsey cattle. 

Just west of the farm are the THOUSAND SPRINGS, many of which 
have been hidden by a power development. Though long a source of 
mystery to both laymen and geologists, the Thousand Springs, it is now 
believed, are the outlets of buried rivers that are lost in the lava terrain 
150 miles to the northeast. In this stretch occur a group of springs 
having a combined discharge of more than five thousand second-feet. 
The whole of central Idaho seems to be an area of subterranean rivers 
and possibly cavernous lake beds; at various points in this valley a 
person can put his ear to the ground and hear deep and troubled rum- 
blings as of a mighty ocean rolling far beneath the surface of the earth. 
Opposite Thousand Springs is a ghost town, AUSTIN, marked by a 
cellar, a chimney, some stone walls, and fruit trees that bloom in a 
forgotten orchard. 

HABERMAN, 40 m., is a small hamlet in the valley. 

At 40.5 m. is a tablet commemorating Dr. Marcus Whitman, the 
missionary who in 1836 traveled along the Snake on his way to Oregon. 
With Whitman were his bride, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Spalding, and two 
other men ; they were led by Thomas McKay and John McLeod, experi- 
enced Hudson's Bay Company men who knew the route well. Nonethe- 
less they had an unusually difficult time because Whitman was bent on 
demonstrating that wagons could be used in reaching the Columbia 
River. The missionaries had started from St. Louis with two wagons 
and the fur traders with whom they traveled on the first part of their 
journey had had seven. The traders left their wagons at Fort William 
(Fort Laramie), but Whitman had insisted that he and Spalding con- 
tinue with one wagon. After they had had endless trouble and delays 
on account of the wagon, other members of the party attempted to 

Idaho 115 

persuade him to leave it. He persisted in spite of them. Two or three 
days before reaching Fort Hall one of the axletrees broke and even the 
bride rejoiced at what seemed the deathblow to her husband's plan. 
But she was not yet acquainted with Whitman. He contrived a cart of 
the rear wheels and lashed the other pair to it. At Fort Hall the trader 
endeavored to dissuade Whitman from attempting to take the cart 
farther and one man in the missionary party said that he would not go 
on if the cart went. Whitman took the cart. As the little group passed 
over the route at this point the cart was still vexing Spalding, the 
women, and the Hudson's Bay Company men. It was finally abandoned 
at Fort Boise. 

In the high cliffs above Thousand Springs and in other places 
throughout Haberman Valley, marine fossils are abundant. Besides 
remains of luxuriant tropical vegetation, there are also survivals of 
mastodons, wild hogs, and a rare species of ancient horse that seems to 
have been the immediate forebear of the present animal. 

Between Hagerman and Malad River US 30 crosses the Snake in 
whose canyon wall is a cave containing Indian petroglyphs that have 
been interpreted as a story of an Arapaho massacre. MALAD RIVER, 
43 m., is only a few miles long. In springtime it is a wild torrent of 
considerable size. The main source of Malad River is a huge spring 
that plunges down a precipice in a chain of cascades. The subterranean 
nature of central Idaho is demonstrated by the fact that this is the only 
stream in the southern part of the State west of Henrys Fork that, rising 
in the mountains in the north, reaches Snake River in the summertime. 

The highway leaves the rim of the canyon. At the foot, just before 
the ascent begins, is the old Bliss Ranch where B. M. Bower wrote 
Good Indian. The evolution of the winding grade from a crude pack 
trail through different eras of travel is still discernible. At the top of 
the ascent is the village of BLISS, 49 m., which was named for an 
old-timer and not because its settlers regarded it as an especially 
felicitous haven. 

1. Right from Bliss on a fair road to lakes, 11 m., in which the water is so 
astringent that it will take the hair off a hog. These small lakes occupy old crater 
beds. They are known under various names, but one of them is sometimes appro- 
priately called LYE LAKE. The hot springs were held in high esteem by Indians, 
who often journeyed far to bathe in the waters. The story is told of one buck 
who gambled so expertly that he left the others destitute. He was denounced 
in angry council, but allowed to accompany the tribe on its pilgrimage to the 
spring. When he fell ill of spotted fever, he was thrust into the hot waters to 
effect a cure and was dragged out dead. 

2. Right from Bliss on State 24; at 4 m. R. over a smooth road to the MALAD 
GORGE, 14 m. No gorge in the State excels this one with its ragged chasms, 
and none is more picturesque. Near its head is a blue lake fed by a waterfall, 
and below it is the river, cascading and bursting forth in springs and turning 
through all shades of pale green and blue. 

116 The Oregon Trail 

West of Bliss US 30 traverses one of the chief grazing areas of the 
State, from which seventy thousand cattle and two hundred thousand 
sheep are shipped annually. 

Just northwest of KING HILL, 66 m., at the foot of the hill, stood 
an Overland Stage station that was burned by Chief Buffalo Horn in 
1878. On a flat above the village is the Devil's Playground, a pic- 
turesque area of round smooth stones. 

At 74 m. is THREE ISLAND FORD where the Oregon Trail crossed 
the Snake. An Indian trail still leads down to the river. Indians used 
to lie in ambush by the crossing; just south is DEAD MAN'S GULCH. 
With his band, Buffalo Horn, an Indian scout having an honorable dis- 
charge from the U. S. Army, killed three miners on DEAD MAN'S FLAT. 

It was in this area that Hunt's Astorians found a small Indian 
village and bought some salmon and a dog for food. 

Near the ford US 30 turns abruptly northwest from the Snake and 
the route of the west-bound Astorians. The men of that party stumbled 
along over the rough land near the river, galled by the loads they were 
carrying and weakened by lack of food. At one Indian village a pack 
horse was obtained in exchange for an old tea kettle after payment 
with articles of more value had been refused. Two days later Hunt 
unfortunately accepted the advice of Indians and turned inland, away 
from the river; the men almost went mad with thirst before they 
reached a pleasant stream. Dorion, at a nearby Indian camp, was able 
to buy a horse to carry his wife and children. Another man also 
acquired a horse but a few days later the starving party killed it for 

MOUNTAIN HOME, 100 m. (3,124 alt., 1,243 pop.), is on a great 
sagebrush-covered plateau. 

West of Mountain Home US 30 traverses prairie with typical flora. 

The highway here follows a section of the Oregon Trail that is 
associated with many tragedies. The one most frequently related con- 
cerns the Sager family; how much of the story is true and how much 
pure legend is unknown. The family had left the Missouri with a wagon 
train but in western Wyoming, where the parents became ill with 
dysentery or cholera, the train moved on without them. They managed 
to reach Fort Hall before the parents died. Of the five children, John, 
aged 14, was the eldest; the youngest was a four-months-old infant. 
There were no women at the Hudson's Bay outpost, so John determined 
to press on toward the Whitman mission near Walla Walla. In the 
confusion around the post the children slipped off into this region that 
taxed the endurance of the hardiest adults. It was many weeks later, 
according to the story, that John approached the gate of Fort Boise, 
carrying the baby and followed by his little sisters. A month later the 
forlorn children arrived at the mission; John still carried the youngest 
and behind him perched on the back of an emaciated cow, were his 

U. P, R. R. Museum 


WAGON TRAIN (c. 1871) 

Idaho 117 

sister of eight, with a broken leg, and his sister of five, who had sup- 
ported the leg mile after mile to keep it from swinging. Shortly after 
she was lifted from the cow's back, the injured girl died. The children 
had traveled five hundred miles, subsisting on the cow's milk and on 
wild fruits and roots. John and Francis were slain three years later 
during the Whitman mission massacre. 

At 111 m. (L) is CLEFT, a few deserted shacks by the railroad 

Left from Cleft over cow trails (hazardous) to the CRATER RINGS, 3 m. 
(L). These two great volcanic cones look like ancient amphitheaters from which 
all benches have been removed. The rings were doubtless caused by two gigantic 
eruptions of such force and volume that a cubic mile of lava was hurled into the 
air and blown into dust. Here also is an earthquake fissure; for five miles the 
surface was split open by some tremendous tremor in the past, and the crack, from 
five to ten feet in width, is of unknown depth in places. 

BOISE, 144 m. (2,741 alt., 21,544 pop.) (see IDAHO GUIDE). 

Railroad Station. Union Pacific, on the Bench. 
Bus Station. Union Pacific Stages, 929 Main St. 
Accommodations. First-class hotels. 

Boise, the capital of Idaho and its largest city, stands on the bank 
of the Boise River. It is a city of trees and homes, protected by great 
mountains on the north and lying in a belt of prevailing westerly winds. 
Its summers, though often hot, are nearly always dry, and its nights 
are usually cool. Its winters are mild. The city is supported by a few 
factories, and by the trade from a fertile agricultural area chiefly 
producing hay, grain, vegetables, and fruits. 

Boise has a large Basque colony. Its midsummer festival is a genuine 
romeria, similar to fiestas in Spain, with Basque food, costumes, dances, 
and music. Like many other Idaho towns, it has an abundance of 
natural hot water, with wells that flow 1,200,000 gallons daily at a 
temperature of 170 degrees F. Many of the homes, especially in the 
eastern part, are heated from these flows; the chief avenue, Warm 
Springs, is named for them. The large NATATORIUM and its playground 
are on this avenue at its eastern end. 

The domed STATE CAPITOL is reminiscent of the Capitol in Wash- 
ington, with Corinthian columns supporting a Corinthian pediment. It 
is faced with Boise sandstone. It is most impressive when viewed from 
the head of the long boulevard leading from the railroad station on the 
Bench. In the rotunda is an equestrian statue of George Washington, the 
work of Charles Ostner, a soldier of fortune sojourning in Idaho; it 
was carved by hand from a yellow pine tree with the crudest of tools 
and with only a postage stamp bearing Washington's head as a model. 
It was completed in 1869, after four years' work; when the carving was 

118 The Oregon Trail 

completed, the statue was scraped with glass, sandpapered, gilded, and 
overlaid with gold leaf. In one crowded room in the basement of the 
capitol is the STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY MUSEUM (free] ; many valu- 
able gifts and collections are being withheld until a suitable building is 
erected to house them. On the capitol grounds is the FRANK STEUNEN- 
BERG MONUMENT, designed by Gilbert Riswald and cast by Guido Nelli. 
Steunenberg, Governor of the State (1897-1901), was killed by a bomb 
in December, 1905, during the mine labor troubles of the period. The 
trial of those accused of causing his death was a court duel between 
William E. Borah, acting for the State, and the late Clarence Darrow 
for the defense. 

At the southern end of Capitol Boulevard, and facing the capitol, is 
the beautiful UNION PACIFIC STATION. Set upon a hill, it overlooks the 
city as well as the landscaped Howard Platt Gardens with their flowers 
and Norway maples, blossoming catalpas, and weeping willows. These 
gardens, particularly lovely when lighted at night, were designed by 
Richard Espino of Los Angeles. ST. JOHN'S ROMAN CATHOLIC CATHE- 
DRAL, 8th and Hays Sts., was designed by Tourtellotte and Hummel of 
Boise, the architects of the capitol. It is Romanesque in design and the 
interior is elaborately adorned with stained-glass windows and marble 
altars. ST. MICHAEL'S EPISCOPAL CATHEDRAL, 8th and State Sts., is of 
the English Gothic type. 

In JULIA DAVIS PARK, lying upon the north bank of the river just 
east of 8th St., is the COSTON CABIN. Built in the spring of 1863 by I. N. 
Coston, it was fashioned of driftwood gathered from the river, and put 
together with pegs. Its original site was on the river seven miles above 
Boise; there it served as a rendezvous for Indians, prospectors, 
freighters, and packers. In this park, too, is the PEARCE CABIN, built by 
Ira B. Pearce in the fall of 1863 of logs brought from the mountains 
by ox team. On the south side of the river near the Holcomb school is 
the BLOCKHOUSE, a two-story stone structure, built in 1869, that served 
as a refuge against Indian attacks; it is now locally regarded as 

The DELAMAR HOUSE, 8th and Grove Sts., was, in its heyday, the 
largest and most modern in the town. It had the first mansard roof in 
the State. In 1892 Capt. J. R. DeLamar, the "silver king," bought it for 
$35,000 and converted it into an expensive club; in 1905 it became 
the home of Boise's first beauty parlor; today it is a Basque rooming 

The O'FARRELL CABIN, 6th and Fort Sts., was built in 1863, and 
now has a tablet above the door declaring that this was the first home 
in Boise to shelter women and children. Within it are the fireplace and 
tea-kettle used by the first occupants. 

CHRIST'S CHURCH, 15th and Ridenbaugh Sts., was erected in 1866 
in another part of the city. 

Idaho 119 

Opposite the Statesman Building on Main Street is the SITE OF THE 

A saloon operating on Main between 8th and 9th Sts. half a century 
ago, managed by James Lawrence and known as the Naked Truth 
Saloon, advertised itself in the following fashion: 
"Friends and Neighbors : 

"Having just opened a commodious shop for the sale of liquid 
fire, I embrace this opportunity of informing you that I have com- 
menced the business of making: 

"Drunkards, paupers and beggars for the sober, industrious and 
respectable portion of the community to support. I shall deal in family 
spirits, which will incite men to deeds of riot, robbery, and blood, and 
by so doing, diminish the comfort, augment the expenses and endanger 
the welfare of the community. 

"I will undertake on short notice, for a small sum and with great 
expectations, to prepare victims for the asylum, poor farm, prison and 

"I will furnish an article which will increase fatal accidents, 
multiply the number of distressing diseases and render those which are 
harmless incurable. I will deal in drugs which will deprive some of 
life, many of reason, most of prosperity, and all of peace: which will 
cause fathers to become fiends, and wives widows, children orphans 
and a nuisance to the nation." 

The URGUIDES LITTLE VILLAGE of 30 one-room cabins, 1st and Main 
Sts., was erected in 1863 by Jesus Kossuth Urguides, a frontiersman 
from San Francisco, as a freighting station. Built to house packers and 
wranglers, the cabins today are occupied by old-timers who can still 
remember how the generous Urguides cared for them in sickness and 
in health. 

Boise has a large playground in JULIA DAVIS PARK, with an art 
museum, picnic grounds, boating facilities, and tennis courts. 

Right from Boise on Warm Springs Avenue (State 21) to a junction at 19 m.; 
L. here on State 20 to IDAHO CITY, 45 m. (187 pop.), in the Boise Basin. In 
its heyday this former mining city sheltered daily almost as many people as Boise 
has today as permanent residents. But they constantly moved in and out as news 
came of gold strikes, first here, then there. The best index of the tempo of former 
Idaho City life is found in the graveyard; old-timers say that of the 200 people 
buried there in 1863, only 28 died of natural causes. This cemetery apparently 
inspired the vigilantes of the locality because it was one of their favorite meeting 
places. The town jail, first in the Idaho region, was on an acre of ground sur- 
rounded by a stockade. The most notable siege this fortress withstood was from 
a mob, armed with a cannon, in an attempt to take Ferd Patterson from the 
sheriff's custody and lynch him. Patterson was a gambler who had scalped his 
ex-mistress and killed the captain of a Columbia River boat. He brought himself 
to the attention of Idaho City by a gaudiness of attire that included plaid pants, 
high-heeled boots, a fancy silk waistcoat spanned by a heavy chain of California 
gold nuggets, and a frock coat of beaver cloth trimmed with otter; he further 
attracted public odium by killing the Idaho City sheriff. A thousand men waited 

120 The Oregon Trail 

to intercept the deputy who was bringing him to the jail, but the deputy out- 
witted them by placing his man behind the bars and the stockade and defend- 
ing his stronghold with a cannon thrust through portholes in the protecting fence. 
It is said that the deputy almost died of chagrin when Patterson was later ac- 
quitted at the trial. 

Left from Idaho City about 10 m. to PLACERVILLE, another mining town 
that is almost a ghost. Facing the weed-covered plaza is the MAGNOLIA SALOON, 
known the length of the Rockies in the days when gold dust was legal tender 
and a glass of whiskey was worth a pinch of it. Because of the numerous mice, 
a cat was as valuable as a whole jug of whiskey until one enterprising fellow 
broke the market by carting a load of cats into town. Before 1864 mail was brought 
to Placerville on horseback at 50 cents or a dollar a letter, the price fluctuating 
according to the number of thugs along the road. Placerville began to decline in 
importance by 1870. 

Section 11. Boise to Oregon Line, 63 m. US 30. 

US 30, westward, follows Main Street in BOISE, m. MERIDIAN, 
10 m. (2,650 alt., 1,004 pop.), is shipping point for a fertile agricul- 
tural area and has one of Idaho's largest creameries. 

NAMPA, 20 m. (2,42 alt., 8,206 pop.), seventh city in size in the 
State, is said to have been founded by a wealthy old-timer who, falling 
into a fury with Boise one day, strode out of it swearing that he would 
make grass grow in its streets. Neither his rage nor his wealth enabled 
him to fulfill his threat, but he did help to bring into existence a town 
that has been thriving ever since. Nampa was named for Nampuh, a 
leader of the western Shoshone who was one of the most notorious 
thieves and murderers that ever broke the back of a pony. Nampuh was 
so huge that the vest of John McLoughlin, the giant Chief Factor of the 
Department of the Columbia of the Hudson's Bay Company, failed by 
15 inches to reach around him. 

This city is the trade center of an agricultural and dairying area. 
LAKEVIEW PARK, 70 beautiful acres at the eastern border of the city, has 
golf course, playgrounds, and a large swimming pool supplied with 
hot artesian water. On the north side of town is a Spanish colony; just 
northwest of the city is a Bohemian settlement; and there is a scattered 
Scandinavian colony, largest of all. 

Left from Nampa on State 45, which leads into Owyhee County, a picturesque 
and little-known area that has a population of fewer than four thousand, but an 
area larger than Connecticut and two Rhode Islands. Old-timers here declare that 
anything can be found in this county, including, they suspect, the lost tribes of 
Israel. Just north of the bridge across Snake River, about 8 m., a road branches 
R. and follows the north bank 10 m. to an unusually large INDIAN PICTOGRAPH. 
Upon a great stone close by (R) is carved a great crude map that roughly defines 
not only the Snake River Valley but also Jackson Lake in western Wyoming and 
a few areas adjacent to both. Vandals in recent years have broken off chunks of 
the rock and carried away parts of the map. 

The bridge on State 45 is at the SITE OF WALTERS FERRY, which for 58 years 
was an important link in the Boise-San Francisco stage route. A few adobe huts 

Idaho 121 

remain on the bank. When building the bridge, workmen found arrowheads, rifle 
balls, and a hidden poke of gold dust. 

MURPHY, 12 m., is the present county seat. 

Right here to SILVER CITY, 44 m. (6,000 alt.), patriarch of the State's ghost 
towns. It sprang up after gold was discovered in 1863 in Jordan Creek, on whose 
headwaters it stands. Ore from the nearby Poorman mine assayed four to five 
thousand dollars a ton. At the height of its prosperity the city had a newspaper; 
a Roman Catholic church, Our Lady of Tears; a barber shop advertising baths 
as a specialty ("Call and be convinced"), with a photograph of the tub; and bar- 
rooms with impressive mirrors and polished interiors. The area became notorious 
because rival mining companies, setting an example later followed by urban indus- 
trialists, hired thugs to further their interests. The mountain metropolis had two 
hotels, the Idaho and the War Eagle, but they were crazy aggregates of buildings 
ranging from one to three stories in height. Though its glory had departed by 
1898 it was still a thriving place; by 1935 it had lost importance to the point that 
the county seat was moved to Murphy. 

CALDWELL, 29 m. (2,367 alt., 4,974 pop.), has in the COLLEGE 
OF IDAHO, visible at the eastern edge of the city, the oldest institution of 
higher learning in the State; it was founded in 1891 and has approxi- 
mately four hundred students. Opposite the college is an unusually large 
livestock feeding and shipping station. In MEMORIAL PARK (L), beyond 
the campus, are playgrounds, a large outdoor pool fed by artesian 
water, and the JOHNSON CABIN, in which three bachelor brothers lived 
in early days. The town, with 19 churches and somewhat monastic quiet, 
is quite unlike any other in the State. 

At the northwestern edge of Caldwell is Canyon Ford Bridge over 
Boise River, which US 30 crosses. Near the northern end of the bridge 
is the MARIE DORION MONUMENT, honoring the Indian woman who 
traveled with the Astorians. 

Left along the northern bank of the Boise River on State 18, which follows the 
old emigrant trail, to ROSWELL, 14 m. Near this small town is the SITE OF 
FORT BOISE, established on Boise River, about eight or ten miles from the 
Snake in 1834 but later moved down to this point near the larger stream. The 
Hudson's Bay Company erected this trading post as an answer to Wyeth's Fort 
Hall, established in July, 1834. It became an important point on the Oregon Trail 
as the first white settlement reached after the dreary trek from Fort Hall. By 
the time the emigrants arrived here many were practically destitute, having mis- 
calculated the amount of foodstuffs necessary to carry them to the Columbia and 
possessing scanty means. From a trading standpoint this was not a highly suc- 
cessful post, the surrounding country having relatively few beaver. 

US 30 goes north through the Payette Valley, the only part of the 
State that has more water available for irrigation than is needed. The 
valley, like the river, was named for Francois Payette, who arrived at 
Astoria on the ship Beaver, and was later in charge of Fort Boise. NEW 
PLYMOUTH, 54 m., was conceived in the Sherman House in Chicago 
by the chairman of a national irrigation congress. FRUITLAND, 61 
m., is the center of one of the most prolific fruit areas in the State. 

122 The Oregon Trail 

At 63 m. is the junction with US SON. 

Right on US SON at 2.9 m. is PAYETTE (2,147 alt., 2,618 pop.), with a 
well-known shade-tree nursery, which has developed a pink flowering and a purple- 
bloom locust tree that blossoms every month. An apple blossom festival is an 
annual event here when the orchards burgeon. Just west of the town are the 
SHOWBERGER BOTANICAL GARDENS, an inventory of which in 1934 showed 132 native 
plants that had been identified, 100 that were still unnamed, and 1,500 wild and 
cultivated varieties. From these gardens Hyde Park in London was supplied with 
wild hollyhock after a long search had been made in Weiser Canyon to find it. 
Fifty species of pentstemon are grown here. 

WEISER (pron. Wee'-zer), 17.9 m. (2,119 alt., 2,724 pop.), stands at the 
confluence of the Snake and Weiser Rivers. It was the "river Wuzer" described 
by Alexander Ross, and the "Wazer's" River of Peter Skene Ogden in 1827. 
Lewis and Clark, whose knowledge of the stream's existence was limited to in- 
formation obtained from Indians, called it the "Nemo." One tradition has it that 
the river was named for Peter Wiser, a private in the Lewis and Clark expedi- 
tion; another that it was named for Jacob Wayer or Wager, a North West Com- 
pany trapper with Mackenzie in 1818, but this is contradicted by the fact that 
the river was known as "Wisers" to Robert Stuart in his overland trip eastward 
from Astoria in 1812-3. 

By 1890 the town, for a time called Weiser Bridge, had several stores, hotels, 
and six saloons; but in that year a man who tried to take in all the saloons 
in a day's stride knocked over a lamp in a hotel, and the subsequent fire 
destroyed most of the structures. A new Weiser one mile westward was founded, 
and what remained of the first settlement was moved there. 

At the eastern end of town is the old EMIGRANT CROSSING where wagon trains 
forded the river in early days. An old ferryboat still stands here. 

It was in this neighborhood that the westbound Astorians reached a point of 
almost inhuman desperation. December had arrived and snows impeded their 
progress. The party led along the south bank of the Snake had fared even worse 
than the party on the north bank. When finally sighted they had given themselves 
up to death. The men on the north bank, who had stolen a horse from the 
Indians and killed it for food, were so apathetic to the fate of the members of 
the other party that they made no effort to share the meat until Hunt forced 
them to do so. Small groups set out to explore north and south in this area 
and Hunt finally determined to leave "the accursed mad river" and cut across 
to the Columbia; this was done on the day before Christmas. 

US 30N crosses the Oregon Line at 20.7 m. and almost immediately unites 
with US 30. 

US 30 leads west to the SNAKE RIVER, 63 m., which forms 217 
miles of the boundary line between Idaho and Oregon. Clark called it 
the Lewis River in honor of his partner. Its present name was derived 
from the Snake (Shoshone) Indians, who lived near it. 


Idaho Line Baker La Grande Pendleton The Dalles Portland 
Astoria; 522.7 m. US 30. 

Union Pacific R.R. roughly parallels US 30 between Idaho Line and Portland; 
Spokane, Portland & Seattle R.R., between Portland and Astoria. Union Pacific 
Stages follow US 30 between Idaho Line and Portland; Spokane, Portland & 
Seattle Stages between Portland and Astoria. 

Paved route, passable except in severe snow and ice storms, when Columbia River 
Gorge and Blue Mountain sections are sometimes temporarily blocked. 

All types of accommodations; improved campsites. 

US 30 in Oregon closely follows the Oregon Trail, traversed by 
explorers, fur traders, missionaries, spies, settlers, and adventurers in 
early days. The members of the Lewis and Clark expedition were the 
first white men to travel through the Columbia River Valley ; they went 
down the river, which the highway follows closely for more than half 
its course, but had to make many portages. The Astorians were the next 
to use the river, for many years the main highway of travelers in the 
region. Nathaniel Wyeth was the first who attempted to take wagons 
overland to Oregon, but it was not until 1846 that a pass was opened 
around Mount Hood, and wagons went from the Missouri to the Willam- 
ette Valley. 

Every mile of the trail is filled with memories of the multitude that 
passed over it. The smooth modern highway of today was then a crude, 
dangerous thoroughfare providing the climax to the journey requiring 
five months from the Missouri River to the lower Columbia Valley. 
Over sculptured hills and parched plains, through cultivated valleys 
and orchard slopes, the highway passes scenes that vary from the 
monotonous to the magnificent. It winds up pine-covered ridges of the 
Blue Mountains and, descending, crosses miles of rolling grain fields. 
It wedges between basaltic cliffs and rugged gorges. Along a route of 
scenic splendor, named in part the Columbia River Highway, it reaches 
the wide estuary of the old River of the West, and at last the Pacific 
Ocean, where Lewis and Clark terminated their historic journey in 1805. 

Section 12. Idaho Line to Pendleton, 187.7 m. US 30. 

US 30 crosses the Oregon Line, m., in the middle of the Snake 

ONTARIO, 1.4 m. (2,153 alt., 1,941 pop.), platted in the 1880's, 
is in the midst of a 300,000-acre irrigation district. Served by the Union 
Pacific branch lines, the town is the shipping point for the Owyhee and 
Malheur Valleys, and for a region with vast cattle ranges. Cereals, hay, 
and vegetables are shipped in large quantities. Cattle and sheep are 


124 The Oregon Trail 

crowded into loading pens before being driven into the long freight 
trains that constantly fill the sidings. The annual Malheur County Fair 
and Rodeo is held here during September. The glamor of the Old West 
still lingers about the town, which has a background of barren hills and 
distant rimrock. 

At 3.9 m. US 30 crosses the Malheur River, whose banks in spring 
are overgrown with fragrant tangles of wild syringa, or mock orange, 
found many places in the Northwest and described by Lewis and Clark 
in their Journals. From its straight shoots the Indians fashioned their 
arrows, giving the bush the local name of arrow-wood. 

The highway leads north, with the Sawtooths of Idaho visible (R), 
changing color with the changing light, from deep purple to rose. 
Volcanic dust in the air results in unusually beautiful sunset colors over 
these barren hills. After a brief rain the sage-scented air becomes so 
clear that the distant mountains seem unbelievably near. 

Mountain mahogany and gnarly juniper are scattered over the hills. 
Deer and larger game abound in* the wilder regions, while coyotes and 
rabbits lurk in the nearer coverts. Antelopes formerly ranged the 
plateaus; attracted by the sound of the bells on the wagon tongues, 
they often followed for miles the careening stagecoaches and lumbering 
wagon-trains. Pheasants, quails, and sage-hens live in the sage and 
greasewood, and geese and brilliantly colored ducks feed near the 
streams. At intervals small migratory birds with vivid plumage brighten 
the drab landscape. The desert lark is an ever-exuberant inhabitant of 
these waste spaces. 

For ten miles northward from 25.5 m. the highway, flanked (L) by 
sheer hills, roughly parallels Snake River (R). 

At 31 m. (R) is the village of OLD'S FERRY; a ferry established 
in 1862 is no longer operated. 

Here at FAREWELL BEND the Oregon Trail left the Snake River and 
ran northwest over the ridges to Burnt River ; at this point the pioneers 
bade farewell to water, not knowing how soon they would find some 
again. The ferry at Farewell Bend is said to be the locale of Buckskins 
Fight with the Wolves by George H. Waggoner, whose parents brought 
him overland by ox-team in 1852. 

VANTAGE POINT, 32.8 m., is a hill on which the Indians some- 
times lay in ambush for emigrants who camped in the vicinity before 
starting inland; near this place several small emigrant trains were com- 
pletely annihilated. 

(A marker at 36 m. indicates the change between Rocky Mountain 
and Pacific Standard time.) 

HUNTINGTON, 36.5 m. (2,108 alt., 803 pop.), with its sun- 
parched houses, black train sheds, and smoke-stained trees and hills, 
is in a canyon of the Burnt Mountains. It was founded as a stage stop 
and maintained that role until 1884, when the Oregon Railroad & Navi- 

Oregon 125 

gation Company line was linked with the Oregon Short Line, connecting 
Oregon with the Atlantic seaboard. Huntington is now an important 
railroad division point and freight station, with sidings and loading 
pens to accommodate the Hereford herds from the nearby ranges. 

North of Huntington US 30 follows the canyon of Burnt River, 
which it crosses 15 times in 12 miles. This stream was first mentioned 
and probably named by Peter Skene Ogden of the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany; either charred timber or the burned appearance of the volcanic 
rocks along its banks suggested the name. In April and May the spring 
grass relieves the somber tones of the rock and the sage-covered hills. 
Small side valleys hold irrigated farm land and large herds of cattle, 
though few are seen from the highway. 

The highway runs through the forbidding country traversed by the 
desperate, half -starved Astorians seeking a short cut between the Snake 
and the Columbia Rivers, after the dreadful two months in which they 
had attempted to navigate the "cursed mad river." 

At LIME, 41.3 m., a large conveyor passes over the highway, 
connecting two units of a cement plant. Lime deposits were formerly 
worked and burned in concrete kilns, the remains of which now crumble 
beside the road. Tunnels in the hills adjacent to Burnt River indicate 
small-scale attempts to obtain gold. 

The stark walls of the Burnt Mountains canyons have been gro- 
tesquely carved by the snow-fed rivulets that in spring flood the river 
and fill small irrigation reservoirs. Occasionally a lone juniper clings 
to the rocks. 

The highway winds through lands alternately arid and irrigated, 
and characterized by surprising contrasts created by green alfalfa fields 
and the gray of the sagebrush, to a widening valley. 

At 55.7 m. the route crosses a ridge known locally as an "iron 
dike." Car radios have no reception when stopped on the dike. 

DURKEE, 57.9 m. (2,654 alt., 100 pop.), is a weather-worn cattle- 
shipping point retaining the aspect of a frontier town of the buckboard 
era. Nearby, along Burnt River, are found fire opals rivaling the Mex- 
ican stones in quality. 

Junipers appear in small clumps on the hills, and cottonwood and 
willows grow in profusion at PLEASANT VALLEY, 68 m. (3,819 
alt.), which served as a resting place for the emigrant train of 1878 
that named it. 

BAKER, 82.2 m. (3,440 alt., 7,858 pop.), the seat of Baker 
County, was named for Col. E. D. Baker, who was a friend of Abraham 
Lincoln while both were practicing law in Illinois, and who was later 
for a few months U. S. Senator from Oregon; he left the Senate for 
military services in the Civil War and died in action. The city is on 
Powder River, between the Elkhorn Range and the Eagle Spur of the 
Blue Mountains, whose white peaks form an imposing background. It 

126 The Oregon Trail 

was neglected by the early emigrants, who were intent on reaching the 
greener Willamette Valley. 

Born as the result of the discovery of gold in eastern Oregon, Baker 
is one of the few cities in the State that has kept its importance as a 
mining center. From the crude settlement of the grubstake and shovel 
days, it has evolved into a graceful, modern city, with enough of the 
old mining-town atmosphere lingering about its streets to give it flavor. 
Gold was discovered October 23, 1861, in Griffin's Gulch, and since that 
day the surrounding mines have produced $150,000,000 worth of gold. 
The FIRST NATIONAL BANK maintains a bullion department and has on 
display an exhibit of quartz, gold dust, and nuggets, one of which 
weighs 86 ounces and is valued at $2,500. 

(maps, information). Farming, stock raising, and lumbering in the 
county contribute to the town's prosperity. 

Left from Baker on State 7, a graveled road, to GRIFFIN'S GULCH, 3.2 m., 
where Henry Griffin discovered gold in April, 1861. At 7 m. is a junction with 
a dirt road; R. on this road, which leads through Blue Canyon. BLUE CANYON 
CREEK (L) is still placer mined to some extent. 

At 8.4 m. ELKHORN PEAK can be seen directly ahead, 12 miles to the north- 
west, its distant wooded slopes offering a sharp contrast with the sagebrush and 
stubble along the roadside. Lodgepole pine and juniper become more frequent 
as the route reaches the SITE OF AN INDIAN BATTLEGROUND, 9.6 m. (L), 
where many spear and arrow heads have been found. 

From the crest of a hill, 10.3 m., can be seen the SITE OF AUBURN (see 
below), once the seat of Baker County but now marked by a group of weeping 
willows. There were only about 40 houses, nearly all built high on the hillside, 
in the town of more than 5,000 population. In true mining-camp fashion, most 
of the floating population rolled in blankets before fires at night or lived in tents. 
Two cemeteries are still visible, one for whites and the other for Chinese. The 
bones of many of the latter were sluiced away in the insatiable search for gold. 

At 10.8 m. (L), easily identified by its grove of cottonwoods, is the SITE OF 
THE DAVID LITTLEFIELD HOME, the first in what was to become Baker County. 
Littlefield was one of the men who discovered gold here in 1861. A few of the 
outbuildings still stand. 

At 12 m. (R), directly opposite across the canyon, is a second view of the 
site formerly occupied by Auburn. Beyond the bare area is Frenchman's Gulch. 

In the vicinity are CALIFORNIA and POKER GULCHES (L), and FREEZE- 
OUT GULCHES NOS. 1, 2, AND 3. Gold to the value of millions of dollars has 
been taken from this district but the rich veins have been exhausted; the streams 
are still panned to some extent. 

At 83.4 m. is a junction with a graveled road. 

Left on this road is the SITE OF POCAHONTAS, 6 m., now a field with one 
gray shack. The town once received 11 votes to make it the capital of Oregon. 

HAINES, 93.6 m. (3,334 alt., 431 pop.), is the center of a rich 
farming district. The ELKHORN RANGE (L) is broken by a series of 

Oregon 127 

peaks; from south to north, Elkhorn Peak (8,922 alt.), Rock Creek 
Butte (9,097 alt.), Hunt Mountain (8,232 alt.), named for Wilson 
Price Hunt, Red Mountain (8,920 alt.), and Twin Mountains (8,920 

At 96.2 m. is a junction with a road. 

Left on this graveled road is CASTORVILLE, 6 m., with one stone building 
left to commemorate its former importance as a mining and milling settlement. 
The flood of 1914 washed away all other traces of the town. 

Crossing the North Powder River, 101.7 m., near the point where 
it enters the main Powder River, US 30 enters NORTH POWDER, 
102.1 m., which was a stage station on the Oregon Trail. The Powder 
River is so named because of the character of the volcanic soil along 
its banks. 

At 105 m. is a marker indicating the camp where Marie Dorion, 
the Indian wife of the half-breed interpreter, paused on the morning of 
December 30, 1811, to add another feeble life to the Wilson Price Hunt 
party. The main party went on but Pierre remained with his family; 
the next morning he came trudging into camp, leading his son and the 
skeleton of a horse, which bore the woman with the babe in her arms 
and her two-year-old son slung in a blanket at her side. The infant died 
within a week, while the party was crossing the Blue Mountains on the 
last lap of the journey to the Columbia. Dorion had managed to acquire 
this horse from the Indians along the Snake though other members of 
the party had failed in their attempts to make like purchases. Toward 
the end of the journey along the dreadful river, when the party was 
half dead from starvation, Hunt had determined to kill the horse for 
food. Dorion had resisted, finally leaving the party in order to protect 
his property. Hunt and two men started after Dorion, prepared to take 
the horse by force. Two days later they found the Dorions; Pierre still 
refused to give up the horse and, oddly, the men backed him in his 

This seemingly barren country is not without inhabitants. Long- 
tailed magpies circle above the thickets, and porcupines make regular 
forays on grain and haystacks. Badgers, jackrabbits, and ground- 
squirrels whisk in and out of their underground homes, and some 
beavers, once abundant, still dam the small streams. Hawks and bald 
eagles range the skies. 

The highway now traverses GRANDE RONDE VALLEY, which the 
French-Canadian trappers called La Grande Vallee. The sight of this 
great green bowl, encircled by mountainous walls, brought delight to 
early travelers after their long journey across the alkali plains. Captain 
Bonneville, who saw it in 1833, reported: "Its sheltered situation, em- 
bosomed in mountains, renders it good pasturing ground in the winter 
time; when the elk come down to it in great numbers, driven out of 

128 The Oregon Trail 

the mountains by the snow. The Indians then resort to it to hunt. They 
likewise come to it in the summer to dig the camash root, of which it 
produces immense quantities. When this plant is in blossom, the whole 
valley is tinted by its blue flowers, and looks like the ocean when 
overcast by a cloud." Fremont spoke of the charm of the country when 
he traversed it ten years later. 

UNION, 117.5 m. (2,717 alt., 1,107 pop.), whose name, bestowed 
in 1862, shows the patriotic spirit of its first citizens, was once the seat 
of Union County. The first flag flown over the old courthouse was made 
in 1864 of red flannel, white muslin, and blue calico. Though early 
emigrants, bound for the Willamette Valley, passed through the fertile 
Grande Ronde, it was not until 1860 that the first claim was staked; 
Conrad Miller, the first settler, selected land a mile west of the present 
town. Union is the center of a large agricultural and stock-raising area. 
Catherine Creek, a good trout stream flowing from the western slope of 
the Wallowas, runs through the town. The 620-acre EASTERN OREGON 
STATE EXPERIMENT STATION is at the edge of the town; here experi- 
ments are made in growing and improving grains, grasses, and forage 
crops. Here also are a dairy unit, a poultry unit, a five-acre orchard, 
and truck garden plots. 

At HOT LAKE, 123.2 m. (2,701 alt., 250 pop.), water gushing 
from springs has a temperature of 208 degrees, the boiling point at this 

LA GRANDE, 131.9 m. (2,784 alt., 8,050 pop.), the seat of Union 
County, is a beautifully situated recreational center. It lies between the 
Blue Mountains and the Wallowas, at the western edge of the Grande 
Ronde Valley. 

For 20 years pioneers came into the valley, camped here, then 
hurried on toward the Willamette. In 1861 a small group of men 
retraced their trail from the Umatilla River to stake claims in the 
valley. Ben Brown of this company built a house on a low bench above 
the river. Later he converted his house into a tavern, around which a 
small settlement sprang up, known variously as Brownsville and Brown 
Town, until the establishment of a post office, when the present name 
was adopted. 

The discovery of gold in eastern Oregon turned the village into a 
thriving mining town, which declined as surface diggings played out. 
In 1884 the arrival of the railroad gave fresh life to the place. The 
railroad was laid straight across the valley, missing the town by a mile, 
but part of the inhabitants moved to spots near the railroad, creating 
New Town; the Old Town, as it is still known locally, is today an 
integral and populous part of the city. The industrial life centers about 
the railroad shops and the two large sawmills. 

In 1864, when Union County was carved out of Baker County, the 
FIRST UNION COUNTY COURTHOUSE was erected on the site of the Brown 

Oregon 129 

cabin and hotel; the old building, which is still standing at 1st and B 
Sts., has successively been occupied as a store, church, and residence 
since 1876. 

La Grande was the home of Blue Mountain University, a Methodist 
college that ceased to function in 1884. During an Indian uprising of 
1878 the alarmed citizens of the valley took refuge behind the thick 
brick walls of the old institution. The EASTERN OREGON NORMAL 
SCHOOL, the leading educational institution of the area today, has a 
campus of more than 30 acres and several attractive buildings. 

La Grande was the birthplace (1888) of Kay Cleaver Strahan, a 
writer of mystery stories. T. T. Geer, Governor of Oregon (1899-1903), 
lived 10 years of his young manhood near here and accumulated much 
material published in his volume of reminiscences, Fifty Years in 

By an Oregon Trail marker, 133.4 m., standing in GANGLOFF 
STATE PARK, is an impressive view of the Grande Ronde Valley. 
Dipping to the gorge of the Grande Ronde River, the highway crosses 
the stream five times, closely paralleling railroad tracks; the gorge is 
so narrow that its walls, streaked with red iron oxide, and the pines 
along the road are blackened by smoke. 

Leaving the gorge, the highway begins to climb the BLUE MOUN- 
TAINS. These mountains are Oregon's oldest land ; when what is now 
the State was a waste of waters, they stood above the flood. During 
winter snows their precipitous slopes held the migrating pioneers help- 
less, and in summer exhausted them. The Blue Mountains have a quieter 
appeal than have the Cascades; seen from a distance, their blue haze 
has a shadowy, unsubstantial appearance. 

At 141.7 m. the highway enters BLUE MOUNTAIN TIMBER 
PRESERVE, which stretches for 18 miles along the crest of the Blue 

At 151.5 m. is a junction with a road. 

Left on this dirt road to the EZRA MEEKER SPRINGS, 0.2 m., named for the 
gray-bearded patriarch whose eagerness to mark the old trial made him a national 
figure. He traversed the Oregon Trail by ox-team in the emigration of 1852 and, 
as an old man, retraced it in the same manner; at 94 years of age he covered 
approximately the same route by airplane. 

At 152 m. on US 30 is a junction with Ruckle Road. 

Right on Ruckle Road to the SUMMIT RANGER STATION, 14 m. This road, 
constructed in the late 1860's by Thomas & Ruckle, was a stage route between 
La Grande and Weston. Beyond the ranger station it is now covered with under- 

KAMELA, 152.1 m. (4,206 alt., 27 pop.), is in the highest rail- 
road pass of the Blue Mountains. All trains take on an extra engine for 

130 The Oregon Trail 

the climb to it. The town is a starting point for camping and fishing 
trips. Deer are plentiful nearby, and trout swarm the numerous streams. 

Northwest of Kamela the highway winds along the top of a wide 
ridge. The undergrowth of the evergreen forests here includes a small 
variety of the Oregon grape, whose bloom is the State flower of Oregon. 

At 153.6 m. is the summit of the Blue Mountains pass (4,337 alt.). 

MEACHAM, 157.7 m. (3,681 alt., 70 pop.), was named for Col. 
A. B. Meacham, a member of the Modoc Peace Commission. The ill- 
starred Hunt party, after its wanderings in the Snake River wilderness, 
passed this way. It was near here that the Dorion child, born a few 
days earlier, died. Across this region covered wagons creaked and men 
and women trudged, sustained by the nearness of their goal. Later, stage 
drivers cracked their long whips above plunging eight-horse teams to 
hurry them to the Meacham Tavern. So recklessly did they drive that 
passengers were often injured, and Meacham's coachmen figured in 
editorial diatribes of 50 years ago. Two large trees that formerly stood 
near Meacham sometimes concealed bandits, who preyed on the stage 
passengers. A series of bold robberies, including that of the Wells 
Fargo Express, occurred at this point. 

At 161. m. is EMIGRANT SPRINGS STATE PARK (facilities for 
picnicking). Near the entrance a stone shaft marks a spring said to 
have been discovered in 1834 by Jason Lee. The bronzed pine and 
green or gold tamarack of the park-like groves were inviting to the 
pioneers wearying of the long journey. Deep ruts made by the wheels 
of covered wagons are near the highway. 

At 163.4 m. the route crosses the eastern boundary of the UMA- 
TILLA INDIAN RESERVATION, now occupied by about 1,200 mem- 
bers of the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla tribes, who engage in 
wheat growing and ranching. The reservation has no Government 
school, but missions are maintained by the Roman Catholic and Pres- 
byterian churches. Graveled roads give easy access to almost all parts 
of the reservation. 

The highway crosses a plateau where there is a wide view of the 
ranges receding to the indigo haze of the horizon. Nearer are harsh, 
broken hills suggestive of the Badlands of Dakota, relieved only by the 
scanty growth of wiry grass and scattered pines. An Oregon Trail 
marker, 66.9 m., is in DEAD MAN'S PASS, the site of an attack by 
Indians in 1878. 

Winding along hillsides and broken cliffs, US 30 reaches the sum- 
mit of EMIGRANT HILL, 168.6 m. (3,800 alt.) ; the view here is one 
of the most impressive in the State on the old Oregon Trail. Beyond the 
ragged line of the nearer terrain rise ridge after ridge of wheatlands. 
Beyond the fields undulant sage plains fade to purple, and are lost in 
the distance. Snow fences are seen, strategically placed to prevent drifts 

Oregon 131 

over the highway during winter storms. The tall r.ed or yellow sticks 
placed upright along the highway are traffic guides during heavy snows. 

The route curves around hills colored in spring and early summer 
with the yellow of sunflowers, the scarlet of paintbrush, and the blue of 
desert lupine, campanula, and iris. At 173.4 m. Mount Hood and 
Mount Adams, more than 100 miles distant, are visible (L). The high- 
way climbs a lesser eminence, and from this height the hills slope 
gently downward to the Umatilla Valley floor, with its pattern of 
angular fields. These seemingly endless acres of grain lands are broken 
only by occasional shadows where cottonwood and willow mark the 
course of a wandering stream. Bands of horses, in silhouette against 
the sky, suggest the nearness of the range country. 

At 181.6 m. is a junction with a road. 

Right on this graveled road is CAYUSE, 7.5 m. (1,350 alt., 32 pop.), within 
the Umatilla Reservation. This scattered Indian village was named for a tribe 
that formerly dwelt in this region. The crude buildings, protected by brush and 
small trees, are for the most part along the Umatilla River and various creeks. 
In the summer many of the inhabitants leave their houses to dwell in tepees. 

MISSION, 181.9 m., is the UMATILLA INDIAN AGENCY. At the 
STATE PHEASANT FARM, 182.6 m., grouse, quail, pheasants, and other 
game birds are bred for release on the plateaus and in the uplands of 
eastern Oregon. 

185.6 m. US 30 leaves the Umatilla Indian Reservation and, 
following closely the tree-lined Umatilla River (R), passes a few Indian 
dwellings (L). 

PENDLETON, 187.7 m. (1,070 alt., 6,621 pop.), was named for 
George Hunt Pendleton, who was Democratic nominee for Vice Presi- 
dent in 1864 and later a leader in the Greenback Party. In 1865 M. E. 
Goodwin traded a team of horses for a claim covering much of the land 
on which the city now stands and in the following year he built a toll 
bridge over the Umatilla River, which flows through the town. In 1869 
Goodwin donated land for the site of a county courthouse and the place 
was made the Umatilla County seat. The settlement early became the 
base of supplies for cattle barons and an oasis for their employees; 
each Saturday the cowboys raced their ponies down the streets, clinked 
spurs over the board walks, and tilted glass after glass above the bar 
of the Last Chance saloon. The town grew haphazardly, its first school 
being held over the jail in the courthouse. 

Some of the old cattle trails that led into Pendleton in the 1880's 
are now followed by modern highways; others have been obliterated by 
wheat fields. In Pendleton are flour mills, foundries, planing mills, 
creameries, and saddle factories. Sheep, once despised by the cattlemen, 
yield fleece for the town's woolen mills. Pendleton blankets are widely 

132 The Oregon Trail 

The TIL TAYLOR STATUE here is a memorial to a Umatilla County 
sheriff who was killed in 1920 during a jailbreak. Taylor, one of the 
old-time sheriffs, served the county for 18 years. 

The Pendleton Round-Up, produced first in 1910 and annually since 
1912, attracts thousands of visitors during three days of mid-September. 
It is held in RoUND-Up PARK, which has a stadium seating 40,000; the 
park is at the western end of W. Court St. Stagecoaches, covered wagons, 
and some 2,000 Indians in full regalia preserve the pageantry of the 
Old West. Also in the park is an OPEN Am THEATER, with a stage of 
natural basalt. 

Section 13. Pendleton to Portland, 228.2 m. US 30. 

West of PENDLETON, m., at 1.8 m. (L) is the EASTERN OREGON 
STATE HOSPITAL, a modern institution with facilities for 1,325 mentally 
ill patients. 

US 30 runs straight ahead through the Umatilla wheatlands. The 
ranch buildings, often at considerable distance from the highway, are 
sheltered by groves of locust trees. Silhouettes of windmills are con- 
spicuous against the skyline. In the fall great piles of sacked wheat dot 
the harvested fields, whose stubble alternates with the grays and duns 
of freshly plowed land. West of the wheat region the route passes 
through a sheep-raising country, where immense bands feed on the 
natural forage. 

STANFIELD, 23.5 m. (204 pop.), the center of a sheep-raising 
district, was named for the Stanfield family, owners of a nearby ranch. 

HERMISTON, 29.2 m. (459 alt., 608 pop.), a tree-shaded oasis, 
is in the center of the Umatilla Irrigation Project. Irrigation ditches 
run through the streets. These waterways have reclaimed the fields that 
produce grain, vegetables, and fruits, and that stand out conspicuously 
against a background of sagebrush and cactus. It was named for Weir 
of Hermiston, which Robert Louis Stevenson was engaged in writing at 
the time of his death in 1894. 

At 35.2 m. is a junction with US 730; W. of this point US 30, here 
called the Upper Columbia River Highway, runs on the south side of 
the Columbia River. 

Right from the junction on US 730, which follows the south bank of the 
Columbia River. Sergeant Ordway of the Lewis and Clark expedition described the 
country on the westward trip as "in general Smooth plains then the barron hills 
make close to the River on each side ... no timber along the Shores." The 
next day he said that the party "proceeded on pass'd high clifts of rocks on 
each Side of the River." 

At 20.6 m. the highway crosses the Washington Line. 

WALLULA, 26.6 m. (324 alt. 36 pop.), surrounded by sand and sagebrush 
near the mouth of the Walla Walla River, is now a railroad junction. Near the 
Columbia are a few adobe remnants, the RUINS OF FORT WALLA WALLA, first 

//. /'. K. R. Mu*eun 




Leslie's Weekly 


Oregon 133 

known as Fort Nez Perces. This was established by the North West Company 
not long after it had bought out Astor's interests on the Columbia. The first post, 
built of wood and strongly fortified with bastions and a 20-foot palisade because 
of the constant hostility of the Indians in the neighborhood, burned down and 
was replaced in the 1840's by an adobe structure. The post was important to fur 
traders and other travelers because, while off the Oregon Trail, it offered a supply 
point in time of need after the always trying journey across the plains of the 
Snake. The Rev. Samuel Parker visited it in 1835 when seeking a site for the 
Whitman mission. Because of the dry, unpleasant character of the country he 
recommended a spot farther inland. 

At the mouth of the Walla Walla is the point where the returning Lewis 
and Clark expedition, advised by Indians camping on the west bank of the Colum- 
bia, determined to take a short cut to the Snake. The leaders wished to cross the 
river at once but the Indians begged them to stay, having heard of the white 
men's skill as dancers. George W. Fuller in his History of the Pacific Northwest 
calls the party "the dancing explorers"; rather, they were a road show. Not a 
little of their success in obtaining supplies and in safely crossing the continent 
rested on their ability to entertain the aborigines. The star of the troup was 
York, Clark's servant, a big, good-natured Negro who was never so happy as 
when he was surrounded by wondering Indians who rubbed his black skin with 
moistened fingers and yanked his curly hair to test their reality. Another favorite 
entertainer was Peter Cruzat, who clung to his fiddle all the way across the 
country and back, preserving it even at times when every extra ounce was a 
burden. A third was Rivet, who, as Ordway wrote, "dances on his head." On 
some occasions the entertainment offered to the Indians had the character of a 
medicine show, Lewis giving out eye water, ointments, and Rush's pills to all 
who applied. 

Ordway described the entertainment at this village: "they said they wished us 
to Stay with them to day as we lived a great way off, and they wished to see 
us dance this evening & begged on us to Stay this day. So our officers con- 
cluded to Stay this day. the head chief brought up a good horse & said he 
wished to give it to us but as he was poor he wished us to give him some 
kind of a kittle, but as we could not spare a kittle Cap* Clark gave his Sword 
a flag and half pound of powder & ball for the horse, we took our horses across 
the river, our officers made another chief gave him a meddle &C. in the after- 
noon a number of Indians came to our officers who were diseased the lame and 
many with Sore eyes and lame legs & arms &C. our officers dress d their wounds, 
washed their eyes & gave them meddicine and told them how to apply it &C. 
the chief called all his people and told them of the meddicine &C. which was 
a great wonder among them & they were much pleased &C. the Indians Sent 
their women to gether wood or Sticks to See us dance this evening, about 300 
of the natives assembled to our Camp we played the fiddle and danced a while 
the head chief told our officers that they Should be lonesom when we left them 
and they wished to hear once of our meddicine Songs and try to learn it 
and wished us to learn one of theirs and it would make them glad. So our 
men Sang 2 Songs which appeared to take great affect on them, they tryed to 
learn Singing with us with a low voice, the head chief then made a speech & it 
was repeated by a warrier that all might hear, then all the Savages men women 
and children of any size danced forming a circle round a fire & jumping up 
nearly as other Indians, & keep time verry well they wished our men to dance 
with them So we danced among them and they were much pleased, and 
Said that they would dance day and night untill we return, everry few minutes 
one of their warries made a Speech pointing towards the enimy and towards the 
moon &C. &C. which was all repeated by another meddison man with a louder 
voice as (so) all might hear the dance continued untill about midnight then 
the most of them went away peaceable & have behaved verry clever and honest 
with us as yet, and appear to have a Sincere wish to be at peace and to git 
acquaintance with us &C. &C." 

134 The Oregon Trail 

Right from Wallula on US 410. Near TOUCHET, 36.1 m., the highway fol- 
lows the former right-of-way of the Walla Walla & Columbia R.R., built in 
1872. Part of the crew of this first railroad connecting towns in the Territory 
was a collie whose job it was to run ahead of the locomotive and drive cattle off 
the track. 

At 49.1 m. is the junction with a paved road. Right here 1 m. to 
WAIILATPU, site of the Marcus Whitman mission, founded in 1836. The build- 
ings are being reconstructed. Whitman built his mission here in spite of the 
warnings of the Hudson's Bay Company's Chief Factor of the treacherous nature 
of the nearby Cayuses. 

Myron F. Eells, a missionary from Massachusetts who visited the place in 
1838, wrote: "It was built of adobe, mud dried in the form of brick, only 
larger There are doors and windows of the roughest material, the boards being 
sawed by hand and put together by no carpenter, but by one who knows nothing 
about the work. There are a number of wheat, corn and potato fields about the 
house, besides a garden of melons and all kinds of vegetables common to a 
garden. There are no fences, there being no timber with which to make them. 
The furniture is very primitive; the bedsteads are boards nailed to the sides 
of the house, sink-fashion; then some blankets and husks make the bed." 

As long as Dr. McLoughlin retained his post at Fort Vancouver, the Indians 
in his domain feared to attack white people. But their resentment against the 
invaders had been growing and when, after McLoughlin's dismissal, a particularly 
fatal epidemic of measles developed, they listened to the whispers of medicine 
men that the whites were bringing in the disease to annihilate them, and that the 
Indians must drive the whites out if they were to survive. On November 29, 
1847, the Indians descended on the mission, killing Dr. Whitman, his wife, and 
five other people. More men were slain in the following week while returning 
to the mission, making a total of 14; 53 men, women, and children were taken 

When news of the event reached Fort Vancouver, Peter Skene Ogden, of 
the Hudson's Bay Company, set out for Walla Walla. On January 2, after paying 
a ransom of 62 blankets, 63 cotton shirts, 12 guns, 500 rounds of ammunition, 12 
flints, and 37 pounds of tobacco, he loaded the captives on boats bound down the 
Columbia. Three years later five Indians were tried and hanged for the murders. 

UMATILLA (Ind., water rippling over sands), 36.1 m. (294 alt., 
345 pop.), at the confluence of the Umatilla and Columbia Rivers, was 
formerly the shipping point for the output of the Boise, Powder River, 
and Owyhee gold fields. It sprang up during the rush to the gold 
diggings of Idaho and eastern Oregon. Oxcarts, stagecoaches, and 
freight wagons passed along its dusty streets on their ways to the distant 
mines. River boats, laden with supplies, crowded the wharves. When 
the mining fever subsided, the town was beginning to ship quantities of 
grain from the eastern Oregon fields. The building of the Oregon Rail- 
road and Navigation Company road diverted traffic, and the place de- 
clined in importance. 

US 30 traverses an irrigated district, its green, cultivated fields 
contrasting with tablelands and soft beige hills. Narrow farmlands (R) 
border the highway. Houses and gardens are sheltered by the fringe of 
cottonwoods and poplars. The green of the farms (L) terminates 
abruptly, the plateau beyond them being covered with gray cactus and 
sagebrush. Beyond the river (R) stretch the brown hills of Washing- 
ton. The chief event that Ordway found to note in this area was the 

Oregon 135 

purchase of nice "fat" dogs; Captain Clark was the only one in the 
party who did not learn to smack his lips over this delicacy. 

IRRIGON, 43.2 m. (297 alt.), a former stopping place for trav- 
elers to and from the old Boise and Owyhee mines, derives both its 
name and its livelihood from the irrigation district of which it is the 
trading center. An experiment station demonstrates the agricultural 
possibilities of the rich silt. Vegetables and fruits are grown success- 
fully. Cantaloups and other melons bear the Irrigon label to distant 
markets. Peach, cherry, and apricot trees cover the knolls. Conspicuous 
throughout the region are the lush growths of wild asparagus along 
irrigation flumes. 

At 54.9 m. on a slight knoll (R) is a concrete slab in which is 
embedded an excellent specimen of the picture writing of prehistoric 
Indians. The pictograph was brought here from a spot on the basaltic 
bank of the Columbia River a few miles east. 

BOARDMAN, 55.1 m. (250 alt., 100 pop.), lies in an area that 
holds many fossilized remains of prehistoric animals. Specimens taken 
from the vicinity include part of a mastodon tooth, bones of fishes, of 
the three-toed horse, and of the rhinoceros, and bits of turtle shell. 

US 30 follows the river, a green band of water separating the gray- 
ness of the bleak, barren shores. The plateau rim (L) along the Oregon 
side rises almost sheer except where creeks break through to join the 
river. Occasionally a row of poplar trees serves as a windbreak in 
winter against icy gales that roar down the Columbia. 

CASTLE ROCK, 60.8 m., was once a busy community. The editor 
of West Shore in his issue of October, 1883, wrote: "Castle Rock, in 
Umatilla County, bordering on the Wasco line, was laid out on the 15th 
of last May upon ground taken up only a year before for a sheep ranch. 
It now contains an express office, post office, saloons, dwellings, schools, 
etc. A large forwarding and shipping business for the Heppner region 
is its chief support, though many settlers are taking up land in the 
vicinity. The growth of western towns is wonderful." 

HEPPNER JUNCTION, 70.3 m., is at the point where many early 
wagon trains turned south to cross Alkali Flats, avoiding the jagged 
scoria and sage-grown cliffs that US 30 follows along the river. 

For 45 miles westward the highway crowds close to the river, in 
places climbing along the basaltic cliffs and affording views of the wild 
river gorge and the mountains in Washington. The emerald green of 
the water contrasts with the tawny hills and the rusty cliffs, colored by 
lichens and iron oxide deposits. These cliffs show the successive flows 
of lava that inundated what is now the upper Columbia Valley. 

ARLINGTON, 81.4 m. (224 alt., 601 pop.), a town not much 
wider than its one locust-shaded street, is wedged between two high and 
barren ridges. It was formerly called Alkali, but was renamed by a 

136 The Oregon Trail 

group of settlers for Arlington, Va. The town is a trading center for 
the country to the south. It is also headquarters for hunters of the wild 
geese that swarm the islands and gravel bars of the Columbia. It is 
estimated that from 20,000 to 25,000 geese use the vicinity as a feeding 
ground. Though there are strict limits on the number of birds that may 
be taken, the season, usually the month of November, finds eager 
hunters gathering here from all parts of the State. Hunting rights are 
frequently rented from the ranchers at fees ranging from $8 to $10 a 
day. The Arlington Ferry (cars, $1; round trip, $1.50) makes con- 
nections with Roosevelt, Wash. 

West of Arlington the rolling lands recede and the valleys along the 
highway (L) are little more than canyons leading to confined ranches 
and irrigated farms. Saffron-stained patches of lava color the cliffs of 
the plateau rim. Passing through BLALOCK, 90.6 m., US 30 threads 
the narrow gorge through which the Columbia has cut a ragged chan- 

At 105.3 m. Mount Hood is seen, rising above the waters of the 

The JOHN DAY RIVER, 105.6 m., originally called LePage's 
River by Lewis and Clark for a member of their party, was named in 
honor of John Day of the Astorians. According to Washington Irving, 
Day was a Virginia backwoodsman who had hunted on the Missouri 
a number of years before joining Hunt's overland party. Day and 
Crooks fell behind on the Snake River, while Hunt went ahead (see 
above) with the main party in the winter of 1811-12. During the fol- 
lowing spring Day and Crooks were robbed of everything they had and 
left naked on the banks of the Columbia. After reaching Astoria, Day 
decided to return with Robert Stuart's party. Before he reached Walla 
Walla, however, he became violently insane and had to be taken back 
to Astoria. 

A swift, turbulent stream, the river has worn its way through 
stratum after stratum of rock. In its steep gorges are written successive 
chapters of Oregon's geological evolution. 

Near RUFUS, 110.7 m. (172 alt., 70 pop.), long breaks in the 
growths of poplars bear witness to the wind's severity. Gardens and 
orchards thrive between rows of closely grown trees or behind woven- 
willow shelters. 

At 113.3 m. is the junction with US 97. 

Right on US 97 to the landing of the Maryhill ferry, 0.4 m. (fare $1 ; service 
as needed). From the north bank ferry landing in Washington, US 97 continues 
to the junction with US 830, 1.2 m.; L. here 2.9 m. on US 830 to MARYHILL 
CASTLE, built by Samuel Hill, a road builder. The castle, dour and desolate, is 
visible from the Oregon side of the Columbia. It is a three-story rectangular struc- 
ture of concrete, fascinating yet forbidding, set on a cliff 800 feet above the 
river. Though construction was begun in 1914, and Queen Marie of Roumania 

Oregon 137 

dedicated the structure in 1926 as an international art museum, for years its win- 
dows were barred, its doors padlocked, and its winding, concrete driveways a 
tangle of matted weeds and grass. Armies of rats scampered through its labyrinth 
of rooms. In 1937 the building was opened to visitors. Queen Marie gave a life- 
size portrait of her daughter, an ornate desk supposed to have been made by her- 
self, a set of chairs, and other pieces of furniture. Other exhibits are being added. 
After carefully comparing weather records, Samuel Hill chose this spot, midway 
between the damp coast and semi-arid southeastern Washington, as the perfect 
place in which to live. He lavished a fortune on the estate, and left a bequest of 
$1,200,000 for completing and maintaining it as a museum. Hill never lived at 
Maryhill. In a crypt constructed during his lifetime repose the owner's ashes, 
commemorated by a tablet bearing the inscription: "Samuel Hill amid Nature's 
unrest, he sought rest." 

Two abandoned fish wheels (L), half obscured by a poplar grove 
and now outlawed for use in Oregon streams, stand at the mouth of the 
DESCHUTES RIVER, 120.5 m. US 30 crosses the river on the 
CHIEF DUC-SAC-HI BRIDGE, a fine concrete structure named for a chief 
of the Wasco tribe, who operated a ferry across the river. The 
Deschutes has been important as a fishing and hunting stream for both 
Indians and whites. On early maps the Deschutes often bears its 
English name, Falls River. 

Lewis and Clark found the river "divided by numbers of large 
rocks, and Small Islands covered with a low groth of timber." The 
Indians knew it as the Towahnahiooks River, although the explorers on 
their westward trip learned only that it was known as "the River on 
which the Snake Indians live." 

CELILO, 123.4 m. (158 alt.), at CELILO FALLS, is a canoe 
portage as old as the fishing stations still held by the Indians under 
a treaty granting exclusive and perpetual fishing rights to them. Long 
before Lewis and Clark halted at this place, likely fishing stands on 
these rocks were handed down by the Indians from father to son. 

When the explorers visited the vicinity they found ". . . great 
numbers of Stacks of pounded Salmon neetly preserved in the follow- 
ing manner, i.e. after (being) suffi(c)ently Dried it is pounded be- 
tween two Stones fine, and put into a speces of basket neetly made of 
grass and rushes better than two feet long and one foot Diamiter, which 
basket is lined with the Skin of Salmon Stretched and dried for the 
purpose, in this it is pressed down as hard as is possible, when full 
they Secure the open part with the fish Skins across which they fasten 
th(r)o. the loops of the basket that part very securely, and then on a 
Dry Situation they Set those baskets. . . . thus preserved those fish 
may be kept Sound and sweet Several years." Here fish are still speared, 
cleaned, and dried in the traditional manner, but they are no longer 
pounded into pemmican and stored in the woven baskets. Although 
this untidy and stench-ridden village has long been a joy to ethnolo- 
gists, it is exceedingly unpopular with its neighbors. The bucks fish 
and the squaws prepare the catch for food, resorting to the primitive 

138 The Oregon Trail 

open-air methods of curing developed by their prehistoric forebears. 
Across the Columbia is the old village of WISHRAM, described by 
Lewis and Clark in their Journals and by Washington Irving in Astoria. 
This village furnished many fine studies of Indian life to Edward 
Curtis in preparing his North American Indians. 

Sergeant Ordway said of the falls: "the hight of the particular 
falls in all is 37 feet eight Inches, and has a large rock Island in the 
midst of them and look Shocking the water divided in several channels 
by the rock. Some of the cooks at camp bought several fat dogs this 

There is scarcely a traveler of the early days who did not speak of 
the settlement at the great falls of the Columbia. It was here that the 
tribes of the upper country met the down-river and coast tribes for 
barter, the vicinity being regarded as neutral ground. It was here that 
the westward-surging pioneers lowered their wagons over the rimrock 
by means of ropes and pulleys. Freight was transferred from the wagons 
to large canoes and barges. Wagon beds, resting on their own wheels 
and lashed to crude rafts, sheltered women and children from the 
fierce Columbia squalls on the perilous trip to Vancouver. 

Lewis and Clark, finding 17 Indian lodges along here, "landed and 
walked down accompanied by an old man to view the falls, and the 
best rout for to make a portage which we Soon discovered was much 
nearest on the Star'd Side, and the distance 1200 yards one third of 
the way on a rock, about 200 yards over a loose Sand collected in a 
hollar blown by the winds from the bottoms below which was dis- 
agreeable to pass, as it was steep and loose, at the lower part of those 
rapids we arrived at 5 Large Lod(g)es of nativs drying and prepareing 
fish for market, they gave us Philburts, and berries to eate. we returned 
droped down to the head of the rapids and took every article except 
the Canoes across the portag(e) where I had formed a camp on (an) 
elegable Situation for the protection of our Stores from thieft, which 
we were more fearfull of, than their arrows." A portage railroad, 14 
miles long, was opened in 1863. The construction of canals and locks 
here was started by the Federal Government in 1905; they eventually 
cost five million dollars. Below the falls the OREGON TRUNK RAILROAD 
BRIDGE spans the river, its piers resting on solid rock above the water. 

On October 24, 1805, the day after making the arduous falls port- 
age, the Lewis and Clark party came to the Short Narrows of the 
Columbia, where the high walls of the gorge made portage so difficult 
that Clark "deturmined" to shoot the rapids, "notwithstanding the hor- 
rid appearance of this agitated gut swelling, boiling & whorling in 
every direction." Ordway merely commented that they went through 
"verry rapid and bad whorl pools, and went on verry well." He was 
much more interested in the "number of fat dogs, crambries and white 
cakes of root bread" bought from the Indians. 

Passing under the railroad bridge, US 30 is sheltered by basaltic 

Oregon 139 

palisades (L) , dusted with sulphur-colored lichen, which, like the sage, 
willow, and cottonwood of the section, is not true green, being grayed 
by the alkaline soil. 

SEUFERT, 132.6 m., was named for the Seufert family, who 
established a large salmon- and fruit-packing plant at this point. Fish 
wheels, formerly operated by the cannery, stand along the river (R). 
Many Indian petroglyphs and pictographs are on the bluifs facing 
the Columbia; prehistoric as well as historic aborigines of the region 
came here to fish for salmon, and while some of the pictures of fishes, 
beavers, elks, water dogs, and men were doubtless made as primitive 
art expression, others were carved and painted to carry messages. 

THE DALLES (Fr., flagstones or gutters), 136 m. (98 alt., 5,883 
pop.), the seat of Wasco County, is the principal market town of a 
large agricultural area. The name was given by the voyageurs of the 
Hudson's Bay Company because the basaltic rock walls of the swift 
narrows of the Columbia River just above the present townsite resem- 
bled the stones confining the gutters of their native villages. The site 
of the city has numerous upthrusts of basaltic rock, which cause many 
dead-end streets. The retail business district, where ancient frame 
buildings shoulder modern brick structures, occupies a broad, low 
bench near the river. Behind it, in the terraced residential section, some 
houses stand 50 feet above their neighbors. There is a prevalence of 
stone houses of the type found in Italy and on the Dalmatian coast. 
These were erected by Italian workers, who were brought in to build 
the locks and decided to settle in the place. 

A mission under the superintendency of Jason Lee was established 
here in 1838 by Daniel Lee and H. K. W. Perkins. Owing to their fail- 
ure to interest the Indians, the Methodists sold the property in 1846 to 
the Whitman mission, but it was abandoned after the Whitman mas- 
sacre. From the time of the mission's establishment the settlement that 
grew up around it became an intermediate goal to transcontinental 
travelers as the single place of white habitation in the area. Many 
travelers and would-be settlers found their supplies completely ex- 
hausted by the time they had reached this point and the unfriendly 
Indians early learned to exploit their needs, making exorbitant demands 
for goods in return for pounded fish and other foodstuffs. The Indians' 
values were peculiar, however; Father DeSmet, when passing The 
Dalles in the early 1840's, found the Indians proudly parading in odds 
and ends of clothing obtained from the whites. One man wore a G-string 
and a sailor's glazed cap, another a pair of pants much too small for 
him, a third a G-string and a pair of enormous brogans, and a fourth a 
gaudy vest and little else. The envied dandy of the party wore a lady's 
nightcap with wide flapping white frills. 

In 1847 Fort Dalles was established to protect immigrants. The 
first store was established in 1850. The plight of the average newcomer 

140 The Oregon Trail 

reaching The Dalles is shown in George A. Waggoner's account of his 
family's migration experiences: "We left our wagon on the Umatilla. 
. . . We packed our bedding on Old Nig, the last ox left us, and started 
on afoot. ... My father sold him (Old Nig) at The Dalles for $20 
to buy food. We stopped two weeks at The Dalles. Father found an 
old stove and rigged up a table out of some old endgates and sideboards 
of an abandoned wagon and ran a lunch counter for the soldiers and 
civilians who were building the military post there." 

The town grew as the gold rush of the Northwest developed in the 

H. L. Davis, who wrote Honey in the Horn., a Harper prize novel 
(1935) and winner of a Pulitzer prize (1936), was a resident of The 
Dalles for a number of years. 

The second bluff above the town bears evidence of the eager desire 
of early travelers to register for the benefit of posterity; the sandstone 
face bears names, initials, and dates from 1841. Among them is the 
name of U. S. Grant, who was stationed in Oregon as a young man. 

PULPIT ROCK, a basaltic formation at Twelfth and Court Sts., 
served as a missionary pulpit as early as 1837. Interdenominational 
Easter sunrise services are now held annually at this place. FORT ROCK, 
at the foot of Liberty St., was a camp site of the Lewis and Clark party. 
It is a natural depression in the basaltic cliffs, reached from the rail- 
way station by a marked trail. 

The HORN (visitors welcome), 205 Second St., an old saloon, has 
hundreds of horns of mountain sheep, bison, deer, and elk. The OLD 
Sts., is the only remaining structure of the old fort ; it houses a remark- 
able collection of Indian arrows, stone bowls, baskets, and beadwork, 
and scores of articles brought across the plains in covered wagons. 

West of The Dalles, scoria yields to pine-grown plateaus, confined 
by mountains (L), beyond which Mount Hood towers. Across the 
Columbia Gorge (R), Mount Adams rears its white peak. On both 
sides of the river, rocky benches rise above each other in irregular 
steps to lofty, weathered palisades. 

West of the village of ROWENA, 144.6 m., the highway leaves 
the flatlands by a sharp climb over the Rowena Loops, a series of 
reverse curves hewn from solid basalt in places. 

Opposite Rowena, near Lyle, Wash., is the burial place of the writer, Frederic 
Homer Balch (1861-1891). His sweetheart, Genevra Whitcomb, who is buried 
near him, was commemorated in his posthumously published novel, Genevieve: 
A Tale of Oregon. 

ROWENA CREST, 147.2 m. (706 alt.), is in MAYER STATE PARK, 
where a parking place is provided at the point offering the finest view. 

Oregon 141 

It commands a majestic panorama of rugged country and miles of 
winding river. 

US 30 rounds ROWENA DELL, 147.9 m., a deep canyon (R) with 
oakgrown walls cut through solid stone. It was infested with rattle- 
snakes until pioneers fenced the lower end of the canyon and turned in 
a drove of hogs. The animals soon cleared the dell, and the place was 
for a time thereafter known as Hog Canyon. 

At 150.7 m. Memaloose View Point overlooks the MEMALOOSE 
ISLAND, the "Island of the Dead," for hundreds of years an Indian 
burial ground, partly submerged since the completion of Bonneville 
Dam (see below). Many of the bleached bones of generations of In- 
dians were moved to other cemeteries along the Columbia. 

The HOSIER TUNNELS, 154.9 m., one 261 feet and the other 60 
feet long, often referred to as the Twin Tunnels, penetrate a promon- 
tory more than 250 feet above the river. West of this point the contrast 
between the barren, semidesert contours of eastern Oregon and the 
lushness of the Pacific Slope becomes apparent. 

US 30 crosses HOOD RIVER, 160.2 m., a picturesque stream de- 
scending from glaciers on the northern and eastern slopes of Mount 
Hood, and known in pioneer days by the unromantic name, Dog 
Creek. The name is said to have been inspired by the fact that a starving 
exploring party of early days began to eat dog meat here. Though such 
food was frequently used by early travelers in the area, Mrs. Nathaniel 
Coe, a well-known pioneer of the valley, objected to the name and 
forced a change. Lewis and Clark named the stream Labiche River 
for one of their followers. Its limpid, cascading waters have great 

The town of HOOD RIVER, 160.6 m. (100 alt., 2,757 pop.), is 
the center of a prolific apple and berry region, and is one of the 
entrances to the large recreational area about Mount Hood. Sur- 
rounded by evergreens and oaks, the town is beautifully situated. Its 
tiers of houses stand on the sharply rising land between the Hood 
River and Indian Creek gorges; the blue-gray waters of the Columbia 
River sweep in front of it through a channel worn deep in rugged 
stone. Behind the town, beyond evergreen forests and rising hills, the 
white splendor of Mount Hood is visible. 

While holding a pastorate here, Frederic Homer Balch (1861-91) 
wrote Genevieve: A Tale of Oregon (published in 1932) and finished 
The Bridge of the Gods (1890). Hood River has also been the home 
of George W. Cronyn (1888- ), author of historical novels, and 
Anthony Euwer (1877- ), Oregon poet, who has described the 
region in Rhymes of Our Valley. The late Billy Sunday, evangelist, 
was a resident of the area for many years. 

The old ADAMS HOUSE, home of the late Dr. E. L. Adams, one of 
the town's founders, is at the western edge of town. A fountain modeled 

142 The Oregon Trail 

after one of the lesser ones in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles, 
and reproductions of French statuary are on the grounds. 

Except for a few trails ELIOT PARK, within the gorge of Indian 
Creek, is as primitive as it was before the coming of white men, and 
is one of the most beautiful of Oregon's many wilderness tracts. 

The APPLE GROWERS ASSOCIATION CANNERY (open to visitors) is in 
operation from late August, when the canning of Bartlett pears begins, 
until late December, when the canning of low-grade apples is com- 
pleted. The commercial activity of the town centers about the immense 
fruit-growing industry of the valley of the south. The Apple Growers 
Association, organized in 1914, is a producers' co-operative marketing 
organization with a large membership. It has sent the Hood River 
apple, noted for its crispness and flavor, to the markets of the world. 

The HOOD RIVER DISTILLERIES (open to visitors) manufacture cull 
fruits into brandy. 

The COLUMBIA GORGE HOTEL, 162.6 m. (R) , is a large structure 
of striking lines, built in 1921-22 by Simon Benson, pioneer lumber- 
man. Just below the hotel the picturesque WAW-GUIN-GUIN FALLS drop 
over a sheer cliff to the river below. Nearby is the CRAG RATS CLUB- 
HOUSE, owned by a mountain-climbing organization having a member- 
ship limited to those who have climbed at least three major snow 
peaks; members must climb at least one major snow peak annually to 
remain in good standing. 

At 165.7 m. is MITCHELL TUNNEL (watch for traffic signals), 
bored through a solid cliff overhanging the river. In its 385-foot length 
are hewn five large arched windows overlooking the Columbia. The 
great projecting rock through which the bore was made was known 
among the Indians as the Little Storm King, while the sky-sweeping 
mountain above was called the Great Storm King. 

The village of VIENTO (Sp., wind), 168.6 m., is fittingly named, 
for the wind blows constantly and often violently through the gorge. 
Old-fashioned touring cars have sometimes lost their tops during the 
winter gales that sweep with terrific force over the highway. 

VIENTO STATE PARK, 168.7 m. (R), is an attractive wooded 
area that is popular as a picnic ground; through it runs scenic Viento 

At 170 m. Starvation Creek empties into the Columbia. Here is 
STARVATION CREEK STATE PARK. At this point the highway crosses a 
deep fill, where in 1884 a train was marooned for two weeks in 30-foot 
snowdrifts. The winter storms are frequently accompanied by silver 
thaws of peculiar beauty in the Columbia Gorge. Crags, boulders, 
trees, and telephone and power lines are then ice-coated in fantastic 

The current of LINDSAY CREEK, 171.2 m., pours down from the 

Oregon 143 

SHELL ROCK MOUNTAIN, 172.4 m. (2,068 alt.), is opposite 
WIND MOUNTAIN, which is in Washington. Geologists believe that 
these were formerly a single mountain and the Columbia gradually cut 
a channel through it. Indian legend is that the Great Spirit set the 
whirlwinds blowing in constant fury about Wind Mountains as a pun- 
ishment to those who, breaking the taboo, had taught the white men 
how to snare salmon. 

US 30 passes through a continuous park for several miles. 

CASCADE LOCKS, 181.1 m. (120 alt., 1,000 pop.). Here in 
1896 the Federal Government built a lock-canal around the unnavigable 
rapids of the Cascades, which figured dramatically in the history and 
legends of the Columbia. These cataracts, with their fall of almost 40 
feet, now under 32 feet of water, were of comparatively recent geologic 
origin. They were caused by great masses of rock and earth that 
slipped from the heights of Table Mountain. The fishing Indians of 
the coast came to this place to visit and barter with the hunting 
Indians of the interior. The resident tribes laid toll upon their neigh- 
bors and harassed all travelers, though the strict discipline of Dr. John 
McLoughlin maintained unmolested passage for his traders and trap- 
pers. Lewis and Clark had equipment stolen from them near here. 
The free-booters joined the war on the whites but were subdued by a 
detachment of troops under the leadership of young Lt. Philip H. 

The graceful bateau, paddled by French-Canadian voyageurs or by 
Indians, and the swift canoe were the only means of transportation 
here for several decades after the discovery of the Columbia. Although 
the fur brigades often rode the crest of churning spring floods, it was 
usually necessary to unload the boats at this point and carry the heavy 
bales of fur overland to the calm water below. The first wagon trains 
had much difficulty here. Some came down the river on home-made 
rafts that carried their dismantled wagons; the wagons were landed 
and reassembled for the portage at the Cascades, but the rafts were let 
down to the lower level with ropes. Samuel K. Barlow, a leader of the 
1845 migration, determined to try a route that cut south of Mt. Hood 
to avoid the Columbia Gorge. The company experienced serious diffi- 
culties before the members were rescued. Not long afterward the route 
Barlow had conceived was opened and named for him. 

The first made road on the Oregon side of the river was completed 
in 1856. Less than six miles in length, it ran from the Cascades to the 
site of Bonneville, passing over a point of rocks at the base of which 
the portage railroad was later built. The ox-teams labored by steep 
grades to an elevation of 425 feet to get past this point. Later, toll roads 
were opened for the passage of cattle and for the pack trains to the 
interior, but not until 1872 did the legislature make an appropriation 

144 The Oregon Trail 

to build a road through the great gorge. From this crooked and nar- 
row trail the present highway was developed. 

The growth of steamboat transportation necessitated more adequate 
transfer facilities here. The first portage railway was a crude affair 
with wooden rails and with cars operated by mule power. Later strap- 
iron rails were laid and small steam locomotives supplied power. The 
first of these, called the Oregon Pony, is on exhibition at the plaza 
grounds of the Union Station in Portland. These tram lines were out- 
moded when the Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company line was 

The entrance (R) to the BRIDGE OF THE GODS is at 181.6 m. ; it 
is a cantilever toll bridge (cars, 50$; good for return within three 
hours) that occupies a place where, according to Indian legend, a nat- 
ural bridge at one time arched the river. This bridge, they say, was cast 
into the river when Tyhee Sahale, the Supreme Being, became angry 
with his two sons, who had quarreled over the beautiful Loo-wit, 
guardian of a sacred flame on the bridge. The two sons and the girl, 
crushed in the destruction of the bridge, whose debris created the 
Cascades, were resurrected as Mount Hood, Mount Adams, and Mount 
St. Helens. The legend of the natural bridge was used by Frederic 
Homer Balch in his romance, The Bridge of the Gods. 

At 183 m. (R) a marker points to the Washington shore, where a 
REPRODUCTION OF FORT RAINES commemorates the battle of Bradford 
Island; in March, 1856, two or three hundred Indians unsuccessfully 
attempted to take the small military post. 

EAGLE CREEK PARK, 184 m. (L), one of Oregon's finest recrea- 
tional areas and picnic grounds, was constructed and is maintained by 
the U. S. Forest Service. On the banks of plunging Eagle Creek are 
rustic kitchens and tables and extensive parking facilities. 

At BONNE VILLE, 185.4 m. (50 alt., 800 pop.) is a large STATE 
FISH HATCHERY for the artificial propagation of Royal Chinook, Sock- 
eye, and other salmon. An average of 14 million Chinook and Sockeye 
salmon fingerlings are released each year to make their way to the 
sea. The salmon mature in the ocean, but return to fresh water, usually 
at four years of age, to spawn, in most cases at the headwaters of the 
stream in which they were hatched. Both the male and female die after 

The waters of Tanner Creek have been diverted to flow through the 
hatchery for use in the 45 ponds. When the fingerlings are released, 
they go through the creek to the Columbia, down which they make 
their way to the ocean. Before the small salmon are released, a certain 
number are marked by clipping part of the fins with manicuring scis- 
sors; the practice has enabled hatchery officials to determine that a 
large percentage of salmon released here return to the hatchery. From 
the storage pond 40 or 50 salmon at a time are transferred into what are 

Oregon 145 

called taking ponds, the male and female being separated. When the 
eggs of the female are ripe for taking, she is put on a wooden plat- 
form and hit on the head with a short length of iron pipe, which stuns 
her. Cleaner eggs are obtained by cutting the tail of the fish to let the 
blood. The eggs are taken through an incision in the belly and placed in 
a galvanized bucket. The average number of eggs to a female Chinook 
salmon is 4,700 though 11,000 have been obtained. The milt is then 
stripped from a male salmon held over the eggs. The fertilized eggs 
are allowed to remain in buckets of water and milt for a short time, and 
then are placed in wire baskets and set in troughs of cold running 
water, where they hatch out in 50 to 70 days, the length of time depend- 
ing entirely upon the temperature of the water. 

The salmon emerge from the eggs tail first, the egg sac remaining 
attached to the belly of the little fish and providing it with food for a 
period of four to five weeks. The little fish are then placed in the 
open ponds to develop. Their feed consists of the ground parent salmon, 
which has been preserved in cold storage, ground to a paste with 
smelt, salmon eggs, and condemned canned salmon. 

More than 90 percent of the eggs taken at the hatchery are 
hatched and returned to the Columbia at fingerling size, able to care 
for themselves, whereas in the natural process of spawning the per- 
centage that reaches fingerling size is very low, owing to the natural 
enemies of the salmon. 

Bonneville was named for Capt. Benjamin Bonneville, whose ex- 
ploits were narrated by Irving. He became the first commander of 
Fort Vancouver after the settlement of the Oregon boundary question. 

Nearby is BONNEVILLE DAM, whose construction was begun by 
the Federal Government in 1933 and completed in February, 1938. 
The dam, designed by Army engineers, is a concrete barrier between 
the Oregon and Washington shores, 1,250 feet in length, its middle 
section resting on Bradford Island, an old Indian burial ground. The 
structure, 180 feet wide at the base and 170 feet high from the lowest 
foundation, impounds the waters of the Columbia River to an average 
depth of 30 feet for 44 miles upstream to a point four miles above The 
Dalles, and has submerged many of the river's beauty spots and historic 

The main features are a single-lift lock, 76 feet wide and 50Q feet 
long, near the Oregon shore; a hydroelectric power plant with two 
complete generators, each of 43,200 kilowatts capacity; a gate-con- 
trolled spillway 900 feet long intended to pass the maximum flood of 
record without raising the previously attained flood elevation at or 
above the Cascades; and fishways designed to permit salmon to ascend 
the river to their spawning grounds. The navigation lock is (1938) the 
highest single lift passage in the world for ocean-going vessels, which 
must be raised 66 feet. With the deepening of the Columbia River 

146 The Oregon Trail 

between Vancouver, Wash., and the dam to 27 feet, the river will be 
navigable by sea-going craft for 176 miles inland. The final cost of 
the project, after installation of its hydroelectric units with a capacity 
of more than 500,000 horsepower, will be more than $70,000,000. 

The dam offers an economic blood transfusion to an area of ap- 
proximately 200,000 square miles between the Cascades and the 
Rockies. It means water transportation and cheap electric power in this 
vast region that has suffered from lack of both. 

The JOHN B. YEON STATE PARK, 187.4 m., was named in 
honor of an early highway builder. It overlooks the Columbia Gorge, 
where the river has carved fantastic cliff walls, and sculptured rocks 
that rise 2,000 feet above the valley floor. 

At 188 m. the highway crosses McCord Creek. 

Left 0.5 m. from the eastern end of the bridge on a trail along the falls in 
the perpendicular walls by the stream to a grotto where a fossilized tree pro- 
trudes from under a deep layer of basalt and conglomerate. 

At the eastern end of the McCord Creek bridge is a large stump that 
is believed to have matured long before the Cascade Range was thrown 

At the village of WARRENDALE, 188.8 m., (14 pop.) are the 
North American Fox Farms. When litters exceed the average of from 
three to five, the little foxes liere are frequently nursed by house cats. 

HORSETAIL FALLS, 192.1 m., slant down a 208-foot wall of 
columnar basalt, forming the design that gave the falls their name. The 
stream drops so close to the highway that it constantly tosses showers of 
spray across the pavement. East of the falls ST. PETERS DOME, a 
2,000-foot monolithic column, towers against the sky. 

ONEONTA GORGE, 192.3 m., is a deep, irregular gash with high 
perpendicular walls between which flows a sparkling creek. Mosses, 
flowers, and ferns cling to the walls, and fossilized trees, caught by 
an ancient lava flow, are now entombed in its sides. 

Left from the highway on a trail leading to ONEONTA FALLS at the shadowed 
head of the gorge. The stream has worn away the rock, forming the ravine. 

MULTNOMAH FALLS (L), 194.5 m., are the most noted of 
all falls along the Columbia. The waters drop 620-feet into a maple- 
and alder-fringed basin. In summer the mist sprays the willow and the 
nodding fern, but in the frosty air of winter it congeals in fantastic 
forms, glittering with a cold brilliance, and hangs in magic festoons 
from the crenelated wall. 

Oregon 147 

Left from Multnomah Falls on a foot trail that leads across a bridge spanning 
the short stretch of creek between the upper and lower falls. The trail continues 
to LARCH MOUNTAIN, 6.5 m. (4,095 alt.). The ascent is gradual. Visible here 
is a vast expanse of mountain ranges. 

WAHKEENA (Ind., most beautiful) FALLS, 195.1 m., named 
for the daughter of a Yakima chieftain, are particularly delightful. 
The waters hurl themselves from a precipice 242 feet in height, then 
riot in alternate falls and cascades. Wahkeena Creek Springs pour from 
a woodland basin a mile and a half above the cliff over which the 
waters plunge. 

MIST FALLS, 195.3 m., were mentioned by Lewis and Clark. In 
their 1,200-foot drop the nebulous waters are often dissipated by the 
wind to float away in mist, no water reaching the basin below. 

COOPEY FALLS, 197.4 m., drop 117 feet. According to an Indian 
legend, this was the site of a battle of giants. 

BRIDAL VEIL, 197.5 m. (40 alt., 204 pop.), is a lumber-mill 
town tucked in a recess below the highway. Since most of the waters 
are confined in a lumber flume, Bridal Veil Falls rumble scantily over 
the cliff, and flow under the bridge spanning Bridal Veil Creek. This 
beautiful mountain stream is the only one along the Columbia that has 
been harnessed for commercial use. 

Directly across the river are the CAPE HORN PALISADES, a series of cliffs 
rising perpendicularly from the river to a height of more than 400 feet. 

Sharp rocks, known as the PILLARS OF HERCULES or SPEEL- 
YE'S CHILDREN, the latter name commemorating the feats of the 
Indian coyote-gods, rise (R) beyond FOREST HILL. 

In the depths of the 11-acre park of SHEPPERD'S DELL, 199.3 m., 
a 140-foot waterfall appears to gush from solid rock. A white arch of 
concrete spans a chasm 150 feet wide and 140 feet deep. Nearby the 
parapeted highway rounds a dome-shaped rock, known as BISHOP'S 

LATOURELLE FALLS, 200.5 m., take a sheer drop of 224 feet 
into a sparkling pool at the base of an overhanging cliff. LATOURELLE 
BRIDGE, which commands an excellent view of the shining waters pour- 
ing from the vertical wall, lifts its three 80-foot arches 100 feet above 
the stream. 

The GUY W. TALBOT PARK, 200.6 m., 125 acres of wooded 
land with many picnic nooks and vantage points, overlooks the Colum- 
bia River. 

Winding along the forested mountain side and looping in sharp 
curves as it climbs, the highway reaches CROWN POINT, 202.8 m. 9 

148 The Oregon Trail 

725 feet above the river on an overhanging rocky promontory, from 
which is a view considered the most spectacular along the highway. 
In the ascent, the highway makes a wide curve, in the center of which 
is the VISTA HOUSE, designed to command views up and down the 
Columbia. This impressive octagonal stone structure, designed in the 
English Tudor style modified to conform to the character and topog- 
raphy of the landscape, was built at a cost of $100,000. The foundation 
about the base of the house is laid in Italian style, no mortar having 
been used. Masons from Italy did the work at this point and elsewhere 
along the highway. The wind-swept height, once known as Thor's 
Crown, commands a dramatic view of the river east and west for many 
miles. The massive wall rises sheer and high above the Columbia 
River, and, chiseled into the wall or suspended from it, the highway 
spirals to the summit. 

The SAMUEL HILL MONUMENT, 204.1 m., is a 50-ton granite 
boulder dedicated to the man who was chiefly responsible for the build- 
ing of the Columbia River Highway. A parking space (R) affords a 
view of the river, the mountains of Washington, and Crown Point. 

CORBETT, 205.4 m., set in rolling hills, is at the eastern end of a 
cultivated area. The road cuts between the cliffs and the SANDY 
RIVER, 209.9 m. The steep walls (R), of volcanic pudding-stone, are 
watered by numerous freshets in spring and embroidered with bright 
flowers and ferns in summer. This stream, flowing from the glaciers 
on the southern slope of Mount Hood, was discovered by Lt. William 
Broughton on October 30, 1792, and named Barings River for an 
English family. The bluffs near one of the river's two mouths now bear 
the name of the discoverer. Lewis and Clark passed this point on 
November 3, 1805, and in their Journals record the immense quantities 
of sand thrown out. They compared the stream with the Platte River, 
noted its two mouths, and called it Quicksand River, a name that ap- 
peared in maps and accounts for about 50 years. The river is noted 
locally for its annual run of smelt (eulachan), which ascend in mil- 
lions each February or March to spawn. These fish, eaten and praised 
by epicures among the early explorers, are so oily that, dried, they 
were burned to provide illumination; hence the name "candle fish." 
When the small, silvery-white fish appear, the word goes out that "the 
smelt are running Sandy." Cars soon block the highway for miles, while 
hundreds of people, with sieves, nets, buckets, sacks, or birdcages, snare 
the fish (special license required; 50$). Shops become overstocked 
with smelt. Truck gardeners along the Columbia and many residents of 
Portland formerly used them for fertilizer until prohibited by law. 

In early days overland travelers were at first not particularly im- 
pressed by this part of the country. Their long journeys, begun along 
the Missouri in late April or early May, usually brought them to Ore- 
gon after the rainy season had begun. Traveling and sleeping without 

Smithsonian Institution 



Oregon 149 

shelter, sometimes for weeks they had no opportunities to dry their 
clothes. It was always a matter of wonder to them that their health 
continued to be good. One trader, after many days of travel in con- 
tinuous rain, wrote ruefully in his diary that as he fell asleep on the 
soggy ground he was reminded of his beloved grandmother's admoni- 
tion that he must never permit himself to sleep between damp sheets. 
Between truck gardens and dairy farms, US 30 traverses the rolling 
lands of the widening Columbia Valley, and past orchards, bulb farms, 
and suburban homes. The highway crosses the Willamette River. 

PORTLAND, 228.2 m. (32 alt., 301,815 pop.) (see OREGON 

Railroad Station. Union Station, SW. 6th Ave. and Johnson St., for Union 
Pacific R.R., Southern Pacific R.R., Northern Pacific Ry., Great Northern Ry., 
and Spokane, Portland, and Seattle Ry. 

Accommodations. Hotels and rooming houses of a wide price range; well- 
equipped trailer camps along main highways near city; many furnished apart- 
ments rented by the week. 

Points of Interest. St. Charles Hotel, Esmond Hotel. U.S.S. Oregon, Oregon 
Historical Society Museum, University of Portland, Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful 
Mother, and others. 

Right from Portland on US 99, which crosses the Columbia River to VAN- 
COUVER, Wash., 7.8 m. (115 alt., 15,786 pop.), oldest place of permanent white 
habitation west of the Rockies and north of California. Mills, docks, grain ele- 
vators, and canneries flank the riverside, from which streets stretch back into the 
business section between modern brick and terra-cotta structures intermingled 
with severely plain or crudely ornate early structures. 

Factories now stand at the point where, in November 1792, Capt. George Van- 
couver's lieutenant, William Broughton, landed from the Chatham. When, in 1824, 
Governor George Simpson and Chief Factor John McLoughlin decided to transfer 
the Hudson's Bay post from Fort George to this place (see WHY A TRAIL TO 
OREGON?), they were determining the seat of the government for all the land 
west of the Rockies between the boundaries of California and Alaska. The Chief 
Factor was the administrator of the feudal powers vested in his company, the 
economic overlord, and the diplomatic representative of his government in the 
region. He also became the host of all visitors to the area, the physician-in-chief 
to whites and natives, the judge and jury in trials for crime, and the manager 
of the only wholesale and retail store in a vast wilderness. From Fort Vancouver, 
as the settlement was called in early days, he established trading posts in many 
spots, including Alaska, the Sandwich Islands, and California; and he began agri- 
cultural development of the country around his capital and in the Willamette 
Valley. Had he chosen to refuse supplies, credit, and protection from Indians to 
the missionaries and settlers coming to the area in the days before the United 
States had developed great interest in the territory, he would doubtless have 
stopped the movement to Oregon because those returning to the States would have 
circulated unfavorable reports of the opportunities available there. Without set- 
tlers beyond the Rockies it is possible that the United States would not have 
been able to establish its claim to the country. 

Fort Vancouver had a stout palisade of 20-foot fir posts enclosing an area of 
750 by 500 feet, in which were 40 wooden buildings and a stone powder maga- 
zine. Workshops, storehouses, and dwellings ranged around the central trading 
court; and opposite the main entrance of double-ribbed and riveted gates stood 

150 The Oregon Trail 

the executives' dwelling with two 18-pounders mounted before it. A schoolhouse 
and a chapel were less frequented than were the dining hall and Bachelors' Hall, 
to which the men repaired after their meals. The latter resembled a baronial hall 
of feudal days, the walls being covered with weapons and trophies. 

In 1826 the Chief Factor opened a sawmill and installed a forge. Within a 
few years he had 700 head of cattle nearby. 

In 1833 the Hudson's Bay Company established the first circulating library on 
the Pacific Coast, shipping books and papers, among them the London Times, 
from England to Vancouver. John Ball, who arrived with Nathaniel Wyeth in 
1832, was pressed into service by the Chief Factor to open the first school. 

While the Chief Factor assisted people from the United States to settle south 
of the Columbia River, knowing that Great Britain had already decided that this 
country would undoubtedly be lost when the territorial dispute was settled, he 
strictly adhered to his company's orders to prevent settlement north of the river. 

The first man from the United States to attempt to settle on the present town- 
site was Henry Williamson, of Indiana, who hacked out a clearing early in 1845. 
On March 20, McLoughlin wrote to his superior, "We found a shack built four 
logs high in the forest west of the fort. I ordered the men to pull the place down 
and destroy the fence surrounding it." Williamson, however, rebuilt his cabin and 
filed the claim at Oregon City. 

The next settlers arrived on Christmas Day, 1845; they were Amos and Esther 
Short, with their eight children. Williamson asserted they tried to jump his claim. 
The Hudson's Bay Company also rebuffed them and refused supplies. In the fol- 
lowing year, by the treaty of 1846, the United States won control of what is now 
Washington as well as Oregon ; in this same year McLoughlin was forced to resign 
his post. 

When, in 1848, a military post was established here, Williamson platted the 
townsite and named it Vancouver City. New settlers were arriving down the Ore- 
gon Trail and the census of 1850 listed 95 houses in the newly organized Clark 
County, of which Vancouver was made the seat. Two schools were opened and a 
ferry franchise was granted for river service. A newly appointed county agent, 
R. H. Lansdale, replatted the townsite, ignoring the earlier lines that started from 
a great cottonwood on the riverbank, called the Witness Tree. Lansdale not only 
kindled private boundary disputes but also infringed on the military reserve. With 
the Hudson's Bay Company, now merely a foreign business concern, and the mis- 
sionaries as claimants against the War Department, six parties were involved in 
the controversy; but the Army and the Shorts persevered in occupation. Patriots 
changed the town's name to Columbia City. 

The town flourished, being on the route of much immigrant travel, having a 
garrison for protection during the period of Indian warfare, and possessing a site 
at the junction of the Willamette where produce could be transferred to sea-going 

In 1852 the gay Bonneville returned to the Columbia Valley, now as a lieu- 
tenant-colonel in command of a post in the area from which he had been politely 
dismissed twenty years before. Several men who were later prominent in the Civil 
War served here early in their careers. 

The gold rushes to Idaho and eastern Washington contributed to the town's 
prosperity. Local men engaged in river transportation made fantastic profits; the 
little Tenino cleared $18,000 for her owner on a single trip. 

The middle 60's saw many fetes and lavish entertainments, and a rise of cul- 
tural interest. For the Saint Patrick's Day ball of 1866 at the Alta House, tickets 
cost $5, including supper. In 1867 an amateur dramatic society played Robert 
Macaire, a melodrama, and later Toodles, a comedy. A traveling troupe appeared 
in 1869, playing Nan the Good For Nothing and A Kiss in the Dark. 

The growth of the town slackened after the gold fever had abated, but with 
the construction of a railroad from Kalama to Tacoma (1872-73) and its eventual 

Oregon 151 

extension southward, Vancouver reinforced its position as shipping center for a 
large agricultural area. 

The bronze PIONEER MOTHER, Esther Short Park, 8th Street between Columbia 
and Esther Streets, designed by Avard Fairbanks, presents a woman, flintlock 
in hand, with three children clinging to her skirts. A plaque on the obverse side 
of the monument shows a woman peering anxiously from a covered wagon while 
her husband walks beside the wagon watchfully directing his oxen. Esther Short, 
for whom the park was named, had a hard journey over the plains, bearing a 
child on the way. When employees of the Hudson's Bay Company appeared to 
raze the Short cabin at Vancouver and drive the family away, she slapped the 
leader in the face so forcibly that he was knocked down, and fled. 

The COVINGTON HOUSE (open 11-4, 2nd and 4th Tues. each month), south- 
west corner 39th and Main Streets, built about 1845, is a restoration of the oldest 
house in the State. Built by Richard Covington of roughly squared logs and clap- 
board siding, with a high, sloped roof, it reveals the influence of the Hudson's Bay 
Company structures in its mortise and tenon joints. Known for its entertainment, 
Covington's home was a social center for young officers and trading company 
officials during the 1850's. 

VANCOUVER BARRACKS is bounded by 5th Street (Evergreen Highway), 4th 
Plain Avenue, and E. and W. Reserve Streets. NUMBER Two BARRACKS, in Offi- 
cers' Row, is one of the oldest of the 300 buildings on the reservation. Its log 
walls have been sheathed with siding, but the narrow windows, angular outlines, 
and peaked roof are characteristic of one of the least graceful periods of Ameri- 
can architecture. When young Lt. Ulysses S. Grant was stationed here, he planted 
potatoes in the nearby lowlands to augment the officers' mess and his meager 
income but spring floods washed his crop away; the current price of potatoes 
was $45 for 100 pounds. 

The FIRST APPLE TREE, E. 7th and T. Streets, west of the polo field, was 
planted in 1826 by Dr. John McLoughlin. After 1830 the post occupied land 
between the tree and the river, a quarter of a mile from the water; erosion has 
washed much of the former area into the river; the site of the factor's mansion and 
the boundaries of the fort were obliterated long ago. 

A dinner guest of McLoughlin's, Capt. Aemilius Simpson, absent-mindedly 
drew from his pocket several apple seeds that had been given him by a young 
woman at his farewell dinner in London, with the joking request that they be 
planted in the wilderness. The factor saw nothing humorous in the request. He 
soberly insisted on nurturing the seeds into shoots, which matured into the first 
cultivated fruit trees in the Northwest. 

PEARSON ARMY AIRPORT, corner 5th and E. Reserve Sts., has hangars, shops, 
and administration buildings. Here ended the 63-hour flight across the North Pole 
made by three Russians who hopped off at Moscow on June 18, 1937, to test the 
feasibility of air transportation across the top of the world. The Soviet fliers landed 
at this field because of fog, short of San Francisco, their destination. When asked 
the reason for their explorations of the Arctic, the spokesman for the trio voiced 
the feeling that Jefferson had had 150 years before them: "We do not like blank 
spots on the map." 

The GRAVE .OF ARTHUR HAINE in the City Cemetery, between 10th and 13th 
Streets, is marked by a stone of his own design and the epitaph, "Haine Haint." 
Haine, who died in 1907, left a will saying, "Having lived as an atheist I want 
to be buried like one without any monkey business." 

Section 14. Portland to Astoria, 104.8 m. US 30. 

US 30 runs west from Union St. in PORTLAND, m., on St. 
Helens Road, a part of the Lower Columbia River Highway, and 
passes through a busy industrial district fronting Portland's lower 

152 The Oregon Trail 

harbor. Wharves line the Willamette River bank (R), where domestic 
and foreign vessels are moored. Factories and warehouses occupy the 
river flats (R), and a high, forested ridge hides from view the Tualatin 
Valley (L). Gasoline distributing plants (R), with steel tanks behind 
close-cropped lawns, succeed the factories. There is a virtually unbroken 
line of steel plants, construction yards, paint factories, and shingle 

At 7.2 m. is the eastern approach to ST. JOHN'S BRIDGE, an unusu- 
ally beautiful structure. This suspension bridge rises 203 feet above 
the river, thus permitting ocean liners to pass beneath it. 

LINNTON, 8.6 m., a part of Portland since 1915, retains its indi- 
viduality. The town was regarded as the possible site of a future 
metropolis when Peter Burnett settled in the vicinity in 1843. It has 
become an important commercial center since merging with Portland, 
though even before the union it was the site of several large mills. Mil- 
lions of feet of lumber are shipped annually from here. 

At 13 m. is a junction with the Burlington Ferry Road, a plank 
viaduct leading to a ferry (free) crossing Willamette Slough. 

Right on this road to the bank, 0.5 m., off which is SAUVIES ISLAND (850 
pop.), which retains much charm, having quiet country roads, across which swing 
pasture gates. It has oak groves and several lakes; numerous duck hunters come 
to this popular recreational area. 

Since farming began here the island has had a high reputation for fertility. 
Bulb culture and truck gardening have become increasingly important in recent 

The earliest known account of the place was written by Lewis and Clark on 
November 4, 1805, when they found a village of 200 Indians here. The explorers 
later called it Wapato Island because of the prevalence of a tuberous marsh plant 
of that name, the roots of which were used for food by the Indians. The Lewis 
and Clark party gathered some distance below the village for dinner. "Soon 
after," Clark recorded, "Several canoes of Indians from the village above came 
down, dressed for the purpose as I supposed of Paying us a friendly visit, 
they had scarlet & blue blankets Salor Jackets, overalls, Shirts and hats inde- 
pendant of their usial dress; the most of them had either Muskets or pistols and 
tin flasks to hold their powder, Those fellows we found assumeing and disagree- 
able, however we Smoked with them and treated them with every attention & 

"dureing the time we were at dinner those fellows Stold my pipe Tomahawk 
which they were Smoking with, I immediately serched every man and the canoes, 
but could find nothing of my Tomahawk, while Serching for the Tomahawk one 
of those Scoundals Stole a cappoe (coat) of one of our interperters, which was 
found Stufed under the root of a tree, near the place they Sat, we became much 
displeased with those fellows, which they discovered and moved off on their return 
home to their village." 

In 1829 a violent epidemic, possibly typhus brought in by sailors on the Owyhee 
(see below), swept through the population, and Dr. McLoughlin moved the sur- 
vivors to the mainland and burned many of the straw huts of the settlement. The 
Indians never went back. 

In 1834 Capt. Nathaniel J. Wyeth audaciously chose a site for his trading post 
near the lower end of the island. "This Wappato Island which I have selected for 
our establishment," he wrote, "consists of woodland and prairie and on it there is 

Oregon 153 

considerable deer and those who could spare time to hunt might live well but 
mortality has carried off to a man its inhabitants and there is nothing to attest 
that they ever existed except their decaying houses, their graves and their un- 
buried bones of which there are heaps." Wyeth named his settlement Fort Wil- 
liam, and set his coopers to work making barrels to carry salmon to Boston. His 
trading activities met with such firm and persistent opposition from the Hudson's 
Bay Company that in 1836 he reluctantly abandoned the unprofitable enterprise. 

With the Wyeth party was J. K. Townsend, an ornithologist from Philadelphia, 
who pitched his camp near Fort William, and spent his time collecting birds and 
snakes, preserving the latter in a keg of spirits. One day he returned to deposit 
another reptile in the keg and found the spirits gone. A culprit confessed to the 
dereliction, pleading thirst as an apology. 

In 1841 McLoughlin established a dairy here, placing Jean Baptiste Sauvie, a 
superannuated trapper, in charge. The place has since borne the name of the old 

Sauvies Island figures prominently in Pacific Northwest literature. Besides its 
extensive use in Frederic Homer Balch's The Bridge of the Gods, it has served as 
background for Sheba Hargreaves' Ward of the Redskins, and appears in Lightship 
by Archie Binns. 

At 18.8 m. the barrier of hills (L) recedes, and the highway enters 
the Scappoose Plains, a fertile district where potato culture, truck 
gardening, and dairying are carried on. The Hudson's Bay Company 
sent men from Vancouver in the late 1820's to raise vegetables and 
grain. Large dairy barns, with round silos of wood or concrete, and 
comfortable houses now stand where the trapper-farmers pitched 
their camps. 

SCAPPOOSE (Ind., gravelly plain), 21.6 m. -(56 alt., 248 pop.), 
is an old Indian trading post. Chief Caseno, mentioned in the annals 
of the Astorians and of the North West Company, had his main village 
close by. According to Gabriel Franchere, three deserters from the 
Astorians were captured at this place on November 21, 1811, when their 
pursuers bribed the Indians with powder and guns that were unfit for 
use. The brig Owyhee from the Sandwich Islands spent the winter of 
1828-9 in Scappoose Bay. Disease, spreading from the ship, killed 
many of the natives. The boat picked up a cargo of salmon and carried 
it to Boston. 

Today Scappoose is a small but prosperous agricultural community. 
Great underground potato warehouses, their ventilators barely rising 
above the surface, line the railroad track in the town square, and a 
large nearby factory pickles cucumbers from the Willamette Slough. 

Beautiful MOUNT RAINIER, almost 90 miles to the northeast, is 
sometimes visible at 23.2 m. Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens, 
rising on the far horizon, seem but a few feet apart, 

ST. HELENS, 28.9 m. (98 alt., 3,994 pop.), a river port, is also 
a market and court town. Its manufacturing plants produce insulating 
board, pulp and paper, lumber, and dairy products. 

St. Helens was laid out in 1847 on the donation land claim of 

154 The Oregon Trail 

Capt. H. M. Knighton, who launched the town as an active competitor 
of the newly founded village of Portland. He contemptuously referred 
to his rival as "Little Stump Town," a title suggested by its denuded 
forests. In November, 1850, because of its position near deep water, the 
town was advertised as a terminus of the first railroad proposed for 
Oregon. The KNIGHTON HOUSE was built in 1847 with lumber brought 
around Cape Horn from Bath, Maine. Many of the town's buildings, 
including the COLUMBIA COUNTY COURTHOUSE, are built of stone taken 
from local quarries. 

DEER ISLAND, 34.5 m., a little community opposite a river island 
of that name, was visited by Lewis and Clark in 1805 and again in 
1806. Large herds of sleek cattle graze in the surrounding stump pas- 

The highway passes through a narrow gorge, where the hills (L) 
crowd upon the road. The lowlands (R) are sloughs, with growths 
of willows and alders. 

The highway ascends a rugged promontory ; at LITTLE JACK FALLS, 
44.3 m. (125 alt.), a cascade (L) tumbles over a precipice almost 
100 feet high. 

US 30 descends to RAINIER, 47.6 m. (23 alt., 1,353 pop.), named 
for Mount Rainier, which is often visible to the northwest. Rainier 
was an important stop in the days of river commerce. The Hudson's 
Bay Company boat Beaver and the Lot Whitcomb of Milwaukee loaded 
and discharged freight at its dock. 

From the winding curves of RAINIER HILL (671 alt.) there is a 
magnificent view of Longview, Wash., and the narrow roadway of the 
bridge spanning the river, which is far below. The summit is reached 
at 50.9 m. 

Descending, the highway crosses ubiquitous BEAVER CREEK, 51.7 m. 
Within the next 15 miles westward the road spans this stream or its 
tributaries a dozen times. The route now runs through cut-over timber 
lands along the banks of the creek. 

At 62 m. is a junction with a graveled road. 

Right on this road is QUINCY, 1 m., center of a drained and diked area of 
the Columbia River lowlands; L. here 3 m. on a dirt road to OAK POINT. The 
Winship brothers of Boston, successful in the China trade, attempted to establish a 
permanent trading post here in 1810, while Astor was still maturing his plans 
for Astoria. Capt. Nathan Winship arrived in the Columbia with their ship, the 
Albatross, on May 26, and selected this place, long known as Fanny's Bottom, as 
the site for the fortified two-story log post that he built immediately. A June 
freshet flooded both fort and garden; later when the Indians grew troublesome, 
Winship abandoned the enterprise and returned to Boston. 

At 62.4 m. the low logged-off summits of the Coast Range, 20 
miles away, are visible. Denuded of their timber, they form a desolate 
ridge against the blue horizon. 

Oregon 155 

CLATSKANIE is at 65.1 m. (16 alt. 739 pop.). Farmers' co-opera- 
tive creameries here manufacture dairy products from the milk pro- 
duced by great herds of cattle on the drained Columbia River low- 
lands. The raising of vegetables on these lands for canning is a recent 
and profitable enterprise. Clatskanie (cor. Tlatskanie) is named for an 
early Indian village in the Nehalem Valley. The natives also applied 
the word to certain streams to indicate the route to the village. 

At 74.8 m. is WESTPORT, one of the many lumbering and fishing 
towns scattered along the waters of the Columbia. 

The highway ascends the Coast Range in a series of hairpin turns 
to CLATSOP CREST, 80 m., overlooking the Columbia River and the 
country beyond. In the immediate foreground is long, flat PUGET 
ISLAND, where grain fields and fallow lands weave patterns of green 
and gray, and sluggish streams form silvery canals. Although the 
island is close to the Oregon shore, it lies within the State of Wash- 
ington. It was discovered in 1792 by Lieutenant Broughton of the 
British Navy, who named it for Lt. Peter Puget. 

US 30 twists down to HUNT CREEK, 80.8 m., then climbs a spur 
from which a desolate waste of logged-over land extends in all direc- 
tions. A high, sharply etched mountain (L), with sides bare of vegeta- 
tion, shows the results of unrestricted timber cutting. Nearby are green- 
gray underbrush and silvery branched alders. The route proceeds for 
many miles through cut-over country. Occasionally a small settlement 
appears, with rude buildings huddling on tiny patches of cultivated 
land among the stumps. 

Gradually the vegetation of the seacoast is seen. Dogwood, slim 
alders, and salal bushes low shrubs with shining olive-green leaves 
hug the sandy ground. 

At 98.2 m. US 30 crosses the little JOHN DAY RIVER. Small 
gardens border its quiet, peaceful course. 

On November 7, 1805, Clark wrote, "Ocian in view! 0! the joy" in 
his notes on the "Courses and Distances." His rejoicing was premature, 
however; the party was merely entering the broad mouth of the 
Columbia, but buoyed up by their belief that the end of the journey 
was near, they struggled along through the rain and rough waves out 
along the northern shore of Gray's Bay (R). On the following day he 
wrote : "Some rain all day at intervales, we are all wet and disagreeable, 
as we have been for several days past, and our present Situation a 
verry disagreeable one in as much, as we have not leavel land Suffi- 
cient for an encampment and for our baggage to lie cleare of the tide, 
the High hills jutting in so close and steep that we cannot retreat back, 
and the water too salt to be used, added to this the waves are increasing 
to Such a hight that we cannot move from this place, in this Situation 
we are compelled to form our camp between the Kite of the Ebb and 
flood tides, and rase our baggage on logs." On the 9th he wrote: "our 
camp entirely under water dureing the hight of the tide, every man 

156 The Oregon Trail 

as wet as water could make them all the last night and to day all day 
as the rain continued all the day, at 4 oClock P M the wind shifted 
about to the S.W. and blew with great violence imediately from the 
Ocean for about two hours, notwithstanding the disagreeable Situation 
of our party all wet and cold (and one which they have experienced 
for Several days past) they are chearfull and anxious to See further 
into the Ocian, The water of the river being too Salt to use we are 
obliged to make use of rain water. Some of the party not accustomed to 
Salt water has made too free use of it on them it acts as a pergitive. 
At this dismal point we must Spend another night as the wind & waves 
are too high to proceed." Sergeant Ordway's comments were much 
briefer, but he ended with "Some of the party killed Several ducks in 
the course of the day." 

At 101 m. is TONGUE POINT STATE PARK; here is a junction with 
a graveled road. 

Right on this road to TONGUE POINT LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE BASE, 0.7 m. Built 
on a projection extending into the wide mouth of the Columbia River, this base 
is the repair depot for the buoys that guide navigators along the watercourses of 
the two States. Tongue Point was so named by Broughton in 1792. 

On November 10 the Lewis and Clark party, unable to go far because of the 
wind, camped on the northern shore nearly opposite this point. The camp was 
made on drift logs that floated at high tide, "nothing to eate but Pounded fish," 
Clark noted, "that night it Rained verry hard. . . . and continues this morning, 
the wind has ruled and the waves are not high." The party moved on but after 
they had gone ten miles the wind rose and they had to camp again on drift logs. 
Neighboring Indians appeared with fish. The camp was moved on the 12th to a 
slightly less dangerous place and Clark attempted to explore the nearby land on 
the 13th: "rained all day moderately. I am wet &C.&C." On the 14th "The rain 
&C. which has continued without a longer intermition than 2 hours at a time 
for ten days past has destroy'd the robes and rotted nearly one half the fiew 
clothes the party has, particularly the leather clothes." Clark was losing his 
patience by the 15th; even the pounded fish brought from the falls was becoming 
mouldy. This was the eleventh day of rain and "the most disagreeable time I 
have experenced confined on the tempiest coast wet, where I can neither git out 
to hunt, return to a better situation, or proceed on." But they did manage to 
move to a somewhat better camp that day and the men, salvaging boards from 
a deserted Indian camp, made rude shelters. The Indians began to give them too 
much attention, however. "I told those people . . . that if any one of their na- 
tion stole any thing that the Senten'l whome they Saw near our baggage with 
his gun would most certainly Shute them, they all promised not to tuch a thing, 
and if any of their womin or bad boys took any thing to return it imediately and 
chastise them for it. I treated those people with great distance." 

The party moved on to a place on the northern shore of Baker Bay, where 
they remained for about ten days. From this point Clark went overland to explore, 
inviting those who wanted to see more of the "Ocian" to accompany him. Nine 
men, including York, still had enough energy to go. 

On the 21st, "An old woman & Wife to a Cheif of the Chunnooks came and 
made a Camp near ours. She brought with her 6 young Squars (her daughters 
& neices) I believe for the purpose of Gratifying the passions of the men of our 
party and receving for those indulgiences Such Small [presents] as She (the old 
woman) thought proper to accept of. 

"Those people appear to View Sensuality as a Necessary evel, and do not 

Oregon 157 

appear to abhor it as a Crime in the unmarried State. The young females are 
fond of the attention of our men and appear to meet the sincere approbation of 
their friends and connections, for thus obtaining their favours." 

Here the explorers had further evidence that English and American sailors 
had previously visited the Columbia. The tattooed name, "J. Bowman," was seen 
on the arm of a Chinook squaw. "Their legs are also picked with defferent fig- 
ures," wrote Clark, "all those are considered by the natives of this quarter as 
handsom deckerations, and a woman without those deckorations is Considered as 
among the lower Class." 

Three days later Lewis and Clark held a meeting to decide whether the party 
should go back to the falls, remain on the north shore, or cross to the south side 
of the river for the winter. The members with one exception voted to move to 
the south shore, since game seemed to be more plentiful there, giving them an 
opportunity to obtain better food and replenish their stock of clothing. "Janey 
(Sacajawea) in favour of a place where there is plenty of pota's." They set up 
a temporary camp here on Tongue Point. The rain continued, a steady downpour. 
From this place they hunted a suitable site for the permanent camp. 

ASTORIA, 104.8 m. (12 alt., 10,349 pop.), seat of Clatsop County, 
occupies a high promontory between the mouth of the Columbia and 
Young's Bay. The business district lies on a narrow bench near the 
water, with the residential district rising behind it on the headland. 
Many of the streets end abruptly against high yellow clay banks where 
houses cling so precariously that they seem about to tumble down on 
the stores and offices below them. The city's commercial life revolves 
about fishing, lumbering, flour milling, and shipping. The shore line 
is defined by a row of saw mills, flour mills, tall elevators, and the 
masts and smokestacks of the many vessels always crowding the docks. 

Beyond, flocks of gulls circle overhead or float on the tide. Their 
shrill cries are drowned, when the thick vapors drift in, by the hoarse, 
haunting bellow of foghorns. At such times buoy lanterns mark the 
river channel, and many red, green, and white lights outline the 
fishing nets. By day the water is crowded with small boats, some low 
in the water with the weight of their catches, and along the shore in 
shallow water horses drag fish seines. The animals strain against the 
laden nets, or swim ahead of them when the incoming tide lightens 
their labors. During the chief fishing season the horses are often stabled 
in barns set on piling in the river, and for months do not set hoof on 
dry land. 

English and Swedish or English and Finnish are spoken in most 
shops of the town, 39 percent of Clatsop County's population being of 
Swedish or Finnish descent. There are also a number of Japanese 

The settlement of Astoria began when John Jacob Astor's ship, the 
Tonquin, arrived in 1811. (See WHY A ROAD TO OREGON?) The 
post was built facing north, with the wide estuary, its sandbars and 
tumultuous breakers spread out before it, and the promontory of Cape 
Disappointment, fifteen miles distant, closing the prospect to the left. 
When the expedition arrived the surrounding country was in all the 

158 The Oregon Trail 

freshness of spring; the trees were in young leaf, the weather was 
superb, and everything looked delightful to men just emancipated from 
a long confinement on shipboard. 

Washington Irving wrote : "All hands now set to work cutting down 
trees, clearing away thickets, and marking out the place for the resi- 
dence, storehouse, and powder magazine, which were to be built of 
logs and covered with bark. Others landed the timbers intended for the 
frame of the coasting vessel, and proceeded to put them together, while 
others prepared a garden spot, and sowed the seeds of various vege- 

"The next thought was to give a name to the embryo metropolis; 
the one that naturally presented itself was that of the projector and 
supporter of the whole enterprise. It was accordingly named Astoria" 

But the War of 1812 changed the picture; the Astorians sold the 
post to the rival North West Company when they heard that a British 
sloop was on its way to destroy all American trading posts on the West 
Coast. When the sloop arrived its captain took formal possession of the 
territory as an act of war. The North West Company maintained the 
post as its headquarters in the area until in 1821, when the company 
was united with the Hudson's Bay Company. In the meantime, in 1818, 
exclusive British control of the territory ended, with the Oregon coun- 
try thrown open to joint occupation by Britain and the United States 
for ten years. In 1824 the Hudson's Bay Company, then owner of the 
post, determined to move its departmental headquarters to a more suit- 
able spot inland. Astoria was still maintained, however, but merely as 
a minor post and ship lookout. Thereafter the importance of the place 
declined rapidly and by 1841 the seat of Astor's would-be capital of 
the Pacific Coast was merely a half-overgrown clearing holding a shed 
and single cabin. 

Shortly after the departure of the Astorians the Oregon country had 
its first white female visitor. On April 22, 1814, the North West Com- 
pany's ship, the Isaac Todd, arrived with Donald McTavish, the first 
Governor of Fort George, and Jane Barnes, an adventurous barmaid 
who had decided to see the world as a companion to McTavish. Jane 
changed protectors shortly after her arrival, preferring Alexander 
Henry, whom she found at the fort. McTavish solaced himself by taking 
a Chinook wife. Then one day the son of Chief Concomly appeared at 
the fort, decked out in whale oil and red paint, to ask Jane to be his 
wife, offering to send a hundred of the valuable sea-otters to her rel- 
atives and promising that his other wives should do all the work for 
her. When she refused his offer he planned to abduct her. Jealousy and 
wonder over Jane's white skin and London ruffles were becoming intense 
when both McTavish and Henry were drowned while crossing the 
Columbia. Jane decided to leave, but, scorning the attentive captain of 
the Isaac Todd, accepted the offer of the captain of the Columbia, also 
in the harbor, to take her home. Jane's later history is obscure but the 

Oregon 159 

dusty files of the North West Company show that she later attempted 
to collect an annuity for her services to the North West Company. 

In 1844 immigrants began to arrive in the area and on April 9, 
1847, the Astoria post office was established. 

Beginning in 1880, Astoria had a brisk growth, but in 1922, when 
its population had increased to 15,000, fire broke out on its waterfront, 
and reduced the structures on 32 city blocks to ashes. A reconstruction 
program was then launched that created a new and modern city. 

Astoria is the headquarters of the Columbia River fishing industry. 
Since the day when, according to Indian legend, the god Talapus cre- 
ated salmon and, with Serpent holding one end of the net, taught the 
Indians to catch them in spruce-net snares, salmon have been of great 
economic importance to the lower Columbia. The Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany engaged to some extent in salmon fishing, but the first commercial 
cargo to leave the river was taken by the brig Owyhee in 1830. Five 
years later Nathaniel Wyeth's Columbia River Fishing and Trading 
Company made an unsuccessful attempt to establish the industry, but 
all activities were of desultory nature until 1868, when the first cannery 
was built. Others sprang up, and soon salmon was being shipped to 
many parts of the world. The salmon catch is now the city's chief 
asset, the annual pack being valued at from three to seven million dol- 
lars. Recently the catching of pilchards off the mouth of the Columbia 
has grown into an industry of major proportions. 

The SITE OF FORT ASTORIA is on 15th St., between Duane and 
Exchange. At the southeast corner of the City Hall is the GRAVE OF 

The ASTOR COLUMN, on the summit of Coxcomb Hill (700 alt.), 
at the end of Coxcomb Rd., is 125 feet high, and bears a spiral frieze 
depicting the events in the city's history in their historical sequence. 
Vincent Astor, great-grandson of the founder of Astoria, supplied the 
funds for its construction. An entrance at its base opens upon a spiral 
staircase leading to an observation platform a few feet from the top, 
from which there is a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean, the Colum- 
bia River, and the mountainous wooded region around the city. 

The PORT OF ASTORIA TERMINAL is the center of activity on the 
waterfront. Beginning in 1909, the municipally owned Port of Astoria 
Corporation has gradually built up extensive properties. Ships from 
many parts of the world load and discharge cargoes from it and from 
the smaller wharves along the waterfront. 

where salmon is canned, and the UNION FISHERMEN'S COOPERATIVE 
PACKING COMPANY PLANT (admittance to plants during canning season 
by permission). 

Left from Astoria on US 101 to the ASTORIA MUNICIPAL AIRPORT, 6.7 m. (R). 
Because of its strategic importance as a seaplane base, the Federal Government 
contributed extensively to its development in 1936. 

160 The Oregon Trail 

Left here 1.5 m. on a graveled road to the SITE OF FORT CLATSOP, the 
winter encampment of the Lewis and Clark party in 1805-6. 

Now overgrown with evergreens, the site is designated by a flagpole set in 
concrete and is marked by a bronze plaque. The broad stump that served Lewis 
as a writing desk has decayed. Koboway, the Clatsop chief to whom the fort was 
given, retired to his lodge leaving the white men's house to fall to ruin. On De- 
cember 7, 1805, Clark recorded: ". . . after breakfast I delayed about half an 
hour before York Came up, then proceeded around this Bay which I call (have 
taken the liberty of calling) Meriwethers Bay the Chrisitan name of Capt. Lewis 
who no doubt was the 1st. white man who ever Surveyed this Bay [Clark was 
mistaken about this], we assended a river which falls in on the South Side of this 
Bay 3 miles to the first point of high land on the West Side, the place Capt. 
Lewis had viewed and formed in a thick groth of pine about 200 yards from 
the river, this situation is on a rise about 30 feet higher than the high tides leavel 
and thickly Covered with lofty pine. This is certainly the most eligable Situation 
for our purposes of any in its neighbourhood." 

On December 8 the whole party gathered at the site selected by Lewis on the 
Netul River and made camp. Within a short time trees were felled and rude huts 
erected around an open square. Some of the men were dispatched to the Pacific 
to make salt from sea water, others were ordered to hunt, and the remainder, 
working against time and weather, completed the shelters sufficiently to enable 
the party to move in by Christmas. 

On Christmas Day Clark wrote: "at day light this morning we we [re] awoke 
by the discharge of the fire arm[s] of all our party & a Selute, Shouts and a 
Song which the whole party joined in under our windows, after which they retired 
to their rooms were chearfull all the morning, after brackfast we divided our 
Tobacco which amounted to 12 carrots one half of which we gave to the men of 
the party who used tobacco, and to those who doe not use it we make a present 
of a handkerchief, The Indians leave us in the evening all the party Snugly fixed 
in their huts. I reeved a pres[e]nt of Cap* L. of a fleece hosrie [hosiery] Shirt 
Draws and Socks, a p r Mockersons of white weazils tails of the Indian woman, 
& some black root of the Indians before their departure. . . . The day proved 
Showerey wet and disagreeable. 

"we would have Spent this day the nativity of Christ in feasting had we any- 
thing either to raise our Sperits or even gratify our appetites, our Diner concisted 
of pore Elk, so much Spoiled that we eate it thro' mear necessity." According to 
Gass, they were without salt to season even that. 

On the 26th the rain continued. Clark says: "we dry our wet articles and 
have the blankets fleed, The flees are so troublesom that I have slept but little 
for 2 night past and we have regularly to kill them out of our blankets every 
day for several past." (Fleas were left by the Indians on each visit.) On the 27th 
in the Journals occurs the entry: "Musquetors troublesom." 

On the 29th the natives brought word that a whale had floundered on the 
shore some distance south, and that their people were collecting fat from it. 
Although it was planned to start immediately to the place to obtain blubber, severe 
storms delayed the trip until early in January. At that time Sacajawea made her 
one recorded plea in her own interests; Clark wrote: "She observed that She had 
traveled a long way with us to See the great waters, and that now monstrous fish 
was also to be Seen, She though it verry hard She could not be permitted to See 
either (She had never yet been to the Ocian)." She was permitted to go with the 
men, carrying her baby on her back. 

Under the leadership of Clark the small party struggled around the headlands 
to the Tillamook country, 35 miles south of Fort Clatsop. Well-laden with blubber, 
they returned to the fort. During the late winter and early spring Sacajawea was 
busy preparing moccasins and suits of buckskin for the explorers. 

Clark noted: "With the party of Clatsops who visited us last was a man 
of much lighter Coloured than the nativs are generaly, he was freckled with 

Oregon 161 

long duskey red hair, about 25 years of age, and must Certainly be half white 
at least, this man appeared to understand more of the English language than the 
others of his party, but did not Speak a word of English, he possessed all the 
habits of the indians." In Adventures on the Columbia (1832) Ross Cox describes 
such a man as the son of a sailor who had deserted here from an English ship. 
He was said to have had the words "Jack Ramsey" tattooed on his arm. "Poor 
Jack was fond of his father's countrymen," Ross says, "and had the decency to 
wear trousers whenever he came to the fort [Astorial. We therefore made a col- 
lection of old clothes for his use; sufficient to last him many years." The man 
was otherwise accounted for by other early visitors; the Indians told them of 
several parties of white men who had landed on the Oregon coast in the 18th 
century and of a red-haired sailor who was washed ashore about 1760. 

The Clatsops became such frequent visitors at the fort that upon its comple- 
tion Clark noted ". . . at Sun set we let the nativs know that our Custom will 
be in future, to Shut the gates at Sun Set at which time all Indians must go out 
of the fort and not return into it untill next morning after Sunrise at which time 
the gates will be opened, those of the Warciacum Nation who are very fofrlward 
left the houses with reluctianc." In view of the Indians' differing conceptions of 
private property, this seems to have been an expedient ruling on the part of the 

By March the leaders believed that the mountain snows would have melted, 
and the winter quarters could be abandoned. On March 23 Clark reported: "loaded 
our canoes & at 1 P. M. left Fort Clatsop on our homeward journey, at this place 
we had wintered and remained from the 7th of Deer. 1805 to this day and have 
lived as we had any right to expect, and we can say that we were never one 
day without 3 meals of some kind a day either pore Elk meat or roots. . . ." 

Those who write of the Lewis and Clark expedition are apt to stress the dis- 
comforts and dangers the party experienced, forgetting that these were the price, 
fully anticipated and gladly paid, of fulfilling a dream centuries old that of 
finding a central route across North America. 



Ogallala, Neb. Scottsbluff Fort Laramie, Wyo. Casper Mud- 
dy Gap South Pass Granger, Wyo.; 570. 4 m. US 26, US 87, US 87E, 
US 287, and unnumbered dirt road. 

Between a point seven miles north of Ogallala and Torrington the Union 
Pacific R.R. parallels the route; Burlington Lines between Northport and Cas- 
per; Chicago & North Western Ry. between Orin and Casper. 
Graveled roadbed between Ogallala and Bayard; paved between Bayard and 
Muddy Gap; oiled gravel between Muddy Gap and Hudsons; unimproved dirt 
road between Hudsons and Granger. Travelers who do not care for rough trav- 
eling can turn south on US 287, paved, at Muddy Gap to return to US 30; the 
route through South Pass is only for the adventurous at present. Hudsons-Farson 
road will probably be improved in 1939. Inquiry as to weather conditions should 
be made before following US 87E and US 287, which run through country where 
blizzards are frequent in winter and spring. 
Accommodations limited except in large towns. 

US 26 runs northwestward across high tableland into the Wildcat 
Hills region. Between a point near North Platte, Neb., and Guernsey, 
Wyo., it follows the north bank of the North Platte River, the route 
traversed by the Mormon Pioneers, and parallels the Oregon Trail, 
which was on the south bank. After 1849 the route here was sometimes 
called the California Trail because of the goal of the major migrations. 
The Pony Express riders and also the first overland stages went 
through the valley. Nearly all emigrants bound for central California 
and Oregon traveled on one riverbank or the other until 1862 and 
quite a number thereafter. The route was determined by two objectives 
Fort Laramie, which offered supplies and protection, and South Pass, 
the lowest break in the Continental Divide. West of Fort Laramie the 
trails continued along the North Platte, crossed a low divide to follow 
the Sweetwater, and left it to reach the pass. The descent from that 
point to the Green River was easy. 

North from US 30 at OGALLALA, m. (see SECTION 3), on US 
26, which crosses the North Platte River at 7.7 m. and turns L., fol- 
lowing the course of the river. 

In the oxcart days few who turned up this valley for the first time 
failed to experience a quickening of interest. The flat monotonous 
prairies, not greatly different in appearance from the country many 
of them had known in the East, were being left behind ; the air had an 
increasing dryness that made their wagon beds and wheels shrink and 
fall apart; and the bleak, wind-bitten landmarks of the badlands were 
beginning to make their appearance. The travelers were approaching 
the foothills of the Rockies, of whose perils and difficulties they had 


Nebraska-Wyoming, Alternate Route 163 

long heard. Members of a generation that had imbibed its ideas of the 
wilderness from Cooper's Leatherstocking series were bound at this 
moment to see themselves as fearless Hawkeyes entering the scene 
of heroic adventure. After 1848, however, those who did not wander 
from the beaten track and who traveled in the usual tourist season had 
their romantic dreams of a lonely trek through wilderness rudely shat- 
tered. In 1849 and for many years thereafter the overland trails were 
as lonely as Pennsylvania Avenue on Inauguration Day. Passing Fort 
Kearney on May 11, 1850, C. W. Smith wrote in his Journal: "Nine 
hundred wagons are reported as having passed this spring." Two days 
later a member of another train reported three thousand two hundred 
wagons ahead of his at this point. On May 17 Lorenzo Sawyer noted 
near the fort: "The opposite bank is lined with emigrant trains on the 
Council Bluff road." And on May 26 a traveler on the north bank 
recorded : "The road on our side of the river for miles ahead are lined 
with teams from our camp to the Missouri behind us is one continuous 
line of wagons." 

At 2.5 m. is the junction with State 61. 

Right on this improved dirt road to KINGSLEY DAM, 3 m., which creates 
a storage reservoir on the North Platte with a capacity of two million acre-feet 
of water. 

When the Mormon Pioneers camped in this area on May 11, 1847, 
Appleton Harmon was working on the "machinery for the wagon to 
tell the distance we travel," Clayton wrote. The dreadfully monotonous 
process of counting the revolutions of the wagon wheels was nearing 
an end. That day the Saints, finding no water within half a mile of 
their camp, resourcefully dug four-foot wells to supply their needs. 

On the following day one man found a cured buffalo skin, which 
was frugally salvaged. The Saints carried very little excess baggage, 
differing from many later emigrants. In spite of the instructions of 
Joel Palmer (see APPENDIX) and others on the need of carrying 
adequate supplies of food, nearly every train had many members who 
thought that they could subsist on game, and therefore filled their 
wagons with treasured heirlooms and other non-essentials in place of 
foodstuffs. A few days of travel with the oxen struggling to draw the 
heavy loads was enough to convince the wiser travelers that their claw- 
footed tables and mahogany dressers were serious encumbrances. By 
the time the trains reached this region, where the road was rising 
steadily, many more pioneer mothers gave reluctant consent when their 
husbands insisted that finery and Sunday china be thrown away. 
Diarists of the gold-rush days frequently noted the heaps of discarded 
goods and mourned because they had no room to carry the valuable 
articles they could have salvaged. 

164 The Oregon Trail 

LEWELLEN, 31.8 m. (419 pop.), is in a section that produces 
alfalfa, sugar beets, and corn. 

Left from Lewellen on a country road that crosses the North Platte River to 
ASH HOLLOW, 3 m., a deep canyon where one route of the Oregon Trail, used 
chiefly after Fort Sedgwick (see SECTION 4) had been established on the South 
Platte, descended steeply from a plateau to the North Platte. The canyon was 
so named by Fremont because of "a few scattering ash trees in the dry ravine." 
The precipitous but now easily passable road through the canyon, bordered by 
rank, spring-fed vegetation and arching trees, contrasts strikingly with the sweep- 
ing yellow wheat fields on the plateau and the sandy banks of the river below. On 
a knoll close to the river is the SITE OF FORT GRATTAN, a post that was built of sod. 

Near the mouth of the hollow is a moist spot where in season wild roses, choke- 
cherries, gooseberries, currants, and ferns cover the ground beneath the tall ash 
trees. Seven-tenths of a mile from the river are a few small cedars, said to mark 
the site of a cabin built by trappers in 1846. This cabin was later a general meet- 
ing place and unofficial post office. Nearby are a small grove of ash trees and a 

Half a mile below the edge of the plateau are the RUINS OF THE JOE CLARY 
HOUSE; Clary was the first settler here. About midway the road follows ruts of 
the old trail for a short distance. 

At WINDLASS HILL, indicated by a marker, the drivers of covered wagons 
experienced much difficulty. Early accounts often mention the casualties to men, 
beasts, and equipment that were common events here. An English traveler who 
made the trip in 1849 wrote that the descent was so breath-taking that no one 
spoke for two miles. He reported that riders dismounted to lead their horses, that 
wagons with wheels locked were steadied with ropes, and that two mules were 
crushed under a wagon that broke loose. In the 1860's Indians sometimes waited 
in ambush above the narrow passage. 

Ash Hollow and neighboring ravines were popular Indian hunting grounds. It 
was the scene of a day-long battle between the Pawnee and the Sioux, in which 
the Pawnee were badly beaten and driven from the North Platte Valley. 

By the time the Pioneer Saints reached this point the "roadometer" 
was operating successfully, but William Clayton was much annoyed 
to find that Harmon was having it "understood that he invented the 
machinery . . . which makes me think less of him than I formerly 
did. . . . What little souls work." 

At 33.7 m. the highway crosses BLUE WATER CREEK, in 1855 
the scene of the Battle of Blue Water, also called the Battle of Ash 
Hollow. Several incidents led up to the battle, notably the killing of 
Lt. John Lawrence Grattan and his force of 28 men by Sioux (see 
beldw). Gen. W. S. Harney with more than a thousand men entered 
the Platte country to subjugate the restless Indians. Most of the Sioux, 
when ordered to cross to the south side of the Platte River, did so, but 
one band of Brule stayed on the north side of the river. It was here 
at Blue Water Creek that Harney and his men overtook and attacked 

OSHKOSH, 43.7 m. (843 pop.), is the seat of Garden County. In 
1885 Henry G. Gumaer, Alfred W. Gumaer, Herbert W. Potter, and 
John Robinson of St. Paul, Neb., established a cattle ranch here. When 



Applcton's Journal 




Nebraska-Wyoming, Alternate Route 165 

a post office was opened in 1886 the settlement was named for Oshkosh, 

The soil of this district is somewhat sandy. The prairie, rimmed with 
bluffs on the south and hills on the north, is irrigated and sugar beets 
are the principal crop. 

At 44.2 m. is the junction with State 27. 

Right on this graveled, sandy road (make local inquiries as to condition) is 
the 41,000-acre Federal migratory waterfowl sanctuary, called CRESCENT LAKE 
RESERVE, 22 m. Thousands of ducks nest here during the summer. The region 
includes a number of swamps and lakes. 

At BROADWATER, 74.6 m. (368 pop.), on May 23, 1847, Ap- 
pleton Harmon wrote in his Journal: "I arose in the morning & found 
it to be a pleasant one verry little air stiring the Sun Shone warm 
I borrowed Wm. Clatons spy glass & started off to the bluffs after 
breakfast a bout, % past 9 A. M. which was a bout 1 mile distant as I 
came near the foot off the Bluff I gradually assended until I came to 
the foot of a Piremid & by going around it I found that I could assend 
it, by Clambering over the fragments of rocks that had broken off 
from near the top & ley in a confused mass, half way down the side I 
succeeded in ascending to its sumit ... I was here joined by 3 or 4 
of the brethering who came to visit the same cenerry . . . we left this 
& went to another larger & higher some 50 or 60 rods to the East of uss, 
this we assended from the North side passing huge rocks, that, have 
been rolled out of their natural place, by the wash off the heavey 
rains or the convulsive throughs of nature at the crusifixion off our 

US 26 here turns L. and crosses to the south side of the North 
Platte, then turns R., still following the river. 

BRIDGEPORT, 90.4 m. (3,653 alt., 1,421 pop.), observes Camp 
Clarke Days (four days., first week in Sept.) annually with a celebra- 
tion opened by a parade of floats. The oldest settlers are honored; 
pioneer and Indian relics are on display. There are water contests, 
athletic events, band concerts, speeches, and a bowery dance. 

At Bridgeport is the junction with State 86 (see SIDE ROUTE C). 

Left from Bridgeport on State 88, a graveled road that passes COURTHOUSE 
ROCK and JAIL ROCK (R), 5 m. These old landmarks rise abruptly from a 
level plain and form the eastern terminus of the Wildcat Hills. Courthouse Rock, 
according to one account, was named by migrants from St. Louis, who thought it 
resembled their county building. The top strata of the bluff, worn away on the 
edges, roughly suggest a classical pediment. Jail Rock nearby, somewhat smaller, 
is believed to have been named later by cowboys who remembered that a jail is 
often the structure nearest to a courthouse. The lower parts of the buttes are 
composed of Brule clay, the upper of Gering sandstone bands alternating with 
clay. In recent years hundreds of tourists, knives in hand, have emulated the 
pioneers by carving their names and accumulated wisdom on the faces of the 

166 The Oregon Trail 

rocks, unaware that this formation weathers quickly. A single heavy storm has 
been known to change the contours. 

Several Indian legends are associated with the vicinity. One concerns a Pawnee 
hero who was rewarded by the gods with a magic horse for having rescued his 
grandmother, who had been abandoned by the tribe, in accordance with custom, 
because of her age. With the aid of this horse he inflicted heavy losses on the 
traditional enemy, the Sioux, and performed a hunting feat that won him the 
chief's daughter. Between these exploits he retired to the rocks for communion 
with his spiritual guides. At one time the Pawnee, forced to retreat down the 
North Platte Valley before the encroachments of the Sioux, left behind a small 
rear guard, who were outnumbered and forced to take refuge on top of the bluff. 
The Sioux encamped at the base, trying to starve out the Pawnee ; but the Pawnee 
lowered themselves one at a time down a crevice in the rock, crept through the 
sleeping camp, and escaped. 

Courthouse Rock was noted by many early explorers and travelers. Parker, 
the missionary, thought of it as an old castle. James Clyman in his diary of 1844 
and Palmer in 1845 described it as an Old World ruin. Bryant estimated that its 
height was three to five hundred feet and its circumference one mile. On a nearby 
cliff of the same formation the words "Post Office" had been carved near the 
top; travelers deposited letters for friends behind them on the trail in boxes hewn 
in the soft stone base. Gilbert Cole, who passed along the trail in 1852, wrote of 
the long panorama of rocks, water, and sky in the region and of the cloud shadows 
on the plain. 

BIRDCAGE GAP, 12 m., is a break in the Wildcat Range that carried a 
route of the Oregon Trail in the days when many emigrants followed the South 
Platte to Julesburg before turning northwest to Fort Laramie. Through it ran 
the stagecoaches connecting Sidney with the Black Hills. Parts of the trail are 
still discernible. 

At Bridgeport US 26 recrosses the North Platte and follows the 
north bank. 

NORTHPORT, 91.8 m. (3,688 alt., 150), opposite Bridgeport, 
was so named because of its position. 

At 94 m. is the SITE OF CAMP CLARKE, as well as the SITE OF THE 
CAMP CLARKE BRIDGE. In 1876 the first wagon bridge across the North 
Platte River was built here by Henry T. Clarke of Omaha, to accommo- 
date stages traveling between Sidney and the Black Hills. For a time 
soldiers guarded both ends of the bridge; a toll of $1 for a team, 50 
cents for a person, was charged. The bridge was used until 1900. 

At the south end of the bridge were a post office, store, saloon, stage 
barn, and other buildings destroyed by a prairie fire in 1910. 

BAYARD, 107.5 m. (3,753 alt., 1,559 pop.), was named in 1887 
for Bayard, Iowa. The town's chief industry is the manufacture of beet 
sugar. Local people like to call the area the Valley of the Nile because 
of its fertility under irrigation. From the town is a wide view of the 
blue hills of the Wildcat Range on the south side of the river. Standing 
out distinctly in the center of the valley is Chimney Rock (see SIDE 
ROUTE C), a landmark of the Oregon Trail. 

MINATARE (L), 120.4 m. (3,820 alt., 1,079 pop.), was named 
for the Minnetaree, a Siouan tribe. Visible from the town is Scott's 

Nebraska-Wyoming, Alternate Route 167 

Bluff (see SIDE ROUTE C), a landmark that rises seven hundred 
feet above the North Platte River. 

At 129.9 m. is the junction with a graveled road. 

Left on this road 1 m.; R. here on a dirt road running through a farmyard; 
then on foot. It is necessary to crawl under a barbed-wire fence to reach the GRAVE 
OF REBECCA WINTERS, 1.5 m. Rebecca Winters, the mother of Mrs. Augusta Win- 
ters Grant, wife of a President of the Mormon Church, was a victim of the cholera 
epidemic of 1852. 

A member of a Mormon train, she was one of many who developed cholera 
soon after leaving the Missouri; though she did not die of the disease it left her 
weak and wasted. For five hundred miles she lay on a bundle of quilts in a jolt- 
ing wagon before succumbing. The Latter-Day Saints have erected a monument 
over her grave. When the Burlington Route right-of-way was surveyed, the grave 
was found to be in direct line with the proposed road. The route was changed 
to leave the grave undisturbed. 

SCOTTSBLUFF, 131.9 m. (4,000 alt., 8,465 pop.), was named 
for Scott's Bluff (see SIDE ROUTE C), which had been named for 
Hiram Scott, the trapper. The town was laid out in 1899. In the 
spring of 1905, some satirical person nicknamed it "Venice," because 
the 10-foot plank sidewalks bordered a foot of water that lay on 
Main Street and was inhabited by frogs; the citizens finally used sod 
blocks from two old corrals to raise the street level. The growth of the 
town has been rapid, the population in 1910 having been only 1,798. 
Today it is a shipping point for livestock, sugar beets, and grain. 

West of Scottsbluff the highway continues along the north bank 
of the North Platte River, through a hilly country, where in season a 
patchwork landscape of sugar beets, alfalfa, corn, beans, and wheat 
is crisscrossed by the irrigation ditches that have made cultivation pos- 
sible. A successful farmer in this section must of necessity be some- 
thing of an engineer; he and his workers are seen wading in rubber 
boots, adjusting dams and water gates, shoveling out ditches, and guid- 
ing water into the proper channels. 

On the edges of the beet fields are the shacks inhabited from mid- 
May until October by families of Mexicans, Spanish Americans, and 
Germans who came to the area from the Volga region between 1900 
and 1910. The owners of the beet fields plow, seed, and harrow their 
land, but contract with migrant workers for the handwork. It is cus- 
tomary in this area for the head of a family to contract to handle as 
many acres as the size of his household permits; a family with three 
working members usually cares for about 20 of the average 12-ton-crop 
acres. Thinning is carried on in late May and early June, hoeing in late 
July and early August, pulling and topping in October. In 1937 the 
average payment for a season's work on an acre was $20.50. This wage 
may be somewhat increased under the terms of the Sugar Control Act 
of 1937; this act also forbids the labor of children under 14 years of 
age, though the rule is hard to enforce. During the winter many of the 
workers live in nearby villages. 

168 The Oregon Trail 

Beet-growing is one of the most profitable agricultural activities in 
Nebraska; the average market price for sugar beets is $6 a ton. 
At 134. m. is the junction with a dirt road. 

Right on this road to the SCOTTSBLUFF EXPERIMENT FARM (open to 
public), 4 m., maintained by the U. S. Department of Agriculture in co-operation 
with the University of Nebraska. The farm includes 160 acres of irrigated land 
and 800 acres of pasture. 

It was in this area, on May 29, 1847, that Pres* Brigham Young 
delivered an angry sermon denouncing the Pioneer Saints for their 
light-heartedness. He felt that they were too much enjoying the expedi- 
tion whose solemn purpose was to find the Promised Land. On Satur- 
day, May 22, Clayton had written: "The evening was spent very joy- 
fully by most of the brethren, it being very pleasant and moonlight. 
A number danced till the bugle sounded for bed time at nine o'clock. 
A mock trial was also prosecuted in the case of the camp vs. James 
Davenpot for blockading the highway and turning ladies out of their 
course. . . . We have had many such trials in the camp which are 
amusing enough and tend among other things to pass away the time 
cheerfully." But on the following Friday night he wrote that "Elder 
Kimball came to the next wagon where some of the boys were playing 
cards. He told them his views and disapprobation of their spending 
time gaming and dancing and mock trying, etc., and especially profane 
language uttered by some." It was on the following morning that Young 
gave his rebuke. In the course of it, according to Clayton, he said, "I 
have let the brethren dance and fiddle and act the nigger night after 
night to see what they will do, and what extremes they will go to, if 
suffered to go as far as they would. . . . The brethren say they want a 
little exercise to pass away time in the evenings, but if you can't tire 
yourselves bad enough with a day's journey without dancing every 
night, carry your guns on your shoulders and walk, carry your wood to 
camp instead of lounging and lying asleep in your wagons, increasing 
the load until your teams are tired to death and ready to drop to earth. 
. . Suppose the angels were witnessing the hoe down the other eve- 
ning, and listening to the haw haws the other evening, would they not 
be ashamed of it." 

Young's irritation was perhaps excessive but it was understandable. 
In settled places he encouraged recreation and himself took part in 
formal dances. Here, however, he was nearing the most difficult and 
dangerous part of the journey and responsibility for the success of the 
home-finding expedition rested heavily on him. 

At MITCHELL, 141.7 m. (3,945 alt., 2,058 pop.), are the SCOTTS 

HENRY, 155.2 m. (167 pop.), originally built in Wyoming, was 

Nebraska-Wyoming, Alternate Route 169 

moved into Nebraska because the inhabitants wanted the advantage of 
a difference in railroad freight rates. 

At 155.5 m. US 26 crosses the Wyoming Line. Nearby is the SITE 
OF AN ASTORIAN CAMP; here Robert Stuart and the men he led camped 
for several months in the winter of 1812, on their journey from Astoria 
to St. Louis. 

Near the Wyoming Line is the SITE OF THE FIRST RED CLOUD 
AGENCY. The establishment of Red Cloud Reservation marked the end 
of the warfare carried on by Red Cloud, chief of the Ogallala Sioux, 
against the whites. In 1875 the agency was moved to another site. 

In Wyoming the highway continues through the North Platte Valley, 
following a prehistoric Indian trail as well as the route of the return- 
ing Astorians in 1812-1813, of Captain Bonneville in 1832, and of in- 
numerable migrants in later years. 

When the Mormon Pioneers reached this point their minds were 
still filled with Young's sermon and the promises they had made for 
better conduct. Clayton said he "never noticed the brethren so still and 
sober on a Sunday." 

TORRINGTON, Wyo., 163.4 m. (4,098 alt., 1,811 pop.), named 
for Torrington in England, is the seat of Goshen County, which has no 
bonded indebtedness; royalties from oil, iron, coal, and other minerals 
reduce taxes and help to maintain public schools. Lying chiefly on the 
north side of the Platte River, Torrington is the trade center of an area 
producing sugar beets, potatoes, alfalfa, and seed crops. The annual 
Goshen County Fair is held here (usually second week in September). 
At 167.4 m. is the junction with a dirt road. 

Left on this winding road 2 m. to the ranch of the Lincoln Land Company, 
on which is the SITE OF THE ROCK RANCH BATTLE. One old building on the 
ranch was formerly a trading post; in it are a hundred holes, locally called port 
holes, that have been blocked up. Guns were thrust through these during attacks. 
It is said that in the early 1850's a party of emigrants, who had slaves with them, 
stopped at the post to rest. During the day they were attacked by Sioux. Some 
of the Negroes were killed and were buried under the floor. 

At LINGLE, 173.3 m. (4,150 alt., 415 pop.), situated about a mile 
north of the Platte River, is a HYDROELECTRIC POWER PLANT of the 
North Platte Federal Reclamation Project. 

At 175.3 m. (L), across the river from US 26, is the SITE OF THE 
GRATTAN INCIDENT of August 18, 1854. Accounts of what happened 
here vary. According to the most reliable version, a party of Mormons 
bound for Utah was passing an encampment of Sioux at this place; a 
lame cow at the rear of the caravan wandered into the Indian camp. 
For some reason the migrants did not go after her but proceeded to 
Fort Laramie, where they reported the incident. The fort was tempo- 
rarily in command of Lt. John Lawrence Grattan, a recent West Point 
graduate, who lacked frontier experience. Grattan came to the camp 

170 The Oregon Trail 

with an interpreter and 28 other men and learned that the cow had been 
killed and eaten; he demanded that the Indians surrender those who 
had killed the animal. When the Indians refused, Grattan rashly or- 
dered his men to fire into the tepee of the chief offender. The Indians 
returned the fire; Grattan and five soldiers fell immediately, and others 
were overtaken and killed. Though Grattan's superior officers deeply 
regretted the affair, both because of the deaths of the soldiers and the 
enmity aroused among the Indians, they had to admit that Grattan had 
conducted himself unwisely and that the Indians had acted under 
extreme provocation. 

For some time afterward, Fort Laramie was almost in a state of 

At 176.3 m. (L) , across the river from US 26, is the SITE OF FORT 
BERNARD, a trading post built in 1849 that consisted of one crude log 
structure. According to Ware's Emigrant Guide to California, this post 
had "accommodations far inferior to those of an ordinary stable." 

FORT LARAMIE, 183.6 m. (4,250 alt., 245 pop.), bears the name 
of the nearby fort, which took its name from the river. The river was 
named for Jacques La Ramee, an early trapper (see SECTION 5) . 

Left from the town of Fort Laramie on a marked dirt road that is carried 
across the North Platte on a three-span bridge. 

OLD FORT LARAMIE, 2 m., on 180 acres, has been acquired by the State 
of Wyoming and is to be made a National Monument. A number of early build- 
ings remain, including the blacksmith shop and supply house, the commissary, 
and soldiers' and officers' quarters. 

This place, on the North Platte near the mouth of the Laramie River, was 
one of the most important points on the road to Oregon and California. The first 
buildings were erected about a mile upstream. It was settled in 1834 as a fur- 
trading post, Fort William, by Robert Campbell and William Sublette and named 
for the latter. A year later the post passed into the hands of Fitzpatrick, Sublette, 
and Bridger and shortly afterward became a post of the American Fur Company, 
under which it was called Fort John. By 1839 the settlement had grown and was 
surrounded by a rectangular stockade 15 feet high, with lookout towers on two 
opposite corners. About 1846 the American Fur Company built a new post a mile 
upstream and called it Fort Laramie, which almost from the beginning had been 
the popular name of the place. The old post was demolished soon afterward. 
Three years later the American Fur Company sold its property here to the U. S. 
Government and Fort Laramie became a military post. 

From 1834 until 1862, when part of the westbound traffic began to move farther 
south, the post was the real jumping-off -place for almost everyone on his way 
to the mountains, to the Columbia, and to Utah and California. Until after the 
Mormons reached Utah this was the last point short of the Hudson's Bay terri- 
tory where it was always possible to buy supplies. (Though Jim Bridger estab- 
lished a post in the Green River Valley about 1843, he was often away from 
home when travelers most wanted his aid.) At Fort Laramie travelers could always 
find traders and Indians with the latest news on conditions of the route and the 
attitude of the Indians. After the Federal Government set up a military estab- 
lishment here during the gold rush, the fort was the scene of even greater activity. 
The commandant, in addition to keeping an eye on the Indians, had to act as 
nursemaid for reckless and improvident pioneers. Some arrived at this point, which 
was less than half way along the trail, without supplies or the possibility of buy- 

Nebraska-Wyoming, Alternate Route 171 

ing them. Others lacked most of the equipment necessary for the difficult travel 

In 1851 the stage line operated by John Hockaday and William Liggett began 
to carry mail, express, and sometimes passengers to western posts. Horses were 
changed here. After the overland line was put in operation Fort Laramie was a 
regular stage station. In 1860 and 1861 one of the most exciting regular events 
was the arrival and departure of the Pony Express riders; this was one of the 
relay points where riders would wait with saddled horses for the transfer of the 
mail from the East and the West. 

From the beginning the post was a rendezvous for Indians as well as whites; 
they came here to steal when they dared, to beg, to trade, to watch the white 
men, to parley, and to share the local excitement. Indian children and dogs played 
about the stockades and squaws stood about wide-eyed and watchful. Sometimes 
there would be more than a hundred lodges on the nearby land. Gamblers, traders, 
hunters, prospectors, and journalists were always about after the great migration 
had begun. 

Hunting parties of pleasure seekers also outfitted here. The most spectacular 
expedition of this sort to leave the post was that of Sir George Gore, who traveled 
in truly imposing state with Jim Bridger as his guide. 

A number of important treaties with the Indians were signed at or near Fort 
Laramie. Not all were successful. The treaty of 1851 was considered the eventual 
source of the hostilities that terrorized the northern plains for a score of years (see 

When the Indians were making their last attempt to drive away the invaders, 
they drove off stock, pillaged emigrant wagons, and killed ranchmen and traders, 
keeping those at Fort Laramie constantly on the alert for attack. Although the 
years 1862-65 were the "bloody years" on the Great Plains, the years of greatest 
danger here were between 1867-77. In 1867 Congress created a peace commission 
with a view to obtaining safety for travelers along the trans-continental railways 
and the overland routes. In 1868 this commission succeeded in negotiating the 
Sioux Treaty, by which the country north of the North Platte River and east 
of the summit of the Big Horn Mountains was recognized as belonging solely to 
the Indians. This treaty was later broken by white men who pushed into the 
Indian country in their eagerness to reach the Black Hills gold fields. 

On June 2, 1847, Appleton Harmon, the Pioneer Saint, here wrote in his diary: 
"we went in to the Fort & was kindly & genteelly receivd by Mister Bordeaux 
the maniger or master of the Fort he invited us in to a room upstairs which look 
verry mutch like a bar room of an eastern hotel it was ornamented with several 
drawings Portraits &c a long desk a settee & some chairs constituted the prin- 
ciple furniture of the room it wass neat & comfortable Mr Bordeaux, answered 
the meney questions that was asked by us a bout the country the Natives &c he 
sed the seasons ware ginerally dry that thare had been no rain for 2 years until 
within a few days he said that the Soux would not disturb the emegrants but 
the crows ware verry annoysome that they came & robed them of 25 horses about 
10 days ago they crept along under the bank of Larrieme fork until within 80 
rods of the fort in the day time then rushed out between the fort & the horses 
& drove them of in Spite of the guards, (for there ware 2 a herdding them at 
the time) and had themsafe before one forse could reach the spot from the fort, 
The remainder of their horses ware guarded by 4 men all the time and put in 
the Fort at night, they had just sent off 600 packs of robes to fort Pier on the 
missouri river the distance nearly 300 miles, they said that some traders ware 
thare yesturday that said that 6 days drive ahead that the Snow was midled 
deep 10 days ago & that it would be dificult to find feed for our teams he said 
that thare ware buffalo 2 days drive ahead & some grisseley Bairs that he ex- 
pected some Oregon emegrants soon he said that the next fort of trading post 
we came to was fort Bridgeer the other side of the mountains." 

Emigrants were less of a novelty here and troops were in command in 1853 

172 The Oregon Trail 

when James Farmer, another Mormon emigrant, arrived, "we then entered Fort 
Laramie consisting of a few wooden houses and about 67 soldiers stationed here 
it lies in the hollow high Bluffs all around they have 6 pieces of cannon and all 
seem very happy there are stores here where we can purchase anything we need 
but very high flour 15 dollars a sack." 

Here are the RUINS OF THE ENLISTED MEN'S BARRACKS, which were three hun- 
dred feet in length and built of cement, or grout; the limestone was quarried 
from nearby hills by the troops. The walls are more than 20 inches thick. The 
dance hall on the second floor was a rendezvous for cowboys and soldiers and 
the scene of many celebrations. It was particularly gay in the days when cattle 
from Texas were being driven past the fort on their way to the plains of Wyoming 
and Montana for fattening before being shipped to market. 

The GUARD HOUSE, built in 1849-59 of stone, has a double-barred window. The 
dungeon is in good condition. Directly north, on the edge of the parade ground, 

The SUTLER'S STORE, constructed of adobe, is probably the oldest building in 
Wyoming. Jim Bridger lived here when serving the post as a scout. Here in 1868 
Red Cloud signed the Sioux Treaty, and here in 1872 one of the Janis brothers 
was killed during a Christmas Day brawl. This store was not only the trade center 
for people living hundreds of miles around, especially from 1856 to 1872, but 
also contained banking facilities. 

OLD BEDLAM, the officers' club, was built by the Government in 1851 at a cost 
of $70,000. The fact that all lumber for its construction was hauled by oxen from 
Fort Leavenworth, Kans., largely accounts for its cost. It was to Old Bedlam in 
1866 that "Portugee" Phillips brought news of the disaster at Fort Phil Kearney 
in which Capt. W. J. Fetterman and 80 men were killed. Phillips' ride was made 
in subzero weather, through blizzards and with hostile Indians on every side. 

On the south bank of the North Platte River, in the tongue of land about 
three-fourths of a mile above its junction with the Laramie, is the SITE OF FORT 
PLATTE (see above). In Rocky Mountain Life, Rufus B. Sage, the journalist who 
visited this spot about 1841, related a typical story of the period. "The night of 
our arrival at Fort Platte was the signal for a grand jollification to all hands, 
(with two or three exceptions) who soon got most gloriously drunk, and such an 
illustration of the beauties of harmony as was then perpetrated, would have rivalled 
Bedlam itself, or even the famous council chamber beyond the Styx. 

"Yelling, screeching, firing, shouting, fighting, swearing, drinking, and such 
like interesting performances, were kept up without intermission, and woe to the 
poor fellow who looked for repose that night he might as well have thought of 
sleeping with a thousand cannon bellowing at his ears. 

"The scene was prolonged till near sundown the next day, and several made 
their egress from this beastly carousal, minus shirts and coats, with swollen eyes, 
bloody noses, and empty pockets, the latter circumstance will be easily under- 
stood upon the mere mention of the fact, that liquor, in this country, is sold for 
four dollars per pint. 

"The day following was ushered in by the enactment of another scene of comico- 
tragical character. 

"The Indians encamped in the vicinity, being extremely solicitous to imitate 
the example of their illustrious predecessors, soon as the first tints of morning 
began to paint the east, commenced their demands for firewater; and, ere the 
sun had told an hour of his course, they were pretty well advanced in the state 
of how came ye so, and seemed to exercise their musical powers in wonderful 
rivalry with their white brethren. 

"Men, women, and children were seen running from lodge to lodge with vessels 
of liquor, inviting their friends and relatives to drink; while whooping, singing, 
drunkenness, and trading for fresh supplies to administer to the demands of in- 
toxication, had evidently become the order of the day. Soon, individuals were 
noticed passing from one to another, with mouths full of the coveted fire-water, 

Nebraska-Wyoming, Alternate Route 173 

drawing the lips of favored friends in close contact, as if to kiss, and ejecting the 
contents of their own into the eager mouths of others, thus affording the de- 
lighted recipients tests of their fervent esteem in the heat and strength of the 
strange draught. 

"At this stage of the game the American Fur Company, as is charged, com- 
menced dealing out to them, gratuitously, strong drugged liquor, for the double 
purpose of preventing a sale of the article by its competitor in trade, and of cre- 
ating sickness, or inciting contention among the Indians, while under the influence 
of sudden intoxication, hoping thereby to induce the latter to charge its ill effects 
upon an opposite source, and thus, by destroying the credit of its rival, monopolize 
for itself the whole trade. 

"It is hard to predict with certainty, what would have been the result of this 
reckless policy, had it been continued through the day. Already its effects became 
apparent, and small knots of drunken Indians were seen in various directions, 
quarrelling, preparing to fight, or fighting, while others lay stretched upon the 
ground in helpless impotency, or staggered from place to place with all the re- 
volting attendencies of intoxication. 

"The dram-a, however, was here brought to a temporary close by an incident 
which made a strange contrast in its immediate results. 

"One of the head chiefs of the Brule village, in riding at full speed from Fort 
John to Fort Platte, being a little too drunk to navigate, plunged headlong from 
his horse and broke his neck when within a few rods of his destination. Then 
was a touching display of confusion and excitement. Men and squaws commenced 
bawling like children; the whites were bad, very bad, said they, in their brief 
to give Susu-ceicha the fire-water that caused his death. But the height of their 
censure was directed against the American Fur Company, as its liquor had done 
the deed. . . ." 

Near Fort Laramie the Mormon Trail crossed to the south bank of 
the North Platte and united with the Oregon Trail. 

GUERNSEY, 196.5 m. (4,361 alt., 656 pop.), bears the name of 
a ranchman, Charles A. Guernsey. The town, beautifully situated just 
below the mouth of the picturesque Platte River Canyon, is a trade cen- 
ter and supply base for the iron mines and limestone quarries nearby. 
The surrounding region has yielded abundant traces of prehistoric man ; 
archeological excavations have uncovered implements of war and agri- 
culture used by the primitive inhabitants. Embedded in the concrete of 
an OREGON TRAIL MARKER here, which bears the official Oregon Trail 
bronze plaque, are many relics that were found on the old trails, in- 
cluding ox and mule shoes, bullets, wagon irons, and guns. 

The small HIGH SCHOOL MUSEUM (free), housed in the basement, 
contains Indian and pioneer relics, geological specimens, and artifacts 
from the Spanish Diggings. Among the relics is a small Mason and 
Hamlin melodeon brought to Fort Laramie by ox team; it is still in 
good condition. 

1. Left from Guernsey on a dirt road to REGISTER CLIFF, 3.3 m., a chalk 
bluff that was a popular autograph album of early travelers. Of the thousands of 
names daubed and cut here, about seven hundred are still legible. One is dated 
1842. The cliff was first called Sand Point. The wide, grassy meadow at its base 
was often used as the first campsite west of Fort Laramie. Traders named Ward 
and Guerrier operated a post here for a time; Ward moved away in 1856, in 1857 

174 The Oregon Trail 

becoming the post trader at Fort Laramie, and in the same year Guerrier was 
killed when a keg of powder exploded. 

A number of people who died on the trail were buried at the base of Register 

2. Right from Guernsey on an oiled highway that leads to HARTVILLE, 6 m. 
(4,900 alt., 189 pop.). The area often held a populous Indian camp long before 
the coming of white settlers and, until the past decade, traces of the camp could 
be found throughout the canyon in which the town lies. Rings of flat rocks out- 
lined the positions of the tepees and lodges. Scrapers, arrowheads, and stone axes 
were formerly found in abundance, as well as grinders with which the red and 
brilliant yellow clays were prepared for purposes of personal adornment. 

Hartville became a settlement as the result of a copper strike that brought 
hundreds of prospectors and miners from the Black Hills. As the center of a 
copper district, the town became a wild spot, with saloons, dance halls, and 
gambling houses running full swing at all hours. Cowboys from nearby ranches 
added their noise to that of the miners. There was much gunplay and little law. 
In the old cemetery near town lie a number of men who "died with their boots 
on"; the early funeral services were usually conducted by a bartender. After the 
copper boom the town was not entirely abandoned ; a store, a saloon, and a lodging 
house were kept in operation to serve the ranchers. In 1899-1900, when eastern 
capital arrived to develop the iron deposits at the nearby Sunrise and Chicago 
mines, the old mining camp life revived. Tents and dugouts housed a large part 
of the population, as there was neither time nor material for the construction of 
buildings. Later, construction gangs from the Burlington Route, which was then 
being extended from Nebraska to connect with the Colorado & Southern R.R. 
running north from Cheyenne, added their wages to the stream of money that 
flowed into the camp from the pockets of miners and settlers. With the completion 
of the railroad and the centralization of mining operations in the Sunrise mine, 
the floating population of Hartville vanished. The town, while modern, has retained 
much of its frontier appearance. 

Northwest of Hartville is SLADE (SAWMILL) CANYON, named for Jack 
Slade, the stage line division superintendent (see SECTION 4). There is a story 
that Slade turned bandit after he had to leave the stage service and that this 
was a rendezvous for his gang. But this hardly accords with Slade's character as 
vouched for by those who best knew him. After Slade had asked the advice of 
officers at Fort Laramie (see SECTION 4) as to what action he should take 
against the threatening Jules Reni and had privately been told that he had better 
kill him, he sent four men ahead to the stage station where Jules was reported 
to be. Slade followed on the box of the stage and at the station killed Jules, 
who had already been captured. He then returned to the fort, told his story, and 
was exonerated; according to the frontier code he had done the only possible 
thing. The most reliable reporters of the incident said that the oft-repeated story 
that Slade pinned Beni to a shed by the ears before killing him and later used 
one of the ears as a watch charm, was pure folklore. 

Another exploit connected with Slade took place not far from this canyon. 
In the spring of 1861 an American and a Mexican, who were riding the stage 
as U. S. Mail service employees, had a quarrel that resulted in the death of the 
American. Slade, who had to maintain law and order along his division, at once 
prepared to run the Mexican out of the country. The killer had taken himself to 
the Sarah ranch at the head of Guernsey Lake. Slade sent word to Sarah to 
turn the Mexican out but Sarah retorted that he offered accommodations to trav- 
elers and that he would not turn away anyone who paid his bill. Several nights 
later a coachload of Slade's men arrived at the ranch; in the fight that followed, 
Sarah, his wife, an Indian staying at the house, and an old Frenchman were 
killed. One guest named Winters made his escape and ran the 25 miles to Fort 
Laramie. Immediate reparation was demanded, but without avail; no effort what- 
ever was made to apprehend the murderers. Sarah's family included four children, 

Nebraska-Wyoming, Alternate Route 175 

whose ages ranged from a few months to 12 years. The eldest girl, with the baby 
on her back, and another sister had climbed out of a rear window and escaped. 
A few weeks later their bodies were found on the prairie. The boy, who became 
separated from his sisters, was found by a stage driver who took him to the stage 
station. He was eventually adopted by Slade and went with the Slades when they 
left the area. 

In time Slade began to drink to excess and when under the influence of liquor 
was insanely violent. He eventually went to live near Virginia City, Mont., and 
after one of his outbreaks in 1864 was hanged by vigilantes. 

At SUNRISE, 7 m. (4,900 alt., 360 pop.), are the Sunrise Mines. In 1900 
C. A. Guernsey obtained options on the mining claims in this vicinity and sold 
them to a Colorado company. The GLORY HOLE, or pit of the Sunrise Mines, is 
so large and deep at present that both the Colorado and Wyoming Capitols could 
be housed in it with room to spare, while the Washington Monument could be 
placed on the lowest level and would rise only a few feet above its rim. Men at 
work on the far side of the pit resemble pygmy cave-dwellers; ladders and ore 
cars cling to sheer walls. Ore from the mines is shipped to smelters at Pueblo, 
Colo. Early explorations indicated that quarrying operations had been carried on 
in this pit by the Indians, the material probably having been -used by them for 

At 197 m. is the junction with a dirt road. 

Left on this road to WARM SPRINGS, 2.5 m., also known as the Emigrant's 
Laundry Tub, which was on the Oregon Trail. This large spring has an abundant 
flow at a temperature of 70 degrees throughout the year, and remains unfrozen 
during the coldest weather. 

A major problem of trail travelers at least the tidier members of the trains 
was that of keeping their clothes clean and in order. On the plains clothes usually 
had to be washed with cold water because there was relatively little if any wood 
near the camp sites and buffalo chips did not make a very hot fire. Most of the 
migrants failed to realize in advance what kind of clothing would be suitable for 
the overland journey and how hard travel would be on their garments. This was 
particularly true of the women. By the time the trains reached the mountains the 
members were often clothed in rags or in highly unsuitable garments. One traveler 
told of seeing women in beribboned party dresses heavily coated with dust and 
grime. Few people took enough shoes with them and many had to travel the last 
miles with their feet wrapped in rags. 

Fremont camped by this spring in 1842. Nearby is an old limekiln, which was 
probably used in the 1870's or 1880's in the purification of the water. 

At 198.5 m. is the junction with a dirt road. 

Left on this road a short distance to COLD SPRING, an early landmark. On the 
hill above the spring are rifle pits, believed to have been thrown up by a band 
of whites when protecting themselves against Indians. 

US 26 runs almost due west towards LARAMIE PEAK (alt. 10,274) , 
which rises sheer in the distance. 

At 210.5 m. is the junction with US 87; R. here on US 87, which 
follows the North Platte. 

shoe Creek, near which was timber and good pasturage. In 1868 an 

176 The Oregon Trail 

attack was made on the place by Ogallala and Miniconjou led by Chief 
Crazy Horse. 

The place was occupied by Marion Thornburg, William Warrell, 
and John R. Smith. On the morning of March 19 their dogs were so 
uneasy that two of the men went out to investigate. They found 60 or 
70 Indians lurking nearby and hastily returned to the house, which was 
surrounded by a stout stockade. Shortly afterwards the Indians came 
into the open, and the white men fired on them, killing two and wound- 
ing two. Though the band was large, the men felt reasonably safe be- 
hind the stockade because they had plenty of food and ammunition and 
the well was within the enclosure. The Indians, however, burned the 
stockade and the stables. Toward evening the aborigines retired but 
shortly afterward returned. About midnight the Indians set fire to the 
house and the whites retreated to a cellar under the kitchen ; there they 
began hastily to dig a tunnel. While the Indians whooped and howled 
about what they believed to be a funeral pyre, the besieged men made 
their escape. They hurried to Twin Springs where two men were living; 
these joined them on a retreat to Fort Laramie after having cached pro- 
visions under the floor of their shack and set the house on fire. On the 
following day they met a trapper, who joined the party. Shortly after- 
ward, near Little Cottonwood Creek, the Indians discovered them; the 
whites hid for a time in a wooded ravine but when they attempted to 
steal away from it two of them were killed and a third, wounded and 
on the point of being captured, killed himself. The remaining men de- 
fended themselves as best they could and finally managed to effect a 
truce by offering the Indians the articles cached under the Twin Springs 
ruins; the Indians, according to their code, had avenged the death of 
those killed in the initial attack and were willing to withdraw. 

GLENDO, 233.7 m. (4,718 alt., 201 pop.), is a trade center for 

^BRIDGER'S CROSSING, 246.6 m., was used by some migrants on 
the trail. A ferry is said to have once been operated here by Jim Bridger 
for a short time. 

At 247.6 m. is the junction (R) with US 20, which unites with US 
87 westward, whence the highway runs through badlands dotted with 
unusual sandstone formations. 

DOUGLAS, 260.9 m. (4,815 alt., 1,917 pop.), the seat of Converse 
County, is the trade center of a livestock-raising and farming area. 
There are oil wells in the vicinity. Large shade trees line the straight 

During the 1870's and 1880's Fort Fetterman, about eight miles 
northwest, was the supply point for the stockmen of the country and 
a small settlement grew up near it. When in 1886 it was announced 
that the Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley Ry. would extend its lines 
westward from Chadron, Neb., foresighted people began to settle not 

Nebraska-Wyoming, Alternate Route 177 

^^-^- ^-~~^^-^--~- ^^-^-^-~~~~~-^-~~- ^- ^^^^^^^^^^^^f*^-^-^^^- ^-^-^^ ^^^^^^^^-^-^-^- 

far from the confluence of Antelope Creek and the North Platte River. 
Before long the ranchmen, hearing of the larger stocks of merchandise 
in the new tent town, began to come here to do their trading. 

The first church services in Tent Town were held in May, 1886, in 
a saloon, by two theological students. The altar consisted of a card 
table. The bar nearby was partly hidden by a new wagon cover and 
only a few bottles remained in sight. 

Tent Town soon had three streets and a newspaper, Bill Barlow's 
Budget. The editor of the paper, Morris Clark Barrow, who wrote under 
the pseudonym "Bill Barlow," gained much attention for his philosophic 
and humorous writings. For two years Barrow was city editor of the 
Laramie Boomerang under Bill Nye. 

About June 1, 1886, it was announced that a railway station and 
townsite would be established some 10 miles east of Fetterman on a 
sagebrush flat, on the opposite side of the river. Shortly afterwards, 
when the Pioneer Townsite Company had laid out the new town of 
Douglas, Tent Town was put on wheels and in three days was moved 

On August 29 the first passenger train arrived, loaded with people, 
and the sale of lots was started. For the next 60 days there was con- 
tinuous pounding of hammers from daylight until dark. Five brick 
buildings and many shacks were built. Construction crews mingled with 
soldiers and cowboys and for a time the new town had a turbulent life. 
During the first year of its existence there were 25 saloons, but before 
long the number decreased to six. 

Livestock men were attracted to the region because of the abundance 
of water and the good pasturage. One of the oldest cattle brands in the 
State, the SO, was in use nearby in 1870. In the 1880's many big outfits 
ran cattle into the area from Texas and the range was soon very much 
overstocked. When the March storms of 1887 came on cattle died by 
the thousands. 

Although several large cattle and sheep outfits grazed in the vicinity, 
the lands were gradually homesteaded, and fences forced the cattle 
kings to move their herds and flocks to more remote places. The slow- 
ness with which the land was claimed was owing to the fact that the 
land office for the area was in Cheyenne, about 200 miles away by 
wagon road. 

The STATE FAIR GROUNDS, on the bank of the Platte River at the 
west end of Center St., occupy several acres. The buildings include 
racing stables, grandstands, poultry houses, exhibition halls, a 4-H 
club building, and the Old Timers' Log Cabin. The Old Timers' Cabin, 
built of logs in 1926, with funds gathered by popular subscription, 
houses many relics of the frontier days and is the headquarters of the 
Wyoming Pioneer Association. 

At 263.4 m. is the junction with a graded road. 

178 The Oregon Trail 

Right on this road to the SITE OF FORT FETTERMAN, 7 m., about a quar- 
ter mile from the right bank of La Prele Creek on a small plateau. The fort was 
established July 19, 1867, and named in honor of Capt. William J. Fetterman, who 
was killed by Indians near Fort Phil Kearney on Dec. 21, 1866. 

After the garrisoning of Fetterman, a number of Arapaho of the Black Coal 
and Little Wolf bands and Cheyenne of the Dull Knife groups traded here, but 
they ceased their visits late in 1876 and 1877. 

On March 1, 1876, Gen. George Crook left Fort Fetterman with 10 companies 
of cavalry, two companies of infantry, and 10 pack trains, for the purpose of 
forcing the Indians to stay on the reservations; during the following summer con- 
flicts were frequent. In November of that year Gen. Ronald S. McKenzie led a 
large force from the Powder River territory, where they encountered Dull Knife's 
Dand of Cheyenne. In the battle that followed, 173 lodges and all of the Indians' 
ammunition and supplies were destroyed. 

At 283.7 m. (1) is the GRAVE OF A. H. UNTHANK, -who died July 2, 
1850, while on his way to the Oregon country. It is a more substantial 
marker than was usually put over the grave of an emigrant. 

During the summer months plants and flowers of many kinds cover 
the prairies here with color. In this section of the State Indian paint- 
brush, the Wyoming State flower, grows along the mountain streams 
and on the plains. The wild iris, fireweed, blue violet, mountain phlox, 
sweet pea, scarlet bugler, forget-me-not, rose gentian, checker bloom, 
sand lily, prairie larkspur, and others are on the foothills and the 
higher plateaus. The dandelion, soapweed, round and bayonet cacti, 
nodding wild onion, white loco, showy milkweed, and pussy willows 
are native to the plains. The common sagebrush, as well as the prickly 
pear, is abundant in the arid foothills. 

GLENROCK, 288.5 m. (4,900 alt., 819 pop.), has good accom- 
modations. The refineries of the Continental Oil Company are west of 
the town. A 30-acre park, with seats, benches and tables, ovens, swings 
and other conveniences, is just north of the tourist camps on the eastern 
outskirts. The town is the trade and social center of a large area and 
has facilities unusual in a place with such a small population. 

The Upper Platte Indian Agency, established here near Deer Creek 
Station, a telegraph outpost, formed the nucleus of the town. As fur- 
ther settlement took place the site was called Mercedes. Later William 
Nuttall found coal and developed mines nearby and the settlement was 
renamed in his honor. Glenrock came to life with the building of the 
railroad in 1886 and 1887. 

Left from Glenrock a dim trail leads to MORMON CANYON, 5 m., on Deer 

Creek. A party of Mormons came here in 1853 to grow foodstuffs for migrating 
Saints. They remained for several years. Traces of irrigation ditches and the ruins 
of buildings are visible. 

As the Mormon Pioneers creaked slowly along through this area 
they found the route more difficult but enjoyed the new scenes and 
plentiful meals of game. William Clayton was taking pleasure in the 

Nebraska-Wyoming, Alternate Route 179 

operation of his "roadometer" and guarded it with care. Other migrants 
visited the Mormons to examine it, but the Saints maintained a reserve 
toward them based on past experience with "gentiles." At intervals 
Clayton erected signboards with mileages and directions for the benefit 
of the Saints who were to follow the pathfinders. Clayton and others 
constantly consulted the report of Fremont, which was their guidebook, 
and checked their observations against his. Later the Mormons prepared 
their own guidebook for the use of their travelers. 

Near La Bonte Creek they had met some friendly trappers who 
told the Pioneers of the difficulty of the Upper Platte Crossing. Apple- 
ton Harmon wrote of this meeting: "they gave us the privilege of a 
boat that they had on the North fork of the platte a bout 5 days drive 
a head to do our ferrying in several waggons ware sent a head sutch 
as before those emegrants that are jest a head of us all so to kell some 
buffalo for they say they are plenty on the river." 

PARKERTON, 292.5 (5,000 alt., 367 pop.), is in the heart of the 
Big Muddy oil fields. Oil was first developed in this basin in 1915. 
Maximum production was reached in 1919 when the field yielded about 
8,000 barrels a day, from about 200 wells. In 1936 daily production 
averaged about 1,500 barrels. 

At the railroad station here is the GRAVE OF ADA MAGILL, aged 6 
years, who died July 3, 1864. The child was a member of a wagon train 
bound for Oregon. 

EVANSVILLE (R), 309.4 m. (5,103 alt., 174 pop.), is chiefly a 
collection of White Eagle and Texas Oil Company refineries. 

CASPER, 312.4 m. (5,103 alt., 16,619 pop.) (see WYOMING 
GUIDE), the second largest city in Wyoming, was named for Fort 

In 1885 the Chicago & North Western Ry., then operating from 
Omaha to Chadron, Neb., announced plans to extend its line to this 
place, where settlement had already begun. Business was being carried 
on in tents and crudely constructed shacks but there were nearly a hun- 
dred residents when the first passenger train arrived on June 15, 1888. 

Soon after the establishment of the new town a rumor spread that 
gold had been discovered in Casper Mountain; businessmen, laborers, 
cowboys, and many others dropped their work, bought picks and shovels, 
and started for the hills. For a time there was intense local excitement, 
and then it died as suddenly as it had arisen. 

In the fall of 1888 drilling for oil was begun in the Salt Creek 
field. The first oil refinery in the State was erected here in 1895. It 
was a number of years later, however, that the real oil boom began. 
North of the city are the Teapot Dome oil fields. 

It was not uncommon at night during the oil boom times to see 
2,500 people milling up and down unpaved Center Street, since there 
was no other place to go. Street fights were common and were enjoyed 

180 The Oregon Trail 

by the crowds. The Bucket-of-Blood Saloon was the hangout of drillers, 
construction workers, and roustabouts at the rigs, and a fight could be 
witnessed there at almost any time. 

In the city is a PIONEER MONUMENT, erected in 1911. It is an obelisk, 
40 feet in height, of Indiana limestone. 

On June 11, 1847, the Pioneer Saints reached a point near the site 
of this town. They decided to camp because two companies of Mis- 
sourians were but half a mile ahead of them and Missourians had been 
among their bitterest enemies in the east. Harmon reported: "we got 
up our teams at a bout 2 AM. and after confabulating for a half hour 
a bout whether to cross the river here or to go a bout 4 ms a head 
whare our brethering that had gone to git possesion of the ferry who 
as we under Stood by Br Chesley who came back & met us was buiseyly 
engaged in ferreing 2 of the small bands of the Oregon emegrants 25 
waggons in all for which they received a bout 33 dollars in remunera- 
tion they took the loading acrost in the Leeather Skift & drawed the 
waggons through the river by means of a rope fastend to the end of 
the tonge & thus drawing them through they rec in payment flour at 
$250 per hhd Bacon at 6 cts per Ib &c we traveled 4 ms & camped in 
a % circle on the bank of a river % a mile east of the place whare 
they ware aferrying, our H unters had killed 3 buffalo which was verry 
fat a black bair 2 or 3 cubs & several antilope." 

Left from Casper on a graveled road that runs westward between the junc- 
tion of US 87 and US 87E to Upper Platte Crossing, 2.5 m. Thrifty Brigham 
Young was delighted with the amount of business being carried on near here 
by the Saints who had gone ahead to pre-empt the boats left by the trappers; 
the men had added to their ferrying facilities by building two rafts. The main 
body of the Pioneers arrived at this point on Saturday and lingered several days. 
Young had intended to take the whole party forward with him; but as bodies of 
emigrants willing to pay for ferriage continued to arrive and word came that a 
large train, possibly of Saints, was advancing along the Platte, he felt it wise to 
allow some of the brethren to remain behind and continue business, which was 
paid for chiefly with grain. The Saints had only a limited amount of foodstuffs 
and the season was too far advanced to make it possible to raise crops that sea- 
son, when they finally decided on a place of settlement. Elder Woodruff wrote: 
"It looked as much of a miracle to me to see our flour and meal bags replenished 
in the Black Hills as it did to have the children of Israel fed with manna in the 

Appleton Harmon was one of nine men selected to remain and help run the 
ferry. Young left strict instructions, which the brethren agreed to follow, as to 
how they should conduct and protect themselves. As reported in Harmon's pho- 
netic spelling, Brigham Young instructed: "be a greed in all your operations act 
ing in concrt keeping to gether continually and not Scatter to hunt &c and at 
your leasure moments put you up a comfortable room that will afford your selves 
& horses protection a gainst the Indians should a war party pass this way, but 
first of all See that your boats is properly Secured by fastining raw hides over 
the tops of the ca noos or some better process compleete the landings, and be care 
fol of the lives & property of all you labor for remembering that you are respon- 
sible for all accidents through your carelessness or negligence and that you retain 
not that which belongeth to the Traveler 

Neb. Hist. Soc. 

SETTLERS (1864) 


Nebraska-Wyoming, Alternate Route 181 

"For one waggon familey &c you will charge $1.50 cts payment in flour & 
provisions at State Prices or $3.00 in cash but you had better take young stock 
at a fair valuation in Stead of cash & a team if you shall want the same to 

"Should general Emegration cease before our breathering arive Cash your 
effects & re turn to laramie and wait their arival, and come on with them to 
the place of location, and we promise you that the Superintendant of the ferry 
Shall never lack wisdom or knowledge to devise & council you in righteousness 
and for your best good, if you will all ways bee a greed and in all humilety watch 
& pray with out ceasing 

"When our Emegration Companies arive if the river is not fordable ferry them 
and let them who are able pay a reasonable sum the council of their camp will 
decide who are able to pay 

"Let a Strict a count becept of everry mans labor also of all waggons & teams 
ferried and of all receipts & ex penditures allowing each man acording to his 
labour and justice, and if eney one feels a greeved let heim not murmer but be 
patient until you come up and let the council decide, and the way not to bee a 
greeved is for everry man to love his brother as him self 

"By order and in behalf of the council we remain your Brothering in Christ 

Brigham Young President" 

Among those left behind were Luke Johnson, who was an amateur doctor and 
dentist, and Davenport, the blacksmith; Young had seen the heavy demand for 
the services of these craftsmen and determined to use them to augment the Mor- 
mon community funds. After the main body of Pioneers started westward those 
who remained behind decided to move the ferrying equipment a short distance 
eastward to what seemed a better position. They discovered that three other men, 
who had come in advance of an Oregon-bound train, had also started a ferrying 
business, but the equipment of the rivals was primitive and the men lacked skill, 
so, by a judicious lowering of the established rates considered a justifiable de- 
parture from Young's instructions the Saints soon achieved a monopoly. Two 
Saints who were sent back to Deer Creek (Glenrock) for some "stone coal'* 
erected a signboard there: 


"To the ferry 28 ms the ferry good & safe maned by experienced men black 
Smithing horse & ox Shoing done all so a wheel right 

Thomas Grover," 

On Sunday, July 27, 1847, Harmon wrote: "a Company of 11 wagons drove 
up Mr Cox foreman we ferryed them for $16.00 in cash & done $3.75 worth 
of blacksmithing for them Capt Brown arived with his Battalion a bout 
8 A. M. Capt Saunders company arived a bout 2 P. M. and refused to pay 
us 75cts a waggon for ferrying them & so they went up the river a bout 2 ms 
& Swam the river & got a raft that was left thare by Some of the former 
Companies & commenced operations Some Jobs of Smithing Commenced for 
Capt Browns Company 7 of Capt Saunders Co got Sick of raft ing & returned 
to us & we ferryed them for 75cts a wagon the morning of the 28th" 

But "Capt" Saunders' attempt to take his company across without expense 
was unsuccessful'. On July 30 Harmon reported: "Capt Brown & his Detachment 
Started asall So Amasa Lyman we ferryed Capt Saunders Co or the remainder 
of it who had refused to give us 75 cts a waggon they havein worked 2 days 
& got 2 waggons a crost only, & then returned to us & wated until we ferryed 
90 waggons that ware a head of them & they paid us $1.00 a waggon for the 
12 waggons remaining we then ferryed Capt Higgins Co of 23 waggons for 
$23.00 in cash allso Capt McClays Co of 23 waggons & Capt Taylors Co of 12 
waggons & Capt Patter Sons Co of 16 waggons & done $6.50 worth of black 
Smithing this day we have ferryed 73 waggons & made 2 extra trips 2 of the 
trips Namely, Pugmyer & East man Stade here on a furlow." 

182 The Oregon Trail 

By July 1 Harmon wrote that the "brethering" were "all verry tiard and 
wanted rest," but Oregon emigrants continued to arrive in large numbers. On July 

3 they had an eastbound visitor who bore a letter from "prest" Young. Harmon 
recorded it as follows: 

"June 29, 1847 Little Sandy 

"Mr. Thomas Grover and Company 

"we introduce to your notice Mr. James Bridger who we expect ed to have 
seen at his fort he is now on his way to Fort Laramie we wish you to cross 
him& his 2 men on our a count BY he was agoing to Laramie & expected to 
return to his fort in time to Pilot the Pioneers through to Salt Lake he said 
that he could take us to a place that would Suit us, thare ware 4 of our Soldiers 
form Browns detachment came back with Mr Bridger on a furlow & was agoing 
to the States." 

The throngs of customers continued to arrive and on July 8 Harmon noted: 
"thare was done $6.40cts worth of black Smithing & Some other jobs commenced 
Luke Johnson got |3.00 for cleaning teeth & Doctoring which was put into the 
jineral pile." 

On July 16 the Saints witnessed a social event: "Stil remained here gitting 
work done near evening a young man by the name of Jacob Cooper was married 
to Kittean Huckelbee by ex Squire Tullis of said Company from the State of 

The brethren accumulated a considerable number of cattle by their labors; 
in caring for them they were "assisted by Yerick a faithful watch dog and 3 or 

4 other assistant dogs." 

When the tourist season was over the Mormon ferrymen went on to Fort 
Bridger for the winter, as Young had told them to do, and in the spring Harmon 
returned to Winter Quarters to help his family on the overland journey. 

When Lorenzo Sawyer reached this place, in 1850, Mormons were still carry- 
ing on the ferry business, but by this time they were willing to accept cash 
payments. The charge was $4 a wagon and $.25 for each head of cattle. The 
Mormons had made additions to the equipment; a pulley and ropes drew some 
wagons across the stream. Because of the time needed to take large numbers 
across the river, various traders came here at intervals to do business while the 
travelers awaited their turns. In June, 1850, when Kit Carson was here with a 
herd of horses and mules for sajle, the banks of the river were so covered with 
travelers that people had to register and wait their turns for ferriage; some- 
times it would be nearly a week before they could obtain service and fore- 
sighted companies approaching this place sent horsemen ahead to make reser- 
vations for them. The well-to-do also offered higher pay for quick service. 

In 1859 Louis Canard built a thousand-foot bridge of cedar logs on cribs 
filled with stone. The structure, which cost about $60,000, was called Platte 
Bridge. Indians found the spot favorable for raiding wagon trains and in July, 
1859, a few droops were stationed here, but they were withdrawn in the following 
April. More troops were sent in May, 1862, but a formal post was not estab- 
lished until 1863. One of the early telegraph stations was here; the Indians 
repeatedly broke the wires and burned the poles in the area. 

In the summer of 1865 some three thousand Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho 
assembled under cover on the hills north of the river in the neighborhood of 
the bridge, planning to attack it. On the morning of July 25 a small Govern- 
ment wagon train, consisting of 14 teams, 5 wagons, and 10 soldiers of the 
Eleventh Kansas Cavalry, started for this place from Sweetwater Station (see 
below), where they had taken supplies for troops. They camped at Willow 
Spring. During the night 21-year-old Lt. Caspar W. Collins, who had gone to 
Fort Laramie to obtain horses for his men, arrived here on his way to Sweet- 
water Station, where he was then stationed. Collins learned that a large party 
of Indians had appeared in the afternoon and had driven off a number of horses 
from the Government herd. A detachment from the garrison, pursuing the Indians, 
had killed High-Backed Wolf, a chief. 

Nebraska-Wyoming, Alternate Route 183 

Word came that the wagon train encamped at Willow Spring was in great 
danger. The commander of the troops here ordered Lieutenant Collins to pro- 
ceed with 25 men to relieve and escort the train to Platte Bridge. When the 
group advanced across the bridge they were immediately attacked by Indians. 
Collins and four of his men lost their lives. The wagon train that Collins and 
his detachment had attempted to escort to the fort was later practically annihil- 
ated (see below}. 

In November, 1865, the post at Platte Bridge was named FORT CASPER in 
honor of Lt. Caspar Collins. A clerical error resulted in the spelling, "Casper." 
The post and the bridge have been reconstructed. 

Left from Casper on US 87E, which runs southwest through a stretch 
of rolling prairie and semidesert country along the North Platte River. 

At 321.7 m. is BESSEMER BEND, a pleasant valley at the west 
end of the Casper Mountain foothills and along the east bank of the 
North Platte River. The ranches in this valley are protected from the 
winds that usually sweep down over the country, and a large spring on 
the west side of the river furnishes water for use in irrigation. 

In 1812 Robert Stuart and his six companions, on their return trip 
from Astoria to St. Louis, erected a cabin in this bend near where 
Poison Spider Creek flows into the river. 

On December 10, Stuart wrote: "Relying with confidence on the 
snugness of our retreat which from its isolated situation we supposed 
sufficiently concealed to elude even the prying investigation of Indian 
spies, we were astonished and confounded at hearing the savage yelp 
early this morning in the vicinity of our Hut Seizing our arms we 
rushed out when twenty three Arapohays made their appearance and 
after the first surprise was over (on either side) they advanced in a 
friendly manner, telling us they were on a war excursion against the 
Absarokas who had (some time ago) stole a great many of their Horses, 
taken some of their women prisoners & were then on a River six days 
march to the Northward where they were going in hopes of obtaining 
revenge. . . ." 

The following day Stuart added : "The behaviour of the Indians was 
far more regular and decent than we had any reason to expect from a 
War party; they threw up two breastworks of Logs where the whole 
excepting Cheif and his Deputy betook themselves to rest tolerably 
early; these two we permitted to sleep in our hut, and one of us re- 
mained awake alternately all night They all ate voraciously and de- 
parted peaceably about 10 A.M. carrying with them a great proportion 
of our best meat in which we willingly acquiesced They begged a 
good deal for ammunition but a peremptory refusal soon convinced 
them that all demands of that nature were unavailing and they laugh- 
ingly relinquished their entreaties. . . ." 

Fearing that the Indians might return in a different mood, the party 
packed and left the hut on December 13, moving eastward to camp in 
the vicinity of the site of modern Torrington (see above). 

Nearby is the SITE OF BESSEMER, a town established in the summer 

184 The Oregon Trail 

of 1888 and called by its enthusiastic citizens the "Queen City of the 
West." The site was surveyed, 49 blocks were platted, and grounds 
were reserved "upon which to erect the future capitol buildings of 
Wyoming." For a time a stage ran twice daily between Casper and 
Bessemer. In 1889, when Natrona was separated from Carbon County, 
Bessemer was a rival of Casper for the county seat. It is said that at 
least three times as many votes were cast as there were men, women, 
and children in Bessemer; Casper electors were said also to have exer- 
cised their franchise more than once that day. Only the Bessemer vote 
was thrown out, however, and Casper became the seat of Natrona 
County. Two years later the county took over the bridge at Bessemer 
because of unpaid taxes. The town soon disappeared. 

Southwestward the highway runs through BESSEMER CANYON, 
also called Jackson Canyon, for William H. Jackson, who served as 
photographer in Dr. F. V. Hayden's first Geological Survey party in 
this area. The route skirts the eastern bank of the Platte River for two 
miles. From the western end of the canyon the PEDRO MOUNTAINS, 
with GARFIELD PEAK of the Rattlesnake Range beyond, are visible (R). 

At 322.7 m. is the junction with a road. 

Right on this dirt road to THE GOOSE EGG RANCH, 2.5 m., whose large stone 
house was built in 1880. The lumber, hardware, and other material were hauled 
by freight teams from Cheyenne, a distance of 225 miles. This was the scene 
of an incident described in Owen "Wister's The Virginian; two cowboys decided 
to play a joke on their friends who were attending a dance here, and secretly 
exchanged the clothing and blankets on the sleeping infants of the dancers. The 
parents did not discover the mistake until early morning when they had driven 
many miles on their homeward journeys. 

The dirt road runs through the supposed RED BUTTES BATTLEFIELD, 
4 m. In this battle which occurred July 26, 1865, 21 out of 24 men were killed. 
The men, under the command of Sgt. Amos J. Custart, left Sweetwater Station 
on July 25 (see above), after having been warned that Indians were gathering in 
the neighborhood. Nonetheless, Custart refused to make a forced march to the 
Platte Bridge and went into camp for the night near Willow Spring. In the 
meantime Collins was being started from Platte Bridge Station to escort the 
wagons to safety. Custart's company was attacked by warriors of five tribes: 
Cheyenne, Sioux, Arapaho, Blackfeet, and Comanche. Three of the whites escaped 
by running to the river. The others sought the shelter of the wagons, which 
were quickly corralled. The Indians rolled logs in front of themselves as breast- 
works, gradually overwhelmed the soldiers, and mutilated their bodies beyond 

At 324.7 m. are the RED BUTTES (R). There is a sharp contrast 
between the fertile Platte River Valley and the alkali and sand country 
to the west. A sign here says that the Battle of Red Buttes was fought 
here on July 26, 1865, but the actual site of the battle (see above) is 
some four miles from the buttes. 

FREMONT'S ISLAND, 338.7 m., on the west bank of the North 
Platte River, is the site of a camp of Lt. John C. Fremont when on his 
first trip to the Far West in 1842. 

Nebraska-Wyoming, Alternate Route 185 

ALCOVA, 342.9 m. (6,000 alt.), is in a beautiful valley encircled 
by rock-ribbed hills. The townsite was purchased in 1891 by an eastern 
syndicate; a score or more hot springs flowed at that time from the 
solid rock walls of the nearby canyon and the promoters of the town 
attempted to popularize the place as a health resort. Despite the efforts 
of the company, the settlement remained small for more than 40 years. 
In 1933 new life was injected into the town as a result of the Con- 
gressional appropriation for an irrigation project. 

1. Left from Alcova on a graveled road to the major site of the CASPER- 
700,000 was originally earmarked for this project by the Public Works Adminis- 
tration, but the amount was later reduced to $7,000,000. The project includes 
the Seminoe Dam, the Alcova Diversion Dam, and the Casper main canal. It has 
two units, containing 35,000 acres and 31,000 acres apiece. 

2. Left from Alcova on a trail to the Grand Canyon of the Platte in which 
are the FIERY NARROWS, 7 m., so named by Robert Stuart and his party, 
who were here on October 31, 1812. The name of the canyon has been changed 
a number of times; it is now commonly called Pathfinder Canyon. On the 
northern rim, 500 feet above the turbulent waters of the river, are the REMAINS 
OF A CABIN, whose roof is a ledge projecting 16 or 18 feet. The sides, chimney, 
and fireplace are built of flat rocks. A hole in the front wall, evidently a door- 
way, was probably covered with cowhides in winter. A high window in the eastern 
wall commands a wide view. It is said that in the early days half a doze cattle 
rustlers used this cabin as a hide-out. 

3. Left from Alcova on a rough, lonely trail to MONUMENT CREEK, 18 m., 
and a spot marked with a slab of rough Pennsylvania granite. S. Morris Wain of 
Haverford, Pa., and C. H. Strong of New York City went West early in the 
spring of 1888 on a hunting and prospecting trip. They had a wagon, a team of 
mules, and two saddle ponies; a man named O'Brien had been hired in Denver 
to act as cook, guide, and teamster. Near Rock Creek, Wyo., they found game in 
abundance and remained in that vicinity two days. Half a month later the bodies 
of two men were discovered here by cowboys riding the range. Various clues, 
including a letter that had been torn up and scattered near a campfire, established 
the identities of the murdered men as Wain and Strong. O'Brien, the murderer, 
was trailed to Aspen, Colo., where he had disposed of the mules and other 
property stolen from the travelers. From Aspen he went to Colorado Springs, 
and there stole some horses. He was later captured, tried and convicted of horse 
stealing, and sentenced to 14 years in the penitentiary. He was never tried for the 
Wyoming murders. 

West of Alcova US 87E runs through open country where antelope 
are frequently seen; it leaves the North Platte banks. 
At 348.9 m. is the junction with a graveled road. 

Left on this road to the PATHFINDER DAM, 6 m., completed in 1919 at an 
approximate cost of $1,200,000. The dam is 95 feet wide and 218 feet high. At 
the base are tunnels and a culvert through which three huge columns of water 
rush forth in a foaming spray. The Pathfinder Reservoir spreads over 22,700 
acres. Large diversion tunnels, cut through solid granite, are on both sides of 
the river. 

At 355.9 m. is the junction with a dirt road. 

186 The Oregon Trail 

Right on this road to the SITE OF BOTHWELL, 2 m. During the summer 
of 1889 the town had a store, a blacksmith shop, a newspaper called the 
Sweetwater Chief, a post office, and a saloon owned by Jim Averell. But the 
owner suspended publication of the newspaper for lack of news and support, 
the storekeeper moved away, the blacksmith shop was closed, and the settlers 
drifted away. Two graves remain those of Jim Averell and his consort, Ella 
Watson. Ella, known as Cattle Kate, ran a hog ranch near AverelPs saloon and 
store. Averell's place was a hang-out for rustlers, though cowboys also came there 
for a night's carousal; before they left the place Averell usually had all their 
money and Cattle Kate had the promise of her brand on from one to half a dozen 
calves. In a few months Kate's fenced-in pasture held a herd of questionable 
origin. Cattle owners of the neighborhood decided that drastic measures must 
be adopted. Accordingly, a group of cowmen took Averell and the woman to 
Spring Creek gulch, some five miles from Averell's place, and hanged them 
from the limbs of a scrub pine. The deputy sheriff, who later found the bodies, 
brought them back here for burial. In time six men accused of the lynching 
were arrested but the case was dismissed. 

At 366.9 m. the highway is across the river from the SITE OF 
SWEETWATER STATION at the Sweetwater Crossing. The highway here 
runs close to the Oregon Trail. James Abbey found the Sweetwater "a 
small stream of clear water, twenty yards wide, with a very swift cur- 
rent. The country is quite barren and grass very short; no wood, even 
for culinary purposes, our substitute for which is wild sage and buffalo 
chips. Near this point are several small lakes, the water of which has 
evaporated, leaving deposits or incrustations of carbonate of soda. They 
resemble ponds of frozen water. Several trains of emigrants have here 
supplied themselves with saleratus for culinary purposes. . . ." 

Sweetwater Station was a military post established by the Govern- 
ment for the protection of travelers on the trail. Fights with the Indians 
were frequent in this vicinity. On April 3, 1863, Indians, presumably 
Cheyenne, attacked the station, but were driven off after they had se- 
verely wounded one soldier. 

In 1849 Appleton Harmon, sent from Salt Lake City to take up his 
work again at the ferry, wrote of an incident in this area : 

"While passing from Independance Rock to Willow Springs a party 
of Crow Indians came up with us and traveled along with us. as we 
ware passing large herds of Buffalo & antilope we though to avail our 
Selves of a Supply of the former, and acordingly commenced our pur- 
suit, the indians Joined in the chace and one of the expert ones Seemed 
to take the lead Charged upon a herd and run them until the fattest 
ones began to lag behind then selected his choice, & prohibited eneyone 
to fire at it until he give the Signal they chaced the Cow to the road 
and to the verry place whare we ware to camp then gave the Signal 
when a Shower of arrows & musketry was pourd into the fatieuged 
animal which brought her to the ground we drove up our waggons and 
camped for the night, dressed the Buffalo and kept a dilegent watch 
through the night for fear of treacherey and next day proceeded on 
accompanied by the Indian party who ware Swaped for theirs some 

Nebraska-Wyoming, Alternate Route 187 

times gitting 2 & 3 for one ... we sloped at the Willow Springs for 
our noon halt whare we finished our trades and after our refreshment 
Started on and Br. M. D. Hambleton haveing taried a fiew maments in 
trying to make a nother trade, as we ware perhaps 3 or 4 hundred 
yards distant and just passed over a little hill one Indian catched his 
horse the others pulled him off and gave him in exchange a quiver Bow 
& 3 arrows and exclamed in Broken English Swap Swap, acompaning 
the expresion with a sighn Signifying the Same they then mounted their 
horses and drove off their prize in a South wester ly direction direction 
over the Sand hills at the light of Speed and by the time Br. Hamble- 
ton came up with us and had told his Story the red skims ware out of 
Sight and probablly 2 miles distant." 

In April, 1850, a General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ 
of Latter-Day Saints meeting at Salt Lake City appointed Harmon an 
elder of the Church and drafted him for a period of missionary work 
in England. Shortly afterward he set out for "the States" with other 
missionaries and resumed the writing of a daily journal. On this over- 
land journey he met many of the victims of the gold rush fever; some 
were near South Pass in May, having come from the Missouri in an 
incredibly short time 39 days. 

On May 17 he wrote: "This morning we found the river risen con- 
ciderable but forthunately we ware acrost it but the golddiggers had it 
yet to cross, it put them to conciderable trouble, meney of them got 
their goods wet and one waggon capsised, and Blankets, Kettles, Pans, 
Bottles, Buckets, and lumber could be seen floating off down the river, 
Several men jumped in to save all they could and right waggon while 
others followed down the stream to save the floating articles as they 
would come near to the shore in passing a bend in the river and Some- 
times wadeing in up to their middles to catch a passing article, in this 
way they Saved most of their goods altho their sugar flour and Salt 
would be a total loss." 

On May 21 "we met a hardy Scotch man with his all upon a wheel 
barrow going to the gold mines, he had traveled in this way one thou- 
sand miles and felt encouraged with the prospects before him and fully 
believed that he could make the journey in that way. and said he could 
travel as fast as eney of the horses or mule teams that he never lost 
eney Sleep for fear of a Stampeed or of his bosses being Stole by the 

By June 3, 1850, Harmon, now a seasoned overland traveler, had 
become exasperated by the foolhardy manner in which the men rushing 
to the mines had equipped and were conducting themselves. 

"We met a continual Stream of Emegration for the mines runing 
meney of them half prepaird frantick mad Crasey or distracted, be- 
cause a Latter-day Saint, had in California oncaped Some of the Shine- 
ing Ore, and exposed it in all its tempting excitement to a frantick 
world who with eager spetites Swallowed down everey favourable tale 

188 The Oregon Trail 

of a few forthunate ones whose Stories lost nothing by being often 
told until they had increased the desire for gold in to a dreadful malady, 
known as the (yellow) Gold fever which during this year 1850 is car- 
reying off an agregate of 40000 Souls via. an overland route to Cali- 
fornia and like the Colerey it did not give them eney to mutch warning 
to prepair for their long Journey of two thousand miles a cross ex- 
tensive plains deserts streams and ruged mountains, and they in their 
hurey had started none to well prepaird. and it was not uncomon to 
see a man that his horse had died or been stolen by the Indians, with 
a rifle and pack on his back, with Scarce a weeks provisions, following 
in the wild prevelent excitement faceing the ruged path, that I had just 
passed over a part of, then on over ruged ways, Crosing the Sirenavada 
Mts. their paths ware yet 1200 miles long yet." 

INDEPENDENCE ROCK, 367.2 m. (L), a landmark on the Ore- 
gon Trail covering an area of more than 53 acres, resembles a huge 
prehistoric animal sprawling on the arid plain. Almost every one who 
traveled through South Pass camped near the formation and before 
1850 most of them found enough energy to climb it and paint their 
names in black, red, or yellow on its face. By that year several Mor- 
mons "with stone-cutting tools were located on the spot and did a 
profitable business in cutting names on the rock at a charge of from 
one to five dollars, according to the location," as an emigrant, Theodore 
Potter, reported. Potter, who displayed the usual hostility of the period 
toward the Saints, added bitterly that after the Mormons had "made a 
nice fortune from the emigrants by cutting their names for a fancy 
price, and when they had passed on erasing their names and cutting 
others in their places." It is apparent that Potter had hoped to im- 
mortalize his name here, because he ended the story with "So transient 
is our fame." 

When Wyeth went by in 1834 the custom of autographing this rock 
was already well established ; a member of his party, examining names, 
found that two Sublettes, Captain Bonneville, Fontanelle, and many 
others had left their records for posterity on the hard face. Fremont 
in 1842 innocently left a mark that was later to embarrass him; remem- 
bering that many whose names and initials were there had already died, 
he thought of the formation as a giant gravestone and left a large cross 
on it, covered with "a black preparation of India-rubber, well calcu- 
lated to resist the influence of wind and rain." At some later time a 
group of migrants who were hostile to Roman Catholicism dynamited 
the rock at this point to destroy what they considered a symbol of that 
sect. At the time when Fremont was a candidate for the Presidency, 
the fact that he had placed the cross here was used to inflame feeling 
against him. 

No one knows who first gave the rock its name, but it is assumed 
that a party of traders did so after celebrating the Fourth of July near 

Nebraska-Wyoming, Alternate Route 189 

it. On July 4, 1862, a group of Masons held a lodge meeting on top 
of the rock and the State lodge in 1920 commemorated the event with 
a plaque that was cemented to the face. Since then a number of other 
commemorative plates have been added. On July 4, 1930, the rock was 
formally dedicated to the memory of the pioneers of the West in the 
course of the Covered- Wagon Centennial sponsored by the Oregon Trail 
Memorial Association. 

It was in this area that westbound travelers neared the most diffi- 
cult stage of their journeys. The oxen and cattle were beginning to 
show the strain of the overland haul and anxious householders spent 
their evenings anointing sore hoofs with grease and gunpowder, or 
other home remedies, and padding the yokes that were making ugly 
sores on the necks of the oxen. Many articles that had seemed indis- 
pensable at earlier stages of the journeys when fine furniture and like 
vanities were discarded were here recklessly thrown away in the hope 
of lightening the loads. In the 1850's and 1860's the area around Inde- 
pendence Rock and westward was strewn with anvils, bellows, plows, 
bar iron, stoves, kegs, axes, and even extra wheels and axletrees. 

US 87E bears southwest from Independence Rock, crossing flat sage- 
covered country along the Sweetwater to DEVIL'S GATE, 373 m., a 
cleft in the granite mountain. The river turns abruptly west and passes 
through the chasm. 

Many of the Mormon Pioneers attempted to explore the gate; the 
group that included Brigham Young reported gayly on their return that 
the devil would not let them pass. The brethren with whom Clayton 
visited the gap fired off a rifle and rolled pieces of rock into the cre- 
vasses in order to hear thundering reverberations. The walls of the 
gorge are of gray granite. A streak of black granite running from the 
bottom to the top of the southern ridge at first sight appears to be a 
roadway. Neither the appearance of the gorge nor any other evidence 
indicates that the opening was cut by erosion. It seems rather to have 
been formed by some convulsion of nature. The chasm, 330 feet deep, is 
only 30 feet wide at the bottom. Capt. Hiram M. Chittenden, who with a 
corps of engineers made an investigation of the gorge in 1901-02 with a 
view to constructing a dam, pronounced the gate "one of the most 
notable features of its kind in the world." 

During the days when the Indians were actively opposing the white 
advance, they frequently lay in ambush not far from this place. Troops 
were sent here at intervals in the 1860's to provide protection. 

In the early 1860's four women, members of a train camped at this 
point, climbed to the top of the ridge above the gorge. One of them, 18 
years old, venturing too close to the edge, fell and was killed. She was 
buried in the gorge and her grave board was inscribed with this epitaph : 

"Here lies the body of Caroline Todd 
Whose soul has lately gone to God; 

190 The Oregon Trail 

Ere redemption was too late, 

She was redeemed at Devil's Gate." 

At 375.3 m. is a monument erected in memory of the Mormon 
handcart party marooned here in 1856. This company (see SECTION 
3), containing 576 European converts, was the last to start. It was late 
in the year when they reached central Wyoming, and they met storms 
and blizzards. One by one they gave up, and groups were strung along 
the route for about a hundred miles. When Brigham Young was ap- 
prised of their plight he dispatched 20 wagons loaded with provisions. 
Members of the rescue party were shocked by the condition of those 
who were still alive and by the number that had died of cold and 
hunger. More than a hundred died near here in nine days; they were 
buried in a trench two miles above the gate. 

In telling of his journey past this place in 1843, Fremont dictated 
to bright-eyed Jessie: "Here passes the road to Oregon; and the broad 
smooth highway, where the numerous heavy wagons of the emigrants 
had entirely crushed the artemisia, was a happy exchange to our poor 

At MUDDY GAP, 386.5 m., is the junction with US 287. 

Left here on US 287, following Muddy Creek. At 47 m., in RAWLINS, is a 
junction with US 30 (see SECTION 7). 

Right from Muddy Gap on US 287, here having a graveled road- 
bed and following the early overland route for about 34 miles. (From 
this point westward there is no paved route uniting the Alternate Route 
with US 30; those following the Alternate Route west of this point, 
and particularly those considering travel through South Pass, should 
make careful inquiries locally concerning conditions of travel. This 
route is passable only during summer months. Supplies should include 
a good spare tire, a rope, and food for emergency use. Be sure gas tank 
is full.) 

US 287 runs northwest approaching the Sweetwater and then west- 
ward at the foot of the northern slope of the Green Mountains. Emi- 
grant guidebooks warned travelers of sandy and difficult roads in this 
area and gave divergent advice as to which bank of the Sweetwater 
should be followed westward. 

At 397.8 m. is SPLIT ROCK (R), a rocky ridge with a deep cleft. 
It was a landmark on the overland trail. 

At about 408.9 m. US 287 runs near the SITE OF THREE CROSS- 
INGS, a telegraph and stage station of the 1860's that was on the north 
bank of the river, near the mouth of Sage Hen Creek. 

The highway traverses country that is pungent with the odor of 
sagebrush. Antelope and sage chickens are plentiful here. 

Nebraska-Wyoming, Alternate Route 191 

HUDSONS, 431.2 m., is chiefly a post office and filling station by 
the old SWEETWATER BRIDGE, on which US 287 crosses the river. Troops 
were stationed here at various times to escort the covered-wagon trains. 

The Journal of William Knox, kept during the overland journey in 
1855, contains a typical record of experiences in this area: "it is very 
Cold Lion one of my oxen came in from the herd with A sore foot 
the 11 Setterday . . . my ox is very lame we Camped 314^/2 Miles 
from the velly I got my ox thron down and dressed his foot with lard 
and gun Powder I have got two oxen lame out of the four 

"the 12 Sunday this morning we renewed our journey sore against 
my mind on account of it being Sunday I wanted the oxen to rest but 
I had to submit we traveled about Miles and Camped for the Day 

"the 13 Monday one ox left and traveled about 15 Miles 

"the 14 Tusday we renewed our journy and Crossed this smal river 
the 5 time we travled about 22 miles my ox is very lam I feel sorry 
for him this Day is A very heavy Day Sandy Roads the oxen is giving 
out My ox feel down 

"the 15 Wednesday this morning I got my ox have down and tried to 
Cut open his foot by working A small Roap back and forward within 
his Clews untill the Blood came and then power into his foot boiling 
Tar one ox died this morning Belonging to Bro. Aston there is no feed 
at this Creek we started very soon this Morning I got A Boy to drive 
my teem and I drove Lion that is the name of My ox that is lame . . . 
I did feel like sloping at this place on acount of the feed and the poor 
ox I started after the wagons with my poor ox some times upon his 
feet and some times down I got him about 7 Miles past this place and 
had to leave him where the Road wind round A section of Hills for 
three Miles I got him about A Mile from the River Bro. Burgas fur- 
nished me with one I feel thankful for the same" 

At 432.1 m. is the junction with a dirt road that follows the over- 
land trail (see below) through South Pass. 

Right (straight ahead) at the junction, continuing on US 287. (For full 
description of this route between Hudsons and Fort Washakie, see WYOMING 

At 31.7 m. from the junction near Hudsons is the junction with a dirt road 
that is passable for automobiles during the summer. (Drive with care.) This 
offers the only automobile approach to South Pass at present. Left 24 m. on this 
road which passes through ATLANTIC CITY (limited accommodations), and 
SOUTH PASS CITY, 26 m., now merely a store and gasoline station. Gold was 
discovered near here in 1842 by an employee of the American Fur Company, who 
was killed by Indians shortly afterward. It was 1855, however, before prospectors 
arrived. Mining was carried on intermittently, with little luck until 1867, when 
what became the Carissa mine was discovered. South Pass City came into ex- 
istence almost overnight and it is said to have had a population of about four 
thousand at one time. Its history is that of many old western mining towns 
that are now ghosts. In 1869 it won world-wide notoriety when William Bright, 
a tent-dwelling citizen, became a member of Wyoming's first Territorial Legisla- 
ture and, moved perhaps by the dearth of "ladies" in the area, introduced and 
put through the bill that gave women full and unrestricted franchise. 

192 The Oregon Trail 

At 35 m. on the dirt road, close to South Pass, is the junction with the 
main course of the Alternate Route (see below). 

US 287 runs northwest beyond the junction with the dirt road to South Pass 
City. LANDER, 39 m., has adequate accommodations (see WYOMING GUIDE). 

At Lander is the junction (L) with State 287; the route continues on State 
287, which runs through the Wind River Reservation. 

At 53.6 m. is a junction with a graveled road. 

Left 1 m. on this road to WIND RIVER, the original settlement on the 
reservation. Here is an old blockhouse with portholes, used by the settlers and 
soldiers as a fortification. 

The road continues to the old WIND RIVER CEMETERY, 3.2 m., which contains 
what is probably the GRAVE OF SACAJAWEA, the Boat Pusher, often mistranslated 
Bird Woman; the woman buried here died on April 4, 1884. There has been 
much controversy about the death of the woman who guided and aided the 
Lewis and Clark expedition on its trip to and from the Pacific Coast in 1804-5. 
On the basis of a single entry in a post record that the "wife of Charbonneau" 
had died, it has been contended that the Shoshone woman died when a young 
woman. Painstaking research by two people, one representing the Federal Gov- 
ernment, has amassed a record of incidents and evidence, not yet refuted, to 
prove that Sacajawea eventually left her half-breed husband, married a Comanche, 
left the Comanche reservation after his death, and rejoined her fellow-tribesmen 
about 1843. A few stories are told of her later years. One concerns her efforts 
to reconcile her relatives to the white invaders, whom she had aided in their 
first penetration of her homeland. Another tells of her constant repetition of 
the story of the "big fish" she saw on the Pacific Coast (see SECTION 14) 
and of her auditors' scornful "Liar!" There are also tales of her wanderlust, 
which moved Slade, the stage-line division agent, to give her a pass enabling 
her to visit the West Coast again. 

FORT WASHAKIE, 54.6 m. (5,570 alt., 30 pop.), is the U. S. Indian Bureau 
Agency for the Wind River (Shoshone) Indian Reservation. 

Left from US 287 on the dirt road (impassable for automobiles, 1938) branch- 
ing near Hudsons (see page 191 at 432 m.). The road follows the Sweetwater and 
also the broad course of the old trail to South Pass. The rise to this pass is gentle 
but the scenery has a grandeur that is typical of the area along the Continental 

At 442.7 m. (R) is the SITE OF ST. MARY'S TELEGRAPH STA- 
TION, also called Rocky Ridge. 

During the brief existence of the Pony Express the riders used South 
Pass. It was one of the pleasures of migrants to watch the swift passage 
of "The Mail." The riders loved to put on impressive bursts of speed 
as they passed the plodding trains, but they were grateful for the pro- 
tection afforded by the wagon trains in areas such as this, where there 
were many hiding places for Indians. Except during July, August, and 
September, when most of the trains poured over the Divide, the ride 
took courage. During the Pony Express days the panic of the Indians 
was mounting. Between reckless slaughter for beef, for pleasure, and 
for hides to make sleigh and carriage robes, extermination of the buf- 
falo was progressing rapidly. Indian fathers faced the winters without 
adequate supplies of meat their chief foodstuff for their families; 
slow, dreadful starvation seemed the fate of all the tribesmen. While 
they did not dare attack well-organized trains, lone riders were objects 
of their vengeance. 

Nebraska-Wyoming, Alternate Route 193 

The road forks Rock Creek at 449.7 m. A short distance upstream 
near this creek is the CAMPSITE OF WILLIE'S COMPANY of the 
Mormon handcart migration of 1856. This was one of the brigades that 
started westward late in the season and reached the mountains after 
winter had begun ; the first severe storm overtook them near the Upper 
Platte Crossing. The hardier struggled on. Help was rushed to the im- 
migrants from Salt Lake City (see above) but many succumbed. Most 
of the survivors were carried or escorted to Salt Lake City but a few 
men were left behind at Devil's Gate to guard the property that had 
to be abandoned on the road. 

When Appleton Harmon returned to Wyoming with his family in 
1848 on their way to Salt Lake City, he wrote feelingly of his hunting 
experiences along the Sweetwater: "when the camp was leying Still, I 
went with 5 or 6 others after tramping untill the Sun began to approach 
toward the western Horizen we discovered the object of our Search 
namely a band of Buffalo, we then Cast lots which 2 of us Should go 
and commence an assult. it fell on my Self and Ira Spaulding. after 
Crawling for Conciderable distance we keeping a Small bunch of grees- 
wood between us and the Buffalo we Suceeded in giting with in rifle 
Shot we then commenced our attact both rifle Shots took affect the 
wounded anamal ran a flew yards and Stoped and we had to wait for 
him to die not dareing to approach him while he had life for he was 
rather a ferotious loking and acting Sort of anamal. we then dressed 
the buffalo took each of us a back load and Started for our Camp and 
the Sun went behind one of the grey granate range of the Sweet waiter 
Mts. and son its gilding rays upon the Snow coverd peak gradually 
disappeards and the red Sky of the west turned grey like other parts 
of the Horison and the little Stars grew bright and twinkled in the dis- 
tance, the moon cold and pale was watched as it began to Sink behaind 
those ruged peaks that a Short time preveous had Concealec the King 
of day from our view, while we ware taking what proved to be a cir- 
cuitous route, as we passed a long the Hard beaten trails of the Buf- 
falo the Smell of the fresh meat caused the wolves to howl and follow 
our track, we after Clambering over one or 2 raged Cliffs and long! 
long! walk at last came in Sight of our Camp fires and after 2 hours 
smart walking came tired to our camp about 2 O'clock in the morning, 
and I had 40 Ibs of good Beef for my day and nights work." 

BURNT RANCH, 464.7 m., a stage and telegraph station of the 
early days, was twice burned by Indians. Here was the eastern end of 
the Lander Road, the only part of the road to Oregon that was im- 
proved by the Federal Government. It was a cut-off to Fort Hall and 
crossed the Divide through a gap north of South Pass and 500 feet 
higher. It was built between 1857 and 1859 and named for Col. F. W. 
Lander, the engineer in charge of its construction. Lander reported that 
9,000 emigrants used it in 1859, the first year it was open. It was 

194 The Oregon Trail 

planned in part because of the feud in progress between the Federal 
Government and the Mormons in order to take travelers north out of 
the Mormon Territory, but the dispute was ended by 1858; and Brig- 
ham Young provided most of the laborers required to build the road. 
After the first few years it fell into disuse, much former Oregon Trail 
traffic shifting to the Cherokee Trail when the older route was blocked 
by hostile Indians. 

SOUTH PASS, 474.7 m. (7,550 alt.), during the first half of the 
nineteenth century was used by the vast majority of those traveling be- 
tween the Missouri and the Columbia Basin. Some historians believe 
that the first white men to use the pass were the eastbound Astorians, 
but others dispute the matter. If Robert Stuart and his party happened 
to find this passage over the Continental Divide, no one in the following 
decade realized the fact; credit for the discovery is generally given to 
an Ashley party led in 1824 by Smith and Fitzpatrick. The pass is not 
impressive; the approach is so gradual that Fremont likened it to the 
slope of Capitol Hill in Washington. Travelers eager to celebrate as 
they passed from the Atlantic to the Pacific slope were often puzzled 
to know at what point the transition was actually made. Joel Palmer 
in the list of mileages at the rear of his guide-journal (see APPEN- 
DIX), in noting the Divide, departed from dry statistics long enough 
to note "Here Hail Oregon." 

Captain Bonneville, in 1832, was the first to take wagons over it. 

Fremont wrote of 'the pass: "We left our encampment with the ris- 
ing sun. As we rose from the bed of the creek, the snow line of the 
mountains stretched grandly before us, the white peaks glittering in the 
sun. . . . The ascent has been so gradual, that, with all the intimate 
knowledge possessed by Carson, who had made this country his home 
for seventeen years, we were obliged to watch very closely to find the 
place at which we had reached the culminating point. . . ." 

Lorenzo Sawyer said: "Most emigrants have a very erroneous idea 
of the South Pass, and their inquiries about it are often amusing enough. 
They suppose it to be a narrow defile in the Rocky Mountains, walled 
in by perpendicular rocks hundreds of feet high. The passage of this 
point is somehow regarded important, which causes a great rush to get 
through the 'pass.' The fact is they are in the South Pass all the way 
up the Sweet Water. The 'pass' is a valley some twenty miles wide, 
with the Sweet Water mountains on one side, and Rattlesnake moun- 
tains and the Wind River range on the other. . . . The summits of the 
whole range are buried in deep snows, which extend far down their 

In the pass is a monument commemorating the religious service held 
here by Dr. Marcus Whitman on July 4, 1836. With Dr. Whitman was 
a colleague, the Rev. H. H. Spalding; the wives of the two men were 
the first white women to reach this part of the Oregon Trail. It is re- 

Nebraska-Wyoming, Alternate Route 195 

ported that here Dr. Whitman knelt to pray with a Bible in one hand 
and an American flag in the other. 

Near the pass are two springs named, by romantic early travelers, 
Atlantic and Pacific. It was a routine boast made by each migrant that 
he had drunk a rare brew, waters of the Atlantic mixed with those of 
the Pacific. 

PACIFIC SPRINGS, 479.9 m., is by the site of a stage station of 
the same name. This place was a favorite camp site. 

The old trail closely follows Pacific Creek through a long stretch 
of sagebrush-covered country to the CROSSING OF THE LITTLE 
SANDY, 506.9 m. In Ware's Emigrant's Guide to California it was 
advised : 

"When you cross the Dry, or Little Sandy, instead of turning to 
the left and following the river, strike out across to the Big Sandy, 
twelve miles. If you get to the river along through the day, camp 'till 
near night. From the Big Sandy to Green River, a distance of thirty-five 
miles, there is not a drop of water. By starting from the Sandy at the 
cool of the day, you can get across easily by morning. Cattle can travel 
as far again by night as they can during the day, from the fact that 
the air is cool, and consequently they do not need water." 

Near South Pass the Mormon Pioneers met eight traders on their 
way back from Oregon; one of them, named Harris, decided to return 
to Fort Bridger with the Saints. Harris had six different copies of the 
Oregon newspaper, the first issue dated February 11, 1847, and also 
a copy of the California Star. The brethren examined them eagerly, but 
Clayton noted with disappointment that they found "little interesting 
news." As they descended from the pass the trader did a lively business, 
selling skins and buckskin pants, jackets, and shirts; Clayton thought 
Harris asked very high prices for his goods, and the brothers, though 
good swappers themselves, found it "difficult to obtain even a fair 
trade." Brigham Young later discouraged the greenhorn vanity that de- 
manded expensive buckskin garments. 

A far more important meeting took place near the Crossing of the 
Sandy. Here the Saints met Jim Bridger, the scout, whom they had 
planned to consult at his post about the advisability of settling near 
the Great Salt Lake. Brigham Young had read various reports of this 
region, last of all Fremont's which was much more encouraging than 
most of the others. He had also read of the possibilities of cultivation 
by irrigation and remembered the fertility of the irrigated Nile Valley. 
In tentatively selecting the Salt Lake region as a place of settlement, 
he had been governed first by the fact that the area was then a part of 
Mexico and as such not subject to the United States Government. His 
second reason was even more practical: the so-called desert region, he 
said, was not a get-rich-quick land and therefore would not attract many 
immigrants; those people, Saints included, who were willing to home- 

196 The Oregon Trail 

stead in a region demanding hard work would make a body of more 
than ordinarily desirable citizens. 

Bridger was on his way to Fort Laramie, but obligingly offered to 
camp with the Saints for the evening and tell them what he knew. 
Bridger knew the West better than any other man, but his rambling 
manner of answering questions and giving information annoyed the 
methodical Clayton. Bridger did not advise the Saints to settle around 
the Great Salt Lake, though he admitted that there was rich land around 
the northern end; at one minute he was discouraging the homeseekers 
by stories of the region's aridity and of the mean character of the In- 
dians, and in the next telling them that there was a region about a hun- 
dred miles southeast of the lake that was the promised land, if such 
a thing existed. He also said that the Utah mountains held great min- 
eral wealth, including gold and silver. Brigham Young had heard 
enough; he determined to go forward and judge the region for himself. 
Bridger promised to return and guide the Saints to desirable spots (see 
above) and continued his journey with a note from Young providing 
him free passage on the Mormon-operated Platte ferry. By the time he 
returned the Saints had already settled. 

While the majority of the emigrants for many years went south- 
west from this point to Fort Bridger, others made short cuts, turning 
west over routes followed by the fur traders, the chief of which was 
known as Sublette's Cut-off. It was not popular, however, because there 
was a 50-mile stretch between the Big Sandy and Green Rivers that 
was without water. The cut-off crossed Green River near Names Hill. 

At FARSON, 513.7 m. (6,580 alt.), is the junction with US 187 
(see SIDE ROUTE A), a paved road that branches north from US 30. 

West of US 187 a dirt road in poor condition continues along the 
general route of early overland travelers. It roughly follows the course 
of the Sandy to its junction with GREEN RIVER, 544.4 m. There was 
no special ford where the majority of the emigrants crossed this branch 
of the Colorado, though in later years a ferry was established at the 
mouth of the Sandy. The banks of Green River were soft and the lum- 
bering passage of a few wagons was enough to turn them into a morass. 

At 570.4 m., at the northern end of GRANGER, is the junction 
with US SON (see SECTION 7), 



Rock Springs Pinedale Jackson; 178.2 m. US 187. 

Route paved between Rock Springs and Sublette's Flat; oiled gravel between 
Sublette's Flat and "The Rim"; remainder paved except for a five-mile graveled 
stretch. During winter months the highway between the junction with US 89 
and Jackson is closed because of snow. Accommodations limited except in Pine- 
dale and Jackson. 

North from Rock Springs, m. (see SECTION 7), on US 187, 
which traverses rolling plains. 

PILOT BUTTE (L), 4.5 m., a formation along Bitter Creek that 
was a landmark for those traveling on the Overland Trail, now serves 
the same purpose for airplane pilots. 

THE WELLS, 25 m., a ranch on high prairies where sage hens and 
antelopes are numerous, has large corrals and sheep-shearing pens. 

EDEN, 37 m. (6,590 alt.), where cabins, supplies, and a telephone 
are available, is the center of a 28,000-acre irrigation project. In a 
pleasant little valley much scientific work is carried on by the STATE 
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION. Horace Greeley spent the night 
of August 16, 1859, in a very primitive log cabin here. 

In the neighborhood of FARSON, 41.6 m. (6,580 alt.), emigrants 
who came through South Pass crossed the Big Sandy. Here the dirt 
road that roughly follows the old trail crosses US 187. (See ALTER- 
NATE ROUTE.) James Abbey, in his A Trip Across the Plains (1850), 
wrote of his journey in this region: "The mirage has deceived us sev- 
eral times today. While worn with travel and thirsting for water, there 
might be seen, sometimes to the right, sometimes to the left, and then 
in front, representations of large rivers, lakes and streams of pure 
water; but as we would advance in the direction whence they would 
appear, they would recede or fade away, leaving nothing to view but 
the barren desert and the blighted hopes of the weary traveler . . ." 

destroyed in 1862 when the Indians made an organized attack on every 
stage station between Big Sandy and Thirty-two-Mile Creek. 

HAYSTACK BUTTE (R), 51 m., is visible for many miles as the 
highway traverses a long stretch of open country. 

SUBLETTE'S FLAT (L), a favorite camping place of the early-day 
trappers, extends along the highway for some miles. On the flat is Sub- 
lette's Spring. 

PINEDALE, 100.1 m. (7,175 alt., 219 pop.), the seat of Sublette 


198 The Oregon Trail 

County, is a modern trade center in a ranching area and an outfitting 
point for automobile and pack trips to the surrounding recreational 
region of lakes, forests, and mountains. The earliest white settlers 
entered Green River Valley in 1878 and 1879, to occupy the natural 
meadows of the lower Green River and the Piney Creeks. They were 
attracted to the region because it afforded pasturage for herds even 
during the most severe winters. 

Stock-raising is still the leading industry in the vicinity; sheep, 
cattle, and horses both draft and saddle are bred. 

At 111.3 m. is the junction with US 89, which has an oiled gravel 

Left on US 89 is DANIEL, 2 m. (7,192 alt., 30 pop.), on Green River; it is 
a supply point for the surrounding valley. 

1. Right from Daniel 4 m. on a dirt road in fair condition to the SITE OF 
FORT BONNEVILLE, established in August 1832, by Capt. B. L. E. Bonneville, who 
had journeyed to this spot with 110 men, 28 mule-drawn wagons, horses, oxen, 
provisions, ammunition, and merchandise. The fort was promptly dubbed "Fort 
Nonsense" because of its situation in hostile Indian country. 

Bonneville's cavalcade was the first of its kind to reach the Rockies. Accord- 
ing to Irving in his Adventures of Captain Bonneville, "the unusual sight of a 
train of wagons caused quite a sensation among these savages; who thronged 
about the caravan, examining everything minutely, and asking a thousand ques- 
tions; exhibiting a degree of excitability, and a lively curiosity, totally opposite 
to that apathy with which their race is so often reproached. . . . 

"Some of the (Indian) scouts, who were ranging the country at a distance 
from the main body, had discovered the party of Captain Bonneville. They had 
dogged it for a time in secret, astonished at the long train of wagons and 
oxen, and especially struck with the sight of a cow and calf, quietly following 
the caravan; supposing them to be some kind of tame buffalo. Having satisfied 
their curiosity, they carried back to their chief intelligence of all that they had 
seen. He had, in consequence, diverged from his pursuit of vengeance, to behold 
the wonders described to him. 'Now that we have met you,' said he to Captain 
Bonneville, 'and have seen these marvels with our own eyes, our hearts are glad.' 
In fact, nothing could exceed the curiosity evinced by these people as to the 
objects before them. Wagons had never been seen by them before, and they 
examined them with the greatest minuteness; but the calf was the peculiar object 
of their admiration. They watched it with intense interest as it licked the hands 
accustomed to feed it, and were struck with the mild expression of its countenance, 
and its perfect docility. 

"After much sage consultation, they at length determined that it must be the 
'great medicine' of the white party; an appellation given by the Indians to any- 
thing of supernatural and mysterious power, that is guarded as a talisman. They 
were completely thrown out in their conjecture, however, by an offer of the white 
men to exchange the calf for a horse; their estimation of the great medicine 
sank in an instant, and they declined the bargain." 

Ostensibly, Bonneville came into the territory as a fur trader; when Irving 
rewrote and elaborated on the notes of the expedition, which he had bought 
from Bonneville, he accepted the officer's version of his reason for going west. 
Other writers have done the same without question, and many have made scath- 
ing remarks about Bonneville's lack of success as a trader and the amount of 
time he wasted on social diversions, drinking with British and French trappers, 
and paying court to Indian women. 

At the time Bonneville went west various people were trying to spur the 
U. S. Government into imperialistic activity in Oregon. Although many reports 

Side Routes 199 

had been made to the Federal Government by traders who had visited the Colum- 
bia Basin by sea and land, there had been no careiul, official report on the 
region since Lewis and Clark had visited it. If the United States were to attempt 
to end by force the treaty on the joint occupancy of Oregon with Great Britain, 
if citizens of the United States were to be encouraged to settle in the territory, 
it was necessary for the Government to know exactly what the British were 
doing in Oregon and to have maps of the intricate terrain. 

Publicly, Bonneville received leave from the Army to try his hand at trading; 
but a Bonneville letter dated July 18, 1831, and recently discovered in files of 
the War Department, says: "I have now completed arrangements to enable me to 
collect information . . . promised in my letter to you dated at Washington City 
the 21st of May last." The letter was written to Maj. Gen. Alexander McComb, 
General-in-Chief of the U. S. Army (1828-41). Bonneville wrote to him two years 
later: "I would not have presumed this much were I not aware how desirous you 
are of collecting certain information respecting this country ... I have con- 
stantly kept a journal . . . The information I have already obtained authorizes 
me to say this much; that if the government ever intend taking possession of 
Oregon, the sooner it shall be done, the better." 

Bonneville supplied the War Department with maps; he also estimated the 
strength of the British at Vancouver and Walla Walla, as well as the military 
force he believed would be necessary to seize Oregon; and made suggestions as 
to where military posts should be erected along the road to Oregon. Much has 
been made of the fact that Bonneville's name was dropped from the Army rolls 
in May 1834, his leave having extended only to October 1833; but military 
records show that Bonneville received $1,600 for pay, subsistence, and servants 
between October 1832 and September 1834. 

The Continental Divide was, in this region, the more or less accepted boundary 
of the territory acquired by the Louisiana Purchase, and South Pass provided 
the main route of travel through it. A post at this point, on the western slope 
of the Divide and close to the transcontinental trail, provided ample opportuni- 
ties to see who was going where. The fort was a solid though rudely built affair, 
but Bonneville soon abandoned it. 

Near this spot in 1835 Dr. Marcus Whitman, who had come west with the 
Rev. Samuel Parker in company with fur traders, met a Nez Perce chief, who 
"expressed great satisfaction at seeing us and said he was very simple and 
ignorant about the worship of the Almighty. That ever since he had heard of 
the worship of the whites he had been unhappy. He said he' had heard something 
about the worship of God from the traders but he did not understand it; it had 
only reached his ears; he desired to be taught so that it might sink deep into his 
inward parts." This convinced Whitman that he need not go farther before 
reporting to the American Board of Missions that there was a field ripe for 
missionary harvest. He immediately started back east while Parker went into 
Oregon to scout for mission sites. 

Before Whitman started back he performed a number of medical services, 
including at least one operation. In 1832 Jim Bridger had been wounded in the 
back by an arrow whose head had remained for three years in his flesh. Whitman 
extracted it. The operation was difficult "because the arrow head was hooked 
at the point by striking a large bone, and a cartilaginous substance had grown 
around it. The doctor pursued the operation with great self-possession and 
perseverance; and his patient manifested equal firmness. The Indians looked on 
meanwhile with countenances indicating wonder, and in their own peculiar man- 
ner expressed great astonishment when it was extracted." 

2. Left from Daniel 1 m. on a dirt road to the site known as LA PRAIRIE 
DE LA MESSE. When Flathead Indians went to St. Louis to ask for some of the 
white medicine men for their tribe, they had Roman Catholic priests in mind. 
But the Catholics had no missionaries available for several years. Finally, in 
1840, Father Pierre J. DeSmet was sent out. Traveling with an annual expedition 
of the American Fur Company, he reached this place and on July 5 celebrated 

200 The Oregon Trail 

mass before a motley, yet respectful, crowd of Indians, white men, fur traders, 
hunters, and trappers. The altar, erected on a small mound, was decorated with 
bows and arrows and garlands of wild flowers. The spot was afterwards pointed 
out by the Indians as the Prairie of the Mass. Father DeSmet was the founder 
of missions in the Bitter Root Valley and at Coeur d'Alene, and was in and out 
of the Northwest for many years. 

In 1925 the Knights of Columbus of Wyoming placed a monument a STONE 
ALTAR on this spot. Mass is now celebrated here annually. 

US 187 continues north from the junction with US 89. 

At 133 m. US 187 leaves the Green River Valley region and enters 
the WYOMING NATIONAL FOREST at "The Rim" (7,921 alt.). The forest 
lies in a great horseshoe around the headwaters of Green River and is 
largely covered with lodgepole pine. More than 230,000 animals, mostly 
sheep, are grazed on its summer ranges. On the eastern arm of the 
horseshoe the beautiful peaks of the Wind River Range extend high 
above timber line ; at their base is a little-known region. 

The highway passes ranches that cater to tourists. (Guides and 
outfits for camping and hunting trips available.) 

At 152 m. is the entrance to the V-V RANCH, whose acres embrace 
the spot where the Rev. Samuel Parker preached to the Indians in 
August 1835. Parker had made the most of every opportunity to visit 
with the Indians, on the journey overland; the Indians were equally 
interested in him because the interpreters explained that he was a white 
medicine man. They were beginning to feel that their own medicine men 
were not as competent as they should be, since they did not know the 
magic that provided the whites with technological luxuries. Parker was 
delighted to find the savages receptive, but much annoyed that he had 
to communicate with them through interpreters with limited vocabu- 

Of one of his Sabbath services on this journey he wrote: "An In- 
dian whom I attempted to teach last Sabbath, came to me again to-day, 
and manifested that he wished me to instruct him. I endeavored to com- 
municate to his mind some ideas of God, and sang the hymn, 'Watch- 
man, tell us of the night.' He and those with him, shook hands with me 
as a token of their satisfaction, and left me. He soon returned, how- 
ever, bringing others, that they too, might hear what he had heard 
with so much apparent pleasure, and they again shook hands with me. 
This was several times repeated. These Indians appear not only friendly 
to white men, but kind in their intercourse with each other, and in no 
instance did I witness any quarrels among them. Their minds are un- 
commonly gifted and noble, their persons are finely formed, and many 
of them are truly 'nature's grenadiers.' The women are graceful, and 
their voices are soft and expressive. I was agreeably surprised to see 
tall young chiefs, well dressed in their own mode, walking arm in arm 
with their ladies. This is what I had not expected to see among those 
whom we term 'savages.' It is true that they are heathen, in all the 
guilt of sin and destitute of the knowledge of God, and the hopes of 

Side Routes 201 

the gospel, but in politeness and decency, as well as in many other re- 
spects, they are very unlike the frontier Indians, who have been cor- 
rupted and degraded by their acquaintance with ardent spirits, and 
wicked white men." 

HOBACK CANYON, 165 m., was named for John Hoback, who 
guided Hunt's party of Astorians over Teton Pass and through this 
canyon in 1812. The defile is deep, with narrow ledges at the bottom. 
In many places the road is at the edge of the water. There are evi- 
dences throughout of many snow slides. The "Bull-of-the-Woods" is an 
annual phenomenon ; each spring a great slide comes down a steep and 
winding gulch, crosses the river without touching the ice, rushes up the 
hillside beyond for several hundred yards, and then returns to the 
river bed. 

Running along the Hoback River the highway skirts a point of rocks 
north of the river in which there is a large hole resembling a gigantic 
picture frame, from which is a magnificent view of the lower Hoback 
River and Valley. A few rods from the hole is a grave commonly be- 
lieved to be that of John Hoback, who came back into this region as 
an employee of the Missouri Fur Company. Authorities, however, say 
that Hoback was killed by Indians on the banks of the Boise River in 
Idaho, and that this grave holds the bodies of More and Foy, of an 
1832 Sublette party, who were killed by Indians when they were pro- 
ceeding up the canyon ahead of their party. 

At 169 m. is the junction with a dirt road. 

Left on this road, which parallels the Snake River, into the GRAND CANYON 
OF THE SNAKE. At 4 m. is COUNT'S HOT SPRING; a crude wooden tub shel- 
tered by a cabin provides an opportunity to bathe. During a flood in the spring of 
1927, when the great natural dam across the upper Gros Ventre River gave way 
and released quantities of water, the Snake River, into which the Gros Ventre 
flows, rose rapidly and flooded the land far from its banks. When the water 
receded, several springs, including this one, were found to have changed their 

At 178.2 m., at the southern edge of Jackson, is the junction with 
Wyo. 22 (see SIDE ROUTE B). 

Idaho- Wyoming 


Pocatello, Idaho, to Jackson, Wyo.; 160 m. US 91, US 191, Idaho 33, 
and Wyo. 22. 

Most of route paved; remainder graveled. Limited accommodations. 
North from POCATELLO, m. (see SECTION 8). 

FORT HALL, 12 m. (4,445 alt., 150 pop.), is the headquarters of 
the U. S. Indian agency of the FORT HALL RESERVATION, which 
is occupied by members of the Bannock, Shoshone, and other tribes. 
The Indians here are engaged in agriculture, and have a reservoir for 
impounding water to irrigate their lands. They hold annual dances of 
unusual interest : the Sun Dance about July 24th, followed by the War, 
Owl, Rabbit, and Grass Dances, each with its own characteristic songs 
and drumbeats. The Warm Dance, held in late January or early Febru- 
ary, is intended to hasten the end of winter. Later there is an Easter 
Dance accompanied by an egg feast. The Indians on the reservation 
are excellent artisans; the women engage in many kinds of intricate 
beadwork upon such articles of clothing as moccasins and vests. These, 
as well as other products of handicraft, are for sale in Fort Hall stores. 

Near the Fort Hall agency, on a road built recently by the Indians, 
is a lava rock monument commemorating the SITE OF FORT HALL. 

On July 14, 1834, Nathaniel J. Wyeth reached the Snake River, and 
on the following day selected this spot for the establishment of a trad- 
ing post. He had contracted to transport three thousand dollars' worth 
of merchandise for the Rocky Mountain Fur Company to its Green 
River rendezvous. At Green River the representative of the company, 
which was on the point of dissolution, refused to accept the goods. After 
a short period of indignation Wyeth decided to use them himself, and to 
establish a post on the upper Snake. 

Early in August Wyeth felt that construction was far enough ad- 
vanced for him to continue to the Columbia. His diary reads: "Having 
done as much as was requisite for safety to the fort and drank a 
bale of liquor and named it Fort Hall in honor of the oldest partner 
of our concern, we left it and with it Mr. Evans in charge of eleven 
men and fourteen horses and mules and three cows." Wyeth later wrote 
a letter in which he said that they had "manufactured a magnificent 
flag from some unbleached sheeting, a little red flannel and a few blue 
patches; saluted it with damaged powder and wet it in villainous alco- 
hol. . . . After all it makes, I do assure you, a very respectable appear- 
ance among the dry and desolate regions of central America. Its bastions 
stand a terror to the skulking Indians and a beacon of safety to the 


Side Routes 203 

fugitive hunter. It is manned by 12 men and has constantly loaded in 
the bastions 100 guns and rifles. These bastions command both inside 
and outside of the fort." 

In 1838, after Wyeth had given up his attempt to compete with the 
Hudson's Bay Company, he sold the post to that company, which en- 
larged it. 

Fort Hall became the most important trading post in the Snake 
River Valley. It was the only inhabited place between Fort Bridger, 
Wyo., and Fort Boise, Idaho. Here the immigrants on the Oregon Trail 
made preparations for the last stage of their journeys to the mouth of 
the Columbia River or to California. Members of wagon trains coming 
out of the lonely deserts and valleys eastward could see from afar its 
cool whitewashed walls and its red flag lettered "H.B.C."; old trappers 
said the letters stood for "Here Before Christ." The post became the 
rendezvous of Indians, Spaniards, and French Canadians, priests, doc- 
tors, and missionaries, as well as hordes of nondescript adventurers of 
all kinds. Some came to rest, some to trade, some to celebrate on liquor 
distilled from wild honey, and some to heal wounds made by Indian 
arrows. The fortified trading center covered half an acre of ground and 
was surrounded by a wall 5 feet high and 19 inches thick. Within the 
stockade were dwellings, stores, and barns, all overshadowed by a two- 
story blockhouse or bastion. Standing on a sagebrush-covered plain be- 
tween warring Indian tribes, it was in constant danger of attack. 

After the Whitman party had arrived at the fort in 1836 with the 
two-wheeled cart they later managed to take as far as Fort Boise, no 
vehicle reached Fort Hall for four years. In 1840 one wagon was 
brought in by Joel P. Walker, and two others by missionaries. Warned 
that it was not possible to take them farther, these emigrants continued 
their journeys with pack horses. It was not until after 1843 that carts 
were used regularly west of this point. 

Fort Hall was somewhat east of the point where a trail to Cali- 
fornia left the Oregon Trail. At the post emigrants anxiously collected 
news and gossip concerning the routes ahead of them and many changed 
their minds as to where they wanted to go within a few hours of their 
arrival at the post. If they met people who told of Indian attacks and 
difficulties on the California route, which crossed northern Nevada, they 
were apt to decide to turn toward Oregon. On the other hand> a single 
discouraging report on the difficulty of going down the Columbia River 
Valley would start some of them on their way to California. In the days 
when California was under foreign sovereignty, people from the United 
States who had settled in that area sent propagandists to Fort Hall and 
other key points to induce immigrants to join them and strengthen their 

Palmer relates in his Journal of Travels over the Rocky Mountains, 
1845-46: "While we remained in this place [Fort Hall], great efforts 
were made to induce the emigrants [bound for Oregon] to pursue the 

204 The Oregon Trail 

route to California. The most extravagant tales were related respecting 
the dangers that awaited a trip to Oregon, and of the difficulties and 
trials to be surmounted. The perils of the way were so magnified as to 
make us suppose the journey to Oregon almost impossible. For instance, 
the two crossings of Snake river, and the crossing of the Columbia, and 
other smaller streams were represented as being attended with great 
danger; also that no company heretofore attempting the passage of 
these streams, succeeded, but with the loss of men, from the violence 
and rapidity of the current; as also that they had never succeeded in 
getting more than fifteen or twenty head of cattle into the Willamette 
valley. In addition to the above, it was asserted that three or four tribes 
of Indians, in the middle region, had combined for the purpose of pre- 
venting our passage through their country, and should we attempt it, 
we would be compelled to contend with these hostile tribes. In case we 
escaped destruction at the hands of the savages, that a more fearful 
enemy, that of famine, would attend our march; as the distance was 
so great that winter would overtake us before making the passage of 
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 many other superior advantages it possessed. 

"These tales, told and rehearsed, were likely to produce the effect 
of turning the tide of emigration thither. Mr. Greenwood, an old moun- 
taineer, well stocked with falsehoods, had been dispatched from Cali- 
fornia to pilot the emigrants through; and assisted by a young man 
by the name of McDougal, from Indiana, so far succeeded as to induce 
thirty-five or thirty-six wagons to take that trail." 

The fort was abandoned in 1855 but continued to serve as a trail 
resting place until a flood demolished it in 1863. For many years its 
site was forgotten. A well, formerly in the center of the stockaded 
area, and triangular rifle pits, now bedded in grass, are all that remain. 

BLACKFOOT, 25 m. (4,505 alt., 3,199 pop.), was named for the 
Blackfoot Indians. 

US 91 here closely follows the course of the Snake River, running 
through Idaho's potato-growing area, the center of which is SHELLEY, 
42 m. (4,624 alt., 1,447 pop.). From the highway can be seen the 
mountain range that spills westward from the Wyoming Line (R) and 
the fertile valley that reaches away to the volcanic lava plains (L). 

IDAHO FALLS, 52 m. (4,709 alt., 9,429 pop.), third city in size 
in the State, has a large municipally owned hydroelectric plant; its 
electric power rate is one of the lowest in the Northwest, and, because 
of revenues from public utility operation, its city tax rate is about a 
third of the average in Idaho. The town has one of the few potato-flour 
mills in the world. 

The TAYLOR TOLL BRIDGE at Idaho Falls, of which only the stone 

Side Routes 205 

abutments remain, was built across Snake River in 1866-7. The timbers 
were hauled from Beaver Canyon, 80 miles north, and the iron was 
obtained from old freight wagons and from a wrecked steamboat on the 
Missouri River. The stage station and post office here were formerly 
called Eagle Rock because a great stone out in the river was for many 
years the nesting place of an eagle. 

US 191 leads northwest from Idaho Falls. Soon after REXBURG, 
81 m. (4,861 alt., 3,048 pop.), was founded in 1883 under instructions 
from the Mormon Church, mills and a school were established; five 
years later a college was opened. Typical Mormon planning is seen in 
the breadth of the town's streets. 

At 86 m. is the junction with Idaho 33. 

Straight ahead 7 m. on US 191 is ST. ANTHONY (4,958 alt., 2,778 pop.), 
named for St. Anthony Falls in Minnesota. The town is the center of the seed- 
pea industry in eastern Idaho. 

Left 7 m. from St. Anthony on an unimproved road that leads to the SITE OF 
FORT HENRY, near the point where the village of Egin now stands. This broad 
flat valley was first explored by Andrew Henry of the Missouri Fur Company. 
In the fall of 1810 Henry moved across the Continental Divide and established 
this post on the north fork of the Snake River, known ever since that time as 
Henry's Fork. The trading post consisted of several cabins and a dugout. After 
Henry and his band had trapped here and traded with the Shoshone for a brief 
period they abandoned the place. While the group had not been molested by 
Indians, there was little game, and the men had been forced to kill their 
horses for food during the severe winter. 

In October, 1811, the fort was used by the Astorians under the leadership 
of Wilson Price Hunt. It was here that Hunt, yielding to the desires of most 
of his party, made the mistake of agreeing to attempt the remainder of the 
journey by water. Fort Henry was occupied long enough for the Astorians to 
build 15 cottonwood canoes in which to venture down La Maudite Riviere Enragee 
(Fr., the accursed mad river), as the Snake was named by Hunt's voyageurs after 
they had come to grief upon its falls and cascades (see SECTION 9). 

For nearly a century the exact site of the old fort was unknown, but in 1927 
a rock was unearthed that bore the inscription: "Al the cook but nothing to 
cook." This stone and two others inscribed "Gov't Camp, 1811" and "Fort Henry 
1811 by Captain Hunt" are now in Rexburg. 

Right from US 191 on Idaho 33; fishing is good along the entire 
length of this road. 

Near DRIGGS, 127 m., seat of Teton County, is the largest bed 
of coal known to exist in the State. This town was named for Don C. 
Driggs (1867-1933), its founder. 

TETON BASIN, 130 m., formerly called Pierre's Hole, is one of 
the most famous points of rendezvous in the history of the American 
fur trade. Partners and chief traders of the fur companies came here 
annually to meet the trappers who brought in the beaver skins col- 
lected during the perilous winter expeditions; the trappers were paid 
off, or drew supplies for further expeditions, and were encouraged to 
drink and gamble themselves into debt to the companies. The carouses, 

206 The Oregon Trail 

with their gun and fist fights, were notorious. Often groups from rival 
companies met at the same time in the valley, which is 30 miles long 
and 15 wide "under the Three Tetons," as the records of the Rocky 
Mountain Fur Company described it. Nez Perces, Flatheads, and other 
Indians pitched their lodges nearby to trade, steal, and share the ex- 
citement. The Indian girls also looked forward to the rendezvous, hop- 
ing to have the luck of acquiring white or half-breed husbands. Most 
of the trappers made such matches, sooner or later, because the Indian 
women were the only ones able to share the wilderness life. 

In 1835 the Rev. Samuel Parker wrote: "A few days after our ar- 
rival at the place of rendezvous, and when all the mountain men had 
assembled, another day of indulgence was granted to them, in which 
all restraint was laid aside. These days are the climax of the hunter's 
happiness. I will relate an occurrence which took place near evening, 
as a specimen of mountain life. A hunter, who goes technically by the 
name of the great bully of the mountains, mounted his horse with a 
loaded rifle, and challenged any Frenchman, American, Spaniard, or 
Dutchman, to fight him in single combat. Kit Carson, an American, 
told him if he wished to die, he would accept the challenge. Shunar 
defied him. C. [Kit Carson] mounted his horse, and with a loaded pis- 
tol, rushed into close contact, and both almost at the same instant fired. 
C's ball entered S's hand, came out of the wrist and passed through 
the arm above the elbow. Shunar's ball passed over the head of Carson ; 
and while he went for another pistol, Shunar begged that his life might 
be spared. Such scenes, sometimes from passion, and sometimes for 
amusement, make the pastime of their wild and wandering life. They 
appear to have sought for a place where, as they would say, human 
nature is not oppressed by the tyranny of religion, and pleasure is not 
awed by the frown of virtue. . . . They disdain the common-place 
phrases of profanity which prevail among the impious vulgar in civi- 
lized countries, and have many set phrases, which they appear to have 
manufactured among themselves, and which, in their imprecations, they 
bring into almost every sentence, and on all occasions. By varying the 
tones of their voices, they make them expressive of joy, hope, grief, and 
anger. In their broils among themselves, which do not happen every 
day, they would not be ungenerous. They would see 'fair play,' and 
would 'spare the last eye' ; and would not tolerate murder, unless drunk- 
enness or great provocation could be pleaded in extenuation. 

"Their demoralizing influence with the Indians has been lamentable, 
and they have practiced impositions upon them, in all the ways that 
sinful propensities dictate. It is said they have sold them packs of cards 
at high prices, calling them the Bible; and have told them, if they 
should refuse to give white men wives, God would be angry with them 
and punish them eternally; and on almost any occasion when their 
wishes have been resisted, they have threatened them with the wrath 
of God. If these things are true in many instances, yet from personal 

Side Routes 207 

observation, I should believe, their more common mode of accomplish- 
ing their wishes has been by flattery and presents ; for the most of them 
squander away their wages in ornaments for their women and chil- 
dren. . . ." 

Those who came to the fur rendezvous were of many types; in addi- 
tion to the partners and agents of the fur companies, there were voy- 
ageurs and "mountaineers." The first were French-Canadian boatmen 
who had served in the Canadian fur trade where the business was car- 
ried on along the shores of the innumerable lakes and rivers. In the 
United States they were employed in transporting the furs and supplies 
on the rivers between the rendezvous and headquarters. The second were 
either employees of the fur trading companies or independent trappers ; 
they usually pursued their hazardous vocations alone or in small com- 
panies. They were, according to Irving in Adventures of Captain Eon- 
neville, "hardy, lithe, vigorous, and active; extravagant in word, and 
thought, and deed; heedless of hardship; daring of danger; prodigal 
of the present, and thoughtless of the future. . . . There is, perhaps, 
no class of men on the face of the earth . . . who lead a life of more 
continued exertion, peril, and excitement, and who are more enamored 
of their occupations, than the free trappers of the West. No toil, no 
danger, no privations can turn the trapper from his pursuit. His pas- 
sionate excitement at times resembles a mania. In vain may the most 
vigilant and cruel savages beset his path; in vain may rocks and preci- 
pices, and wintry torrents oppose his progress; let but a single track 
of a beaver meet his eye, and he forgets all dangers and defies all dif- 
ficulties. At times, he may be seen with his traps on his shoulder, buf- 
feting his way across rapid streams, amid floating blocks of ice; at 
other times, he is to be found with his traps swung on his back climbing 
the most rugged mountains, scaling or descending the most frightful 
precipices, searching, by routes inaccessible to the horse, and never 
before trodden by white man, for springs and lakes unknown to his 
comrades, and where he may meet with his favorite game. Such is the 
mountaineer, the hardy trapper of the West; and such, as we have 
slightly sketched it, is the wild, Robin Hood kind of life, with all its 
strange and motley populace, now existing in full vigor among the 
Rocky Mountains." 

In 1832 occurred the Battle of Pierre's Hole. The annual rendezvous 
had begun to break up. There were various accounts of the battle; the 
one most often quoted is in Irving's Adventures of Captain Bonneville. 
It is pure melodrama. The careful reporter, the Rev. Samuel Parker, 
wrote in his Journal: "... I was shown the place where the men of 
the fur companies, at the time of their rendezvous two years before, 
had a battle with the Blackfeet Indians. Of the Blackfeet party there 
were about sixty men, and more than the same number of women and 
children ; of the white men in the valley, there were some few hundred 
who could be called into action. From the information given me, it ap- 

208 The Oregon Trail 

peared that these Indians were on their way through this valley, and 
unexpectedly met about forty hunters and trappers going out from 
rendezvous to the south-west on their fall and winter hunt. These In- 
dians manifested an unwillingness to fight, and presented tokens of 
peace; but they were not reciprocated. Those who came forward to 
stipulate terms of peace were fired upon and killed. When the Indians 
saw their danger, they fled to the cotton-wood trees and willows which 
were scattered along the stream of water, and, taking advantage of 
some fallen trees, constructed as good defense as time and circum- 
stances would permit. They were poorly provided with guns, and were 
still more destitute of ammunition. The trappers keeping out of the 
reach of their arrows, and being well armed with the best of rifles, made 
the contest unequal; and it became still more unequal, when, by an 
express sent to rendezvous, they were reinforced by veterans in moun- 
tain life. The hunters keeping at a safe distance, in the course of a 
few hours killed several of the Indians, and almost all their horses, 
which, in their situation, could not be protected, while they themselves 
suffered but small loss. Those killed, on both sides, have been differ- 
ently stated, but considering the numbers engaged, and the length of 
time the skirmishing continued, it could not have been a bloody battle; 
and not much to the honor of civilized Americans. The excuse made 
for forcing the Blackfeet into battle is, that if they had come upon a 
small part of the trappers, they would have butchered them and seized 
upon the plunder. If heathen Blackfeet would have done so, civilized 
white men should not. . . . 

"When night approached, the hunters retired to their encampment 
at the place of rendezvous, and the Indians made their escape. Thus 
the famous battle of Pierre's Hole began and ended. . . ." 

Parker added in a footnote: "Since my return, I have seen an ac- 
count of this battle [i.e., Irving's], written by a graphic hand, in all the 
fascinating style of romance, representing the Indians as having en- 
trenched themselves in a swamp, so densely wooded as to be almost 
impenetrable; and there they kept the trappers at bay, until they were 
reinforced from rendezvous. When the Blackfeet saw the whole valley 
alive with horsemen, rushing to the field of action, they withdrew into 
the dark tangled wood. When the leaders of the several hunting parties 
came into the field, they urged their men to enter the swamp, but they 
hung back in awe of the dismal horrors of the place, regarding it im- 
penetrable and full of danger. But the leaders would not be turned 
from their purpose made their wills appointed their executors 
grasped their rifles, and urged their way through the woods. A brisk 
fire was opened, and the Blackfeet were completely overmatched, but 
would not leave their fort, nor offer to surrender. The numerous vet- 
eran mountaineers, well equipped, did not storm the breastwork, even 
when the Blackfeet had spent their powder and balls, but only kept 
up the bloody battle by occasional firing during the day. The Black- 

Side Routes 209 

feet in the night effected their retreat; and the brave mountaineers 
assembled their forces in the morning, and entered the fort without 

"With those who have seen the field of battle, the glowing descrip- 
tion, drawn out in long detail, loses its interest; for although I saw it, 
yet I did not see dense woods, nor a swamp of any magnitude any 
where near." 

Arrows and spear points, and occasionally stone axes and toma- 
hawks, are still found on the battlefield. 

Pierre's Hole continued to be one of the notorious spots of the West 
long after the fur trade had disappeared from the area because of the 
depletion in the number of beavers and the displacement of beaver hats 
by silk ones. It saw many battles during the cattle days. But it has set- 
tled down to a polite old age with dog racing and a winter ski carnival 
to attract visitors. 

Idaho 33 crosses the Wyoming Line at 141 m. ; beyond this point 
the highway is Wyo. 22. 

The route leads through TETON PASS (8,429 alt.), which offers 
one of the most spectacular views in the West. JACKSON, 160 m. 
(6,209 alt., 538 pop.), seat of Teton County, is the chief outfitting center 
for big-game hunts and trail trips in the TETON NATIONAL FOREST, 
whose headquarters is here. 

The town is the center of JACKSON HOLE, a beautiful and fertile 
mountain valley of approximately four hundred square miles. It was 
named in honor of David Jackson, an associate of Jedediah Smith and 
Captain Sublette. Traversed by the Snake River and crossed by numer- 
ous streams that flow into the Snake, the valley is formed by the Wind 
River Mountains on the east, the Gros Ventre Mountains on the south, 
and the Teton Range on the west. Yellowstone National Park is on the 
north. Rugged, snow-capped peaks are mirrored in the several crystal- 
clear lakes of the valley. 

Long before its discovery by white men, Jackson Hole was the hunt- 
ing and trapping ground of roving bands of Indians and may have been 
the home of a prehistoric race. Recently what appears to have been 
the site of a prehistoric village with stone foundations has been dis- 

Here for many years the fur trader held rendezvous with the Indian 
and swapped baubles, merchandise, and whiskey for valuable furs; 
here the Indians fought and failed to halt the whites as they pushed 
westward; here the cowman made his own law and rid the country of 
the outlaw, the cattle rustler, and the horse thief; and here today come 
thousands of visitors in search of recreation. 

John Colter, a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition, is said 
to have been the first white man to visit what is now Jackson Hole. 
As the party was on its way down the Missouri he met traders who 
asked him to go back with them to the mountains and he promptly 

210 The Oregon Trail 

asked to be discharged from the exploring group whose work was nearly 
completed. Colter came south through the Big Horn Basin, crossed 
Union Pass, and went up Hoback Canyon into Jackson Hole in 1807. 
Then he climbed Teton Pass, passed through Pierre's Hole and, re- 
turning to Wyoming, discovered the wonders of Yellowstone National 

The Astorians, Jim Bridger, William Sublette, Captain Bonneville, 
and many other traders of note passed through the valley. In the pos- 
session of Al Austin of Jackson is a flintlock rifle that was found near 
the Hoback River. It bears marks indicating that it was manufactured 
in London, England, in 1776. This may have been dropped by the 
Astorians or by some Canadian trapper. 

The first white settlers arrived about 1883, but the valley remained 
isolated for some years owing to the lack of roads. Some ranches in 
Jackson Hole are vast estates of thousands of acres. There are other 
thousands of acres of virgin lands. 

Several ranches in the valley specialize in purebred cattle. The cat- 
tle and horses are branded in the spring and fall round-ups. Owing 
chiefly to the isolation of the country, Jackson Hole is the home of 
many wild animals, including a large elk herd. There are also bear, 
deer, moose, and mountain sheep. Against the picturesque background 
many famous "Western" motion pictures have been filmed, notably 
The Covered Wagon and The Big Trail. 

In 1890 John D. Sargent brought a sailboat of clinker design to 
the valley. It was carried in by four men on the old Conant Trail, over 
which Owen Wister's Virginian followed the cattle thief Trampas. The 
boat was used to carry supplies from the southern end of Jackson Lake, 
where the road ended, to the Marymere Ranch, later known as the May 
Lou Lodge. Jackson Lake was earlier known as Lake Biddle, in honor 
of Nicholas Biddle, the editor of the Lewis and Clark Journals, pub- 
lished in 1814. 

At Jackson is the junction with US 187 (see Side Route A). 



Bridgeport Chimney Rock Scott's Bluff Horse Creek Treaty 
Ground; 55.1 m. Neb. 86. 

Graveled roadbed; limited accommodations except in Gering. 

West from BRIDGEPORT, m. (see ALTERNATE ROUTE), on 
Neb. 86, which crosses the North Platte and then turns R. along its 
south bank, roughly following the course of the Oregon Trail. 

CHIMNEY ROCK, 16 m. (4,242 alt.), rising abruptly from the 
valley floor, is an eroded formation with a bare, conical base of reddish 
sandstone covering about 40 acres. From the center rises a narrow shaft 
about 150 feet high. The pinnacle is weathering away more or less rap- 
idly. Though it does not particularly resemble a chimney, it has borne 
the name since Joshua Pilcher gave it in 1827. The Indians called it 
the Tepee. 

Most western explorers and travelers described the formation. The 
eastbound Astorians passed it in 1813, as did Lt. John C. Fremont in 
1842; he thought it looked like a factory chimney. The Rev. Samuel 
Parker, who climbed to the base of the column, objected to calling it a 
chimney and recommended Beacon Hill. Members of his party amused 
themselves by shooting away small projections at the top of the spire, 
pieces of which they carried away with them as souvenirs. Bonneville 
was content with "shaft" or "column" as descriptive terms, and esti- 
mated the height at 525 feet. Least impressed of all was the diarist of 
the Birmingham Emigrating Company, whom it reminded of a potato 
hole (the mound over a vegetable cache and its identifying stake) . 

A natural amphitheater at the base of the rock has for many years 
been used for the presentation of a pageant, The Gift of God (adm. 
free), performed on four successive nights about the middle of June. 
In this pageant, composed by the Rev. Louis Kaub, the life of Christ 
is portrayed by 125 actors to music provided by a hidden choir. The 
only man-made parts of the setting are a stone front to the cave stable 
and three white crosses on a knoll. Many spectators camp overnight on 
the patrolled grounds and most of them bring basket meals. 

At 20.8 m. is McGREW (128 pop.). 

Left from McGrew on a country road to TABLE ROCK, 11.5 m. South of this 
landmarks named by early travelers. 

GERING, 34 m. (3,902 alt., 2,531 pop.), seat of Scotts Bluff 
County, was named for Martin Gering, a Civil War veteran and banker 


212 The Oregon Trail 

who was a member of the group formed in 1887 to plat the town. The 
town's chief industrial plant is the Great Western Sugar Company's 

The people here, like those of other western Nebraska towns, have 
interests more akin to Wyoming and Colorado than to Nebraska; the 
larger Colorado newspapers have more circulation in the region than 
have those of Omaha or Lincoln. 

A two-day celebration known as Oregon Trail Days is held here 
annually during the week in which July 17 falls. This date was chosen 
because the group of trappers led by William Sublette, the first man 
to take wagons across the plains, camped near the site of the town on 
July 17, 1830. Among the features of the celebration are the display of 
pioneer relics, Sioux dances and songs, a public wedding, and a parade 
with floats commemorating historical events and advertising local in- 

Left from Gering on State 29, a graveled road, to the junction with a dirt 
road, 2 m.; R. here to ROUBIDOU PASS, 8 m., used by wagon trains before 
Mitchell Pass was cleared. 

The pass is named for a French fur trader, Basil Roubidou, who at one time 
contracted smallpox and was abandoned by his comrades; he was rescued by a 
Sioux medicine man, who nursed him back to health. In 1848 he established at 
the western end of the pass a trading post that was destroyed about 1852 by 
the Arapaho. A stone marker indicates the spot where the post's blacksmith shop 
stood. Southwest of Roubidou Pass is SIGNAL BUTTE, which is entirely separated 
from the main range and almost perpendicular on each side. 

Northwest of Signal Butte, on the bank of a dry creek, is a quarry excavated 
by a field party from the University of Nebraska Museum. Here were found the 
bones of 30 or 40 bison of a species now extinct. Some Indian artifacts unearthed 
with the bones indicate a culture earlier than that of the Plains Indians. 

A short distance north of Signal Butte is Kiowa Creek, where a battle was 
fought in 1865 between the Sioux and the Kiowa. 

On State 29 at 7 m. is HELVAS CANYON, a minor gap in the Wildcat 
Hills, near which a trading post and blacksmith shop were established in 1849, 
probably by the American Fur Company. 

At 10 m. the highway crosses STAGE HILL, so called because the stage- 
coaches between Kimball and Gering passed over it. On the hill is the WILDCAT 
STATE GAME PRESERVE (shelters, picnicking facilities, trails}, an 840-acre 
tract of extremely rugged country. The ravines and higher slopes are wooded 
with pine, and the canyon floors are overgrown with cotton wood, oak, boxelder, 
willow, chokecherry, and buffalo berry. Wild flowers dot the open spaces in sea- 
son; the most common are the wild rose, cream-colored yucca, and brush morning 

and picnicking facilities], a tract of 3,240 acres just south of the North 
Platte River, was acquired by the National Park Service in December, 

SCOTT'S BLUFF (4,662 alt.), which rises 750 feet above the plain, 
was always a point of major interest to early overland travelers, many 
of whom, in order to do local sightseeing, camped near its base. The 

Side Routes 213 

name is also applied to the nearby group of bluffs. The lower two-thirds 
of the bluff is a flesh-colored clay similar to that in the badlands along 
the river; the top third is sandstone. 

The ravines, the northwestern slope, and the summit bear a light 
growth of juniper and pine. A hard stratum of volcanic ash, just above 
the talus slope on the west face of the bluff, was formerly covered with 
names and dates. The inscriptions have almost entirely flaked off. 

In The Adventures of Captain Bonneville, Irving told the origin of 
the name: 

"A number of years since, a party were descending the upper part 
of the river in canoes, when their frail barks were overturned and all 
their powder spoiled. Their rifles being thus rendered useless, they were 
unable to procure food by hunting and had to depend upon roots and 
wild fruits for subsistence. After suffering extremely from hunger, they 
arrived at Laramie's Fork. . . . Here one of the party, by the name of 
Scott, was taken ill ; and his companions came to a halt, until he should 
recover health and strength sufficient to proceed . . . they discovered 
a fresh trail of white men, who had evidently but recently preceded 
them. What was to be done? By a forced march they might overtake 
this party, and thus be able to reach the settlements in safety. Should 
they linger they might all perish of famine and exhaustion. Scott, how- 
ever, was incapable of moving; they were too feeble to aid him for- 
ward. . . . They determined, therefore, to abandon him to his fate. 
Accordingly, under pretence of seeking food, and such simples as might 
be efficacious in his malady, they deserted him and hastened forward 
upon the trail. They succeeded in overtaking the party of which they 
were in quest, but concealed their faithless desertion of Scott, alleging 
that he had died of disease. 

"On the ensuing summer, these very individuals visiting these parts 
in company with others, came suddenly upon the bleached bones and 
grinning skull of a human skeleton, which by certain signs they rec- 
ognized for the remains of Scott. This was sixty long miles from the 
place where they had abandoned him ; and it appeared that the wretched 
man had crawled that immense distance before death put an end to his 

The OREGON TRAIL MUSEUM (free), at the base of the bluff, is con- 
structed of brick painted a buff-cream ; it is modern in style and is with- 
out windows. In it are about 150 maps and water colors, and three 
dioramas. A large collection of historical relics, fossils, and artifacts 
has also been accumulated through loans and donations. 

Right from the museum on Summit Road, built at a cost of nearly half a mil- 
lion dollars. The view from the top is fantastic but beautiful. Not far from this 
road, at the foot of the bluff on the eastern side, is (R) HIRAM SCOTT SPRING. 
Scott's body was supposedly found here. 

MITCHELL PASS, 37 m., divides the bluff in half. Before 1852 
travelers used the Roubidou Pass (see above). This route was impass- 

214 The Oregon Trail 

able until it was cleared, probably by soldiers from Fort Laramie, Wyo. 
Mitchell Pass was traversed by Pony Express riders, by the first stages, 
and by emigrant trains; the first transcontinental telegraph line ran 
through it. 

A military post, first called Camp Schuman and later Fort Mitchell, 
was established near here in 1864 for the protection of travelers. 

HORSE CREEK TREATY GROUNDS, 55.1 m., is near Horse 
Creek, which flows into the North Platte River. The creek was so named 
because in 1824 Thomas Fitzpatrick was robbed of his horses here by 
Indians. The largest assembly of Indians in American history gathered 
here with Government representatives in September, 1851, when the 
Fort Laramie Treaty, covering boundary lines and privileges, was nego- 
tiated. Messengers were sent out to the tribesmen a year before the date 
of the meeting. All the Indian nations of the plains and the foothills, 
from the Arkansas River to Canada, were told to come to this central 
place, where there was water for the horses and excellent grazing land. 
More than 10,000 arrived: Shoshone, Sioux, Cheyenne, Assiniboine, 
Arapaho, Blackfeet, Arikara, Gros Ventre, Mandan, and Crow. Clusters 
of tepees made a tent city. A large pavilion was built by the women 
in the angle between Horse Creek and North Platte River; here the 
meetings were held, beginning on September 8 when a cannon shot was 
fired as a signal of the event. 



To Meriwether Lewis, esquire, Captain of the 1st regiment of in- 
fantry of the United States of America: Your situation as Secretary of 
the President of the United States has made you acquainted with the 
objects of my confidential message of Jan. 18, 1803, to the legislature, 
you have seen the act they passed, which, tho' expressed in general 
terms, was meant to sanction those objects, and you are appointed to 
carry them into execution. 

Instruments for ascertaining by celestial observations the geography 
of the country thro' which you will pass, have already been provided, 
light articles for barter, & presents among the Indians, arms for your 
attendants, say for from 10 to 12 men, boats, tents, & other travelling 
apparatus, with ammunition, medicine, surgical instruments & provi- 
sions you will have prepared with such aids as the Secretary at War 
can yield in his department ; & from him also you will recieve authority 
to engage among our troops, by voluntary agreement, the number of 
attendants above mentioned, over whom you, as their commanding of- 
ficer are invested with all the powers the laws give in such a case. 

As your movements while within the limits of the U.S. will be better 
directed by occasional communications, adapted to circumstances as 
they arise, they will not be noticed here, what follows will respect your 
proceedings after your departure from the U.S. 

Your mission has been communicated to the Ministers here from 
France, Spain & Great Britain, and through them to their governments: 
and such assurances given them as to it's objects as we trust will satisfy 
them, the country of Louisiana having been ceded by Spain to France, 
the passport you have from the Minister of France, the representative 
of the present sovereign of the country, will be a protection with all 
it's subjects: And that from the Minister of England will entitle you 
to the friendly aid of any traders of that allegiance with whom you 
may happen to meet. 

The object of your mission is to explore the Missouri river, & such 
principal stream of it, as, by it's course & communication with the 
waters of the Pacific Ocean, may offer the most direct & practicable 
water communication across this continent, for the purposes of com- 

Beginning at the mouth of the Missouri, you will take observations 
of latitude & longitude, at all remarkable points on the river, & espe- 
cially at the mouths of rivers, at rapids, at islands & other places & 
objects distinguished by such natural marks & characters of a durable 


216 The Oregon Trail 

kind, as that they may with certainty be recognized hereafter, the courses 
of the river between these points of observation may be supplied by 
the compass, the log-line & by time, corrected by the observations them- 
selves, the variations of the compass too, in different places, should be 

The interesting points of the portage between the heads of the Mis- 
souri & the water offering the best communication with the Pacific 
Ocean should also be fixed by observation, & the course of that water 
to the ocean, in the same manner as that of the Missouri. 

Your observations are to be taken with great pains & accuracy, to 
be entered distinctly, & intelligibly for others as well as yourself, to 
comprehend all the elements necessary, with the aid of the usual tables, 
to fix the latitude and longitude of the places at which they were taken, 
& are to be rendered to the war office, for the purpose of having the 
calculations made concurrently by proper persons within the U.S. sev- 
eral copies of these, as well as your other notes, should be made at 
leisure times & put into the care of the most trustworthy of your at- 
tendants, to guard by multiplying them, against the accidental losses 
to which they will be exposed, a further guard would be that one of 
these copies be written on the paper of the birch, as less liable to injury 
from damp than common paper. 

The commerce which may be carried on with the people inhabiting 
the line you will pursue, renders a knolege of these people important, 
you will therefore endeavor to make yourself acquainted, as far as a 
diligent pursuit of your journey shall admit, 

with the names of the nations & their numbers; 
The extent & limits of their possessions; 
their relations with other tribes or nations; 
their language, traditions, monuments; 
their ordinary occupations in agriculture, fishing, hunting, war, 

arts, & the implements for these; 
their food, clothing, & domestic accommodations; 
the diseases prevalent among them, & the remedies they use; 
moral & physical circumstances which distinguish them from the 

tribes we know; 

peculiarities in their laws, customs & dispositions; 
and articles of commerce they may need or furnish, & to what 


And considering the interest which every nation has in extending & 
strengthening the authority of reason & justice among the people around 
them, it will be useful to acquire what knolege you can of the state of 
morality, religion & information among them, as it may better enable 
those who endeavor to civilize & instruct them, to adapt their measures 
to the existing notions & practises of those on whom they are to operate. 

Appendices 217 

Other object worthy of notice will be 

the soil & face of the country, it's growth & vegetable produc- 
tions; especially those not of the U.S. 

the animals of the country generally, & especially those not 
known in the U.S. 

the remains and accounts of any which may be deemed rare or 

the mineral productions of every kind; but more particularly 
metals, limestone, pit coal & saltpetre; salines & mineral 
waters, noting the temperature of the last, & such circum- 
stances as may indicate their character. 

Volcanic appearances. 

climate as characterized by the thermometer, by the proportion 
of rainy, cloudy & clear days, by lightening, hail, snow, ice, 
by the access & recess of frost, by the winds prevailing at dif- 
ferent seasons, the dates at which particular plants put forth 
or lose their flowers, or leaf, times of appearance of par- 
ticular birds, reptiles or insects. 

Altho' your route will be along the channel of the Missouri, yet 
you will endeavor to inform yourself, by inquiry, of the character & 
extent of the country watered by it's branches, & especially on it's 
Southern side, the North river or Rio Bravo which runs into the gulph 
of Mexico, and the North river, or Rio Colorado, which runs into the 
gulph of California, are understood to be the principal streams head- 
ing opposite to the waters of the Missouri, and running Southwardly, 
whether the dividing grounds between the Missouri & them are moun- 
tains or flatlands, what are their distance from the Missouri, the char- 
acter of the intermediate country, & the people inhabiting it, are worthy 
of particular enquiry. The Northern waters of the Missouri are less to 
be enquired after, because they have been ascertained to a considerable 
degree, and are still in a course of ascertainment by English traders & 
travellers, but if you can learn anything certain of the most Northern 
source of the Missisipi, & of it's position relative to the lake of the 
woods, it will be interesting to us. some account too of the path of the 
Canadian traders from the Missisipi, at the mouth of the Ouisconsin 
river, to where it strikes the Missouri and of the soil & rivers in it's 
course, is desireable. 

In all your intercourse with the natives treat them in the most 
friendly & conciliatory manner which their own conduct will admit; 
allay all jealousies as to the object of your journey, satisfy them of 
it's innocence, make them acquainted with the position, extent, char- 
acter, peaceable & commercial dispositions of the U. S. of our wish 
to be neighborly, friendly & useful to them, & of our dispositions to 
a commercial intercourse with them; confer with them on the points 
most convenient as mutual emporiums, & the articles of most desireable 

218 The Oregon Trail 

interchange for them & us. if a few of their influential chiefs, within 
practicable distance, wish to visit us, arrange such a visit with them, 
and furnish them with authority to call on our officers, on their enter- 
ing the U. S. to have them conveyed to this place at public expence. 
if any of them should wish to have some of their young people brought 
up with us, & taught such arts as may be useful to them, we will re- 
ceive, instruct & take care of them, such a mission, whether of influen- 
tial chiefs, or of young people, would give some security to your own 
party, carry with you some matter of the kine-pox, inform those of 
them with whom you may be of its efficacy as a preservative from the 
small-pox; and instruct & incourage them in the use of it. this may be 
especially done wherever you winter. 

As it is impossible for us to foresee in what manner you will be 
received by those people, whether with hospitality or hostility, so is it 
impossible to prescribe the exact degree of perseverance with which you 
are to pursue your journey, we value too much the lives of citizens 
to offer them to probably destruction, your numbers will be sufficient 
to secure you against the unauthorised opposition of individuals, or of 
small parties: but if a superior force, authorised or not authorised, by 
a nation, should be arrayed against your further passage, & inflexibly 
determined to arrest it, you must decline it's further pursuit, and return, 
in the loss of yourselves, we should lose also the information you will 
have acquired, by returning safely with that, you may enable us to 
renew the essay with better calculated means, to your own discretion 
therefore must be left the degree of danger you may risk, & the point 
at which you should decline, only saying we wish you to err on the 
side of your safety, & bring back your party safe, even if it be with 
less information. 

As far up the Missouri as the white settlements extend, an inter- 
course will probably be found to exist between them and the Spanish 
posts at St. Louis, opposite Cahokia, or Ste. Genevieve opposite Kas- 
kaskia. from still farther up the river, the traders may furnish a con- 
veyance for letters, beyond that you may perhaps be able to engage 
Indians to bring letters for the government to Cahokia or Kaskaskia, 
on promising that they shall there receive such special compensation 
as you shall have stipulated with them, avail yourself of these means 
to communicate to us, at seasonable intervals, a copy of your journal, 
notes & observations of every kind, putting into cypher whatever might 
do injury if betrayed. 

Should you reach the Pacific ocean (One full line scratched out, 
indecipherable. Ed.) inform yourself of the circumstances which may 
decide whether the furs of those parts may not be collected as advan- 
tageously at the head of the Missouri (convenient as is supposed to 
the waters of the Colorado & Oregon or Columbia) as at Nootka sound 
or any other point of that coast; & that trade be consequently con- 
ducted through the Missouri & U. S. more beneficially than by the 

Appendices 219 

circumnavigation now practised. 

On your arrival on that coast endeavor to learn if there be any port 
within your reach frequented by the sea-vessels of any nation, and to 
send two of your trusty people back by sea, in such way as shall appear 
practicable, with a copy of your notes, and should you be of opinion 
that the return of your party by the way they went will be eminently 
dangerous, then ship the whole, & return by sea by way of Cape Horn 
or the Cape of good Hope, as you shall be able, as you will be without 
money, clothes or provisions, you must endeavor to use the credit of 
the U. S. to obtain them; for which purpose open letters of credit shall 
be furnished you authorising you to draw on the Executive of the U. S. 
or any of its officers in any part of the world, on which drafts can be 
disposed of, and to apply with our recommendations to the Consuls, 
agents, merchants or citizens of any nation with which we have inter- 
course, assuring them in our name that any aids they may furnish you, 
shall be honorably repaid, and on demand. Our consuls Thomas Howes 
at Batavia in Java, William Buchanan of the isles of France and Bour- 
bon, & John Elmslie at the Cape of good hope will be able to supply 
your necessities by draughts on us. 

Should you find it safe to return by the way you go, after sending 
two of your party round by sea, or with your whole party, if no con- 
veyance by sea can be found, do so ; making such observations on your 
return as may serve to supply, correct or confirm those made on your 
outward journey. 

In re-entering the U. S. and reaching a place of safety, discharge 
any of your attendants who may desire & deserve it, procuring for them 
immediate paiment of all arrears of pay & cloathing which may have 
incurred since their departure; & assure them that they shall be recom- 
mended to the liberality of the legislature for the grant of a soldier's 
portion of land each, as proposed in my message to Congress & repair 
yourself with your papers to the seat of government. 

To provide, on the accident of your death, against anarchy, disper- 
sion & the consequent danger to your party, and total failure of the 
enterprise, you are herby authorised, by any instrument signed & written 
in your hand, to name the person among them who shall succeed to the 
command on your decease, & by like instruments to change the nomina- 
tion from time to time, as further experience of the characters accom- 
panying you shall point out superior fitness: and all the powers & 
authorities given to yourself are, in the event of your death, transferred 
to & vested in the successor so named, with further power to him, & 
his successors in like manner to name each his successor, who, on the 
death of his predecessor, shall be invested with all the powers & au- 
thorities given to yourself. 

Given under my hand at the city of Washington, this 20th day of 
June 1803 

Th. Jefferson 
Pr. U S. of America 

220 The Oregon Trail 


(From Joel Palmer's Journal of Travels over the Rocky Mountains, 


For burthen wagons, light four horse or heavy two horse wagons 
are the size commonly used. They should be made of the best material, 
well seasoned, and should in all cases have falling tongues. The tire 
should not be less than one and three fourth inches wide, but may be 
advantageously used three inches; two inches, however, is the most 
common width. In fastening on the tire, bolts should be used instead 
of nails; it should be at least % or % inches thick. Hub boxes for the 
hubs should be about four inches. The skeins should be well steeled. 
The Mormon fashioned wagon bed is the best. They are usually made 
straight, with side boards about 16 inches wide, and a projection out- 
ward of four inches on each side, and then another side board of ten 
or twelve inches; in this last, set the bows for covers, which should 
always be double. Boxes for carrying effects should be so constructed 
as to correspond in height with the offset in the wagon bed, as this 
gives a smooth surface to sleep upon. 

Ox teams are more extensively used than any others. Oxen stand the 
trip much better, and are not so liable to be stolen by the Indians, and 
are much less trouble. Cattle are generally allowed to go at large, when 
not hitched to the wagons; whilst horses and mules must always be 
staked up at night. Oxen can procure food in many places where horses 
cannot, and in much less time. Cattle that have been raised in Illinois 
or Missouri, stand the trip better than those raised in Indiana or Ohio ; 
as they have been accustomed to eating the prairie grass, upon which 
they must wholly rely while on the road. Great care should be taken 
in selecting cattle; they should be from four to six years old, tight and 
heavy made. 

For those who fit out but one wagon, it is not safe to start with less 
than four yoke of oxen, as they are liable to get lame, have sore necks, 
or to stray away. One team thus fitted up may start from Missouri with 
twenty-five hundred pounds and as each day's rations make the load 
that much lighter, before they reach any rough road, their loading is 
much reduced. Persons should recollect that every thing in the outfit 
should be as light as the required strength will permit; no useless 
trumpery should be taken. The loading should consist of provisions 
and apparel, a necessary supply of cooking fixtures, a few tools, etc. 
No great speculation can be made in buying cattle and driving them 
through to sell; but as the prices of oxen and cows are much higher 
in Oregon than in the States, nothing is lost in having a good supply 
of them, which will enable the emigrant to wagon through many articles 
that are difficult to be obtained in Oregon. Each family should have a 

Appendices 221 

few cows, as the milk can be used the entire route, and they are often 
convenient to put to the wagon to relieve oxen. They should be so 
selected that portions of them would come in fresh upon the road. 
Sheep can also be advantageously driven. American horses and mares 
always command high prices, and with careful usage can be taken 
through; but if used to wagons or carriages, their loading should be 
light. Each family should be provided with a sheet-iron stove, with 
boiler; a platform can easily be constructed for carrying it at the hind 
end of the wagon; and as it is frequently quite windy, and there is 
often a scarcity of wood, the stove is very convenient. Each family 
should also be provided with a tent, and to it should be attached good 
strong cords to fasten it down. 

The cooking fixtures generally used are of sheet iron; a dutch oven 
and skillet of cast metal are very essential. Plates, cups, etc., should be 
of tin ware, as queens-ware is much heavier and liable to break, and 
consumes much time in packing up. A reflector is sometimes very use- 
ful. Families should each have two churns, one for carrying sweet and 
one for sour milk. They should also have one eight or ten gallon keg 
for carrying water, one axe, one shovel, two or three augers, one hand 
saw, and if a farmer he should be provided with one cross-cut saw 
and a few plough moulds, as it is difficult getting such articles. When 
I left the country, ploughs cost from twenty-five to forty dollars each. 
A good supply of ropes for tying up horses and catching cattle, should 
also be taken. Every person should be well supplied with boots and 
shoes and in fact with every kind of clothing. It is also well to be sup- 
plied with at least one feather bed, and a good assortment of bedding. 
There are no tame geese in the country, but an abundance of wild ones ; 
yet it is difficult procuring a sufficient quantity of feathers for a bed. 
The Muscovy is the only tame duck in the country. 

Each male person should have at least one rifle gun, and a shot gun 
is also very useful for wild fowl and small game, of which there is 
an abundance. The best sized calibre for the mountains is from thirty- 
two to fifty-six to the pound; but one of from sixty to eighty, or even 
less, is best when in the lower settlements. The buffalo seldom range 
beyond the South Pass, and never west of Green river. The larger game 
are elk, deer, antelope, mountain sheep or bighorn, and bear. The small 
game are hare, rabbit, grouse, sage hen, pheasant, quail, etc. A good 
supply of ammunition is essential. 

In laying in a supply of provisions for the journey, persons will 
doubtless be governed, in some degree, by their means; but there are 
a few essentials that all will require. 

For each adult, there should be two hundred pounds of flour, thirty 
pounds of pilot bread, seventy-five pounds of bacon, ten pounds of rice, 
five pounds of coffee, two pounds of tea, twenty-five pounds of sugar, 
half a bushel of dried beans, one bushel of dried fruit, two pounds of 
saleratus, ten pounds of salt, half a bushel of corn meal; and it is well 

222 The Oregon Trail 

to have a half bushel of corn, parched and ground; a small keg of 
vinegar should also be taken. To the above may be added as many good 
things as the means of the person will enable him to carry; for what- 
ever is good at home is none the less so on the road. The above will 
be ample for the journey; but should an additional quantity be taken, 
it can readily be disposed of in the mountains and at good prices, not 
for cash, but for robes, dressed skins, buckskin pants, moccasins, etc. 
It is also well for families to be provided with medicines. It is seldom 
however, that emigrants are sick; but sometimes eating too freely of 
fresh buffalo meat causes diarrhoea, and unless it be checked soon pros- 
trates the individual, and leaves him a fit subject for disease. 

The time usually occupied in making the trip from Missouri to Ore- 
gon city is about five months; but with the aid of a person who has 
traveled the route with an emigrating company the trip can be per- 
formed in about four months. 

Much injury is done to teams in racing them, endeavoring to pass 
each other. Emigrants should make an every day business of travel- 
ing resting upon the same ground two nights is not good policy, as 
the teams are likely to ramble too far. Getting into large companies 
should be avoided, as they are necessarily compelled to move more 
tardily. From ten to twenty-five wagons is a sufficient number to travel 
with safety. The advance and rear companies should not be less than 
twenty; but between, it may be safe to go with six. The Indians are 
very annoying on account of their thieving propensities, but if well 
watched, they would seldom put them into practice. Persons should 
always avoid rambling far from camp unarmed, or in too small par- 
ties; Indians will sometimes seek such opportunities to rob a man of 
what little effects he has about him; and if he attempts to get away 
from them with his property, they will sometimes shoot him. 

There are several points along the Missouri where emigrants have 
been in the practice of fitting out. Of these Independence, St. Joseph, 
and Council Bluffs, are the most noted. For those emigrating from 
Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and northern Missouri, Iowa and Michigan, I 
think St. Joseph the best point; as by taking that route the crossing of 
several streams (which at the early season we travel are sometimes very 
high) is avoided. Outfits may be had at this point, as readily as at any 
other along the river. Work cattle can be bought in its vicinity for from 
twenty-five to thirty dollars per yoke, cows, horses, etc., equally cheap. 

Emigrants should endeavor to arrive at St. Joseph early in April, so 
as to be in readiness to take up the line of march by the middle of 
April. Companies, however, have often started as late as the tenth of 
May; but in such cases they seldom arrive in Oregon until after the 
rainy season commences in the Cascade range of mountains. 

Those residing in northern Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, etc., 
who contemplate traveling by land to the place of rendezvous, should 
start in time to give their teams at least ten days rest. Ox teams, after 

Appendices 223 

traveling four or five hundred miles in the states, at that season of the 
year, would be unfit to perform a journey across the mountains; but 
doubtless they might be exchanged for others, at or near the rendezvous. 

Farmers would do well to take along a good supply of horse gears. 
Mechanics should take such tools as are easily carried ; as there are but 
few in the country, and those are held at exorbitant prices. Every family 
should lay in a good supply of school books for their children. 

In case of an emergency, flour can be bought at Fort Hall, and Fort 
Bois, two trading posts of the Hudson's Bay Company, at twenty dol- 
lars per hundred; and by forwarding word to Spalding's mission, on 
the Kooskooskee, they will pack out flour to Fort Bois, at ten dollars 
per hundred, and to the Granol Round at eight dollars, and will take 
in exchange dry goods, groceries, etc.; but at Forts Hall and Bois, the 
company will take nothing in payment but cash or cattle. At Dr. Whit- 
man's station, flour can be bought at five- dollars per hundred, corn 
meal at four dollars, beef at six and seven cents per pound, potatoes, 
fifty cents a bushel. It is proper to observe that the flour at Spalding's 
and Whitman's stations will be unbolted. Emigrants however, should 
be cautious, and lay in a sufficient supply to last them through. 


1837 v Prosperity; panic; recession; depression. 

Great activity and excited speculation, first quarter, followed by slacken- 
ing and depression; many failures; unemployment; complete collapse of 
cotton market, spring; commodity prices decline; foreign trade restricted. 

Money very tight; panic begins, March, in New Orleans; worst in New 
York, May; general suspension of specie payments; high gold premium; 
over six hundred bank failures. 

1838 Depression; slight revival. 

Stagnation gradually yields to improvement and increased activity, sum- 
mer; commodity prices reach bottom and rise; many failures early in year; 
further decline in foreign trade. 

Money eases; gradual resumption of specie payments by banks begins, 

Fair wheat crop, lower price; poor cotton yield, high price. 

Jason Lee lectures on Oregon. 

1839 Jason Lee sets out for Oregon by sea with 51 settlers. 
Revival; panic; recession. 

Continued improvement; revival of land speculation early in year; rapid 
decline to depression, autumn; many failures; commodity prices collapse 
after rapid rise; recovery in foreign trade. 

Further resumption led by United States Bank, January; money market 
tightens to panic and bank failures, October; specie payments again 
suspended, except New England and New York, last quarter. 

Excellent wheat harvest, record cotton crop; prices collapse. 

War with England over boundary threatened, January. 

1840 Depression. 

Stagnation; commodity prices decline rapidly; revival of export trade, 
very small imports, favorable balance. 

Continued financial strain, especially in West; slowly easing money mar- 
ket; gold at premium; Sub-Treasury Bill passed; declining security prices. 

Large wheat, fair cotton crop; stronger prices. 

1841 In Spring about 500 assemble at Independence, Mo., for trip to California. 

Dullness; commodity prices decline; many failures; improved imports 
and smaller exports cause return to unfavorable balance. 

Money easier; attempt to open the Bank of the United States and make 
resumption general fails, February; many bank failures in West; Sub- 
Treasury scheme annulled; declining security prices, especially last quarter. 

Good wheat, poor cotton crop; higher wheat price, lower cotton. 

Tyler, Democrat, becomes President upon death of Harrison. 

1842 In spring White's party of 100 emigrants leaves for Oregon. 

Continued dullness; many failures, spring; marked decline in commodity 
prices, especially last half-year; foreign trade small. 

Tight money eases; specie payments resumed in eastern cities, March; 
bank failures numerous; slower resumption with panics in interior, espe- 
cially New Orleans, spring; securities reach bottom, February, and rise 
rapidly, second quarter. 


Appendices 225 

Abundant crops, especially cotton; very low prices. 

High tariff passed, August; Dorr's rebellion; Seminole War ended. 

1843 In spring about 875 leave the Missouri for the West. 
Depression ; revival. 

Inactivity gradually yields to improvement, summer, except in South; com- 
modity prices reach low point and improve, autumn; excellent exports, small 
import trade. 

Money easy; active speculation, security prices advancing to July. 

Good cereal crops, especially corn; poor cotton yield; very low wheat 

1844 In spring 1400-1500 leave the Missouri for Oregon, 
Revival; prosperity. 

Continued improvement in manufacturing; prices of manufactured prod- 
ucts rise, foodstuffs decline; cotton speculation appears; revived imports, 
exports dull. 

Easy money tightens temporarily, February and August; further rise in 
security prices, spring; stock exchange panic after election. 

Agriculture depressed; poor wheat and corn, excellent oats and cotton 
crops; severe fall in prices of agricultural commodities. 

1845 In spring 3,000 leave for Oregon. 
Prosperity; brief recession. 

General prosperity, aided by marked improvement in South; slump 
ascribed to political difficulties, May; return to activity, October; slight 
rise in commodity prices; exports increase, smaller imports. 

Money tight; stock market depressed, summer, but revives with active 
railroad speculation late in year. 

Excellent wheat, fair cotton and oats, and poor corn crops; rising prices; 
active wheat speculation, last quarter. 

Annexation of Texas, March; Oregon trouble with England, April. 

1846 In spring about 2,000 leave for Oregon. Mormons driven from Nauvoo. 
Recession; mild depression. 

Slackening of activity to dullness; some advance of commodity prices; 
prosperity continues in South; smaller exports, larger imports. 

Severe pressure in money market, May, and late in year; sub-treasuries 
established; security prices fall. 

Large wheat, short cotton crop; agricultural prices rise late in year. 

War with Mexico declared, May, followed by rapid successes; Oregon 
controversy settled, June; more liberal tariff becomes effective, December. 

1847 Mormons go to Salt Lake City; many settlers go to Oregon Territory and 

Revival; prosperity; panic; recession. 

Rapid improvement begins, January; great activity; full employment; 
high commodity prices; activity slackens with collapse of English exchange 
and cotton prices, November; large foreign trade. 

Money eases with large importation of specie; panic, November; tight 
money and break in security prices. 

1848 Mild depression; revival. 

Dullness in industry and trade; gradual improvement late in year with 
California boom; commodity prices decline; failures; foreign trade slackens, 
though exports of foodstuffs continue large. 

Very tight money eases slightly; bonds advance late in year, stock prices 
decline; Mexico makes indemnity payments. 

Record crops, very low prices. 

226 The Oregon Trail 

Gold discoveries in California, January; treaty with Mexico, February; 
Taylor, Whig, elected. 

1849 Gold rush by land and sea; 20,000 left Missouri in April and many 
thousands more in May. 


Widespread activity in industry; California expansion and speculation; 
commodity prices reach minimum ; very active railroad construction ; foreign 
trade recovers. 

Money eases, summer; rising security prices, first half-year. 

Excellent crops except cotton; higher prices. 

Cholera scare, summer. 

1850 Gold rush by land and sea. 

Unusual activity and expansion; commodity prices advance; very active 
railroad construction; foreign trade booms, especially import trade. 

Money easy; revival of stock market, especially railroad securities, late 
in year; influx of gold from California commences. 

Fair wheat, poor cotton crops, good wheat price, very high cotton. 

1851 Western migration continues. 

Continued activity despite failures, summer, due to collapse of specula- 
tion in California shipments; further advance in commodity prices; enor- 
mous expansion in foreign trade, especially exports. 

Money tightens, July; railroad stock prices reach peak, May, decline 
sharply to September, and then partially recover. 

Fair wheat, very large cotton crop; high wheat price, rapid decline in 
price of cotton. 

1852 By this year, probably 100,000 had gone overland. 

Widespread activity and expansion; lower commodity prices; active 
speculation; real estate boom; large foreign trade. 

Money easier; security prices rise; railroad stocks reach peak, end of 

Good wheat and record cotton crops; much lower prices. 

Pierce, Democrat, elected President. 

1853 Prosperity; recession. 

Continued activity and expansion, slackening last quarter; iron and steel 
industry severely depressed; commodity prices rise rapidly; very active rail- 
road construction; extensive speculation; great activity in foreign trade. 

Money tightens severely; panics and distress in interior cities; decline in 
railroad stock prices. 

Record wheat, poor cotton crops; wheat price low. 

1854 Recession; depression. 

Declining industrial activity; unemployment appears, autumn; continued 
rise of commodity prices and feverish speculation to autumn; railroad con- 
struction halted; many failures; continued activity in foreign trade. 

Schuyler frauds bared, July, precipitating stock exchange panic; money 
very tight; financial panic, September; many private bank failures; finan- 
cial distress especially severe, San Francisco; railroad stock prices steady 
to June, and then collapse. 

Very small wheat and cotton crops; wheat price rises strongly. 

Japan opened to the United States. 

Appendices 227 

1855 Depression ; revival. 

Dullness continues to autumn, when revival sets in; slack foreign trade, 
especially imports. 

Money eases, but tightens, autumn; railroad securities reach low point 
and recover somewhat. 

Excellent wheat, oats, corn and cotton crops; high prices. 

1856 Prosperity. 

General activity and expansion; revival in railroad construction; in- 
creased number of failures late in year; very active commodity speculation; 
foreign trade recovers with favorable balance. 

Money very easy to autumn; severe stringency, November; excited and 
declining stock market with prices fairly steady and higher, summer. 

Excellent wheat, small cotton crop; wheat price falls. 

1857 Prosperity; panic; recession; depression. 

Activity gives way to dullness, spring, and stagnation, autumn; com- 
modity prices decline late in year; many failures; enormous foreign trade 

Money very tight; panic, August; runs on banks and bank failures, 
October; specie payment suspended, October to December; stock prices 
collapse with low point, October; bonds collapse temporarily, autumn. 

Good wheat and cotton crops, lower prices. 

1858 Depression. 

Dullness continues; many failures; commodity prices decline; further 
reduction in construction; foreign trade restricted. 

Money eases; security markets depressed after temporary recovery, first 

Excellent crops, low prices. 

1859 Gold stampede to Colorado. 

Gradual improvement ; commodity prices steady ; foreign trade very active. 
Money easy; further decline in railroad stock prices to low point, August; 
lower bond prices. 

Good wheat, enormous cotton crops; price for wheat low, high for cotton. 

1860 Prosperity; recession. 

Continued activity, slackening late in year; foreign trade booms. 

Money tight after easing, summer; financial panic, November, neces- 
sitates issuing of clearing house certificates; slight recovery in railroad 
stock prices to peak, September; bond prices advance to summer and then 

Good wheat and cotton crops, lower prices. 

(Reprinted, with exception of statements on migrations, from Business 
Annals (1926), courtesy of the National Bureau of Economic Research.) 


Abbey, James. A Trip Across the Plains. New Albany, Ind., Kent 
& Norman, and J. R. Nunemacher, 1850. 

Bryce, George. The Remarkable History of the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany. London, S. Low, Marston & Co., 1902. 

Burton, Richard F. The City of the Saints. New York, Harper & 
Bros., 1862. 

Chambers, J. S. The Conquest of Cholera. New York, Macmillan, 

Chittenden, Hiram Martin. The American Fur Trade of the Far West 
(2 vols.). Introduction and notes by Stallo Vinton. New York, R. R. 
Wilson, Inc., 1936. Best volume available on early fur trade, though 
both text and notes are occasionally inaccurate. 

Clayton, William. Journal. Salt Lake City, Deseret News, 1921. 
Diary of the Clerk of the Mormon Pioneers. 

Driggs, Howard R., Proctor, Arthur W., and Meeker, Ezra. Covered- 
Wagon Centennial and Ox-Team Days. New York, World Book Co., 

Driggs, Howard R. The Pony Express Goes Through. New York, 
Frederick A. Stokes Co., 1935. 

Fremont, Capt. John C. Report of the Exploring Expedition to the 
Rocky Mountains in the Year 2842, and to Oregon and North Cali- 
fornia in the Years 2843-4. Washington, Gales & Seaton, 1845. 

Fuller, George W. A History of the Pacific Northwest. New York, 
Alfred A. Knopf, 1931. Very valuable. 

Ghent, W. J. The Road to Oregon. New York, Tudor Publishing 
Co., 1934. Most comprehensive book on Oregon Trail, but prejudiced 
on Indian material. 

Greeley, Horace. An Overland Journey from New York to San Fran- 
cisco. New York, C. M. Saxton, Barker & Co., 1860. 

Gregg, Josiah. Commerce of the Prairies (2 vols.). New York, H. G. 
Langley, 1844. 

Historical Records Survey, Works Progress Administration, Wash- 
ington. Copies of many unpublished early Mormon and other travel 

Hulbert, Archer B., ed. Overland to the Pacific (6 vols.). Denver, 
Public Library, 1932-36. Annotated early travel journals. 

Humfreville, J. Lee. Twenty Years Among our Hostile Indians. New 
York, Hunter & Co., 1899. 

Irving, Washington. Astoria. New York, Belford, Clarke & Co., 1836. 
Based largely on the American Fur Company records of his friend, 
John Jacob Astor. 

Irving, Washington. Adventures of Captain Bonneville. New York, 
Belford, Clarke & Co., 1837. Romanticized revision of the Bonneville 


Bibliography 229 

Langford, Nathaniel P. Vigilante Days and Ways (2 vols.). Boston, 
J. G. Cupples Co., 1890. 

Lewis, Meriwether, and Clark, William. Original Journals of the 
Lewis and Clark Expedition, 1804-6 (8 vols.). Edited by Reuben Gold 
Thwaites. New York, Dodd, Mead & Co., 1904-5. The most compre- 
hensive and authoritative publication on the Lewis and Clark expedi- 
tion, unfortunately printed in an expensive and small edition. The 
notes are as valuable as the Journals, which were copied from the 
official documents. These were placed in the custody of the American 
Philosophical Society by Thomas Jefferson who feared their loss in 
the absence of any safe repository for national documents. 

Mackenzie, Sir Alexander. Voyages from Montreal through the Con- 
tinent of North America to the Frozen and Pacific Oceans in 1789 and 
1793 (2 vols.). New York, Allerton Book Co., 1922. 

Marcy, Capt. Randolph B. The Prairie Traveler. Edited by Richard 

F. Burton. London, Trubner & Co., 1863. Published in U.S. by authority 
of the War Dept. 

Montgomery, Richard H. The White-Headed Eagle. New York, Mac- 
millan, 1935. Best account of McLoughlin. 

Old Oregon Trail, The. Washington, Government Printing Office, 
1925. Hearings before the Committee on Roads, House of Representa- 
tives, show confusion as to where the Oregon Trail ran ; idea of officially 
marking trail was subsequently abandoned. 

Ordway, John, and Lewis, Meriwether. Journals of Captain Meri- 
wether Lewis and Sergeant John Ordway, 1803-6. Edited by Milo M. 
Quaife. Madison, Wisconsin Historical Society, 1916. 

Oregon Historical Quarterly. Portland, Oregon-Statesman Publish- 
ing Co. 

Pacific Northwest Quarterly. Seattle, University of Washington. 

Palmer, Joel. Journal of Travels over the Rocky Mountains, 1845-6. 
Cincinnati, J. A. & U. P. James, 1847. 

Parker, Rev. Samuel. Journal of an Exploring Tour beyond the 
Rocky Mountains, 1835. Auburn, J. C. Derby & Co., 1846. (First edi- 
tion, 1838.) 

Parkman, Francis. The California and Oregon Trail. New York, 

G. P. Putnam, 1849. 

Paullin, Charles 0., and Wright, John K. Atlas of the Historical 
Geography of the United States, Washington, Carnegie Institution, and 
New York, American Geographical Society, 1932. 

Paxson, Frederic L. History of the American Frontier, 1763-1893. 
Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1924. Very valuable. 

Sage, Rufus B. Rocky Mountain Life. Boston, F. Hewes & Co., 1857. 

Sawyer, Lorenzo. Way Sketches, St. Joseph to California in 1850. 
Edited by Edward Eberstadt. New York, 1926. Volume valuable for 
its quotes from and notes on rare unpublished manuscripts. 

230 The Oregon Trail 

Stuart, Robert. The Discovery of the Oregon Trail. Edited by Philip 
Ashton Rollins. New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1935. 

Thwaites, Reuben Gold, ed. Early Western Travels, 1748-1846 (32 
vols). Cleveland, A. H. Clarke Co., 1904-7. Annotated reprints of some 
of the best and rarest contemporary travel volumes. 

Wagner, Henry R. The Plains and the Rockies. Revised by Charles 
L. Camp. San Francisco, Grabhorn Press, 1937. Comprehensive bibli- 
ography of original travel narratives, 1800-1865. 

Washington Historical Quarterly. Seattle, University of Washington. 

Werner, M. R. Brigham Young. New York, Harcourt Brace, 1925. 



Abbey, James, 186, 197 

Abbott, C. S., 74 

Adams, E. L., 141 

Adobe Towns, 94 

Alcova, Wyo., 185 

Alda, Neb., 67 

Almond Stage Station, 95 

American Falls, Idaho, 108 

American Falls Reservoir, 108 

American Fur Co., 15, 19, 49, 52, 86, 

170, 173, 191, 199, 212 
American Philosophical Society, 7, 12 
Ames, Neb., 61 

Ames, Oakes and Oliver, 61, 84 
Apple Growers Association Cannery, 142 
Archer, Wyo., 84 
Arlington, Ore., 135 
Ash Hollow, 164 

Ashley, William H., 19, 54, 55, 96, 194 
Astor, John Jacob, 15, 17, 157 
Astoria, Ore., 16, 18, 121, 154, 157 
Astorians, 2, 54, 55, 108, 111, 116, 122, 

123, 125, 136, 153, 169, 201, 205, 


Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry., 38 
Atkinson, Henry, 57 
Atlantic City, Wyo., 191 
Auburn, Ore., 126 
Auger Falls, 114 
Austin, Idaho, 114 
Averell, Jim, 186 

Baker, Col. E. D., 125 

Baker, Ore., 125 

Baggs, Wyo., 94 

Balch, Frederic Homer, 140, 141, 144, 


Ball, John, 150 
Barbe-Marbois, 10 
Barlow, Samuel K., 143 
Barnes, Jane, 158 
Barrel Springs Stage Station, 95 
Barrow, Morris Clark, 177 
Bathtub Rock, 111 
Bayard, Neb., 166 
Beadle, J. Hanson, quoted, 56, 92, 95, 

104, 105 
Bear Lake Valley, 103 

Beaver Creek, 154 
Beaver, Rev. Herbert, 26 
Becknell, William, 38 
Beckwith, James (see Beckwourth) 
Beckwourth, James, 19 
Beer, Thomas, 53 
Beet fields, 167 
Beet sugar, 66 
Benton, Jessie, 45 

Benton, Sen. Thomas Hart, 29, 38, 45 
Benton, Wyo., 91 
Bessemer Bend, 183 
Bessemer Canyon, 184 
Bessemer, Wyo., 183 
Biddle, Nicholas, 210 
Bidwell, John, 29, 104 
Big Sandy Stage Station, 197 
Big Springs, Neb., 78 
Binns, Archie, 153 
Birdcage Gap, 166 
Birmingham Emigrating Co., 211 
Bishop's Cap, 147 
Blackfoot, Idaho, 204 
Black Hills, 80 
Blairs' Trading Post, 95 
Blalock, Ore., 136 
Bliss, Idaho, 115 
Bloomer, Amelia Jenks, 53 
Bloomington Lake, 103 
Blue Canyon Creek, 126 
Blue Lakes, 113 
Blue Mountains, 129 
Blue Water Creek, 164 
Boardman, Ore., 135 
Boggs, Gov. Lilburn, 43 
Boise, Idaho, 117 

Bonneville, Capt. Benjamin L. E. de, 24, 
145, 150, 169, 188, 194, 198, 210 
Bonneville, quoted, 127 
Bonneville Dam, 141, 145 
Bonneville, Ore., 144 
Boomerang, newspaper, 87 
Boot Hill Cemetery, 77 
Borah, William E., 118 
Border, Idaho, 103 
Bosler, Wyo., 88 
Bothwell, Wyo., 186 
Bower, B. M., 115 




Boyd, James E., 68 

Brady, Neb., 74 

Bridal Veil, Ore., 147 

Bridge of the Gods, 144 

Bridgeport, Neb., 165, 211 

Bridger, Jim, 19, 45, 98, 170, 172, 182, 

195, 199, 210 
Bridger's Crossing, 176 
Bridger Pass, 94 
Bright, William, 191 
Broadwater, Neb., 165 
Broughton, Lieut. William, 148, 149, 155 
Brown, Ben, 128 
Brule, Neb., 77 
Buchanan, James, 100 
Buchanan, Neb., 59 
Buffalo Horn, Chief, 116 
Buford, Wyo., 84 
Buhl, Idaho, 114 
Bunyan, Paul, 112 
Buried treasure, 79, 89, 111 
Burley, Idaho, 110 

Burlington & Missouri River R.R., 68 
Burnt Ranch Stage Station, 193 
Burris, Charlie, 92 
Burton, Richard, 51, 101 
Bushnell, Neb., 82 

Cache National Forest, 103 
Caldron Linn, 111 
Caldwell, Billy, 52 
Caldwell, Idaho, 121 
Calhoun, John C., 57 
California Gulch, 126 
California Hill, 78 
California Trail, 104, 110, 162, 203 
Camp Clarke, 166 
Camp Missouri, 57 
Camp Scott, 100 
Campbell, Robert, 170 
Cape Horn Palisades, 147 
Caribou National Forest, 103 
Carson, Kit, 182, 206 
Cascade Locks, Ore., 143 
Caseno, Chief, 153 

Casper-Alcova Irrigation and Power De- 
velopment, 185 
Casper, Wyo., 179 
Cassidy, Butch, 94 
Castle Rock, 99 
Castle Rock, Ore., 135 

Castorville, Ore., 127 

Cattle drives, 77, 172 

Cattle ranges, 123 

Cayuse, Ore., 131 

Celilo, Ore., 137 

Celilo Falls, 137 

Central City, Neb., 64 

Central Overland California and Pike's 
Peak Express Co., 48 

Central Pacific R. R. (see also Union 
Pacific R. R.), 33 

Central Pacific Railroad Co., Construc- 
tion camps of, 57 

Champagne Spring, 104 

Chapman, Neb., 65 

Chappell, Neb., 79 

Charbonneau, 13 

Cherokee Trail, 83, 86, 194 

Cheyenne, Wyo., 84 

Chimney Rock, Neb., 211 

Chinese workers, 96 

Chisholm Cattle Trail, 77 

Chittenden, Hiram M., 189 

Cholera, 31, 41, 42, 45, 116, 167 

Chouteau, Pierre, Jr., 99 

Church Buttes, 98 

Church, Harrison, 101 

Clark, George Rogers, 7 

Clark, Gen. John B., 43 

Clark, William, 12, 55, 135 
quoted, 138, 155, 156 

Clarke, Henry T., 166 

Clary, Joe, 164 

Clatskanie, Ore., 155 

Clatsop Crest, 155 

Clayton, William, 57, 61, 66, 70, 163, 
164, 168, 178, 189, 195 

Cleft, Idaho, 117 

Clyman, James, 166 

Coal, 90, 101 
labor troubles, 96 

Cody, "Buffalo Bill," 76 

Coe, Mrs. Nathaniel, 141 

Cokeville, Wyo., 102 

Cold Spring, 175 

Cole, Gilbert, 166 

Collins, Caspar W., 182 

Colter, John, 209 

Columbia, the, 158 

Columbia River Fishing and Trading 
Co., 159 



Columbia River Packers Assn., 159 
Columbia Gorge Hotel, 142 
Columbus, Neb., 62 
Command and General Staff School (Ft. 

Leavenworth), 47 
Como Bluffs, Wyo., 90 
Conant Trail, 210 

Connor, Gen. Patrick Edward, 104 
Continental Divide, 93 
Coopey Falls, 147 
Cooper, James Fenimore, 24, 174 
Cooper Lake, 88 
Corbett, Ore., 148 
Coston, I. N., 118 
Council Bluffs, Iowa, 51 
Count's Hot Spring, 201 
Courthouse Rock, 165 
Covered-Wagon Centennial, 189 
Covington, Richard, 151 
Cox, Ross, 161 
Cozad, Neb., 72 
Crag Rats Clubhouse, 142 
Crater Rings, 117 
Crazy Horse, Chief, 176 
Crescent Lake Reserve, 165 
Creston, Wyo., 93 
Cronyn, George W., 141 
Crook, George, 178 
Crown Point, 147 
Cruzat, Peter, 133 
Currie, "Flat Nose George," 89 
Curtis, Edward, 138 
Custart, Amos J., 184 

Dakota Territory, 87 
Dalles, The, Ore., 139 
Dana, Wyo., 91 
Daniel, Wyo., 198 
Darrow, Clarence, 118 
Davis, H. L., 140 
Day, John, 136 
Dead Man's Flat, 116 
Dead Man's Gulch, 116 
Dead Man's Pass, 130 
Deer Creek, 181 
Deer Island, Ore., 154 
DeLamar, J. R., 118 
Deschutes River, 137 
Deseret, State of, 99 
DeSmet, Father Pierre J., 29, 52, 139, 

Devil's Gate, 189 

Devil's Kitchen, 105 

Diamond Springs Pony Express Station, 


Diamondsville, Wyo., 101 
Dodge, Gen. G. M., 75 
Donner party, 32, 100 
Dorion, Marie and Pierre, 112, 116, 

121, 127, 130 
Douglas, Wyo., 176 
Driggs, Don C., 205 
Driggs, Idaho, 205 
Duc-sac-hi Bridge, Chief, 137 
Duncan, Neb., 64 
Durkee, Ore., 125 

Eagle Creek Park, Ore., 144 
Eastern Oregon Normal School, 129 
Eastern Oregon State Experiment Sta- 
tion, 128 

Eastern Oregon State Hospital, 132 
Eden, Wyo., 197 
Eells, Myron F., 134 
Eliot Park, Ore., 142 
Elkhorn Peak, 126 
Elkhorn Range, 126 
Elkhorn River, 56, 59 
Elkhorn Valley R. R., 60 
Elk Mountain, Wyo., 90 
Elm Creek, Neb., 71 
Emigrant Crossing, 122 
Emigrant Hill, 130 
Emigrant Rock, 110 
Emigrant Springs, 102 
Emigrant Springs State Park, Ore., 130 
Emigrants' Laundry Tub, 175 
Emigrants : 

delight in pioneer role, 31, 40, 73, 
168, 195 

equipment, 37 

hardships of, 61, 62 

improvidence of some, 40, 163, 187 

organization of trains, 41 

outfits for, 220 

passion for leaving autographs, 74, 

110, 140, 173, 188 
Epsom Salt Beds, 90 
Euwer, Anthony, 141 
Evansville, Wyo., 179 

Fanny's Bottom, 154 
Farmer, James, 172 



Farewell Bend, 124 

Farnham, Thomas J., 39 

Farson, Wyo., 196 

Fetterman, W. J., 172, 178 

Field Home, Eugene, 51 

Fiery Narrows, 185 

Filer, Idaho, 114 

Fink, Mike, 19, 55 

Firehole Basin, 98 

First Dragoons, 47 

Fishing, 157, 159 

Fitzpatrick, Thomas, 19, 29, 55, 170, 

194, 214 

Fletcher, Mary and Lizzie, 88 
Florence, Neb., 56 
Fontanelle, 188 
Forts and Trading Posts: 

Astoria, 15, 16, 157, 159 

Atkinson, 47, 57, 63 

Bernard, 170 

Boise, 115, 121, 203 

Bonneville (Fort Nonsense), 198 

Bridger, 98, 182, 195, 203 

Calhoun, 57 

Casper, 179, 183 

Childs, 68 

Clatsop, 160 

Connor, 104 

Croghan, 52 

Fetterman, 176, 178 

Fred Steele, 91 

George, 149 

Grattan, 164 

Hall, 25, 30, 101, 115, 121, 193, 202 

Halleck, 91 

Henry, 15, 112, 205 

John, 170 

Kearney, 59, 69, 163 

Kiowa, 63, 64 

Laramie, 54, 78, 162, 170, 182 

Leavenworth, 38 

McPherson, 73 

Mitchell, 214 

Nez Perces, 133 

Osage, 38 

Phil Kearney, 172 

Platte, 172 

Raines, 144 

St. Vrain's, 100 

Sedgwick, 79 

Sidney, 80 

Forts and Trading Posts Continued 

Supply, 99 

Tilton, 63 

Vancouver, 18, 22, 134, 145, 149 

Walla Walla, 132 

Washakie, Wyo., 192 

William, 114, 153, 170, 172 
Fort Dalles Historical Society, 140 
Fort Hall Reservation, 202 
Fort Laramie, Treaty of, 214 
Fort Leavenworth Military Reservation, 


Fossil Beds, Como Bluffs, 90 
Fossil Fish Bed, 102 
Fowler, Jacob, 38 
Franchere, Gabriel, 153 
Fraser, Alexander, 18 
Freezout Gulch, 126 
Fremont, John C., 29, 45, 59, 90, 105, 

164, 184, 188, 190, 194, 211 
Fremont, Neb., 59 
Fremont Island, Neb., 59 
Fremont's Island, Wyo., 184 
Fremont State Recreation Grounds, 

Neb., 60 
Frey, Johnny, 50 
Friends, Society of, 65 
Frizzell, Mrs., quoted, 37 
Frobisher, Benjamin and Joseph, 6 
Frontier justice, 80, 86, 206 
Fruitland, Idaho, 121 
Fuller, George W., 133 

Ganard, Louis, 182 

Gangloff State Park, Ore., 129 

Garden of Yesterday, 113 

Garfield Peak, 184 

Gaskill Botanical Garden, 113 

Gass, Patrick, 14 

Geer, T. T., 129 

Gering, Martin, 211 

Gering, Neb., 211 

Gibbon, Neb., 68 

Gilman Ranch House, 73 

Glass, Hugh, 19, 55, 62 

Glendo, Wyo., 176 

Glenrock, Wyo., 178 

Glory Hole, 175 

Gold rush: 

California, 45, 99, 187 

Colorado, 59 



Gold rush Continued 

Idaho, 121, 150 

Oregon, 126, 128, 134 

Wyoming, 191 
Gold seekers, 187 
Goodwin, M. E., 131 
Goose Egg Ranch, 184 
Gore, Sir George, 171 
Gothenburg, Neb., 73 
Gottsch-Tramm Graves, 65 
Grace, Idaho, 105 
Grand Canyon of the Snake, 201 
Grande Ronde Valley, 127 
Grand Island, 54, 69 
Grand Island, Neb., 65 
Granger, Wyo., 101, 196 
Granite Canyon, Wyo., 84 
Grant, Ulysses S., 151 
Grattan, John Lawrence, 164, 169 
Gray, Capt. Robert, 7, 18, 29 
Great Salt Lake, 195 
Great Western Stage, 68 
Greeley, Horace, 30, 48, 96, 197 
Green River, 196 
Green River, Wyo., 97 
Gregg, Josiah, 39 
Griffin, Henry, 126 
Griffin's Gulch, 126 
Groseilliers, Sieur de, 4 
Grover, Thomas, 181 
Guernsey, C. A., 175 
Guernsey, Wyo., 173 
Guittar, Francis, 52 
Gunnison, J. W., 99 
Gwin, Sen. W. M., 48 

Hart's Bluff, 52 

Hartville, Wyo., 174 

Haslem, Bob, 50 

Hastings, L. W., 100 

Hayden, F. V., 184 

Haystack Butte, 197 

Helvas Canyon, 212 

Henry, Alexander, 5, 158 

Henry, Andrew, 15, 19, 55, 62, 98, 205 

Henry, Neb., 168 

Heppner Junction, Ore., 135 

Hermiston, Ore., 132 

Hill, Samuel, 136 

Hoback Canyon, 201 

Hoback, John, 201 

Hockaday, John, 171 

Hoff, Harry, 50 

Holladay, Ben, 48, 78, 86 

Homestead Act of 1862, 58, 68 

Hood River, Ore., 141 

Hood River Distilleries, 142 

Horn, Tom, 88 

Horse Creek Treaty Grounds, 214 

Horseshoe Stage Station, 175 

Horsetail Falls, 146 

Hot Lake, Ore., 128 

Hudsons, Wyo., 191 

Hudson's Bay Co., 4, 17, 20, 25, 31, 109, 

114, 120, 134, 139, 150, 153, 158, 


Hunt Creek, 155 
Huntington, Ore, 124 
Hunt, Wilson Price, 15, 113, 127, 205 
Hyde, Orson, 53, 99 

Haberman, Idaho, 114 

Haine, Arthur, 151 

Haines, Ore., 126 

Halleck, Henry W., 91 

Hanna, Wyo., 90 

Hannibal & St. Joseph R. R., 49 

Hansen Bridge, 112 

Hansen, Idaho, 112 

Hargreaves, Sheba, 153 

Harmon, Appleton, 163, 164 

quoted, 57, 71, 165, 171, 179, 180, 

186, 193 

Harney, W. S., 164 
Harris, Col. John, 45 

Idaho City, Idaho, 119 
Idaho Falls, Idaho, 204 
Independence, Mo., 29, 30, 37 
Independence Rock, 188 
Indians : 

as traders, 139 

attacks by, 67, 109, 171 

celebrations, 202 

conflict with whites, 109, 170, 176 

debauched, 172 

fear of whites, 134 

missionaries among, 200 

panic among, 192, 208 

pictographs, 120 



Indians Continued 

relations with whites, 20, 32, 74, 133, 

172, 198, 199, 206, 209 

Arapaho, 74, 83, 86, 178, 182, 183, 

Aricara, 63 

Bannock, 202 

Blackfeet, 84, 184, 207 

Brule, 77, 164 

Cayuse, 130, 134 

Cherokee, 83 

Cheyenne, 65, 72, 74, 83, 182, 184, 

Clatsop, 161 

Comanche, 184 

Crow, 97, 186 

Delaware, 46 

Flathead, 25, 206 

Fox, 46 

Kanza, 46 

Mandan, 6, 13, 63 

Minnetaree, 166 

Nez Perces, 206 

Omaha, 47 

Otoe, 47 

Pawnee, 47, 64, 70, 72, 74, 166 

Potawatomi, 52 

Sac, 46 

Shawnee, 46 

Shoshone, 202 

Sioux, 67, 70, 74, 83, 84, 164, 166, 
169, 171, 182, 184 

Sioux, Ogallala, 77, 169 

Umatilla, 130 

Umpqua, 22 

Ute, 84 

Utes, White River, 91 

Walla Walla, 130 

Wyandotte, 46 
Indian Springs, Idaho, 108 
Ingalls, Eleaser, 49 
Inkom, Idaho, 106 
Invalids on Plains, 39 
Irrigation, 108, 111, 121, 132, 135, 167, 


Irrigon, Ore., 135 

Irving, Washington, 15, 24, 25, 39, 46, 
54, 111, 136, 138, 145, 158, 198, 
207, 213 
Isaac Todd, the, 158 

Jackson, Andrew, 83 
Jackson, David, 209 
Jackson Hole, 95, 209 
Jackson, William H., 184 
Jackson, Wyo., 209 
Jacobs, Everett, 57 
Jail Rock, 165 
James, Jesse, 51 
Jefferson Barracks, 47 
Jefferson, Thomas, 7 

instructions to Meri wether Lewis, 215 

message to Congress, 9 
John Day River, 155 
Johnson, Luke, 61, 181 
Johnston, Albert Sidney, 100 
Joliet, explorer, 5 
Jones, John S., 48 
Julesburg, Colo., 48, 75, 78 

Kamela, Ore., 129 
Kane, Thomas L., 53 
Kanesville, Iowa, 53, 56 
Kansas City, Mo., 44 
Kansas-Nebraska Bill, 48 
Kaub, Rev. Louis, 211 
Kearney, Neb., 68 
Kearny, Stephen Watts, 68 
Keetley, Jack, 50 
Kelley, Hall J., 24, 26 
Kemmerer, Wyo., 101 
Kimball, Heber, 57, 70 
Kimball, Neb., 82 
Kinkaid Act, 75 
King Hill, Idaho, 116 
Kingsley Dam, 163 
Kinport Peak, 107 
Knighton, H. M., 154 
Knox, William, 191 

La Grande, Ore., 128 
Lake Bonneville, 106 
Lakeview Park, 120 
Lake Walcott, 110 
Lander Cut-off, 2, 110 
Lander, F. W., 193 
Lander, Wyo., 192 
Lansdale, R. H., 150 
La Ramee, Jacques, 85, 86, 170 
Laramie Mountains, 84 
Laramie Peak, 175 
Laramie, Wyo., 85 



La Salle, explorer, 5 

Last Chance Saloon, 131 

Latourelle Falls, 147 

Lava Hot Springs, Idaho, 105 

Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary, 48 

Leavenworth, Henry H., 47 

Leavenworth, Kans., 48 

Leavenworth and Pike's Peak Stage and 

Express, 48 
Ledyard, John, 7 
Lee, Daniel, 139 

Lee, Jason, 25, 28, 30, 39, 130, 139 
Lewellen, Neb., 164 
Lewis and Clark Expedition, 1, 11, 52, 
57, 122, 123, 124, 133, 143, 154, 
192, 199 

equipment, 12 

planned, 9 

object of expedition, 215 

on the Columbia, 132, 134, 136, 137, 
141, 147, 148, 160 

records to be made by, 215 
Lewis, Meriwether, 8, 55 

quoted, 12, 138, 152 
Lexington, Neb., 71 
Liggett, William, 171 
Lime, Ore., 125 
Lindsay Creek, 142 
Lingle, Wyo., 169 
Linnton, Ore., 152 
Lisa, Manuel, 14, 55 
Littlefield, David, 126 
Little Jack Falls, 154 
Little Sandy, 195 
Livingston, Robert, 8 
Lockwood, Neb., 65 
Lodgepole Creek, 79, 82 
Lodgepole, Neb., 80 
Lone Tree, Neb., 64 
Long Party, 54 
Louisiana, 5, 8, 15 
Loup River Public Power Project, 62 
Lower California Crossing, 78 
Lye Lake, 115 
Lyman, Wyo., 98 

Machette Station, Fred, 73 
Mackenzie, Alexander, 6 
Magill, Ada, 179 
Magnolia Saloon, 120 

Majors, Alexander, 48 
Malad River, 115 
Mammoth Soda Spring, 104 
Marcy, Capt. R. B., 40 
Marie, Queen of Roumania, 136 
Marquette, explorer, 5 
Maryhill Castle, 136 
Massacre Rocks, 109 
Mayer State Park, Ore., 140 
McComb, Alexander, 199 
McCoy, John C., 44 
McCoy, Rev. Isaac, 44 
McDougall, Duncan, 16 
McDougall Field, Idaho, 107 
McKay, Alexander, 15, 18 
McKay, Thomas, 114 
McKenzie, Ronald S., 178 
McLeod, John, 114 

McLoughlin, Dr. John, 18, 21, 24, 28, 
30, 120, 134, 143, 149, 151, 152 
McTavish, Donald, 158, 159 
McTavish, Simon, 6 
Meacham, A. B., 130 
Meacham, Ore., 130 
Medicine Bow Peak, 88 
Medicine Bow, Wyo., 90 
Meeker, Ezra, 129 
Meeker, Nathan C., 91 
Memaloose Island, 141 
Meridian, Idaho, 120 
Michaux, Andre, 7 
Midland College, Neb., 60 
Miller, Andrew J., 74 
Miller's Hollow, 53 
Milner Dam, 111 
Milner, Idaho, 111 
Minatare, Neb., 166 
Minidoka Dam, 110 
Mission, Ore., 131 
Missouri Fur Co., 201, 205 
Mist Falls, 147 
Mitchell, Neb., 168 
Mitchell Pass, 213 
Mitchell Tunnel, 142 
Modoc Peace Commission, 130 
Monroe, James, 9 
Montpelier, Idaho, 103 
Monument Creek, 185 
Mormon Auditorium, Independence, 43 
Mormon Battalion, 52 
Mormon Canyon, 178 



Mormon Ferry, 42, 102 
Mormon Trail, 54, 69, 173 
Mormons : 

at Independence, 43 

Camp of Israel, 56 

conflict with U. S. Govt., 99 

eviction from Nauvoo, 52 

Handcart Brigade, 66, 72, 190, 193 

Immigration Fund, 66 

missionaries, 187 

Pioneers of 1847, 2, 54, 56, 60, 62, 
66, 70, 71, 99, 162, 163, 168, 169, 
178, 180, 189, 195 

Winter Quarters, 56, 182 
Morrisites, 104 
Mosier Tunnels, 141 
Mount Adams, 140 
Mount Hood, 136 
Mount Rainier, 153 
Mountain Home, Idaho, 116 
Muddy Gap, Wyo., 190 
Mulally Station, Pat, 73 
Multnomah Falls, 146 
Murphy, Idaho, 121 
Murphy wagons, 38 
Museums : 

Crabtree, 112 

Hutton, 97 

Idaho State Historical Society, 118 

Kuenzli, 64 

Oregon Trail, 213 

Perrine, 113 

Weaver, 113 

Whitaker's Taxidermist, 113 

Naked Truth Saloon, 119 

Names Hill, 102 

Nampa, Idaho, 120 

Nampuh, Chief, 120 

Napoleon, 8 

Nauvoo, 111., 43 

Neapolis, Neb., 60 

Nebraska Central College, 65 

Nebraska State Hospital, 69 

Nebraska State Teachers College, 69 

Nebraska Territory, 56 

Neville, William, 75 

Newcomb, Silas, 41, 49 

New Orleans, 8 

New Plymouth, Idaho, 121 

Nickell, Willie, 88 

Nicollet, Jean Nicholas, 45 
North Bend, Neb., 61 
North, Frank, 72 

North Platte Federal Reclamation Proj- 
ect, 169 

North Platte, Neb., 74 
Northport, Neb., 166 
North Powder, Ore., 127 
North West Co., 6, 16, 17, 133, 158 
Northwest Passage, 5, 7 
Nuttall, William, 178 
Nye, Bill, 87, 177 

Oakley, Idaho, 110 

Oak Point, Ore., 154 

O'Fallons, Neb., 76 

O'Farrell Cabin, 118 

Ogallala, Neb., 77, 162 

Ogden, Peter Skene, 22, 122, 125, 134 

Oil, production, 179 

Old Bedlam, 172 

Old's Ferry, Ore., 124 

Omaha, Neb., 55 

Oneonta Gorge, 146 

Ontario, Ore., 123 

Opal, Wyo., 101 

Ordway, Sergeant, quoted, 132, 134, 138 


claims to, 28, 158 

controversy over, 19, 31 

joint occupation, 17 
Oregon Pony, locomotive, 144 
Oregon Railroad and Navigation Co., 

134, 144 

Oregon State Fish Hatchery, 144 
Oregon State Pheasant Farm, 131 
Oregon Trail, 2, 31, 48, 49, 54, 69, 76, 
99, 101, 108, 116, 123, 124, 127, 
130, 162, 170, 188, 211 

after 1870, 33 

marker, 173 

Oregon Trail Memorial Assn., 189 
Oshkosh, Neb., 164 
Ostner, Charles, 117 
Overland route, 2, 49 
Overland Stage Line, 48, 94 
Overland Trail, 83, 97 
Ouryhee, the, 152 

Pacific Fur Co., 15 
Pacific Railway Act, 57 



Pacific Springs, Wyo., 195 

Palmer, quoted, 203 

Palmer, Joel, 31, 163, 194 

Parco, Wyo., 92 

Paris, Idaho, 103 

Paris, Treaty of (1763), 5 

Paris, Treaty of (1783), 7 

Parker, Rev. Samuel, 26, 133, 199, 200, 

206, 207, 211 
Parkerton, Wyo., 179 
Parkman, Francis, 37, 46 
Parrott, George, 92 
Pathfinder Dam, 185 
Patterson, Ferd, 119 
Pawnee Hunting and Burial Grounds, 


Paxton, Neb., 77 
Payette, Francois, 121 
Payette, Idaho, 122 
Pearce, Ira B., 118 
Pearson Army Airport, 151 
Pedro Mountains, 184 
Pendleton, George Hunt, 131 
Pendleton, Ore., 131 
Pendleton Round-Up, 132 
Peniston, William, 74 
Perkins, H. K. W., 139 
Petrified Forest, 90 
Pierre's Hole, 205 
Pierre's Hole, Battle of, 207 
Pilcher, Joshua, 211 
Pillars of Hercules, 147 
Pilot Butte, 96, 197 
Pilot Knob, 88 
Pine Bluffs, Wyo., 83 
Pinedale, Wyo., 197 
Pioneer Mother, the, 151 
Pitts, Captain, 52 
Placerville, Idaho, 120 
Platte Crossing, Upper, 180 
Platte Purchase, 49 
Platte River, 54 
Pleasant Valley, 125 
Plum Creek, 71 
Pocahontas, Ore., 126 
Pocatello, Idaho, 106 
Point of Rocks, Neb., 81 
Point of Rocks, Wyo., 95 
Poker Gulch, 126 
Pony Express, 33, 48, 50, 74, 112, 162, 

171, 184, 192, 214 

Portland, Ore., 149 

Portneuf River, 105 

Potter, Neb., 81 

Potter, Theodore, 188 

Powder Springs Gang, 94 

Powell, J. W., 98 

Prairie De La Messe, Wyo., 199 

Provot, fitienne, 19 

Puget Island, 155 

Puget, Lt. Peter, 155 

Pulpit Rock, 140 

Quincy, Ore., 154 

Radisson, Pierre, 4 

Railroads, hazards of travel on, 72 

Rainier Hill, 154 

Rainier, Ore., 154 

"Ramsey, Jack," 161 

Rankin, Joe, 91 

Rawlins, Gen. John A., 92 

Rawlins, Wyo., 92, 190 

Reardon Home, 45 

Red Buttes, 184 

Red Buttes Battlefield, 184 

Red Cloud Agency, First, 169 

Red Desert, 94 

Reeder, Andrew H., 47 

Register Cliff, 173 

Reni, Jules, 78, 174 

Rexburg, Idaho, 205 

Riley, James Whitcomb, 87 

Robidoux, Joseph, 49 

Robidoux House, Joseph, 51 

Rock Creek, 88 

Rock Ranch Battle, 169 

Rock River, Wyo., 89 

Rock Springs, Wyo.. 95 

Rocky Mountain Fur Co., 202, 205 

Ross, Alexander, 122 

Ross Park, Idaho, 107 

Roswell, Idaho, 121 

Roubidou, Basil, 212 

Roubidou Pass, 212 

Rowena Dell, 141 

Rowena, Ore., 140 

Rufus, Ore., 136 

Rupert, Idaho, 110 

Russell, William H., 48 

Sacajawea, 13, 100, 161, 192 
Sage, Rufus B., quoted, 20, 172 



Sage, Wyo., 102 

Sager children, 116 

St. Anthony, Idaho, 205 

St. Helens, Ore., 153 

St. John's Bridge, 152 

St. John's Roman Catholic Cathedral, 

Boise, 118 
St. Joseph, Mo., 49 
St. Louis Missouri Fur Co., 14 
St. Mary's Telegraph Station, 192 
St. Michael's Episcopal Cathedral, 

Boise, 118 

St. Peters Dome, 146 
Salmon, 137, 144 
Sand Dunes, 95 
Sandwich Islands, 27 
Sandy River, 148 
Santa Fe Trail, 38, 42, 44 
Santo Domingan revolt, 10 
Sargent, John D., 210 
Sauvie, Jean Baptiste, 153 
Sauvies Island, Ore., 152 
Sawyer, Lorenzo, 182, 194 

quoted, 163 
Scappoose, Ore., 153 
Schuyler, Neb., 61 
Scott, Hiram, 167 
Scott, Gen. Winfield, 47 
Scotts Bluff National Monument, 212 
Scottsbluff Experiment Farm, 168 
Scottsbluff, Neb., 167 
Seufert, Ore., 139 
Shaw, Quincy A., 37 
Shell Rock Mountain, 143 
Shelley, Idaho, 204 
Shelton, Neb., 67 
Shepperd's Dell, 147 
Sheridan, Philip H., 143 
Sherman Range, 85 
Sherman Station, Wyo., 84 
Short, Amos, 150 
Short, Esther, 150 
Shoshone Falls, 113 
Showberger Botanical Gardens, 122 
Sidney, Neb., 80 
Signal Butte, 212 
Silent City of Rocks, 110 
Silver City, Idaho, 121 
Simpson, Aemilius, 151 
Simpson, George, 18, 22, 28, 149 
Sioux City & Pacific R. R., 60 

Slacum, Captain, 26 

Slade Canyon, 174 

Slade, Jack, 79, 174 

Smelt, 148 

Smith, C. W., 163 

Smith, Jedediah S., 19, 22, 209 

Smith, John R., 176 

Smith, Joseph, 43, 52 

Smokestack Rock, 211 

Snake River, 103, 107, 122 

Soda Point, 105 

Soda Springs, Idaho, 29, 104 

South Pass, 2, 19, 188, 192, 193, 194 

South Pass City, Wyo., 191 

Spalding, Rev. Henry, 27, 114, 194 

Split Rock, 190 

Stage Hill, 212 

Stage Travel: 

discomforts of, 130 

hardships of, 101 

robberies, 106, 111 
Stampede Park, 105 
Standard Cattle Co., 61 
Stanfield, Ore., 132 

Starvation Creek State Park, Ore., 142 
Steamboat Rock, 211 
Steamboat Spring, 104 
Stegmiller, Joseph, 45 
Steunenberg, Frank, 118 
Strahan, Kay Cleaver, 129 
Strong, C. H., 185 
Stuart, Robert, 122, 136, 169, 183, 185, 

Sublette, Capt. William, 19, 170, 188, 

209, 210, 211 

Sublette Cut-Off, 2, 101, 196 
Sublette's Flat, 197 
Sublette, John, 91 
Sulphur Springs, 104 
Sunday, Billy, 141 
Sunrise, Wyo., 175 
Sutherland, Neb., 76 
Sutherland Reservoir, 76 
Sweetwater Bridge, 191 
Sweetwater Station, 184, 186 

Table Rock, 211 
Talbot Park, Ore., 147 
Talleyrand, French minister, 8, 10 
Taylor, Til, 132 
Taylor Toll Bridge, 204 



Teapot Dome, 179 

Telegraph line, transcontinental, 33 

Telephone Canyon, 85 

Teton Basin, 205 

Teton National Forest headquarters, 209 

Teton Pass, 201 

Thomas, Becky, 95 

Thompson, David, 6, 16 

Thornburg, Marion, 176 

Thornburg, Thomas F., 91 

Thorp, Col. John, 68 

Thousand Springs, 114 

Three Crossings, 190 

Three Island Ford, 116 

Todd, Caroline, 189 

Tollgate Rock, 97 

Tongue Point Lighthouse Service Base, 


Tongue Point State Park, Ore., 156 
Torrington, Wyo., 169 
Touchet, Ore., 134 
Tourists in early West, 39, 171 
Townsend, J. K., 153 
Tracy, Mo., 46 
Trading posts (see Forts) 
Trading posts, government, 9, 19, 20 
Train robberies, 81 
Trans-polar fliers, 151 
Trappers, 205 

Trenner Memorial Park, 108 
Turkey Leg, Chief, 72 
Twain, Mark, 73 
Twin Falls, Idaho, 112, 113 
Twin Sisters, 211 

Umatilla Irrigation Project, 132 

Umatilla, Ore., 134 

Union Fishermen's Cooperative Pack- 
ing Co., 159 

Union, Ore., 128 

Union Pacific R. R., 33, 53, 56, 57, 60, 
65, 78, 84, 86, 96 

Union Pacific, construction camps, 92, 

University of Idaho, 107 

University of Wyoming, 88 

Unthank, A. H., 178 

Upper California Crossing, 78 

Urguides, Jesus Kossuth, 119 

Utah Territory, 48, 99 

Valley, Neb., 59 
Vancouver Barracks, 151 
Vancouver, George, 149 
Vancouver, Wash., 149 
Vantage Point, 124 
Vasquez, Louis, 99 
Verendrye, Pierre, 5 
Viento, Ore., 142 
Viento State Park, 142 
Vincent, Tip, 92 
Vista House, 148 
Volcano Hill, 105 

Waddell, W. B., 48 
Waggoner, George A., 140 
Waggoner, George H., 124 
Wahkeena Falls, 147 
Waiilatpu, Wash., 134 
Walker, Joel P., 203 
Walla Walla, Wash., 116 
Waller, Reverend Mr., 28 
Wallula, Ore., 132 
Wain, S. Morris, 185 
Walters Ferry, Idaho, 120 
Wamsutter, Wyo., 94 
Warm Springs, Wyo., 175 
Warrell, William, 176 
Warrendale, Ore., 146 
Waterloo, Neb., 59 
Watson, Ella, 186 
Watson, H. D., 71 
Waw-Guin-Guin Falls, 142 
Wayer, Jacob, 122 
Weiser, Idaho, 122 
Wells Fargo Express, 95, 130 
Weston, Samuel, 38 
Westport, Battle of, 45 
Westport, Mo., 44 
Westport, Ore., 155 
Westward migration: 

expedition of 1841, 29 

propaganda against, 24 

propaganda for, 28, 30 

reasons for, 22 
White, Dr. Elijah, 30 
Whitehouse, Joseph, 20 
Whitman, Dr. Marcus, 26, 30, 114, 134, 

194, 199, 203 
Whitman Massacre, 139 
Whitman National Forest, Ore., 126 



Widowfield, Ed, 92 

Wilcox Robbery, 89 

Wildcat State Game Preserve, Neb., 212 

Willamette River, 128 

Willamette Valley, 149 

Williamson, Henry, 150 

Wilson, Edgar (see Bill Nye), 87 

Windlass Hill, 164 

Wind Mountain, 143 

Wind River, 192 

Wind River Reservation, 89 

Winship, Nathan, 154 

Winters, Rebecca, 167 

Wiser, Peter, 122 

Wishram, Ore., 138 

Wister, Owen, 90, 184, 210 

Woman's Suffrage, 87, 191 

Woodbury, Daniel P., 70 

Wood River, Neb., 67 

Woodruff, Elder, 180 

Woodson, Samuel H., Stages of, 42 

Wyeth, Nathaniel, 24, 25, 54, 123, 150, 

152, 159, 188, 202 
Wyoming National Forest, 200 
Wyoming State Agricultural Experiment 

Station, 197 

Wyoming State Experiment Farm, 84 
Wyoming State Fair Grounds, 177 
Wyoming State Penitentiary, 93 
Wyoming, Territory of, 87 

XY Company, 6 

Yankees, Galvanized, 70 
Yellowstone National Park, 210 
Yeon, John B. State Park, 146 
Young, Brigham, 51, 52, 56, 57, 66, 99, 
103, 168, 180, 189, 190, 194, 195 


1804 1847 


LEWIS AND CLAHK 1OO4 . I0O5 _ _ , FREMONT 1043 tt>46 


FREMONT 1843 - IB44 ASTOHIANS tail -lets , , 


Note: Some routes are slightly displaced on account of the congestion of lines.