Thursday, July 23, 2015

Pioneer Day Countdown: July 24, 1847 (Saturday)

The main body of the Saints had reached the Valley on July 22nd, but today was the day their Prophet, Brigham Young, entered the Valley - officially marking their trek West complete.

Traveling six miles in the morning through Emigration Canyon, "we came in full view of the great valley or basin," Wilford Woodruff said. " A land of promise, held in reserve by the hand of God for a resting place of the saints. An important day in the history of my life and the history of the church."

All the people of Brigham's Party "gazed with wonder and admiration upon the vast, rich, fertile valley, abounding with fresh water springs," Woodruff observed. "Our hears were surely made glad. We contemplate that in not many years the house of Go would stand in the tops of the mountains."

President Young hadn't fully recovered yet from his mountain fever, but "expressed his full satisfaction in the appearance of the valley as a resting place for the saints and said he was amply repaid for the journey."

In recalling the 1847 event, Wilford Woodruff  said Brigham had seen the valley in an earlier vision. While Brigham looked over the expanse below, the prophet, who had seen the future glory of the Valley said, "It is enough. This is the right place, drive on."

President Brigham Young with Wilford Woodruff, coming into the Valley
You can see this wagon at the Daughters of Utah Pioneer Museum.

The 111 day trek had ended. Many more Saints would follow soon after, following the trail the Saints had created for them.
Brigham's arrival stamped the date into history. After looking at the scenery of the Valley, his party descended and was greeted by the pioneers already at work.

The whole body had been busy plowing, planting, and creating an irrigation system. 

"By noon, five acres of a potato patch had been plowed and planting commenced." Some corn was also planted.  All this plowing and planting took place near the Salt Lake City-County Building.

Brigham's company arrived around 2 p.m.  "All rejoiced to see them, especially as they are better in health," Bullock said. 

Most of the pioneers were pleased with their new home, "but some complain because there is no timber." A few women in the party said the valley was too barren to sustain life, and wanted to continue to California. 

However, most agreed  that the soil was rich "and there were good prospects for sustaining and fattening livestock with little trouble."

"The only objection is the lack of rain," Clayton said. "We can easily irrigate the land at all events," he added.

After observing the area, Howard Egan said, "this is the most safe and secure place the saints could possibly locate themselves in. The saints have good reason to rejoice and thank the Lord for this goodly land unpopulated by gentiles."

Remember the pioneer legacy. 
Be true to the faith that our parents have cherished. 
Be true to the truth for which martyrs have perished. Soul, heart, and hand; faithful and true we will ever stand.
By Clark Kelly Price

"Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad."
-Joseph Smith 128:22  

Pioneer Day Countdown: July 23, 1847 (Friday)

Yesterday, most of the Saints made it into the Valley. The only people left in the mountains were the members of Brigham's Party. Brigham Young and others were sick, and were left behind a few days ago to recover.

The morning:

John Pack
Joseph Mathews
Two riders (John Pack and Joseph Mathews) were dispatched into the mountains to tell Brigham Young's party that the other pioneers had made it safely into the Salt Lake Valley. Their information motivated the rear guard to move swiftly, and cover that rest of the 15-miles through the canyon.

At 9:30 a.m. the pioneers in the Valley assembled and offered a "prayer of thanks to the Almighty for the preservation of the camp, their prosperity in the journey and their safe arrival in this place," Thomas Bullock said.

Then, Orson Pratt and Willard Richards "dedicated and consecrated the land to the Lord." Immediately after the meeting, they began to plow the earth near what later became Main Street in Salt Lake City.

William Carter
First to turn the plow in the Valley
Shadrach and Betsy (Quimby) Roundy
The first to turn the soil were William Carter, George W. Brown, and Shadrach Roundy. The soil was fertile, but baked by the sun. Several plows were broken as the work progressed due to the dryness of the soil.

The pioneers were urged to plant the seeds they had brought with them "without question as to who would eat the fruit of them," Bullock wrote. First priority was just to get the seeds planted.

Assignments were made to create the community and allow it to prosper.

Charles A. Harper
Charles and Louisa Harper
Charles A. Harper, Charles Shumway, and Elijah Newman were named as a committee to see that plows were made available to those turning the ground.

Stephen Markham was given the responsibility for having fresh teams available to plow every few hours.

Others were put to work building a dam across City Creek for irrigation, as well as digging  waterways to the planting ground.

Anyone with specialties was called to put their talents to use for equipment and labor as needed.

The Afternoon:

Around 2 p.m., water from City Creek had been successfully diverted to the farm land. The pioneer's irrigation system would become more extensive, and they would one day be renowned for their efficient use of it.
City Creek Waterway

At 4 p.m. a turnip patch was prepared. Others worked on making a coal patch for Almon Williams.

Brigham's Party:

They continued to make their way through Emigration Canyon.

The company had started at 6:45 a.m. where they left East Canyon. They climbed Big Mountain, which caused them to tire because of the stress and difficulty. They halted for a few hours at the foot of Big Mountain after conquering it.

In the afternoon, the party resumed their march, and struggled up Little Mountain. Pack and Matthews, the two information carriers, left the group at this time to communicate to the Saints in the Valley.

By 5 p.m., Brigham's Party had made it to Last Creek, and the whole group was exhausted.

It looks like Pioneer Day was always meant for July 24th.

Source: Kimball and Knight. 111 Days to Zion. Deseret News. Salt Lake City, 1978.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Pioneer Day Countdown: July 22, 1847 (Thursday)

Today was an exciting day for most of the pioneers. The Advance Team and the Main Company both entered the Valley on this day. Brigham's Party was still miles behind.

The day started when Orson Pratt rode to the Main Company in Emigration Canyon to find out what to do next. After discussing with Willard Richards and George A. Smith about places crops could grow, Pratt took a number of men and "rode into the Valley to explore."

The men Orson Pratt took were: George A. Smith, Porter Rockwell, J.C. Little, John Brown, Joseph Matthews, and John Pack.
The mouth of present-day Emigration Canyon

The 42-man Advance Company continued to clear the mouth of Emigration Canyon of the thickets and underbrush which prevented their way. This way, the Saints wouldn't have to climb the back-breaking Donner Hill (see bottom of page).

Coming out of the mouth of Emigration Canyon, Pratt and his companions rode to towards the Great Salt Lake for about 5 miles, then turned north searching for farming options. They noticed that the early part of the ride found "soil of excellent quality," but as they came closer to the lake, it "began to assume a more sterile appearance."

After traveling 15-miles into the Valley, Pratt's party turned back to Emigration Canyon. By this time, the Advance Guard had cleared the mouth of the canyon, and were resting 5-miles into the Valley.

In the meantime, the Main Company of Saints were traveling the canyon, and taking time to improve the roads. William Clayton climbed the top of a mountain hill, and was "much cheered by a handsome view of the Great Salt Lake." He described his view as "an extensive, beautiful, level-looking valley from here to the lake. Numerous green patches must be fertile and rich."

However, there was little timber to be found in the valley. This wasn't a surprise to the Saints, as "we have not expected to find a timbered country," Clayton said. "The lack of trees was about the only objection which could be raised, in my estimation, to this being one of the most beautiful valleys and pleasant places for a home for the saints which could be found."

"There is no prospect for building log houses without spending a vast amount of time and labor, but we can make Spanish brick (adobe) and dry them in the sun. If the land be as rich as it appears, I have no fears but that the saints can live here and do well," Clayton added.

One of the saints commented: "I would rather live at peace in this wild-looking country amongst the saints than dwell amongst the gentiles with all their wealth and good things of the earth and be eternally mobbed, harassed, hunted, our best men murdered and every good man's life continually in danger."

William Clayton had been separated from his family since Winter's Quarters. He worried about them often, especially about the difficult trek he most certainly would have to repeat with them.
"I could almost envy those who have go safely through, having their families with them, yet they will doubtless have a hard time of it this winter."

Coming into the Valley:

The Main Company finished cutting the road around 4 p.m., "turned around a hill and came in view of the Great Salt Lake in the distance," Thomas Bullock said. "A very extensive valley burst upon our view, dotted in three or four places with some timber."

Thomas Bullock could not help shouting: "Hurrah hurrah, hurrah, here's my home at last!" Like Clayton, he noted the lack of trees, but said: "there is an ocean of stone in the mountains to build stone houses and walls for fencing."

"If we can find a bed of coal, we can do well and be hidden up in the mountains of the Lord," Bullock noted.

The Company was so excited, they made a "very rapid descent" down the foothills and camped beside a small stream.

Donner Hill:

I decided to find Donner Hill today.  Here are some pictures that might bring the stories more to life.

This is the actual Orson Pratt Trail, right before reaching Donner Hill and the mouth of Emigration Canyon. You can see how thick the trees would have been.

This is where the Saints had to decide to conquer the back-breaking Donner Hill (left of my car) or cut their way through thickets (straight in front).

Of course, the Saints chose to avoid the hill. The ill-fated Donner Party (1846) chose to do the hill, which delayed them due to their exhaustion. The Pioneer Advance Party decided to, instead, cut their way through the thickets.

Here is Donner Hill. There is a clearing to see how steep it was. I wonder if that's the path they actually followed...

A few hundred feet long (the picture makes it look shorter). This is the hill Orson Pratt and Erastus Snow climbed yesterday to see the Valley for the first time
 It's difficult to see how steep and long this hill really is. At times, it has an almost vertical slope.

Here is the other side of the Donner Hill. The Big Red building is at the peak. Going down the other side is just as steep. The Saints made the right decision to cut their way through (following the present-day road through the mouth of the Canyon).

Source: Kimball and Knight. 111 Days to Zion. Deseret News. Salt Lake City, 1978

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Pioneer Day Countdown: July 21, 1847 (Wednesday)

Today was the day all the months of work paid off. Today, Erastus Snow and Orson Pratt entered the Salt Lake Valley.

Erastus Snow was once a part of the Main company, but in the morning he had carried a letter from Willard Richards to Pratt's Advance Guard. Once he reached Pratt's company, and the letter was read (mainly covering instructions to plant crops immediately) Snow and Pratt set off ahead to scout the way.

They made their way 4.5 miles down Emigration Canyon, which Pratt called Last Creek, traveling to just near the mouth of Emigration Canyon.

Orson Pratt and Erastus Snow climbed the old Donner Hill (the dangerous steep slope the Donner Party struggled up), and "a broad valley stretched out before us."

The sight, after having been shut up in the high mountains for many days was overwhelming.
The statute from This is the Place Heritage Park
Pratt and Snow celebrating.

"We could not refrain from a shout of joy, which almost involuntarily escaped our lips the moment this grand and lovely scenery was in our view," Pratt said, "We immediately descended into the lower parts of the valley and although we had but one horse between us, traversed a circuit of about 12 miles before we left the valley and returned to camp."

The rest of the 43 men of the Advance Party had remained in Emigration Canyon, slowly moving forward and trying to improve the road the best they could.

The Main Company:

The Main company had spent the night in East Canyon, near Big Mountain. They began their trek around 6:30 a.m., on what was to be one of the last and most difficult days. They began near the base of Big Mountain and the wagons had to be pulled up the slope.

"Much time was necessarily spent cutting down tree stumps, heaving out rocks and leveling the road. It is an exceedingly rough place," William Clayton said.
One view from the peak of Big Mountain.
Today, you can hike the Historic Pioneer Trail from Big Mountain.
It's a good Pioneer Day activity.

The ascent grew steeper, being the steepest near the peak. When the pioneers reached the peak, they saw glimpses "of an extensive valley to the west, but on ever other side are high mountains, many of them white with snow," Clayton said, "it seems as though a few hours of travel might bring us out of the mountains."

Big Mountain was steep, so the wagon wheels had to be locked to make their descent, to keep them from running away.

"We found the road down exceedingly steep and rendered dangerous by the many stumps of trees left standing in the road (by earlier clearing work). The brethren cut many of them, which delayed us much," Clayton said.

About a mile down, the company came upon a temporary bridge the Advance Party had created. Small trees were piled on top of each other to fill a deep ravine. It was steep down both sides of the ravine, and Joseph Rooker's wagon overturned trying to cross.

4.5 miles down the summit, the Saints found a good camping spot with a cold water spring and plenty of grass for the cattle. The teams had been harnessed for 10-hours without eating "and the feeling of many was to stay here," Clayton said.

However, others were anxious to push ahead and reach the Valley, so the company pushed onward.

Soon, they came upon Little Mountain. The uphill battle was very difficult  for the animals, and "some teams began to fail," Clayton observed. However, they all made it to the top.

After descending down the Little Mountain slope, the company halted on the banks of Emigration Creek. They had covered 14-miles in 13 hours.

Stephan Markham, from the Advance Company, rode to the Main Company, and informed them that the Advance Company was only a half-mile ahead. He helped the tired company set-up their camp.

Brigham's Party:

They hadn't moved at all for the day, due to the sick individuals. They remained camped in East Canyon.

Source: Knight and Kimball. 111 Days to Zion. Deseret News. Salt Lake City, 1978.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Pioneer Day Countdown: July 20, 1847 (Tuesday)

All three parts of the Pioneer Company (the Advance, Main, and Brigham's parties) were now officially traveling through the Wasatch Mountains.

The Main body started late today because of major wagon repairs from yesterday's journey down Hogsback. The Saint's made a coal pit for the Blacksmith, Burr Frost, so he could fix the wheels of George A. Smith's wagon.
If we walked to East Canyon Reservoir today (with paved roads), it would take 8 hours: 29 minutes.
This also gives you an idea of how close they were. Our present-roads follow their trail closely.

While making the morning preparations, men from Orson Pratt's Advance group rode into camp looking for stray cattle. "They said the road is very rough from here," William Clayton wrote.

The main body moved out (the trail they followed is beneath the East Canyon Reservoir), but they left behind Henry G. Sherwood, Benjamin Franklin Dewey, and James Case. They had all come down sick with mountain fever. The Saints couldn't delay any longer, for need to plant crops. It was already late in the season, so they had to leave the wagons behind until they got better.

While the wagons struggled through the canyon, Clayton went ahead on foot nearly four miles "and picked many gooseberries, nearly ripe. They are very plentiful on this bottom."

Despite the work of the Advance Party, travel was still laborious and slow.
"The road over which we have traveled is through an uneven gap between high mountains and is exceedingly rough and crooked," Clayton wrote. The Saints had a difficult time finding a place to rest, because the canyon was full of willow groves, inhibiting any open spaces.

The willow trees were a real obstacle. Over twenty-feet high, and tangled with surrounding trees, the willows were relentless. "Although there has been a road cut through (by Pratt's group), it is scarcely possible to travel without tearing the wagon covers."

The route was the most crooked they had ever seen. Even where the willows had been cut down, their stumps continued to make it "very severe on the wagons." Bullock agreed  it "was a crooked and rough day's journey." To add to the difficulty, they were forced to cross a river 11 times.

There were many springs in the canyon, but the Saints were doubtful about the water quality. The canyon also had many swamps, which the Saints attempted to cover with Willow logs.

"We have got along today without much damage, which is somewhat favorable, for the road is awful...truly a wild looking place," Clayton said.

The Main body travelled 7 miles that day, and camped near the foot of Big Mountain.

The Advance Party:

The Advance Party, led by Orson Pratt, climbed Big Mountain today, about 9 miles ahead of the Main company. They were moving very slowly, because the road became very difficult. Their job was to smooth it out, and make it easier. Tomorrow, two scouts of their group will enter the Valley.
From Big Mountain to the Valley. A little less than 6 hours walking on paved roads.

Brigham's Party:

They broke camp early in the morning (around 5:30 a.m.) so as "to travel in the cool of the morning," Howard Egan wrote. Brigham Young's health continually improved, allowing endurance and making travel easier.

Heber C. Kimball scouted ahead for a campsite, and met the three sick wagons left behind by the main body. The rear party joined these wagons, having travelled 12 miles that day, and camped for the night.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Pioneer Day Countdown: July 19, 1847 (Monday)

The Donner Party:

Remember, the Pioneers were following in the exact footsteps of the Donner Party who travelled a year prior. In 1846, the Donner Party had attempted to make a shortcut through the mountains, through Utah, to California. They did this because of advice form Lansford W. Hastings, who told the Donner Party the route would save more than 200 miles. He neglected to mention, however, the rugged mountains, the lack of grass, and lack of water west of the Salt Lake Valley.
Lansford W. Hastings

Hastings later sent a note to the Donner party that Big Mountain (the route the pioneers would take) was a shortcut through the Wasatch Range. However, the route was neither shorter nor safer. It turned out to be a nightmare! Due to arguments, fighting, and rough travel, it took the Donner Party 16 days just to travel 36 miles through the mountains after leaving Henefer, UT.

Donner Hill
The final day to the Salt Lake Valley for the Donner Party, was extreme, tough, and "back-breaking". They took a climb over renowned Donner Hill, a terrible route that could have been avoided by cutting a road near the mouth of Emigration Canyon (which the pioneers did with about 4 hours of work).

This extra effort left the Donner Party exhausted, delayed, behind schedule, and short of supplies. Early winter storms hit while they were in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and nearly half of them died to cold, starvation, and cannibalism.

The Mormon Pioneers on July 19, 1847:

When the Mormons left Henefer, they covered the same 36 miles the Donner Party had walked, but only in 4 days.

As discussed yesterday, Brigham Young remained behind with a small party, because he was still recovering from mountain fever. The main body pushed ahead.

The main company set out over "a road very rough on account of loose rocks and cobblestones," William Clayton said. They entered Main Canyon, and climbed a ridge known as Hogsback Summit, with a zig-zag trail on the other side (very dangerous for wagons). For example, the wheels of George A. Smith's wagon collapsed going down hill.

View from Hogsback Summit.
The view from Hogsback didn't help the comfort the Saints. Mountains seemed to get higher in the distance In all directions, pointed peaks were all that could be seen. Wilford Woodruff called the terrain "the worst road we have had on the journey."

They moved down the Hogsback Summit into Dixie Hollow, and then onward into East Canyon. They set up camp near the present-site of East Canyon Reservoir (see post yesterday).

Brigham Young's party was miles behind, and moving very slowly. The Prophet "stood the morning's ride quite well," Woodruff noted, "but was quite weary in the evening."

The Advance Party:

Under the direction of Orson Pratt, this party was a day ahead of the main company, continually improving the road for wagon conditions. Today, they caught the first glimpse of the Valley. Orson Pratt and John Brown climbed Big Mountain on foot, and saw the Valley through an opening in the canyons.

"A light blue sky seemed to be sinking into a plain of gold," Pratt wrote.

Source: Kimball and Knight. 111 Days to Zion. Deseret News. Salt Lake City, 1978

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Pioneer Day Countdown: July 18, 1847 (Sunday)

It was the last Sabbath the Saints would be on the trail. Today would be a special day of prayer.

The company knew they were getting close to their goal, but they were worried about President Young's sickness getting worse, and delaying their travel more. It was decided that this day would be a special day of fasting, prayer, and preaching.

The Morning:

They woke up to a "severe white frost," Norton Jacob observed, "but it doesn't seem to injure the hardy vegetation."

Heber C. Kimball called everyone together to report the severity of President Young's mountain fever. He asked the camp to meet together for prayer, instead of journeying around the countryside hunting, fishing, and climbing (such as some did often on Sunday).

The pioneers were urged to "humble ourselves before the Lord that we may obtain power with him to turn away sickness and disease from our midst," Jacob wrote.

At 10 a.m., the special meeting began. It was held in a grove, where the tops of the trees had been cut off to create a sort of bowery. The bugle was blow to assemble the camp meeting.
Kimball proposed that most Saints travel ahead to the Valley, and upon arriving "proceed immediately to put all our seeds in the ground." He urged them to find a good place to plant their potatoes, and crop that might thrive late in the season "as we have little time to spare."
Apostle Heber C. Kimball

Around eight wagons would be left behind to look after President Young and the other sick "until the president should regain his health sufficient to travel," Norton Jacob said. Afterwards, many people expressed their feelings regarding the issue.

At 2 p.m., a sacrament meeting was held. "The bishops broke bread and the sacrament was administered. Good feelings seem to prevail," Clayton said. Howard Egan said the preaching "done my soul good."

The Lord answered the Saints prayers. After the Prophet was anointed and blessed "he fell into a deep sleep and awakened much refreshed." Many other meetings were held that day to attend to the sick. Woodruff described it as "a good time. Conversing much about the kingdom of God."

The Advance Party:

This company also remained in place during the Sabbath Day. They deserved rest after the extreme amount of work they had put in fixing, preparing, and creating a good road.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Pioneer Day Countdown: July 17, 1847 (Saturday)

Progress from the company was limited today, because President Young became sick again.

The Morning:

They started delayed this morning. When the Saints woke up, nine of their horses were missing. Blacksmith's set up a forge, and fixed Chamberlain's axle, broken from yesterday's rugged travel.
Wilford reported Brigham Young looked "poorly this morning."

The animals in the camp were on edge. They "seemed very uneasy and continue lowing and braying all the morning," William Clayton noted, "I suppose it is in consequence of the echoes, they [the cattle] no doubt thinking they are answered by others over the mountains."

Around 9:40 a.m. the company assembled and moved out, while some looked for the missing horses.
The wagons reached the Red Fork of the Weber River after a mile, and walked a little further. They set up camp a fews miles from present-day Henefer, UT.

"The reason for our stopping so soon was in consequence of President Young being suddenly taken quite ill and he could not endure any further travel today," Howard Egan explained.

In the meantime, the missing horses were found about 10 miles from camp.

The Afternoon:

From the new camp, William Clayton surveyed the area, and could see the first mountain pass they would take to the Valley (Dixie Hollow to East Canyon).

It was a hot day, and the mosquitos were all over the place. Some men, especially Woodruff, spent time fishing and caught some trout.

A prayer group of several men "went into the mountaintops to pray for the president and those that are sick," Clayton said. The men were: Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richards (witnessed Prophet Joseph's martyrdom) Ezra T. Benson, George A. Smith (Prophet Joseph's cousin), John Pack, Howard Egan, Thomas Bullock, Erastus Snow (soon to be the first in the SL Valley with Orson Pratt), Lorenzo Young, and Albert Carrington.

After the prayer, they let their inner-child come out, and the men "rolled many large rocks from the top of the mountain, to witness the velocity of their descent." Many of the rocks were smashed to pieces.

The Evening:

Kimball, Smith, and Egan travelled ahead to explore the canyon, but did not return until after 10 p.m., "which caused some uneasiness in the camp," Bullock wrote.

John Dixon, also, had been out exploring and found an unusual plant he had "never before seen or read about." History Highlight: John Dixon would later be the first missionary in Hawaii in 1850. Three years later, he was hauling wood in the Wasatch Mountains and was killed by Indians.

Today was William Clayton's 33rd birthday, and he sat musing about his family back at Winters Quarters, living in unknown circumstances.

The Advance Company:

The company was a few days ahead, preparing a better path for the Saints.
Tonight, they were camped on the banks of East Canyon Creek (which is gone today, replaced by the East Canyon Reservoir).
East Canyon Reservoir.
You can almost imagine what it would've
looked like without the lake. 

The travel had been so difficult today, that Orson Pratt (the leader of the party) went back on foot to "see if there was a more practical route...than the one we had come." Later, he was satisfied and said "we had taken the best and only practical route."

He ordered the Advance Party to work on the road they had taken today and yesterday, while he rode ahead on the trail. Pratt found things up front were just as bad, "almost impassible and requiring much labor." For example, a stream had to be crossed 13 times, and the banks were covered in willows.

Pratt climbed a mountain for a better view, but it was only more discouraging. "The country exhibited a broken succession of hills piled on hills, and mountains on mountains in every direction," he observed.
This was taken on a mountain at East Canyon Reservoir.
Looking West.
What Orson would have seen.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Pioneer Day Countdown: July 16, 1847 (Friday)

Two days ago, on July 14th, the Advance Party (which broke away from the Main Company to prepare a route for the Saints) had travelled through Echo Canyon.  Today, the Main Company reached Echo Canyon as well, two days behind the Advance Party.

Travel became exceedingly difficult as the Saints progressed through the mountain region. The company entered a narrow ravine (Echo Canyon).  Some attempted to travel along the bottom, but that turned out to be very difficult.
Echo Canyon
This is what William Clayton wrote down about Echo Canyon:
"There was a very singular echo in this ravine, the rattling of wagons resembled carpenters hammering at board inside the highest rocks. The report of a rifle resembled a sharp crack of thunder and echoes from rock to rock for some time. The lowing of cattle and braying of mules seemed to be answered beyond the mountains. Music, especially brass instruments, had a very pleasing effect and resembled a person standing inside the rock imitating every note. The echo, the high rocks on the north, high mountains on the south, with the narrow ravine for a road, formed a scenery at once romantic and more interesting than I have ever witnessed."

A wagon owned by Harvey Pierce becomes damaged trying to cross a creek.  Pierce's wagon had to be unloaded and repaired. Solomon Chamberlain's, became unusable when its front axle broke; another wagon was given to him that night (what luck). However, poor guy was still stick with mountain fever.

As the Saints went further into the canyon, William Clayton commented, "the mountains seem to increase in height and come so near together as to barely leave room for a crooked road."

Porter Rockwell, who had been a part of the Advance Party, came back to report they had found the trail of the Donner Party, and expected to reach the top of the mountains that day. The advance party was more than 20 miles ahead.


Soon, the bottom of the canyon became so narrow, the Saints disbelieved "that a road could ever have been made through."
Many flowers, currant, and elder berries decorated the landscape. Plants becomes so thick and abundant, that Thomas Bullock observed "in some places the pioneers couldn't see two wagons ahead."
The abundance of plants comforted the pioneers about the potential for their new home.


The Main Company had travelled 16 miles through the canyon, and "were yet enclosed by high mountains on every side." They set up camp at the first flat area they could find, where grass grew 6-10 feet high.

Brigham Young was worn out from the trip, still recovering from his sickness. Despite Young riding in Woodruff's comfy, mattress laden carriage, the road "was a bad road for the sick to travel."
Wilford Woodruff went fishing at the creek that night, to feed something tasty to the Prophet.

After camp was set, Clayton climbed the mountain slope using both hands and feet. At the top he could see the Weber river (about a mile away), "but in every direction, nothing but ranges of mountains, much higher than the one I was one. It was wild and melancholy," he said.

Source: Knight and Kimball. 111 Days to Zion. Deseret News. Salt Lake City, 1978

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Pioneer Day Countdown: July 15, 1847 (Thursday)

Early in the morning, Wilford Woodruff drove his horse and carriage to Brigham's camp. For the past two days, Brigham Young and Albert Rockwood had been the sickest men in the whole company, and stayed behind because travel was too rough for them.

"I found them in much better health," Woodruff said. He fixed a bed to the inside of his carriage for both of them and said "it was the coziest vehicle in camp."

Brigham's party then traveled back to the main body, and arrived around noon.  The Saints were glad to have back their dynamic leader.

"The president is much better," Clayton said. Norton Jacob commented that Young and Rockwood "appeared very cheerful and quite comfortable."

What the Main Body did Before Noon:

Norton Jacob
John Pack
While Woodruff had been checking on the President, Norton Jacob and John Pack explored the nearby creek for a possible camping site that evening. They found a place with a "fine spring, wood, and grass."

Later, Jacob, George A. Smith, and Albert Carrington climbed the mountain ridge to survey the area, and reported much "scrub oak and saw large quantities of pine."

After Brigham's Arrival:

Albert Carrington
Early Apostle
Editor of Deseret News
George A. Smith (1817-1875)
Son of John Smith (Joseph's uncle)
Cousin to Prophet Joseph
Grandpa to prophet George Albert Smith
The camp hitched up their teams, and prepared for travel, but a thundershower broke out and interrupted their start. However, Clayton commented "it was very refreshing."

More rain showers dampened their trek, so their travel only lasted a few hours, and a four-mile march. Camp was established by the spring of "good, cold, clear water."

Their campsite was at the foot of massive red bluffs, less than a mile from the later Castle Rock Station of the Union Pacific Railroad. It was a pretty area. Thomas Bullock commented, "I was able to gather seven varieties of flowers within 20 yards of my wagon."
Castle Rock and the train today. Near the mouth of Echo Canyon. 

The Advance Party:

To re-cap, the advance party left the main company to scout ahead.  They had two main priorities:
1) Find the best path to Salt Lake City,
2) Make the trail as easy as possible (by digging up tree stumps, removing rocks, and smoothing the ground).

They were being lead by Orson Pratt.  Today, they crossed the Weber River (near present-day Henefer, UT) and made camp. They had done their best to follow the tracks of the Donner party a year prior, but "grass had obliterated all traces."
Henefer, Utah

"We travelled 6 miles," Pratt said, noting that the Weber River flowed into a canyon impassable for wagons. He and John Brown rode ahead to search for any sign of the Donner Party's trail.
Weber River in Henefer, UT

Willows surrounded the area, "making very close thickets for bears," he said. Pratt found many bear tracks, large holes, and claw marks, and concluded that bears must "be very numerous, but none have been seen."

**Some notable men in the advance party were John Sunderlin Eldredge and Green Flake.
John Eldredge
After crossing the plains at 26 years old, he served a mission in Australia. On the way home, his ship wrecked on a coral reef; five died. Twenty-nine other mormons were with him, and they spent weeks on an uninhabited island until rescued. He died at 52, in Wasatch County.
Green Flake
Twenty-two years old as a pioneer, he was the first African-American to enter the Salt Lake Valley.
Born a slave in North Carolina. His "owners" joined the LDS church, and later, he decided to become baptized too. He crossed the plains before his master to create a home for the family.
However, Master Flake died in a farming accident, and his widow gave Green as a tithing offering before moving to California (appalling, but he was still considered "property"). He worked for the Church for two-years, and then Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball granted him his freedom. He married, lived in Fort Union (7200 So. 900 E.), became a fruit farmer and  a leader to his community.
This is what Fort Union Blvd used to be: an actual fort. It was a community with walls to protect them from Indian attacks.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Pioneer Day Countdown: July 14, 1847 (Wednesday)

Yesterday, we saw the Pioneer Company split into three bodies: the advance party (1 day ahead); the main body; Brigham's party because he was sick (1 day behind). 

Brigham's Party:

The Main body was reluctant to move forward. They didn't like the idea of moving forward without their Prophet. They decided to wait another day for their sick leader to recover and join them.

Wilford Woodruff and Barnabas Adams rode back to Brigham's camp to see how he was doing. He was "convalescent" and looking forward to joining the main body when he was well.
Barnabas Adams: quiet, soft-spoken
Canadian. He crossed the plains with
his family a 2nd time in 1848.
Settled near Little Cottonwood Canyon.
Albert Rockwood
Close friend to Joseph Smith. Rode
in the wagon with Brigham when
they entered the valley.
First game warden in Utah.

The sickest man in [Brigham's] camp was Albert Rockwood, also stricken with mountain fever, Woodruff reported. Woodruff and others joined in a special prayer for Rockwood, and were "convinced we should find him better in the morning." 

Mountain Fever continued to spread throughout the Main body. William Clayton said the fever is "very severe on the first attack, generally rendering its victims delirious for some hours, then leaving them in a weakly condition. [This required a stimulant] to break his nerves and guard against another attack."

The Main Body:

Duties continued in the camp. Dishes were washed, and the normal meals were prepared. Some men went hunting and killed five antelope for the camp. Thomas Bullock and other Saints went to Cache Cave for relief from the blazing sun. Bullock enjoyed bird watching and catching up on his journaling.

In the evening, the bugle sounded signaling the Saints to get to bed. Many men continued to talk "as usual," Bullock said, "but a sudden rain she them running to their wagons and reminded them of the fifth law of the camp (getting to bed at the sound of the bugle)."

The Advance Party:

Meanwhile, Orson Pratt's company was doing their best searching for the best route to Salt Lake City, and improve the road through the canyons. Much of their time was spent with shovels filling the ravines to make them flatter and digging up tree stumps.

The party followed a mountain stream into Echo Canyon.  Pratt described the company as "shut up in a narrow valley, 10 to 20 rods wide, while on each side the hills rise very abruptly 800 to 1200 feet. [For most of the way since leaving] we have been walled in by vertical and overhanging precipices of red stone" carved "into many curious shapes, probably by rain."
Saints at the mouth of Echo Canyon, 1865
Pratt commented that "the way was quite rough" for wagons which had to cross the same winding, canyon stream many times. However, he said the geology was "interesting and exceedingly picturesque."
An image of some pioneer Saints crossing through Echo Canyon, 1865.
Present-day Echo Canyon. Nice, paved roads.

Source: Knight and Kimball. 111 Days to Zion. Deseret News. Salt Lake City, 1978


Monday, July 13, 2015

Pioneer Day Countdown: July 13, 1847 (Tuesday)

Brigham Young had become sick yesterday with mountain fever. For this reasons, a small party had broken away from the main pioneer company to help the Prophet. Today, Brigham's party was 7-miles behind the main group.

The Morning:

Wilford Woodruff, John Brown, and Joseph Mathews rode back early in the morning to get an update and "learn the state of his health," Norton Jacob explained.
John Brown
Joseph Matthews

The company was worried about being delayed longer, for fear of planting crops.

Later, Woodruff's group returned with Heber C. Kimball, who was second in command.  A meeting was called, "but suddenly dispersed by a thundershower." After the storm, the meeting continued.

It was proposed that a second advance guard be formed under the leadership of Orson Pratt to "try and find a pass over the mountains," Clayton reported. Heber asked "some 20 wagons to go ahead and explore the road through the mountains separating the pioneers from the valley and the Great Salt Lake." They were also assigned "to make a road" and smooth the way for easier wagon pass.

Heber reported the President Young was "a little better this morning, but last evening was insensible and raving."

The Advance Party:

The advance party included 23 wagons and 43 men--(Names of the men in the party are at the bottom of the page). They pushed off early in the afternoon.  The advance party would have the honor of being the first to enter the Salt Lake Valley, several days before July 24th (the arrival of Brigham Young).

After the advance party moved out, Kimball went back to Brigham's group, and the main body remained delayed. Some people wandered around Cache Cave, and commented that "more than 50 bird's nests" were on the roof. The place was swarming with bugs, and they found many carvings of names on the roof.

Thomas Bullock used the delay to catch up on his journaling. Hunters went out and caught 12 antelope for the camp. Some Saints tried to dig a well for water, but "the water had a sulfurous taste," he added.

Willard Richards and Wilford Woodruff did some exploring, and as they walked, "talked over old times" about the connection of their individual missions.

Although the delay may have been a nice rest, it wasn't very comfortable.  William Clayton wrote that the weather was "hot and sultry, and mosquitoes are very troublesome."

The Evening:

As the evening set in, there was a quiet throughout the camp. With the company splitting in three, the camp was a little subdued. When darkness fell, "the camp was very still, more than since we left Fort Laramie," Bullock stated.

For those interested:

The names of the Advance Party participants:

Charles Barnum         Francis Boggs        John Brown        Charles Burke        William Carter    

Alexander Chesley    James Chesney     Oscar Crosby       Benjamin Crow     John Crow

Walter Crow              Lyman Curtis          James Egbert      John Eldgredge     Nathaniel Fairbanks

Green Flake              John Freeman          John Gleason      David Grant            Hans Christian Hansen

Levin Jackman          Stephen Kelsey      Levin Kendall      Hark Lay                Stephen Markham

Joseph Mathews       Lewis Myers           Elijah Newman    David Powell          Orson Pratt

Jackson Redden        Porter Rockwell  Shadrach Roundy   Gilbroid Summe    James Stewart

Seth Taft                   Norman Taylor      George Therlkill    Robert Thomas      Marcus Thorpe

Horace Thornton      George Wardle

Source: Kimball and Knight. 111 Days to Zion. Deseret News. Salt Lake City, 1978

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Pioneer Day Countdown: July 12, 1847 (Monday)

Today is the day Brigham Young became sick with mountain fever (tick bite sickness).  Previously, President Young had been one of the most active men in the company; as a scout, pathfinder, and motivator, but his illness got him down.

Around 7:15 a.m. camp was broken down, and the company began their trek up a steep hill. Two miles later, they made it to the banks of the Bear River, which is close to the Utah border.
The Bear River south of Evanston, WY.  Near where the Saints would have crossed.
"The river was a very rapid stream, about 100 feet wide" two feet deep, with the bottom covered in many round stones, William Clayton reported.  The wagons were able to move through the water easily.

Clayton observed that willows, plants, and wild strawberries decorated the banks of the stream. 

However, Wilford Woodruff was not as impressed with the "long looked-for Bear River" saying "it wasn't very interesting." Probably because he was focused on finding fishing holes...he continually held his new fishing gear from Fort Bridger close at hand for catching trout. Occasionally, he would fish en route where "fish would jump at the hook as though a bushel of trout were in the hole."


Around noon, the Saints had reached Coyote Creek Canyon.
The Red Dot is the location of The Needles, which is the start of the Coyote Creek Canyon.

The mouth of Coyote Creek canyon. [Top] is an image of The Needles from the Utah State Historical Society. The [bottom] is an updated image of the moon rising over The Needles.
On the trail of Coyote Creek Canyon. Photo by: gregmacgregor

"There are scarce any wagon tracks to be seen. Only a few wagons of the Hastings company having come this route. The balance (the Donner Party) went the other [Southern] road and many of them perished in the snow, it being late in the season.  Much of their time was lost quarreling over who would improve the road," Clayton wrote.

The Beginning of Company Divisions:

News flooded through the camp about President Young being sick. The company stopped to investigate Brigham Young's mountain fever. After two hours, it was decided that the rest of the company would move on and Brigham would rest, being too sick to travel even as a passenger in the wagon (which is a rough ride even for a well person). Eight wagons stayed behind  to take care of the Prophet.

This was the first division of the company. Later, an advance group would break away from the main body to become a day ahead, and two days ahead of Brigham Young. 

After leaving Brigham Young and his party, the main body moved forward crossing creeks and hills. 
"We passed through some fertile valleys where that eyesore - wild sage [sagebrush] has disappeared," Norton Jacob stated. 

The Evening: 

The Saints covered a total of 16.5 miles, and during the afternoon, crossed over the present day Utah-Wyoming border. They camped near a cave they called "Cache Cave".  They believed it to be used by trappers to store property. 
Cache Cave. Photo by: gregmacgregor
"This county evidently lacks rain," Clayton observed, noting the dryness of the plants and earth. 

They hoped for President Young's party to catch-up and arrive, but they did not make it before nightfall.

Source: Knight and Kimball. 111 Days to Zion. Deseret News. Salt Lake City, 1978