Heritage Gateways

Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
sponsored by the Utah State Board of Education, the BYU-Public School Partnership and the Utah Education Network

William Clayton Journals

April 23, 1847

Summary: Adventures fording a quicksand laden river.

Journal entry: FRIDAY. Arose this morning at 5:30, my face bad again through sleeping cold. The air chilly but a very pleasant morning. President Young. Heber and others are gone to the river to ascertain where we can best ford it. There is a ford a little distance from here, and another about four miles above, but the latter is in the neighborhood of another band of the Pawnees and they are desirous to avoid it if possible. They started out on horseback at a quarter to eight and the camp remained here till they returned. Some are working, some fixing wagons, etc.

The day is now warm and very pleasant. I went to Plumb creek and washed my feet which are very sore. The brethren returned at a quarter to 12:00 and reported that we would have to go about four miles and there build a raft. Tarlton Lewis was appointed to superintend the building of the raft.

President Young then stated in regard to the plows, iron, etc., which lies around here, for the government is owing father Case considerable for services, and he has the privilege of taking this for his pay. He will do it and if the brethren want the iron, etc., they can have by hauling it, one half, and father Case the other half, and he will write and inform them what he has done.

I started on foot about 12:00 o'clock and viewed the ruins of buildings, etc., which the Sioux have burned. There is a large quantity of good bar iron, and a number of plows, which the brethren put into their wagons on the terms proposed by father Case.

Two miles from Plumb creek, passed another creek not very good to ford, although it is narrow but sandy. Two miles farther arrived at the intended crossing place, but the prospect looks dull for rafting on account of sandbars and very rapid current. My feet were so sore and blistered I could not walk for some time after I got there.

The sun is very hot and no wind.

At 3:20 the wagons arrived and prepared to ford the river. Luke Johnson was the first who went over, leaving the boat on this side, and although he had no load, nor even a wagon box it was with difficulty he got over.

Orson Pratt started next with a part of his load. When he had got in about a rod, his horses began to sink some in the sand and they could not draw. A number of the brethren jumped in and lifted at the wheels, etc., till they got him to the bar in the middle. He then started for the other bar and about half way across his horses sank in the quicksand so badly that one of them fell down. A number of the men immediately went to his assistance and took them off the wagon and led them across to the sand bar. President Young went over in the boat and took the loading out of the carriage into the boat. The carriage was drawn to the sand bar by men with a long rope.

The brethren then assisted Elder Woodruff's team over in the same way, also John Pack's and Wordsworth's. President Young then ordered that no more wagons should go over that way, but move up the river about a quarter of a mile and camp until morning. The camp was formed about 5:30 p.m. The river is not more than two feet deep, but there are a geat many beds of quicksand which are dangerous to teams, and calculated to shake a wagon to pieces. They make a noise when crossing the quicksands as if they were going over a stone pavement.

The country here is indeed beautiful and appears rich, but there is very little timber. After crossing Plumb creek, there is plowed land for nearly two miles on the right but not fenced. It appears to have yielded a good crop of corn. The land on the left to the river is level and beautiful for a farm. We are now camped about a quarter of a mile from the old Pawnee village on a splendid table of land, level and pleasant as heart could desire. It is not much over three quarters of a mile wide and shielded on the north by beautiful rolling bluffs and on the south by the Loop Fork of the Platte. From this bank can be seen the timber on the banks of the main Platte, the bottom from here to it appears very level. There is something romantic in the scenery around here. and the prospect cannot well be exaggerated.

In the evening the captains of tens were called together and a vote taken to build two light rafts, Tarlton Lewis to superintend one and Thomas Woolsey the other. As many loads of property as can be carried over in the boat will be done, and the teams with empty wagons will ford it. It is said that by going over several times with teams the sand will pack down and be good crossing, several of those who have been across believe this from today's experience and they calculate to give it a fair trial tomorrow. Amongst the rest of those who waded the river to help the wagons over, Brother Kimball joined and assisted one team to the other side. and then returned in the boat with President Young.

Source: William Clayton's Journal

Published by the Clayton Family Association, and edited by Lawrence Clayton. To the best of our research, this contents of this book are no longer under copyright.