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

June 27, 1847

Location: Little Sandy River - 204 miles left, Wyoming - [Near here, Brigham Young met Jim Bridger and talked about the Salt Lake Valley]. (20 feet wide, 2 feet deep. Muddy water - swift current. Plenty of willows and wild sage. After this, barren and sandy land.) - 826 3/4 miles from Winter Quarters.

Summary: Oregonian Harris describes the living suitability of the Cache Valley just north of the salt lake.

Journal entry: SUNDAY, 27TH. Morning fine but cold. The ox teams started at five minutes to eight and the remainder shortly after. We soon met eight of the Oregon men on their way back having over twenty horses and mules with them mostly laden with packs of robes, skins, etc. Several of the brethren sent letters back by them.

At two and three - quarters miles, arrived at the dividing ridge where Elder Pratt took a barometrical observational and found the altitude 7,085 feet above the level of the sea. This spot is 278 « miles from Fort John and is supposed to divide the Oregon and Indian Territory by a line running north and south.

At two miles farther we arrived at where Elder Pratt camped last night on the head waters of the Green River and although the stream is small, we have the satisfaction of seeing the current run west instead of east. The face of the country west looks level except far in the distance where a range of mountains peers up, their surface white with snow. There is good grass here but no timber nor in fact any in sight except on the mountains. Since leaving the pass we have descended considerably, winding around and between high bluffs or hills, but the road is good.

One of the Oregon men is returning with us today and then intends to wait for the next companies, etc., and act as a pilot for them. His name is Harris and he appears to be extensively known in Oregon and the subject of much dispute on account of his having found out a new route to Oregon much south of the old one. He appears to be a man of intelligence and well acquainted with the western country. He presented a file of the Oregon papers commencing with February 11, 1847, and five following numbers for our perusal during the day. He also presented a number of the California Star publisher at Yerba Buena by Samuel Brannan and edited by E. P. Jones. I had the privilege of perusing several of these papers during the day but found little interesting news.

Mr. Harris says he is well acquainted with the Bear River valley and the region around the salt lake. From his description, which is very discouraging, we have little chance to hope for even a moderately good country anywhere in those regions. He speaks of the whole region as being sandy and destitute of timber and vegetation except the wild sage. He gives the most favorable account of a small region under the Bear River mountains called the Cache Valley where they have practiced caching their robes, etc., to hide them front the Indian. He represents this as being a fine place to winter cattle.

After halting some time we proceeded onward and crossed the stream which is about three feet wide, then halted on its banks at twelve o'clock, having traveled six and a quarter miles, the day warm. The latitude at this halt was 42' 18' 58'. At 2:25 we started again and proceeded over gently rolling land and good hard road till 6:40 when we forined our encampment on the west banks of the Dry Sandy, having traveled this afternoon nine miles and during the day fifteen and a quarter.

The country west for many miles appears destitute of timber and the view is very extensive. There is very little grass to be seen anywhere and not much near this creek. There is but little water in the creek at first sight, but by digging and tramping on the quick sand, sufficient water can easily be obtained to supply a large company. Elder Kimball has been on the road nearly two miles farther but discovered no chance for a camping ground better than this.

Mr. Harris has described a valley forty miles above the month of the Bear River, and thirty miles below the Bear Springs which might answer our purpose pretty well if the report is true. It is about thirty miles long and fifteen miles wide and tolerably well timbered. We generally feel that we shall know best by going ourselves for the reports of travelers are so contradictory it is impossible to know which is the truth without going to prove it.

It is three years today since our brethren Joseph and Hyrum were taken from us and it was the general feeling to spend the day in fasting and prayer but with the gentile companies being close in our rear and feed scarce it was considered necessary to keep ahead of them, for the benefit of our teams. Many minds have reverted back to the scenes at Carthage jail, and it is a gratification that we have so far prospered in our endeavors to get from under the grasp of our enemies.

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.