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 26, 1847

Location: South Pass - 210~ miles left, Wyoming - (This is the dividing ridge between the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific. Altitude, 7,085 feet.)

Summary: The brethren are only about 2 miles from the Continental Divide and the South Pass!

Journal entry: SATURDAY, 26TH. Morning very cold and considerable ice froze in the water pails during the night. At 7:40 we crossed the creek and pursued our journey. At one mile we passed a small creek which rises from springs a little south of the road where there is a small grove of small timber.

Elder Pratt has gone ahead with the barometer to try to find the culminating point or highest dividing ridge of the South Pass as we are evidently at the east foot of the pass. Freemont represents that he did not discover the highest point on account of the ascent being so gradual that they were beyond it before they were aware of it, although in company with a man who has traveled it back and forth for seventeen years.

At two and three-quarters miles beyond the last small creek, we crossed the branch of the Sweet Water about two rods wide and two feet deep, the water clear and cold. This would be a good camp ground were it not so cold, as it must be from the fact that large deep banks of snow are now lying on its banks both above and below the road. Where the snow doesn't lie, there is good grass and plenty of willow groves for fuel.

Two and a quarter miles beyond this branch we crossed another stream about eight feet wide on an average, though where the ford is, it is nearly three rods wide and two feet deep. This water is also very clear and the banks well lined with willows and grass. It is considered a superior camping ground to the one back. There seem to be a great many antelope at the foot of the mountains which is about all the game to be seen.

After crossing the last stream, we climb another high range of hills over a good road, gently rolling. From the top of this is a pleasant view of the surrounding country but all entirely destitute of timber except on and at the base of the mountains many miles distance from the road, We have also a good view of Table Rock to the southwest as well as the high, broken, white capped chain of the Wind River mountains on the north.

At 12:40 we halted on the main branch of the Sweet Water having traveled eleven miles. The river here is about three rods wide, three feet deep and current very swift. The water is clear and cold as the snow which lies on its banks in places six or eight feet deep. This is a lovely place for a camp ground, there being abundance of good, rich grass about eight inches high and plenty of willows for fuel. Some of the boys and girls amused themselves by snowballing each other on one of the large snow banks a few rods below the camp.

Soon after we halted Eric Glines came up, having left the brethren at the upper ferry on the Platte River on Wednesday morning. He camped one night alone, the other nights he camped with Missourians. He does not assign any reason why he followed us, but evidently considering to repent and obey council than to continue obstinate and rebellious.

The weather is now warm and pleasant and but little wind. At 2:20 we moved onward, ascending again on pretty high land where we found good traveling. The latitude at our noon halt was 42' 22' 42'.

After traveling seven miles this afternoon we arrived on a level spot of lower land and some grass, and inasmuch as we have found no stream as laid down on Freemont's map since leaving the Sweet Water, neither is there much appearance of any for some miles farther, the wagons halted while President Young and some others went over the ridge to the north to look for a camp ground as some of the brethren said the Sweet Water was close by. President Young soon sent a message for the camp to proceed, leaving the road and taking a northwest course.

At 6:45 we formed our encampment on the banks of the Sweet Water, at the distance of a little over a quarter of a mile from the road, having traveled this afternoon seven and a quarter miles and during the day eighteen and a quarter. This is a good place to camp, there being plenty of grass and willows. There are many small pebbles of hard flint rock on the flat land a little back and some almost as clear as glass.

Elders Kimball, Pratt and some others are some miles ahead and not having returned at dark, a number of the brethren were sent to meet them. They soon returned in company with Elder Kimball who reported that he had been on as much as six miles to where the head waters of the Atlantic divide from those of the Pacific.

Elder Pratt was camped there with a small party of men direct from Oregon and bound for the U. S. It is now a certainty that we are yet two miles short of the dividing ridge of the South Pass by the road. This ridge divides the headwaters of the Atlantic from those of the Pacific and although not the highest land we have traveled over, it may with propriety be said to be the summit of the South Pass. The Wind River mountains appear very high from this place but on the south there is very little appearance of mountains, Table Rock itself appearing but a little elevated.

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.