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 20, 1847

Location: Casper, Wyoming - Location: 42:52:00N 106:18:45W

Summary: The barren, treeless, sage-covered land makes for tough camping life.

Journal entry: About nine o'clock there was an alarm that an ox had mired. He was nearly covered but soon got out again.

The first mile was bad traveling, there being several steep pitches in the road making it dangerous for axletrees. A num ber of the brethren went ahead with picks and spades and improved the road somewhat. After traveling three and three quarters miles we halted for breakfast at seven o'clock beside a small clear stream of spring water about a foot wide, but plenty for camping purposes. The feed on its banks good and plentiful but no wood yet.

Elder Kimball states that when he and Elder Benson were riding ahead last evening to look out a camping ground they came within a quarter of a mile of this place but were not near enough to discover the water. A while before they arrived here, as they were riding slowly along, they saw six men suddenly spring up from the grass to the left of the road. The men were clothed in blankets some white and some blue and had every appearance of being Indians and the brethren thought they were Indians. The six mounted their horses and started on in a direction parallel with the road. The brethren also kept on their course. In a little while one of the supposed Indians left the rest and rode towards the brethren and motioned with his hand for them to go back. They, however, kept on and paid no attention to his motion. When he saw them still coming, he wheeled round and joined the others who all put spurs to their horses and were soon out of sight behind a higher piece of land. Soon as they were out of sight Elder Kimball and Benson spurred their horses and rode to the ridge and as they arrived there they discovered a camp of the Missourians about a quarter of a mile to the left of the road and the six Indians were just entering the camp.

The brethren were now satisfied that these Indians were Missourians and had taken this plan to keep us back from this good camp ground. It is considered as an old Missouri trick and an insult to the camp, and if they undertake to play Indian again, it is more than likely they will meet with Indian treatment.

Their camp left here a little before we arrived this morning and it is now President Young's intention to press on a little faster and crowd them up a little. We have learned from one of the emigrants a few miles in our rear that Andrew Gibbons tarried with their camp over night. When he returned to the spring and found our camp gone and the Missourians' camp there, he told them of the dead buffalo killed by Norton. They went and fetched what meat they wanted and feasted on it, he joining with them and faring well.

At a quarter past nine we proceeded on our journey. After traveling three miles, we arrived at the Willow spring and halted a little while to get water. This spring is about two feet wide and the water ten inches deep, perfectly clear, cold as ice water, and very good tasting. There is a willow grove extending for some distance above and below it which will answer very well for firing purposes. The grass is good and plentiful and it is one of the loveliest camping spots I have seen on the journey, though the land where the stream runs below the spring is soft and some danger of cattle miring. The spring is situated between two very high hills and is about three rods west of the road and shielded from the sun by a bank about eight feet high and the willow grove.

A little piece before we arrived at the spring there are two very deep ravines to cross, which requires sonic care on the part of the teamsters to prevent accidents. At a quarter of a mile beyond the spring we began to ascend a very high hill which was one mile from the foot to the top and the ascent pretty steep. The summit of this hill is nicely rounding and considered to be much the highest we have traveled over. From the top can be seen a vast extent of country to the south, West, and north. For about twenty or thirty miles to the south there appears to be a tolerably level bottom over which our future road runs. Beyond this there are vast ranges of high hills whose summits are spotted with snow. In the distance to the southwest can be seen a small body of water which we suppose to be a part of the Sweet Water river. To the west the ridges of rocks or hills appear nearer. They are probably not over fifteen miles from us. On the north we can see hills a long distance. The one opposite Red Buttes, near the spring where we halted yesterday noon, appears only a few miles distance. The view from this bill is one of romantic beauty which cannot easily be surprised and as President Young remarked, would be a splendid place for a summer mansion to keep tavern.

We then descended on the southwest corner of the hill and found it to be just one mile farther to the foot. At the distance of three quarters of a mile farther we found a good place for feed, being plenty of grass, but no water nor wood. At a mile and a quarter still farther we crossed a very bad slough which is about a rod across and following the road, nearly three feet deep in water stiff in mud. Most of the wagons crossed a little to the right side of the road and found it not so difficult to cross, yet very soft. There is also plenty of good grass at this spot. A mile beyond this slough we ascended a very steep bluff though not very high and the descent on the southwest is also very steep

At 2:45 we halted to feed in a ravine where there is plenty of grass and a good stream of water about three hundred yards south from the road but destitute of wood. We have traveled this forenoon nine miles over barren, sandy land being no grass only in the spots above mentioned. During the halt it was decided that President Young take the lead with his wagon and try to proceed a little faster.

At five o'clock we again proceeded, the President's wagon going first; all the others keeping their places. I will here remark that it is the order of our traveling for each company of ten to go forward in their turn. The first ten in the first division taking the lead one day, then on the second day it falls in the rear of the first division, the second ten takes the lead and this continues till each company of ten have taken the lead one day a piece. Then the first division falls in the rear of the second division which also begins by companies of ten to take the lead of the road as stated above and when each ten have had their day, the second division again falls in the rear of the first which continues in the same order. Thus every man life his equal privilege of traveling one with another.

After traveling two and a half miles we descendent to the bottom land again and saw a small stream a little to the left of the road where there is plenty of grass. One and three quarters miles farther we crossed a creek of tolerably clear water about six feet wide and one foot deep, but neither grass nor timber on its banks.

After traveling seven miles this afternoon we turned off from the road to the left and at 9:20 formed our encampment on a ridge near the last mentioned creek where there is good feed, having traveled this afternoon seven and a quarter miles, exclusive of allowance for turning from the road, and during the day twenty miles. We had been in hopes of reaching the Sweet Water but it appears we are yet some miles from it.

The whole country around is entirely destitute of timber, not a tree to be seen, nor a shrub larger than the wild sage which abounds in all this region of country and will answer for cooking when nothing else can be found.

Some anxiety is felt on account of the absence of Elder Woodruff and John Brown. They started ahead this morning with instructions to go on about fifteen miles and if they found a good place to camp, to stay. They have not been seen or heard of since. It is supposed they have fallen in with some of the companies either forward or back and have concluded to tarry with them over night.

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.