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 25, 1847

Location: Branch of Sweetwater - 248 1/4 m. left, Wyoming - [Today's Rock Creek]. Location of common grave for 13 members of the Willie Handcart Company. (Water good and cold. Grass and willows, plenty. Two rods wide, two feet deep.) - 782 3/4 miles from Winter Quarters.

Summary: The nights are colder, the days hotter as Pioneers reach the higher, snow filled altitude plains.

Journal entry: FRIDAY, 25TH. President Young's horse is dead. The morning is fine but very cool. At twenty minutes to seven o'clock, we pursued our journey fording the river a quarter of a mile below where we left the road last night. We found it still nearly three feet deep and the current very swift. After proceeding a half a mile beyond the ford, we crossed a stream about a rod wide which appears to come from the northeast and empties into the river a little farther up. Half a mile beyond this stream, we turned from the river to the northwest and began to ascend a very high bluff which we found pretty steep and over a mile and a half to the top. The road then gradually bends around towards the river and begins to descend over hill and hollow and at four and a quarter miles from where we camped, strikes the river again and continues a quarter of a mile on its banks. Here would be a pretty good place to camp, there being sufficient grass for a large company.

> After traveling a quarter of a mile near the river we encountered another high sandy ridge, the road again winding to the north to cross it. The descent on the west side is very steep and unpleasant. We strike the river again after traveling one and a quarter miles from where we last left it, but it is the opinion of many that by fording the river twice at the foot of the ridge we could save a mile and they think it can be forded. Colonel Rockwood has paid particular attention to the place and reports that one hour's labor for 100 men would dig down the foot of the ridge so as to make it good passing and save rising the ridge and a mile's travel without fording the river.

After leaving the west foot of this ridge, we crossed a stream about twenty - five feet wide and again a quarter of a mile farther the same, only about six feet wide. On examining it, we found it to be a branch of the river running around a piece of land about a quarter of a mile across and forming a semi - circular island. The last crossing was soft on both banks. The high sandy bluffs on each side the river seem to approach much nearer to each other and leave only a small strip of low land on each bank.

At 11:20 passed a creek two feet wide and halted for noon having traveled eight and three quarter miles, the wind blowing very strong from the northwest and making it cold and unpleasant traveling and filling the wagons with dust. The latitude at this halt by Elder Pratt's observation is 42' 28' 36.

At 1:20 we proceeded again, our road running on the river banks two miles then turning to the northwest and ascending a succession of hills one after another for three miles farther, winding around and over hill and valley in some places over a good hard road, and in other places over rocks and broken fragments of rock, making it severe on wagons and requiring great care in teamsters.

About a half mile north of the road at the top of this ridge there is a heavy bank of snow which some of the brethren went to visit and amused themselves by snowballing each other. Brother Carrington says there is every appearance of a rich lead mine in the same place, by having examined the place minutely. The brethren brought some snow to the wagons and we ate some of it which tasted refreshing in the heat of the day.

After arriving on the top of these ridges we began to descend gradually over rolling land, but the descent is not nearly equal to the ascent. At the distance of seven and a quarter miles from noon halt, we crossed a narrow wet swamp quite difficult for teams to get the loads over without help and one and a quarter miles beyond the swamp a creek a foot wide and a quarter of a mile farther still another one two feet wide. These all unite in one about 200 yards to the left below the middle creek and then appear to pass under a snow bank which at present forms a kind of bridge over the creek. At 6:45 we formed our encampment on the north banks of a creek about five feet wide, having traveled this afternoon eleven and a half miles and during the day twenty and a quarter. This creek is very clear and cold. Its banks are well lined with willows and about a mile below the camp there is a grove of white poplar in which house logs may be obtained sixteen feet long and a foot through.

There are several banks of snow a little to the north and some of the brethren have found ice four or five inches thick and brought a quantity of it to camp. On the banks of the creek there are some groves of gooseberry bushes with small green berries on them. There are also some strawberry roots and flowers and a little white clover has been found, but there is yet no appearance of the great abundance of such things as travelers have represented. The land appears somewhat more likely to yield the nearer we approach to the mountains, but all calculations for farming in this region would be likely to fail on account of the scarcity of timber.

It would only be natural to suppose that the nights are very cold here, while so much snow lies around. It requires considerable clothing to keep comfortable, but in the middle of the day it is equally hot.

Some of the brethren have traveled up the banks of the Sweet Water river and represent it as tumbling and foaming over rocks and descending very rapidly on account of the great rise of the land round from noon halt to this place. They say it runs within a mile and a half south of this but it is probable it is only a branch of it as we are evidently not near the main branch yet.

There is one of the gentile companies camped about a mile below, making the third company we have passed lately and it is the intention to keep ahead of them and have the advantage of the good feed and camping grounds.

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.