William Clayton Journals
June 23, 1847
Location: Independence Rock - 314 miles
left, Wyoming - [Sweetwater River]. (In low water the river is
easily forded.) It has a peculiar shape and magnitude. There are
many names of visitors painted in various places. on the southeast
corner. 698 3/4 miles from Winter Quarters.
Pioneers can now see the snowcapped Wind River chain of the Rocky
Journal entry: WEDNESDAY,
23RD. Morning fine and warm. After breakfast I went to the
top of the high bluff expecting to get a good view of the country
west but was disappointed in consequence of the many ridges
or bluffs but a little distance beyond us.
At seven o'clock the camp moved forward and immediately after
saw a graveyard on the left of the road with a board stuck up with
these words written on it : " Matilda Crowley. B. July 16th, 1830,
and D. July 7, 1846." On reflecting afterward that some of the
numerous emigrants who had probably started with a view to spend
the remainder of their days in the wild Oregon, had fallen by the
way and their remains had to be left by their friends far from
the place of destination, I felt a renewed anxiety that the Lord
will kindly preserve the lives of all my family, that they may
be permitted to gather to the future home of the Saints, enjoy
the society of the people of God for many years to come, and when
their days are numbered that their remains may be deposited at
the feet of the servants of God, rather than be left far away in
a wild country. And oh, Lord, grant this sincere desire of thy
servant in the name of Thy Son Jesus. Amen.
After traveling one and a half miles we crossed a very shoal
stream of clear, cold water about five feet wide. There is but
little grass here although a number of bitter cottonwood trees
grow on the banks. There being no name on the map for this creek,
it was named Bitter Cottonwood Creek to designate it in our future
travel. It is probable that this stream is caused by the melting
of the snow on the mountains and if so, could maybe be depended
on for a camp ground late in the summer.
After passing this creek, the river runs between some of the
high rocky ridges, the road at the same time bending a little southwest
to pass around them. After traveling five miles beyond the last
mentioned creek, we again descended to the banks of the river where
would be a pretty good camp ground although the grass is not so
plentiful as in many other places on the banks of the river.
We traveled till 11:05 on the river banks then halted for noon
where the road and river separated a little farther and hence we
would probably not find grass again for a number of miles. The
land continues very sandy making it hard on teams; our course about
west, the day very warm with a light south breeze. We traveled
eight and a half miles this morning. There are sonic small cedar
trees on the rocky bluffs which is the only timber seen since we
passed the Bitter Cottonwood. Latitude of this place 42' 31' 20'.
At 1:10 we continued our journey and after proceeding half a
mile, found the river turns between the granite ridges in a northwest
direction and seems to have but a narrow space to pass through
in several places. The road at the same place turns south to avoid
the ridges for over a mile and then bends to the southwest for
some distance farther. The road at the foot of these rocky hills
is extremely sandy and heavy traveling. On arriving at the south
side of the hills, we were suddenly cheered with a very plain view
of the Wind river chain of the Rocky Mountains towering high up
in the air and perfectly white with snow. Some of the peaks appear
to run up very high, but we are evidently many miles from them
After we passed this place the road gradually bends to the west
and northwest and at the distance of six and three quarters miles
from our noon halt brings us to the banks of the river again. We
continued on the banks of the river till 6:20, at which time we
formed our encampment, having traveled this afternoon eight and
a half miles and during the day seventeen.
As usual there is plenty of grass on the river banks but no wood.
There are some dry buffalo chips and wild sage which answer tolerably
well for cooking. The land over which we have traveled, except
in the several places above mentioned, is perfectly barren except
for wild sage which abounds, but there is scarcely a spear of grass
to be seen. These granite ridges continue from the Rock Independence
to this place, mostly on the north side the river. Here they recede
from the river a few miles and then cease.
There are two of the Missourian companies camped, one about a
half a mile apart - I and the other a mile west of us and we are
given to understand we have got along distance to travel without
grass or water. It is stated that a man from one of these companies
left his company a few days ago and went ahead to examine the route,
etc, On their arrival here they found him in one of these rocky
hills hid up for fear of the Indians. He reports that he has been
to the pass and that we shall find water about fourteen miles from
here. He has come from the pass in two nights and hid up in the
day time to avoid Indians, but has seen none. He says it is not
over twenty - eight miles to the pass from here.
After we camped, Burr Frost set up his forge and set some wagon
tires and repaired the wheels of the wagons for one of the Missourians.
There are no buffalo to be seen yet and not much game of any kind.
Lewis Barney killed two antelope and the brethren mostly killed
one or two every day. The Sweet Water mountains do not appear very
high but have considerable snow lying on them in some places. They
appear to run nearly parallel with the river to about from twenty
to thirty miles distance to the south.
- 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.