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 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.

Summary: The Pioneers can now see the snowcapped Wind River chain of the Rocky Mountains.

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 yet.

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.

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.