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

May 21, 1847

Summary: Dinosaur bone? Rattlesnake encounter. Souix Indian encounter.

Journal entry: FRIDAY: The morning very fine and pleasant though tolerably cold. I put up a guide board at this place with the following inscriptions on it: From Winter Quarters 409 miles. From the junction of the North and South Forks, 93 1/4 miles. From Cedar Bluffs, south side of the river, 36 1/2 miles. Ash Hollow, south side of the river, 8 miles. Camp of Pioneers May 21, 1847. According to Fremont, this place is 132 miles from Laramie. N.B. The bluffs opposite are named Castle Bluffs."

At 7:35 we continued our journey. We found the prairie tolerably wet, many ponds of water standing which must have been caused by a heavy fall of rain, much more heavy than we had back. However, it was not very bad traveling. We made a pretty straight road this morning at about the distance of a mile from the river. The bluffs on the north appear to be five miles or over from our road.

At 11 :15 we halted for dinner, having traveled nearly seven and three quarters miles, course north of northwest, very warm and no wind. Presidents Young and Kimball rode forward to pick the road, and near this place they saw a nest of wolves, caught and killed two with sticks. Four or five others escaped to their hole.

At half past one we proceeded onward and found the prairie wet, and grass high of last year's growth. After traveling four and three quarters miles we arrived at a range of low bluffs projecting to the river, which at this place bends to the north. There is, however, a bottom of about a rod wide - between the bluffs and the river, but as it is wet and soft, it was preferred to cross over the bluffs by bending a little more to the north. We traveled on the bluffs a little over a quarter of a mile and then turned on the bottom again. The bluffs are low and almost as level as the bottom.

After we crossed the bluffs we found the road better. We saw about a mile this side of the foot of the bluffs, a very large bone almost petrified into stone. Most of the brethren believe it to be the shoulder bone of mammoth. and is very large indeed.

About this time badger was brought to the wagons which Brother Woodruff had killed. As I was walking along and looking over the river, I heard a rattlesnake, and looking down saw that I had stepped within a foot of it. It rattled hard but seemed to make away. We threw it away from the track without killing it.

At five o'clock Elder Kimball rode up and stopped the forward teams till the last ones got nearer saying that some Indians had come down from the bluffs to the brethren ahead. When the rest of the wagons came up we moved on a quarter of a mile farther and at half past five formed our encampment in a circle with the wagons close together as possible, having traveled seven and three quarters miles this afternoon, making fifteen and a half through the day.

As the camp was forming the two Indians came nearer, being a man and his squaw. They represented by signs that they were Sioux and that a party of them are now on the bluffs north of us and not far distant. By the aid of glasses we could see several on the bluffs with their ponies, evidently watching our movements. This man was hunting when first seen and appeared afraid when he saw the brethern. The squaw fled for the bluffs as fast as her horse could go, but by signs made to them they gathered courage came up.

President Young gave orders not to bring them into camp, and they soon rode off to the bluffs. The man has got a good cloth coat on and appears dressed. The horses they rode are said to be work horses which makes us suspect they have stolen them from travelers.

The day has been very warm and some of the teams gave out. We can see some timber on the bluff, on the other side of the river some miles ahead which is the first timber we have seen for more than a week except some small cedar and the timber in Ash Hollow, all on the south side the river. We are nearly a mile from water and the brethren have to dig wells to obtain a supply for cooking. The feed here is very poor, not much but old grass.

Our course this afternoon has been a little north of west. Lorenzo Young shot two very large ducks with one ball and brought them to camp. Elder Kimball proposed tonight that I should leave a number of pages for so much of his journal as I am behind in copying and start from the present and keep it up daily. He furnished me a candle and I wrote the journal of this day's travel by candle light in his journal, leaving fifty - six pages blank. The evening was very fine and pleasant. The latitude at noon halt 41' 24' 5'.

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.