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 2, 1847

Location: Fort John/Laramie - 508 m. left, Wyoming - Location: 42:12:46N 104:31:00W Elevation: 4250 feet (Fort lays about 1-1/2 miles west from the river. Ford is good in low water. River 108 yards wide. Wall and houses are adobe, or Spanish brick. Altitude, 4,090 feet) -522 miles from Winter Quarters

Summary: Description of Fort Laramie.

Journal entry: [page missing] we learned that we cannot travel over four miles farther on the north side the Platte before we come to bluffs which cannot be crossed with loaded wagon. The road is better on this side than the one we have traveled, it being hard and not sandy. Feed scarce mostly lying in little patches near the river. They send their furs to Fort Pierre on the Missouri river a distance of 400 miles by land and receive all their stores and provisions back by the same teams, except their meat which they kill, there being buffalo within two days' drive. They have tried making a garden and planting corn which did well enough the first year, but afterwards they could raise nothing for want of rain.

They have a flat boat which will carry two wagons easily which we can have for fifteen dollars or he will ferry us over for $18.00 or 25c a wagon. From the door of this room one can see the same black hill seen on Sunday evening and which is Laramie Peak. We could see the snow lying on it very plainly. We can also see several ranges of high hills in the distance which are no doubt parts of the Black Hills.

We went across the square to the trading house which lies on the north side of the western entrance. The trader opened his store and President Young entered into conversation with him. They trade solely with the Sioux. The Crows come here for nothing but to steal. A few weeks ago a party came down and stole twenty-five horses, all that they had at the fort, although they were within 300 yards of the fort at the time and a guard around them. The Sioux will not steal on their own land.

A pair of moccasins are worth a dollar, a lariat a dollar, a pound of tobacco a dollar and a half, and a gallon of whiskey $32.00. They have no sugar, coffee or spices as their spring stores have not yet arrived.

They have lately sent to Fort Pierre, 600 bales of robes with ten robes in each bale. Their wagons have been gone forty-five days, etc. The blacksmith shop lies on the south side of the western entrance. There are dwellings inside the fort beside that of Mr. Bordeau's. The south end is divided off and occupied for stables, etc. There are many souls at this fort, mostly French, half-breeds, and a few Sioux Indians.

Elder Pratte measured the river and found it forty-one yards. He also took the latitude which was 42 degrees 12' 13".

Brother Bullock told me that several of the brethren had picked up a number of beads off the ant hills. Curiosity led me to go and examine and I found it even so. It appears that the ants gather all the small pebbles they can carry and build them over their hills to prevent the strong winds from blowing them away, and amongst the rest, they picked up beads which have been lost of the Indians' moccasins and robes, etc. I picked up quite a number.

Brother Bullock and I took the dimensions of the fort which will be given in another place. We then got on board the boat and had a pleasant ride about three miles down the Laramie fork to its mouth, the current being very swift. At the mouth, the brethren mostly got on shore and towed the boat up to camp.

After dinner I went over again in the cutter which was going to fish with the seine in the Laramie fork. They caught sixty or seventy small fish, salmon, suckers, etc.

About six o'clock we returned to camp. The Twelve have decided that Amasa Lyman shall go with Brothers Woolsey, Tippets and Stevens to Pueblo. They start tomorrow.

Longitude at Fort Laramie 104 degrees 11' 53". I have seen three birds here which very much resemble the English magpie in size, shape and color, in fact I know of no difference between the two. We passed a number of currant bushes about four miles back, quite thick with young, green currants. On the morning of the 4th of June, I put up a guide board on the north side of the river at the ferry with the following inscription on it, viz. Winter Quarters 543 1/4 miles, junction of the forks 227 1/2 miles, Ash Hollow 142 1/4 miles, chimney Rock 70 1/4 miles, Scott's Bluffs 50 1/2 miles. Wm. Clayton, June 4, 1847. Elder Pratte took the altitude of Fort Laramie and found it be 4090 feet above the level of the sea. Fremont makes 4470, differing 380 feet.

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.