Heritage Gateways

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Pioneer Date Summary

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07/21/1847 - Crockett

Date: July 21, 1847

Advance Company near Little Mountain, Utah:
Orson Pratt's company ascended Little Mountain and then came down on the other side to the creek that ran through Emigration Canyon. They called the creek, "Last Creek." Erastus Snow arrived during the morning from the main camp with instructions to explore the valley. So Orson Pratt and Erastus Snow rode on ahead down Emigration Canyon. They came to Donner Hill, a hill climbed by the Donner Party to avoid an area of blockage in the canyon.

Orson Pratt wrote: "Mr. Snow and myself ascended this hill, from the top of which a broad open valley, about 20 miles wide and 30 long, lay stretched out before us, at the north end of which the broad waters of the Great Salt Lake glistened in the sunbeams, containing high mountainous islands from 25 to 30 miles in extent. After issuing from the mountains among which we had been shut up for many days, and beholding in a moment such an extensive scenery open before us, we could not refrain from a shout of joy which almost involuntarily escaped from our lips the moment this grand and lovely scenery was within our view." Erastus Snow added: "On ascending this butte we involuntarily both at the same instant, uttered a shout of joy at finding it to be the very place of our destination, and beheld the broad bosom of the Salt Lake spreading itself before us."

They immediately descended into the valley and with just one horse between them traveled a circular 12-mile route exploring the valley. Erastus Snow recorded: "We descended a gradual slope, some four miles towards the center of the valley, and visited several small creeks flowing from the mountains into the Utah outlet [Jordan River] traveled some ten or twelve miles in the valley, and returned to the company about nine o'clock in the evening."

[1867, Orson Pratt said: "Twenty years ago on the twenty-first day of July, I stood solitary and alone on this great city plot, near the place where now stands Bishop Hunter's house (this would be on the corner of the block immediately north of the northwest corner of the temple square), being the first man of the Latter-day Saints that ever stood on this ground: this was in the afternoon of the twenty-first day of July, 1847. Brother Erastus Snow entered the valley with me in the afternoon. We traveled down to the southeast of the city. Brother Erastus lost his coat off his horse, and went back to hunt it up, and told me if I wanted to look over the country he would wait for me at the mouth of what we now call Emigration canon. I started from where we parted, and came up and stood on the bank of City Creek. I gazed on the surrounding scenery with peculiar feelings in my heart. I felt as though it was the place for which we had so long sought. . . . and see if we could find anything of Salt Lake Valley or a country suitable for a location. What did I see when I came into this valley? I saw some few green bushes on yonder bench, but saw but little life throughout the valley, except a certain insect that was afterwards called a cricket. I saw them cropping the few isolated bushes, and gnawing everything green around them."]

While they were away the advance company had climbed up Little Mountain. Levi Jackman wrote: "From the top of this hill, like Moses on Pisgah's top, we could see a part of the Salt Lake Valley, our long anticipated home. We did truly rejoice at the sight." They had descended down into Emigration Canyon and a few also climbed Donner Hill to see a view of Great Salt Lake.

Main Company in East Canyon, Utah:
The main company journeyed onward at 6:30 a.m. They crossed East Canyon creek one more time and then started to gradually ascend Big Mountain. They spent much time cutting down stumps and moving heavy rocks to improve the road. They saw much timber destroyed by fire near the top.

11 a.m., they began to arrive at Big Mountain Pass and catch their first glimpse of the Salt Lake Valley floor. William Clayton wrote: "From this ridge we can see an extensive valley to the west but on every other side high mountains, many of them white with snow. It seems as though a few hours' travel might bring us out from the mountains on good road again."

The road down the other side of Big Mountain was very steep. They had to lock their hind wheels for safety. The road was full of stumps, many which were removed by the men. They found a bridge over a deep ravine which had been constructed by the advance company. Joseph Rooker tipped over his wagon at this point but did not experience much damage. They rested their teams near a spring on the way down as the road leveled out better. They pressed on and during the long afternoon ascended Little Mountain and at 7:30 p.m. made their camp in Emigration Canyon only about a half mile behind the advance company.

Rear Company in East Canyon, Utah:
The rear company with Brigham Young did not travel this day because of sickness. They worked at setting the wheel on John S. Fowler's wagon. Heber C. Kimball, Ezra T. Benson, and Lorenzo Young explored up East Canyon. Wilford Woodruff went down the creek and caught eight small trout. He wrote: "The country is very mountainous, rough & steep."

Mormon Ferry, Wyoming:
A company of eighteen men with sixty horses and mules heading east came to the river crossing. They reported seeing the pioneer company at Fort Bridger. William Empey wrote: "The remainder part of the day passed a way very lonesome, we being in a strange land and far from our homes and families being near to us. We would often talk what we would give if we only knew the situation of them."

On the North Platte River, Nebraska:
The second pioneer company traveled on as Jesse W. Crosby described "came in sight of buffalo, almost without number, the river for six miles swarmed with them. As we approached they ran in multitudes over the bluffs." Some of the companies had to pass directly through the herd. Seventeen yoke of oxen were brought back to the Grant company to help replace those that were lost. Eliza R. Snow wrote: "This is truly a land of buffalos -- they are in sight all the time -- an almost innumerable herd of them came over the bluff today & seem'd about to cross our Camp on their path to the river -- our hunters met them & they chang'd their course, much to our gratification." That evening the cattle were very uneasy because of the sounds of the numerous buffalo. Patty Sessions wrote: "I went into the waggon, looked out, saw them go round and round like a whirlpool, the men saying they would break and runaway. I knelt down and prayed for the Lord to quiet them. I arose, they were quite still. We went to bed, heard no more from them."

Levi Hancock company, north of Los Angeles, California:
An advance group of former battalion soldiers started their journey. Robert S. Bliss wrote: "Just 12 months ago to day we left C. Bluffs for this country & to day the camp commenced to move on for our destined home. [I] was appointed one of the Pioneers to go ahead of the main body, consequently we marched about 8 or 10 miles to day & encamped on the Purbelo River near a rancheros or farm; Some beautiful & picturesque mountains on either side of us."


  • William Clayton's Journal, p.304
  • Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 454-55
  • Autobiography of John Brown, 78
  • Erastus Snow Journal Excerpts, Improvement Era 15:407-08
  • Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:232
  • Levi Jackman Autobiography, typescript, BYU-S, p.40
  • Journal of William Empey, Annals of Wyoming, 21:141
  • Jesse W. Crosby Journal, typescript, BYU, 37
  • Cook, Joseph C. Kingsbury, 120
  • Beecher, ed., The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, 185
  • Smart, ed., Mormon Midwife, The 1846-1888 Diaries of Patty Bartlett Sessions, 92
  • The Journal of Robert S. Bliss, Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:111
  • Journal of Discourses, 12:88-9, August 11th, 1867
Source: 150 Years Ago Today ©These materials have been created by David R. Crockett. Copies of these materials may be reproduced for teacher and classroom use. When distributing these materials, credit must be given to David R. Crockett. These materials may not be published, in whole or part, or in any other format, without the written permission of Mr. Crockett, TucsonAz, crockett@goodnet.com.