Heritage Gateways

Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
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Pioneer Date Summary

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07/27/1847 - Crockett

Date: July 27, 1847

Salt Lake Valley, Utah:
Two Ute Indians came into camp during the morning to trade. Jackson Redden traded a gun for a horse and George Grant traded a gun for a pony. The Indians said in sign language that they had a large party of their tribe about forty miles to the south.

At 8:30 a.m., sixteen of the brethren, including the Twelve, riding with one carriage and several mules and horses, traveled toward the Oquirrh mountains to the west. Before they got out of sight, four horsemen were seen coming toward camp. Heber C. Kimball waited until they arrived. The men were Amasa M. Lyman, Rodney Badger, Roswell Stevens, and Samuel Brannan, who arrived in advance of the company from Pueblo that included the Mormon Battalion sick detachments and the rest of the Mississippi Saints. They announced that they left the Pueblo company on the Weber River, and they would be arriving in the valley in a day or two. They were currently improving the roads in the canyons. Elder Lyman mentioned that he hear there was a large company on the way, and they should arrive in 15 or 20 days. [The report was false. The second company of pioneers was further away.] Elder Lyman and Brother Brannan joined Heber C. Kimball in the exploring expedition, and they rode off to catch up with the rest of the party.

The men in the camp continued to plow and plant. Five teams were constantly plowing and three teams harrowing. Burr Frost set up his forge to make more plows. A company of men went east to the mountains for some lumber to build a skiff. During the morning, at the request of Brigham Young, Norton Jacob and another man went to explore City Creek Canyon for timber. They found a nice grove of spruce pine, rock maple, and white oak. They observed that a forest fire had run through the area during the past year. Brother Jacob also found some good grit for grind stones and some good sandstone that could be using for buildings. They saw signs of elk, deer, and bear.

Howard Egan had received instructions from Heber C. Kimball that Brigham Young's wagons, along with Elder Kimball's should be moved across City Creek about three-quarters miles to the northwest. Brother Egan moved the wagons and tent to this new location. Ezra T. Benson and Willard Richards' wagons were also move up. [The wagons were moved to the area of present-day South Temple and Main Street.]

The men sent to find timber returned in the evening with some a very nice pine log, twenty inches in diameter, sixty feet long. Two more Indians came to trade. Some of the brethren were not making very good trades. They were giving away too many items in exchange for buckskins. Several Indians remained in camp overnight.

Near the Oquirrh mountains:
As the exploring party led by the Twelve was crossing the Jordan River, Amasa Lyman and the others rode up. At 1 p.m., they arrived at the base of the Oquirrh mountains. The party went to the north end of these mountains and arrived at the southeast corner of the Great Salt Lake. [The Donner-Reed party were at this point on August 15, 1846. Heinrich Lienhard swam in the lake at this point on August 9, 1846]

They halted and had a "fine bathing frolic." Brigham Young was the first to dip his hand into the lake. Erastus Snow wrote: "The water was warm and very clear, and so salt that no fish can live in it. The waters of the ocean bear no comparison to those of the lake, and those who could not swim at all floated upon the surface like a cork, and found it out of their power to sink. When we dressed ourselves, we found our hair and skin perfectly coated with fine salt." Orson Pratt, being a bit more scientific, wrote: "We all bathed in the salt water, which is fully saturated with salt: its specific gravity is such as to buoy us up in a remarkable manner." Wilford Woodruff added: "We made up our minds at once that the Great Salt Lake ought to be added as the eighth wonder of the world. . . . It was so strong that if a particle got into the eyes, nose or mouth, it would strangle & put one in pain. . . . A person would float & roll on the top of the water like a dry log & while standing to our waist in water, we could not get our knees to the bottom but would rise to the top like a cork. We found the most beautiful white salt that I ever saw lying in bunches on the shore where the water dryed away." William Clayton was later told: "One of the brethren lay down on the water and another got on him but could not sink him."

[They bathed near "Black Rock", an isolated rock about ninety feet long and forty feet wide, standing about forty feet above the water, near the shore of the lake. In 1847 they walked to Black Rock on dry ground. In later years the lake level rose around Black Rock. Of this day, George A. Smith later said: "We, that is, a few of the Pioneers, went over in July 1847, to the banks of Salt Lake, to what is called the Black Rock. Some of us went in bathing, and we could walk out to Black Rock, and look down on the water on each side."

This location later became a favorite resort for pleasure seekers. Andrew Jenson wrote: "The first recorded celebration of Independence day by the Utah pioneers was on July 4, 1851, when a procession of 150 carriages left Salt Lake City at 8 a. m. and arrived at Black Rock four hours later. The company included the First Presidency and other Church officials, prominent citizens and friends led by the Nauvoo Legion and a brass band. A new flag, made for the occasion, had been raised on the flag pole at Black Rock and a program of bathing, dancing, speeches, singing, etc., was enjoyed, picnic partaken of and a night encampment made, the return journey not being made until the following morning. Many more excursions of ward and other organizations are mentioned as having been made to Black Rock."

In 1880, Alonzo Hyde and David John Taylor leased the property and made a bathing resort. About one hundred bath houses were erected, a roofed bowery for a picnic area, board walks near the water, swings and other amusements. A ranch house was made into a hotel. Steam boats were later added as an attraction. When Saltair Pavilion was constructed in 1893, the decline in business caused Black Rock to close.]

Heber C. Kimball and others also visited a nearby cave which was 60 feet long. They saw evidence of Indians visiting there and the remains of a campfire. Porter Rockwell went up a high bluff chasing a flock of Mountain Sheep. The brethren then continued their journey around the point of the mountain and entered present-day Toelle Valley. Orson Pratt recorded: "This valley we judged to be about 12 miles in diameter. On the south there was a small opening, which we supposed might be a continuation of the valley, or an opening into a plain beyond. They observed that there was not much water in the valley and returned to camp for the night at a spring near the point of the mountain.

Independence Rock, Wyoming:
The Kearny detachment, with several members of the battalion, arrived at Independence Rock.

Mormon Ferry, Wyoming:
William Empey, Luke Johnson, and Appleton Harmon went hunting. They took a wagon and headed ten miles up Casper Creek on the North side of the Platte. They saw a large herd of buffalo but could not catch any. Luke Johnson killed two antelope and they returned back to their camp.

On the North Platte River, Nebraska:
The second company traveled about eighteen miles. Along the way they met another party of Indians who were friendly to the pioneers. Eliza R. Snow wrote: "The Ind[ians] that annoy'd us last night, pass us & strike their tents & travel with us till near night when they fall in our rear & we encamp near them." Patty Sessions added: "In the forenoon the Indians came some we have not seen before a big chief among them. When we stopped to bait they came like bees. Their lodges were across the river."

Sister Snow commented: "It commenc'd raining just as we stop'd -- no time to cook supper -- I am quite sick this afternoon -- glad to crawl to bed." During the day they traveled across from Ash Hollow which was still 650 miles from the Salt Lake Valley. At this point the Grant company obtained timber to take with them to repair wagons.


  • William Clayton's Journal, p.324
  • Erastus Snow Journal Excerpts, Improvement Era 15:410
  • Norton Jacob Journal, typescript, 111
  • Howard Egan Diary, Pioneering the West, 109-10
  • Autobiography of John Brown, 80
  • Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 458-59
  • Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:238
  • Journal of Discourses, Vol.15, p.59 - p.60, Orson Pratt, December 18, 1870
  • Andrew Jenson, Encyclopedic History of the Church, 69-70
  • Journal of Discourses, 13:120-21, George A. Smith, October 9, 1868
  • Journal of William Empey, Annals of Wyoming, 21:143
  • Jesse W. Crosby Journal, typescript, BYU, 38
  • Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 239-40
  • Beecher, ed., The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, 187
  • Smart, ed., Mormon Midwife, The 1846-1888 Diaries of Patty Bartlett Sessions, 93
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, Tucson Az, crockett@goodnet.com.