Development of the Trail by 1860

By the winter of 1856-57, when Little and Hanks were again briefly carrying the mail in the interval between the abrogation of the McGraw contract and the signing of the contract with the Y.X. Express, the route between Salt Lake City and Fort Laramie could count on the use of trader cabins on the Big Sandy, at Pacific Springs, at Devil’s Gate, at Independence Rock, and at the Platte bridge, and the great surge of hauling that accompanied the Utah War made those places into permanent stage stations. In 1860, when Richard Burton made his celebrated trip to Zion to study, among other things, the sex habits of the Mormons, he found Ward’s Station two hours out of Fort Laramie on the Black Hills road; Horseshoe Station, run by Jack Slade, on Horseshoe Creek; a station “in the building” on the La Bonte; Wheeler’s Station on Box Elder Creek; a Sioux agency and station on Deer Creek; a station on Little Muddy Creek; and the station of Louis Guenot, the bridge owner, near the Last Crossing. Beyond Last Crossing his stage stopped at Red Buttes Station, Willow Springs Station, Plante’s station above Devil’s Gate, the ranch of Luis Silva below the Three Crossings of the Sweetwater, the Three Crossings station itself, the Foot of the Ridge Station, a ranch run by two Canadians at Willow Creek, Pacific Springs Station, Big Sandy Station, McCarthy’s station on the Green, Michael Martin’s store farther down the Green, Ham’s Fork Station, Holmes’ station at “Millersville” on the Smith Fork, and finally Fort Bridger. Reported us and omniscient style, it seems a populous road.