Jim Bridger and Brigham Young

Mormon legend has it that Bridger so scorned the Great Salt Lake country that he offered to give a thousand dollars for the first bushel of corn they raised there. It would have been a rash statement, for when a Mormon community wants to prove something to the Gentiles it can grow corn in a cement sidewalk. But like many stories of the trail, the story of Jim’s offer is somewhat stretched. Bridger actually took a more favorable view of the Bear River Valley than Black Harris had, he thought the Utah Valley a very likely place for a settlement, and he gave them a good report of the valley the Sevier and of the country along the eastern rim of the Great Basin for two hundred miles south of the Salt Lake. He expressed doubt about the Salt Lake Valley only because he thought the nights might be too cold for the maturing of corn. The discontent they felt at his information reflected more bewilderment than disappointment. For the knowledge in Old Gabe’s head was too broad to be handily condensed, or perhaps they had primed him with too much tongue-loosener, or perhaps their extraordinary attentiveness, with three trained clerks keeping minutes and a dozen other men taking notes, led him into expansiveness. From whatever cause, his specific, information on the country they wanted to know about was half lost in a rambling discourse that covered the whole West from the Pima country to Oregon. Clayton, who set down pages of Bridger’s answers to their questions concluded that “it was impossible to form  a correct idea of either the route or the country “from the very imperfect and irregular way he gave his descriptions,” and, that “we shall know more about things … when we have seen the country for ourselves.” Since Bridger was bound for Fort Laramie they got him to carry a letter to Thomas Grover at the ferry, and: thdmselves rolled on, more confused than enlightened, toward Fort Bndger.