Last 36 Miles to Salt Lake

By the testimony of every diarist, the thirty-six last miles, from the Weber to the Salt Lake Valley, were worse than anything on the whole road. It was as if sanctuary withheld itself, as if safety could be had only by intensifying ordeal. The road had already been broken, if that was the word, by the Donner-Reed wagoners, but Orson Pratt’s forty-two men, slaving with ax and shovel and pry-pole to make a few miles a day, fell into camp every night with a respect approaching awe for the quarrelsome Gentiles who had first taken wagons through those canyons. They had uphill, downhill, sidehill, boulders, creek-crossings, willows—above all willows, thick as a porcupine’s quills and hardly less troublesome to get through. Growing, they screened rocks and holes and dropoffsthat could br~ak a wheel; chopped off, they left stumps sharp as spears, and ruinous to the feet of men and animals. When they had to travel, as they did much of the way, with one wheel in the creek and one blundering along a steep bank sown with these stubs, they could literally count their progress one wheel’s turn at a time.