Mile 1235-1311: Henefer to Mountain Dell station

“Beyond [Henefer Creek’s] headwaters, the great wagons rolled and thundered through Pratt’s Pass on the summit of a low divide.Down another steep hill the wagons pitched while all hands and the cook held back on ropes and on the wheels; along the bed of the tiny streamlet, crossing and crisscrossing it for two or three miles down to East Canyon with its steep watercourse known variously as Canyon, east canyon, or kenyon Creek. Here they really learned the meaning of ‘trouble.’

Small shallow East Canyon Creek had to be forded ten or more times; the trail was crooked beyond reason and think with amputated willow stubs, testimony to the herculean task accomplished  by the Reed-Donner party in  forcing a passage through mountains at this point in 1846. The Mormons, traveling in their footsteps a year later, accomplished the thirty-five mile trek from Weber River to Salt Lake Valley in three days; but they recorded that it took the Donner party sixteen days of hard labor to win through the valley. For years the cut willow stubs remained, and the animals baptized them with blood from torn hoofs and gashed legs.

From East Canyon the trail led up a ravine worn down by a narrow and precipitous creek full of bottomless mire and huge boulders ‘over which mules and wagon wheels had to be pulled or lifted constantly.’ . . .

When they reached the top of this four-mile climb the wagons were at the highest elevation of the entire journey so far, and about two thousand feet above the point where they had entered East Canyon. Here, on the fir-crowned summit of Big Mountain, the migrating Mormon columns had their first view of the promised land.

A mile and a half down,  and down. No animals were left on on the wagons but the faithful wheelers remaining to hold up the tongues. Every available man held back on a rope. By ’49 the timber had been cut for the building of Salt Lake City and the caravans twisted here and there between the jagged stumps down to a small, sheltered hollow known as Mountain Dell. It was a lovely meadow, but miry. The wagons often celebrated their return to the horizontal by stalling in the mud with promptness and precision, and the tired travelers, admitting that they were sunk, gave it up for the day, camped, and fought mosquitoes.”