“The great granite loaf of Independence Rock signaled temporary relief from the thirsty barrens, for it stands where the emigrant trail meets the Sweetwater River. Trail tradition held that reaching this milestone by the Fourth of July meant the emigrants would arrive safely in Oregon or California before early blizzards blew.
Independence Rock also marked the beginning of South Pass, for the pass was not just the single point where the trail crested the Continental Divide. It was, in the minds of emigrants, the entire 100- mile climb up the Sweetwater to the divide. “