Mile 975: Devil’s Gate

“The route . . . lay along the southwest bank of the Sweetwater for some five miles after leaving the rock [from Independence Rock]. Here [the emigrants] must negotiate a passage through the Sweetwater Range. For the Indians and the emigrants this was not difficult. Even the prairie schooners moved up into the low unimpressive pass  without stress or strain. But the river made heavy going of it and chose a near-by gap in the range, so tremendous and so narrow that it seemed to have been jacked through the low mountains with two strokes of a giant cleaver. The inadequate opening and the damming cliffs lashed the water to a raging frenzy, as wild as it was short-lived. The shining segment of western sky, visible through the narrow gorge, extended in a slim wedge to the very base of the sold granite mountain. The emigrants saw this slit in the horizon—fourteen miles away, or so they said—and commented on it with interest, for Devil’s Gate was one of the major landmarks of the trail.

Most of the pioneers took it for granted that the gate itself was impassable and let it go at that—it was not of the slightest importance; but to the dare-alls of the migrations it was a continuous challenge.”