Oxen Carcasses

“Oxen, already worn from the strain of crossing the Green River Basin, died by the dozens on the rough ridges of the Overthrust Belt. “Dead animals all the way up, the stench intolerable,” Byron McKinstry complained in July 1850. He continued:

We have had the road strewed with putrid carcasses ever since we left the Platte. As soon as an ox dies, he bloats as full as the skin will hold (and sometimes bursts), and his legs stick straight out and soon smells horribly …. When they are nearly decayed I think there is frequently three or four bushels of maggots about the carcass. At the top of the steepest pitch this morning lay eleven dead oxen. They pulled up the pitch and died when they stopped to rest …. Thus they lie strewed on every hill and in every valley, thus poisoning the otherwise pure air. The most die after getting over some hard place, or long stretch.