Bridger's Trail by L.D. Edgar Map drawn by William Atchinson Bridger's Trail by L.D. Edgar Map drawn by William Atchinson Bridger's Trail by L.D. Edgar Map drawn by William Atchinson Bridger's Trail by L.D. Edgar Map drawn by William Atchinson Photograph of Jim Bridger, American Heritage Center-William Henry Jackson scbl#160 Photograph of Jim Bridger, American Heritage Center-William Henry Jackson scbl#160
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The drive north of the Greybull River passed through some of the driest country in 3d virtual world: The Devil's Bakcbone, refer to Acknowledgements#34the Bighorn Basin, especially for those trains coming through in July. To complicate matters, the emigrants had to first negotiate an upland bench (Emblem Bench), circumvent Bridger Butte, then make a steep descent down the Devil's Backbone into the Coon Creek Valley, approximately 8 miles north of the Greybull River. Following this arduous feat, emigrants were hot, thirsty, and tired, but the trains still had the majority of the distance left to reach the Shoshone River, a trip made harder if the ephemeral streams in the region possessed little or no water.

Photograph of Howard Stanfield, refer to Acknowledgements#21Several diaries describe the emigrants' parched drive to the Shoshone River (or "Stinking Water" as it was called) and the passage over what came to be called the Devil's Backbone. Howard Stanfield's account is the earliest of the season and the most detailed. Jacobs' train left the Greybull River on the morning of June 15, for what Stanfield called a

"tug of war and some of them nearly tugged out. . . . left . . . Photograph of the Devil's Backbone, refer to Acknowledgements#33camp . . . about seven oclock [sic] hoping to find water in about twelve miles we traveled of terribly dusty road. . . . we had one fearful ravine to cross but by using rope to let the wagons down and applying the whip briskly to the animals in coming up we all managed to get safely across but it was warm work and a very hot day. . . . we found neither water nor grass. . . . about noon but we had no inducement to stop but we did have something to hurry us forwards and that was to find water for ourselves and stock beside something for animals to eat for we had almost run out of stock feed and relied solely upon the grass. . . . to keep our stock in running order so we hurried on giving the poor things no rest and when we arrived at the next creek four miles from the last it to [sic] was dry and our only hope lay in reaching Stinking Water and so we pushed on some of the stock giving out both men and animals nearly dying for water we had not counted upon such a long drive and consequently we had not made necessary provision by laying a supply of water as we should have done had we known what was before us. . . . reached Stinking Water about seven in the evening after a long dustry [sic] thirsty drive of 28 miles. . . . [if] the river had been much smaller it would have been drained by man and beast combined. . . . We found no grass that evening the stock had to go hungry."

Cornelius Hedges made the trek on June 17, two days behind Stanfield. "Started at Cornelius Hedges, Refer to Acknowledgements #107½ drove up from creek up narrow & stony ravine on the highlands. . . . about 11 came to a steep descent, took the train an hour to pass--here we saw 5 buffaloes . . . but they got away--passed two dry creeks. . . . We had a long drive to get to water--many teams gave out--reached Stinking Water--large stream--no grass." According to Tom LeForge, "A merchant wagon tipped over a grade at the `Devil's Backbone' point on the trail. . . . Much of the cargo was lost, though most of it was recovered. The wagon was abandoned."

Charles Baker came through two weeks after Hedges. His train left the Greybull River on July 6, but made no reference to the steep terrain along the trail. "Day warm & very windy Drove 30 mi without grass or water Very desert country--arrived at Stinking River at 5 O. C." William Haskell passed a few days later and his diary entry is a poignant illustration of the day's travel. "Made 24 miles withoutCharles and Lydia Baker, Acknowlegements #28. feed or water for the cattle, till we reached Stinking Fork shortly after sunset; the cattle were beat out; no feed tonight; went down some hills today that would frighten the oldest man in America." Haskell was rewarded the following day for the exhausting trip. After making eight miles down the Shoshone River the next day, his train "found good grass and rested the balance of the day; this is a beautiful rapid river; caught some mountain trout for supper that would weigh two pounds each."

Major Owen recorded the increasing difficulties experienced by his train on the trip up until they reached the vicinity of the Shoshone River, after which his diary ends. Owen and Bridger departed the Greybull River on October 21, and then encountered the Major John Owen, refer to Acknowledgements #11Devil's Backbone.

"Ten Miles on a good road over rolling Sage plain brought us to a very bad hill--we were longer getting down the hill than we were travelling the 10 miles--In fact we were 5 hrs before the last Wagon Was Safely landed on the flat below. Then in sight of camp some 1½ Miles from the Hill a Wagon Must turn over &c &c &c. . . . [22nd] Reloaded the Wagon & Moved Some 10 miles over a good road to dry fork of Stinking found water in pools & Campd--Bridger Bgd [sic] 3 Bulls. . . . [23rd] 12 yoke of Cattle lost Lay over in hopes of finding them but to no purpose--We have Exhausted the Water we brought from Grey Bull & are using Water the Consistency & color of good Cream--Failed findg [sic] the lost Stock. . . . [24th] Moved with what Stock we had in order to reach water. . . . had to lv [sic] 3 . . . Wagons. . . . [5] Men remained with them 18 miles to Day."

During the next few days, Owen and the train laid over on the Shoshone River. On October 25, they "[s]ent back 18 yoke of Steers to bring up the 3 wagons left behind--Camp lay over. . . . [26th] Mr Parham took some 30 lbs of fine trout which were relished by the whole camp. Duster bagd [sic] a fine Blk Tail Buc [sic]. . . . [27th] Mr P took a fine string of trout. . . . [29th] Men off fishing getting tired of laying still." Four yoke of cattle were recovered, but 16 head of cattle appear not to have been recovered.

Once across the Shoshone River, each train stayed at least one night to rest the stock while water and grass were available. The emigrants themselves used the time to recuperate, hunt, fish, prospect, and make needed repairs before pushing north up Sage Creek and into Montana.

Animated .Gif, Horse and Wagon

Bridger's Trail by L.D. Edgar,refer to Acknowledgements #35 Map drawn by William Atchison, refer to Acknowledgements #35 Photograph of Jim Bridger,and William Henry Jackson painting scbl#160, refer to acknowledgements #35
Bridger's Trail by L.D. Edgar,refer to Acknowledgements #35 Bridger's Trail by L.D. Edgar,refer to Acknowledgements #35 Bridger's Trail by L.D. Edgar,refer to Acknowledgements #35