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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Before reaching the Shoshone River Crossing the Bridger Trail passed through some of the driest country in the Bighorn Basin, especially for those trains coming through in July. The distance from the Greybull River north to the Shoshone River was approximately 27 miles. The trail went due north across Emblem Bench for approximately 4 miles, crossed Dry Creek and passed southwest of Bridger Butte. It then went north for about 3 miles to the descent of "Devil's Backbone," a typical badlands environment of severely eroded multi-colored residual clay soil with very little vegetation and then crossed the forks of Coon Creek. The trail continued northwest for about 5 miles, crossed Whistle Creek, and then proceeded north and east approximately 9 to 10 miles before reaching the Shoshone River east of Roan Wash.

Howard Stanfield's train left the Greybull River camp early on the morning of June 15; "a part of us reached Stinking Water [Shoshone River] about seven in the evening after a long hot dustry [sic] thirsty drive of 28 miles." Cornelius Hedges wrote on June 17, "We had a long drive to get to water--many teams gave out--reached Stinking Water--large stream." Charles Baker's train arrived at the Shoshone River three weeks later. On July 6, he "[d]rove 30 miles without grass or water--Very desert country--arrived at Stinking River at 5 O.C. Went down 2 mi. & camped." William Haskell's train pulled up to the river on July 11, "Made 24 miles without feed or water for the cattle, till we reached Stinking Fork shortly after sunset."

The first three trains, led by Jim Bridger, John Jacobs, and Captain Allensworth, respectively, were within a few days of each other from the time of their departure at Red Buttes. This is evident by the reference to the use of the ferry at the crossing of the Bighorn River. In fact, on June 17 Hedges "Met two of Bridger's men and found they were only 12 miles ahead."

By June 18, four trains, including the small train of independents, were now camped on the north side of the Shoshone. Bridger's lead train had traveled slower than the rest, because he located the initial route and did some work on the road. The two trains led by Jacobs and Allensworth had caught up to Bridger, who was resting on the north side of the river. Howard Stanfield, a member of Jacobs' train, wrote on June 18, "We are at the same camp we had last night where we have remained all day we are the middle train of three. Bridgers numbering one hundred wagons ½ mile ahead and Allensworth consisting of 88 wagons just crossed the River today so there are a goodly number of white men in this part of the country at the present time." Cornelius Hedges, a member of Allensworth's train, wrote on June 18, "Bridger's and Jacob's [sic] trains near us All sorts of stories--206 miles on the Cut-off." Although their arrival at the river was somewhat staggered, their layovers overlapped, as each train stayed encamped for approximately three days. This cumulative presence of Euro-Americans in 1864 was undoubtedly the largest concentration, to date, of non-Indians ever assembled in the Bighorn Basin.

The Shoshone River was a suitable location for resting stock and emigrants after the Lovell Quadrangle, showing a Bridger Trail Crossing, - Acknowledgements #25long, dry, arduous push north of the Greybull. 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.

The 1884 GLO plat maps distinctly show that once the trail reached the Shoshone River it followed the river to a ford downstream. This is corroborated by what the diarists said of traveling downstream once they reached the Shoshone River. Hedges reached the river on June 17, and the next day "drove on about 5 miles. . . . Crossed Stinking Water -- Several streams, some deep and swift--safe over. . . . Bridger's and Jacobs' trains near us." Baker's train arrived at the river on July 6, then proceeded downstream "2 mi. & Camped." The next day he "drove down the river 12 miles" and on July 8, "crossed 2 channels of river." Haskell reached the river on July 11 and the next two days moved downstream. On July 12, he "[d]rove eight miles after an early start. . . . [July 13] Drove down the river six miles and found Collin's train camped there. . . . [July 14th] the whole party . . . crossed the river."

This route is different than the one Maynadier took four years earlier. When Maynadier arrived at the Stinking Water (Shoshone) River, he Map showing Raynold's and Maynadier's route near the Shoshone River, refer to Acknowledgements#20traveled upstream along the river to the west-southwest for about 15 miles, searching for a place to ford the river. No suitable place was found, and an attempt to get a raft across made out of a wagon bed proved futile as well. This activity occupied all of June 8 and 9. Finally, on June 11, Maynadier crossed the Shoshone, but paid a price. Four mules, an ambulance, equipment, and instruments were lost in the swift current. "Returning to camp I found that only a box of stationary, which had floated, had been recovered; everything else must have sunk as soon as the ambulance turned over, and any effort to recover anything at the bottom of the river would have been madness." Among the articles lost were several rifles and assorted personal weapons, "also a sextant and horizon, three chronometers, and three barometers."

In 1864 the individual emigrant trains arrived at the Shoshone River farther upstream than Maynadier probably because they went farther up the Greybull River than Maynadier before heading north. They then proceeded downstream to the crossing. This approach is virtually opposite that of Maynadier. For example, Charles Baker's train arrived at the Shoshone on July 6, "arrived at Stinking River at 5 O.C. Went down 2 mi." The next day, he "[d]rove down the river 12 miles & stayed over night." On July 8, he "crossed 2 channels of the river." The GLO survey maps for 1884 also show the Bridger Trail following the south side of the Shoshone River downstream for 10 miles before crossing to the north side. Clearly, the description of the route taken by Maynadier between the Greybull and Shoshone Rivers is different from that of the Bridger Trail route four years later.

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