Editor's Note: To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Mormon Trail, The Salt Lake Tribune is offering this day-by-day account of the Mormon Pioneers' original trek from Winter Quarters, Nebraska, to the Great Salt Lake Valley. Tribune history writer Harold Schindler, using diaries, letters, journals and reminiscences that have come to light this century, has fleshed out the following narrative.
July 14, 1847
Brigham Young was still confined to his wagon at the Needles. He was feeling better. Wilford Woodruff, who rode up from the main camp near Redden's (Cache) Cave in the morning with Barnabas Adams, described the Mormon leader as "quite cheerful," considering he had spent a fitful night. On a more gloomy note, A.P. Rockwood, who had been fighting this mysterious malady for days, was worsening. "There are one or two new cases of sickness in our camp, mostly with fever which is very severe on the first attack," Woodruff said. "It generally renders its victims delirious for some hours, then leaves them in a languid, weakly condition."
But the fever that overcame Young and Rockwood was much more serious than the influenza-like ailment that struck the rest of the pioneers. Both men suffered for weeks where others recovered in a matter of days. Woodruff also explained how best to whip the fever. "It appears that a good dose of pills and medicine is good to break the fever. The patient then needs some kind of stimulant to brace his nerves and guard against another attack. I am satisfied that diluted spirits is good in this disease after breaking up the fever," he said.
Woodruff told Young he would bring his carriage in the morning so that Young and Rockwood could rest in it, the carriage being a far more comfortable conveyance than a wagon. While these plans were being made, Orson Pratt and his newly organized advance party of twenty-three wagons and forty-two men journeyed from the head of Red Fork (Echo) Canyon six and three-quarter miles and halted to rest the teams. Then they proceeded another six and one-quarter miles to the junction of Red Fork and the Weber River, crossing and recrossing Red Fork (Echo) Creek a number of times.
"Weber's Fork here is about seventy feet wide and two to three feet deep, with rapid current, a stony bottom consisting of boulders, but clear cold water. There are some willow and aspen in the valley and on the side hills," Pratt reported. He and John Brown went on to scout Weber Canyon. At the mouth of Red Fork Canyon, Brown said, "we found two trails, one leading down the river through the [Weber] canyon and the other turned out to the south [toward Big Mountain]."
On examining Weber Canyon, the two found it to be impassable for wagons. "We then examined the other pass to the south, through which a small company of California emigrants [the Donner-Reed party] had passed the year before. We could scarcely see the trail," Brown said, because grass and underbrush had overgrown the tracks.
Thomas Bullock, with the main camp, "felt some better; sat in [Redden's] cave all day with S.H. Goddard." Bullock was catching up on his journal-keeping. He also observed that antelopes were galloping near camp and the swallows were very busy attending the wants of their young, referring to the myriad nests in and outside the cave. "A little after dusk, Woodruff and Adams returned from visiting Brigham Young, saying he is some better, but Rockwood is still sick and delirious."
Eliza R. Snow, with the second Mormon emigration in the Platte River Valley, described their first experience with stampedes: "This morning a fearful circumstance occurred. Someone was shaking a buffalo robe at the back of a wagon and some of the cattle in the corral took fright and started to run. They frightened others. All commenced bellowing and in a huddle ran for the gateway of the enclosure. It was too narrow for the onrushing multitude; they piled one atop the other until the top animals were above the tops of the adjacent wagons, moving them from their stations.
While the emigrants at this early hour being so suddenly and unceremoniously aroused from morning sleep and not knowing the cause of the terrible uproar and confusion, were paralyzed with fear. At length those that could broke from the enclosure, bellowing subsided and quiet restored. In the incident two wagon wheels were crushed, Hazen Kimball's only cow was killed, and several oxen had their horns knocked off."