Utah History to Go
The Hastings Cutoff
Overland Migrations
Bartleson-Bidwell party
Nancy Kelsey
Bryant-Rusell Party
Harlan Young Party
Hastings Cutoff
Donner Party
This is the Place
Mormon History
Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company
Handcart Companies
A Girl Triumphed Over Handcart Tradegy
Many Mormon Immigrants Delayed Their Journey
Settlement and Exploration
Colonization of Utah
Salt Lake City
The Founding and Naming of Moab
Hole-in-the-Rock Trek Remains an Epic Experience
What Made the Mormon Landscape Unique?
Snowslides Devastated Northern Utah in 1875
A Fatal Snowslide in Provo Canyon
Those Pioneering African Americans
The Lives of Six Pioneer Girls
He Was an Outsider in Utah But Not For Long
Forty-Niners in Salt Lake Valley
Utah Farmer and the Pike's Peak Gold Rush
Emma Lee Endured Many Hardships in Pioneer Utah
Alice Parker Isom Faced Challenges WIth True Grit
19th Century Utah Women Spun Yarn and Dug Ditches
Hilda Anderson Erickson, Working Woman
Oliver B. Huntington and His Bees
A Policeman's Lot in Early Salt Lake CIty
A Blind Man and His Harp
Fanny Brooks Helped Establish the Jewish Community
Reverend McLeod and Building of Independence Hall
Jenny Baker Stanford Bridged Mormon-Gentile Gap
Welshman Dan Jones Was One of Zion's Busiest Bees
The Case of Grave Robber Jean Baptiste
Slavery in Utah
History of Polygamy
The History of a Pioneer Utah Cottage
The Pioneer's Cost of Living Versus Today's
Coins and Currency
The Sego Lily, Utah's State Flower
Pestiferous Ironclads: Grasshopper Problem in Utah
From Pioneer Fort to Pioneer Park
Ensign Peak
Temple Square
Virgin River Doused Cotton Mission Settler's Hopes
Gardner Mill and the Birth of the Valley's West Side
The United Order Movement
The Beginnings of the University of Utah
Arrival of the Episcopal Church
Ben Holladay, the Stagecoach King, in Utah
The Pony Express Added a Colorful Chapter in Utah
Mark Twain's Utah
Pony Express in Utah
The Telegraph Was Information Highway of the 1860's
The Steamboat Era Was Glamorous But Brief in Utah
Cowboys and the Cattle Industry
Old La Sal Was Once a Thriving Cow Town
Preston Nutter Made Utah Home of His Cattle Kingdom
Robbers' Roost Was a Haven For Outlaws
Utah Had Hollywood Style Western Gunfights
Just Who Was the Outlaw Queen Etta Place?
Josie Bassett-Jensen's Remarkable Woman Rancher
Military in Utah
Utah War
The Civil War in Utah
Mountain Meadows Massacre
Fort Douglas
Fort Duchesne
Camp Floyd
The Colonel Orders a Grand Review

Thomas G. Alexander
Utah, The Right Place

Anxious to attract Americans to northern California, Lansford W. Hastings published his famous Emigrants Guide to Oregon and California in 1845, which touted the Golden State over the Beaver State. At the same time, it is unclear whether Hastings intended to promote the cutoff from Fort Bridger through Salt Lake Valley and westward via the route Fremont followed in 1845 or simply to comment that a route would be more direct than the usual trail through Fort Hall.

Lansford Hastings
Lansford W. Hastings

At any rate, a number of people thought the Hastings Cutoff had good potential, though others opposed it. Lining up in favor of the cutoff stood Fremont, whom Hastings had consulted at Sutter's Fort during the winter of 1845-1846, James Hudspeth, James Bridger, and Louis Vasquez. James Clyman, a partner of Hastings who accompanied him and several others from Sutter's Fort to Fort Bridger in early 1846, tried to dissuade the members of the Donner-Reed party from taking the cutoff, and Joseph R. Walker, who had successfully guided the first wagons over the California Trail by way of Fort Hall, thought the route an unproven risk.

Early parties on the trail in 1846 followed the normal route north through Fort Hall and across northwestern Utah. By mid-July, however, members of four of the migrant parties feared they might not cross the Sierra Nevada before becoming snowbound and decided to take the Hastings Cutoff. On July 20, both the mule-back Bryant-Russell party, named for Louisville newspaper editor Edwin Bryant and party captain William H. Russell, and the party of wagoners led by George W Harlan and Samuel C. Young left on the Hastings Cutoff. James M. Hudspeth guided the Bryant-Russell party, and Hastings himself guided the Harlan-Young group.

Instead of going down Echo Canyon, the route that I-80 follows today, the Bryant-Russell party followed the Bear River to the present site of Evanston. They crossed over to the headwaters of Lost Creek, which they followed to its junction with the Weber River. Backtracking to East Canyon, they reached the Weber near Devil's Gate. Passing Devil's Gate with difficulty, they emerged into the Salt Lake Valley, and then struck south around the lake.

Leaving the same day as the Bryant-Russell party, the Harlan-Young wagons found Echo Canyon by a rather circuitous route. Hudspeth met them in Weber Canyon and directed them into Morgan Valley. Hastings tried to dissuade them from continuing down Weber Canyon through Devil's Gate, but Hudspeth assured them they could drive through. Cutting a road only with abundant effort and losing at least one team and wagon to the narrow rocky canyon, they channeled through the lower Weber and on to the Salt Lake Valley.

In the meantime, Hastings had returned to start Heinrich Lienhard's party of thrifty Germans on a more direct route to Echo Canyon. After reaching the Weber River, they followed the tracks of the Harlan-Young Party. By floating ox-tethered wagons over water-drenched boulders, they managed to pass Devil's Gate and reach the mouth of the canyon. Having made up several days, they caught up with the Harlan-Young party near the Jordan River. 

The fourth party, led by George and Jacob Donner and James Reed, did not leave Fort Bridger until July 31. They found a note near the present site of Henefer in which Hastings warned them not to use the Weber Canyon route, promising at the same time to show them a better road. On August 6, Reed hurried out from the party to catch Hastings west of the Oquirrh Mountains. Hastings took Reed to the summit of Big Mountain, where he described a route from Henefer through Emigration Canyon. Following this route, the Donner-Reed party lost more time and meet with extreme hardship both there and in the Salt Lake Desert. Struggling into Nevada, they became snowbound near Donner Lake. Eventually only forty-seven of the original eight-seven reached Sutter's Fort.



The Land
American Indians
Trappers, Traders, & Explorers
Pioneers & Cowboys
Mining & Railroads
Statehood & the Progressive Era
From War to War
Utah Today