In 1843, Oregon Trail diarist John Boardman was probably the first to make reference Church Butte near present Granger, Wyo., calling it “Solomon’s Temple.” In the 1850s, most emigrants referred to the landmark as Church Butte, because of its shape and perhaps because Mormon companies held religious services there on their way to the Salt Lake Valley.
The Sixth Crossing of the Sweetwater offered wagon-train emigrants good water again after 16 dry and dusty miles. Most camped at the crossing. Here, in 1856, 500 members of the Willie Handcart company, most of them Mormon converts from England, were found starving, freezing and dying by rescuers from Salt Lake City.
In 1862, Charlotte Dansie and her family sailed from England with hundreds of other Mormon converts, then gathered with others near Omaha to set out for Salt Lake—all while having a difficult pregnancy with her eighth child. Her descendants managed to relocate her grave in 1939 near Pacific Springs.
Dry and sandy accurately describe the creek crossing where good water was scarce and wagons often foundered in an alkaline mire. Travelers often noted decaying livestock carcasses and thick clouds of gnats; most kept going if they could. Later years saw establishment of a stage and Pony Express station here.
Deep, crystal-clear waters with snow-capped views greeted emigrants as they arrived at the final crossing of the Sweetwater River near South Pass. At times, hundreds of travelers waited impatiently for makeshift ferries, hoping to outrun the cholera they feared was being carried toward them by parties farther back along the trail.