Journal of Western Travel
by John McTurk Gibson
edited by Weldon Hoppe
July 3rd, 1859 -- Sunday again, but not a day of rest with us. We purposed reaching Pacific Springs, and laying over during the 4th and therefore travelled some 13 miles in the forenoon,
passing the summit of the Rocky Mountains on what is called the South Pass, and oh what a downfall my imaginative powers received, I had for years pictured to my own mind the appearance the South Pass must present. I had set it down as a narrow rugged gorge, completely walled in on either side by perpendicular mountains towering to the sky and covered with snow and timber,
instead of that the ascent is so gradual, the mountains so like what you have become accustomed looking at, that one would never imagine he was about at the highest altitude, were it not that one sees the little springs and streams stealing away towards the West instead of the East. The fact is as soon as we begin coming up the Platte we commence climbing the Rocky Mountains,
and the ascent is so long and gradual, that the traveller gets to the top before he knows it, and the comparative insignificance of the mountains and the absence of anything like timber tend still more to mislead him. 3 miles further and we reached the Springs where they form a kind of quagmire and flow toward the Pacific Ocean, hence their name. These springs are said to be part of the headwaters of the Colorado River. The grass was nearly all eat up, so we struck out again following the small stream that flows from the Springs, a few miles and it sinks in the sand compelling us to travel 12 miles this afternoon before we could get water, and that so brackish that we had to hold our breaths till we got it down. There is almost no feed here at all so there is no help for it, we are bound to travel tomorrow.
Travelled 25 miles. We left the Sweet Water this morning for the last time for Pacific Springs, a distance of 12 miles. These springs are on the summit of the Rocky Mountains and being the first water running toward the Pacific Ocean. There are several springs here of good water. One of which is seldom excelled. No water from the Sweet to the Springs on the road. We reached here at noon. The South Pass is a regular raise with some few nolls scattered here and there. It is about 40 miles in width. These springs get their name by being the first water seen running toward the Pacific Ocean on this route. We left the springs for a small creek 13 miles distant. We have had no grass since morning and but little to knight. No water this afternoon. We kept the left hand road at the springs.
Copyright © 1997 Weldon Hoppe