The Trek


Rocky Ridge

Distance: 1,038 miles from Nauvoo

East of Rocky Ridge, at the Sixth Crossing of the Sweetwater, the Willie company became snowbound. Captain Willie and Joseph Elder forced their way through the snow across Rocky Ridge and found the rescue party waiting out the storm. The rescuers pushed east with supplies the next morning. The Willie handcart company finally made it into Salt Lake City on November 9, 1856. Sixty-nine members had died along the trail.

Journal Entries

Levi Savage
October 23, 1856

“We buried our dead, got up our teams and about nine o’clock a.m. commenced ascending the Rocky Ridge. This was a severe day. The wind blew hard and cold. The ascent was some five miles long and some places steep and covered with deep snow. We became weary, set down to rest, and some became chilled and commenced to freeze. . . .

“About ten or eleven o’clock in the night we came to a creek [Strawberry Creek] that we did not like to attempt to cross without help, it being full of ice and freezing cold.”

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John Chislett, Willie Handcart Company
October 1856

“We had found a good camp among the willows, and after warming and partially drying ourselves before good fires, we ate our scanty fare, paid our usual devotions to the Deity and retired to rest with hopes of coming aid.”

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Jens Pederson
October 23, 1856

“When they were having such hard times with low rations and cold weather, one man decided he didn't want to put up with any more so just said he wasn't going another step. Different ones tried to talk to him and urge him to go on, but had no effect upon his decision. Grandpa, Jens O. Pederson asked for permission to talk to the man.”

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Locations along the Trail