Stephens, Evan, A Talk Given by Prof. Evan Stephens Before the Daughters of the Pioneers, Hawthorne Camp, Feb. 5, 1930, .
Trail excerpt transcribed from "Pioneer History Collection" available at Pioneer Memorial Museum [Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum], Salt Lake City, Utah. Some restrictions apply.
I am really not a pioneer in the fullest sense; I come near to being one, I caught about the last ox train from the Missouri River to the Valley in 1866. I think that year was the last year that the men and the teams were sent all the way across the plains to bring emigrants. The next year they only had to go as far as Laramie, that would be about half way across.
I was a boy of 12 years at that time. The pioneer trip across the plains, the emigrating trip from the old country here forms sort of a background for my life, as it interested me immensely. Born and raised in a quaint Welsh town of surrounding beauty, of course I hadn't seen much of the world when we started for Salt Lake City. I wasn't spared much of the pioneering work. I had the privilege of walking all the way, excepting the Green River and Platte River which were too deep for me to ford, and the rest of the way I walked like a real pioneer. I don't know whether the pioneers enjoyed it. The journey across the plains was such an experience of pleasure to me, that I found it difficult to sympathize with the pioneers who tho[ught] it a hardship. I find my mind wandering off now, and I can see myself in a way the first day I started across the rolling country. I was too elated to walk, so I would run ahead and then I would stop and wait for the crowd. Of course I was a very young man. I was going across that thousand miles and as I was going to have a walk between two and three hundred Danish girls, I ought to have been content and happy. . . .
I realize that this is not speaking upon the pioneers that we really think of coming here, but sometimes I have wondered where we should draw the line. When the railroad brought the pullman train across, then it ceased to be an event to cross the plains. Those who had to come from the old country and arrive here in three weeks missed the great joy and great experience of crossing that glorious and wild country. It didn't seem to me that it was so warm and suffocating, but when I read history and read of the snowstorms, I am glad we were privileged to come in the summer time. As you know there is always a storm early in September and we were somewhere about Green River about the time that storm came up, but it wasn't severe that year.
We entered the valley on a Sunday morning. We had camped at Mountain Dell the night before and crossing below Fort Douglas to come down Brigham Street, that the climax of the most wonderful experience of my life, Salt Lake looking like an absolute paradise. I could not think of it having anything to do with a wild desert land of snakes, as I heard would be our lot when we came into the desert.