J. M. Tanner, A Biographical Sketch of John Riggs Murdock (Salt Lake City: The Deseret News, 1909), 162-65.
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At the close of four years after his call to Beaver, and in the spring of 1868, he was called to conduct a train of seventy-five wagons to Laramie City for the purpose of bringing to Utah the emigrants who were arriving there. By this time the railroad had made its way across the plains and was ascending the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains. The days of emigrant trains were soon to be a thing of the past. But the later chapters, as well as the earlier ones in John R. Murdock's pioneer experiences in Utah, were filled with accounts of emigration companies and episodes of a trying character on the plains.
Speaking of this, his last experience of that kind, he said: "I had seventy-five wagons in my train. Fifty of them belonged to the Church, and twenty-five were private conveyances. That year, as I remember, six other companies were called for a similar purpose. They were ahead of mine on the way down, but they consisted of only twenty-five wagons each. It was the custom among those companies to load in the order of their arrival. Of the two trains ahead of me, Joseph Rawlins was in command of one and Chester Loveland of the other. After loading their trains they set out for home. Just as they were leaving a shipload of passengers arrived by train at Laramie. I, therefore, loaded my train at once and followed the advanced companies. The authorities had advised us to break a new road for about one hundred miles over the old emigrant road on the low waters. The object of this was to avoid the railroad men who were then engaged in large numbers in the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad. The two companies in advance followed the new road, but my company was so large, and some of my teams were so heavily loaded that I decided, after due deliberation, to follow the old road. This seemed under all the circumstances about the only thing that I could do, and I kept along the old Bitter Creek route. The water of that creek was correctly named, for it was bitter indeed. Fortunately, I had two loads of empty barrels, which I was taking as a part of my freight. Before starting out, I took the precaution to fill these with good water for the use of the emigrants.
"Before Rawlins left with his company I visited his camp to bid him good-bye and speak encouraging words to the emigrants. He remarked that as I had a large train and my passengers had not yet arrived he would reach Salt Lake and forget all about his trip before I go there. 'Yes, I suppose so,' I replied."
That was just the kind of a remark to put the spur deep in the flesh of John R. Murdock; competition always gave a healthy impulse to his efforts. He naturally loved to excel, wanted to do greater things than others, and was always excessively proud of a good record. All things being equal, his determination not to be outdone never forsook him. If there was anything in this world he knew, perhaps as well as any man, it was how to get the best in a team out of it. He knew how to keep things going. He could keep in mind at the same time a large number of things to be done immediately, and he rarely ever lost his presence of mind. He foresaw danger and provided against it, and made allowances for every possible contingency which a fertile mind could create.
Note what he says of this return trip to Utah: "We did not have to wait for our load, and we made very good time down the Bitter Creek road and across Green River, where we intercepted the old pioneer road. On our arrival there, we learned that Rawlins and Loveland had not yet passed. They had been detained by the heaviness of their loads and by the Indians, who had driven away some of their stock. The stock, however, they succeeded in recovering, but not without delay. We pushed on with our train and reached Salt Lake City without any serious accident except that one boy broke his leg. The emigrants were unloaded in Salt Lake and I returned home to Beaver with my private loads of freight."