July 6, 1841 — Independence Rock and Devil’s Gate

Tuesday, 6th. This morning John Gray and Romaine were sent on to Green River to see if there were any trappers at the rendezvous, and then return to the company with the intelligence. All hands were anxious to have their names inscribed on this memorable rock, so that we did not start until near noon, went up stream about 8 miles and encamped on Sweet Water.

John Gray (usually spelled Grey) was a fur trader with many years experience in the mountains, hired by the the missionaries as a hunter for their group. W. G. Romaine, an Englishman, had also hired Gray as his guide in the American West. Gray would already be familiar with the trail to the Green River rendezvous, which is why he was sent off by Captain Fitzpatrick to see if any mountain men were gathered there. July was the month for rendezvous.

Upper Green River Rendezvous Site

According to the Wikipedia entry for the Upper Green River Rendezvous Site, a National Historic Landmark:

The rendezvous was an organized meeting point for fur trappers, their suppliers, and the buyers of their products to meet. The meetings were first organized by William Henry Ashley, and brought a sense of organization and structure to the otherwise dispersed fur trapping and trading business. Meetings were held annually, generally centered at some location on the Green River. Five were known to be held near the confluence with Horse Creek, but all of them were sprawling affairs, due to the large number of animals needing water and forage.

Bidwell in his journal entry does not mention nearby Devil’s Gate, but James John did, though he calls it “cut rock” rather than its current name of Devil’s Gate.

6th. Started at the usual hour travelling up Sweet water valley. Passed by the curiosity in the mountains called cut rock having a gap about 60 feet wide not less than 250 feet high thru which passes the Sweet water creek.

Devil’s Gate today, from the south side

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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