Tuesday May 31st The Split Rock Ranch has two bases, the other one sited on the main 287 highway and enigmatically called Split Rock Ranch 'the Block'. As I was rejoining the highway, Miles invited me to call in for the self serve breakfast provided in one of the cattle barns for all the cowboys working on the ranch. So here are Lady and Mo waiting patiently..
A couple of rather forlorn places of worship survive. The Shepherd's chapel housed in a garage...
The ice slough was a marshy stream which remained frozen until late summer so ice could be found by digging beneath the surface. The emigrants were able to use this as a welcome source for cooling drinks and preserving meat. This is not possible today due to draining of the slough, or slew as they pronounce it here.
Arriving at Sweetwater crossing,
The Pony Express trail crossed a little further upstream from this point, and then followed the course of the Sweetwater up to South Pass. We would be taking a parallel route slightly further north, but for the moment we needed to find a place to stay for the night. The Mormon Sixth Crossing Handcart visitor centre is located here and the volunteers found a corner of a field for the horses and my tent.
The centre is devoted to commemorating the ordeal of the Willie Handcart company which left Florence only two weeks ahead of the Martin company' They were further west by the time the winter snowstorms struck, but company members were already dying as they struggled to Sixth Crossing. A few miles further west they were met by an advance rescue party, but their torment was not over. As they battled over Rocky Ridge in a fierce blizzard the next day (October 23rd) thirteen more emigrants perished. Survivors of the company reached Salt Lake City on November 9th by which time sixty-eight men, women and children had lost their lives. Altogether the death toll in the handcart disaster was two hundred and thirteen.