On the horizon about 25 miles to the south is Pilot Butte. An important landmark, Pilot Butte served as a guide post separating South Pass trails from the more southerly Overland Trail that crossed southern Wyoming. Oddly enough, Pilot Butte was more important to travelers headed east than it was for west-bound emigrants.
The name Pilot Butte appears on fur trade maps at least as early as 1837. Captain Howard Stansbury mentioned Pilot Butte on September 12, 1850, as his column of topographic engineers travelled east from Fort Bridger guided by Jim Bridger.
Stansbury’s journal reads, “… we came in sight of a high butte, situated on the eastern side of the Green River, some forty miles distant: a landmark well known to the traders, and called by them Pilot Butte.”
The butte grew in importance as a landmark as traffic eastward increased in the 1850s and especially in 1862 when Ben Holladay moved his stagecoach and freighting operations from the Oregon Trail south to the Overland route.
Interestingly, the butte sits atop White Mountain and is just north of the original location of the Rock Springs airport. Thus, Pilot Butte was used as a landmark by early-day pilots – flying the first airmail routes across the nation.
Stand in the trail ruts immediately in front of this sign, look at Pilot Butte, and feel the passage of history.
This historic marker is located on a walking path loop on Highway 28 just west of Farson, stopping here you can see all these markers:
- Continuing the Journey West
- Pilot Butte & “Graves” of the Unknown Emigrants
- Emigrant/Indian Relations
- First Transcontinental Telegraph
- Pilot Butte
- Death on the Trail
- “Graves” of the Unknown Emigrants
- Burial on the Trail