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As you look down the historic Bear River, imagine Indians, fur traders, explorers, and emigrants grazing their animals in the lush river bottom. During the gold rush, the Salt Lake Cutoff crossed the Bear River here on its way to rejoin the California Trail at the City of Rocks.

On his way to survey the Great Salt Lake in 1843, topographical engineer John C. Freemont crossed Bear River near here and described the river as “a natural resting and recruiting station for travelers, now and in all time to come.”

Mountaineer Samuel J. Hensley led a pack train north from Great Salt Lake City in the summer of 1848, discovering the route that became the Salt Lake Cutoff. On the Humboldt River, Hensley met a part of 45 men and one woman – Melissa Burton Coray – who had marched to California with the Mormon Battalion during the Mexican War.

They were now bound for Salt Lake to rejoin their families. Following Hensley’s directions, the Mormon veterans brought the first wagons over the trail and camped at a spring near here on September 23, 1848.

Later, some 25,000 overlanders used the Salt Lake Cutoff during the peak gold rush years of 1849 and 1850. Mormon pioneers William Empey and Abraham Hunsaker ran a ferry at this site in the early 1850’s.