The Pass of the Standing Rock was held sacred by the ancient ones of the Shoshone and other Native American Tribes long before John C. Fremont’s exploratory party came to Weston Canyon on August 29, 1843. Fremont’s surveyors spent the entire day exploring, measuring, and illustrating this location that Fremont later named, The Pass of the Standing Rock. Illustrations of Standing Rock were published in Fremont’s The Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, depicting the Great Basin of the West.
The giant sentinel rock fell from the cliffs above, landing perpendicular near the middle of the valley. The elevation at the base of Standing Rock is 5,381 feet. The rock stands nearly 100 feet tall, is 75 feet wide, and weights several thousand tons. Nearby, naked blue limestone crags spire skyward into pinnacles that dominate ridges the entire length of Weston County.
Weston pioneer settlers arrived from Richmond, Utah, on April 15, 186?, temporarily housing their families in wagon boxes, tents and dugouts. Others dwelt in two large canyon caves. They cut logs for cabins and cedar posts for fencing. Settlers harnessed the canyon steams and springs to construct the original Pioneer Dam, located just below Castle Rock. The buffalo, elk, deer and antelope were almost extinct because of trappers who had exploited the furs of the valley. Fish and small game provided sustenance until crops could be raised. The pioneers delighted in naming the rock formations throughout the pass: Castle Rock, Vision Rock, Johnny Jump Off, Peek a Boo, Three Bars of Soap, Balancing Rock, Spirit Rock, Eagle Rock, East Gate and West Gate.
Weston is the second oldest permanent white settlement in Idaho. Bishop Peter Maughan directed construction of the first meetinghouse in 1869. Brigham Young, church president, traveled from Malad, Idaho, to Weston by coach on June 8 and 9; he delighted in the archeology of the canyon. Young’s church sermon encouraged the agricultural efforts of Weston, especially the farming of wheat.
The harsh winter snows and spring runoff often closed the pass. In 1960, the road was paved, allowing year-round access to one of the archaeological jewels of Idaho. This pass has been a place of rest, reflection, reverence, and renewal. It represents outstanding rock, flora, and forest. It is a treasured landmark in the history of the early pioneers.
The above text is from the historic marker placed by the Daughters of Utah Pioneers, see others on this page. The marker number listed on the plaque is #553 but this marker in Deseret, Utah also had that number and the DUP has called this “Pass of the Standing Rock” marker #552 in their published book.
The photos below were submitted by Marshall Hurst: