Photographing History: Jim Bridger, Brigham Young and the Little Sandy Crossing in Wyoming

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On June 28, 1847, President Brigham Young led the pioneer company of pioneers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints across the Little Sandy River near present-day Farson, Wyoming. It was there that he met the famous mountaineer Jim Bridger, who was traveling east with several others. Bridger was described as a “43-year-old pioneer, hunter, trapper, and trader, relatively small in stature but with a thick neck” (quoted in “We’ll Find the Place: The Mormon Exodus, 1846-1848”, by Richard E. Bennett, pages 192-193).

Regarding this meeting, a monument several miles from the present site reads: “The two companies camped here overnight and discussed at length the route and the possibility of establishing and maintaining a large population in the valley of the Great Salt Lake”. Bridger presented a relatively positive critique of the Wasatch Front in regard to the establishment of settlements. He was somewhat hesitant about the Salt Lake Valley, fearing the nights would be too cold for ripening corn (see “The Gathering of Zion,” by Wallace Stegner, page 156).

Jim Bridger had established a trading post in southwestern Uinta County, Wyoming in 1842. It became known as Fort Bridger. Ownership of the fort changed hands and was disputed several times over the following decades. In 1928 it was sold to the Wyoming Historic Landmark Commission and became the Fort Bridger State Historic Site in the small town of Fort Bridger, Uinta County, Wyoming. Jim Bridger died in Westport, Missouri in 1881. He is buried in Mount Washington Cemetery, Independence, Jackson County, Missouri.

Kenneth Mays is a board member of the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation and a retired instructor in the Department of Seminaries and Institutes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Grave of Jim Bridger in Independence, Missouri.

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