While the Saints were in Winter Quarters during the winter of 1846-7 they were busily preparing for the march to the mountains next spring. Men for the advance company were selected, and on April 7, 1847, they began to move out of Winter Quarters to a place westward, where they were to gather. Ten days later the first or pioneer camp, was ready for marching. The idea was to have twelve times twelve men, but one became sick and had to return, so that left one hundred and forty-three. There were besides the men three women and two children. They had seventy-two wagons, ninety-three horses, fifty-two mules, sixty-six oxen, nineteen cows, seventeen dogs, and some chickens.
For three months and seventeen days this company traveled westward over plains and mountains. During the first part of their journey they sometimes followed a wagon road to Oregon, and sometimes they made new roads. The shallow rivers they forded, the deep ones they built bridges over, and the large ones they crossed in ferry boats which they built. After these ferries had been built the pioneers sometimes took over companies on their way to Oregon and received provisions for their pay.
[Illustration: MAP OF PIONEER ROUTE.]
The map will show you the route they took better than can be told here.
The pioneers did not know exactly where they were to locate. It was to be in some valley of the Rocky mountains where they could live in peace, free from mobs. When President Young was asked as to their destination, all he could say was that he would know the place when he should see it, and that they should continue to travel the way the Spirit of the Lord directed them.
On their journey they often met scouts and trappers. One of the best known of these was Col. James Bridger. He had been all through the valley of the Great Salt Lake, he said, and he told the pioneers that they could not live there, as nothing would grow. So sure was he of this that he offered to give a thousand dollars for the first bushel of corn they could raise in that valley. President Young simply said, “Wait a little and we will show you.”
When they left the plains and got up in the mountains some of them became sick with the mountain fever. Among those ailing was President Young. He became so bad that he could not travel, so when they were in Echo canyon he instructed Orson Pratt to take the main company on and he with a few men would remain for a few days.