John App’s May 26, 1850, Gold Rush Diary Entry

Sunday May 26, 1850

Stopping Point: Independence Rock (Wyoming)

Approximate Miles Traveled:

GPS Latitude: 42° 29.725′ N; Longitude: 107° 08.010′ W

Elevation: 5,907 ft

Notes about this post: Independence Rock, located in present day central Wyoming, is one of the most interesting places along the trail west. It marked the end of the easiest part of the journey and the beginning of the more desolate and rugged part of the trail. It is a gigantic granite boulder protruding from the ground that emigrants found easy to climb when they rested here. They had been following the Platte River for quite some time, but have left it and have recently been following the Sweetwater River, a river that is much smaller than the Platte but still is able to provide plenty of water and grass. Emigrants used this rock to record their names and dates of travel, much like they did at Register Cliff, but this rock is hard granite so carving names, etc. was usually done with a chisel. Some used axle grease to write, but the ones who used a chisel left a mark that still exists today. Many of the names have eroded to the point that they are difficult (or impossible) to read, but the Oregon-California Trails Association has published a book of as many names as can be determined. The picture (below) called “an emigrant’s view” is a view from atop Independence Rock looking south with the Sweetwater on the right. The terrain is almost unchanged from the 1850’s, so the view is close to what the emigrants saw when they stood on this exact spot.

May the 26th 1850   we were at the Rock Independence resting are mules as it was the saboth day, The Rock Independence is a very Larg Rock with, perhaps 5 Thousand or more names on it. I took a Cold Chisel & Hatchet then Engraved my name on the south side, as it is such a noted Place for names to stand For Ever the Rock is about 6 Hundred Yards Long, 120 Yards wide, about 150 Feet High- Composed of Hard Granite with a very pritty stream of rock  this day I passed of In making dried apple Pies, Cooking Rice  Baking Bread etc, we had a Big diner on that day, ___ Fried Ham, Rice, warm Bread, Pies, Coffee, Pickels, dried venison A very fine Fruit Cake, (that Jakes mother Baked Before we left) toped off with some pickled Onions, The greatest diner we had since we are on the road

Independence Rock
Independence Rock

About storiesretoldblogger

I am an Elkhart, Indiana native and became interested in applying video to history when consumer video cameras were first introduced on the market in the late 1970’s. My production company, Stories Retold, specializes in preserving oral history, traditions, and values with video. Primarily interviewing individuals, I sometimes document families, and on occasion document an entire community. My niche is developing a personal relationship with clients which helps me to tell their story just the way they would like to have it told. Everyone has a story worth preserving, and I enjoy discovering interesting stories from people with whom I come into contact on a daily basis. In years to come, these videos will be priceless as they portray original stories complete with visual images and actual voices filled with all the primary material and emotion that was intended to be. I gain a strong sense of personal satisfaction with each completed project whether it involves an individual or an entire community.
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3 Responses to John App’s May 26, 1850, Gold Rush Diary Entry

  1. Pat Hillman says:

    Wonderful description. I have a school presentation for 4th graders tomorrow and another June 1st and I’ll read the parts about the trail ruts and Independence Rock. Hopefully it will make them feel as if they are on the trail.

    Thanks Larry!



  2. Suzanne Spencer Uvelli says:

    Hi Larry, love following this and hope to print up your blog to give to Leanna Donner descendents in jamestown. Did you find John App’s name among the rocks? I know there are thousands…

    • Larry App says:

      Hi Suzanne,
      No, I didn’t find John App’s name on the rock although I looked fairly well for it and took some video and pictures of candidate areas to look at later. Most of the names are very well worn and are hard to read. I have to beleive John would have done a good job of carving a good one though. He said he carved it on the southern side of the rock, which is where I concentrated, but there was some pretty dense shrub growth in the way in most places. My guess is that to do a good job of finding it might require two people the better part of the day, and might be impossible in some areas because of the dense growth. Might want to watch out for snakes and other “varmints” during the search too. But, this place was one of my favorites along the trail probably because the view is close to what the emigrants saw, and also seeing their names and messages. Awesome!

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