To Preserve the Heritage of the Fur Trade Era

New Mexico Mountain Men

1826 Rendezvous

 

The site of the 1826 rendezvous in Cache Valley (Willow Valley) is disputed between Cove and Hyrum, Utah. The renowned historian Dale Morgan believed that it was on Blacksmith Fork near Hyrum. Dr. Morgan based this assumption on the July entries of Jedediah Smith's Journals.

Cove, Utah
1826 – 1831 Cove, Utah
N41º 57' 26" W111º 49' 37"

July 1st 25 Miles North along the shore of the Lake. Nothing material occurred.

[July] 2nd 20 Miles North East Made our way to the Cache. But Just before arriving there I saw some indians on the opposite side of a creek. It was hardly worth while as I thought, to be any wise careful, so I went directly to them and found as near as I could judge by what I knew of the language to be a band of the Snakes. I learned from them that the Whites, as they term our parties, were all assembled at the little Lake, a distance of about 25 Miles. There was in [the] this camp about 200 Lodges of indians and as the[y] were on their way to the rendevous I encamped with them.

[July] 3d I hired a horse and a guide and at three O Clock arrived at the rendezvous. My arrival caused a considerable bustle in camp, for myself and party had been given up as lost. A small Cannon brought up from St. Louis was loaded and fired for a salute.

Dr. Morgan took the term cache to mean where goods from the 1826 rendezvous were cached. Dr. Morgan further speculated that Smith's direction of travel was up Box Elder Canyon and over Sardine Pass. Based on these assumptions, he located the 1826 rendezvous in the area of Hyrum, Utah. For me, there are several fallacies to these assumptions. I will state three, and if anyone is interested, email me and we can discuss several others.

From the Dr. Morgan's Blacksmith Fork location, it is approximately thirty-airline miles. This is steep rugged country and there is absolutely no way Smith, or anyone else, could ride a horse up Blacksmith Fork Canyon and arrive at the south end of Bear Lake (Sweet Lake) by three o'clock in the afternoon. Smith's own words of the third would indicate the cache was somewhere else, and the most likely place is twenty-five miles north at John H. Weber's winter camp near Cove, Utah.

If the Indians were traveling with their families, the trail had to be wide enough to pull at least a three-foot travois. A possible Indian trail from Cache Valley to Bear Lake would be up Indian Canyon to the upper end of Logan Canyon. The mouth of Indian Canyon is five- or six-miles south of Weber's camp. From Weber's camp, it is twenty-six-airline miles to Bear Lake, but it is only about fifteen miles up Indian Canyon to the upper end of Logan Canyon. At this point, there would have been a relatively easy trail to Bear Lake. From the mouth of Blacksmith Fork Canyon to this same point in Logan Canyon is twenty-seven miles.

Jedediah Smith and Robert Campbell left St. Louis in late October with sixty men, one hundred and sixty mules, and twenty thousand dollars worth of trade goods. Snowed in on the Republican Fork of the Kansas River, Smith sent a message for Ashley to bring more mules; a third of Smith's mules had died. Ashley responded with twenty-three more men and mules. When the combined party reached Green River, Dr. Gown states that sixty to seventy trappers joined the caravan. From the Green River Valley several routes have been proposed for the route to Cache Valley, but all accounts have the caravan following Bear River into the north end of Cache Valley. This means that the caravan stopped at or close by John Weber's winter camp at Cove, Utah. The trip from St. Louis had been a long hard journey; up to thirty men had deserted. My question is why would Smith re-pack the mules and leave a well-known, establish camp and travel another twenty-five miles?

At the conclusion of the 1826 Willow Valley rendezvous, Ashley met with Jedediah Smith, David Jackson, and William Sublette on Bear River between Georgetown and Soda Springs, Idaho. Ashley sold his interest in the Ashley Smith Fur Trade Company to the new company of Smith, Jackson and Sublette. The previous year, he had taken Jedediah Smith as his partner after Andrew Henry had left the partnership in 1824. Ashley had made enough money from the fur trade to quit and pursue his interests in politics. Ashley remained as the rendezvous supplier for the new firm of Smith, Jackson, and Sublette.

Cache Valley received its name because it was an area mountain men used to cache their supplies.



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