WY-008 The Sweetwater Valley

Marker text: Wyoming - The Sweetwater Valley - The Sweetwater Valley is the mid-section of the 2000 mile-long Oregon Trail. West of Casper Wyoming, branches of that trial, meld into a single transportation corridor and here, paralleling the serpentine Sweetwater River, the trail approaches the base of South Pass. On the other side is "Oregon Country" where routes diverge toward Utah, California and Oregon. For a week emigrants plodded this stretch of high altitude, semiarid desert. Everyday, more of the same-alkali, sage and sand a continuing American Sahara. "How I long for a timbered country" wrote one traveler. "...In a thousand miles I have not seen a hundred acres of wood. All that comes near to arborification is a fringe of cottonwood and willows along the banks of creeks and rivers. These everlasting hills have an everlasting curse of barrenness..." For others, however, the Sweetwater was a relatively agreeable part of the journey. It was summer, the river was low and clear, and there was grass for stock. Days were bright and mild and scenery was plentiful. "..Still by the Sweet Water. The valley is becoming more narrow and the stream more rapid. In advance and a little to the north of our trail we can see the Wind River Mountains. Their lofty summits are covered with snow, and in their dazzling whiteness appear truly sublime."

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