Second Jedediah Smith Trail 1824 — 1826

Map of second Jedediah Smith Trail Map of second Jedediah Smith Trail
Map of second Jedediah Smith Trail

This year I am following the trail of Jedediah Smith in the years 1824 — 1826. I will follow his trails also in the oncoming years until his death in 1831 by Comanches. I start in the area of Thompson Falls. In 1824 the Flathead Post was in this area. Peter Skene Ogden, a British fur hunter, arrived with his men just befor Alexander Ross and Jedediah Smith on November 26th, 1824. Ogden had the whole outfit for his Snake expedition, whereas Smith was low due to the long time he was without supply from St. Louis. On December 20th, 1824, the combined group (British under the command of Ogden and Americans under command of Smith) left Flathead Post. They took the same way as Smith used in the fall to reach Flathead Post. On January 12th, 1825, the group arrived at Gibbons Pass and they moved on into the Big Hole Valley. Now they entered the dangerous Blackfoot Country and they had to be very cautious. So Smith was happy to join Ogden's group, even that this means they have a British trapping party on American soil. On February 6th the group arrived at the foot of Lemhi Pass and they crossed the pass on February 11th. Now they would be only an 8 days march away from the Beaver rich Snake, but the deep snow in the Lemhi valley prevented them from moving on. 7 long weeks the group was trapped in the valley, before Smith bought supplies from the British and moved on March 17th. A couple of days later also Ogden moved on, surprisingly the same way as Smith took along the Little Lost River. On April 6th Ogden arrived at the mouth of the Blackfoot River on the Snake and fall into the Americans again. Now the hunt for beavers began, where everyone (British and American) wanted to have the best hunt. On April 20th both groups where at the upper Portneuf and on April 26th they reached the Bear. They hunted along the Bear into Cache Valley at the Salt Lake, nowadays Utah. Ogden moved further on to the south, farther than any British group ever was. He was now in the area, where the city Ogden should be named after him. In the meantime more American hunting groups arrived in the valley, also the group around Weber with John Gardner. Gardner stated to Ogden, that he was on American soil and he had to turn back. Also a lot of Ogden’s men deserted to the Americans, because they payed better prices. So Ogden has no other choices than to return to Flathead Post.

In the meantime another group set off from St. Louis under the command of Ashley to meet Smith. The first Rendezvous happened in the area of Henrys Fork at the Bear River. On July 2nd, Ashley and Smith set off to St. Louis with the season hunt of beaver. They arrived on October 4th. There Smith received the offer to be partner in the new founded Smith, Jackson & Sublette company. What a career for someone, who started as the greenest of all a couple of years before into the West!

Smith’s way back propably followed the later Oregon Trail, then from Green River to the Hoback and on to Jackson Hole, around the Tetons to Henrys Fork, on to the Snake and along Salt River and Smiths Fork down to the Bear and into Cache Valley. There he build up his winter quarters. Propably in February 1826 he crossed the Promontory Mountains by the way of the later Railroad and reached the Salt Lake Desert. He was in search for the big river, the Buenaventura, which should empty to the Pacific Ocean. Propably the Indians have been talking about the Humboldt, which never reached the Pacific.

At the northwest corner of the lake he build up bullboats and paddled around the Salt Lake. Sure they didn’t found this non-existant outlet of the lake, but in the West something looks like an outlet. Then they started again along the later railroad route in search for beaver. They propably went to Lucin and on to eastern Nevada. As there was no beaver in the semi arid landscape, Smith turned frustrated to the north, following Salmon Falls Creek to the Snake and into well known beaver country. He moved further up north to the Boise, trapped the Payette to the sources, returned to the Boise and trapped on to the Big Wood. Then he crossed over to the Big Lost, crossed again the lava plains around nowadays Idaho Falls and moved on to Cache Valley. The exact route is not known, but propably he went to Henrys Fork, crossed the Tetons to Jackson Hole and followed the Snake to the Salt River, reaching the Bear. Then he moved on to Cache Valley for the second big summer rendezvous in the vicinity of nowadays city Hyrum. Also Ashley set off in St. Louis on March 8th with supplies for the trapper and to receive the fur from them. In July he moved back to St. Louis, which he reached the last week of September. Smith will start his Southwest Expedition in July, which I will follow next year. I return from Ogden along the Interstates to Pittsburgh.

The daily trails are in preparation