Here, where the main branch of the emigrant trail and the Mormon Trail cross the Little Sandy River, was a popular camping site for travelers heading west. Depending on the year’s moisture, the emigrants might find their first water here since leaving Pacific Creek, over twenty miles to the southeast. But even that was not guaranteed. In 1860, Sir Richard Burton noted that "We found nothing but sand, caked clay, sage, thistles and the scattered fragments of campfires, with large ravens picking at the bleaching skeletons."
Many emigrant parties used the Little Sandy campsite as a site for reorganizing, having separated from some of their traveling companions at the Parting of the Ways, eight miles back. It was here that George Donner was elected captain of the Donner Party which suffered such a tragic fate in California.
On 28 June 1847, Brigham Young and his Mormon pioneers met Jim Bridger near here. Young consulted with Bridger about his plans to establish a large settlement in the valley of the Great Salt Lake. Bridger tried to discourage the plan and reportedly offered, with great skepticism, one thousand dollars for the first bushel of corn grown in the Valley.
Emigrants on the Sublette Cutoff also had to cross the Little Sandy about three miles west of Parting of the Ways and approximately 11 miles north of the main trail crossing. A Pony Express stage station was also established off the west bank of the stream about 1500 feet from the crossing on the Sublette. Thirteen emigrant graves are known to be located in this area.
National Park Service
Comprehensive Management Plan