Alfred Corum, bound for California in 1849 with two dozen other Missouri men, died on July 4 on the Sublette Cutoff in present western Wyoming. His brother and five other men stayed behind to bury him, deeply saddened on what otherwise would have been a day of celebration.
On the Oregon-California Trail in western Wyoming lies the grave of 20-year-old Nancy Hill, who died of cholera while bound for California in 1852. The gravestone, though old, is not original and part of the inscription—“Killed by Indians—” for many years misled locals about the cause of her death.
Not many diarists mentioned Haystack Butte, a minor landmark on the Sublette Cutoff of the Oregon/California Trail, but forty-niner J. Goldsborough Bruff sketched it in his journal. Some remarked that the 60-foot-high butte resembled “a farmer’s hay stack;” others called it called it “a bee-hive” or “sugar-loaf.”
Out of nearly 200 people who died from murder or other homicides on the Oregon Trail in the mid-1800s, only one lies in a grave with a known location. Missourian Ephraim Brown, a leading figure on a wagon train bound for California, was killed near South Pass in 1857 in what appears to have been a bitter family dispute. Details, however—who killed him, why and how—are frustratingly sketchy.
The Sixth Crossing of the Sweetwater offered wagon-train emigrants good water again after 16 dry and dusty miles. Most camped at the crossing. Here, in 1856, 500 members of the Willie Handcart company, most of them Mormon converts from England, were found starving, freezing and dying by rescuers from Salt Lake City.
The main branch of the Oregon Trail crossed the Big Sandy River at present Farson, Wyo. State Highway 28 running southwest from Farson continues to parallel the route. Swales are often visible alongside the highway, sometimes to the right, sometimes to the left.