69. Bryant July 12, 1846

Leaving our encampment, in a few miles we crossed another small stream, about four miles from which we again struck and crossed the main Sweetwater river, and left it finally, making our way up a very gentle ascent to the South Pass of the Rocky Mountains, or the dividing ridge separating the waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific. The ascent to the Pass is so gradual, that but for our geographical knowledge and the imposing landmarks on our right, (the snow-capped peaks of the Wind River Mountains raising their cold, spiral, and barren summits to a great elevation,) we should not have been conscious that we had ascended to, and were standing upon the summit of the Rocky Mountains – the backbone, to use a forcible figure, of the North American Continent.


There is, I believe, considerable misconception in regard to the South Pass of the Rocky Mountains. The general supposition is, that it is a difficult and narrow passage by steep ascent and descent, between elevated mountain-peaks. This conjecture is very far from the fact. The gap in the mountain is many miles in breadth, and as will have been seen from the daily description of our marches, the ascent up the Platte and Sweetwater has been so gradual, that although the elevation of the Pass above the sea is, according to some observations, between seven and eight, and others, nine and ten thousand feet, yet from the surface we have travelled over, we have been scarcely conscious of rising to the summit of a high ridge of mountains. The temperature has given us the strongest admonitions of our position.... To the left of the “Pacific Spring,” at a distance of eight or ten miles, there is a spiral elevation, resembling a Gothic artificial structure. This I named “Jacob's Tower.” 


The marker in the map below is the approximate July 12 campsite at Pacific Springs.