SUBLETTE’S CUTOFF AND THE PARTING OF THE WAYS
Saturday, June 1, 1850
Eighteen miles west of South Pass, the emigrants came to the first of several decision points on the road to California. The entrance to Sublette’s Cutoff and the “Parting of the Ways” offered the choice between a safe, established trail following water and relatively level ground, or a substantial shortcut through dry, barren, and mountainous country. Many, including John App and Jake, chose the second one, the Sublette’s Cutoff. It provided a direct route west to the Bear River eliminating the more northerly trip to Fort Bridger and down again followed by the older, established emigrant road. John never took cutoffs that were untried or risky.
After they crossed South Pass, John and Jake took the route that went straight west which was Sublette’s Cutoff. They now face two dangerous challenges. The first is crossing the Great Desert on the way to the Green River crossing. The main road travelers followed had several watering places available, but Sublette’s Cutoff saved seventy miles for the emigrants. Unfortunately, it required crossing a 48 mile desert with no water. However, they are here early in the season when there is grass and the road is more hard than soft. Many of the emigrants had a very difficult time on this stretch of the trail, and traveled through the night to make up for the slower oxen’s speed. But, John’s mules take them quickly across as his diary entry mentions.
Route: Crossed Sublette’s Cutoff (Wyoming)
Approximate Miles Traveled: 48
GPS Latitude: 42° 17.191′ N; Longitude: 109° 03.307′ W
Elevation: 7,045 ft
Crossed Sublets Cut off June 1st It was Cloudy and Cold, distance 48 miles (measured the same day) without water, it is called the great desert, I dont Call it a desert, Because there is plenty of grass and a hard road all the way.