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USA Parks
Wyoming
Southwest Region
Seedshadee National Wildlife Refuge
SEEDSHADEE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
SEEDSHADEE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
History of the Area
FIRST HUNTERS

The first recorded humans in this area arrived as the great continental ice sheets were receding to the north. To survive, they constantly hunted and gathered whatever food was available. They stamped out trails along the rivers and streams as they followed the great herds of bison and pronghorn that migrated within this area.

The Shoshone Indians spread into this area around 700 years ago. Before acquiring horses, they hunted bison and pronghorn much the same way as the first people upon this land. They were a nomadic tribe that traveled widely and, in the process, opened up trails over the mountains. In addition to bison, they hunted deer, elk, pronghorn, mountain sheep, and the abundant "prairie chicken", or sage grouse. It was the Shoshone that gave the river its first name, "sisk-a-dee-agie" or "river of the prairie chicken". Fur trappers later corrupted the Indian name to "seedskadee".

QUEST FOR BEAVER

In 1811, a party of fur traders representing John Jacob Astor's Pacific Fur Company were the first, documented euroamerican visitors to the Green River basin. Donald Mackenzie, a member of this party, later joined the British Northwest Company and organized trapping brigades that penetrated this area in search of beaver. By 1820, Mackenzie's men had explored the crossings of the Green River that would later be used by emigrants.

WHEELS ACROSS THE ROCKIES

Faced with having to resupply his trappers each summer, Ashley devised a plan to bring supplies to them at a pre-appointed place in the mountains, rather than bringing the party back to St. Louis. In 1825, Ashley and his men crossed the Green River near the Big Sandy, descended the Green to Henry's Fork, and held the first such "rendezvous". This began a series of summer rendezvous renowned for their wild sprees of drinking, shooting, gambling, lying, and general celebration. Jedediah Smith, David Jackson, and William Sublette bought out Ashley's interests in 1826, and, in the summer of 1827, came rolling over South Pass pulling a two-wheeled cannon on their way to resupply the trappers.

EMIGRANT TIDE

The circuit to Oregon was finally completed in 1841, when mountain man Tom "Broken Hand" Fitzpatrick led the Bidwell-Bartleson party over the Blue Mountains of Oregon. In 1843, enterprising mountain men constructed a commercial ferry at the primary Green River crossing on the Oregon Trail. Many emigrants followed, including Brigham Young and the great exodus of Mormons on their way to settle Salt Lake City in 1847. Settler traffic on the Oregon Trail increased to total about 12,000 people by 1848. When gold was discovered in California in 1849, the trickle of travelers suddenly turned to a tide. That year, tens of thousands of people used the trail and the crossings on the Green River. By 1850, the Oregon Trail had become part of the Mormon and California Trails as well.

SETTLERS ON THE GREEN

Although this portion of the Green River was popular with Indians, fur trappers, and emigrants, the area originally offered very little attraction for settlers. The remote location, poor soil, and cold, arid climate made settlement unattractive. Indian uprisings along the Oregon Trail in the 1860's began to turn even more settlers away. However, gold was discovered on South Pass in 1867, and, once again, the Oregon Trail became a popular route. With the advent of gold and the last spike driven for the Union Pacific railroad, the route from the railhead at Bryan (near Green River) to South Pass City was improved and utilized as a stage road.


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USA Parks
Wyoming
Southwest Region
Seedshadee National Wildlife Refuge
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