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Photograph Exhibition

The Hastings Trail* from
Grantsville, Utah to Donner Spring, Utah

Photographs by Roy D. Tea

This exhibition illuminates many significant places along the Hastings Cutoff in the critical desert segment between what is now called Grantsville and Donner Spring, Utah, near the border with Nevada. The motivation for taking the cutoff or short-cut was its supposed time-savings in reaching California. In the event, this portion of the Hastings Trail was treacherous and proved costly to many who passed this way.

Though presented here in exhibition format, the pictures actually accompany a home page by Roy D. Tea on the Hastings Trail which is accessed from our Members' Pages section and soon from a link on our Trails Page. A direct link to Roy's Home Page is:

Roy Tea Hastings Trail Home Page

All but two of the photographs were made by Roy and are a small part of his extensive collection taken over several decades of frequent visits to these remote areas. A quick check of the pictures' dates reveals his interest in the old emigrant trails goes back a long way. Several of the photographs in the collection were made in 1961! Changes to the road over recent decades make documentary evidence of its previous condition, as many of the photographs here provide, especially valuable to historians and preservationists.

The terrain over this portion of the Hastings Cutoff is mostly level with only the pass through the Cedar Mountains and topping the Grayback Hills presenting difficult grades for the draft animals. But the 60 mile stretch across the wastes of the Great Salt Lake Desert through sand dunes and mud flats was another matter. The mud flats, playas from the old bottoms of the Great Salt Lake and ancient Lake Bonneville, both in the trails era as today, can be firm and easy pulling in one place, soft and extremely taxing in another and here and there, impossible quagmires. The flats look deceptively solid, but water is often only a few inches below the surface. Should a vehicle, whether a wagon drawn by oxen or a modern four-wheel-drive, break through the thin dry crust in these wet areas, the deeper its wheels go the softer the muck and in moments the conveyance can be settled to its hubs in the sticky mire. Both 150 years ago and today this common occurrence is a serious emergency with property and even life at stake. That wagons stuck in this unique mud could not be salvaged and had to be abandoned where they lay is no mystery to the modern visitor to the area. An almost always harrowing corridor for the pioneers, to this day, no one may safely venture here without adequate equipment and preparation and few people do.

The synergistic problems of no water, no feed and treacherous terrain impoverished many who made the passage and were forced to leave wagons and property on the desert. Some lost animals to exhaustion, thirst and sometimes to the difficulties of driving loose cattle through the night on a forced march to distant water. Of the many tribulations experienced by the Donner Party, their losses here were especially devastating, greatly contributing to their peril on the journey ahead. Though the numbers of people who crossed this portion of the Hastings Trail is often under-appreciated, it seems certain that more than one thousand people and several hundred wagons took the road in the five years from 1846 to 1850, most of these travelers driven by the urgencies of the California gold rush. After that time the dangerous route fell into almost complete disuse.


* N.B. This portion of the Hastings Cutoff is variously referred to as the Hastings Trail, Hastings Road, Donner Trail, Donner Road, Donner-Reed Trail or Road, etc. Although all these terms are acceptable, Mr. Tea prefers Hastings Cutoff or Hastings Trail for this segment of the way.

Caution: These 30 photographs comprise a virtual tour of the trail only. They do not constitute a trail guide and should not be used for that purpose. Travel in this desert is dangerous and can still be life-threatening.

 

Approximate Route of
The Hastings Trail From Grantsville to Donner Spring
From maps prepared by Roy D. Tea


All maps in this exhibition derived from Microsoft Encarta 97 World Atlas
1993-1996 Microsoft Corporation

To see captions and full-size versions of the pictures, click on a picture "thumbnail".

1. SE towards Hastings
or Twenty Wells
Grantsville, UT
2. The Trail Toward
Timpie Point
Tooele Valley, UT
3. Looking SW
Timpie Point,
Skull Valley, UT
Roy Tea Hastings Road Timpie Point Aerial2 Thumb.jpg (2899 bytes) 4. Looking NW
Skull Valley, UT
5. Looking NW
Cedar Mountains,
Skull Valley, UT
Roy Tea Swale After Burn E Side of Cedars2 Thumb.jpg (4048 bytes) 6. Hastings Pass
Cedar Mountains,
Skull Valley, UT
7. Hastings Pass
Cedar Mountains,
Skull Valley, UT
Roy Tea Hastings Road Hastings Pass Aerial Thumb.jpg (3756 bytes) 8. Swale, W Side,
Cedar Mountains, UT
Roy Tea Hastings Road After Burn W Side of Cedars Thumb.jpg (3857 bytes)
9. Entering the Desert
W of Grayback Hills, UT
10. Approaching
the Dunes, East Side,
Great Salt Desert, UT
11. Approaching
The Big Bend,
Historical Photograph, 1936
Great Salt Desert, UT
Stookey Wagon Tracks2b Thumb.jpg (2416 bytes) 12. The Big Bend
from the Air
Great Salt Desert, UT
13. The Big Bend
Great Salt Desert, UT
Roy Tea Hastings Road Trackmaster2 Thumb.jpg (2082 bytes) 14. The Big Bend
Great Salt Desert, UT
Roy Tea Hastings Trail Sand Raila Thumb.jpg (2584 bytes)
15. Pristine Trail, 1961
Great Salt Desert, UT
16. Marking the Road, 1961
Great Salt Desert, UT
Roy Tea Hastings Road Trackmaster E of Floating Island2 Thumb.jpg (2837 bytes)
17. The Stake Still Stands
25 Years Later
Great Salt Desert, UT
Roy Tea Hastings Road Stick2 Thumb.jpg (2166 bytes) 18. Abandoned Wagon
Historical Photograph, 1930
Great Salt Desert, UT
19. Main Archeology Site
Great Salt Desert, UT
20. Another View of the
Main Archeology Site
Great Salt Desert, UT
21. Wagon Mound
Archeological Excavation
Great Salt Desert, UT
Roy Tea Hastings Road Excavation Close-Up Thumb.jpg (3833 bytes) 22. Sharp, 140 Year-Old
Wagon Ruts
Great Salt Desert, UT
Roy Tea Hastings Road Excavation with Wagon Tracks Thumb.jpg (3662 bytes)
23. East of Silver Island
Great Salt Desert, UT
24. Hastings Road NE of
Floating Island
Great Salt Desert, UT
Roy Tea Hastings Road NE of Floating Island2 Thumb.jpg (2427 bytes)
25. Ox Bones?
Great Salt Desert, UT
Roy Tea Hastings Road Ox Bone2 Thumb.jpg (3880 bytes) 26. The Professor's Map
Great Salt Desert, UT
Roy Tea Hastings Road Map B&W Thumb.jpg (2427 bytes)
27. Donner-Reed Pass
Silver Island -
Crater Island, UT
Roy Tea Hastings Road Donner-Reed Pass Aerial sharpened Thumb.jpg (2140 bytes) 28. Donner-Reed Pass
Silver Island, UT
29. Nearing Donner Spring
Great Salt Desert, UT
30. Aerial View of the
Saving Waters
Donner Spring, UT

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