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Big Piney in Sublette County, Wyoming — The American West (Mountains)
 

Building the Lander Trail

 
 
Building the Lander Trail Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, June 2, 2016
1. Building the Lander Trail Marker
Inscription. The swale (small trench) running left to right in front of you is a remnant of the old Lander Trail. It is unknown if this swale formed by repeated wagon use or during trail construction. Unlike all previous western emigrant trails - which evolved from Indian trails - the US Government surveyed, engineered, and constructed the Lander Trail

New Wagon Road
In 1858, a crew of 115 men built 230 miles of new trail. They moved more than 62,000 cubic yards of dirt and rock - equal to 6,000 modern dump truck loads - and cleared 34 miles of heavy timber and willows. Construction cost $40,260, finished ahead of schedule, and came in under budget.

1850s Road Construction
Using techniques learned from building railroads back east, laborers first used mules for driving plows to break up the hard soil here. They then moved and leveled the dirt with mule-drawn buck and scoop scrapers. Men with picks and shovels also helped in rocky patches.

Summer Job
According to road superintendent Lander, laborers were paid $30 per month. Lander formed a road construction crew made of "lumbermen and bridge builders" from Maine, Mormons for Salt Lake City, Utah, and "destitute men who we met along the road" that he felt "compelled to feed and shelter."
 
Erected by Sublette County Historical Society.
 
Location. 42° 36.978′ N, 109° 51.162′ W. Marker is in Big Piney, Wyoming, in Sublette County. Marker is on Paradise Road near Wyoming 351 (Wyoming Highway 351). Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1398 Paradise Road, Big Piney WY 83113, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 10 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. "We Busy Ourselves in Various Ways" (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); The First Engines: Oxen, Mules, and Horses (about 500 feet away); "Hear Was Hundreds of Emigrants" (approx. 0.2 miles away); 19th Century Interstate Highway (approx. 0.2 miles away); Crossing the New Fork River (approx. 0.2 miles away); Rising to the Challenge of the New Fork River (approx. 0.2 miles away); Sand Spring - A Stop on the Oregon Trail (approx. 9.9 miles away); “The Best Mountain Road in the West” (approx. 9.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Big Piney.
 
Also see . . .  The Lander Trail: National Road Building Comes to Wyoming - Wyoming State Historical Society. Many believed that construction of the Lander Cutoff was intended to provide a route that avoided the Mormon settlements in Utah Territory. Following the ill-fated events at Mountain Meadows in September 1857, wherein California-bound emigrants of an Arkansas wagon train were murdered by Mormon militia, many travelers may have welcomed an alternate route.
However, many of the laborers Lander hired to build the new road were themselves Mormons from the Salt Lake Valley, making it seem unlikely the Army had any motives other than building a road that was safer because it was shorter.
(Submitted on August 14, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.) 
 
Categories. Roads & Vehicles
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 14, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 14, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 151 times since then and 30 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on August 14, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.
 
Editor’s want-list for this marker. An overview photo of the Building the Lander Trail maker showing the swale and setting of the marker. • Can you help?
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