Towering 1200 feet above the waters of Bear River is Sheep Rock, a prominent landmark described in emigrant diaries and journals as they traveled west on the Oregon and California trails. Trapper and mountain men, in the early 1830s, indicate that a sizable flock of bighorn mountain sheep occupied its forested, rocky ridge throughout the year. Modern-day maps identified this feature as Soda Point. - the northern end of the Wasatch Mountain Range that tower above the Great Salt Lake Valley.
The Bear River flows north out of Utah's Uinta Mountains into southwestern Wyoming where it continues toward Soda Point and them makes a sweeping turn to the south, flowing back to Utah and into the Great Salt Lake. Its relatively level valleys provide Oregon and California bound emigrants with a good road surface as they made their way towards the Hudson's Bay Company trading post at Fort Hall. A short distance west from Soda Springs the trail divides. Oregon bound wagons headed northwest to Fort Hall, and Californians turned west along the Hudspeth Cutoff toward the Humboldt River in northern Nevada.
In early August 1841, thirty-nine members of the Bidwell-Bartleson wagon party followed the Bear south to the Great Salt Lake before turning west through the desert to connect with the Humboldt and were finally forced to abandon their
wagons in Utah's west desert. Four months later, all 39 members - tired and starving - finally made it to California.
Elisha Douglass Perkins
(August 8, 1849)
" Crossing the plain some 4 miles from the spring we camped in the bend of Bear River where it turns to the South. We were on an Elevated plain, on the opposite side of the River was a huge precipitous mountain & the River ran between its base & a ledge of rocks forming the boundary of the plain some 75 or 100 feet high. Our animals could not get to water at all & we were obliged to scramble up the ledge with a bucket apiece for our own use."
John C. Fremont
(August 25, 1843)
"In sweeping around the point of the mountain which runs down into the bend, the river here passes between perpendicular walls of basalt, which always fix the attention, from the regular form in which it occurs, and its perfect distinctness from the surrounding rocks among which it has been placed. The mountain, which is rugged and steep, and by our measurement, 1,400 feet above the river directly opposite the place of our halt, is called Sheep rock - probably because a flock of the common mountain sheep (ovis montana) had been seen on the craggy point."