Big Hill

Big HillNot long after the emigrants crossed Thomas Fork Creek in what is now Idaho they faced one of the most challenging obstacles of their journey…Big Hill. A strenuous uphill climb was followed by one of the steepest descents along the entire Oregon Trail.

"We went a few miles further when we had to cross a very high hill, which is said to be the greatest impediment on the whole route from the United States to Fort Hall. The ascent is very long and tedious but the descent is still more abrupt and difficult."
--Theodore Talbot, Sept. 7, 1843

Big Hill

"And the braking systems they had on those wagons weren’t the best. They were hand held and hand held metal on metal almost but you can’t let your wagon run into the back legs of your livestock. I just think they had to work with the hand that was dealt them. There you are in July, it’s hot, you’ve got this hill, and it’s going to be tough. We’re going to work together and we’re going to take a wagon at a time. It’s going to take us all day to move all the wagons over but that’s our day."
--Ross Peterson, Historian

Big Hill

"Oh my, just the steepness of it alone. Here they are trying to hold back wagons down a grade that in a diary entry said was as steep as a slope of a calf’s face and sheer granite with not a lot of dirt… so they were trying to hold back an immense amount of weight there and then to know that every possession you ever owned, the only thing you owned in your whole world was on the back of that wagon coming down. It was a tremendous feat that they came down."
--Becky Smith, National Oregon-California Trail Center at Montpelier, Idaho