Letter from Samuel B. Reed to Wife and Family, June 12, 1864

In this letter from June 12, 1864, Samuel Reed writes to his wife and family describing his first forty miles of surveying. Reed describes the high prices for various foodstuffs—including $14.00 for 100 pounds of flour—all of which were purchased from Mormons on the trail, by order of Brigham Young.

Two weeks ago tomorrow we started from the city with the following outfit—one four mule and two two-mule teams, with tents, camp equipage, tools and instruments for the survey. All told, teamsters, cook, engineering party and night guard, we are seventeen. The big dog makes eighteen.

I commenced the survey forty miles north of the city of the saints where the Weber river enters the valley of Great Salt Lake from the mountains, and runs up the Weber river through the canon. The scenery is magnificent, mountains composed of granite and gneiss, towering four to five thousand feet almost perpendicular above us. The deep narrow gorge in which the river runs is only about 300 feet wide and is the wildest place you can imagine.

We were two days in getting through the first canon, about two miles where the valley suddenly enlarges. In the next ten miles we pass two more settlements. All furnish us, by order of President Young, with butter, eggs, milk and plenty of fresh mutton. We are in no danger of famine as long as we are in the settlements . . . . . . . Everything here is expensive, flour $14.00 per hundred, bacon 60 cents per pound, potatoes $4.00 per bushel, oats $4.00 per bushel and everything in proportion.

About this Document

  • Source: Letter from Samuel B. Reed to Wife and Family
  • Citation: Nebraska State Historical Society, Samuel Reed Papers (Union Pacific Railroad Collection), MS 3761, Unit 1, Subgroup 14, Series 1, Box 2, Letters to Wife and Family
  • Date: June 12, 1864