Note: After not touching my material from our 2010 trip late last year, I am maintaining the continuity started yesterday with Pathfinder Dam and Fremont Canyon by promoting this post from it’s August 17, 2010 original date to September 27, 2016 as a “Blast from the Past” post.
One of the reasons we camped at Pathfinder Reservoir last month was its proximity to Independence Rock.
Independence Rock is another landmark along the westward emigrant trails (Oregon Trail, California Trail, Mormon Trail.)
In 1841, Jesuit missionary Pierre Jean De Smet wrote, “The first rock we saw, and which truly deserves the name, was the famous Independence Rock. It is of the same nature as the Rocky Mountains. At first I was led to believe that it had received this pompous name from its isolated situation and the solidity of its base, but I was afterward told that it was called so because the first travelers who thought of giving it a name arrived at it on the very day when the people of the united States celebrate the anniversary of their emancipation from Great Britain… lest it might be said that we passed by this lofty monument of the desert with indifference, we cut our names on the south side of the rock under initials (I. H. S.) which we would wish to see engraved everywhere, and along with a great number of others, some of which perhaps ought not to be found anywhere. On account of all these names, and of the dates that accompany them, as well as the hieroglyphics of Indian warriors, I called this rock on my first journey ‘The Great Record of the Desert.’”
When we climbed to the northern highest point on the rock, we didn’t know that the trails had actually passed on the south side – today’s modern highway and rest area is to the north – so we didn’t really search for names on the south, though we did take the trail all the way around.
We did find some old name carvings on the top and, unfortunately, some more modern engravings and markings, though it is now illegal as this is a national historic site.