Northern Shoshone and Bannock
Traditional Culture
  Since Time Immemorial
Who's Who
All My Relations
Pipe Ceremony and Peacemaking
Great Circle
Intertribal Relations
"How the Indian Averted Famine"
Naming Ceremonies
Agaidika Perspective on Sacajawea
Horses, Trade, & Travel
References Cited

  Contemporary Culture
  Sovereignty & Tribal Government
Arts & Artists
Annual Festival Dances
Recommended Websites

  Relationship with the U.S.
  Early Contact
Fur Trade
Naturalists in Shoshone Country
Missionaries and Emigrants
Making Treaties
Lemhi In Limbo
Lemhi Reservation and  Loss
Shrinking Reservation
References Cited

Three Island Crossing, on the Oregon Trail near Salmon Falls.
Image of painting courtesy BLM.
Painting of Fort Hall.
Image courtesy Bureau of Land Management.
Soda Springs area
Courtesy the City of Soda Springs


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Robert Red Perry
tells about Fort Hall
Map Series
Portion of 1838 map by Samuel Parker
Courtesy of Mike and Maureen Mansfield Library, University of Montana
Portion of Pierre Jean DeSmet's 1848 map Northwest
Courtesy Midwest Jesuit Archives, DeSmetiana Map Collection
Portion of Pierre John De Smet's 1851 Indian Lands, for D.D. Mitchell.
Courtesy of the Mike and Maureen Mansfield Library, The University of Montana.
Portion of Colton's 1864 Map of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, British Columbia and Montana
Courtesy of Mike and Maureen Mansfield Library, University of Montana
Portion of Rand MCNally's 1876 Idaho.
Showing extent of roads and towns.


Lemhi Pass > Culture > Missionaries and Emigrants
Moonrise over Snake River near Three Island Crossing on the Oregon Trail
photo by Kim Lugthart
Fort Hall
Fort Hall, 1849. ISHS #1254-C
Idaho State Historical Society - Fort Hall

These excerpts describe Fort Hall in 1842, when Lansford Hastings led a group of emigrants through to Oregon:

"There are several very extensive valleys in the vicinity of Fort Hall, upon the river, as well as extensive plains, which produce a great sufficiency of vegetation and timber, but the surrounding country, more remote from the fort, is extremely hilly, mountainous, and sterile, generally producing neither timber, nor vegetation.

"These small settlements, called forts, are mere trading posts, established for the purpose of carrying on trade, with the various tribes of Indians, and are now, all possessed and occupied by the Hudson's Bay Company, for that purpose.

"The most important of these posts, found in the Eastern section, is Fort Hall, which is situated on the Lewis' or Saptin river, about sixty miles, west by north, from the soda springs, and near latitude 42° 30' north. It was constructed by captain Wythe, of Boston, in the year 1832, for the purpose of prosecuting trade, with the various tribes of Indians, found in that region. It is now owned by the Hudson's Bay Company, who purchased it of captain Wythe, and who is now carrying on a very extensive business at that place, in the fur trade.

"This fort consists of a small extent of ground, enclosed by a wall of about sixteen feet in height, and three in thickness, which is constructed of "adobies," or large dried brick, with bastions at the corners, which command each side. Within this enclosure, are the residences of the different officers, and mechanics, as well as the various offices, shops and store-houses.
Fort Hall, 1849. ISHS #1893-B
Idaho State Historical Society - Fort Hall

"Mr. Grant, who is in charge, at this place, and of whom I have before spoken, has at his command, and under his control, about sixty Canadians and half-breeds, who serve the company as trappers, herdsmen and domestic servants. Large numbers of horses and cattle are reared at this fort, which are protected from the incursions of the Indians, by an enclosure of high walls, constructed in a manner similar to those of the fort. This enclosure, is called a "caral," and is designed not only for the protection of the horses at night, at which time they are regularly driven in, but also upon the approach of hostile and thievish Indians" (Hastings: 1932).

Emigrant Road near Mexican border, in Idaho!

When travel on the Oregon Trail began, our boundary with Spanish territory was what is now southern Idaho. See the boundary marked on the 1843 map. Also note the "Old Emigrant Road" and "New Emigrant Road" south of Fort Hall on the 1876 Rand McNally map.

Portion of 1843 Hutawa Map of Oregon.
University of Oregon Library
Portion of 1876 Rand McNally map of Idaho.
University of Montana Mansfield Library

By the early 1840's, large caravans of emigrants were passing through Shoshone territory. John C. Fremont, explorer and topographical engineer wrote from the Bear River Valley in August 1843:

"The edge of the wood, for several miles along the river, was dotted with the white covers of emigrant wagons, collected in groups at different camps..."

And later that evening:

"...portion of the river along which passes the emigrant night encamped with a family of emigrants — two men, women, and several children — who appeared to be bringing up the rear of the great caravan.

"...latitude 42° 03' 47", and longitude 111°10' 53". This encampment was therefore within the territorial limit of the United States; our travelling, from the time we entered the valley of the Green river, ...having been to the south of the 42nd degree of north latitude, and consequently on Mexican territory; and this is the route all the emigrants now travel to Oregon" (Fremont 1845:133).

Fort Lemhi
Fort Lemhi, circa 1900.
Idaho State Historical Society photo

Mormon Missionaries in the Lemhi Valley

"Fort Lemhi was founded in 1855 by twenty-seven Mormon missionaries, as a mission to the Bannock and Shoshone Indians of the Oregon Territory.

"The missionaries were prohibited from trading arms and ammunition with the Indians, but were encouraged to live with, feed, and clothe them and to learn their language.


"On June 18, 1855 the party moved to a site selected for a fort and began preparations for farming a tract of about eight acres that was later planted in corn, turnips, peas, beans, and potatoes. Twenty-five cabins were built and the fort.

"In 1857 sixty additional settlers were sent to join those at Fort Lemhi. At this time individual plots were surveyed and a second settlement was established two miles from the Fort. This change led to problems with the Bannock Indians.

Map section showing Mormon Wagon Road from Fort Hall to Fort Lemhi.
Adapted from Rand McNally's 1876 Idaho by K. Lugthart.

"Shoo-woo-koo, the Big Rogue, the Bannock Chief, had welcomed the mission. He gave the missionaries land for farming and fishing and hunting privileges. They were not, however, to catch fish, kill game, or cut timber, if it was to be taken from the valley. Some of the settlers engaged in gold mining in the fall of 1855, and in 1857 eight wagon loads of dried salmon were exported to Salt Lake City.

"Tensions between the Indians and missionaries increased. As a result of a war between the Nez Perce Indians on one side, and the Bannock and Shoshone Indians on the other, in which the missionaries tried to serve as peacemakers, tensions between the Indians and the missionaries came to a head.

"On February 25, 1858 Bannock and Shoshone Indians raided Ft. Lemhi, driving off their livestock, and the missionaries were forced to abandoned the fort and return to Utah" (Carter: 1963).

Background: Portion of Colton's 1864 Map of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, B.C. and Montana.
Courtesy of the University of Montana's Mansfield Library