South Pass

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SOUTH PASS, located in Wyoming at the southern end of the Wind River Mountains, gained noteriety because the emigrant trail to Oregon and California ran through it. There are claims that John Colter discovered the South Pass in 1807 or 1808, and that Robert Stuart and the returning Astorians crossed it in 1812, but both claims are disputed. It is certain that the effective discovery was made in 1824 by Thomas Fitzpatrick, a fur trader. Capt. Benjamin L. E. Bonneville first took wagons over the pass in 1832, and a few years later it became the mountain gateway on the Oregon Trail.


Sprague, Marshall. The Great Gates: The Story of the Rocky Mountain Passes. Boston: Little, Brown, 1964.

Dan E.Clark/f. b.

See alsoFur Trade and Trapping ; Rocky Mountains .

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South Pass, broad, level valley (alt. c.7,550 ft/2,301 m), SW Wyo., cutting across the Rocky Mts. It was used by trappers and explorers before Jedediah Smith inaugurated its use as a route for settlers. An important unit of the Oregon Trail, it served for many years as a gateway for immigration to the west of the Rockies and was later a part of the pony express route.