A Lesson in Faith
by Ron Anderson
About five years after Apostle Charles C. Rich was called to establish a settlement in Bear Lake Valley in 1868, he began looking northward at western Wyoming as a possible expansion for the Saints. By 1879 the Bear Lake Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints extended 90 miles beyond Bear Lake to encompass the “Salt River Valley” renamed “Star Valley” by visiting Apostle Moses Thatcher in 1878.
By 1882 the railroad reached Montpelier, Idaho. This provided the closest freight point to Star Valley some 50 miles over the Beaver Divide summit with an elevation of 7,500 feet at the pass. Star Valley, a vast and beautiful wilderness, clung to its existence by virtue of the limited supplies hauled in by freighters over that rugged trail called “Crow Creek Road”. By 1889 the population in Star Valley had swollen to more than 200 families. The winter of ’89-90 exposed those families to the most severe winter in a decade. Starving animals suffered the most for lack of feed, and most families also were in critically short supply of food.
As the relentless winter progressed, men on snowshoes began hauling 100 pound sacks of flour on their backs one at a time over the Beaver Divide, bringing precious food to their starving families. The round trip through the deep snow from Star Valley to Montpelier generally took 8 days, a round trip of 100 miles in the worst possible conditions imaginable. In spite of their best efforts, these men could not ferry enough food to keep everyone alive. By March of 1890 the unprepared snowbound Saints sought help from their Stake President, William Budge in Paris, Idaho.
Two experienced snowshoers left to seek help from family and friends in the Bear Lake region. They had not been heard from in more than two weeks. A road must be opened through deep and drifted snow in order that provisions and grain might be secured or many would perish.
On 17 March 1890 a company of 29 men with 11 teams of horses set out for Montpelier from Star Valley, wending their way up Crow Creek Canyon. They halted the first night 6 miles from its mouth. They made 9 miles the second day and camped below White Dugway. The following 4 days they summited the Beaver divide and then traversed Preuss Canyon. They made less than 3 miles each day. After one week they finally landed at what they called “camp giveout”. The men and horses were totally exhausted. They could go no further. After shoveling and wallowing through snow in their starving condition, the fatigued men and animals finally gave out.
Unbeknownst to them, the two snowshoers had successfully alerted the Bear Lakers who also set out with 18 men to open the south road from Montpelier. On the afternoon of March 24, the two parties joyously met and their rescue was secured. They camped that night just below Snowslide Canyon, one of the most dangerous points along the trail. They easily traveled out to Montpelier the next day over the road previously cleared by their rescuers.
That night, the road breakers assembled at Kimball’s Hall at the request of the people of the area and held a social dance and hailed the men from Star Valley with happy hearts and friendly hands. Early the next morning the revived men started the return journey with 13 teams and sleighs laden with provisions gathered from as far away as Preston, Idaho. Though many animals starved to death, no human lives were lost because of the monumental rescue effort.
The name “Camp Giveout” stuck, and lives on to this day. By 1903, giveout station was developed to its largest size by George Mower and Charles Harris of Montpelier. The camp became a full scale transfer point used primarily in late fall and early spring when freighters shifted their loads from sleighs to wagons as snow depths increased or decreased. The low sheds and corrals could accommodate 35 teams. There was a fine cabin and cookhouse that offered shelter and food for freighters.
The station lasted for only a short period of time. In 1908 a brush fire swept down from the east and burned the entire post to the ground. It was never rebuilt. By 1920 all that remained was a large watering barrel and the memories of how the area got its name along with tales of the rescue of 1890.
The Apostle Paul said, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). The hope that Paul describes in this instance was more than a wish that food could somehow arrive in time to save the starving families. The early Wyoming pioneers of Star Valley proved their faith to be more than mere hope, by pressing forward under the most dire of circumstances until their strength finally “gave out”.
Today we must do nothing less than did those pioneers of old. We must press forward and do all we can do with faith until we give out. As King Benjamin said, “I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his.” (Mosiah 5:15)
Monument funded by Mormon Historic Site Foundation:, carved by Cal Price. Historical photos courtesy of Star Valley Historical Society 2012 Calendar.Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in