After Simpson Springs is the River Bed Pony Express Station, which lies on the floor of the ancient Sevier River bed formed by evaporation of Lake Bonneville, that drained from the area of Garfield County into Lake Bonneville. The water contained in the northern portion of the great inland sea had a greater surface than the southern portion. Consequently more evaporation occurred in the northern part. Water seeks its own level and in this case, the water was squeezed into a low channel between two mountain ranges on the east and west. Here the movement of the water from south to north dug the river as the lake receded.
The road drops into the old bed of the Sevier River and the site of Riverbed Station. It was built near the end of the Pony Express era, and is not mentioned in the mail contracts or schedules. Substantial structures were found here to serve the stagecoach line. It is on BLM land and has a monument however, nothing remains but the original trail can be seen north of the monument.
Because of flash flooding, little evidence today remains of the station’s existence. It is mentioned that it was hard to keep a station keeper at Riverbed because the area was supposedly haunted by “desert fairies.” (Expedition Utah)
Sources generally agree on the identity of the site, listed as Riverbed in the 1861 mail contract, although for an unknown reason Mabel Loving cites it as Redbed. Fike and Headley identify this station eight miles west of Simpson's Springs. William F. Horsepool, Oscar Quinn, and George Wright managed operations at the vertical log structure, named for its location in a dry riverbed. (NPS)
To Fish Springs 29th September
At Lost Springs the party was mustered. The following was found to be the material. The Ras Kafilah was one Kennedy, an Irishman, whose brogue, doubly Dublin, sounded startlingly in the Great American Desert. On a late trip he had been victimized by Indians. The savages had driven off two of his horses, into a kanyon within sight of the Deep Creek Station. In the hurry of pursuit he spurred up the ravine, followed by a friend, when sighting jerked meat, his own property, upon the trees, he gave the word sauve qui peut. As they whirled their horses the Yutas rushed down the hill to intercept them at the mouth of the gorge, calling them in a loud voice dogs and squaws, and firing sundry shots, which killed Kennedy's horse and pierced his right arm. Most men, though they jest at scars before feeling a wound, are temporarily cowed by an infliction of the kind, and of that order was the good Kennedy.
The next was an excellent traveler, by name Howard. On the road between Great Salt Lake City and Camp Floyd I saw two men, who addressed me as Mr Kennedy the boss, and finding out their mistake, followed us to the place of rendezvous. The party, with one eye gray and the other black, mounted upon a miserable pony, was an American. After a spell at the gold diggings of California he had revisited the States, and he now wished to return to his adopted country without loss of time. He was a hardy, fine tempered fellow, exceedingly skilled in driving stock. His companion was a Frenchman and ex Zouave, who, for reasons best known to himself, declared that he came from Cuba, and that he had forgotten every word of Spanish. Like foreigners among Anglo Scandinavians generally, the poor devil fared badly. He could not hold his own. With the most labor he had the worst of every thing. He felt himself mal place and before the end of the journey he slunk away.
At Lost Springs we were joined by two Mormon fugitives, "pilgrims of love," who had, it was said, secretly left the city at night, fearing the consequences of having "loved not wisely, but too well." The first of the Lotharios was a Mr R-, an English farrier-blacksmith, mounted upon an excellent horse and leading another. He soon took offense at our slow rate of progress, and afflicted by the thought that the avenger was behind him, left us at Deep Creek, and "made tracks" to Carson City in ten days, with two horses and a total traveling kit of two blankets. We traced him to California by the trail of falsehoods which he left on the road. His comrade, Mr A-, a New Englander, was also an apostate Mormon, a youth of good family and liberal education, who after ruining himself by city sites and copper mines on Lake Superior, had permanently compromised himself with society by becoming a Saint. Also a Lothario, he had made his escape, and he proved himself a good and useful member of society. I could not but admire the acuteness of both these youths, who, flying from justice, had placed themselves under the protection of a judge. They reminded me of a debtor friend who found himself secure from the bailiff only within the walls of Spike Island or Belvidere Place, Southwark.
Another notable of the party was an apostate Jew and soi disanl apostate Mormon, who answered to the name of Rose. He had served as missionary in the Sandwich Islands, and he spoke Kanaka like English. His features were those which Mr Thackeray loves to delineate; his accents those which Robson delights to imitate. He denied his connection with the Hebrews. He proved it by eating more, by driving a better bargain, by doing less work than any of the party. It was truly refreshing to meet this son of old Houndsditch in the land of the Saints, under the shadow of New Zion, and the only drawback to our enjoyment was the general suspicion that the honorable name of apostate covered the less respectable calling of spy. He contrasted strongly with Jim Gilston of Illinois, a lath-like specimen of humanity, some six feet four in length - a perfect specimen of the Indianized white, long hair, sun tanned, and hatchet faced; running like an ostrich, yelping like a savage, and ready to take scalp at the first provocation. He could not refrain, as the end of the journey drew nigh, from deserting without paying his passage. Mr Colville, a most determined Yankee, far advanced in years, was equally remarkable. He had $90 in his pocket. He shivered for want of a blanket, and he lived on hard bread, bacon, and tea, of which no man was ever seen to partake. Such were the seven "free men," the independent traders of the company. There were also six "broths of boys" who paid small sums up to $40 for the benefit of our escort, and who were expected to drive and to do general work. Traveling soon makes friends. No illusions of amicitia, however could blind my eyes to the danger of entering an Indian country with such an escort. Untried men, for the most part, they would have discharged their weapons in the air and fled at the whoop of an Indian, all of them, including Jake the Shoshonee, who had been permitted to accompany us as guide, and excepting our stanch ones, Howard, "Billy" the colt, and "Brandy" the dog.
The station was thrown somewhat into confusion by the presence of a petticoat, an article which in these regions never fails to attract presents of revolvers and sides of bacon. "Gentle Annie," attended by three followers, was passing in an ambulance from California to Denver City, where her "friend" was. To most of my companions' inquiries about old acquaintances in California, she replied, in Western phrase, that the individual subject of their solicitude had "got to git up and git," which means that he had found change of air and scene advisable. Most of her sentences ended with a "you bet," even under circumstances where such operation would have been quite uncalled for. So it is related that when Dr P- of Camp Floyd was attending Mrs ABC at a most critical time, he asked her tenderly, "Do you suffer much. Mrs C?" to which the new matron replied, "You bet ."
We set out about noon, on a day hot as midsummer by contrast with the preceding nights, for a long spell of nearly fifty miles. Shortly after leaving the station the road forks. The left hand path leads to a grassy spring in a dwarf kanyon near the southern or upper part of a river bottom, where emigrants are fond of camping. The hills scattered around the basin were of a dark metallic stone, sunburnt to chocolate. The strata were highly tilted up and the water lines distinctly drawn.
After eight miles we descended into the yellow silty bed of a bald and barren fiumara, which was not less than a mile broad. The good judge sighed when he contrasted it with Monongahela, the "river of the falling banks." It flows northward, and sinks near the western edge of the lake. At times it runs three feet of water. The hills around are white capped throughout the winter, but snow seldom lies more than a week in the bottoms. (p 455-457)
(The City of the Saints)