Fremont's Expeditions

The First Expedition

Fremont left Chouteau's Trading Post near present-day Kansas City on June 10, 1842 and followed the Oregon Trail along the Big Blue and Little Blue rivers in Kansas and the Platte river in Nebraska. The party split up when they reached the point where the Platte itself splits between its North and South Forks. The main party, led by Lambert, continued on the main trail along the North Platte to Fort Laramie. Fremont led a small group along the South Platte in Colorado to Fort St. Vrain and then traveled north through the Goshen Hole area of Wyoming to meet the rest of the party at Fort Laramie. They then continued along the Oregon Trail following the Sweetwater River to South Pass. Fremont then turned north to explore the Wind River Mountains. The expedition then returned to St. Louis, following the Platte all the way to the Missouri and boarded a boat built for them by Peter Sarpy's carpenters at Bellevue. Fremont arrived back in St. Louis on October 17, 1842.

Roster of the First Expedition:

Charles Preusstopographer
Lucien Maxwellhunter
Kit Carsonguide
Clement Lambertcamp conductor
J. B. L'Esperancevoyageur
J. B. Lefevrevoyageur
Benjamin Potravoyageur
Louis Gouinvoyageur
J. B. Dumescook
Basil Lajeunessevoyageur
Francois Tessiervoyageur
Benjamin Cadottevoyageur
Joseph Clementvoyageur
Daniel Simondsvoyageur
Leonard Benoitvoyageur
Francois Latulippevoyageur
Francois Badeauvoyageur
Louis Menardvoyageur
Joseph Ruellevoyageur
Michel Morlyvoyageur
Baptiste Berniervoyageur
Honore Ayotvoyageur
Moise Chardonnaisvoyageur
Auguste Janissevoyageur
Raphael Prouevoyageur
Henry Brantnephew of Senator Benton
Randolph Bentonson of Senator Benton
Registe Larentevoyageur
Jose Armijomuleteer
? Descoteauxvoyageur
Joseph Bougarvoyageur
Charles PreussKit Carson

Highlights of the First Expedition:

6/10 after 10 miles reach the Santa Fe Trail
6/11 Mishmagwi Creek on the Santa Fe Trail
6/14 Cross Kansas River near present-day Topeka
6/15 A French speaking Kansas Indian visits the camp
6/16 timber along river interferes with astronomical observations
6/17 find 18 swallows in body of prairie snake;
Visit from member of Dr. White Party
6/18 Pass deserted Kansas village on Vermillion River
6/19 camp near the bridge over Rock Creek at Westmoreland
6/20 Alcove Spring
6/21 camp of Oregon emigrants (3 weeks ahead)
6/22 Find pack of cards at Wyeth's Creek;
Reach the Little Blue River
6/23 Sandy Creek; Big Trees;
Pawnee Country - guard mounted
6/24 Randolph Benton's first guard duty
6/25 Benton raises alarm; Carson investigates;
Indians turn out to be 6 elk
6/26 Reach Platte River near Grand Island
6/27 18 miles to head of Grand Island
6/28 Meet 14 fur traders traveling on foot to St. Louis;
Fremont hires Latulippe
6/29 3 Cheyennes join the group
6/30 huge buffalo herd encounter;
most feast all night
7/01 Brady's Island
7/02 Junction of North and South Forks
7/03 Cached pork
7/04 The party splits into 2 groups;
Lambert follows White Party along North Fork;
Fremont, Maxwell, Ayot, Bernier, Lajeunesse and Preuss take the South Fork
along with the three Cheyennes
7/06 Bernier and Preuss leave to join the main party
7/08 Fremont visits Arapaho village near Brush, CO;
Main party encounters Jim Bridger;
Bridger warns of Indians on war path
7/09 Fremont meets Jim Beckwourth
and Jean Baptiste Charbonneau;
Main party passes Courthouse Rock
7/10 Fremont arrives at Fort St. Vrain;
Main Party camps at Chimney Rock
7/11 Fremont hires Jose Armijo;
Main Party passes Scott's Bluff
7/13 Fremont encounters fantastic shapes of Goshen Hole rocks;
Main Party reaches Fort Laramie
7/15 Fremont reaches Fort Laramie
7/19 Fremont repairs 2 barometers;
Fremont hires Bissonette as interpreter;
Registe Larent leaves group;
Fremont decides to leave Benton and Brant at fort
7/21 Fremont measures fort's elevation
as 4470 feet above the Gulf of Mexico
7/22 Warm Spring; Cottonwood Creek,
Horseshoe Creek
7/24 Labonte's Camp
(remains of an old fort)
7/26 Box Elder Creek, Deer Creek
7/29 Red Buttes
7/30 Goat Island
7/31 Reach the Sweetwater
8/01 Independence Rock
8/02 Devil's Gate
8/03 First view of Wind River Mountains
8/04 Sight first magpie
8/08 Crosses South Pass
about 7 miles north of Hiway 220
8/09 Big Sandy;camp at Two Buttes
8/10 Camp at Boulder Lake
8/11 Fremont fixes barometer
8/12 camp "at a hole in the mountains;"
a "night picture of very wild beauty"
8/13 mountaineering excursion party leaves camp
8/14 Fremont, Lambert, Descoteaux ill;
Lajeunesse returns to camp, leads rescue party
8/15 Fremont quarrels with Carson;
Fremont and 5 others climb to top of Woodrow Wilson Peak
8/16 Return to camp on Boulder Lake
8/17 camp again at the Two Buttes
8/18 Little Sandy
8/19 Sweetwater
8/22 Independence Rock
8/23 Platte - prepare boat
8/24 Goat Island -
near disaster in boat ride
8/25 Lajeunesse retrieves articles from wreck
8/26 disinter cache
8/27 same camp as 7/27
8/31 Fort Laramie
9/5 Visit Sioux village
9/12 same camp as 7/02;
2 days to construct bull boat
9/15 hide boat ride lasts 4 miles
9/18 Grand Island
9/19 Fremont sends Lambert, Menard and one other to Bellevue
to get Peter Sarpy to build a boat for them
9/22 Obtain vegetables from Pawnees
9/30 Reach the Missouri
10/01 Arrive in Bellevue;
Sell horses, carts, and camp material at public auction
10/04 Embark on mackinaw boat built by Sarpy for Fremont
10/10 Stop at the mouth of the Kansas to make observations;
10 miles from starting point exactly 4 months before
10/17 Fremont arrives in St. Louis
10/18 Fremont leaves St. Louis by steamboat
10/29 Fremont reports to Col. Abert in Washington, DC

Source: The Expeditions of John Charles Fremont Volume 1: Travels from 1838 to 1844. edited by Donald Jackson and Mary Lee Spence. University of Illinois Press. 1970

Stay tuned for articles on Fremont's remaining expeditions. I hope to complete the Second Expedition by the fall of 2009.

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Last updated on June 24, 2008