A few days ago I wrote about the Red Desert, where my mother’s family is from. There’s a monument there near Farson to mark the place where the Louisiana Purchase, Oregon Territory, and Mexican Territory came together.
When I was in my teens I calculated the old Swanstrom place was on the edge of the Louisiana Purchase. And I was born in Laramie, which is also in the Louisiana Purchase. So it was all nice and simple. Louisiana Purchase in the east, Mexican Cession in the west.
But when I reading about the Red Desert and the Tri-Territory Marker, I changed my mind. From the description I was reading, my grandparents’ ranch must have been in Mexican Territory. I’m looking for the place where the Continental Divide crosses the 42nd parallel North Latitude. The website I was reading described the location of the marker as “State Highway 28 about 13 miles northeast of Farson; east on gravel road for 31 miles.” A quick calculation for me. My grandparents’ place was on Highway 28, almost exactly 5 miles northeast of Farson, and I know it’s west of the Continental Divide (because: South Pass), so…
So… I was wrong. I had my weekly video call with Mom this morning. She was interested, so we did some poking around. We found a better site for the marker: the Historical Marker Database. It describes the location as being in the Farson post office area “on BLM Road 4102 near County Route 83”. And there’s a link to a map. Yay! The old place is in Oregon Territory, not Mexican Territory, not Louisiana Purchase.
We quickly confirmed. The marker is at 42° 0′ North, 108° 55.02′ West. Farson is at 42° 10′ 11.40″ North, 109° 25′ 7.19″ West. In other words, Farson is north and west of the marker–Oregon. South would have been Mexico. North and east would have been Louisiana.
Rock Springs was Mexico. It seems a little odd that it was different than Farson, which is just 50 miles north. And of course Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, and Grand Junction were Mexico, but I learned those in school so no surprise.
We didn’t have these easy GPS tools when I was a teenager. No doubt if I asked sister Laura she would be able to come up with the GPS coordinates of the ranch, but Mom and I didn’t need them for this calculation. I can drive there with no doubt or hesitation, and I can find it on Google maps with just a little difficulty, but that’s where my competency ends. Laura and I will be working together on Tuesday. If we’re not too busy I might ask her.
A Story About Farson
In the course poking around here, I confirmed with Mom that the ranch was 5 miles northeast of Farson. “Almost exactly 5 miles”, she said. Once when she was a kid her dad had the car and her mom wanted a loaf of bread. Her Mom sent the kids on a horse to the Farson store (the Farson Merc) to get the bread. It took them almost an hour to get there and back. Grandma was mad it took them so long. Did they dawdle? Did Grandma not realize how far it was? Mom didn’t say.
Another story. Mom said she remembers the Utah Pioneer Centennial (1946). A caravan of cars drove by the house in Farson, along the old Mormon Trail. They had cut-outs of wooden oxen attached to the fronts of their cars. At first I thought she was talking about the time they did this when we lived in Mantua, Utah. No, this was same thing, another time.