Mile 1515- South Pass
The South Pass is one of the most important mountain passes in American history. Native Americans had known about the crossing for ages, however European-Americans were not so well informed. Lewis and Clark attempted to cross the continental divide at the more northern pass, if one can call it that, at the Bitterroot Mountains. This treacherous journey almost took the lives of all involved. It was not until 1812 that the first white man was said to have used the South Pass. Many travelers did not even realize that once they headed south past Independence they were beginning a slow ascent of the continental divide, because the incline was so subtle. Without a crossing point that was so easy to navigate as the South Pass was, it is possible that the United States would not have been able to maintain possession of territory to the west.