On 3 September 1846, the Mormon Battalion camped near here on its way to fight in the war with Mexico. This small army of more than 500 men and officers had been recruited at Council Bluffs, Iowa, from among the Mormon pioneers (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) who were en route to the Rocky Mountains. About one-tenth of the battalion suffered from "ague, billions, and congestive fever" during the march from Council Bluffs, but only the standard army medicines of "calomel, arsenic, and bitters of bayberry bark" were on hand to treat them with.
Here battalion members saw for the first time the prickly pear cactus and other semi-arid plants typical of the American Southwest. Their difficult 1700-mile journey through the dry and barren landscape between this campsite and the final destination at San Diego, California, evoked poems, songs, and art work, some of which have been preserved in diaries kept by battalion members.