James E. Bromley

James Bromley James Erwen Bromley was Division Superintendent for the Pony Express east of Salt Lake City to Horseshoe.

From Sturgis Prairie, Michigan, James Bromley came to Utah in 1854 where he settled at the strategic mouth of 20-Mile Echo Canyon at the confluence of the Echo Canyon River and the Weber River. Here he built a station that became a Pony Express Station in 1860. It was the main stopping place between Fort Bridger, Wyoming, and Salt Lake City, Utah.

Bromley's love of horses and the desire to be a stage driver, led him first to Toledo, Ohio; thence to Chicago, and Springfield, Illinois, as an employee of stage companies. Across the Missouri River he went to Weston working for Frink & Walker where he was promoted from local agent to division superintendent. He then joined the Overland Stage Company, operating the monthly mail with a six-mule team, including changes at Fort Kearney, Fort Laramie, and Fort Bridger. He working until 1856 until the mail was discontinued between Independence and Salt Lake City.

Bromley then entered the employ of the Pacific Wagon Road Expedition of which William J. Morgan was superintendent and J. W. Lander the chief engineer. They left Independence in May 1857, but were intercepted on the Sweetwater by news of the coming of Johnston's army. Bromley was sent to meet the troops and was given a position a guide to the army. At South Pass, General Johnston took charge of the 325 mules and 42 wagons then encamped. This broke up the Pacific Wagon Road Expedition, whose members returned and wintered (1857-1858) at Fort Bridger.

In the spring of 1858, Bromley went to work for J. M. Hockaday & McGraw who was awarded the mail contact from Atchison to Salt Lake City. Bromley "... was put in charge of the road, bought mules, built stations, fought Indians, and everything in the line of duty." We got divisions organized from Atchison west, having charge of Pacific Springs to Salt Lake City.

In 1860 the Pony Express was established and Bromley bought the horses in Salt Lake City to stock the line to Fort Laramie, and hired many of Utah's young men to ride those horses.

Bromley married Elizabeth Major Stevenson on August 12, 1861. They had two sons and two daughters.

In early 1864 Bromley went to work for the famous stage line builder, Ben Holladay of St. Joseph, Missouri, and Atchison, Kansas, where he was delegated to lay out the operation of stages from Salt Lake City to Virginia City, Montana, and Walla Walla, Washington. From Salt Lake City he departed on March 12, 1864, locating and building 56 new stations on those lines. Much credit was given Bromley when the U. S. Mail arrived at its destination on schedule time.

After work for Holladay was over, Bromley tried merchandising with indifferent success, then running a hotel, and finally turning back to ranching on his old property at the mouth of Echo Canyon

On October 15, 1868, Bromley sold the entire valley to Brigham Young Jr. for $200 and designed "Echo City." It had 14-80 foot-wide avenues, crossing the valley east to west and named after his wives, and streets running north-south named in honor of Union Pacific dignitaries.

When it came to gambling, Bromley had no patience or time to fool around with a deck of cards, but when it came to horse racing the old blood surged in his veins. Perhaps that is the reason why he sold the "Echo City" to Young to bring folk with horses, many of whom had racing fever. Here most all of the grain raised in Weber River Valley was stored. Racing folk had receipts for their grain, whereas they did not have much cash on their person. This was O.K. with Bromley, who would bet his money against the market price of grain. There is a story of how Bromley made a big dent in the local granary.

Bromley advertised for a jockey to ride his best race horse, knowing full well that old betters would send down a confederate to ride for him. Bromley told his blacksmith to put lead shoes on the horse. When the jockey returned home he reported the confidential news that Bromley's new race horse did not amount to much and that any good horse in town could beathime.

Came days when talk of betting was a reality and Bromley's money covered grain receipts with several owners of good horses. Bromley brought his own jockey, unknown to anyone. The final day of the race arrived. Off came the lead shoes, on went light ones of tempered steel, right from his own forge. Needless to say, Bromley's race horse felt like flying off his feet and won easily. Bromley had just about cleaned out the entire granary.

Source: "The Pony Express", Vol. XXXV, No. 5, Sonora, California, October 1968.