The windlass is an apparatus for moving heavy weights. Typically, a windlass consists of a horizontal cylinder, which is rotated by the turn of a crank or belt. A winch is affixed to one or both ends, and a cable or rope is wound around the winch, pulling a weight attached to the opposite end. At Windlass Hill each wagon was lowered down the steep grade with the help of a rope secured at the top. While the descent down Windlass Hill was considered scary by the emigrants, due to the slope of the hill, they were willing to risk crashing their wagons, losing belongings, and breaking bones in order to take advantage of the spring, shade & beauty of Ash Hollow.
In the words of Howard Stansbury “we were obliged from the steepness of the road to let the wagons down by ropes”—a significant undertaking—”but the labor of a dozen men for a few days would make the descent easy and safe.”
The fourth graders each held on to a rope that was looped around a tree root. They were slowly and carefully lowered as they backed down a steep hill.
Here the children again gave up some of their “food” before following the trail on to “the rock landmarks”