This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – August 22, 1853
“I went a ducking in the morning but with the exception of ½ Doz. snakes got no game at all. We left camp at 12 – passed over the hills 2 or 3 miles to the river flat and encamped near the river having travled 15 miles. We here some report of the indians causing some trouble in this neighborhood and stealing some of the emigrants stocks. We here begin to perceive a slight taste of alkali in the water.” – James Woodworth. Woodworth’s diary called “Crossing the Plains” can be downloaded from the Woodworth Online Library at https://www.woodworth-ancestors.com/resources/. The photo of the Humboldt River near where this diary entry was probably written (between Beowawe and Battle Mountain, NV) was taken by Brenton Cooper and downloaded from https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/p/AF1QipOd6i4iExhRFvdMnroCnt7EtrvNabWn5z6xyONZ=h1440.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – August 23, 1849
“Left the Valley early rose on the table land by a gentle ascent made 18 miles two thirds of it being on the upland, and frequently fall into the Valley then Leave it through the day grass is very scarce eaten out, and dried up, though stock look well and travel well, the Willows afford some food they are numerous.” – James Tate. Tate’s diary (odd numbered pages in reverse order only) can be downloaded from the OCTA collection at https://www.octa-journals.org/merrill-mattes-collection/diary-of-colonel-james-tate. This photo of the Humboldt River west of Winnemucca was taken by Zak Donnelly and downloaded from https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/p/AF1QipNmxaohzsydUTMyLmi5ZL9zhDFE5DbdNvr-rR-e=h1440
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – August 24, 1853
“Rolled out early, left the river and crossed over two high mountains. Passed several small springs and again came to the river after 22 miles drive. Here is a trading post. We rolled on acrossed another bluff and again came to the river and camped. Grass tolerable, water good, weather clear and warm. Willows for fuel. We passed a number of waggons.” – William Richard Brown. Brown’s diary is part of the OCTA collection and can be downloaded at https://www.octa-journals.org/merrill-mattes-collection/an-authentic-wagon-train-journal-william-richard-brown-1852. The trading post mentioned by Brown was likely one located at Gravelly Ford near present-day Beowawe, NV. The picture is from the Beowawe Wayside Exhibit in the I-80 rest area near Beowawe. The information from the wayside can be found in the California Trail Center app, available for free on the Apple and Google app stores. The online version is located at https://ctic.oncell.com/en/beowawe-278489.html.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – August 25, 1846
“We arrived at our new camping place about 11 o’clock in the morning, finding another company already encamped there. At this place, two years earlier, an immigrant company had camped; apparently they had suffered the loss of the greater part of their stock along the way, for they had abandoned their wagons here, burying in the ground what they could not carry with them. After
they left, the Indians had burned the wagons; the travelers in advance who had recently arrived here had found what was left of the wagons. Ripstein today was quite ill; he had the true measles, which began to show on his skin. From our camp of last night we had traveled about 14 miles to this point. We had not found exactly a superabundance of grass here, but there was a tolerable supply, and the water was also good, so we decided to remain here the next day, August 26, and await the arrival of our company. Although we caught sight of no Indians, during the night we could see their fires in the nearby mountains and hills; however, we were not molested in any way.” – Heinrich Leinhard. The Hastings Cutoff portion of Leinhard’s diary was published in the Utah Historical Quarterly, vol. 19 (1951) and can be downloaded at https://digitallibrary.utah.gov/awweb/awarchive?item=34102. This edition also contains Hastings Cutoff diary portions from James Clyman, Edwin Bryant and James Reed and discussion of a map published by T. H. Jefferson (shown here and downloaded from the Library of Congress at https://www.loc.gov/item/2005627024/.)
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – August 26, 1853
“Four miles travel this morning along the river bottom brought us to the junction of the Carson and Nobles route. The latter of which we had concluded to take. At this place by previous understanding and in good feeling, Buchanon Clark Morrison Church and Natch, deeming it to be for their interest to reach California by one of the southern routes withdrew from the train taking with them only such clothing as they considered absolutely necessary on the route Some part of their baggage was left with the train to be carried to Tahama and there await their order – Twelve miles travel from the junction over a very barren country covered mostly with sage (Artemesia) and some varieties of greesewood brought us to Antelope Springs on the side of the mountain to the left of the route where we watered our animals and rolled on about two miles farther when we found an abundance of excellent bunch grass in the mountain ravine some ¾ of a mile to the left of the road. At this place we made our evening camp. Argelite has occured along our route to day also large quantities of gold bearing quartz.” – Joseph Richard Bradway. This quote is from a series of letters Joseph wrote to his wife Elvira as he traveled to California and can be viewed https://catalog.princeton.edu/catalog/3411113. The image shown here is from the vol. 1 set of images near the end of the letter bearing the date of July 25, 1853.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – August 27, 1849
“… Immediately we ascended a small [hill?] where again I came near oversetting; in fact, if Tyle had not held on to the upper side of the wagon it would have went over. My genius certainly does not lie in driving oxen, nor have I as yet been able to find in what it does lie. Having reached the top, Tyle cried out, ‘The camp in sight; I see the smoke,’ but on going down to it we were doomed to disappointment, as man’s ‘fondest anticipations are.’ The infantry had gone on & getting cold had kindled a fire, which spreading out among the grass created considerable smoke. Dick & Nelse who had rode on met us here & told us they had been on some distance & that it was fifteen miles to water, at least. Traveling three miles further, we camped at sundown in a dry valley, rich with fine grass & – to an experienced mountaineer singular – there was no water. The train was poorly provided for dry country, there being not enough water along to make coffee. Having been caught before without water, all had determined to have some always in their casks, which they kept up for several days & finding water plenty had neglected it again. We had placed our cask to soak last night & this morning put some water in it. On reaching camp we went to it with joy, but it had leaked out, so we were no better off than others, having only two canteens full. Eat a supper of dry crackers & meat broiled on the coals – not having water to clean the frying pan.” – Hugh Brown Heiskell. Hugh’s book “A Forty-Niner from Tennessee” can be previewed on Google Books at https://www.google.com/books/edition/A_Forty_niner_from_Tennessee/K77Gl0Q7TsAC?q=&gbpv=0#f=false. Heiskell was following the Hudspeth cutoff through southeastern Idaho. The photograph of that region taken by Ralph Maughan was downloaded from https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/p/AF1QipPy-DjKJWpBDJTs6zSKiOHwRZhHq6EWFAviPcXF=h1440.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – August 28, 1846
“left Camp and glad to do, so, in hopes of finding fresh water on our way but without Success untill evening when it was time to Camp Came to a No of delightful fresh water wells this Camp is at the Most Suthern point of the Salt Lake 20 miles North west we Commence the long drive We are taking in water, Grass, and wood for the various requirements.” – James Frazier Reed. Reed was a prominent member of the fated Donner party. The Hastings Cutoff portion of his diary can be downloaded (along with diary portions from James Clyman, Edwin Bryant and Heinrich Leinhard and a discussion of a map published by T. H. Jefferson) at https://issuu.com/utah10/docs/volume_19_1951/265. The picture is of an excerpt from Eliza P. Donner Houghton (daughter of George Donner) reminiscence of the journey. She remembers the group finding a shredded note from Lansford Hastings at this same spot. Here memoir can be viewed at https://www.gutenberg.org/files/11146/11146-h/11146-h.htm.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – August 29, 1849
“this day it was vary hot and seams to me as if every thing will perish we traveled all night of the twenty eight and all night of the 29 buy this time I have got use to it a litle we have now got all most a crost the desert it apears to me as if this has bin a nother great salt lake and I am all most ready to believe it is the grounde is white with salt all over plenty of it we are now in sight of a mountain” – Sarah Green Davis. Sarah’s handwritten diary can be viewed at https://collections.library.yale.edu/catalog/10001144.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – August 30, 1849
“This morning found our camp in a great uproar cased by the excitement raised in refferance to the [Applegate] cut off it was quite cirtain that the company would split on the settelment of this Question some were in favor of taking the cut off and some not we finaly hitch up our teems and drove to the forks of the road one going the Old rout the other the cut off Lucky for us here was in camp a Government train with Supplys waiting the arival of a Government which is on our trail behind The Leutenant informed us that the road which the Emergrants to the amount of 700 teems had taken supposing it to be a cut off as it had been represented was the road to Origon City and that they could not find a pass over the mountains as the rout was only practible for packers they therefore must continue there corse for Oregon or winde there way back again Our road to day has been quite heavy on account of sand and some uneven we camped to night 4 miles from the forks of the cut off having travelled 15 Miles to Day” – Elisha B. Lewis. Elisha’s diary is part of the OCTA collection and can be downloaded at https://www.octa-journals.org/merrill-mattes-collection/diary-of-overland-trip-to-california-elisha-b-lewis-1849. The Nevada historical marker regarding the Applegate trail is located near the Imlay exit of I-80. You can trace the Applegate trail through Nevada using the California Trail Center app, available free through the Apple and Google app stores, and also viewable online at https://ctic.oncell.com/en/applegate-trail-lassen-meadows-to-goose-lake-263593.html.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – August 31, 1850
“Started early, and forded Webber river, which is now very low, and has but little resemblance to this turbulent stream, when we crossed it on the eighth of July. At eleven o’clock, passed the last house we expect to see, for the distance of seven hundred miles. Before noon, we passed a great number of springs of hot salt water, from which the streams flow down upon the plain towards the [Great Salt] lake, and expand into numerous shallow ponds, the surface of which, as seen from the road, appear to be encrusted with salt. A white bank of the same article lies around their margins. We encamped soon after noon, on the bank of a creek of cold, fresh water, where we found a grove of English Black Haws. The trees were bent beneath the load of ripe fruit, and we gathered a bushel or two for future use. We here overtook a number of emigrant teams, and were glad to find that we were not the only travelers upon this lonesome road. Distance, fifteen miles.” – Franklin Langworthy. Franklin’s diary can be viewed at https://archive.org/details/sceneryofplainsm00languoft/page/114/mode/2up. The image of the Black Haw berries was downloaded from https://www.honey-plants.com/calendar/connecticut/viburnum-prunifolium/.