It was a legend in its own time. The very idea of a solitary rider transporting mail 2,000 miles astride a swift, strong horse set 19th century hearts a-flutter—and the faint, echoing sounds of the Pony’s hooves still excite the imagination today. The Pony Express began in April 1860 and ended in October 1861. It was in operation less than 19 months, yet it remains one of the West’s most impressive, romantic dramas.
Before bicycles and automobiles, city folk got about on foot or horseback, and in a variety of four-wheeled conveyances. A solitary horse could manage a light-weight buggy, but heavier wagons were generally powered by teams of mules or oxen. A “spike team” was a familiar term for an unusual turn-out of three oxen (two at the wheel and one in the lead) that always attracted much attention when it passed by on city streets.
Companies of wide-ranging American fur trappers were the trail blazers for subsequent explorers, gold rushers and settlers. The mountain passes they crossed, the routes they trod, and the valleys where they camped became the routes and stopping places that others followed. When the fur trade declined in the mid-1840s, many of these adventurous mountain men became emigrant guides to caravans of covered wagons.
Today marks the 106th anniversary of California women winning the right to vote. Woman Suffrage, as the cause was termed, had strong opposition, and a similar measure had been defeated in 1896 by well-populated San Francisco and Alameda counties. In 1911, however, organized suffragists strategically targeted Southern California and small towns statewide. They visited churches, Continue reading Women Claim the Vote
In October 1849, more than 100 wagons left the Salt Lake City region opting to take the Old Spanish Trail to the pueblo of Los Angeles, and from there north to the gold fields. For some of them, their journey became a saga of adversity, loss, extreme hardship, and sheer grit. Twenty-seven wagons unwisely took a Continue reading Death Valley