Tragedy in Death Valley

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 Tragedy in Death Valley

Death in the High Sierra

The story of the Donner Party—a group of California-bound emigrants who were trapped by early snow storms at an alpine lake in the formidable Sierra Nevada over the winter of 1846-47—is a tale of unfortunate choices, jealousies, despair, extreme hardship, courage and heroism. Their entrapment and rescue made Continue reading Death in the High Sierra

October Deadline

During the great overland migration to California in the late 1840s and 1850s, neither excited gold-seekers, nor families simply wanting to settle, could depart  for the Pacific Coast at just any time they wanted.  Theirs was a limited window of travel time, framed by potential hazards at both ends of the route.  Since their Continue reading October Deadline

Explorer Jed Smith

Although he never settled in California, renowned mountain man-fur trapper Jedediah Strong Smith explored many regions of the state in the 1820s, opening new paths in the interior plus other trails leading north to Oregon Territory and east to present-day Utah.  Born January 6, 1799, the sixth of fourteen children, young Continue reading Explorer Jed Smith