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 suggested “shortcut” into an unknown region. Week after week they struggled through arid ranges, waterless canyons, and barren wastes. At last two young teamsters named John Rogers and William Lewis Manly told the others they would find a way out and return. Another 26 days later, after Rogers and Manly stumbled into present-day Saugus, the pair trudged back for the sufferers and led them 125 miles to safety. As they were crossing the Panamint Mountains the group looked down at the wastelands they had just been delivered from and named it Death Valley.


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