Essentials for Immigrants, part 3

“It was understood that every one should have not less than a barrel of flour with sugar and so forth to suit; but I laid in one hundred pounds more flour than the usual quantity, besides other things. This I did because we were told that when we got into the mountains we probably would get out of bread and have to live on meat alone, which I thought would kill me even if it did not others.” (Echoes of the Past, p. 113)

The time would come, in the Sierra Nevada, when Bidwell would indeed be living on meat alone, and little of that. By the time they got across the Great Basin they had used up all their supplies, and were eating their draft animals. Even game was hard to come by. (Coyote windpipe for breakfast, anyone? Come on, try it–it’s great!)

The “other things” in the way of foodstuffs that Bidwell packed in his wagon were things like dried beans, cornmeal, salt, and coffee. Those, plus buffalo meat and other game that they shot, made up the travelers’ diet as they crossed the plains. But before they reached the end of the trail it was all gone. As much as he disliked the notion of “no bread,” John Bidwell lived for a time on an all-meat diet, and it didn’t kill him.

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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