August 29-September 2, 1841

“Sunday, 29th. Capt. Bartleson with C. Hopper started to explore the route to the head of Mary’s river, expecting to be absent about 8 or 9 days–the Company to await here his return.

Monday, 30th. Nothing of importance occurred.

Tuesday, 31st. No success hunting.

September. Wednesday, 1st. An ox killed for beef.

Thursday, 2nd. Idle in camp.”

Having found “an excellent spring of water” in the foothills on August 27, the Company decided to stay put until the route ahead to Mary’s River (the Humboldt River) could be explored. They had determined to “run no more risk of perishing for want of water in this desolate region.” This was the best they could do under the circumstances, with no map and no guide.

Thomas “Broken-Hand” Fitzpatrick had given them the idea that they would come to the river a few days west of the Great Salt Lake, and by following the river they could cross “this desolate region.”  But he wasn’t really very familiar with this part of the territory, and they hadn’t found it yet. The head of the river was actually more than 100 miles from where they were now located, some 50 miles northwest of the Great Salt Lake.

So Captain Bartleson went off to explore, and the rest of the company settled in to wait. They had met a few Shoshone Indians, and traded with them for venison and berries, using cartridges of powder and ball as currency. Their only worry was, would they be able to make it across the desert and the mountains before winter blocked the way?

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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