This Desolate Region — August 26-27, 1841


Thursday, 26th. Traveled all day over dry barren plains, producing nothing but sage, or rather, as it ought to be called, wormwood, and which I believe will grow without water or soil. Two men were sent ahead to search for water, but returned a little while before dark, unsuccessful.

Our course intersected an Indian trail, which we followed directly north towards the mountains, knowing that in these dry countries the Indian trails always lead to the nearest water. Having traveled till about 10 o’clock p.m. made a halt, and waited until morning. Distance about 30 miles.


This was one of those days when they traveled all day in the hot sun, hoping to find fresh water, and saw nothing but sand, salt, and sagebrush. Another day like that might have killed them all. They were wise to follow the Indian trail.

Friday, 27th. Daylight discovered to us a spot of green grass on the declivity of the mountain towards which we were advancing. 5 miles took us to this place, where we found, to our great joy, an excellent spring of water and an abundance of grass. Here we determined to continue ’till the route was explorer to the head of Mary’s river and run no more risks of perishing for want of water in this desolate region.

Reminds me of this song:

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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