September 17, 1841 — Bidwell Pass

Friday, 17th. About 11 a.m. all were ready to start; horses, mules, and 4 oxen, packed. Proceeded south along the mts. seeking a place to pass through. At length an Indian trail took us across into a dry plain, perfectly destitute of grass and water. Traveled ’till about midnight, having come about 17 miles. This plain was white in many places with salt, and the cool evening contrasting with the color of the salt on the ground gave a striking similarity to winter. Two of the oxen that were carrying packs got lost from the Company in the night, about 8 miles from where we encamped, but it was supposed they would follow on.

This is probably the point at which they cross south of the Pilot Range through what today is called Bidwell Pass in Elko County, Nevada. It would be used by some other later emigrant groups, but the California Trail in Nevada generally took a more northerly route. There is a trail marker at the pass.

The lost oxen did not “follow on,” and Bidwell had to go looking for them the next day.

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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