Saturday, October 30, 2010

GQC: Indian Canyon to Lyman Crossing

This is a continuation of my retracing George Q. Cannon's 1849 journey.

On November 8, 1849, “While breakfasting, six packers”[1] with five horses “overtook” them.[2] These packers indicated they “had left the wagons some three or four days ago” and that “the whole wagon train had left the Spanish Trail to follow” them. Bigler noted that he felt the wagons would have to “back out” and “take another route,” as they would “find a bad wagon road in this canyon.”[3] About 8:00 a.m., they started “down the creek” for about two miles[4] until the water of the creek sank into the sand.[5]  Below, Beaver Dam Wash just below the intersection of Indian Canyon. The Road in the center of the picture, on the other side of the wash, goes down Indian Canyon.
Further down Beaver Dam Wash. It appears that the "bluff" they needed to climb west out of the canyon got smaller as they headed south.
“Captain Smith, Flake, and others thought” they “had best to bear more to the north and leave the creek.” Charles Rich was against this and gave his “advice” to them “to go directly west leaving some high mountains” on their right.” However, the companies still headed north west.[6] “After climbing” a “bluff,” they “found the country nearly level, a dry sage plain.

In October 2010, I traveled from Lyman Crossing in Meadow Valley Wash to Indian Canyon with my brother, Chris, and cousins, Russell Cannon, Bill Barnes and Ted Barnes. This is the approximate route taken by George Q. Cannon and the rest of the Flake and Smith companies. I was surprised to find how varied the country was and how beautiful it is, in certain sections. Below, looking back (east), the Beaver Dam Mountains in the background and Guy Wash just visible in the center.
Looking east, some hills and the Beaver Dam Mountains more distant.
The Beaver Dam Mountains in the background and the secondary hills get farther away.
More small hills, looking east.
Deeper into the Tule Desert, an interesting mountain, looking east.
Then the most interesting portion of the Tule Desert, Joshua tree stands and other significant foliage, looking east.
More Joshua trees. This time looking west.
More Joshua trees, looking south.
Russ Cannon, Bill Barnes and Ted Barnes.
This view is to the north.
As you travel west, the vegetation gets more sparse. This view is to the south.
Looking east.
Looking north, further west.
Nearing Meadow Valley Wash.
Looking east, an arroyo near Lyman Crossing and Meadow Valley Wash. This could possibly be where they entered into Meadow Valley Wash.
Some of the “camp got separated.”[7] “About one hour after dark,” the forward portion of the company reached “a dry creek,”[8] likely Meadow Valley Wash in the vicinity of Lyman Crossing,[9] with “some Indians camped on it.” Below, Lyman Crossing as it looks today.
When they “drew near,” they “fired off a gun” and the Indians “put out the fire and fled.”[10] The “animals” were “very much exhausted for want of feed and water” and “many of the men” also “suffered very much for want of water. However, Captain Smith’s men “appeared to suffer more for the want of” water than the Flake company.[11] The rear portion of the company (apparently including at least the Whittle mess) “lost the trail” toward evening. They “hallowed and fired guns” and “at last” heard “some person answer.” They “continued towards the camp” but did not find it. “At length,” they “saw the flash from two guns but heard no report. Brother Whittle took the course by a star and got” them into camp about” 10 p.m. There was “not a drop of water.” They “dug in the sand for water, but” it was “all in vain. An emigrant, belonging to Captain Smith’s company, came into” the Flake camp and “offered to pay any price for a drink of water. There was none for sale.” Henry Bigler “had no water and but few of the boys” did. “The day had been vary warm” and Bigler “had walked all day so that” he was “exceedingly thirsty” himself. Although he “had started with a canteen full” of water in the morning, he had drunk “and divided it all out soon after starting.” Bigler indicated to this man that he was so dry himself, that if he had a drink he “would not take $50 for it. Brother Rich was” sitting nearby and said, ‘Have you no water?’ ‘No,’ Bigler replied. “After a few minutes” Brother Rich called Bigler over and handed him “his canteen saying, ‘Drink, you are welcome.’” Rich’s “canteen seemed to be about 2/3 full.” Bigler did “not expect to get a drink for it was only accidental on” his part that he had said what he did. Bigler “told Brother Rich” that he “would not drink” for he “was not badly suffering.” Rich told Bigler to “drink” as “he himself had not been very thirsty all day.”[12] “Gloomy despondent feelings prevailed with a great number” of the men, “as the prospect of finding water without going a great distance was not very promising.”[13] Seven men did not make it to camp at all.[14] They traveled 32 miles that day.[15]

Landon believes they crossed over the Tule Desert, using the approximate route of the dirt road that leaves Indian Canyon and goes west to Lyman Crossing at Meadow Valley Wash. This is the road we followed. He believes they camped in Meadow Valley Wash in the vicinity of Lyman Crossing.[16] Below, looking south from Lyman Crossing. We drove into the center of the wash and could find no running water.
My estimations put the middle of Meadow Valley Wash at Lyman Crossing about 29 ½ miles from Indian Canyon. If they went south two miles, then went back northwest, that would easily get them the 32 mile distance.

[1]  Bigler

[2]  Farrer
[3]  Bigler
[4]  Rich; Bigler says they started at 9:00 a.m. and that they traveled 2 or 3 miles.
[5]  Bigler
[6]  Rich actually stated they “bore north.” Bigler and Farrer both state they traveled west. It was likely more of a northwest direction.
[7]  Bigler; Farrer states they went over some “high hills” to the west.
[8]  Rich
[9]  Landon, Michael N. (editor), The Journals of George Q. Cannon, Volume 1, To California in ’49, (Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah: 1999) (Landon), p. 105. Hafen and Perkins believed they were at Toquop Wash. See Hafen, LeRoy R. and Hafen, Ann W. Journals of Forty-Niners, Salt Lake to Los Angeles: With Diaries and Contemporary Records of Sheldon Young, James S. Brown, Jacob Y. Stover, Charles C. Rich, Addison Pratt, Howard Egan, Henry W. Bigler, and Others, Glendale: Arthur H. Clark. 1954 (49ers), p. 155, n. 23; and Perkins, George E. Pioneers of the Western Desert: Romance and Tragedy Along the Old Spanish or Mormon Trail and Historical Events of the Great West, Los Angeles: Wetzel Publishing Co. 1947, p. 46.
[10]  Rich
[11]  Farrer
[12]  Bigler
[13]  Cannon
[14]  Rich states that six men did not make it and that they were Captain Smith’s men. From events the next day, it appears it was the same six that had abandoned the Hunt wagon train and arrived in camp that morning. Bigler states that one man did not make it to camp that night and arrived the next morning.
[15]  Bigler, Farrer and Rich all agreed on the distance.
[16]  Landon, pp. 86, 105

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