Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Arrow Canyon to the Muddy River

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

Saturday morning, November 17, 1849, at 8:00 a.m. the Rich company was on its way, continuing southeast down the Pahranagat Wash, through Arrow Canyon, “traveling mostly in its bed. After traveling about 10 miles” they came to a more unusual portion of the canyon than they’d seen the day before. The canyon narrowed to “about ten yards wide.” On “either side” of the canyon was “a solid mass” of “perpendicular” rocks from “500 to 1,000 feet high.”

The dam across Arrow Canyon, below, was built by the CCC in the 1930s.

The following picture was taken from the top of the dam.

The “bed” of the wash was “dry,” but there were “several holes of water found standing” within the canyon. About 1 ½ miles into Arrow Canyon, they “found where the Indians had shot” arrows “over head about 80 feet into” the “crevice” of a “large” rock “shelf.” There were “more than 200 arrows sticking there” and it was “as if” the Indians “wished to pry off” the shelf. “The bursting of a cap in this passage sounded like the crack of a rifle.”
More pictures of the steep Arrow Canyon walls.

Indian petroglyphs in Arrow Canyon.

Water, from recent rains, in a hole in the canyon wall.

Water in a hole in the canyon bottom.

Grass in Arrow Canyon.

More grass.

They found the “traveling down” Arrow Canyon to be “good” and emerged from the Canyon in another 1 ½ miles, 13 miles from their camp that morning.

Mormon Peak from the mouth of Arrow Canyon.

They “came to good grass and some warm springs of water.” They allowed their horses to feed for an hour and started again. Parts of the “road” got “rather muddy in places, caused by” water from the springs, and the “mire” made for “very bad traveling.”
Below, Warm Springs, near Moapa, Nevada, is now owned by 19 LDS Las Vegas Stakes and used as a recreation area. The California fan palms currently around Warm Springs are not native to the area. They were introduced in the 1890s.

Warm Springs, below, filled with plant life.

The “springs soon formed a creek with” a “considerable” amount of “water in it.” About two miles from Arrow Canyon, 15 miles from their camp the night before, they “camped near the creek.” There was “lots of water and good grass.” Nearby were some “Indian farms,” where they found “fine fields of wheat, corn and beans.” The Indians “irrigated their lands from” the creek “and their fields had the appearance of bearing very heavy crops.” Peter Fife, who “had traveled the Spanish Trail” the year before “after being let loose from Uncle Sam,” believed the creek to be the Muddy River “from the looks of the water.” “He knew of no” other creek as “large as this” one, except the Muddy. Henry Bigler stood guard that night and lamented the loss of his “pocket knife” which he left “lying on the ground” at their last camp following breakfast. However, he noted, that everything else has seemed “to go right since” Charles Rich “took things in hand.” They have had “no mountains to pass over, but pass right through them,” the “river” has run the “right way” and they have had “water whenever” they wanted it for themselves and their animals.

Below, the Warm Springs form the Muddy River. It runs 30 miles southeast through the Moapa Valley and empties into the Virgin River. There is a “Warm Springs Monument” dedicated to George Q. Cannon, Charles C. Rich, Henry W. Bigler and James H. Rollins just outside the gate of the property owned by the LDS Church. It was erected as an Eagle Project by Chad Thornton in February 1997.

Meanwhile, the Jefferson Hunt company of wagons, which had stayed on the Old Spanish Trail, arrived at the Muddy River on Friday, November 16, 1849. They were at the “Old California Crossing,” which is where the Spanish Trail crosses the Muddy. This was also “the edge of the 50 mile drive” across the desert to Las Vegas Springs. They noted that the Muddy was “fed by warm springs and the water is warm and pleasant to bathe in.” Addison Pratt “found some fish” in the river “resembling” a carp. “They bite readily at a hook” and “the largest of them” weighed almost a pound. Pratt cut open some lumps on the sides of some of the fish and found “sacks containing a sort of wireworm.” On Saturday the 17th, the Hunt company moved their camp up the river three miles where there was better grass to “recruit their teams” before the “fifty mile desert” crossing.

Below, California Crossing, where the Old Spanish Trail crossed the Muddy River. The Muddy is now surrounded by tamarisk trees that make it nearly impossible to get near it. The trees in the background of the picture mark the Muddy which is just beyond and below them.

A close-up of the Muddy River at California Crossing. It is near present-day Glendale, Nevada, just off the I-15 freeway. Muddy comes from the Paiute word “moody” which was their name for mesquite. As you can see, it had nothing to do with the consistency of the water.

Sunday morning, November 18, 1849, Henry Bigler noted having a dream during the night where he saw Addison Pratt and James Brown, both with the Hunt company. At 8:00 a.m. the Rich company was “on the march.” They “traveled about five miles down” the Muddy River and “came in sight of some cattle grazing on the other side.” As they got closer, they saw “some men” with the cattle. Upon reaching these men, they were told that “Captain Hunt was camped just below” them with seven wagons. Rich was able to confirm with these men that they “were on the Muddy, the most favorable point” they “could have struck,” and he “felt to acknowledge the hand of the Lord” in their “deliverance.” The Rich company continued down the Muddy and found Captain Hunt and the wagons. Still “among the train” were “Brothers Pratt, Brown and Blackwell…on their way to the islands” and “still with the roadometer.” Also camped there near them were “two small companies” of another wagon train that had been “ahead of Hunt’s train” previously. Henry Bigler noted being “happily disappointed,” as they had not expected to reach the Spanish Trail for another two days. Addison Pratt was not in camp when they arrived, but “was out in pursuit of some ducks that frequented” a nearby “pool.” James Brown took Charles Rich out to find him. Pratt was “creeping through the grass” when he saw “Brother Rich and Brown, on the side of the pool.” Brown and Rich “discovered” Pratt “at the same time, and Brother Rich called out, at the top of his voice, ‘good morning Brother Pratt.’ At the sound of” his “voice the ducks arose out of the water and flew toward” Pratt. As Pratt “returned the salute and said, ‘good morning Brother Rich,’” he “discharged” his “fowling piece at the ducks” and two dropped “from the flock.” Pratt noted that Brother Rich “often laughed at” him “afterwards about the oddity of the occurrence.”

Later, the men of both companies exchanged information about the events which had taken place since they had last seen each other. Rich, from the reports of the six men that had joined them at Beaver Dam Wash, brought “sad and heartrending news from the great emigrant company, which had broken into factions and become perfectly demoralized and confused. Some had taken packs on their backs and started on foot, their cattle dying, their wagons abandoned.” Rich noted that his company had “very hard times in the mountains, had lost some of their animals and expended nearly all of the provisions.” Rich “tried to have Captain Smith return with him,” but Captain Smith “was determined to find a road through to California or die in the attempt.” However, the parting may have been a blessing, as it had been reported that some of Captain Smith’s men were “threatening” them “with their rifles if” they “did not divide” their provisions “with them.” Captain Hunt reported that at the time the “train of 100 wagons had” left him to follow the Rich and Smith companies, he felt his life was threatened. The threatening element had departed with the break-off wagon train, but Hunt had been left “with enough men to go through in safety.” In retrospect, both companies had been “separated from the train” under similar circumstances and delivered from difficult situations. They “felt to return thanks to” their “Heavenly Father.” The feeling was that the main wagon train would “perish” if they did not go “back out,” for they were “sure they” could not take the route the Rich company had followed. “As for Captain Smith,” they felt he was “a goner if” he did not “beat” it “down south on to the Spanish Trail.” George Cannon reminisced: “It was with a feeling of great relief that we reached the Spanish Trail. We were tired of traveling on a ‘cut-off,’ and to say that a certain road was a ‘cut-off’ to anyone of the company during the remainder of that journey was sufficient to prejudice him against it. To this day I have a dislike for ‘cut-offs.’”

Henry Bigler obtained “some crackers” and “thought it the best eating” he had ever had, noting “I naturally like to eat hard bread anyhow.” That evening, James Brown approached Bigler about going with him and Brother Pratt “to the islands, saying that Brother Pratt wanted” him to go “and that he had heard Brother Pratt ask Brother Rich how he would like to swap-off one of his men for Brother Blackwell.” Brother Rich said he “had no objections” if “it was agreeable between the parties.” Bigler told Brown he did not want to go.

On Monday, November 19, 1849, both the Rich and Hunt companies “remained in camp to recruit” their animals and “replenish” their “provisions.” Charles Rich and Jefferson Hunt had “authority from the Church to transact” business on behalf of the Church.” They used “their authority” to obtain a “yoke of oxen” from some men in the Hunt company that at first “were quite unwilling to give them up,” but later, “consented to do so.” Rich and Hunt “sold the” oxen “to Dallas,” a member of the nearby wagon train, “for provisions to fit out Rich’s company to cross the deserts into California.” Rich indicated “that both” the water and the grass were “so full of saleratus [alkali] that it was injurious” to their animals. “Some Indians came to” them and “appeared quite friendly.” They , “said they belonged to the Pahvants and were at war with the Paiutes which are the owners of this country…Many of them could talk Spanish, and when they found that several men in” their “company could speak” Spanish, “they avoided conversation” with them “as much as possible.” They “concluded they were mission Indians” that “had run away from California and were now on their way there to steal horses.” They “burned charcoal and made nails to shoe” their cattle. They had “to throw the animals down and hold them while Apostle Charles C. Rich shod them.” James Brown recalled that “Brother Rich did his work well, for the shoes never came loose till they wore off.” During the “evening, a Dutchman” came into camp “who had left Smith’s” company. “He was robbed by the Indians of nearly all of his provisions.”

The next day, they would leave the Muddy River to cross the desert to Las Vegas springs.

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