Wednesday, October 20, 2010

GQC: Shoal Creek to Tunnel Springs

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

On November 2, 1849, the Flake company woke in the morning to find snow on the mountains. They were on their way by 9:00 a.m.[1] They traveled up the side of the “dry bed” of Shoal Creek, which George Q. Cannon called “Dry Sandy,” for a mile and found where the Smith company had camped for the night. Below, a picture of Shoal Creek taken several years ago, although it had water in it.
A mile further, they reached “a small stream, impregnated with iron,” that entered into the dry bed of Shoal Creek and sank into the sand.[2] In general, the valley they were traveling through afforded “plenty of feed.” The mountains around them were “destitute of any timber,” but they did have cedar, scrub pine and sage brush.
After another eight miles they passed through a “fine patch of grass” and then found “a beautiful spring” to their left, perhaps Nephi Spring.[3] They continued up Shoal Creek through Nephi Draw in a northwesterly direction[4] another three miles to “a narrow pass in a canyon” and “found plenty of water which arose and sunk in about 300 yards.” Further “up the canyon” they found “a small valley surrounded by hills or low mountains.” They continued their “course” southwest for 1 ½ miles through White Rocks Draw and then went south through Jessie Tie Wash, “continuing up the bed” of a creek for ¾ mile. They “entered a narrow canyon” to their right, perhaps California Draw, “filled with cedar.” They “traveled up this canyon” about one mile and “then turned” their course south “over the dividing ridge of the Great Basin.” This is where “the water, instead of flowing into the Basin,…runs into the Pacific Ocean.”[5] “Considerable snow had fallen” on the ridge “during the night” and “some still continued on the ground.”[6] From the ridge, they could see mountains as far as the eyes could see.[7] George Cannon’s pack horse, “Croppy,” had “been gradually failing” for days. With the rigors of this days journey, Croppy could “not keep up with the company” and Cannon “was left behind”[8] near the dividing ridge.[9] Joseph Cain and Henry Bigler “would not leave” Cannon[10] and “endeavoured” to help him “drive” Croppy to camp. Over the dividing ridge they traveled to Headwaters Wash, “a large canyon running west southwest.” The picture below is of Headwaters Wash, near the top, looking back.
They followed Headwaters Wash until they came to what Cannon called the “Devil’s Offset.”[11]
“The trail which the company had made led directly to it;” but there “they had stopped; they had found it impossible to pass there, and they had scattered in every direction to find a better route.” Cannon, Cain and Bigler “were very much puzzled to tell which way they had gone. After searching some time” they found “their trail again. They had gone back about a quarter of a mile, and made a circuit over the hills to the southward for about three miles, and reached the same canyon about one hundred yards below the Offset.” It appears that they went south over Roundup Flat, entered Clay Canyon, then went northwest up Clay Canyon back into Headwater Wash below the “Devil’s Offset.”[12]  Below, Clay Canyon, from a ridge between Clay Canyon and Headwaters Wash.
Meanwhile, the balance of the company continued “down the canyon” [Headwaters Wash] for “some time.” Below, Headwaters Wash, as viewed from the land above, goes diagonally through the photo.
They eventually reached a “flat of about 50 acres of grass.” Below, a picture of a raised area now full of sage brush which would have been the area filled with grass. Extensive cattle grazing in the area have likely changed the grassland into now-thick sagebrush. Tunnel Springs is to the right and out of the picture.
Below, Russ Cannon standing among the thick sagebrush of what was the grassland in 1849.
At the “lower end” of the flat they “found some good springs” [Tunnel Springs] which “supplied” them “with plenty of good water.” Below, the small canyon in which Tunnel Springs is located, viewed from the west looking east, is in the center of the photo. 
Below, Bill Barnes and Ted Barnes, walking toward Tunnel Springs from the east to the west. The largest springs are located in the green trees in the center of the photo.
The main springs are located in a depression in the ground. Below, Bill Barnes pointing toward a spring.
There is no flowing water in Headwaters Wash until Tunnel Springs. The small flow of water in Headwaters Wash is from Tunnel Springs as well as an apparent spring across the wash coming in from a small canyon on the south side. Below, one of the springs in Tunnel Springs.
Further back in the side canyon there are some very small springs. Below, beautiful foliage in fall colors at the back of the side canyon.
They also found “an old corn cob” near “an Indian Lodge” and a fire “which had just been covered up.” They saw the Indians at a distance.[13] Because of the Indian and his farming activities, they named the creek, “Farm Creek.”[14] Just before dark, Cannon, Cain and Bigler, found their way back into Headwater Wash, via Roundup Flat and Clay Canyon. With the decreasing light, the trail made by those ahead of them was getting harder to follow. They “hoped to see the campfires at every point” they rounded as they were concerned that they might “lose the trail” in the dark and “wander out” of the way. About the time they were considering camping for the night, Henry Bigler, “who was ahead, shouted that he smelled the camp,” which ultimately was about a ½ mile distant. They arrived to find both the Smith and Flake companies camped together,[15] just as some members of the Flake company were preparing to go out and find them.[16] They had traveled 25 miles and all of the animals were “fatigued.”[17]

In October 2010, I drove into Clay Canyon with my brother, Chris, and three cousins, Russ Cannon, Bill Barnes and Ted Barnes. We were investigating part of the 1849 route. We are all great-grandsons of George Q. Cannon and Russ is also a great-great-grandson of Charles Rich. A dirt road goes almost the entire length of Clay Canyon, stopping just short of Headwaters Wash. I climbed the ridge separating Clay Canyon from Headwaters Wash and could see what must have been referred to as the Devil’s Offset.
I climbed down the ridge and hiked up through Headwaters Wash through the Devil’s Offset. It is a relatively short piece of the wash, but it goes down at a pretty good incline (or up, as I was doing it backwards) and is an obstacle course of large boulders and rocky outcroppings, with drops of three feet or more in a number of places.
It can be negotiated rather simply on foot, but would be a nightmare with horses.
Horseshoe Flat and Clay Canyon, by contrast, are quite flat and much more horse-friendly. This geography, proposed by Michael Landon, fits well with the journal entries.

[1] Bigler
[2] Cannon
[3] Hafen & Hafen identify this as being near the Terry ranch. (49ers, p. 202). Michael N. Landon, editor, The Journals of George Q. Cannon, Volume 1: To California in ’49 (Deseret Book, Salt Lake City: 1999), hereafter “Landon,” proposes a route for the Flake and Smith companies with some specificity. If his proposed route is correct, then the Spring would appear to be Nephi Spring in Nephi Draw. There is a Terry Spring several miles southeast of Nephi Spring, presumably the spring on the Terry ranch.
[4] Farrer indicates a southwest direction, but Hafen & Hafen question whether it was northwest. (49ers, p. 202) Landon indicates they went northwest up Nephi Draw. (p. 101)
[5] Cannon
[6] Farrer
[7] Rich
[8] Cannon
[9] Farrer
[10] Cannon
[11] Farrer
[12] Landon, p. 102.
[13] Farrer
[14] Rich
[15] Cannon
[16] Farrer
[17] Bigler; Farrer and Rich also confirm the 25 mile distance.

No comments:

Post a Comment