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With all the suffering by the emigrants crossing the Great Salt Lake Desert in 1846 to and including 1850, no deaths were recorded from thirst or exhaustion. Deaths did occur however from Cholera. In their book, Cherokee Trail Diaries, Volume I -1849 A New Route to the California Gold Fields, Volume II - 1850 Another New Route to the Calif. Gold Fields, Patricia K. A. Fletcher, Dr. Jack Earl Fletcher and Lee Whitely told about the 1850 Cherokee, Oliver wagon train plagued with cholera. After they had arrived at Donner Springs, John Lowery Brown in a pack party noted the deceased:


"Aug 11 today we lay Bye resting our horses. this morning G.M. Martin was taken very sick. about 12 oclock two men belonging to Capt Olivers train Died within a few minutes of each other and were both buried in one Grave . . . Davis a white man & Henry Street a Seneca."

This photograph was taken of Pat Fletcher on October 2nd, 2002 by what we think is the grave where two men of the 1850 Capt. Olivers Cherokee wagon train were buried together after they died from Cholera within a few minutes of each other. They were; Davis a white man & Henry Street a Seneca. We met Pat & Jack in Wendover and drove to Donner Springs on a cold, blustery day. We gave up hope by the Spring because of the farming in the area and a orchard. We drove out the gate and Pat wanted us to drive up this nearby road going toward Pilot Peak, and within 150 feet we saw this pile of stones. We think there are other graves near by. R. Tea.

A letter by a Captain Taylor stated that a C. V. McNair, Gabriel Martin and a black man belonging to Peter May were also attacked by cholera. Martin lived but a short time; the other two recovered.

". . . today about 2 oclock G.M. Martin died. After burying him the Co--removed up on to one of the Kanyons of the mountain about 3 miles distance. Good water & Grass. Camp 83."

His camp was on the east slope of Pilot Peak, west of Donner Spring, near the Utah/Nevada border.

When through turn around, go back to the road then turn right and travel 2.0 miles to a sign on the fence and turn off on the left to read it. The sign tells about Munsee's cabin in the trees to the east. Continue down the road to the fence corner on the left and turn on the road by the fence and drive to a rail post on the side of the cutoff trail. The Plaque reads:


"... we hitched up and drove on three miles farther to a better camping ground where we had good feed and plenty of water."

Edwin M. Primes Aug 22, 1850
2000 Utah Crossroads Chapter - OCTA HU - 24

Eugene Munsee's cabin where he homesteaded in 1880.

If you look to the north you will see Eugene Munsee's cabin. We have received permission to see the 1880 homestead cabin so drive north through the gate to the cabin. The Utah Crossroads were granted permission to place a protective cover on the cabin in 1990. The day after installation there was a 100 mile an hour wind blew through here from the west, according to the ranch foreman, and removed our first efforts. We came back and secured the covering better than before. The springs are just north of the cabin.

LIENHARD relates in his diary that "On the afternoon of August 21, toward evening, we forsook this camping place, the grass having become scant, and went on 2 miles south, where water equally good, and grass undoubtedly better were to be found, although many others were there." This camping spot is here and the meadows just to the east. The 1880 Munsee homestead is exactly 2 miles south of Donner springs.

When finished at the cabin, drive back through the gate and leave it like you found it. Drive on past the rail post by the trail and continue on until you come to a wash. The banks have been sloped so that vehicles will be able to cross. Keep following the trail until you come to a road coming in from the north. This road follows the trail across a pipeline that carries the water from the Pilot Mountain streams, down across this valley, up over Leppy Pass, then on to the town of Wendover. The Western Pacific Railroad laid a wood stave pipeline around 1900 to furnish good water for their steam locomotives. The water was later provided to the Wendover Air Force Base during the war and is still now being used by the town of Wendover. The original pipeline has been replaced with a steel pipe.

To the west is 10,700-foot Pilot Peak, named by John C. Fremont. Pilot Peak is in Nevada, just west of the Utah-Nevada border. The peak was a landmark to all emigrant parties traveling west in this part of the country. Explorers, mountain men, trappers, and Indians also used the peak as their guide. It could be seen from great distances as emigrant parties crossed the Great Salt Lake Desert.

Following the trail a short distance further, you will come to a spring and pond on your left. this is Halls Spring which is 2.5 miles from the Munsee cabin area.. The BIDWELL/BARTLESON PARTY IN 1841 stopped at this spring for a rest at noon. The trail you have been driving on from the Munsee Cabin must have been, originally, the Bidwell/Bartleson trail of 1841 and then it was followed by the next wagon train in 1846, the Harlan /Young company. See Edwin Bryant's diary quote at Bidwell Pass.

Drive to the rail post just west of the spring. The plaque reads:


"We started early this morning and passed a number of good springs, took dinner at one of them."

James John, Sept 14, 1841
2000 Utah Crossroads Chapter - OCTA HU - 25

Continue on for 2.0 miles and be very observant because the trail through this area is hard to see. You will come to a metal gate in the fence placed here by the BLM so one can continue on the trail. This fence is the Nevada /Utah State line. Keep following the trail for 1.6 miles. You will cross a couple of small washes and then come to the Wendover/Lucin road. Pull on to the graded road, record your odometer reading and then watch for the trail depressions adjacent to the road cut on the left. When this county road was built someone took care not to destroy the emigrant trail. The road follows alongside the old trail for 1.2 miles until it crosses the trail where there is a white carsonite marker on the right side of the graded road.

Find a place to pull off the road to the right and get back on the emigrant trail. A cedar post in the center of the trail lets you know when you are on the trace. This post was placed here years ago by OCTA member Mary Muller from California. Proceed around the post and then stop opposite the kiosk on your left 0.1 mile. Exit your vehicles and read the panel about Bidwell Pass.

Continue your trek by following the trail . EDWIN BRYANT with their pack party, came upon the trail in this area in 1846. They were ahead of the Harlan Young wagons. He recorded:

"After travelling about ten miles [from Donner Springs] we struck a wagon-trail, which evidently had been made several years. From the indentations of the wheels, where the earth was soft, five or six wagons [7] had passed here. The appearance of this trail in this desolate region was at first inexplicable; but I soon recollected that some five or six years ago an emigrating expedition to California was fitted out by Colonel Bartlettson, [Bartleson] Mr. J Chiles,[ Joseph Chiles] and others, of Missouri..."

BRYANT then goes on to say that they followed; "...this old trail some two or three miles, we left it [the trail] on the right."

Side berms indicate that this trail was graded since emigrant times. Follow this trail up a zigzag course southwest to the summit of Bidwell Pass [0.9 mile], named in 1990 by the Utah Crossroads Chapter in honor of JOHN BIDWELL who passed this way on 14 September 1841. The OCTA Elko members have placed a rail post on the summit of the pass. The Plaque reads:


"In the evening we left the salt plain, turned our course to the west, crosed the mountain through a gap and could find no water"

James John, Sep. 14, 1841
1998 Trails West Inc. P.O. Box 12045 Reno, NV. HN-1

Drive on over the pass, across a wash 0.1 mile to a graded gravel road. The trail continues on west but has not been graded. Set your odometer and follow the trail west. You will come to some white earth that EDWIN BRYANT talks about in his journal:

"...and crossed some low and totally barren hills, which appear to have been thrown up by the action of volcanic fres at no very remote period of geological history. They are composed of a white, imponderous earth, resembling ashes, intermingled with fragments of scoria, resembling the cinders from an iron-foundry, or a blacksmith's furnace. [As you travel through this area notice the white earth.]"

EDWARD M. KERN, Talbot's topographer with the 1845 Fremont party going to California, recorded seeing the Bidwell-Bartleson wagon tracks on 31 October 1845 and then he continues:

"After crossing this plain [Pilot Creek Valley] we struck another ridge [Toano Range] and camped near its summit at some holes of water [with] Pine timber [and] bunch grass 23 miles. [Clyman coming east on the same trail in 1846 apparently neither saw nor recorded any evidence of the Bidwell-Bartleson party trail.]"

EDWIN BRYANT found and followed the Fremont pack trail to the southwest where he crossed the Toano Range, he says:

"...we entered the range of mountains [Toano Mountains] on the west of it by a narrow gorge, and following its windings, we reached the foot of the steep dividing ridge about six o'clock, p.m. Here we had expected to find water, but the ravine was entirely dry, and the grass bordering it was brown and dead. An elevated butte of red sandstone towered upwards on our right, like the dome of some Cyclopean Cathedral."

We will show you the elevated butte of red sandstone when we return to Wendover. The trail turns west towards Silver Zone Pass. It curves to the right making a U turn then back to cross a small wash then continues west. This trail is difficult to find in the bottom of the valley so look for markers and another wood post plus a place to cross two washes. Travel west on the trail toward Silver Zone Pass until you pass abandoned buildings on the left. Just past these buildings you will cross a gravel county road that goes to the left and south to the I-80 Pilot Peak interchange and right to Montello, Nevada, to the north. There is another marker which reads:


"We traveled over one of the most uninhabitable parts of God's creation, ... but I suppose if it were not for these there would be no pretty places"

John Wood Aug. 10, 1850
1998 Trails West Inc. P.O. Box 12045 Reno, NV. HN-2

Cross this north - south gravel road and travel west on a ranch road with the Hastings Cutoff swale just right of the road. This road continues west and comes back over the trail. After 1.5 miles the county road branches off to the right to a water well. Travel west on the left fork up a slight grade. It was in this area that the Bidwell-Bartleson party camped on the night of 14 Sept. 1841 without water. Ironically, there is now a water well in this area.

Continue west 1.1 miles until the road forks to the left. The trail continues west then drops over the brow of a hill where a carsonite marker has been placed. Take the left hand fork until it comes to a county road. This is the abandoned US 40. Turn right onto the old highway and follow it past a gravel pit on the left that has destroyed the trail. Travel 2.7 miles into the pass under a railroad overpass, then through a rock cut. Look on your left for a rail post marker whose plaque reads:


"We yoked and again proceeded slowly on down through the gorge. ...we actually found near the road a spring hole perhaps 12 feet deep"

Heinrich Lienhard, Aug. 25, 1846
1998 Trails West Inc. P.O. Box 12045 Reno, NV. HN-3

Look into the canyon on your left (south) where you should see willows growing and the remains of an old stone building. This is the area where Heinrich Lienhard describes finding water in a 12-foot deep hole:

"With our breakfast we were soon enough finished, after which we yoked up and again proceeded slowly on down through the gorge [Silver Zone Pass]. We had gone scarcely 100 yards before we actually found near the road a spring hole perhaps 12 feet deep. We stopped, naturally, and equipping myself with a bucket and a small receptacle I forced my way the few steps down to the water. The water was clear, cool, and pleasant to the taste. Of course we quenched our own thirst first and set aside a little to carry along with us, after which our oxen got about 2 gallons to the head. Though insufficient, this was for the animals some slight alleviation. Had hostile Indians come near us last night, they could hardly have found a better place to surprise and massacre us than from behind the various detached rocks around camp; it would not have been difficult for them to have trapped and gathered us up as into a sack."

JOHN WOOD mentions the spring in Silver Zone Pass:

"10th.-This morning we traveled over one of the most uninhabitable parts of God's creation [Pilot Creek Valley east of Silver Zone Pass]; not a thing but the bare earth to be seen, but I suppose if it was not for these there would be no pretty places. We traveled on until 10 o'clock, when we reached some water, nothing but a deep hole dug in the side of the road [Silver Zone Pass]; our cattle must now have grass or they are gone; and here we can find but little, so our stay must be short here, and yet it is eighteen miles further to water and grass, and we must reach there this night, so at 4 o'clock this evening, we started again, across another desert of eighteen miles, and at 10 o'clock at night we found plenty of water and tolerable good grass [Big Springs]. Ogle & Robinson's train also reached the water last night, and we once more camped together. The road since we left the big desert has been pretty good and the weather fair."

After looking into the canyon and contemplating how the emigrants obtained water from the 12 foot deep hole and traveled through the pass, turn around and proceed back to the Pilot Peak Interchange Road [4.8 miles] Turn right (south) and travel 3.9 miles to the Pilot Peak interchange where you will see some historical plaques placed by the Elko OCTA members

OPTIONAL TOUR TO BRYANTS RED BUTTE. This tour is for high clearance vehicles. While at the Pilot Peak interchange, drive west 2.8 miles across the railroad on the main road to a lime plant, then to a little used road that goes south. Take this road south (left) for 4.1 miles to a crossroad, then turn right and proceed up this wide canyon that has a deep wash on the left side of the road for 0.8 miles. Stop and observe the high reddish brown butte in front of you. This is the butte that Bryant called a "Cyclopean Cathedral." The canyon that Edwin Bryant traveled up is on the south side of the butte. Return to the Pilot Peak interchange.

lf you wish to see the red sandstone butte from I-80, as Edwin Bryant called it when crossing the Toano Range, then drive to I-80 mileposts 401 to 403 and look westward in the Toano Range where you can see the high red butte. DO NOT STOP ON I-80.

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