1892 Illustrated Sketches of Death Valley.

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1892 Illustrated Sketches of Death Valley - Any Interest?

from Ed Scott (dotted.dog@worldnet.att.net)

In 1891 John R. Spears, a newspaper writer, wrote a series of sketches of Death Valley. The book is about the same length as Death Valley - A Guide, so it won't appear here soon except in little dribbles.

"Chapter XI - Told of a Desert Journey.

Should any reader of these naked sketches desire to make a tour of this desert region for himself, he will find either Daggett or Mojave the nearest railroad station to the chief center of interest - Death Valley - but an objection to starting out from either of these places is the difficulty of obtaining suitable horses or mules. The Government expedition of 1891, under Dr. C Hart Merriam, had to go to San Bernaradino for an outfit, and except by lucky chance any one wishing to follow their route would have to do the same. These near-by railroad stations are on the desert, and on a part but little less arid than the immediate vicinity of Death Valley.

A first-class outfit of horses and buckboards or wagons is needed. Not that the distance is so great (it is 166 miles from Daggett via the Amargosa Valley to the ranch in Death Valley, and 147 back by way of Pilot Butte), but there is not a single house along the way where any sort of supplies can be had; the springs are so far apart that water must be carried in kegs for the animals as well as the party; even hay, as well as grain for the animals, must be taken, for the bunch grass can not be depended upon, and last, but by no means least, the road is so rough in the washes that only the strongest vehicles and animals can stand it, and even then accidents impend at every turn. And an accident on the desert a hundred miles or more from any kind of a settlement is a serious affair. The truth is, that such a journey as a tourist would wish to make, would be nigh impracticable, were it not for the ranch in Death Valley at which supplies for the horses can be obtained. A prospector's trip is entirely another matter, for the burros get far on grease-brush and cactus, the desert men say , and it is really true that they do well on the scanty feed to be found about the springs." - John Randolph Spears in 1891

Well, a few things have changed but burros go more reliably that the Broncos, not to mention the Explorers. If there is interest and especially if someone want to help with typing it in, this might be put on the web.

Ed Scott

-- Ed Scott (dotted.dog@worldnet.att.net), October 31, 1997

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