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Jedediah Smith

(1799-1831)


"I wanted to be the first to view a country on which the eye of a white man had never gazed and to follow the course of rivers that run through a new land."

Jedediah Smith was a young, religious, mountain man traveling more miles of unexplored territory than any other single mountain man. He is credited with being the first American to travel overland to California through the southwest and the Mojave. In a most amazing journey, he also came back from California across the desert of the Great Basin.

In 1823, a 23 year old Jedediah Smith first turned up in Sante Fe, New Mexico in response to an advertisement asking for enterprising young men wanting to be fur trappers. Immediately he displayed courage and cleverness in leading men. He was described as, "a bold, outspoken, professing, and consistent Christian." Also, "No one who knew him doubted the sincerity of his piety."

In what was to be his first trip across the Mojave, Smith and his band wandered along the eastern Great Basin Desert through what Smith called, "the land of starvation." Crossing the Colorado River and into Arizona, He traveled south along the mountains until reaching a Mojave Indian village (near Needles, California).

All went reasonably well, he traveled along a branch of what became known as the Mojave Indian Trail, up the fickle Mojave River and into southern California.

Journal of Jedediah Smith >
Mojave Desert crossing, journey to California - 1826-27

Returning east by a northern route, he made another trip through the Mojave. On this trip his party was attacked as he crossed the Colorado River. Ten of his men were killed and the two women with the party were kidnapped. Smith and the few remaining men of his band were forced to cross the Mojave with sparse supplies.



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ecology: wildlife - plants - geography: places - MAPS - map/sat - roads & trails: route 66 - old west - communities - weather - book store
ghost towns - gold mines - parks & public lands: wilderness - native culture - history - geology: natural features - glossary - comments
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