Digital-Desert : Mojave Desert
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Books, Journals & Diaries
Opening the Mojave River Trail

Deception

Young and 40 men, including Kit Carson, had left Taos in August, 1829, with a passport but no trapping license. They attempted to deceive the Mexicans by heading for the United States, circling around through the Navajo country to Zuni. They trap successfully in central Arizona and then happened the party returned to New Mexico with the furs while the remainder headed across the desert for the Central California Valley. To survive in the desert, they made water tanks out of bear skins and were able to cut a new road through Arizona to the Colorado River. They were so hungry when they arrived on the Colorado River that they purchased a mare from a party of Mohave and ate it with "great gusto; even the foal was devoured." They camped along the Colorado River for three days, procuring beans, corn, and horses from the Indians, and evidently were unmolested by the thrice-chastised Mohave.

Then, after a three-day march west, according to Kit Carson, they "struck the bed of the stream which rises in the Coast Range, has a northeast course and is lost in the sands." In two days they found water in the river and finally arrived at the Mission San Gabriel. Then they trapped along the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, meeting Ogden's men. When Young's trappers help some Mexicans to capture many renegade mission Indians, they were welcomed by the Mexican authorities and were allowed to sell their furs to a ship captain. In the San Gabriel area, young practically lost control of his men in Southern California: James Higgins killed "big Jim," most got drunk, and three Frenchmen deserted. Josť Antonio Pico was ordered to arrest the party but he did not have sufficient force. Young made a fast nine day trip over the Mojave River trail to the Colorado River.

Two days after reaching the Colorado, Young had a part of his men on the river, setting and checking beaver traps. Carson was in charge of the main camp when 500 Indians came into the area "pretending" friendship. Although Carson did not so state in his autobiography, he most assuredly knew of the Mohave treachery to Smith's group and probably had heard of Ogden's experience. Carson recalled: "We discovered where they had their weapons concealed, and then it became apparent to us that their design was to murder the party." He tried not to show his mistrust and attempted to act in a fearless manner. Through one Indian news spoke Spanish, Carson directed the Mohave to leave the camp within 10 minutes. Those not out by that time would be shot. They all left; according to Carson, the trappers were able to escape the threat.

These entrepreneurs then trapped almost to the mouth of the Colorado River before returning to Santa Fe. They had their 2000 pounds of further outside Santa Fe while young went into town to purchase a trapping and trading permit. In a few days, according to Carson, the Mexicans were amazed at how fast the "Gringos" made a good trade. The merchant said Santa Fe bought the first, and at Taos the trappers were paid "several hundred dollars" each.

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ecology: wildlife - plants - geography: places - MAPS - roads & trails: route 66 - old west - communities - weather - glossary
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