Digital-Desert : Mojave Desert
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Opening the Mojave River Trail

Finding a New Route

The first recorded use of the route was made by New Mexican traders who departed from Albiquiu to, New Mexico, was sixty "citizens" on November 8, 1829. Their leader was Antonio Armijo named commandant by New Mexican Governor Josť Antonio Chavez. From Southern Utah, Armijo used a leapfrog technique, sending his scouts out sometimes days ahead, trying to locate water. When water was discovered, they all moved to the new camp, where other scouting parties were sent out and others came in. The slow, tedious process, with much backtracking, indicated either poor maps or no maps at all. On January 1, 1830, one of the scouts, Rafael Rivera, was reported missing as they were traveling down the Colorado River. Finally, in on the seventh, Rivera came into camp, announcing he had come across the villages of the Couthcha Payoutches (Paiutes) and of the Hayitas (Mohave). You recognize the Ford working across the Rio Grande (Colorado) the year before on the way to Sonora. This statement indicates that Rivera had explored the area before or had perhaps been a member of Yount's trappers. Armijo ordered more exploration the next day, but the resulting itinerary shows a route away from the Colorado River directly toward the Mojave River. The route became the Las Vegas-San Bernardino section of the old Spanish trail - which, of course, is one of the variance of the Mojave River trail.

The following is Armijo's terse log:

January (1830)
    9 - El Arroyo Salado
    10 - dried up lagoon
    11 - Ojito de la Tortugo
    12 - Puerto with no water
    13 - Ojitos Salados (Salt Spring) 14 - Rio de los Payuches, settlement of tranquil people
    15 - down same river
    16 - Rio Salitroso (Salt Petre river where scouts came back)
    17 - Halting place--no water
    18 - Laguna del Milagro (L. of Miracle)
    19 - Ojitao del Malpais
    20 - Halting place with no water
    21 - Arroyo del los Hayatas--at the extremity of which ends the road which comes from Moqui, frequented by the Moquines who carry on trading in shells with the above mentioned Hayatas.
    22 - Same stream going down [sic--going up]
    23 - do--ate a horse
    24 - do
    25 - do
    26 - do--ate a mule belonging to Don Miguel Valdes
    27 - Same stream--joined with scouts well furnished with provisions from San Bernardino
    28 - "Canon de San Bernardino"
    29 - Parage de San-Jose (District of St. Joseph)
    30 - La Puente
After a lengthy 86 days track, Armijo finally arrived in San Gabriel. On March 1, 1830, ending their well-deserved rest, part of the group set out to retrace the route following the Mojave River trail to southern Nevada and Utah, arriving in New Mexico on April 25, 1830--a journey of only 40 days. They suffered no loss except worn-out animals and some animals stolen by the Navajo. Armijo himself took the southern route via Sonora, driving stock in 56 days.

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