Elko Field Office
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DATE: February 13, 2007
CONTACT: Mike Brown (775) 753-0386
e-mail: Mike_Brown@nv.blm.gov


Elko, Nev. — The California Trail Center building foundation has been completed.

“This past week, West Coast Contractors applied two coats of foundation sealer to the below-ground portion of the building foundation and began backfilling,” said Dennis Petersen, California Trail Center Construction Project Inspector.

“We had several VIP site visits from people affiliated with the National Landscape Conservation System; BLM Offices in Reno and Salt Lake City; University of Nevada, Reno; and Senator Harry Reid’s Office,” Petersen added. “It was great to show off our progress.”

When completed, the Trail Center will occupy an 11-acre footprint and will include 16,000 square feet in the main facility and a similar-sized interpretive plaza east of the building. Construction is scheduled to be completed in early 2008.

Of Mules and Men, Trouble on the Trail - Part 1
- by Mike Brown

Using pack mules has long been a source of irritation to the packer and is probably equally irritating to the packee - the mule. Elisha Perkins, a “49er” traveling overland to the California gold fields, had some trying experiences with his mules.

Perkins was born in 1823 and grew up with a love of the outdoors. He was fairly well educated for his time. In 1847, he married a young woman who was the daughter of a wealthy farmer and pharmacist. In 1848, a baby boy was born to the young couple and in the Winter of 1848/49 Elisha got the gold fever.

Perkins and five companions started from Marietta, Ohio in May 1849. Upon arriving in St. Joseph, Missouri in June, they purchased wagons and mules for the trip west.

Things went smoothly until Perkins and the mules - Dave, Vic, and Cara (or Carey) - got to Pacific Springs just west of South Pass. Perkins recorded in his journal on July 23, 1849, “One of my mules was somewhat hungry and determined to have a taste of grass, broke from the road down the valley. Three or four steps from its edge & down she went to her packs in mud, & there she was compelled to lie quietly till we could take the load from her back, when with some assistance she floundered out & looking quite muddy and chop-fallen. The rascal muddied my packs somewhat.”

A few miles down Pacific Creek, another mule took his turn. “To avoid the mud & wading went some rods higher up the stream where two of our mules jumped over safely, but “old Davy” sank in the mire and when the weight of the pack prevented him from rising we were obliged to unload. The old fellow worked himself round into the creek & finally had all four legs fast so that after two or three desperate efforts he gave up trying nor could we induce him to move again. Fortunately an ox train came up & putting some ropes under him all hands took hold & dragged him out bodily on the bank. I have no doubt had not help arrive in time the mule would have laid where he was & died.”

In the next installment we’ll find out the rest of the story of Perkins and his mules.


Last updated: 03-27-2015