Elko Field Office
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DATE: May 18, 2007
CONTACT: Mike Brown, (775) 753-0386
Email: mbrown@nv.blm.gov


National Trails Day will be celebrated in Elko County on June 2, 2007, with a day hike on the California National Historic Trail from Emigrant Pass to Gravelly Ford. The hike is free and open to the public.

“This hike is easy as its all downhill. The hike is being hosted by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Elko Field Office in cooperation with the Humboldt Highroads group,” said BLM Associate Field Manager Steve Dondero. “If people don’t want to walk, an auto tour of the same area is offered and will be led by Bob Pearce of the Humboldt Highroads group. Both tours will start and stop at the same places. The hike and auto tour will depart the Northeastern Nevada Museum parking lot at 8:00 a.m. Bring your own transportation, however carpooling will be arranged at the Museum parking lot .”

Dondero added that people should bring sunscreen, light waterproof coat, lunch, and water. People should also wear sturdy light hiking boots for the seven to eight mile walk.

Many emigrants chose to leave the Humboldt River near present-day Carlin as it swung south into Palisade Canyon, and head almost due west, climbing higher and higher until they crossed over Emigrant Pass just as Interstate 80 does today. Just over the summit was Emigrant Springs. Today, this area is marked by willows and tall trees on the south side of the freeway across from the highway maintenance station. From Emigrant Springs, the trail led down into a canyon and then climbed again before cresting the final ridge. Before the travelers was a wide panorama - the river off to the left some five or six miles, down a shallow draw; ahead, low rolling hills and finally the river again, this time as it turned almost due north to sweep around the northern edge of the Shoshone range.

While traveling straight ahead would have been the shortest route, the wagons almost always turned to the left and made a bee-line for the river. Men and animals were exhausted by the last few days climb, and the feed had been scarce — time to find a place to rest the animals!
The trail struck the river at one of the major landmarks on the Emigrant trail — Gravelly Ford. Here the river had a good solid bottom of gravel, where the heavy wagons could cross with no fear of bogging down in mud or quicksand. Across the river was excellent grassland, and a little further down the river on that same side was what was later named Whirlwind Valley — full of grass and springs. It was the perfect place to let the exhausted teams recoup. In later years, the place would be marked by several emigrant graves.

For more information about the hike - contact Steve Dondero at 753-0200.

The auto tour will include stops at Gravelly Ford, Maiden’s Grave and other sites. The Maiden’s Grave site is steeped in legend. In 1863 Lucinda Duncan was buried near present day Beowawe. She was a grandmother, and died with her family gathered about her. Her grave would have been lost to history were it not for the Central Pacific railroad that came through this very area in 1869. The grave was found and a large cross, visible from the passing trains, was erected. A legend grew up that this was the Maiden’s Grave, a poor young thing who died a tragic death on the way to California - a total fabrication.

The Humboldt Highroads group is an organization of local trail enthusiasts who enjoy exploring and sharing the stories of the California Historic Trail with others. In addition to this hiking event and auto tour, the Humboldt Highroads are also planning two additional driving tours this summer and fall along the Trail. Tour 2 will be on the Hastings Cutoff from Buster Wines field (Connolly Place) in mid Ruby Valley to Overland Pass on July 21. Tour 3 will be from the point where the North Fork of the Humboldt joins the main portion of the river to Ryndon on September 15. All tours depart the Northeastern Nevada Museum parking lot at 8:00 a.m.

For more information about the tours or the Humboldt Highroads group, contact Ralph Gamboa at 738-3856 or Bob Pearce at 738-5680.


Last updated: 03-27-2015