Digital-Desert : Mojave Desert Visit us on Facebook -- Desert Gazette -- Desert Link
Introduction:: Nature:: Map:: Points of Interest:: Roads & Trails:: People & History:: Ghosts & Gold:: Communities:: BLOG:: :?:: glossary
Historic Roads & Trails

Historic Trails and Wagon Roads

Mining camps were established in the desert as early as 1850, with the beginning of gold mining at Salt Creek in the Amargosa Desert. Mining activities in other desert areas along the Colorado River and in the Sierra Nevada Mountains were running full steam in the 1860's. Stage and wagon roads soon were developed to link these remote areas to one another and to supply bases. Small settlements grew up at watering stops used by people and animals. Major routes soon received the attention of county road departments as the different coastal communities vied with each other for the financial benefits of the traffic to the mines.

Ranching began early in the better watered areas along the Mojave River, in the foothills of the Sierras and in the isolated remote valleys along the Colorado River. The ranches were vital sources of supply to mining and military camps located at great distances from coastal supply ports. Wagon roads and pack trails were developed to connect these isolated communities with one another.

Construction of the railroad through the desert in 1876-77 caused changes in the orientation of early wagon roads. Old mining camps as well as new ones linked up with the trains and exchanged their bullion and ores for food and machinery at spots once far from coastal sources of supply.

It was no longer necessary to move freight all the way to Visalia or Los Angeles or San Bernardino by the slowmoving freight wagons of earlier days. The railroad tracks provided new "jump-off" spots to explore and develop the remote desert interior. The developing network of cross-desert wagon roads changed after 1876 to reflect the availability of this rapid transportation.

Mojave River Route

North Fork: Old Spanish Trail, Salt Lake Road

South Fork: Old Spanish Trail, Fort Mojave Road, Old Government Road

Padre Garces first reported on the south fork after his explorations of 1776. A map drawn from his information was made by Fr. Font in 1777, copied by the U.S. Bureau of Topographical Engineers in 1859, and reproduced in 1898 for Elliott Coues On the Trail of a Spanish Pioneer, (Vol. I, iv) . Jedediah Smith travelled the trail in 1826, but left no map. His information was transmitted in a letter to General William Clark, but although the map he drew later to illustrate his travels has been lost, the information was available for a brief period in the 1830' and '40' s. The same data are found on a map located recently in the archives of the American Geographic Society, called the Smith (Fremont, Gibbs) map. The basic map is Fremont's 1844 map, with Smith's information pencilled on by Gibbs.

37. Cajon Pass

(El Cajon de los Mejicanos, La Puerta del Cajon; Paso del Cajon).

Paralleled by the modern freeway through the San Gabriel Mountains. Two passes in the same vicinity have been called by the name "cajon" and three passes occur in the same area. The major pass, in use today, is the old pass of the Spanish period, level, relatively easy to ascend, suitable for wagons and horses as well as foot traffic. It follows Cajon Wash (cf . GLO Plat T 3 N 6 W, 1885).

In 1875 the proposed Los Angeles and Independence Railroad began construction in the Cajon. A tunnel and short section of road were built before work was halted due to a financial panic and the decline of ores at Panamint. The old works are found on the GLO map for T 3 N 6 W, 1885, sec. 5,6, 7, 8. This narrow portion of the pass was referred to as Tollgate Canyon (Nadeau 1865b, pp. 200-201).

The Spanish and Mexican governments occasionally maintained a military check-point here to guard against the unwanted incursions of desert Indians who raided the mission. Zalvidea's 1806 note of a Camp Cajon may have been in this canon rather than on the Mohave Indian route described below, #3 9. At the height of activity along the Spanish Trail, Mexican authorities conducted brand inspections at Cajon Pass (cf. Warner in re 1841/42 Workman-Rowland party) , probably at this site. The narrow pass would allow rigorous control of a horse herd and permit its careful inspection.

As with other major east-west trails across the California desert, this route was first developed by Indian traders. Many side trails branched from the main trail along the intermittent streams, penetrating into remote desert fastnesses not explored by whites until the mid 19th century. Using the reliable waters of the Mojave River, however, a route was successfully blazed across the desert between Santa Fe, New Mexico and Los Angeles, California in 1829-30, following the north fork of the old Indian trail. This route would serve immigrants to southern California in the 1830's and 1840's. Initially they were primarily New Mexicans relocating in California. After 1848, Mormon converts moved from west to east along the trail across the Mojave, and finally Mormon freighting companies would develop the trail into an important wagon road linking Salt Lake City and San Pedro Harbor.

The southern fork of this route led to the Mohave Indian villages at The Needles. It was this route that was first travelled by Jedediah Smith in 1826, opening up the entire region to exploration and eventual settlement. The southern fork would became an early important east-west link between the states and California, and ultimately be selected for the southern route of the railroad. Because of its early importance for overland travel, there would be military camps and a fort erected along this route, and the first federal funds for construction of a desert road would be spent to dig wells and provide suitable grades for wagon travel; it would become Old Government Road.

After the development of mining in the eastern Mohave in the 1870' s lesser used wagon roads would be opened up connecting the two forks of the road at the eastern edge of the desert, joining the Salt Lake Road and the Fort Mojave Road just west of the California border.

Portions of the trail were explored under the Spanish and Mexican governments. However, their excursions were generally limited to punitive expeditions against marauding Indians from the interior or escapees from the coastal missions. There was no attempt at settlement nor regular travel through the region via this route. For the Spanish, the trail was opened by Fr. Francisco Garces in 1776. Garces was massacred at the Yuma missions only a few years later, in 1781. Had he not suffered such an untimely death, perhaps the trail would have been put to greater use by the Spanish and Mexican forces.

Sanford Pass

West Cajon (El Cajon de los Negros) - Williamson

More rugged and steep, developed into a wagon route by William T. Sanford, freighting for Phineas Banning in 1850. Banning was bringing supplies to the Salt Creek Gold Mine on the Amargosa River. This route became an important wagon route for immigrants whose destination was Los Angeles or points north, as it was shorter than the older trail. The route followed Lower Swarthout Canyon to West Cajon Valley and over the summit.

Mojave Indian Trail

Mojave Indian Trail via the Devil-Cable Canyon ridge to Sawpit Canyon to the Mohave River (Walker's Trail, after Ute Chief Walker or Wakara, cf . Beattie, p. 3)

This trail closely follows the river bed, along which there were Indian rancherias at occasional intervals. The earliest travellers who penetrated this part of the Mohave Desert followed this old Indian route. Jedediah Smith on his second trip through the area in 1827, broke away from the river and headed directly west toward the mountains in the distance. This is the first recorded instance of the use of the shorter route (Morgan and Wheat, 1954) which would later become the most popular trail.

The first European documented to have crossed from the San Bernardino area to the Mohave Desert via Cajon Pass is Pedro Fages in 1772. Unfortunately his note of the trip is too vague to tell precisely which route he may have used. He did not name the pass.

In 1776, Father Francisco Garces crossed from east to west across Cajon Pass via the old Mohave Indian route. He did not name the pass.

Padre Zalvidea may have crossed also from east to west in 1806, not naming the pass but noting that there was a "present Camp Cajon" in the canyon. Jedediah Smith in 1826 and 1827 also used the pass, not naming it either time. In 1826 he arrived from the desert via the Mojave trail, and in 1827 via the shorter Cajon Pass route (Morgan and Wheat, 1954).

Armijo in 1830 arrived from Santa Fe with the first New Mexican commercial caravan. It is not clear which pass he used. He followed the Mojave River for seven days before rendezvousing with his detachment sent ahead to San Bernardino for supplies. He named one stop at San Bernardino Canyon, and then the stopping place of San Jose. These localities cannot be precisely identified.

The Cajon Pass roads joined the Mohave Indian trail near the present town of Oro Grande. The earliest trail, followed by the Mohave Indians, was used as a trade route from prehistoric times. It followed the Mohave River to its sink where it struck out across the desert to the distant Colorado River near the Needles. The Indian place namesgiven the stops along the route have not survived,

40. Mojave River

The first name given to the river itself by nonIndians was the Garces name, R. de los Martires, or Martyres, which had been the name given by Father Kino to the Colorado River. Bancroft misprinted it as R. de los Martinez. Jedediah Smith called it the Inconstant River. John C. Fremont named it the Mohahave River on his map of the 1844 expedition ; he noted an older name Rio de las Animas.

The trails that followed this river had different designations depending on their destinations. At different periods of time, different destinations were important to different people, and some names were used for the roads which had perhaps somewhat local significance. The two main forks from early days of travel were the north fork, leading to Santa Fe and later changing to the Salt Lake City destination; and the south fork, leading to the Mohave Indian villages near the Needles, near which Fort Mohave was later established somewhat north of the Indian settlements. The south fork was improved by expenditure of U. S. dollars for wells known as the Government holes. Through a gradual metamorphosis, the name Government Road or Old Government Road derived from the wells to extend over the entire length of the trail to Fort Mohave (Casebier 1974) . The Spanish/Mexican explorers knew this portion of the road to be the ancient trading route of the Moquis (Hopis) and the Hayatas (Mohaves). By the 1830' the two roads would be locally recognized as the roads to Death Valley and Providence (Lehman) , two names of no importance or significance in the early days of travel along the trails.

During the days of Mexican travel over the trail, the trai1 was simply the route to Alta California. By reference, the trail in the 1840 ' s was designated the Spanish Trail (Fremont), in the 1350 ' s the Great Spanish Trail (Roubidoux) , and the Old Spanish Trail in the 20th Century (Hafen). Generally this designation has been applied to the north fork, but until 1844, both forks were apparently used by the New Mexican commercial caravans and other travellers to California from New Mexico, and thus the route should be given that name for both forks, which would come together again on the Virgin River in eastern Nevada (Warren) Major stops along the Mojave trail were not named until the American period, post 1848. Below is a list of the major stopping places gleaned from published sources and maps most of which were products of the post 1848 traffic. Those Spanish place names that can be identified have been included.

Martin's and the Toll Gate closer to the summit are outside the Desert Conservation Area.

41. Burton's (Casebier 1974):

On desert side of summit, 16.08 miles from summit. May be Cedars stop of Rousseau diary (1964). Not clear where Burton's was. May have been at Victorville, established as Godfrey's Ranch, then owned by Huntington, Hartman and finally, Turner (Mecham, Oct. 1966; Coues, 1900; Wood, 1969). "Little Meadows" another name for Victorville.

42. Upper Crossing:

Approximately at the town of Oro Grande. Station located on the south side of the river between 1865-72 (Keeling, 1976, p. 20).

43. Lane's:

Seven miles below Upper Crossing on Mojave River (Keeling, 1976, p. 20). Possible to leave river here and strike directly for

44. Point of Rocks:

Nickerson's or Nicholson's Ranch. About 3/4 mile below today's Helendale.

45. The Cottonwoods:

About two miles upriver from present Hodge.

46. The Grape Vines:

Jacobi's or Jacoby's, Jacob's Ranch. Later known as Waterman, then Barstow (Coues 1960, Rousseau 1964).

47. Government Station:

Bancroft 1868 map; Farley's Map, 1861.

48. The Fish Ponds:

Marine Depot at Nebo.

49. Forks of the Road:

B. Allcorn's "large inventory" site of 1864 (Keeling, p. 19). After 1874, site of Hawley's Mill, Hawley's Crossing, Hawley's Lake.

Mormon Grocery or Old Grocery. In 1864 was John Havens claim, then known as "Old Grocery" (Keeling p. 19) . May have been Allcorn's place at Forks of the Road, or at the Fish Ponds. Choteau's "Parage de los Navalion" /Hafen, (sic), should be Navajos/, 35 miles from Bitter Springs, could be either Forks of the Road or Fish Ponds. Choteau's mileages were not very accurate, according to Pratt (Hafen, p. 342, n. 5). However, if Choteau's route actually referred to a route via Soda Springs (cf . Warren), this camping spot would be Forks of the Road. El Paso del Sol of Choteau, 18 miles from the Navajo camp ground, could then be either Point of Rocks (Hafen 's route) or Grape Vines (Warren).

Choteau's Los Almos /Alamo_s/ altos, at 25 miles from previous camp, and Amahabo Creek, 45 miles still farther, are probably along the Mohave River itself and do not correlate with the route as it was shortened in the 1860's.

At Forks of the Road, the trail branched into the south and north forks.

South Fork: Spanish Trail; Road to Fort Mojave; Government Road:

50. Camp Cady:

Daniel Cline ranch nearby in 1864.

In 1868 the post was moved a half mile to the west.

51. Cave Canyon:

Afton Canyon, Blake's Camp (Casebier, 1972).

52. Soda Springs:

Hancock's Redoubt; Zzyzx of 20th century.

53. Marl Springs

54. Cedar Springs

55. Government Holes

56. Rock Spring

57. Pah-Ute Creek

58. Fort Mohave


B. North Fork

Salt Lake Road

A1. Cut-offs:

On the 1860 map of Lt. Davis (Casebier 1972) a "New" Salt Lake Road is drawn from Blake's Camp northward along the west side of the Cronese Mountains toward Soda Mountains,rejoining the older Salt Lake Trail at Bitter Springs. This "new" road is not recorded except on the Davis map of 1860 which Casebier reproduced for his 1972 publication. It is not known what the purpose of the "new" Salt Lake Trail was, unless it was for military operations of the period.

B1. Kingston Cut-Off

B2. Cox's Cut-Off

61. Mesquite Wells:
Broken through apparently in the 1860s, a second cut-off from the old Salt Lake Wagon Road headed northeast at Riggs Wash via Mesquite Wells to Crystal Springs (Potosi townsite, Nevada) and rejoined the old Salt Lake Road at Cottonwood Springs. The Cox is likely the Silas C. Cox so active in the freighting business between San Bernardino and Salt Lake City (Beattie 1925; 1939). The Rand-McNally Pioneer Atlas of the American West depicts this cut-off but does not name it. Another wagon route shown is the Kingston Springs route as well as the old road using Resting Springs. Potosi was active in 1860-61. Two stages served the townsite (see below, #13 9). On the north edge of Mesquite Dry Lake on the present dirt road connecting Ivanpah Dry Lake and the Sandy Valley (Nevada) settlements, is an old adobe house occupied by "Old man" (Bill) Spence until his death in 1977. This is locally called "the old stage station" and may indeed be one on the old road to Potosi. As the road served later traffic as well, further research needs to be done to determine the age of the structure.

A2. El Dorado Canon Cut-Off

62. Lewis Holes:

Not named, but shown on the Bancroft map of 1868 and the Rand-McNally Pioneer Atlas of 1876, the cut-off to the El Dorado Canon (Nevada) Mining District left the Government Road between Rock Spring and Pah-Ute Creek, heading northeast up the Lanfair Valley to Lewis Holes or Lewis Spring. This is the route taken by D'Heureuse on his 1863 trip to El Dorado Canyon (see photograph collections).

Stoddard Well Road

A4. San Bernardino-Panamint Road

--- The remaining major wagon roads and trails of the period in the Mohave Desert began as north- south trending roads linking Los Angeles and the gold fields to the north: Coso Range, Panamint Range, Owens Valley, and the Comstock mines of Nevada. These important lines of communication were also opened up because of the transcontinental railroad completed in 1869. New roads opened up subsequent to its completion to provide an outlet for the interior valleys via stage and wagon connections with train stations (Rossiter 1871, p. 17) . The earliest and most important road was the Los AngelesOwens Valley road. Manly called it the "Big Owens Lake Trail" on his reminiscent map of his 1849 adventures (Wheat II, opp. p. 106) . Rossiter called it the Owens River Road.

VI. Owens River Road

This road developed on the base of earlier, shorter connecting links between Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley, and the Walker Trail of 1834. While the Spanish and Mexican governments had used portions of the road in communicating between missions, excursions were rare, risky, and poorly documented. The major traffic of the Spanish-Mexican period continued to be over the well known Camino Real. The Owens River Road itself, extending north from the Tehachapi Pass area, would be developed mainly in the American period, with the consequent intensive prospecting of the desert mountain ranges. 1860 marks the beginning of this type of activity, after the Comstock Lode has been uncovered in Nevada, stimulating exploration in the desert.

With the discovery of mines in the desert, outlets would be needed to the seaports. Bakersfield, Visalia, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Bernardino would compete for the commerce, resulting in roads leading to these different localities branching off the main Owens River Road. All would lose out to Los Angeles, the earliest source of supplies and ultimate winner because of the transportation provided by the Southern Pacific Railroad.

The main road led north from Los Angeles via

79. San Francisquito Pass (Turner's Pass, cf. Farley map, Bancroft map 1863) ; Bouquet Canyon (modern name).

Probably traversed in 1806 by Zalvidea on his excursion to locate mission sites (Haase, PI. 20).

William Manly escaped the desert via San Francisquito Pass in 1850 (Manly) . The pass leads to 80. Antelope Valley (Plain of The Palms , Rand-McNally map, 1876?.

81. Thompson's ranch, located along road from pass to Elizabeth Lake (GLO survey 1856; Rand-McNally map 1876). Thompson's located in T 7 N 14 W, SBB&M, SW Sec. 33, along trail which runs generally along Sec. 3 2/33 border at this point.

The road from Tejon Pass and the Tehachapi Road join here as they head toward Los Angeles. Bancroft's 1863 map identified Thompson's as NE of Elizabeth Lake, and a Jose Juan's at the site otherwise identified as Thompson's in 1856 and 1876.

82. Willow Springs was an important stop on this trail. Garces, Smith, and Fremont are all known to have stopped ar. this watering spot, located in T 9 N 13 W, SBB&M. Rogers and Manly camped at Willow Springs on their return to Death Valley to rescue the marooned travellers (cf . Settle). The locality is still plainly marked on modern maps. Early stage station operator Nels Ward is buried on the hill near the old station (Covington). Tehachapi Pass traffic joined the main road near here.

83. Nadeau Springs, west of present town of Mojave (Covington) . Used by freighter Remi Nadeau among other teamsters between Los Angeles and Inyo mines. Location of this stop is not clear. In 1883, a stop on the Southern Pacific Railroad located 5.6 miles north of Mojave was called Nadeau station. This may be the same locality meant by Covington (Crofutt, p. 217) . The wagon road northward kept closer to the mountains than modern roads generally do. Exact stopping points have been difficult to discover. The road did travel by way of

84. Red Rock Canyon

85. Freeman Junction, entrance to Walker's Pass

86. Indian Wells (Desert Springs, Rossiter, 1875, p. 60; cf . Hoover, et al, p. 118).

87. Hawaee Meadow (Farley); Haiwee Meadow (Bancroft, 1863, 1868)

88. Little Lake (Little Owens Lake, Bancroft 1863, RandMcNally Map) .

89. Coso Mill, 1862 (Bancroft, 1863, 1868) on Olancha Creek (Hoover, et al, p. 119)

90. Olancha

Northward from Olancha the road followed the west shore of Owens Lake, exiting the Desert Conservation Area.

A. The stage road of the late 1860 ' s followed a route which connected with settlements in the mountains. Followed White Rock Creek to Agua Caliente and Kelsey's where it turned east on the South Fork of the Kern River and via Walker's Pass down Freeman Canyon to the Owens River Road (Bancroft, 1868; Hoover, et al, p. 118).

Cerro Gordo Mines Road

C. Coso Mines Road

Bancroft (1868) shows the road to the Coso Mines, developed beginning in 1862 with the discovery of the silver mines at the north end of the Coso Range. There was a trail leading northeast from the Little Lake stop on the main road, heading arounu the southern tip of the Coso Mts., eventually turning westerly again at the northern end of the same mountains and skirting the southern shore of Owens Lake. Ores from the Coso Mines were taken by pack train and wagon to the Coso Mill (#89 above) for processing.

Places marked on Bancroft's map are:

94. Arab Springs
95. Sulphur Mountain Spring
96. Alkali Spring
97. Salt Spring

All of these will require further research to identify and locate on today's maps.

98. The road led through what Bancroft called "Arab Canyon," just east of the Coso Mountains. This is probably the northern extension of today's Cole's Flat.

99. Coso mining camp of ca. 1862 was named on Bancroft's map, but it is difficult to locate on it. It is on modern maps inside the Naval Ordnance Range.

100. Darwin, discovered 1874, Old Coso Road extended north from Coso to Darwin, and west to Olancha and Coso Mill Road. Cerro Gordo Freight Company hauled silver bullion from this camp (Nadeau 1965b, pp. 194-5). Town named for Dr. E. Darwin French, who had explored region in 1860 and named Darwin Wash (Gudde).

D. Slate Range Roads

D1 Cache Creek and
D2 White Rock Creek.

Developed in the 1860 ' s to serve the prospects of the Slate Range, the Borax trade from Searles Lake and in the 1870' s the El Paso mines in today's El Paso Mountains.

The roads are depicted on the Rand-McNally map of 1876.

101. Kelso Valley (misplaced on map)
102. Dry Lake (Koehn Dry Lake)
103. Mesquit Spring (Mesa Spring in El Paso Mts.)
104. El Paso Peak
105. Grapevine City (probably near or at today's Cantil)
106. El Paso City (near or at today's Goler).
107. Ophir City (difficult to locate on today's maps).

Site closest to the China Lake (then Desert Springs Salt Marsh) and Searles Lake borax deposits. May have been at present Ridgecrest or some other site south and east of it which could serve both borax operations.

D1. Cache Creek Road. Tehachapi Town - via road along Cache Creek to junction with Owens River Road west of Cantil.

D2. Another road to Slate Range west via Tehachapi Pass and White Rock Creek, along south shore of Koehn Dry Lake, to El Paso City (Goler). In late 1860 's road to Claraville in mountains cut off the Cache Creek Road at Cottonwood Valley, headed north to

108. Claraville and north to Walker's Pass Road (RandMcNally)

E. Walker Pass

Route (to Visalia and Bakersfield).

By 1870, "a good wagon road the entire distance from Gilroy to Cerro Gordo" was available for travellers using this route (Rossiter, 1871, p. 17). The Kern River Trail was also available to travellers from Gilroy via the Havilah stage; this route was not as well suited for wagons.

Walker Pass was used by Joseph Reddeford Walker on his 1833-34 exploring trip from Salt Lake to California (Roske). In 1843 he would lead an emigrant party to California via this route and in 1845 he led a company of Fremont's men over this pass. In the American period it became an important trail from San Joaquin Valley to the Mohave Desert, and it now serves automobile traffic via state highway 178, up Freeman Canyon.

In the 1870's and '80's, a hideout of notorious outlaw Tiburcio Vasquez and Cleovaro Chavez was located near the trail at the foot of the pass on the Mohave Desert side. The area of large rocks is known now as Robber's Roost, in the vicinity of a spring known as Coyote Holes (Nadeau 1965b, p. 191; Hoover, et al, p. 118).

109. Coyote Holes (Robber's Roost)
110. Panamint Station

F. Tehachapi Pass, Tehachapi Range

(Garces 1 Sierra de San Marcos, Coues, p. 270). Many variant spellings. Modern name reverses the vowels; former names are all variant spellings of Taheechapay.

There are actually two routes to this pass both once known by this name. The railroad, using the northerly branch of the pass, has caused its pass to be known in modern times as the Tehachapi Pass. An equally well travelled wagon road and trail of the pioneer period was the southern branch. The early, southern route is shown on the Bancroft map of 1868.

F1 The northerly route known by this name, used by the railroad, is drawn on the Rand McNally map of 1876. The northerly route leads in from the Mojave Desert at Tehachapi Pass on the Cache Creek drainage. Both direct entry from the desert, and entry via Cache Creek to the north (see above, Slate Range Road variant) were feasible.

F2 The southerly route headed more directly toward Willow Springs from Tehachapi town, via the Oak Creek drainage. This route is well marked on the Bancroft map of 1868 and the Farley map of 1862.

G. Tejon Pass Road

Pass of Buena Vista (Fages, 1772, in Bolton, 1931).

111. Via Quail Lake in Antelope Valley. This road forked north to Willow Springs and south to Elizabeth Lake where it joined the Tehachapi Road again on the way to Los Angeles. Road travelled by Fages in 1772, Garces in 1776, Zalvidea in 1806.

H. Soledad Canyon Road

Selected by the Southern Pacific Railroad to enter San Fernando Valley via San Fernando Pass. Known by the Spanish and Mexicans, not a well-travelled road, until traversed by the railroad in 1866. One of the canyons frequented by the infamous Vasquez and his gang, it also received the designation, "Robber's Roost," (Crofutt, p. 219). Vasquez Rocks historic site is in this canyon.

J. Panamint Pack Trail

Branched eastward from Little Lake across Coso and Argus ranges via Shepherd's Canyon and Panamint Dry Lake to Surprise Canyon. From Coso Range to Panamint Range, also known as Given's Mountains and Telescope Mountains, cf. Palmer, 1948, p. 4, Was a new trail to serve the camp, built in 1873.

121. Shepherd's Canyon

122. Panamint Dry Lake (unnamed dry lake on Rand McNally)

123. Surprise Canyon and Surprise Valley (Rand McNally map)

K. Los Angeles-Panamint Road

Built in 1874 by Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, using capital provided by Steward and Jones, major Panamint investors (Nadeau, 1965b, pp. 197-8) . Actual construction under supervision of a Richard C. Jacobs, one of discoverers of the ore bodies, and part owner of the Panamint Mining Company (Nadeau, 1965a, p. 105). Surprise Canyon road was improved at same time by Inyo investors headed by Barton McGee (Nadeau, 1965a, p. 106) . Road opened for first time the pass known today as the Slate Range Crossing, a difficult six mile stretch where the road had to be built up in order to allow wagons to travel the steep slopes (Cole, p. 13) . This portion of the road is sometimes called the "Chinese Wall," named for the alleged ethnic origins of the people who built it. Cole claims the location of the "Chinese stonemasons camp" is still visible, as well as the stone cabins they built there ( Ibid . ) This should definitely be field checked to determine if there are any remains that would identify as Chinese the builders or users of the cabins and camp. There is no precise documentary evidence of this claim. However, Stewardfrequently used Chinese labor in the mines and especially in construction of roads and railroads, e.g. on the Virginia and Truckee construction in Nevada. It would be likely that he would employ Chinese in building this road. Furthermore, The S. B. Weekly Argus of 1374 noted on September 21 that "Chinese for Panamint will arrive shortly and proceed immediately to the mines." This was after the Los AngelesPanamint Road had been completed, but these Chinese laborers likely were put to work wherever needed, repairing roads, etc. They may have worked on the "Chinese Wall" after it had been roughed out and given it the finishing touches. They were active in the area following the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, prospecting for minerals and working in the mining camps. The borax deposits at China Lake were prospected by them in this period (Hoover, et al, p. 120).

Cerro Gordo Freighting Company hauled the Panamint bullion to Los Angeles. Remi Nadeau, co-owner with Beaudry and Belshaw in this enterprise, is usually the only man identified by writers in connection with this freighting outfit (cf . Nadeau, 1965a and b; Cole, Rossiter, 1875, p. 59). For that reason the various routes developed to serve the different camps are sometimes called "Nadeau's"; however, he did not actually construct them, and of course teams owned by other companies used these roads as well (cf. Covington, p. 8). He did, apparently, oversee construction of the improved road between Los Angeles and Cerro Gordo (see above #91)

John T. Searles and E. M. Skillings formed the San Bernardino Borax Mining Company in 1873 to work borax deposits disovered and claimed by Searles. in 1362 (Murdoch and Webb, p. 221) . Their development was handicapped by lack of a good road until the Los Angeles-Panamint road was constructed in 1874 (Rossiter 1875).

The road branched from the Owens River Road at Indian Wells. Identifiable sites include (Rand-McNally map, 1376)

124. Salt Station (today's China Lake), Desert Springs marsh, Rossiter, 1875.

125. Salt Canyon (today's Poison Canyon), Salt Wells Valley and Canyon (Thompson map)

126. Dry Lake (Borax Lake, Nadeau 1965a, p. 106; Searles Lake, Murdoch and Webb, p. 22).

127. Slate Range Crossing (Cole, 1977; Chinese Wall, Starry 1969) . /Unnamed on Rand-McNally map_j/

L. Lookout Trail, 1875

This trail connected

128. Lookout,

129. Modoc, and

130. Minnietta mines with the charcoal kilns of

131. Wildrose Canyon in the Panamints.

Remi Nadeau 's mule teams hauled the charcoal to the smelters at the Lookout camp (Nadeau, 1965b, p. 203).

The Modoc and Minnietta were connected by pack trains to Lookout camp, but the charcoal was hauled in wagons. This road is actually an extension of the Los Angeles-Panamint Road, built in 1874.

M. Amargosa Mines and Ivanpah Road

Route developed in 1860 ' s to Amargosa Mines in Washington District (cf . Farley map; Bancroft map 1863) . Amargosa mines developed as early as 1850' s with the establishment of a camp and mill at

132. Salt Creek on the Amargosa River.

Hafen's Journals of the Forty-Niners, the Beatties' Heritage of the Valley , Heap's diary in Central Route to the Pacific , many diaries of travellers of the period, speak of these developments. The route is partly depicted on the Rand-McNally map of 1876. It travels from Tehachapi Pass via El Paso City, and Granite Wells (previously noted in connection with Panamint Road from San Bernardino) , to

133. Burnt-Book Spring

134. Leach's Point

135. Amargosa Mines.

The cut-off on this road to Ivanpah is not shown on the Rand-McNally map. Very likely it followed the Amargosa south to Salt Creek, where it joined the Salt Lake Road, travelling south to Kingston Wash and to Ivanpah by way of Coyote Holes or Springs (cf. Piute Company prospectus, p. 14; Wheeler Report, 1872, Appendix A,. Report of Lt. Lockwood) . cf. p. 11-40 below.

136. Coyote Holes

137. McFarland's or McFarlane's Mine, on

138. Clark Peak

139. Ivanpah

Ivanpah was also served by the Old Salt Lake Road previously described. Less important wagon roads united the camp with ranches to the north, in Nevada. These roads entered the area via Ivanpah and Roach Dry Lakes and Mesquite Valley. Many locally travelled roads connected this route to springs and ranches which were important sources of supply for early travellers. (Sourr map)

Additionally, these wagon roads were used to connect the silver mines at Potosi, Nevada, with California. Two stage lines operated briefly over this route in the spring of 1861, (Los Angeles Star , April-June 1861) . The mines were abandoned as a result of the Civil War and the consequent deactivation of the military forts in the west (Los Angeles Star , June, 1861).

N. Ivanpah-Providence Road

In Rossiter, 1872, p. 169, the mines were connected to California via the Old Salt Lake Route. A new road was "under construction" to connect Potosi with the Colorado River, crossing the "Opal Mountains" (McCullough Range) to the Colorado River. The road would follow the river to Fort Yuma. This road is entirely in Nevada, but connects with a trail following the Colorado which Wheeler reported upon in his 1871 exploration from the El Dorado Canyon area to the Virgin River. Ores from this area apparently were hauled to Cottonwood Island for transshipping by steamer (Piute Company prospectus, p. 15).

Early maps of the period (GLO Survey, 1865) show wagon roads meeting at Ivanpah from several directions. Cottonwood Island was reached via El Dorado Canyon. Wagons from Ivanpah could join the "Opal" Mountain road by crossing Ivanpah Dry Lake, or head more directly toward the canyon via a road leading southeast to connect with the Old Government Road near Piute Springs (see above, Government Road section). In the late 1870 's then, a road did connect with the north and south routes across the California desert
Cajon Pass
Sanford Pass
Mojave Indian Trail
Mojave River
Forks of the Road

B. North Fork

B1. Kingston Cut-Off

B2. Cox's Cut-Off

Stoddard Well Road
San Bernardino-Panamint Road

VI. Owens River Road

Coso Mines Road

D. Slate Range Roads

Walker Pass
Tehachapi Pass, Tehachapi Range
Tejon Pass Road

H. Soledad Canyon Road

J. Panamint Pack Trail

K. Los Angeles-Panamint Road

L. Lookout Trail, 1875

M. Amargosa Mines and Ivanpah Road

N. Ivanpah-Providence Road

Adapted from
Cultural Resources of the California Desert, 1776 -1880 -- Historic Trails and Wagon Roads
Elizabeth von Till Warren & Ralph J. Roske
1981 cultural
Russell L. Kaldenberg, Series Editor
Introduction:: Nature:: Map:: Points of Interest:: Roads & Trails:: People & History:: Ghosts & Gold:: Communities:: BLOG:: :?:: glossary
Country Life Realty
Wrightwood, Ca.
Mountain Hardware
Wrightwood, Ca.
Canyon Cartography
Links to Desert Museums

Grizzly Cafe
Family Dining

Custom Search

Abraxas Engineering
Copyright ©Walter Feller. All rights reserved.