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Wagon Roads

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).




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