6 photos

El Dorado ForestSilver Lake & Treasure IslandThis photo shows Mormon-Carson Pass Emigrant Trail in the distance, Silver Lake and Treasure Island in California's Sierra-Nevada Mountains.

The Mormon-Carson Pass Emigrant Trail was a heavily traveled gateway to California's gold deposits.

"{It was} blazed in 1848 by discharged members of the Mormon Battalion traveling east to rejoin their families," according to an Oregon-California Trail Association plaque (Site No. 52) at an overlook.

The plaque was dedicated on July 30, 1994.

"Five-hundred Mormon volunteers, recruited from Iowa, served one year in the U.S. Army of the West under the command of Col. P. St. George Cooke during the War with Mexico.

"After their discharge in Los Angeles in July 1847, about 100 men worked in the Sacramento area for John Sutter over the winter to obtain needed supplies.

"When work was completed,45 men and one woman (wife of Sgt. William Coray) turned their backs on newly discovered gold fields and headed east for the Great Salt Lake Valley.

"With 17 wagons, 2 cannons, 150 horses and mules, and 150 cattle, this organized party left Pleasant Valley July 9, 1848, following the drainage divide between the American River and streams to the south."

It was on July 19, 1847, that they found the grave of three murdered comrades at a place now known as Tragedy Springs, which is a half-mile west of the overlook.

"Following the ridge south of Silver Lake (viewed on your right) and obscured Squaw Ridge to the east," the plaque continues, "they crossed lofty West Pass at the foot of Melissa Coray Peak (9,763 feet) on July 24. This pass and peak are seen ahead on the distant skyline.

"From West Pass (9,550 feet), the 1848 route drops abruptly northward toward Caples Lake, then eastward to Carson Pass (8,550 feet)."

For 40 days, they worked extremely hard and without the benefit of modern equipment.

"This party blazed 170 miles of wagon road across trackless terrain, before joining the established California emigrant and heading east along the Humboldt River.

"Beginning in August 1848, thousands of westbound emigrant wagons followed these battalion tracks on their westward crossing of the Sierra Nevada."

The overlook where this photo was taken is located high above Silver Lake along Highway 88, which was opened in 1863 using explosives. The area is very rocky and sparsely to densely forested.

"Melissa Coray, then a bride of 18," the plaque notes, "walked 2,000 miles beside her husband to California. The name of Melissa Coray Peak honors not only the heroic pioneering efforts of Melissa and her party, but thousands of emigrant women who endured similar hardships in settling the West."
This gallery will feature photos from the Sierra-Nevada Mountains, also known as the Sierra-Nevadas. The Sierra-Nevada (Snowy Range) Mountains are located east of the Central Valley in California.
El Dorado ForestGrass LakeTallac BeachEl Dorado ForestEl Dorado ForestEl Dorado Forest

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Keywords:El Dorado Forest, Glenn Franco Simmons, Sierra-Nevada Mountains, Sierra-Nevada Mountains, Silver Lake, Treasure Island, forest, lake, landscape