Monday, 19 December 2016

Into Nevada

Saturday 24th September     Burton wrote "Descending the western watershed, we sighted, in Deep-Creek Valley, St Mary's County, the first patch of cultivation since leaving Great Salt Lake." and continues " fields extend about one mile from each bank, and the rest of the yellow bottom is a tapestry of wire grass and wheat grass"  The photo below shows the valley with the Deep Creek Range behind.  The clumps of trees mark the position of the little settlement of Ibapah (pronounced Eye-ber-paw which is Goshute for 'deep water') where Deep Creek Pony Express station was located and where we were headed .....
The Pony Express trail heads across the sage brush in the background.
The present buildings at Ibapah do not date from Pony Express days, but cattle are still raised on grassy meadows near the creek
 By the Pony Express Monument for Deep Creek Pony Express station just to the south of Ibapah....
 Burton reports that the station was dirty and fly ridden, but remarked once again on the hospitality of their Mormon hosts "they supplied us with excellent potatoes and told us to make their house our home" and stressed that the lack of housekeeping was "not Mormon, but Western".

Some mention has already been made of Major Howard Egan, who was a notable figure on this section of the Pony Express Trail, and it is worth recounting a little of his background. He lived here at Deep Creek on a ranch and mail station he established in 1859 about three miles north of the current Pony Express monument.  Born in Ireland, he gained his title of Major in the Mormon Nauvoo Legion, and came to Utah in 1847 with the initial Mormon pioneers as a guide and bodyguard to Brigham Young. After working on Chorpenning's Jackass Mail service to California, he was hired by Russell, Majors and Waddell.
He explored much of the Central route to California before Simpson's official survey, and as a local resident with a working knowledge of the trail he was a natural choice for Division Superintendent of the Pony Express service between Salt Lake City to Carson City.  After the Pony Express folded, he continued to work for the Overland Mail until it was replaced by the transcontinental railway in 1869.

Two of Egan's sons, Howard Ransom Egan and Richard Erastus 'Ras' Egan, were Pony Express riders, and Howard himself famously took part in the first run when the rider was not in place at Rush Valley (Faust). Taking over the ride to Salt Lake City in a storm, his pony fell off a plank bridge into Mill Creek en route, but Egan recovered and continued, to hand on the mochila successfully!

Leaving Ibapah, we were now nearing Nevada...
...and it was not long before we crossed the border and reached our days' destination of Eight Mile Springs, so called because it was eight miles from Deep Creek.
Burton makes no mention of a station here, but Pony Express rider Nick Wilson describes " a rock building, twelve by twenty, with a shed roof covered with earth so that no timbers were sticking out that the Indians could set fire to. It had portholes in each end of the building and one on each side of the door in front". Just as well, for when he rode up to take over the mail on one occasion, he saw the incoming rider being ambushed and shot by Indians. Wilson was holed up here for three days under intermittent attack until rescued by soldiers. In the house with him were three horses (!) and a couple of orphaned emigrant boys who had ended up stranded and in charge of the station after the station master absconded. Luckily there was water in the cellar which kept them all alive though it was "not a bit good".  
A rather cramped camp spot at a junction by the creek at Eightmile, but at least there was a little grass for Lady..
..while Lucy and I were able to celebrate crossing into Nevada with a glass of wine and nibbles....
..followed by supper which Lucy is drumming up in the background.  The advantages of travelling in style!

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