Friday, 24 February 2017

Cold Springs

Sunday October 10th   The morning sun catches the tops of the Desatoya mountains as Petra and a more subdued Red lead the way along the Pony Express trail up the Smith Creek valley .....
Unfortunately our  progress was stopped abruptly a little further on by a locked gate. We had been given permission to ride through this private land by the Smith Creek Ranch, but a ranch employee had forgotten to leave the gate unlocked for us.  Petra and Red's chance to put on their Pony Express hats and gallop back to fetch the key!  So it was not too long before we were on our way again...

Negotiating the Montana gate at Basque summit before we descend into the Edwards Creek Valley....
Ranchers please note the simple lever contraption made out of a stick and a bit of wire to pull the posts together!
Stopping for a rest in a pretty glade...
 ...not sure what the squirrel paws are for, unless she is looking for nuts, or apples....

She has scrumped in Asia, she has scrumped in Europe, all by horse. The international equine apple scrumper is at it again.....
 Not many continents to go.    And for the uneducated who do not know what scrumping is, follow the link.

How convenient...
..and a sign that we are nearing civilisation, or in this case the ruins of Edwards Creek Pony Express station....
A view looking past the ruins back up Edwards Creek Canyon to the rig and corrals.   The station was not here when Burton passed through, but in July 1861 traveller Israel Benjamin commented "Here there was fresh bread, Zwieback, and brandy, but so dear that a bottle of brandy cost three to four dollars".  Sounds pretty reasonable to me.
Sadly Petra had to leave us here but on Monday October 11th Rowena and I rode down to Highway 50 and followed alongside it for a few miles to Cold Springs, where there was a camp ground and bar/restaurant.
 We had the whole afternoon to relax and take advantage of all the facilities. The somewhat ditsy waitress informed us that the ruins of the old Pony Express Station were only about half a mile up the track behind the restaurant, so in the evening Rowena and I walked a mile and a half up the hill behind in a fruitless attempt to find them.  As it was fairly sizeable home station at 120ft by 53ft and has been the object of considerable archaeological excavation, it was rather disappointing to be thwarted in our historical outing, but the evening view was beautiful!
It later transpired that the station site was actually about two miles further south and to the left in the photo.
 Cold Springs was where 'Pony Bob' Haslam found the original building burnt, the station keeper dead and the horses gone on his return ride from Smith Creek.  This was not the only attack it suffered during the Indian troubles, and the station was later enlarged and provided with gun ports in thick stone walls.
A tragic incident occurred here during the same period when relief Pony Express rider Barthomolew was shot accidentally. A former soldier, he had just survived Major Ormsby's catastrophic foray to Pyramid Lake. He then found himself at Buckland's and volunteered to carry the eastward bound mail on the perilous 85 miles to Cold Springs after the regular rider refused due to the troubles. So it was ironic that after all this he died at the hand of a friend.

Burton reported that it was a "wretched place half built and wholly unroofed" and he slept once again in the haystack, this time serenaded by "the loud howling of the wolves, which are said to be larger on these hills than elsewhere".  Wretched it may have been, but his party "supped upon an excellent steak" from a freshly killed "beef".   We supped upon macaroni cheese unaccompanied by lupine howls.

1 comment:

  1. Good post, I always want to explore country life as I believe it is one of best life one can have. Thank you for sharing this post

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