Friday, March 03, 2006

Beckwith Survey Question

From: "Jerry Lohry"

I have a question ... about the Gunnison-Beckwith survey. The map they compiled shows that the survey team went into the northern end of the Black Rock Desert (Mud Lakes) as far as High Rock Canyon. Their portrayal of the topography of that area also leads me to believe they traveled there. But Beckwith's journal only documents their surveying the southern part of the Black Rock Desert.

Do you know whether all or part of their crew journeyed into the High Rock Canyon area, and where I can find documentation on this?

—Jerome Lohry


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Wendell Huffman"

Without other sources of information, I believe Beckwith's team (Gunnison being long dead) only examined the routes identified in the narrative of the report. I imagine other sources may have been used in drawing the maps. I recall that Beckwith did split his party on a few occasions – in examining the connection between Honey Lake and Mud Lake, but I do not recall any mention of going up into High Rock Canyon (however, I admit to only paying attention to what I was looking for, and High Rick Canyon was not one of those things).

Beckwith's personal journals are at the Huntington Library ...

It is nice to see someone else interested in Beckwith. I think he played a key role in redirecting the route considered for the Central Pacific from the southwest (Salt Lake to Tehachapi, as was favored by Fremont and Gunnison) to directly west toward the Humboldt River and the Sierra. I pondered for years the reason Beckwith headed west (against orders) rather than returning to Ft. Levenworth. I am convinced now it was because of the reports he read about Nobles Pass printed in various California newspapers – and which had just arrived in Salt Lake City when he led the remnants of Gunnison's team into winter quarters following the massacre. They had not seen a newspaper for several months.

Contrary to Gudde, I believe Madeline Plains was named by Beckwith for his daughter. He had another daughter (so I wondered where was the feature named for her), but it turns out she was not born until after Beckwith returned home.

You might also ask this question on the overlandtrails Yahoo group.


3/03/2006 5:55 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Wendell Huffman"
Subject: Gunnison/Beckwith reports

I just noticed what you say on the website regarding Gunnison's authorship of the report in vol. 2 of the Army's Pacific Railroad Survey. Gunnison was killed before ever reaching Salt Lake City in 1854 (He had been previously-1849-50 I believe-with the Stansbury expedition). How much of that report can be attributed to Gunnison is subject to doubt, but I believe what we read is properly credited to Beckwith, who had the time to write in while wintering in Salt Lake after Gunnison's death.


Wendell W. Huffman
Curator of History
Nevada State Railroad Museum
2180 South Carson Street
Carson City, NV 89701
(775) 687-8291 v
(775) 687-8294 f

2/10/2007 10:26 AM  

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