Forty Mile Desert
Original Date Visited: 8/14/07
Signed: Original cut-out shields on both lanes of US 95
The 40 Mile Desert, beginning here, is a barren stretch of waterless alkali wasteland. It was the most dreaded section of the California Emigrant Trail. If possible, it was traveled at night because of the great heat.
The route was first traveled by the Walker-Chiles Party in 1843, with the first wagon train. Regardless of its horrors, it became the accepted route, as it split five miles southwest of here into two main trails to California-- the Carson River and Truckee River routes.
Starvation for men and animals stalked every mile. A survey made in 1850 showed these appalling statistics-- 1,061 dead mules, almost 5,000 horses, 3,750 cattle, and 953 graves. The then value of personal property loss was set at $1,000,000.
The heaviest traffic came from 1849 to 1869. It was still used after completion of the Central Pacific Railroad in 1869.
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