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January 4, 1861: San Gabriel Canyon

January 4, 2011

Bridge to Nowhere

Bridge to Nowhere, East Fork San Gabriel River, San Gabriel Mtns; by anarchosyn, on Flickr

Camp 6

Professor Whitney and I went a few miles up the San Gabriel Canyon. Silver and gold are worked. A silver mine is being opened, and the stockholders desired to go up with us. Some came along and we went up to their mine, about six or seven miles. It is a wild canyon, granite rocks from two to four thousand feet high on each side, very steep but nowhere perpendicular. Many side ravines come in, and many small streams swell the San Gabriel to a river. We had to cross it twelve times each way, twenty-four in all, very easy to those who had horses, but not quite so easy with our short-legged mules as the water often came up to their sides. The mine has been commenced by running a tunnel into the mountain, but we found it caved in by the recent heavy rains, and as we could not get in we returned.

On our way we met four more of the stockholders—they urged us to go back, as they had the “materials” for a jolly night coming. We, however, kept on our way. Soon we met some men

San Gabriel Reservoir

San Gabriel Reservoir, in San Gabriel Canyon; by ggewen, on Flickr

with pack-mules. One carried blankets; another a basket of champagne and other wine; another, a Spaniard, a guitar. So I imagine that they are having a jolly time in their cabin this rainy morning.

The path was up a mere mule path, over rocks, logs, among bowlders, where you would think no horse or mule could get. All provisions, etc., must be packed, that is, carried on the backs of mules. It was a wild scene all the way. Yet one I had never heard of before, nor is the canyon laid down on any map, although it is forty miles long.

This want of maps, as well as incorrect maps, is a very serious evil which we feel much. We have to make observations all the way. Professor Whitney does work splendidly. Two sets of observations at the last camp, where he used the sextant and I the chronometer, agreed to within the one-tenth of a second, while our last barometrical observations, for altitude, two sets, agreed to within an inch and a half, although the camps were eight or nine miles apart. We have very fine barometers, reading to the thousandth of an inch, and we carry them with care, hence the precision. When we measure any height we use two barometers, one at the camp, the other carried with us.

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