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January 19, 1861: Santa Ana River

January 19, 2011

Main Divide, Santa Ana Mountains, circa 1960

Main Divide, Santa Ana Mountains, circa 1960 by Orange County on Flickr(Photo courtesy Orange County Archives)


Camp 8

[Today] three of us climbed the highest point near, about three thousand feet. The climb was not so steep as some we have made before, but the chaparral was so exceedingly dense that it seemed as if no progress could be made. We carried up compass, tripod, and barometer. I never before appreciated the difficulty of carrying a barometer in such places. I carried it first on my mule as far as we could go, then on my back. On our return Pete and I ruined our pants in the bushes—they hung in ribbons. Averill had severe rents in his, and Pete’s shirt was literally torn from him—there was scarcely anything left. But we got back all safe just at sunset.

The river here is quite a stream—several rods wide and up to the sides of our mules as we ford it. I have not seen a bridge in southern California, nor is there timber enough here to make them. Talk about a railroad! Timber for bridges and ties would cost at least a hundred dollars per thousand here, and much more farther east. The Overland passes here—that miracle of undertakings—over plains and deserts, over mountains, through gorges, into rivers, yet always inside of schedule time.

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