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June 24, 1862: Bell Station

June 24, 2012

Bell Station

Bell Station; by gregster61, on Flickr

Camp 78

We have ascertained that the San Joaquin River is entirely impassable for its whole length. My instructions were to work up to this point, cross the river wherever we could, and meet Professor Whitney in the Sierra. He was, however, to write us at San Juan, and I was to send over the pass to that place for letters and funds. It was forty-five miles distant. But my program must be changed. I resolved to cross the pass with the party and work north, perhaps to Martinez again, 180 miles, and thence ship to Stockton by steamer, unless the plan should be again modified by future contingencies.

[Today] we raised camp and started over the Pacheco Pass, and stopped in the pass after a ride of eighteen miles. First our way was up steep ridges to the height of about 1,500 feet (1,200 above camp)—a heavy hill for our wagon, although the road was tolerably good. This pass is a toll road, so it has been put in repair for about twenty miles. It took $1,800 to make thirteen miles of it passable after the rains of last winter. The Overland route formerly ran through this pass.

After reaching the summit we descended through narrow, wild, and exceedingly picturesque canyons, in places so narrow on the bottom that our wagon could scarcely pass, in other places along a shelf worked in the steep sides. We camped in the pass six miles from the west side, near a little “hotel”1 established when the Overland ran.

1Hollenbeck’s tavern

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