April 15, 1863: Kern River
April 15, 2013
[Today] we came on thirty-five miles to Kern River, the most barren and desolate day’s ride since leaving Fresno, and for thirty miles we saw no house. We continued among the low barren hills until we came near Kern River—here we had to leave the road and go down the river nine or ten miles to find a ford. We followed a few wagon tracks, left the hills, and struck down the plain. The soil became worse—a sandy plain, without grass, in places very alkaline—a few desert or saline shrubs growing in spots, elsewhere the soil bare—no water, no feed. We saw some coyotes (wolves) and antelope. Night came on, and still we found neither grass nor river ford. Long after dark, when we began to get discouraged and to fear we would have to stop without water or feed for ourselves or animals, we heard some dogs bark. Soon we saw a light and soon afterward struck a cabin. Here we found some grass, went into the house, made some tea, and then slept on the river bank. Here in a cabin lived a man, wife, and several children, all ragged, dirty, ignorant—not one could read or write—and Secessionists, of course.