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July 27, 1864: Onion Valley

July 27, 2014
Bullfrog Lake

Bullfrog Lake from the Kearsarge Pass trail; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

Big Pothole Lake

Big Pothole Lake from Kearsarge Pass; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

[Today] we went over the summit, about twelve miles. The summit is a very sharp granite ridge, with loose bowlders on both sides as steep as they will lie. It is slow, hard work getting animals over such a sliding mass. It is 11,600 feet high, far above trees, barren granite mountains all around, with patches of snow, some of which were some distance below us—the whole scene was one of sublime desolation. Before us, and far beneath us lay Owens Valley, the desert Inyo Mountains beyond, dry and forbidding. Around us on both sides were mountains fourteen thousand feet high, beneath us deep canyons.
Onion Valley

Onion Valley and the road to Independence; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

Thomas Keough:
The rest of our party, who left us soon after we climbed up over Little Pine Pass, found a gold mine near the pass on their way home…and it was through this discovery that the pass came to be known as “Kearsarge Pass”. Down in Owen’s Valley…there is a low lying range of hills. In the early 60’s the Hitchcock boys discovered a mine in these hills…and they called their district the “Alabama District”…in honor of the Confederate cruiser “Alabama”….Our crowd, however, were all Union men, and when the news came that the Kearsarge had sunk the Alabama, our boys named the district where the cliff mine was the “Kearsarge District” to taunt the Rebels.

We descended down the canyon of Little Pine Creek and camped at a little meadow, in full view of the valley below and the ridges beyond, which were peculiarly illumined by the setting sun. On both sides of us were great rocky precipices. During the day’s progress we passed a number of beautiful little lakes.

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