Journals of Forty-Niners: Salt Lake to Los Angeles: with Diaries and Contemporary Records of Sheldon Young, James S. Brown, Jacob Y. Stover, Charles C. Rich, Addison Pratt, Howard Egan, Henry W. Bigler, and Others

Synopsis

Western history is all the richer thanks to LeRoy and Ann Hafen, who have assembled a fascinating array of diaries and memoirs of forty-niners who set out from Salt Lake City toward California's gold fields over the Old Spanish Trail. For many would-be gold miners, this dry, dangerous route was preferable to crossing the Sierra Nevada. The Donner party disaster was only three years prior and fresh in the minds of many.

In reality, the choice of the southern route did not ease travelers' efforts. The unremitting heat and lack of water killed more people and animals than did the snows of the mountains. Jacob Stover's narrative provides fine descriptions of these challenges, especially the difficulty in transporting supplies. Of added interest is the journal of Henry Bigler, a former member of the Mormon Battalion, who was the first person to record Marshall's discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill.