Packers: First Over the Trail in 1849
Of the packers who traveled from Salt Lake City and reached California in late October, 1849, the records are scant and confused. Sheldon Young wrote at Chicken Creek, south of the site of Nephi, Utah, on October 8: "A train of packers passed us." (see Part III: A.) He supplies no further information.
James Waters, experienced fur trapper and Mountain Man, was apparently the guide to this packer company of gold seekers. Waters had been a trader on the upper Arkansas and had previously traveled this trail to California. In 1845 he brought back from the Pacific Coast packs of abalone shells to trade to the mountain Indians. Later he was to become a very prominent citizen of San Bernardino, California, and to build business houses and an opera house there. His biographer writes:
In September, 1849,1 he came to California by the southern route, through the Cajon Pass, to avoid the snows of the Sierra Nevadas, the most direct road then to the new gold discovery on the American River, near Sutter's Mill. He served as guide for a company of 140 New Yorkers on this trip.2____________________