The Gruwell-Derr Wagon Train
The first wagon train to leave the Utah Lake region for southern California in the fall of 1849 set out a week or two ahead of the bigger and better known train led by Jefferson Hunt. That first train employed as guide a Mexican who was familiar with the pack horse route to Los Angeles.
We call this first company the Gruwell-Derr train because our only specific accounts of the trip are given by Gruwell and Derr. These brief reminiscent reports are far from satisfactory, but are the best available. References to the company found in the journals of other diarists are noted in Parts III and V.
[This report is a Bancroft library manuscript entitled, "Account of Experiences of Peter Derr of Humboldt County, California, who came Through on the First Train South from Salt Lake to California, 1849." This short but historically important document was obtained by one of H. H. Bancroft's interviewers, probably in the 1880s.]
The first train that came through to California by the southern trail from Salt Lake was made up at Kurdasville [?], Missouri River. It numbered 49 wagons, 300 men bearing arms and numerous women and children, cattle, etc. They started June 3d, 1849, but did not reach Los Angeles till the January following. When they reached Salt Lake the Mormons told them the grass was all burned off on the direct route,