Explorers, Traders, and Slavers: Forging the Old Spanish Trail, 1678-1850

By Joseph P. Sánchez | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
The New Eden Beyond the Río San Buenaventura to Utah Lake and the Grand Canyon

THE COOL SEPTEMBER air announced that fall was upon them. The expedition, now fifty days out of Santa Fe, had reached the farthest known point of any official expedition to the Yuta country. Their New Mexican guides, who had tried by trickery or persuasion to turn the expedition back, probably did so out of fear of the unknown. Now they were committed, they had crossed the San Buenaventura, the historic boundary line between the Comanche and the Ute tribes. It was 17 September when the expedition broke camp on the "Stirrup" bend of the Green River. They had named their campsite Las Llagas de Nuestro Padre San Franciso, "the wounds of our Father St. Francis," a leafy poplar grove and meadow, where they had found human tracks and concluded that they had been left by Comanches in pursuit of Ute hunters.179 Certainly, the Comanche had made their presence felt, and the expedition hoped to avoid them. Looking westward into the distance, beyond the meadow, the expedition members traveled to a high ridge from which they could see the junction of the present White River and the Green River. Descending to a plain, they headed for the junction. Ironically, on 17 September 1776, as Domínguez and Escalante were about to embark into the new land, Friar Francisco Garcés had just returned to San Xavier del Bac, ending his exploratory travels from Mission San Gabriel to Oraibe.

Marching toward the west, they crossed a large meadow and arrived at the juncture of two medium-sized rivers which they named the Río

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