By Rosemary Pollock
San Bernardino Trek Recreation Begins
SPANISH FORK, UTAH -- Wagons of the Heritage Trails Celebration
rolled out of Spanish Fork Saturday to follow the path of men, women
and children who left Utah to found San Bernardino, Calif. in 185l.
The six wagons, one surrey and dozens of horses began their 600-mile
trip across the Southern Route of the Old Spanish Trail.
Brigham Young had authorized a couple of dozen families to settle in
California, but was upset when he found hundreds of people gathered
at Payson preparing to cross the Mojave Desert. Heber C. Kimball
tried to persuade them to stay in Utah, but 437 settlers decided to
head for the Golden State with Amasa Lyman.
Historian, Leo Lyman, descendant of Apostle Amasa Lyman who led the
first colonists, concludes that Brigham Young "never again held
cordial feelings toward the California colony" and wanted to shut it
down, which he and the Mountain Meadow Massacre did in 1857. In his
book "The Arduous Road: Salt Lake to Los Angeles, the Most Difficult
Wagon Road in American History," Lyman reveals that the trail had
only 10 watering holes in 300 miles, thus the term "Pioneer pathway
across the Mojave Desert deserves the distinction."
Modern trekkers will spend 50 days following wagon master Paul Bliss
south and west as they emulate the determined explorers, Mexican
traders, gold rushers, Mormon pioneers and apostates, soldiers, mail
carriers, freighters and freedom-seeking slaves who took the road to
California. "We like wagon training, " said Carol Condi of Beaver,
who made the Mormon Trail trip with her husband, Vern. "We are
interested in historical things."
Unlike the first trip, this will be an all-white group. In 1851,
about two dozen African Americans joined their former owners to make
the trek through what is now Las Vegas and end up in present-day San
Bernardino. Ten Jewish merchants, traveling with the Mormon wagon
trains would follow them in 1852. The Jewish settlers would bring the
first Torah to the area. American Indians and Latino settlers also
lived in the area, creating a diverse mix of cultures and religions.
Many of those who left Spanish Fork are veterans of other modern
wagon trains. Some participated in the 1996 Utah centennial trip and
the Mormon centennial ride across much of the United States in 1997.
The youngest member of the group is 4-year-old Amy McFarland of
Sequim, Washington, who joins her three older sisters on the 600-mile
"We taught about the pioneers," said Amy's mother, Trudy McFarland,
who home schools her children. "But living it firsthand is the only
way they can know what the pioneers went through. We hope this will
make our family stronger and closer."
The trekkers will follow the original path as closely as possible,
employing alternatives to avoid restricted private property,
bomb-littered federal land and a power plant built on top of the
trail. Re-creators are encourage to used period dress as much as
possible. CD players, tank tops, shorts, thongs and baseball caps are
not allowed. To follow the re-creation of the event, log onto the
group's Web site at
Wagon Train Sets Off on California Colony Route
Salt Lake Tribune 9Sep01 N6
By Tom Wharton: Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake - L.A. A Tough Trail For Pioneers
Salt Lake Tribune 9Sep01 N6
By Will Bagley