Mile 927: Emigrant Gap

“This leg of the trip, Emigrant Gap (today sometimes called the Poison Spider Route), was a bitter introduction to what lay ahead: long stretches of hot, hilly trail with little feed for the animals, punctuated with stinking, toxic alkali waterholes. That poisonous 30-mile stretch between the North Platte and lovely Sweetwater Valley would kill many an ox and emigrant through the overland trail years.”

All the air is strongly impregnated with effluvia from dead oxen it is like walking over a field of battle after three hot suns have [beat] upon the thousand dead. —Charles B. Darwin on the Emigrant Gap segment, 1849 California emigration 

Here [at Poison Slough, west of Willow Spring] are the graves of some five or six persons who drank of the water and died in a few minutes. Notices are stuck over the graves and at the road side… “He drank of this water and died.” “Drank at this spring and died.” “This water is poison.” “Death!” “Poison!” “Beware! For God’s sake do not taste this water! Happy is the man who can read!” —James W. Evans, 1850 emigration