Mile 937: Rock Avenue

“We left Poison Spider about the middle of the morning, heading for the next landmark, Rock Avenue. It proved satisfyingly true to its advanced advertising—a hideous stretch of deformed rock strata bursting jaggedly from the torn earth—and formed a real point of interest for the travelers in the midst of the sprawling sage-studded grayness. We left the car to look it over. A pushing wind flowed like swift, deep, warm water across the plateau. Its force on the west side of the upthrust points of rock was surprising. It was difficult to walk or even breathe when facing it. . . .

From Rock Avenue the wagons rumbled down a steep pitch into a six-mile stretch of intermittent alkaline puddles and swamps. The animals were thirsty, and this hodgepodge of impossible water was torture. Steaming marshes alternated with pestilent pits of semifluid that shook and smelled like spoiled neat jelly. Mineral springs of complicated parentage comprised salt, soda, and sulphur exuded warm and indescribable odors. Some, if undisturbed, lay clear and brandy-colored. The loose stock got into these and often died as a result, although the antidotes for alkali poison had the merit of being simple. Gobs of bacon pushed down the gullet with a blunt stick and swigs of vinegar saved many—temporarily at least, for these weakened cattle fell easy victims to the rarified air of the mountains just ahead.”

[N.B. Rock Avenue seems to run between miles 937 and 938. More info and description of the are is here.]