Road Over The Sierras

There is likely no more detailed and graphic description of the devastated and hazardous conditions existing along this main immigrant thoroughfare than that written by J. Ross Browne, who, afoot, negotiated the entire trail to Carson City, over the very route taken by Upson, only a few days after the latter’s epic ride.

“The road from Placerville to Strawberry Flat is for the most part graded, and no doubt is a very good road in summer; but it would be a violation of conscience to recommend it in the month of April,” Brown noted. “In many places it seemed absolutely impracticable for wheeled vehicles . . . for the road was literally lined with broken-down stages, wagons, and carts, presenting every variety of aspect, from the general smash-up to the ordinary capsize. Wheels had taken rectangular cuts to the bottom; broken tongues projected from the mud; loads of dry goods and whiskey-barrels lay wallowing in the general wreck of matter … whole trains of pack mules struggled frantically to make the transit from one dry point to another; burros . . . frequently were buried up to the neck … Now and then an enterprising mule would emerge from the mud, and, by attempting to keep the edge of the road, lose his foothold, and go rolling to the bottom 9f the canyon, pack and all.”