Traipsin’, tradin’ and explorin’

Photo courtesy John M. Motter
Many stories are told about Buck O’Neal, pictured on the left, but this photo proves he really did pull some big trout out of the San Juan, no fooling. Early downtown businessman H.J. Bostwick is sharing the spotlight with O’Neal in this photo.

The 1776 Dominguez/Escalante exploration continued on Sept. 26, when the group departed from guide Silvestre’s home village in Utah and traveled in a southwesterly direction camping successively near Springville, Payson, Starr, Levan and Scipio on what is present day Interstate 15. The several small groups of Native Americans they encountered were quite friendly. Surprisingly, some of the men had thick beards and looked more Spanish than Indian.
After leaving Scipio, they had difficulty finding pasture and water fit for consumption by the horses. Some of the water was salty and made the horses sick. Adding to their troubles, guide Jose Maria abandoned the expedition because he thought one of his kinsmen had been mistreated.
Severe weather, including heavy snowfall, hail and rain, all driven by a fiercely cold wind, prevented travel for several days. They couldn’t find firewood, adding to the discomfort. Because the horses bogged down or fell in the snow-covered mire, they paused for a parley during which, due to the snow-covered mountains to the west, the fear of the remaining guides quitting, the acknowledged accomplishment of their missionary goals and the encouragement for a return visit received from the native tribes, they decided to return to Santa Fe.
While heading south, traveling was easier on man and horse. They camped near Milord, where they found a pool of water from melted snow and sufficient pasture for the hungry horses. As the southward journey continued, they reached green meadows and a native tribe growing maze.
When they neared the Arizona border, they had intended to reach and follow the Colorado River, but a small group of Native Americans informed them that, though they were near the Colorado River, they could not go there because it was surrounded by a deep cañon (Grand Canyon). With travel plans changed and out of provisions, they sacrificed one of the horses for food and searched for water. Miera was sick, unable to eat and nearly unable to speak.
Near Diamond Butte, they fell in with Native Americans called Yubincarirus who showed them to an area of good water. They took a few of these men back to their camp to trade for food consisting of sheep, prickly pear and grass seeds. These Native Americans were helpful and shared information about neighboring tribes. They had heard of Father Garces, but knew nothing of Monterrey.
My source for this series of stories about the 1776 travels of Dominguez and Escalante is Wikipedia.

This story was posted on April 21, 2019.