Emigrant Trail subject of Thursday's lecture

Staff Reports

Museum lecture July 9

The story of the Carson River Route of the Emigrant Trail through Carson Valley to Tragedy Springs is the subject of the lecture by Laurie Hickey, 7 p.m. July 9, at the Carson Valley Museum & Cultural Center in Gardnerville.

Valley native Laurie Hickey serves in different capacities for the Douglas County Historical Society. She's one of the trustees, is on the exhibit committee, and performs as historical characters in the historical society's fundraisers "The Curse of the Hanging Tree" and the haunted ghost walks in Genoa and Gardnerville.

Hickey's slide show presents the Emigrant Trail as it appears today, 159 years later. The Carson River Route of the Emigrant Trail was the most traveled route during the early years of the California Gold Rush. In 1850, an estimated 50,000 emigrants traveled through Carson Valley over Carson and West passes on the way to the promised land. West Pass, at 9,640 feet, is the highest point ever traveled by wagons in the nation.

"I lived here all my life and never hiked the Emigrant Trail," Hickey said. "Last summer my husband Dan and I hiked the entire trail from Woodfords to Tragedy Springs filming all the way. The difficulty of sections of the trail is unbelievable. The tenacity of the emigrants that made that journey is awe-inspiring.

"You can see the rope and chain marks on the trees where they hoisted wagons up the Devils Ladder, and the grooves in the rocks made by the rubbing of chains and ropes."

Still visible are the depressions in the soil made by the thousands of wagons, animals and people that traveled the trail. Names written on rocks in axle grease were left by emigrants.

Hickey leads Emigrant Trail hikes twice a month through Oct. 10. Cost is $25 per person. Part of the proceeds benefit the Douglas County Historical Society's Trail to the Promised Land exhibit. The next hike on July 12 follows Devil's Ladder from Carson Pass. Information, 782-2893.

The Douglas County Historical Society's lecture is the second Thursday of the month at the Carson Valley Museum & Cultural Center, 1477 Highway 395, Gardnerville. Admission is $3, free for historical society members. The museum and the Main Street Book Store are open before and after the one-hour lecture. Information, 782-2555.


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