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Stories of Later American History
written by "Gordy, Wilbur Fisk, 1854-1929"
...State of Delaware, and its waters were salt. It was, therefore, given the name of Great Salt Lake. Passing on, Frémont reached the upper branch of the Columbia River. Then pushing forward down the valley of this river, he went as far as Fort Vancouver, near its mouth. Having reached the coast, he remained only a few days and then set out on his return (November 10). His plan was to make his way around the Great Basin, a vast, deep valley lying east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. 218But it was not long before heavy snow on the mountains forced him to go down into this basin. He soon found that he was in a wild desert region in the depths of winter, facing death from cold and starvation. The situation was desperate. Frémont judged that they were about as far south as San Francisco Bay. If this was true, he knew that the distance to that place was only about seventy miles. But to reach San Francisco Bay it was necessary to cross the mountains, and the Indians refused to act as guides, telling him that men could not possibly cross the steep, rugged heights in winter. This did not stop Frémont. He said: “We’ll go, guides or no guides!” And go they did. It was a terrible journey. Sometimes they came to places where the snow was one hundred feet deep or more. But they pushed forward for nearly six weeks. Finally, after suffering from intense cold and from lack of food, they made their way down the western side of the mountains, men and horses alike being in such a starved condition that they were almost walking skeletons. At last they reached Sutter’s Fort, now the city of Sacramento, where they enjoyed the hospitality of Captain Sutter. After remaining there for a short time, Frémont recrossed the mountains, five hundred miles farther south, and continued to Utah Lake, which is twenty-eight miles south of Great Salt Lake. He had travelled entirely around the Great Basin. 219From Utah Lake he hastened across the country ...

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