PILGRIMS IN THE DESERT
The Early History of the East Mojave Desert and the Baker, California Area
Many of you will recognize some of the men on the cover. Starting on the left, They are:

Father Francisco Garces, the first European known to have crossed the Mojave Desert. In 1776 he found Indians living along the Colorado River, with shells and other items from the seacoast. He persuaded the Indians to guide him across the Mojave to the Pacific Ocean.

John C. Fremont, "The Great Pathfinder" wintered in the San Joaquin Valley in 1844 then traveled through the Tehachapi Pass and entered the Mojave near Present day Victorville.

Jedediah Smith, a "Mountain Man" who was searching for a route to the Pacific Coast to find a market for his Beaver pelts. He was also guided across the Mojave by Indians living along the Colorado River. His first trip in 1826 went well, but he crossed again in 1827 under extremely difficult conditions. Parts of his journal are included in the book.

Christopher "Kit" Carson, a pathfinder in his own right who was hired by Fremont and spent many years exploring the western lands. Both Carson and Fremont kept diaries, excerpts of which are included in the book.

Wyatt Earp is on the far right. We are led to believe Wyatt spent most of his time as a lawman in the wild west cattle towns. In fact he spent many years in the Mojave and lived out his final years on the eastern edge of the Mojave. The Post Office at Earp, California, across the river from Parker, Arizona, is named after him.
The Men on the cover were but a few of the early "Pilgrims in the Desert".  There were many-many more such as:                                                                                      
Antonio Armijo, a trader who traveled from Santa Fe, New Mexico to California in 1829, trading hand woven woolen products for Horses and Mules which were very valuable in Santa Fe.  He pioneered the route known today as "The Old Spanish Trail".  Allexey Von Schmidt who in 1872 attempted the third survey to determine the eastern boundary of California.  His survey was inaccurate and confusing, but some maps today still show the current boundary and a dashed line shown as the "Von Schmidt Line".  Lt. Robert Williamson, an Army Surveyor, who traveled through present day Baker in 1853 and determined that the Mojave River ended just north of Baker and did not flow into the Colorado River as was thought at the time. Aaron G. Lane, who established himself in the area of present day Cajon Pass, during the Civil War, and became known as the first permanent white settler in the high desert. Harry Wade, who along with his family and others became stranded in Death Valley in 1849 while seeking a shortcut to the gold fields in California.  Later he led his group out of of Death Valley and rejoined the "Old Spanish Trail", 30 miles north of  Baker.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
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"Pilgrims in the Desert also chronicles the experiences of later Pilgrims, such as:

Francis M. "Borax" Smith who, in 1906-07 built the Tonopah and Tidewater (T&T) Railroad through the area known as "Berry". Berry was later renamed "Baker"in recognition of Richard C. Baker, his English partner in the Borax business.
 
Ralph Jacobus "Dad" Fairbanks who established Shoshone, California and in 1926 opened one of the first businesses in Baker.

"Burro" Bill Price and his wife Edna whose travels, including their time in Baker, were later documented in the book "Burro Bill and Me". Some of the materials, including photographs, were provided by their Son, now retired and living in Central California.
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