Carson Pass


Carson Pass

Infobox Mountain Pass
Name = Carson Pass
Photo =
Caption =
Elevation = 8,650 ft. / 2,637 m.
Location = California, USA
Range = Sierra Nevada
Coordinates = coord|38|41|38|N|119|59|15|W|type:pass
Topographic

Traversed by = State Route 88

Kit Carson Pass, named after the famed explorer Kit Carson, (el. 8,650 ft. / 2,637 m.) is a mountain pass through the Sierra Nevada range in Alpine County, California. It is traversed by State Route 88. It was the most significant overland route during the California Gold Rush, as well as the primary route for shipping resources from California to assist in the Civil War until the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad.

Carson and the expedition of 2nd Lt. John C. Frémont (then of the U.S. Army Topographical Engineers) were returning from a trek from the Pacific coast of Oregon, following the Columbia River and the Oregon Trail. As they hit northern Utah Territory (Nevada), they decided to turn south. His stated objective was to find the legendary Buenaventura River, which was said to flow from the Rocky Mountains through the Sierra Nevada to San Francisco Bay. Since Jedediah Smith's 1828 explorations had mostly disproven its existence, it is unknown what Frémont's true objective was.

As they made their way down the eastern Sierras, they discovered Pyramid Lake and the Truckee River (which he named "Salmon Trout River"). On January 31, 1844, the expedition was encamped at what is now Carson Valley. The situation was dire. Snow was steadily falling and supplies were very low. Frémont had planned to start east across the Rockies, but it didn't seem likely they would be able to make it through. Carson suggested that they head west instead to Sutter's Fort, where they could resupply.

in the distance. On February 21, they made it through the pass, just west of Red Lake, that now bears Carson's name. Finally, on March 6, the entire expedition arrived at Sutter's Fort, with no fatalities.

Five years later, a group of Mormons built a wagon trail from Sly Park through the Carson Pass all the way to Carson Valley. This route then became known as the Carson Trail and it was the most popular of the wagon train routes for the '49ers who came to work in the northern mines. Later the road would be extended through the Carson Spur around the north shore of Silver Lake, and southwest to Jackson where prospectors could move on to the southern mines. State Route 88 now goes through the pass just north of where Carson himself traveled, and follows this southern route.

The Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,650 mile (4,240 km) long National Scenic Trail crosses State Route 88 at Carson Pass.

California Historical Landmark #315, where Carson carved his name into a tree, is located at the summit of the pass.

References

*cite web | url=http://www.kirkwood.com/summer/history.html | title=Kirkwood History – The Opening of the Kit Carson Pass | first=Anthony | last=Belli | year=2004 | publisher=Kirkwood Mountain Resort | accessdate=2005-09-15
*cite news | last=Hughey | first=Richard | url=http://www.mtdemocrat.com/columist/hughey30.shtml | title=Capt. Fremont makes winter crossing of Carson Pass | date=1999-04-02 | publisher=Mountain Democrat | accessdate=2005-09-23
*cite web | url=http://ohp.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=21389 | title=Alpine| work=California Historical Landmarks | publisher=Office of Historic Preservation | accessdate=2006-03-31


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