A Search For The Best Routes To The West
Scarce map which accompanied the Report of Capt. R. Ingalls on the March of L. Col. Steptoe from Ft. Leavenworth to California, in 1854 and 1855.
Wheat calls this uncommon map of the Great Basin "one of the most interesting maps of the West" and "a document of first quality, showing, as it does so well, three important routes" from Salt Lake City to California.
Three Army detachments set out in 1855 with the intention of finding shorter and less rugged routes for emigrants and mail carriers heading to the West Coast. One group, led by Colonel E. J. Steptoe, followed the Humboldt and Carson Rivers and then crossed the Sierra to Sacramento and Benicia. A second, led by Captain Rufus Ingalls, crossed over the usual route to the Great Salt Lake and down the Humboldt, but then bore northwest into southern Oregon and finally south to Sacramento. The third group, under the command of Lieutenant Sylvester Mowry, went south past the Mormon settlements of Provo and Nephi, came near the site of the Gunnison massacre, and arrived at Las Vegas, at the time a small Mormon Indian mission. From there, Mowry crossed the desert, skirted north of the San Gabriel mountains, and eventually reached Ft. Tejon via Cajon Pass, a tiny Los Angeles, and Tejon Pass.
The map presents the details of these routes, including mountains, rivers, lakes, towns, and forts, and it is especially fine for the Mormon settlements and for early California.