A more forlorn and pitiable sight than they presented cannot well be imagined. They were all on foot, each man weak and emaciated, leading a horse or mule as weak and emaciated as themselves. They had experienced great difficulty in descending the mountains, made slippery by rains and melting snows, and many horses fell over precipices and were killed, and with some were lost the packs they carried. Among these was a mule with the plants which we had collected since leaving Fort Hall, along a line of 2000 miles of travel. Out of 67 horses and mules, with which we commenced crossing the Sierra, only 33 reached the valley of the Sacramento, and they only in a condition to be led along.
In concluding this chapter it should not be overlooked that on his maps of the expedition of 1843-44 Fremont called the mountain lake he had discovered “Lake Bonpland.” He says in a private letter: “I gave to the basin river its name of Humboldt and to the mountain lake the name of his companion traveler, Bonpland, and so put it in the map of that expedition.”
[Illustration: A Washoe Indian Campoodie, Near Lakeside Park, Lake Tahoe]
[Illustration: Washoe indians at Lake Tahoe]
[Illustration: The ‘Signal Code’ Design]
Amade Bonpland was born at Rochelle, France, in 1773. He was educated as a physician but became a noted botanist. He accompanied Humboldt to America, and subsequently became a joint author with the great traveler and scientist of several valuable works on the botany, natural-history, etc., of the New World. He was detained as a prisoner for nearly ten years by Dictator Francia of Paraguay to prevent him from, or to punish him for, attempting to cultivate the mate, or Paraguay tea, in that country. He died in 1858 at Montevideo, the Capital of Uruguay, in South America.
His name as applied to Lake Tahoe is practically unknown, save to the curious investigator or historian. Other names given by Fremont have “stuck” to this day, amongst them being Humboldt, Walker, Owen, Kern and Carson rivers, Pyramid and Walker lakes, etc.
The vicissitudes of the naming of Lake Tahoe is of sufficient interest to occupy a whole chapter, to which the reader is referred.
THE INDIANS OF LAKE TAHOE
Since Lake Tahoe was the natural habitat of one of the most deliciously edible fishes found in the world, the Indians of the region were bound, very early in their history here, to settle upon its shores. These were the Paiutis and the Washoes. The former, however, ranging further east in Nevada, were always regarded as interlopers by the latter if they came too near to the Lake, and there are legends current of several great struggles in which many lives were lost, where the Washoes battled with the Paiutis to keep them from this favored locality.