The next night the Indians shot an arrow into an ox. In the morning it was unable to travel, but McKinney and his friends had determined to do something to put a stop to these attacks. Taking the ox in the shadow of a knoll, they shot it, and eight men then hid in the shelter of some brush where the carcass was clearly in view.
When the train pulled out it seemed as if they had abandoned the ox. It was scarcely out of sight when the watchers saw eight Indians come sneaking up. Each man took the Indian allotted to him, but by some error two men shot at the same Indian, so that when the guns were fired and seven men fell dead the other escaped. On one of them was found seven twenty-dollar gold pieces wrapped up in a dirty rag, which had doubtless cost some poor emigrant or miner his life. Some of the party wished to leave this gold with the dead Indian, but McKinney said his scruples would not allow him to do any such thing, and the gold found its way into his pocket.
Though a man of practically no education—it is even said by those who claim to have known him well that he could neither read nor write, but this seems improbable—he was a man of such keen powers of observation, retentive memory, ability in conversation and strong personality, that he was able to associate on an equality with men of most superior attainments. John Muir was a frequent visitor to his home, especially in the winter time when all tourists and resort guests had gone away. John McGee, another well-known lover of the winter mountains, was also a welcome guest, who fully appreciated the manly vigor and sterling character of the transplanted Missourian.
John Ward, from whom Ward Creek and Ward Peak (8,665 feet) are named, was another Squaw Valley mining excitement stampeder. He came in the early days of the rush, and as soon as the camp died down, located on the mouth of the creek that now bears his name.
The next creek to the south—Blackwood’s,—is named after still another Squaw Valley stampeder. For years he lived at the mouth of this creek and gained his livelihood as a fisherman.
The same explanation accounts for Dick Madden Creek.
Barker who has peak, pass and valley named after him, came from Georgetown to Knoxville, and like so many other of his unfortunate mining brethren from over the divide, started a dairy on the west side of the pass which bears his name. The valley, however, was so high and cold that more than half the year the cream would not rise, so he gave up dairying and went elsewhere.
These are but a few of many who might be mentioned, whose names are linked with the Tahoe region, and who came to it in the hope of “making their everlasting fortunes” when Squaw Valley “started up.”
THE FREMONT HOWITZER AND LAKE TAHOE
Hundreds of thousands of Americans doubtless have read “How a Woman’s Wit Saved California to the Union,” yet few indeed know how intimately that fascinating piece of history is linked with Lake Tahoe.