emigrant trains moved along the southwestern route in almost military
order. Striving for speed of passage was not encouraged. One of the
soldiers who accompanied the emigrants had this to say of the manner in
which they made camp on the night of June 15, 1849:
first wagon is driven up to its place and halted; the second is then
driven up to the left of the first—the tongues being so near to each
other that, after the mules are disengaged, they may be made to cross
each other. The third wagon is then driven to the right of the first,
and so halted that the left fore-wheel of this third wagon will graze
or be very near the right hind-wheel of the first wagon; the fourth
wagon is then driven to the left of the second—its fore right-wheel
grazing the left hind-wheel of the second wagon. Then come in
succession, to take their places in like manner, the fifth, sixth,
seventh, eighth, etc. . . . that when the enclosure is completed it
will be in the form of an ellipse, or circle. The corral made,
the animals are turned out to graze, and a guard detailed to watch
them. Now comes the busy scene of pitching tents, collecting wood,
preparing food, etc.
children are playing near the water, and under a large, shady,
cottonwood tree on the bank of the stream I see a young lady . . .
habited in her riding-dress and with bonnet on, a veil thrown
carelessly aside, she is twirling listlessly a switch and giving heed
to the conversation of a young emigrant, who is sitting contentedly at
or not the lady was Mary Conway, we shall never know. Lieutenant
Simpson omitted this piece of information. He tells us that there was a
dance that night in the camp of the emigrants.
days later, the long line of wagons left the Canadian River and struck
for the Pecos River which was crossed at Anton Chico. The view of La
Cuesta Valley below shows a part of the road between Anton Chico and the junction with the old Santa Fe Trail running down from Bent's Fort.