Following John App’s Journey to California – on the Trail to Sonora

Sunday, August 17, 2014, was a day with two important discoveries. The first was a family get-together/picnic at Pinecrest Lake in the Sierras with App descendents who have an interest in preserving family history. Lois & Jerry O’Day, Laurie Ennis Walsh and her mother “Dot”, Ricky Modrell and his beautiful family, and me. We compared historical notes and thoughts and were surprised (and satisfied) that individually we had come to the same conclusions on various matters that involve questions on this segment of John App’s journey. History aside, it was great being with these wonderful people in a beautiful place after… well, 162 years!

After the picnic Lois and I drove up to Sonora Pass for a glimpse of the geography that John App and the Clark-Skidmore Party needed to overcome to arrive safely in Sonora, California. In yesterday’s post I had been talking about John’s arrival and showed some pictures of golden, rolling hills and an arrival from the north of Sonora. Please understand that this was MY arrival into Sonora from the north on a paved road in an air-conditioned car. In this post I have included some photos of JOHN’S trip toward Sonora, along with the Clark-Skidmore Party, in 1852. There is a dramatic difference in the two arrivals, as you can see.

In 1852 the Walker-River route that John App and the rest took was essentially an unproven route (except for the Bartleson-Bidwell Party 11 years prior in 1841). They had no road, 57 hungry men, and crossed the pass at over 9,600 feet. A person can read about their trip and understand it, but they would have to actually be here in person to appreciate the enormity of this feat. Even the pictures displayed here cannot do justice to the situation, but they will have to suffice.

In the photo of the plaque there is a line that reads “This route was not attempted by wagons until 1852”, which is a reference to the Clark-Skidmore Party and their struggles. This is followed by a comment by “Grizzly Adams” (yes, the real Grizzly Adams who lived in this area) about the wagon parts he found from the Party’s slog through the mountains two years prior.

What an interesting day!

The App descendants history squad

The App descendants history squad

Sonora Pass and the incredible journey

Sonora Pass and the incredible journey

Sonora Pass and the incredible journey

Sonora Pass and the incredible journey

Sonora Pass and the incredible journey

Sonora Pass and the incredible journey

Sonora Pass historical marker

Sonora Pass historical marker

Modrell's dog, Timber

Modrell’s dog, Timber

About storiesretoldblogger

I am an Elkhart, Indiana native and became interested in applying video to history when consumer video cameras were first introduced on the market in the late 1970’s. My production company, Stories Retold, specializes in preserving oral history, traditions, and values with video. Primarily interviewing individuals, I sometimes document families, and on occasion document an entire community. My niche is developing a personal relationship with clients which helps me to tell their story just the way they would like to have it told. Everyone has a story worth preserving, and I enjoy discovering interesting stories from people with whom I come into contact on a daily basis. In years to come, these videos will be priceless as they portray original stories complete with visual images and actual voices filled with all the primary material and emotion that was intended to be. I gain a strong sense of personal satisfaction with each completed project whether it involves an individual or an entire community.
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2 Responses to Following John App’s Journey to California – on the Trail to Sonora

  1. says:

    This is just beautiful Larry. I wish I could be experiencing it with you. What an amazing adventure and thank You for what you are doing. I didn’t make it to Elko, I had something come up. I am still planning on going, so if there’s anything I can do to help/go look at please let me know.

    Sent from my iPhone


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