The Winner: “Territory”
The Beale Wagon Road of 1860 is much more recognized in the West, particularly in Arizona, than it is in Oklahoma (Indian Territory), due partly to Beale’s dramatic use of camels imported from North Africa in the West in 1857-59, along with the lifetime efforts of Arizona historian Jack Beale Smith. Yet the six iron bridges of the Beale Wagon Road (BWR) were all built in Indian Territory west from Fort Smith at Naval Lt. Edward F. Beale’s direction.
Another important factor in gaining federal funding during the last critical two-year period of Beale’s national wagon road construction along the 35th parallel from Fort Smith has been frequently overlooked. With the North and South becoming highly divided on all federal transportation funding proposals, how did the BWR slip thru, even after being tabled several times during May-June 1858?? We have noted that the BWR was quietly and hurriedly attached to the US Army’s annual congressional appropriations bill for 1859 with the support of Secretary of War, John B. Floyd, on the next to last day of the Session. However, there was yet another critical political element.
While this last remaining congressional funding bill for the U. S. Army was fortunately “still on the table,” this still was not sufficient to get final congressional approval. Both North and South knew that the nation needed a transcontinental railroad to bind California and the West Coast to the main body, but neither side, nearly equally divided, could agree to build the proposed railroad precursor (wagon road) of 1858 in either a “slave state” or a “free state.” Then some wise politician, perhaps New Mexico Territory Senator Miguel O. Otero, proposed: “Let’s build this wagon road “Only in Territories” where the current question of slavery is still debatable and the final question will be determined later when the area requests admission to statehood. And both sides surprisingly said, “OK, for now.” And so “Territory” became the “password”, as in Indian Territory and Arizona-New Mexico Territory. And so the first iron bridge west of Fort Smith along the BWR could be built across the Poteau River barely in Indian Territory, and all the way west across New Mexico/Arizona/Nevada Territory and so on, to but not in, California. And so there was no Beale Wagon Road officially built in California during 1858-60.
Historical Monuments and Sites (GPS, DMS, use Google Earth/Google Maps) along Western Beale Wagon Road and connection to Mojave/Military Road across Mojave Desert in California
1. Winslow, AZ: (35 02 19 N, 110 42 30 W) BWR @ Morman Rd.
“This monument, just south of IH 40 in north Winslow, marks a segment of an early road across Northern Arizona following the 35th parallel transcontinental survey. The route evolved from several pathfinding expeditions: Lt. Amiel W. Whipple’s 1853-54 railroad survey; Lt. Edward F. Beale’s 1857 military experiment using camels for transport; and the wagon road constructed by Beale in 1858-59.” See six-minute guided tour to the monument: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HCkwCiWhQw
2. Law's Spring, AZ: (35 25 35.4 N, 112 03 59.5 W)
Beale Wagon Road Historic Trail #61 in Kaibab National Forest, Northern Arizona
Kaibab National Forest – Beale Wagon Road near Laws Spring (a.k.a. Laws Natural Tank)
“The trail is named after Edward Fitzgerald Beale who was a retired navy lieutenant hired by congress during 1857 to chart and build a transcontinental wagon road. The road provided pioneers with access to new territories gained after the 1848 Mexican-American war. With a team of 50 men, 22 camels and supplies of food and water, Beale endeavored to build a modest road that stretched 1,240 miles from Fort Smith, Arkansas to the Colorado River of Southern California.
Major W.L. Laws was a member of the military that escorted Lt. Beale and his men across the new land. As a sign of respect for the major, Lt. Beale named the spring after him in July 1859. The letters for "Laws Spring" were etched by Peachy Gilmore Breckenridge, a tombstone carver who was also traveling with Beale's team. Laws Spring was listed on the National Register of Historical Places on July 5th, 1984. The spring has changed very little since Lt. Beale and the unknown immigrants passed by the area in the 1800's — the remains of the old wagon road are still faintly visible.”
Peachy Gilmore Breckinridge carved both “Law's Spring” and “Kerlin's Well” on similar basalt boulders.
Beale Wagon Road Camel Experiment Kaibab National Park, AZ
Neil Weintraub’ Beale Wagon Road Historic Trail # 61 tour thru Kaibab National Forest in 2014
Time @ 0:05/3:02 shows Laws Spring Trailhead sign:
Laws Spring ¼ ->
Beale Wagon Road ½ ->
Kaibab National Forest – Beale Wagon Road near Laws Spring
3. Russel’s Tank, AZ (35 23 35 N, 112 32 38 W) Santa Fe Railroad follows BWR NW of Williams, AZ to Russel’s Tank before turning SW toward Seligman, AZ.
4. Kerlin's Well, AZ (35 24 52 N, 112 48 57 W), between Chino Tank and Head Tank on Reid Cashion Tract of Big Boquillas Ranch, 7 miles N of Seligman, AZ.
5. Beale Street, AZ (35 11 22 N, 114 03 10 W) old US 66 east-west thru downtown Kingman, AZ
6. Beale Spring, AZ (35 12 15 N, 114 04 59 W) just west of Kingman, AZ
7. Union Pass, AZ (35 13 17 N, 114 23 11 W) old US 66 and BWR route southwest to Colorado River
8. Beale's Crossing, AZ (35 02 46.5 N, 114 37 40.4 W) crossing of Colorado River west from Camp Mojave into Nevada, then along Mojave Road west across Mojave Desert to near Barstow, CA. Rumsey map shows that scarce water sources were critical to this military and immigrant route location across desert. Later old US 66 and railroad did not closely follow Mojave Road.
9. Military/Mojave Rd CA (34 50 04 N, 117 11 11 W) crossing of Mojave River west to Ft. Tejon along old US 66 south from Barstow to Cajon Pass and LA.
California Historical Site Marker of “Trails of the Pioneers” just south of Barstow, California and just west (at Hinkley Road) of old US 66 to Helendale, Victorville & El Cajon Pass contains a chronological listing of the seven roads used/crossing the Mojave River here, one of which was the Military Road of 1857-1871, which was started by Lt. Edward F. Beale building the 35th Parallel wagon route with camels in 1857 for the U.S. Government, later was used by soldiers protecting military operations against hostile Indians.
10. Fort Tejon, CA (34 52 30 N, 118 53 34 W) near E. F. Beale’s California homestead and ranch.