Camels Used on First Work on Beale Wagon Road
Lt. Beale leaves San Antonio Texas on June 25, 1857 with 35 camels for Albuquerque, New Mexico. Beale arrives in Albuquerque in July 1857. Following resupply and further crewing, he moves caravan out west across Rio Grande on August 12, 1857. Beale sends his camels and wagon train to Zuni, New Mexico, while he heads on northwest to Ft. Defiance, Arizona where his federal expedition to California officially must began due to congressional legislation. Beale arrives at Ft. Defiance on August 25, 1857, and soon departs south to Zuni on 8-27-57 to rejoin his camel train at Zuni.
Lt. Beale marches out of Zuni, New Mexico on August 31, 1857 headed briefly down the Zuni River. Getting too far south (of 35th parallel), he turns northwest across the high mesa to Jacobs’s Well, AZ arriving on September 1, 1857, then on to Navajo Springs one day later. Beale passes Leroux Springs near Flagstaff, Arizona on September 12, 1857, and reached the Colorado River on October 18, 1857. His caravan crosses Colorado River at Beale’s Crossing on October 21, 1857. Beale marches west along Mohave Road to Barstow, then sends most of his camels and train directly west along Mojave Road to Camp Tejon, California. Beale takes two camels and goes south thru Cajon Pass and on west to Los Angeles, arriving on November 10, 1857. On his return to Washington, Beale will start east from his Tejon Ranch on 1-6-58 with 100 additional soldiers for protection from the desert Indians. Beale with Fred E. Kerlin arrive at Colorado River on 1-23-58, where the steamboat General Jessup awaits. Beale and small party ferried across Colorado on 23rd and they leave for Albuquerque on 1-24-1858. General Jessup returns south to Ft. Yuma the same day. Most of the army returns to camp near Los Angeles.
Once resupplied, Lt. Beale has rapidly returned from California to Beale Crossing on the Colorado so that he can test his new wagon road’s usefulness during winter conditions. His party successfully marches across the dry desert and high mountain pass near Flagstaff (San Francisco Mountains) in early February, and quickly reaches Zuni, New Mexico on 2-21-58. Beale continues his march eastward across the continental divide and reaches Albuquerque on April 30, 1858. By chance his arrival is two months before the first immigrant caravan (Rose-Baley) uses the Beale Wagon Road headed west to California.
The unfortunate Rose-Baley Party reaches Albuquerque from Westport, MO on June 23, 1858. Beale has already reached Washington, D.C. by this time, working on getting $100,000 federal funding to his western wagon road plus $50,000 for bridges in IT. The Rose-Baley Party, including lay Baptist minister John Udell, visited Inscription Rock east of Zuni on July 7-8, 1858, and inscribed their names thereon. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose%E2%80%93Baley_Party
The Rose-Baley Party was later attacked on August 30, 1858 by 300 Mojave warriors at Beale’s Crossing of the Colorado River, suffering several casualties and losing most of its livestock. Rose-Baley Party decide to abandon their western trip to California, and they returned to Albuquerque by November 1858. There John and Emily Udell worked for army until Beale’s new road construction party arrived from Fort Smith in March 1859. John Udell and his wife joined Beale’s construction party at Albuquerque, where they left on 3-8-59 on their march west headed for the Colorado River (arrived 5-2-59). John and Emily reached Los Angeles, California in June 1859, and from there they took a ship to San Francisco to stay with their two sons. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Udell
About this time Major Earl Van Dorn’s 6th U.S. Cavalry began an expedition into Kansas Territory to subdue the Comanche Indians. On October 1, 1858, Van Dorn attacks with cavalry and scouts in an inconclusive fight. Later Van Dorn returns and attacks Buffalo Hump’s camp on May 13, 1859 and kills 49 Indians, wounds 5, and captures 32 Indian women. Now, the Comanches are really mad at all Americans.
U.S. Army Comes to Protect Beale Wagon Road
Meanwhile, the U.S. Army began to try to deal with the Mojave Indian uprising along the Colorado River. A small detachment was sent from Los Angles to scout the Colorado River area in early January, 1859, resulting in the small Battle of Beaver Lake on the west side of Beale Crossing. The small company of army troopers were lucky to escape with only a few casualties. On 4-19-1859, Camp Colorado is formed on the eastern bank of Beale Crossing by a fresh U.S. Army battalion of about 600 troopers, recently stationed in Los Angeles, and commanded by Lt. Col. William Hoffman. During the next week (4-23) Lt. Col. Hoffman makes peace with local Mojave Indians (on 4-23-59), consumes a lot of food, and his army begins to build permanent defensive quarters on the high ground near the crossing. Satisfied that peace is holding and his troops are safe, Lt. Col. Hoffman takes most of his large army, along with eight Indian captives, south along the Colorado River to Ft. Yuma, leaving a small army force behind, commanded by Capt. Lewis A. Armistead. As Lt. Col. Hoffman leaves for Ft. Yuma on 4-28-59, Fort Mohave is officially commissioned operational under the command of Capt. Armistead, and his remaining 50 troopers. Soon Lt. E. F. Beale’s second expedition west to build the Beale Wagon Road will arrive.
Lt. Beale Returns on Second Expedition
On May 1, 1859 Lt. Beale with a small vanguard party arrives first at Beale Crossing (now Fort Mohave /Camp Colorado), being unsure of the status of Indians along the river. Beale discovers that peace has just been made with the Indians and that Capt. Armistead is now in command of a small U.S. Army force now stationed along River. Beale orders his remaining caravan to come down to Beale Crossing and prepare to cross the river. Beale’s camels and supply caravan cross the Colorado on 5-4-59 and head for Los Angeles for provisions (Udell is with them). Lt. Beale goes with his resupply caravan to Los Angeles and does not return to Fort Mohave with his new supply train until June 26, 1859. Beale leaves his work crew with Lt. Samuel A. Bishop in command to work on Black Mountain road (Sitgreaves Pass).
On June 29, 1859 Lt. Beale’s second expedition departs the Colorado River and Fort Mohave headed back east along the improving Beale Wagon Road, arriving at Albuquerque, New Mexico on 7-29-1859. Capt. Armistead and Lt. Elisha Marshall and their small force have a final and decisive fight with Mohave Indians 12 miles south of Beale Crossing on 8-4-1859, killing most of remaining Indian warriors. Fort Mohave was later burned on 5-28-61 at the start of Civil War, then re-garrisoned by U.S. troops on 5-19-63, primarily to protect California miners riding eastward to new gold and silver deposits just discovered in the Cerbat Mountains north of Kingman, AZ in early 1863.
Fort Mohave remained operational protecting the Beale Wagon Road and Immigrant Trail until the railroad arrived and crossed the Colorado River 21 miles below Fort Mohave at Needles, California in 1883. Following the Civil War, by 1867 the Hardyville ferry five miles north has become so dominant that the Beale Wagon Road from California to Kingman had shifted north to cross the Black Mountains at what was truly “Sitgreaves Pass,” soon known to the victors of the war as “Union Pass.” This new Beale Wagon Road section thru Union Pass became even more dominant as large-scale mineral ores were hauled by wagon trains to Hardyville and nearby Harpers for processing before shipping downstream by steamboat to Yuma. It all ended for the Beale Wagon Road, and for Harpers and Hardyville in 1883 when A&P’s (Santa Fe) transcontinental railroad bridge across the Colorado River was finally completed 26 miles south of Hardyville at Topock, AZ.
The Atlantic & Pacific Railroad crossed the Colorado River to Needles, California in 1883, the new A.T.S.F. railroad relocated in 1890, then the automobile-oriented National Old Trails Road from Kansas City to Los Angeles came in 1916, followed by Historic US 66 in 1926, then post-war Santa Fe Railroad built a new bridge in 1945, the modern US 66 borrowed the abandoned railroad bridge in 1947, and finally, the four-lane divided Interstate Highway 40 came in 1966. All served the national transportation needs initially addressed by the Beale Wagon Road of 1859, and the six iron-bridges initially built in Indian Territory.