home

articles

news

links

book

search

new item

back

From Diane Elder, July 2003

Greetings...great web site!
I am trying to locate the diary of Theodore Talbot on-line. I cannot find it. Is it available to your knowledge?
Here in central Lake County, Fremont named several places. On this weekend our local festival is featuring history. I have all of Fremont and Preuss diary pertaining to this area, but was not aware that Talbot also had a diary. I am looking for his comments when they traveled through here in December 1843, if there are any.

This was the email I received from Diane Elder. I had to tell her that the Talbot journal ended at The Dalles, so would be of no help in her research. But I received further emails in response:

Paisley [near Summer Lake] has an annual Mosquito Festival. This year's theme is the local history. The information is going to be kept in city hall, and will be published in a book that the Lake County, Oregon historical society is going to publish in the spring.
I need to get ahold of a GPS and see if the locations Fremont gave for his locations are anywhere near our ranch. The closest paved road is Highway 31. Find White Hill creek. We are 3/4 mile off the highway to the south. White Hill Creek is feet from our house.

Diane didn't need to go borrow a GPS receiver. We found her with some software on the computer. We also located Frémont's positions given in his report, and with those, and his journal description, established the route.

On December 16, 1843, 2nd Lieutenant Frémont stood in a snow storm on the verge of a vertical rocky wall.

"At our feet--more than a thousand feet below--we looked into a green prairie country, in which a beautiful lake, more than twenty miles in length, was spread along the foot of the mountains, its shores bordered with green grass. Just then the sun broke out among the clouds, and illuminated the country below, while around us the storm raged fiercely. Shivering in snow three feet deep, and stiffening in a cold north wind, we exclaimed at once that the names Summer Lake and Winter Ridge should be applied to these two proximate of such sudden and violent contrast."

And they are still so called today.

After a difficult descent on the 16th, the route over the next two days took them right past Diane Elder's ranch house.

"...along the western shore of the lake, in the summer temperatures [52°f] we enjoyed today, justified the name we had given it"

Frémont mentioned that "night had closed in before the foremost reached the bottom, and it was dark before we all found ourselves together in the valley."
Loren Irving and Rick Sampo did a bit of research on this question and did some research that shows the following:

Moon's phase on night of Dec. 16, 1843 &endash; 25% waning crescent, moonrise 2:25am (from http://aa.usno.navy.mil/rstt/onedaytable?ID=AA&year=1843&month=12&day=16&state=OR&place=Bend ). So So, the moon was no help!

Something of geographical importance happened on the top of Winter Ridge that day in 1843.
In his description of what he saw looking eastward, Frémont first described and used the term Great Basin.
The term "Great Basin" first appeared in the report of the second expedition published in 1845, and on the accompanying 1845 Frémont / Preuss map--the first accurate map of the West.
Read more about Frémont's defining of the Great Basin.

"East of the Sierra Nevada, and between it and the Rocky Mountains, is that anomalous feature in our continent, the GREAT BASIN, the existance of which was advanced as a theory after the second expedition, and is now established as a geographical fact. It is a singular feature: a basin of some five hundred miles diameter every way, between four and five thousand feet above the level of the sea, shut in all around by mountains, with its own system of lakes and rivers, and having no connexion whatever with the sea."
Geographical Memoir Upon Upper California In Illustration of His Map of Oregon and California, 1848, by John Charles Frémont.

Leaving Summer Lake on December 19, after a two hour ride they encountered the Chewaucan River near today's town of Paisley. It was winter, so he missed both the mosquitos and the Paisley Mosquito Festival.


©1999, 2007
Bob Graham