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Vincent P.Gianella
Where Frémont Crossed the Sierra in 1844
Sierra Club Bulletin, Vol.44, No.7, October , 1959.

Prior to 1996, the closest anyone had come to finding the actual location of Frémont's Long Camp was Dr. Vincent P. Gianella of the University of Nevada. I have determined that Gianella's 1959 photograph (which he correlated with the Preuss drawing (top of page) was taken from N38° 40' 23" by W 119° 54' 56" elevation 7901'--the rising ground between Charity and Faith Valleys. This was the actual place from which Melo, the Washoe guide, pointed out the pass. This was not , however, any camp of Frémont's, as he states that after reaching this point, "I returned a short distance back, to the break in the hollow, where I met Mr. Fitzpatrick."
The place indicated was the camp made on February 4th, at the very foot of Charity Valley, just above the "small precipice" mentioned by Frémont. (see three articles indicated below.)

Dr. Gianella attempted to reconcile the positions recorded:

"The latitude of the 'long camp' is given as 38° 41" 57" and for the Summit (apparently estimated) 38° 44'. However, Frémont (pp. 483, 485), determined the latitude of the "long camp" as 38° 41' 03" and, on the nineteenth, 38° 41' 51". An average for the two determinations gives 38° 41' 27". It would appear that there are two misprints here; the 57" given in the body of the report, should read 51", and 38° 44' for the summit, should be 38° 42'. Present-day maps (5) indicate a latitude of 38° 41' for the "long camp," and 38° 42' for the summit where the party crossed. This figure is in agreement with that which Frémont determined under such trying circumstances."

But he was in error in thinking that the determinations of the 14th and 19th were made from the same location; he took a mean of the two. This confusion apparently came from the fact that both positions given in the Astronomical tables are labeled "The Long Camp."
The reason is that the name "Long Camp" is given to the area and route from the advance camp reached on the 10th ("...within two and a half miles of the head of the hollow [now Red Lake Reservoir], and at the foot of the last mountain ridge [Elephant Back]"--Frémont) to the camp finally made on the summit on the 19th--nine days of the final assault, and hence, "Long Camp."

Had Gianella followed this course, he would have gone to the Frémont's position of latitude determined on the 14th and taken the photograph below which agrees perfectly with Frémont's determination and correlates perfectly with the 1844 Preuss drawing (top of Page).

Further, Frémont's determination of latitude made on the 19th runs right down present highway 88 at the top of Carson Pass, leaving no doubt as to the route taken, the peak from which Lake Tahoe was first sighted, and the exact point where the pass was finally crossed.

These positions, "...which Frémont determined under such trying circumstances,"--Gianella), are, in spite of those "trying circumstances," right on the money--Frémont made no error at all.

For details of the route and other route segments and camp locations see Articles above.

go THE ROUTE FROM MARKLEEVILLE: A walking examination following Frémont's narrative of the 1844 winter route from Markleeville to Charity Valley and the first view of Carson Pass,

This is part of a longer article--see it here.

©1999, 2007
Bob Graham