Nameing Death Valley

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Posted by LeRoy Johnson on October 10, 2002 at 00:43:58:

William Lewis Manly gave the moniker “Death Valley” to the valley we call Death. He was a member of the Bennett-Arcan wagon train that entered the valley in December 1849. This train attempted to exit the valley via Warm Springs Canyon; they couldn’t make it and retreated to the valley floor. Manly and John Rogers (both single men) were sent over the mountain for supplies to help rescue the emigrants. Some of the party thought the Panamint Range was the Sierra Nevada. When Manly and Rogers got to the crest of the range, they could see the Sierra Nevada was 70 miles west of them.

They hoofed it down to Castaic Junction (near Newhall), got supplies, and returned to the valley. As they headed north to the waiting emigrants, they found Captain Culverwell dead along their previously broken wagon road—he is the only emigrant who died in the valley.

The emigrants had to abandon their wagons and they walked out of the valley, leaving behind all of their worldly possessions. In three days they reached Arrastre Spring and Manly took Mr. Bennett and Mr. Rogers to the crest of the Panamint Range so they could see the trek ahead. When they started back to the spring Manly said “Good by Death Valley” (an early newspaper account said he said: “There Lies Death Valley”). Myth has it that Mrs. Bennett or Mrs. Brier named the valley—not true.

This is a brief summary on how Death Valley got named.


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