If I stand on the hill in my back pasture I can look out and trace a long stretch of the old Applegate Trail, one of the pioneer wagon train routes. Once, while wandering a rocky and remote section of the trail, I found the two halves of a powder flask, battered and flattened and missing the collar and spout. There was a "hanging game" motif stamped into the pieces, a bountiful scene of plenty that would have been only a dream for whoever lost that flask all those many years ago in that unforgiving landscape.
The early emigrant accounts of this region are harrowing. In 1849 Joseph Alonzo Stuart described it as "...a scene of death and desolation. On either side of the road and almost walling it in were the dead and decaying carcasses of horses, mules and oxen mingled with the deserted and dying beasts of the day. One never can realize the horrors of such a situation till called upon to pass through it himself."