ContentsPutah and Cache: UC Davis

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Crossing Putah Creek

John Bidwell, 1841

I had with me an Indian. We had each two horses, and a pack horse to carry provisions and blankets. That night I lost all four of the riding horses. They were the best in California, and I suspected they had been stolen. Being unable to find them, I was obliged to borrow from Vaca the only animals he could spare; to-wit, an old mule for myself to ride, and a wretchedly poor horse for the Indian.

No one then knew the way to Sutter's Fort, there being no road. Using our own judgment, we struck off in a northeasterly direction which, could I have continued, would have brought me to my desired destination, Sutter's Fort at Sacramento; but a seemingly impassable stream intervened, and I was obliged to follow it down into the tule marsh, where night overtook us, and the water grew deeper and deeper, rendering it impossible to proceed. Obliged to retrace my footsteps, I endeavored to cross the stream in many places, and at last succeeded not only in getting into the stream during the night, but in getting out on the other side. I stayed on the plains about seven or eight miles north of the stream, without fire, without timber, without anything.

As I followed down that stream the night previous the number of grizzly bears that sprang out and ran into the timber was very large. All the paths seemed to be the paths of grizzly bears, judging from the tracks, but they invariably ran from us.

I mention the fact of crossing the stream (which is known as Putah Creek) because of the impossibility of crossing it even in the dry season, both banks being so steep and the sands so soft. I never afterward in the daytime found a crossing. You can ride a Mexican horse anywhere if you spur him.

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Putah Creek Riparian Reserve
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