ContentsPutah and Cache: Lake Berryessa

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Hunting Berryessa Valley

Lloyd Briggs, 1881

AUGUST 15.—Started off today with Slocum on another trip of investigation for his History, driving a nice pair of ponies with a sort of express wagon in which we packed our tents and provisions. We drove over the mountains to Berryessa Valley, through Gordon Valley. The road is extremely dusty this time of year, owing to the large trucks loaded with quicksilver which travel from the Knoxville quicksilver mine to Napa. The scenery is superb, and the waving wheat, hundreds of acres of which we passed, looked like a golden realm in such a wild, mountainous country. Quail are plentiful and quite tame, also the turtledove, and cottontail and jackass rabbits; and I had my game bag well filled on arrival from what shooting I had while standing in the team. I have shot twenty-seven doves before it was fairly light in this valley, and innumerable rabbits.

We passed many ranches bearing peculiar names, such as "Hole in the Wall," "Windy Flats," etc. The valley was named for the Berryessas, a Mexican family to whom it was granted by the Mexican government. Seņor Berryessa's body now rests peacefully near the roadside, far down the valley, which is nearly twenty miles in length. Arriving at Monticello, a farming and mining town of about 100 inhabitants, twenty-five miles from Napa, we put up at a hotel kept by E. A. Peacock, to whom belongs the distinction of building the first house in the town of Monticello in 1866.

AUGUST 17.—We remained yesterday in Monticello, and I enjoyed fishing in Putah Creek which runs back of the town. Of all the dusty places in this region this is the dustiest place I ever was in. We were white from the time we entered it until we left. The seats, tables, floors and counters, and all the articles on them, were buried in dust by the passing teams or puffs of wind; a cloud of dust arose from our beds as we retired for the night. I enjoyed talking with the inhabitants, who were kind and friendly, but, as one visitor at the hotel expressed it, "They do want to know where you cut your first tooth and how old you were; when and where you were born." Although the population is about 100, but three of the feminine sex were visible during the entire two days that we spent there.

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