|From the plaque:||Some 100 wagons found themselves in Salt Lake City too late to cross the Sierra Nevada. They banded together under the name of Sand Walking Co. and started for the gold fields in California over the old Spanish Trail. After being in Death Valley with the ill-fated 1849 caravan, Harry Wade found this exit route for his ox-drawn wagon, thereby saving his life and those of his wife and children. At this point the Wade party came upon the known Spanish trail to Cajon Pass.
Originally registered October 9, 1957. Plaque provided by the descendants of Harry Wade. Dedicated by Death Valley ’49ers in cooperation with the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors and California State Park Commission, November 8, 1967. new plaque provided and dedicated by the ancient and honorable order of E Clampus Vitus, November 13, 1999.
The Wade family was part of the Bennett-Arcan party that was guided by William Lewis Manly through Death Valley late in 1849. The memoirs of Manly (available for free at Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org) are fascinating reading, but he makes no mention of the Wades in them. Piecing together the story takes some time and patience, especially as there were several “ill-fated” caravans that trekked through Death Valley in 1849.
The well-graded dirt road that runs west from the marker follows the approximate route that the Wades took out of Death Valley; it joins the paved N-S road through Death Valley National Park near Shoreline Butte.
Two interesting bits of information: first, while the marker was dedicated on the date cited, below, it was registered by the COHP on 9 October, 1957; second, in 1994, Death Valley National Monument became a National Park, and was increased in size by about a third. The new southern boundary runs along the north side of the dirt road.