The Journey of the Dead Man

Early Spanish traders named the fifty-five dry miles separating Las Vegas and the Muddy River the Jornada del Muerto (Journey of the Dead Man). The longest stretch without water along the Old Spanish Trail was littered with the skeletons of animals and parts of wagons abandoned along the sandy desert. Most experienced travelers made the trip at night.

John C. Fremont crossed the Jornada in 1844 and commented: “We ate the barrel cactus and moistened our mouths with the acid if the sour dock. Hourly expecting to find water, we continued to press on to midnight, when after a hard and uninterrupted march of 16 hours, our wild mules began running ahead; and in a mile or two we came to a bold running stream (the Muddy River).”

Nevada State Historic Marker #139

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