Carl Purpus, Plant Collector in Western America Report By C. A. Purpus On His Expedition To The Desert Areas Of Southern and Western Nevada, Northern Arizona, And Western Utah (Continued)  

C. A. Purpus

Translated from German by Barbara Ertter  

Home Page Published Biographies Travelogues and Other Articles Publishes by C. A. Purpus Collected Letters of C. A. Purpus Bibliography Site Administration  
Original Title:

Bericht des Herrn C. A. Purpus uber seine Tour in das Wuslengebeit des sudlichen und mittleren Nevada, nordluchen Arizona und westlichen Utah.

Mitteilungen der Deutschen Dendrologischen Geselischaft Nr. 7. 1898

Size Image Pine Valley from Santa Clara Gorge, Utah.  

Locations: Pine Valley.  

After several days’ sojourn in Diamond Valley, we departed to Pine Valley‚ and arrived there on one of the next days. Pine Valley lies on the northern and eastern foot of the Pine Valley Mountains. We camped near a ranch, tarrying here for several days.

Locations: Cane Springs Mountains.  

One magnificent morning I explored the Cane Springs Mountains, rising to the east [presumably the mountains around Kane Springs, although these lie to the west of Pine Valley]. This extremely rocky mountain range, formed for the most part of porphyry, has a very interesting flora. I found slopes here covered with Peraphyllum ramosissimum that was already laden with fruit. I returned to the camp that evening on rugged, neck-breaking paths.
Full Size Image Looking north up Mountain Meadow, Utah. Full Size Image Plaque, Mountain Meadow, Utah. Full Size Image Old farm in Hebron Valley, Utah. Full Size Image Hebron Cemetary, Utah. Full Size Image Heading west to Terry's Ranch, Utah.

Other Articles: On the Trail…: 0505

Locations: Hebron. Mountain Meadows. Terrys Ranch.  

After several days of rest we continued on our journey, passing through the notorious Mountain Meadows, where several hundred pioneers from Missouri were massacred by a band of Mormons in union with the Indians some 30 to 40 years ago. We arrived at Terry's Ranch‚ on the border of Nevada after two days’ travel through an interesting cool mountainous area interrupted by plateaus. The plains enroute were covered with Artemisia tridentata Nutt., which filled the air with its pungent aroma. On the mountains were sparse forests of Pinus monophylla and Juniperus californicus Carr. var. utahensis. We passed the small Mormon town of Hebron‚ and arrived around noon at Terry's Ranch, which lay at the foot of the Juniper Mountains, a rather flat mountain range surpassed by individual peaks. It was forested mostly by Juniperus californicus var. utahensis, J. occidentalis var. monosperma, and Pinus monophylla.
Full Size Image Jessie Tie Wash in "Juniper Mountains," Utah.     We halted at a spring where we decided to spend the night. On the cliffs I found Chamaebatiaria (Basilma) millefolium, an interesting shrub, an Eriogonum as yet unidentified, Penstemon eatonii A. Gray, P. palmeri A. Gray, the small shrubby Polygala acanthoclada A. Gray, miscellaneous Haplopappus, Spiraea [Holodiscus] dumosus, Monardella sp., and several others.
Full Size Image Panaca bluffs, Nevada.  

Locations: Hop Creek. Panaca.  

On the next day we traversed the Juniper Mountains and reached the small town of Panaca‚ the middle of the following day. The town lies on Hop Creek. Toward the west and north rose the jagged peaks of the Highland Range, crowned by Highland Peak, over 10,000’ [actually only 9400'] in elevation. In the valley were rock-hard mounds of earth, composed of sun-baked yellow loam. They gave the area an individuality that reminded me of the buttes in the Badlands of Dakota.
Full Size Image Pioche, Nevada.  

Locations: Ely Range. Pioche.  

We departed on the next day heading toward Pioche, the seat of Lincoln County. It was located at the foot of the Ely Range, a steep rocky limestone mountain interrupted by igneous rock. Although it looked botanically very interesting, unfortunately I could not explore it.

Locations: Highland Range.  

A rocky trail led us over a pass toward Bennett Spring, where I intended to stop for a day. On the way there we crossed hilly, thinly forested land traversed by deep ravines. Above us rose the steep peaks of the Highland Range. Cowania mexicana was a very common shrub here. I also encountered Prunus fasciculata A. Gray, Peraphyllum ramosissimum, and Fallugia paradoxa. I found Mammillaria deserti growing in stony places and the interesting but prickly Astragalus kentophyta A. Gray.

Locations: Bennett Springs. Highland Peak.  

We reached Bennett Springs, shaded by Populus fremontii and willows, the middle of the following day. On one of the next days I climbed Highland Peak. After a strenuous hike, I reached the summit before noon. Pinus monophylla and Abies concolor were the dominant trees, although the slopes of the highest peak were covered with Cercocarpus ledifolius. I also found Pinus aristatus Engelm. and the interesting Juniperus previously noted in the Charleston Mountains. Many sites were covered with Spiraeaa [Holodiscus] dumosa and Symphoricarpos. At an elevation of 8-9000’ I found Berberis fremontii, and on the cliffs the interesting Whipplea utahensis S. Wats., miscellaneous Haplopappus, and a Jamesia americana? with a very strongly developed calyx. In addition, Spiraea [Petrophytum] caespitosa covered entire outcrops with its velvety mats. The descent of this steep mountain was fully as strenuous as the ascent. I did not arrive back at camp until evening, totally exhausted.
Full Size Image Rocky southeast end of the north Pahroc Range, Nevada.  

Locations: Pahroc Range. Pahroc Spring.  

On the next day we departed to cross a waterless desert, the greater part of which was occupied by a dry lake. We were heading to Pahroc Spring‚ on the western slopes of the Pahroc Range, but did not reach the spring until the middle of the following day. We set up camp under massive boulders at the site of an old Indian camp on the eastern base of the mountains. The Pahroc Range is very interesting, towering several thousand feet above the Pahroc Plains as a steep-sided mesa, forested with Pinus monophylla and Juniperus. On its highest summit I observed Pinus ponderosa var. scopulorum, which I had not encountered on any other mountain range in the desert except for the Charleston Mountains. The masses of boulders here are marvelous; they pile up on one another, covering or projecting above slopes and ravines (the stone is mostly porphyry). I was therefore inspired to dub it, "Boulder Mountain." Around a meager spring that trickled from under a rock I found Celtis occidentalis. The most common woody species in the area were Ephedra, Cowania mexicana, and Tetradymia.
Full Size Image Pahranagat Valley, looking northeast to Hiko Range, Nevada.  

Locations: Hiko. Hiko Range. Pahranagat Range. Pahranagat Valley.  

We stayed here only one day. The next day we traveled through a parched land covered mostly with shrubby Chenopodiaceae. We crossed the Hiko Range‚ to Hiko‚ in Pahranagat Valley, a beautiful green valley with abundant water. Strong-flowing springs formed a small lake. To the west rose the gray Pahranagat Range, with the rugged Mt. Irish over 10,000’ tall. Swarms of mosquitoes descended on us that evening, preventing us from even thinking about sleep. I therefore decided to relocate camp to the foot of Mount Irish which we accomplished the following day.

Locations: Mount Irish. Quartz Spring.  

In the evening we reached the foot of the Mount Irish, which I climbed the next day, whereas my companions continued to the solitary spring we called "Quartz Spring". The mountain is composed of gray limestone, interspersed with quartz. It was forested with the usual oft-named conifers. Pinus ponderosa var. scopulorum and Abies concolor were associated from about 8-9000', whereas Pinus flexilis was on the peak. Cowania mexicana and Fallugia paradoxa were the dominant shrubs. I also found Purshia tridentata growing here in moderate amounts. The highest summit was covered with Cercocarpus ledifolius and C. intricatus S. Wats. In addition Amelanchier pallida and Spiraea [Petrophytum] caespitosa cover the outcrops in full bloom. The new Oenothera saxosa Brandeg. was as abundant here as in the Charleston Mountains. I gathered a rich botanical booty before returning to the camp at Quartz Spring in the evening.

Locations: Penoyer Valley.  

On the third day after our arrival, we departed to Penoyer Valley‚ [Sand Spring Valley], an arid desert containing a large playa in the center, surrounded on all sides by mountains of which the Timpah-utah Range is the highest. We camped at the foot of a small mountain [perhaps the Worthington Mountains?] composed of a solitary rock mass. Around midday the sky was full of black stormclouds, and not long after there followed a frightful thunderclap and electrical discharge such as I had never before witnessed. In the mountains the rain fell in torrents. Fortunately we received only the fringes of the inclement weather, but this was still enough to soak us through and through.
Full Size Image Sand Spring Valley and Quinn Canyon Range, Nevada, from south.  

Locations: Quinn Canyon. Quinn Canyon Range.  

The next morning we headed toward Quinn Canyon. In front of us rose partly white, partly reddish brown cliffs and a crater, a portion of the highly interesting Quinn Canyon Range‚ through which our path to the west would lead. We arrived at Quinn Canyon‚ that evening. I was delighted to find a small brook of excellent clear, cold water fringed by willows, which soon, however, vanished into the sand after a brief existence. In the dry streambed I found Lepidospartum squamatum A. Gray, an interesting shrub belonging to the Compositae. We set up camp on the small brook.

Locations: Pancake Range. Reveille Range. Reveille Valley.  

The next day we continued through the rocky canyon, then over a thinly forested plateau covered with Artemisia, to Reveille Valley [actually Railroad Valley]. Like Penoyer Valley, the center of this valley was occupied by playa. To the west it was bordered by the Reveille and Pancake ranges. While the Reveille Range‚ consisted of very steep jagged mountains, the Pancake Range‚ was formed of a series of apparently continuous mesas, interrupted by deep waterless ravines and canyons. Only on the western side of the Pancake Range grew scattered Pinus monophylla and Juniperus californicus var. utahensis. Both mountain ranges were of mixed volcanic and plutonic origin.
Full Size Image Hills north of Twin Springs, Nevada.  

Locations: Hot Creek Valley. Twin Springs.  

We spent the night near a playa and departed early the following morning. It was still very early in the day when we reached the cut that led like a gate into Hot Creek Valley. Toward noon we arrived at an isolated ranch named Twin Springs. The place had numerous springs and was filled with large willows, the green contrasting wonderfully with the arid desert landscape and barren mountains that surround it. I tarried here for several days in order to explore the adjacent mountains. On the cliffs I found several shrubby Haplopappus and assorted other unfamiliar Compositae that I have not yet identified. We were frankly unnerved at night by the howling of the coyotes (prairie wolves), which were extraordinarily numerous and bold here.

Locations: Reveille Range.  

On the next day I climbed one of the adjacent peaks in the Reveille Range, which stood like the tower of an old ruin against the sky. My route led mostly over volcanic substrates covered with a few shrubs belonging to Chenopodiaceae and Artemisia. Scattered Juniperus, shrubby Eriogonum, Haplopappus, and other plants grew in crevices in the rocks and in depressions where the water remained longer.

Locations: Hot Creek. Morey Peak. Morey Range.  

The following day we continued to Hot Creek, arriving in the evening. The small creek named Hot Creek arises in a canyon in the Morey Range‚ [= Hot Creek Range], a steep rugged mountain range whose highest peak is the 10,000’ high Morey Peak. The boiling hot springs were edged by a luxuriant growth of grass and tall-growing Typha. At the entrance of the canyon lay an extensive ranch, where I decided to stay for several days. From here I climbed Morey Peak, but did not reach the summit. The shrubs I saw included Purshia glandulosa [P. tridentata var. g.], Cowania mexicana, and a single specimen of an interesting hybrid between the two. I also saw Symphoricarpos oreophilus A. Gray and assorted Bigelowia. On the cliffs were Tanacetum canum Eat. and several Eriogonum species. Small turf flats protruded from depressions between rocks, dissected by streamlets that dwindled into the sand at the foot of the mountains.

Locations: Fish Spring Valley.  

I tarried two more days at the romantic mountain, especially interesting because of its canyons. I then travelled to Fish Spring Valley‚ [Little Fish Lake Valley], a long meadowy valley between the Morey Range and Table Mountain [= Monitor Range] containing an abundance of springs. Our way led through a splendid canyon with magnificent scenery, with hot or warm springs everywhere. I settled in Fish Spring Valley for two days.

Locations: Table Mountain.  

From here I climbed Table Mountain, a rather flat mountain formed partly of porphyry, partly of trachyte, dropping off precipitously to the west. On the summit I found a shrubby Artemisia with silvery white leaves that I have not yet further identified. In the cliffs grew a splendid Haplopappus, Basilima [Chamaebatiaria] millefolium, Sambucus glauca Nutt., and Symphoricarpos. The western slope was covered with a grove of Populus tremuloides. In the narrow valleys Populus angustifolia James grew as beautiful trees 40-50’ high. Cercocarpus ledifolius was one of the most abundant woody species here, often forming small trees. What forest there was consisted mostly of Pinus monophylla in association with Pinus flexilis and Abies concolor at 8-9000'.
  [Previous Page] [Next Page]

Go to page: [1] [2] [3] [4]

[Published Biographies] [Travelogues and Articles] [Letters]
[Plant Lists and Bibliography] [Site Administration]

[Home Page]

Date and time this article was prepared: 6/7/2002 7:32:18 PM