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Contact: Mike Brown, Elko Field Office, BLM
Elko, Nev. — The California Trail Center building foundation walls have been backfilled and compacted.
“The Trail Center foundation is in great shape,” said Dennis Petersen, California Trail Center Construction Project Inspector.
“The masonry contractor is scheduled to begin building walls this week. We’re over 150 days into the 510-day contract to build the Trail Center. Finishing the foundation and beginning the walls is a big milestone. People driving by on I-80 should be able to see the walls going up,” Petersen added.
When completed, the Trail Center will occupy an 11-acre footprint and will include 16,000 square feet in the main facility and a similar-sized interpretive plaza east of the building. Construction is scheduled to be completed in early 2008.
STORIES FROM THE TRAIL
Of Mules and Men, Trouble on the Trail - Part 2 - by Mike Brown
The story of Elisha Perkins and his mules didn’t end at Pacific Springs in Wyoming. A few days later near the Little Sandy River, things got worse. “Had indescribable trouble this morning with one of my mules, she being of an obstinate nature & has made trouble before. I was leading her with my rifle on my shoulder when she made an unsuspected and unaccountable surge ahead. Knocked my gun from my shoulder & broke the stock short off at the lock. This might have been repaired but I was made so angry by the thing that I picked up the barrel and instantly & without a minute’s thought struck her over the head with it, bending it to a curve & ruining it entirely.” He left the broken gun by the side of the road as a warning to others. That night while camped at the river, he met a German gunsmith who told him he could have fixed it for him - even the bent barrel.
Things calmed down between Perkins and his mules for rest of the way through what is now Wyoming and Idaho. But, along the Humboldt near present-day Elko, things deteriorated again.
Friday, August 31st, 1840, “Followed a path through a canon & I noticed that the pack of little “Vic” was loose & I stopped her, tightened it & whistled to her to go on again. When she passed me she gave me a severe kick laming me considerably. I caught her & thrashed her well.”
“Not more than an hour later, I stopped again to arrange her pack & as before had turned her loose to go on when she suddenly wheeled & struck me full in the breast breaking my watch crystal into a hundred pieces & the force of the blow knocking me backwards down the hill. I scrambled up determined to punish her in a way she would remember. Drawing my revolver from my belt I leveled it, took good aim & put a ball as I intended through the fleshy part of one of her thighs. The sharp stinging pain made her dance & squirm around lively for some minutes, & the soreness consequent lasted for rest of the day.”
Perkins made it to California in September, but he never found the gold. Indeed, he died of dysentery just a few years later and never saw his home or wife again …
Postscript – The story of Elisha Perkins is poignant to say the least. Like tens of thousands of other people, he gave up his life and made the trip to California in search of gold and wealth. When you stop and think about it … Perkins had a young wife who loved him very much … he had a baby son … he had a nice home in Ohio and bright prospects for the future. Elisha Perkins was already a “rich” man.