Friday, January 14, 2011

Camp Salvation

Earthquake Rocks Calexico!
In truth, this is about the rare occurrence of a landmark being relocated, and since the April 10, 2010 quake moved all of Calexico 31 inches, it seems like a natural transition….and a way to use a very cool movie stock photo.

      July 1993 
      October 2003

Crossing Imperial County – Stop #5

From Fort Pacheco it’s east on
Worthington Road
, then south on Highway 86 through El Centro (land of Cher) to interstate 8 east, then south on Highway 111.

Highway 111 runs through the heart of Calexico just like it runs through the heart of Palm Springs. From interstate 10 near Whitewater to the international border at Calexico, highway 111 takes in about everything the Colorado Desert has to offer, yet it’s doubtful the entire 129 mile stretch is ever driven as a whole by a single driver.   

From the album booklet:
Actually the plaque has been moved sometime since the first visit here 1993 due to the construction of the new Calexico City Hall and the GPS coordinates show the new location which is now at the NE corner of Fifth and Heber. 

It wasn't much of a camp in reality and lasted only a matter of months but it must have been a welcomed sight for the '49er's with their small 6' x 9' wagons after the long haul from Yuma.  As the emigrants got closer to Camp Salvation, one could envision their imaginations going wild with the pleasures that awaited them.  

West Point graduate Cave Johnson Couts moved on to bigger things, married Ysidora Bandini, purchased the San Marcos, Buena Vista, and La Jolla ranchos, and was even known to have hosted Helen Hunt Jackson while she was collecting material for the epic 'Ramona.' He was born near Springfield, Tennessee, November 11, 1821 and died at the Horton House, in San Diego, June 10 1874.

Plaque Inscription: No. 808 CAMP SALVATION Here, on September 23, 1849, Lieut. Cave J. Couts, Escort Commander, International Boundary Commission, established Camp Salvation. From September till the first of December 1849, it served as a refugee center for distressed emigrants attempting to reach the gold fields over the Southern Emigrant Trail.

Location: Rockwood Plaza,
Sixth Street East
at Heber Ave, Calexico*
Google maps: 32.670879,-115.49351
Camp Salvation is 23 miles from Fort Pacheco

67 miles into the trip (not counting travel to the first landmark) and you’re feelin; pretty good. Well, get something to eat here and grab some snacks for this is it for convenient gas, food, and lodging till Yuma.

Here’s a link to a video sample of the song:

Fire up the mandocello.


In the summer of '49, we left St. Jo Missouri
Wagons loaded 6 x 9, for the gold fields we'll find surely
The wagon master he did say, "Folks I'd better warn 'ya
It's the Southern route were gonna take, on the trail to California

Chorus -
The heat could melt the devil's heart, cause a drover's blood to boil
I curse the day we made our start, across this sandy soil
Wagon wheels a-turnin' slow, the worst place in creation
We still have 20 (10 etc.) miles to go, to reach old Camp Salvation

Pleasures few and hardships great, on the Southern Emigrant Trail
But it surely beats the Donner's fate; we're determined not to fail
Many have tried to cross these dunes, and many a traveler died
Hungry eyes stared at the moon, and wondered why they tried

Now Lt. Couts is a brave young man, he's built a camp so fine
The fish will jump right in your pan, and the water tastes like wine
Fresh horses, mules and oxen too, can all be had for free
And they all ask what they can do, for a weary refugee

When we arrived we were surprised, it weren't like expectations
Just some soldiers left aside, from the Whipple expedition
But water's there and we're refreshed, this place we'll soon abandon
We passed the desert's cruelest test, now it's on to old Box Canyon

Chorus 2 -
The heat could melt the devil's heart, cause a drover's blood to boil
But I bless the day we made our start, across that sandy soil
Wagon wheels are turning nigh, to a gold field destination
Now it's time to say goodbye, to good old Camp Salvation

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