Friday, June 10, 2011

Bishop Creek Battleground

Inyo County, August 30, 1993

From the Owensville landmark we head 16 miles to the west on lonely highway 168 to the Bishop Creek Battleground. From here this fairly straight road starts gaining serious altitude as it dead ends near Lake Sabrina after passing through the summer getaway of Aspendell (alt. 8400’).


There is a website called The California Military Museum that is a great place to fact check these military related landmarks for accuracy, and this particular one seems to have more holes in it than a loaf of sheepherder’s bread from Schott’s Bakery in Bishop. In reading their article, ‘The Owens Valley Indian War 1861-1865’ the well sourced account of events shows this landmark to be off on a few points; like location, dates, and the rest of the text. In the canyons up the road a skirmish took place a few days later and that could possibly be what they’re talking about, or it could be a skirmish to the south at Big Pine Creek a few days earlier. As to ‘Paiute and Shoshone’ Indians, the military museum offer this:

“The Owens River valley had been the home of the Paiute Indians for many years; Linguistically, these Indians spoke the Shoshone language and. are sometimes referred to as the Paiute Shoshones. They were primarily rood gatherers and farmers. They lived on Pinyon Pine nuts, wild hyacinth tubers and yellow nutgrass tubers as well as the larva or a fly that laid its eggs upon the surface of saline Owens Lake. They also lived on deer, Desert big horn sheep, fish and small game. They had built an extensive ditch irrigation system for irrigating the wild hyacinth and yellow nutgrass.”

With this in mind, you can imagine how Paiutes felt when an initial 650 head of cattle are brought on your land and subsistence and allowed to roam free and stomp on and/or eat your food. Combining this with the winter of 1861-2 being one of the worst in history, conflict was inevitable.

Meanwhile, with the Civil War taking most regular troops, the Army was composed chiefly by unpaid California volunteers….the miners, cattlemen and settlers of the region.  

Early Owens Valley - OAC photo

Noehill photo

Plaque inscription: NO. 811 BISHOP CREEK BATTLEGROUND - On April 6, 1862, a battle took place around this site between newly arrived citizens of the Owens River Valley and the original inhabitants of the land, the Paiute and Shoshone Indians. The reason for this battle is lost but brave men on both sides died here for a cause which they held inviolate.
Location: SE corner of the intersection of State Hwy 168 (P.M. 13.0) and Bishop Creek Rd, 5.2 mi SW of Bishop
Google: 37.30007,-118.537567

No comments:

Post a Comment