August 22, 1826 - Jedediah Smith

Jedediah Smith and Men in the Mojave Desert in 1826 (c.1905 by Frederic Remington)

"The first American to describe the San Bernardino Valley was a member of the fur trapping expedition which came this way in 1826.  The diarist's name was Harrison G. Rogers.

"Anxious to explore the country between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Rogers was one of 18 mountain men led by 27 year old Jedediah Strong Smith.  The party left northern Utah on August 22, 1826 and traveled southerly to the Mohave villages near the Colorado River.

"They followed the Mohave Indian Trail from Soda Lake to the San Bernardino Mountains before tromping down into the wide San Bernardino Valley.  After a brief stopover, the ragged, dirty, and half-starved band of trappers headed for Mission San Gabriel, where they arrived on November 7, 1826.  Jedediah Smith and his men had become the first Americans to reach California by the overland route.

"The Smith party was detained for over two months while Governor Jose Maria Echeandia investigated the reasons why these uninvited guests arrived.  California was still under Mexican rule, and any report of "foreigners" entering from the east was disturbing to say the least.

"The trappers resumed their journey on January 17, 1827 and headed back to the San Bernardino Valley. This time their layover was for more than a week.  They camped at "Jumuba", an Indian village located [just south of todays Redlands Boulevard and west of Hunts Lane]...

"While gathering supplies and breaking wild horses, it was at this camp that Rogers wrote his impressions of the climate, recorded the trouble that the men experienced because of horses running away and mentioned about the Indians in the San Bernardino Valley."

   (From the writings of Nicholas R. Cataldo)