Tragedy Spring, Amador County, California

Site of Tragedy Spring. Photo (2010) by Kenneth Mays.
Site of Tragedy Spring. Photo by Kenneth Mays.

Following the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill, former members of the Mormon Battalion continued eastward to find Brigham Young and the Saints who were working their way to Zion. They cut a route through the beautiful but rugged Sierra-Nevada Mountains. On the morning of July 18, 1848, some members of the group, including the road crew, found the gravesite of three of their scouts who had been brutally killed and placed in a shallow grave.

Site of Tragedy Spring. Photo (2010) by Kenneth Mays.
Site of Tragedy Spring. Photo by Kenneth Mays.

Daniel Browett, the camp leader, was one of murdered scouts. The other two were Ezrah H. Allen and Henderson Cox. Camp members named the site Tragedy Spring. Wilford Hudson, a group member, carved the names of the slain members in the trunk of fir tree, preserving their identities and the site of the massacre. A portion of that actual trunk has been preserved as a memorial and is on display at the Marshall Gold Discovery Park at Coloma, California.

The names of the murdered scouts were carved into this tree trunk. Photo (2010) by Kenneth Mays.
The names of the murdered scouts were carved into this tree trunk. Photo by Kenneth Mays.

Map & Directions

The site of Tragedy Spring is located in the Eldorado National Forest. From either side of Lake Tahoe, go south to US 50 to SR 89. Go south on 89 to SR 88 and go west. Continue past Caples Lake and on to Silver Lake. About 2 miles west of Silver Lake SR 88 will intersect with Tragedy Springs Road. Turn on to Tragedy Springs Road and drive to the parking area. You will want to get out and walk around. The gps coordinates to that junction are: 38°38’15.22″ N; 120°08’32” W.

Photos

Historical marker at Tragedy Spring. Photo (2010) by Kenneth Mays.
Historical marker at Tragedy Spring. Photo (2010) by Kenneth Mays.
Historical sign near Tragedy Spring. Photo (2010) by Kenneth Mays.
Historical sign near Tragedy Spring. Photo (2010) by Kenneth Mays.
Historical marker at Tragedy Spring. Photo (2010) by Kenneth Mays.
Historical marker at Tragedy Spring. Photo (2010) by Kenneth Mays.

Articles & Resources

Sources

Michael N. Landon and Brandon J. Metcalf, The Remarkable Journey of the Mormon Battalion, 88-93.

Norma Baldwin Ricketts, The Mormon Battalion, U.S. Army of the West, 207-211.