National Geographic : 1961 Jul
KODACHROMESBY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICPHOTOGRAPHERS toll. Oxen died; wagon and household goods left a grim trail across the salt. After recuperating at the same springs that water present-day Wendover, the Donner group pushed across Nevada, losing more and more time, finally making their rendez vous with disaster at the sunny lake where we now watched children swim and teen agers water ski. We joined the flow of traffic to the pass and marveled at the granite ledges and domes that Elisha Stevens had muscled his five wagons over in 1844 - the first wheels through this gateway to golden California. Wheels hummed on all sides as we coasted down the smoother, more gradual west slope of the Sierra to see what the emigrants were seeking. Soon it spread before us-the great Central Valley- the fabulous end of the wag oneers' rainbow-a land fertile as Eden, promising as Canaan, rich as Croesus. To day its major crops total 88, making Cali fornia the richest agricultural State. The elephant was not a hoax after all!