On May 21, 1850 Sarah
Davis left Independence, Missouri in a covered wagon pulled by
oxen, and headed for the gold fields of California. She
traveled along the Oregon Trail as she headed west and wrote
in her diary almost every day. She wrote that she saw many
wild animals such as bears, buffalo, geese, and ducks along
Traveling near the
Platte River she wrote about the beautiful view while other
people in Sarah's wagon train saw "Indians," wolves,
and lots of pioneer graves. Once she wrote about seeing
thirteen graves in a day. After her friend died of cholera,
she was the only woman in her wagon train. Sarah said she was
"very lonely," and wished there was another woman
making the journey with her. At Independence Rock, she saw the
signatures of other pioneers who had traveled the same route.
The wagon train
traveled 10 to 20 miles each day. She wrote about crossing
rivers and she described prairies that stretched as far as the
eye could see, as well as deserts, and snow covered mountains.
Sometimes the men
would walk the oxen five extra miles to find grass for them to
eat. The group left the Oregon Trail and headed south along
the California Trail toward their destination. They climbed
over the 7,000 foot summit of the Sierra Nevada Mountains then
came down the ridge into Nevada City on October 19, 1850.
After many months of traveling, Sarah was happy to arrive
in Nevada City and said, "It is a sight to see all
the miners here."
Sarah Davis was the only pioneer woman in her group to
survive the trip from Independence, Missouri to California.
She lived in Nevada City for many years and raised her family
here. Her husband built one of the first homes in the town.
Her pioneer spirit inspired other women to make the trip to
Sarah Davis was the
first of many pioneer women who tried the adventure of
traveling to the mining towns of California. Some of the
buildings that were built in 1850. are still standing as
historical landmarks today in testament to these early
Lyman Gilmore Jr. was
born in the state of Washington on June 11, 1874. He was the
sixth of eleven kids. When he was young, he was not interested
in farm work. He loved to watch the birds and listen to his
mother read the Bible. He also liked to make objects out of
paper that looked like birds.
Lyman left Washington
in the 1890's because he wanted to prove that men could fly.
He moved to Red Bluff, California where he bought a sheep
ranch. His first plane was a glider with an eighteen foot
wingspan. The glider flew when pulled by a horse. During its
first flight, the horse became frightened when he saw the
glider flying over him and ran away.
In the 1900's, Gilmore
moved to Colfax, California. He kept busy gold mining and
inventing an aircraft that he could attach to his newly
patented steam engine. In May of 1902, he built a 32 foot
plane that successfully flew as it was lifted by his
steam-powered engine. There were not very many witnesses
present. Therefore, some people did not believe Lyman when he
told them of his flight.
Lyman Gilmore claimed
that his flight took place months before the Wright Brothers'
historic flight at Kitty Hawk. In 1909, he gained the
attention of the Union Newspaper who wrote, "Down at
Colfax, they boast of a full-fledged aviator who made a flight
without breaking his neck."
Gilmore continued to invent aircraft throughout his life.
He claimed to have flown his steam-powered aircraft in Grass
Valley, California, in 1902. He spent the rest of his life
trying to prove that he was the first person to fly a powered
His airplanes and
hangers burned to the ground in 1935 so there is little
evidence remaining today that could prove he was the first
person to fly a manned aircraft. Many people have differing
opinions about the date and distance of the flight.
There is a film of his
famous flight located at the Smithsonian Institute in