THE GETCHELLS AND THE BETTY O’NEAL
Edward S. Slagle
Copyright 2013 Edward S. Slagle
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The history of the heartland of Nevada is robust and vibrant. Pumpernickel Valley, Horse Heaven Mountain, Green Monster Creek, Eureka, Berlin, Pancake Summit, Burnt Cabin Flat, Handcuff Canyon–the very names hint of a multitude of compelling stories that need to be retold to Nevadans several generations removed from the pioneers who gave these places their titles. In 1827 the fur trapper and explorer Jedediah Smith, the first white man to explore the center of what would later be the state, almost died of thirst while traversing the interior on his way from the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the Great Salt Lake. Shortly afterwards another fur trapper, Peter Skene Ogden, provided the first written record of the river now called the Humboldt. In 1846, a bit too late in the season, the Donner Party struggled over the basins and ranges. The Nineteenth Century explorer Sir Richard Burton and the incomparable humorist Mark Twain joined a vast array of others in trekking across Nevada shortly before major deposits of silver were discovered in the ranges beside the Reese River Valley.