Carson River

The Carson River is a northwestern Nevada river that empties into the Carson Sink, an endorheic basin. The main stem of the river is 131 miles (211 km) long although addition of the East Fork makes the total length 205 miles (330 km), traversing five counties: Alpine County in California and Douglas, Storey, Lyon, and Churchill Counties in Nevada, as well as the Consolidated Municipality of Carson City, Nevada.

Zedekiah: “Very rarely do I take terrestrial landscape photographs, it is just not my cup of tea. I love shooting from the air! But sometimes as I pass though an area I am compelled to stop and take the shot, such was this scene along the Carson river in the Carson Pass just south of Lake Tahoe, California. This scene was readily available from the side of the road during my trip through there in early March.”

Archaeological finds place the eastern border for the prehistoric First Nations Martis people in the Reno/Carson River area, apparently the first humans to enter the area about 12,000 years ago. By the early 1800s, Northern Paiute tribes lived near the lower Carson River and the present Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge, and the Washoe people inhabited the upper watershed region.

This beautiful river and valley were both named for the legendary Kit Carson, who guided John C. Frémont’s expedition westward up the Carson Valley and across Carson Pass in winter, 1844. He was a mountain man, frontiersman, guide, Indian agent and United States Army officer. His full name was Christopher Houston “Kit” Carson and he was born in Kentucky in 1809 and died in Fort Lyon, Colorado in 1868 at the age of 58, then buried near his home in Taos, New Mexico.

Though he had a huge reputation as a wild mountain man, in 1847, after General William Tecumseh Sherman met Kit Carson he wrote: “His fame was then at its height, … and I was very anxious to see a man who had achieved such feats of daring among the wild animals of the Rocky Mountains, and still wilder Indians of the plains … I cannot express my surprise at beholding such a small, stoop-shouldered man, with reddish hair, freckled face, soft blue eyes, and nothing to indicate extraordinary courage or daring. He spoke but little and answered questions in monosyllables.”

Lieutenant George Douglas Brewerton wrote: “The Kit Carson of my imagination was over six feet high — a sort of modern Hercules in his build — with an enormous beard, and a voice like a roused lion … The real Kit Carson I found to be a plain, simple … man; rather below the medium height, with brown, curling hair, little or no beard, and a voice as soft and gentle as a woman’s. In fact, the hero of a hundred desperate encounters, whose life had been mostly spent amid wilderness, where the white man is almost unknown, was one of Dame Nature’s gentleman “

There are numerous places named after Kit Carson, most all of them beautiful and wild.

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