Pilot Peak

Elko County
  40.84397, -114.20749

"Well, I would say this is the furthest east I'll go on Interstate 80 but, what the hell. West Wendover is a mere ten minutes away, and besides ... I need some real food. Cheetos and soda are getting old. I can almost envision smoke rising from the top of that peak. Where I sit by the modern-day convenience of air-conditioning and a V6 combustion engine, I can only imagine how difficult the journey must have been across Nevada. The drive here alone was long enough. but this wouldn't be Nevada if I didn't raise the stakes. I'm adding another twenty onto that. The curvature of the earth, the Enola Gay, Wendover Will and a 24-hour buffet, here I come. I'm in the mood for lobster. Only in Nevada." -- Journal Entry, May 2008

Along I-80 @ Exit 398, 12 mi west of Wendover

Original Date Visited: 5/13/09

Signed: No

  • Marker 46 plaque
  • Even in early May, this peak still retains some snow.  Imagine the flumes of smoke coming from this peak set from Kit Carson and his party
  • The ubiquitous semi and trailer plying Interstate 80 in the b.g.  The lack of mountains in the b.g indicates the vast flatness of the Bonneville Salt Flats just ten miles in the distance
  • Marker 46 on the far eastern edge of the Silver State
  • Pilot Peak
  • Marker 46 and Pilot Peak

Exact Description:
The high, symmetrically shaped mountain seen rising to the north is Pilot Peak. In the period 1845- 1850, it was a famous landmark and symbol of hope and relief to the Reed-Donner Party and all other wagon train pioneers who traveled the 70-odd deadly, thirst and heat-ridden miles of the Great Salt Lake Desert. Across this desert, between the Cedar Range on the east and Pilot Peak on the west, stretched perhaps the worst section of the infamous Hastings Cutoff of the California Emigrant Trail.

The peak was named by John C. Fremont on his expedition of 1845. Kit Carson, the expedition's guide, was sent ahead to locate water and found a line of springs at the peak's eastern base, now known as McKellar Springs. Carson is reputed to have guided the rest of Fremont's expedition across the salt desert by sending up smoke signals from the peak; hence, Fremont's name for it.

During the years 1847-1850, relief parties sallied forth periodically with water from the Pilot Peak springs to rescue and succor the thirst-crazed emigrants and their livestock struggling across the terrible salt desert to the east.

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Related Links & Markers

 [3] -- West End of Hastings Cutoff   Virtual Tour of the California Trail 

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