Tag Archives: First Wagon Train into California

Joseph R. Walker

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

Often people from Roane County leave their marks in other places. One of those people is Joseph R. Walker (1798-1876) who is considered one of the greatest mountain men of the western frontier. Among his many accomplishments, were being the first white explorer of the Great Salt Lake in Utah and the first white man to cross the Sierra Nevada Mountains. In 1833 he discovered the Yosemite Valley. Walker helped to survey the Santa Fe Trail and led the first wagon train into California. He also helped to found Independence, Missouri and served as sheriff there. Among the places that are named for him are Walker Lake (River) in Nevada and Walker Pass in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. He is buried in the Alhambra Cemetery, in Martinez, California. His tombstone reads: “Captain Joseph R. Walker, Born in Roane Co., Tenn., Dec. 13, 1798, Emigrated to Mo. 1819. To New Mexico 1820. Rocky Mountains 1832. California, 1833. Camped at Yosemite Nov. 13, 1833. Died Oct. 27, 1876. Ae. 77 y’s. 10 m’s & 14 ds.”

Originally Written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, May 2016.