The Great American Desert
Roughing It
Mark Twain

On the nineteenth day we crossed the Great American Desert--forty memorable miles of bottomless sand, into which the coach wheels sunk from six inches to a foot. We worked our passage most of the way across. That is to say, we got out and walked. It was a dreary pull and a long and thirsty one, for we had no water. From one extremity of this desert to the other, the road was white with the bones of oxen and horses. It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that we could have walked the forty miles and set our feet on a bone at every step! The desert was one prodigious grave-yard. And the log-chains, wagon tires and rotting wrecks of vehicles were almost as thick as the bones. I think we saw log-chains enough rusting there in the desert to reach across any state in the Union. Do not these relics suggest something of an idea of the fearful suffering and privation the early emigrants to California endured? -- Mark Twain

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