Caldor wildfire burns through Tragedy Spring historic site
The California site Tragedy Spring where three members of the Mormon Battalion are buried — already damaged by a windstorm earlier this year — was burned by the Caldor wildfire last weekend. The fire destroyed brush and trees at the site, and it will likely take years for it to recover.
Jonathan Pierce, a public information officer with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Calfire), went to the site to look at the damage on Wednesday, September 8th. He says the damage was significant.
“It was a crown fire in there, which is a pretty severe fire. The fire got up into the trees. Most of the trees were already dead. A lot of the trees that still had green foliage will probably die,” Pierce told KSL Newsradio.
The graves are surrounded by a stone cairn held in place by concrete, and Pierce says they were not damaged. A marker placed by the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers also survived the fire.
“The plaque with the stonework along the road there, along Tragedy Spring Road, had some trees down over and around it, but when those are cleaned up, it doesn’t look like any of the stonework or the plaques were damaged,” he said.
A windstorm earlier this year knocked over several large trees at the site, including one immediately next to the gravesite. A volunteer group representing members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the California Pioneer Heritage Foundation worked to repair some of the damage, replacing stones and concrete at the site. They say no human remains were disturbed.
Henderson Cox, Daniel Browett and Ezra Allen were scouting a route through the mountains in June, 1848 when they were murdered. Other members of the Mormon Battalion came along a few days later and buried their remains in a permanent gravesite. They named the place Tragedy Spring. It has attracted many visitors through the years as they travel nearby on the Carson Pass Highway.