When the expedition encountered the Washo people near Bridgeport, they found their language completely unlike the Uto-astecan language of the Great Basin with which they were familiar. The Hokan language, a dialect of which is spoken by the Washo people, is apparently of great antiquity--it belongs to what is very likely the oldest of California languages. It seems that it was once spoken throughout the upper 2/3 of California, but thousands of years ago it had been centrally penetrated by Penutian stocks (Maidu, Miwok, and others) leaving it in four isolated areas, from the Pacific coast in the West, the California-Oregon border, and the area around Lake Tahoe.

Today, there are only ten remaining speakers of the Washoe tongue.

At Grover's Hot Springs Frémont recorded, "The nut pines were now giving way to heavy timber...our elevation above the sea was 6760 feet." The "nut pine," pinus monophyllus, was first collected by Frémont on this expedition, and later named and classified by the famous botanist John Torry. It was a valuable food source and trade item for the Washoe people.

East Fork Carson River, September 1855: There is an Indian Tribe [Washo] settled upon [the East Fork of the Carson River] , that from the days of Frémont, appear to have been uniformly friendly to the whites. They bear a high reputation for honesty amonst the inhabitants of Carson Valley. George H. Goddard, Marlette Surveys.

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Bob Graham