Sunday, 1 January 2017

Convict Lake, California

Wutsunupa – lake in the dent in the ground or Tuvaimawiye’elake that follows the enemy is the Paiute name for Convict Lake.

Paiute Indians believe that all high alpine lakes are places of great power and should be treated with great respect.

Stories tell how a boy named Hai’nanu disrespected the lake and challenged its power.   The lake chased him into the mountains and the only way he escaped was by jumping through the roof of the sky. 

Paiute Indians lived at lower elevations, but came to Convict Lake in the summer and autumn to gather food and materials to weave into baskets. 

The lake got its present name when 29 men escaped from the Carson City penitentiary in Aurora, Nevada in September 1871.   A posse tracked 6 of the convicts to the lake and during a shootout Robert Morrison, the County Sherriff and Mono Jim a Paiute guide were killed.  

Mount Morrison at the west end of the lake is named for the Sherriff and a nearby peak is named for Mono Jim. 

Another tragedy took place at the lake, around the early 1900's I think, when three boys from a local youth camp fell through the ice and two of the camp counsellors died trying to save them. 

Luckily the day we visited was simply gorgeous with absolutely no ice, no convicts and no shootout! 

Have fun, we are!

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