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In the fall of 1857, two brothers named Ethan Allen and Hosea Ballou Grosh (pronounced “grow-sh”), planned a trek across the Sierra Mountains from south of Virginia City, NV to a remote mining town called Last Chance, CA. From there they aimed to carry-on to Sacramento, then San Francisco.
Their mission was to raise capital to fund their mining discovery, a sample of which they intended to bring with them along with detailed maps and assays. They believed they had discovered a major vein of silver in the Washoe Valley and surrounding mountains, which if confirmed, could lead to tremendous fortune.
Alas, on the precipice of success, the hand of fate intervened and the younger brother died from a self-inflicted wound from an axe pick. The elder brother, distraught with grief, resolved to carry-on with the trek to honor his brother’s memory and bring fortune to his family’s name.
On November 15, 1857 Ethan Allen, a friend, Richard Bucke (pronounced “buck”) and a donkey packed with their samples, maps, detailed notes, supplies and belongings, left Gold Canyon, NV and headed to Last Chance, CA.
Fate once again intervened and slammed the two with a series of early winter storms, pinning them down in Squaw Valley for days. Eventually they ascended the Sierra in brutal conditions only to became lost. Starvation, hypothermia, frostbite and exhaustion brought them to near death. Remarkably, they eventually came upon a small mining encampment where they were provided food and shelter.
But after being dragged into Last Chance, the elder brother perished due to severe frostbite and hypothermia. And with him died their family dreams and discoveries.
Or did they…
The Grosh/Bucke journey is a 23-day saga that has captivated historians and adventurers for nearly two centuries. However, little is known about their precise route or their physical, mental and emotional state throughout the ordeal.
The Grosh Brothers Expedition’s mission, to the best of our ability, is to
- Provide a historically accurate map of the E. Allen/Bucke journey,
- Identify location of Greek Hotel,
- Search for the maps, silver samples and detailed documents of their discovery, hidden inside a pine tree and marked,
- Search for the remote gravesite of Ethan Allen Grosh in the abandoned mining town of Last Chance,
- Search for the location of the Grosh Brother’s mining hut near Gold City,
- Pay respects to Hosea Grosh at his gravesite in Silver City, NV,
- Explore the history, character and motivations of the Grosh Brothers and Richard Bucke.
- Examine the details of the circumstances surrounding the eventual discovery of the greatest concentration of mineral worth in all the world, representing half of all the silver in the country at that time: The Comstock Lode.
- Consider the human survival instinct and reflect upon the fateful 24 hours in which Ethan Allen and Bucke were prepared to surrender to death, yet persevered.
Last, we will honor these courageous pioneers by performing a reprise of their 100-mile trek across the Sierras, in late February, 2023.
Details of Expedition
To honor the Grosh Brothers, a never before attempted 100-mile winter crossing on foot across the Sierra Nevada Mountains from Gold Canyon, Nevada to Last Chance, California, retracing their route.
We will depart Gold Canyon, NV on February 27th, 2023 and arrive at Last Chance, CA 5 days later.
Co-founders, veteran ultra-distance trail runners who have organized and performed previous history expeditions:
- Bob Crowley: Forlorn Hope, Donner Relief, Grosh Brothers
- Tim Twietmeyer: Forlorn Hope, Donner Relief, Grosh Brothers
Accompanied by veteran endurance athletes who have performed previous history expeditions:
- Jennifer Hemmen: Forlorn Hope, Donner Relief, Grosh Brothers
- Elke Reimer: Forlorn Hope, Donner Relief, Grosh Brothers
- Hal Hall: Grosh Brothers
It is anticipated it will take the team 5 days to complete the expedition. The route will take them across the Washoe Mountains in western Nevada, around the northern shore of Lake Tahoe, up and over the Sierra Nevada Mountains (8,774′), down to the Middle Fork of the American River and up to the remote mining town of Last Chance, California. Deep snow and frigid temperatures are anticipated, requiring much of the journey be done in snowshoes and wilderness arctic gear. Progressing 20-30 miles per day, the hikers will set camp each evening close to where they believe several notable camps existed including the Greek Hotel, Duncan Canyon and Last Chance.
Why and Deliverables
1. Appreciate the history, character and motivations of Grosh Brothers, the obstacles they encountered and insights into their psyche throughout their ordeal,
2. Share important new historical information and maps regarding believed route of the Ethan Allen Grosh and Richard Bucke,
3. Honor and reflect upon these unfortunate souls who sacrificed their lives in pursuit of the great American dream.
The adventurers will keep a daily journal during their journey. A film crew will be embedded to capture the conditions, terrain and team interaction. A GPS tracking system will trace the team’s movements live over the internet. Anyone can follow the expedition beginning February 27th [we will publish a link for following closer to the expedition date].
As an expression of respect, each team member will carry tribute cards with the story’s protagonist’s photo and brief bio to honor them.