The Bennet-Arcan party, lead by famed William Lewis Manly, also of the lost "49ers, crossed Panamint Valley in early 1850 at a point farther south in the valley where the Briggs mine now searches for gold. They also drove oxen, but the pet favored by the children was Cuff, Bennett's large white mastiff. Cuff probably wore rawhide booties as did the humans and the oxen as he crossed the rough mountains and sandy desert. His job was to warn the company of danger. Cuff survived the desert tek and accompanied Bennett to the gold fields at Georgetown (near Placerville) where he was stolen and never seen again.
William Manly speaks fondly of Old Crump the ox with a bent horn who carried two, sometimes four, children out of Death Valley over 250 miles to Newhall in southern California. He saw Old Crump again six years later, out to pasture, fat and well cared for. His new owner said after saving the children in the desert the valiant ox deserved a rest.
The first mule in Panamint Valley came with Manly and Roger, the '49ers who rescued the Bennett and Arcan families from Death Valley in early 1850. It was a sorry little one-eyed mule that Manly bought from some trail builders in San Francisquito Canyon in the San Gabriel Mountains when he and Rogers hiked out of the desert to find supplies for those left behind. Manly said, "One man offered to sell us a poor little one-eyed mule, its back all bare of covering from the effect of a great saddle sore that had very recently healed. He had picked it up somewhere in Arizona where it had been turned out to die, but the beast had enough of the good Santa Ana stock in it to bring it through and it had no notion of dying at the present time, though it was scarcely more than a good fair skeleton, even then. The beast became mine at the price of $15." That little mule scaled canyon walls and cliffs that were too difficult for the horses that Manly and Rogers brought back for the women and children to ride out of Death Valley. It carried the wheat and beans that gave the needed strength to the party to hike out of the desert.
Animals were essential to the mining development of the panamint area, as a source of food, as pack animals and the as stagecoach and freighting teams. With the advent of motorized vehicles, animals here are no longer beasts of burden, but are either pets or living wild in their natural habitat.
Dedicated to the animals at Panamint Springs Resort, by their compadre, Caramel Kitty.