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Moonrise at Death Valley California


Now is not the time to explore Death Valley landscape. On Sunday August 16, 2020 Death Valley registered a temperature of 130 degrees, Fahrenheit making it the hottest place on earth. But it’s been hotter. In 1913 Death Valley registered a temperature of 134 degrees.

Manley point n Death Valley named after William Lewis Manly who saved the wagon train

William Lewis Manly

At times like these, I appreciate more and more William Lewis Manly and the act of heroism he performed under the murderous Death Valley sun, described in breathtaking detail in his book “Death Valley in ‘49.”

In 1849 Manly was a twenty nine years old, traveling with a wagon train of pioneer families, crossing the hot desert bound for California. They were on their way to the newly discovered

Small wagon train in a big land

California gold fields where they hoped to make their fortunes.

Taking a Short Cut

Taking a supposed shortcut, the wagon train took a wrong turn and became trapped in a valley with no escape and no water. They were doomed to die. It was Death Valley.

In an act of super heroism, Manly and a companion struggled out of Death Valley. Drop by drop they found enough water in the dry desert to survive, making it to civilization. Then, with fresh horses and supplies they returned to the doomed pioneers and led the nearly dead group to safety.


Endless sand dunes in Death Valley under merciless sun.


Manly Saves the Wagon Train

It’s a thrilling story of selflessness we don’t hear enough of these days. That’s why I recorded it as an audiobook for my Listen 2 Read American Adventure Library.

Eventually Manly made it to the gold fields and was one of the few who actually made money! Returning to his home in the Midwest, Manly carried gold he had mined, secretly wrapped around his body.

Manly crossed the dangerous disease infested jungles of Panama, near what is known today as the Darien Gap, through which many of today’s refugees die on a perilous path to the United States border.

If you have ever been curious about pioneer wagon trains, how it was to live and work in the California gold fields, and how dangerous the jungles of Panama were before the building the canal, you will enjoy Manly’s first person account on our Listen2Read audiobook. He was there and he takes you there with him.

Download it here:


From all of us at Listen 2 Read, we send our best wishes for the health and welfare of you and your family during these difficult times.

Andre Stojka
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