After a year of co-ordinating with various government agencies, the concrete base for the Melissa Coray Peak monument was poured and finished recently, said S. Dennis Holland, Church public affairs director for historic sites in California.
The monument consists of a bronze plaque mounted in a large granite boulder at the outer edge of a scenic turn-out area above Silver Lake on Highway 88 in the Sierra Nevada range about 40 miles south of South Lake Tahoe in California.
The monument was dedicated July 30, 1994, by the Oregon-California Trail Association, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, and Sons of Utah Pioneers at the same time as the ceremony for the naming of Melissa Coray Peak, Brother Holland said. At the time, it was dedicated without a base. The state wanted the base to be finished at or near the same time as the turn-out area was blacktopped.
A group of Young Women and Young Men from the El Dorado Ward, El Dorado California Stake, took a 360 pound granite monument to the top of Melissa Coray Peak by handcart in August of 1997 and cemented it in place. The inscription reads: "MELISSA CORAY PEAK, elevation 9,763. Named after a heroic pioneer woman who crossed this pass in 1848, setting an example for those who followed."
Brother Holland recounted that the Mormon Emigrant Trail, which traverses the pass, was blazed by members of the Mormon Battalion who had spent the winter in California after being mustered out of the service. On July 3, 1848, they left Pleasant Valley assembly area east of Placerville and blazed the trail around the south area of Lake Tahoe. They crossed the Sierras at West Pass, 9,500 feet high, which is the highest wagon road in the United States. After more than a month of labor they came out in the Carson Valley. This was the road used the next three years by the Forty-Niners during the Gold Rush, with more than 200,00 people and 50,000 wagons.