Though but little faith was at first felt in the success, no one, at the present day, can fail to appreciate the enterprise which characterized the progress and final completion of this road, the longest in the world, and its immense value to our government—the whole people—while those who labored diligently for the speedy building of the road, are deserving the gratitude of the world, its present, efficient board of managers are deserving of equal praise for the successful manner in which they have conducted the affairs of an institution of such magnitude. A point on the Missouri river, near Omaha Neb., having been designated as the initial point, ground was formally broken there on the 5th day of November, 1865 and the work on the Great Trans-Continental Railroad was commenced in earnest by the Union Pacific Railroad Company.
By the act of 1862, the time for the completion of the road was specified. The utmost limit was July 1, 1876.
George Francis Train, in his speech on the occasion of breaking ground, said the road would be completed in five years. He was ridiculed for the remark, classed as a dreamer and visionary enthusiast; the greater portion of the people believing that the limited time would find the road unfinished. Old Fogy could not yet understand Young America; in fact, he never will, because he don't want to—it interferes with his old way, and therefore, must be wrong. The first contract for construction on the Union Pacific was made in August, 1864, but various conflicting interests connected with the location of the line, delayed yet its progress. Shops must be built, forges erected, all the machinery necessary for successful work must be placed in position before much progress could be made with the work. This was accomplished as speedily as circumstances would permit, and by January, 1866, 40 miles of road had been constructed, which increased to 265 miles during the year; and in 1867, 285 miles more were added, making a total of 550 miles on January 1, 1868. From
MAP OF THE UNION PACIFIC RAIL ROAD.
Click to view
Most Americans are familiar with the history of the road, yet but few are aware of the vast amount of labor performed, in obtaining the material with which to construct the first portion. There was no railroad nearer Omaha than 150 miles eastward, and over this space all the material purchased in the Eastern cities had to be transported by freight teams at ruinous prices. The laborers were, in most cases, transported to the railroad by the same route and means. Even the engine, of 70 horse power, which drives the machinery at the Company's Works at Omaha, was conveyed in wagons from Des Moines, on the river of that name; that being the only available means of transportation at the time.
For six hundred miles west of Omaha the country is bare of lumber, save a limited supply of cottonwood, on the Island in and along the Platt River wholly unfit for railroad purposes. East of the river the same aspect is presented, so that the company were compelled to purchase ties cut in Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York at prices reaching $2.50 per tie. We might add that the supplies necessary to feed the vast body of men engaged had to be purchased in the East and thus transported. In less than a year, however, these obstacles had been overcome, and the work proceeded at much less expense thereafter.
A fine bridge is in course of construction, which, when completed, will afford direct transit for the trains, forming an unbroken chain from the Atlantic to the Pacific. This bridge is located a little below the present depot, and opposite that part of the town known as "Traintown." The irrepressible George Francis had a kindly business eye for Omaha some few years since, and probably has yet; but, at that time, he showed his speculative abilities by purchasing, for a nominal sum, several hundred acres which eventually must realize their owner a fortune such as millionaires are content with. The bridge is "Post's patent," and will be of iron, half a mile long. The spans are to be 250 feet in length and eleven in number.— It will rest 50 feet above high water mark and 70 feet above low tide. The piers are to be hollow cylinders—instead of stone—filled in with concrete, rocks, etc. The railroad bridges over the Pedee and Santee in South Carolina, and the new wagon and foot bridge across Harlem river, New York, rest on similar foundations. These piers are cast in Chicago, and brought here in the shape of enormous rings, ten feet long. The iron is one and three-fourths of an inch in thickness and the tubes are nine and a half feet in diameter. When being put in place, the workmen take one, place it on the sand and cover it with a cap; the air is then pumped out and the atmospheric pressure drives it down until the top is level with the surface of the ground. About twenty-four hours are consumed in sinking one. Then a current of condensed air—let in at the bottom by a pipe—drives out the sand through a valve in the top, or cap; but if the earth is composed of gravel, the air, instead of being exhausted, is condensed, and men throw out the gravel with shovels, working by the lights of candles. When this is accomplished, another ring is bolted on, and the process is repeated until the pier is complete and reaches the bed rock. This work is being built by the Union Pacific Company, will cost two millions of dollars, and can be completed during the present year.
On the low land, fronting the river, the company have located their
principal shops and storehouses. They are built of brick, in the most substantial form, and, with the out-buildings, lumber yard, tracks, etc., cover about 30 acres of ground. The master mechanic of the road is I. H. Congden.
This building is one and a half stories high, of brick, with the exception of five stalls, which were the first put up for the road and are built of wood. The building contains twenty stalls in all, and is under the charge of James McConnell, master mechanic of the Omaha shops.
This is built with very strong walls, and is 60x120 feet in size. It is furnished with all the new and most improved machinery which is necessary for the successful working at all the branches of car and locomotive repairs or car construction. Among the machines may be seen lathes for turning driving-wheels, two boring mills for boring, car wheels, and one hydraulic press, used for pressing car wheels on their axles.
At one time, this shop presented a lively scene—when 850 sinewy men were busily engaged in manufacturing and repairing cars. All this body of men were then connected with the locomotive department, and could no more than keep that department of the road in repairs. No other shops on the line were then in working order, excepting that at North Platte. Now, the force is reduced, as the company are abundantly supplied with cars for the present trade, and the men are scattered along the line, forming the working force of other shops, of which there are many. But during this great rush, they were congregated here, and the machinery was run day and night. As many as eleven locomotives were on the stalls under repairs at one time; besides that, they were turning out three freight cars per day, one passenger car per month and one baggage car per week. During this time, they also supplied the contractors along the line with needed material which is usually manufactured at the company shops. The whole road, in fact, with the exception of North Platte station, drew its supplies from this shop. At the present time, about 350 men are employed in the locomotive department, but as freight increases and the want of more cars is felt, the force will be increased to meet the demand.
The Foundry is a very fine structure, and during the winter of 1868-9 150 men were employed there. About sixteen tons of castings per day were turned out, consisting, mostly, of columns and pillars for the new shops building along the line. The hotels in course of construction for the company, at the different eating stations, were large receivers of lighter columns and pillars—nearly every hotel being built in part, of iron.
This building is 80x200 feet, one story and a half high, well ventilated, and supplied with 40 forges, which, during the driving time spoken of, were all employed, 144 men being at work about the shop and around the 40 fires. There are no shops superior to this, and not many equal to it, on our oldest railroads. The forges are a curiosity in their way, all of them having been cast, at the company's foundry, after a design by Mr. Congden. About 80 men are now employed in the shop, only part of the fires being used at present.
This building is 76x80 feet, one and a half stories high, built with very heavy walls. When we visited it we saw stored therein 800 tons of bar iron, 800 tons sheet and boiler iron, 100 tons of bolts, nuts and rivets; enough, one would imagine, to bolt and nut all the lines of road which are deficient in fish plates. Yet all this weight of from 1,700 to 3,000 tons—for we have spoken of only a portion of the stock—disappears
with marvelous rapidity beneath the ponderous sledge and ringing hammer, to re-appear in the various forms and guises in which it is needed in repairs or further construction of side tracks and turnouts. Fish plates, plow points, bars, picks, bolts, bands, etc., lie around in piles, interspersed with shafting, car wheels, axles, cranks, pipes, columns, and many other articles too numerous to mention, piled in separate stacks, with walks between, the whole forming, to the uninitiated, a perfect labyrinth of lanes, which lead only to some new mystification, or worse still, a chaotic mass of iron in all stages of manufacture.
The Car Shop is 75x150 feet, one and a half stories high, with a wing 40x100 feet. The Paint Shop, which might be said to be connected with the Car Shop, is 30x121 feet. Thirty men are employed in this shop now; but this number can be increased to sixty, as the exigencies of the times may require.
In the car shop 70 men are now employed, though during hurrying times as many as 300 have been at work there at one time. The capacity of the shop is four box cars per day, one coach per month, two second class passenger cars or two mail cars during the same period.
The lumber-yard, wherein is stored the lumber, is capable of containing five and a half million feet. The lumber used in constructing the cars is mostly oak and ash, obtained in Northern Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. In point of neatness of finish, strength of build and size, the passenger cars manufactured here are unsurpassed by any, and rivaled by few manufactured elsewhere. No part of the car is slighted, and when they are finished, reflect credit on the master car builder, George E. Stevens, and on the company, who so liberally provide for the ease and comfort of the passengers who patronize their road. At one time 900 men were employed in this department, but as the company became better supplied, they reduced the force until only about 350 men are employed.
The painting on these magnificent carriages is equal to any we have seen elsewhere. It is the expressed determination of the Union Pacific company to provide as good cars and coaches for the traveling public, in style and finish, as those of any Eastern road. They reason, that as the great trans-continental railroad is the longest and grandest on the continent, its rolling stock should be equally grand and magnificent. From the appearance of the cars already manufactured they will achieve their desires. On the same principle we propose to make our BOOK superior to any other.
The engine which furnishes the power necessary to drive the vast amount of machinery in these shops is of 70 horse power and is a model of symmetry and finish. It was hauled to its present place in wagons from Des Moines, Iowa. The engine house is flanked by the transfer tables, by which cars are moved from stall to stall, or from shop to shop. A large water tank, capable of holding many thousand gallons, is another feature of the establishment. In fact, it would be very difficult for the most zealous fault-finder to find scope for his amiable qualities while wandering around the company's shops at Omaha. Here also are manufactured the "Stevens Truck," invented by Carmaster Stevens. These trucks are of new design, calculated for all kinds of cars, and are fast superseding those now in use. They have been placed under the Pullman car in many instances, and give perfect satisfaction. Having thus given a brief description of the road and its workings, with the concluding remark that about 4,000 men are regularly employed in working the line, almost as large an army as that with which General Taylor started to conquer Mexico, we will briefly speak of
This city is situated on the western bank of the Missouri river, on a sloping upland, about 50 feet above high-water mark, altitude 966 feet. It is the present terminus of the U.P.R.R. Co., and a thriving, growing city, of from 16,000 to 17,000 inhabitants. The State capital was first located here, but was removed to Lincoln in 1868. Omaha, though the first settlement made in Nebraska, is a young city. In 1854 a few squatters located here, among whom was A.D. Jones, now one of the "solid" men of the place. In the fall of that year he received the appointment of Postmaster for the place, which as yet had no post-office. As Mr. Jones was one of the most accommodating of men, he improvised a post-office by using the crown of his hat for that purpose. Few letters arrived, therefore the old plug hat answered every purpose. When the postmaster met one of his few neighbors, if there was a letter for him, off came the hat from the postmaster's head while he fished out the missive and placed it in the hands of its owner. It is said that at times, when the postmaster was on the prairie, some expectant, anxious individual would chase him for miles until he overtook the traveling post office and received his letter. "Large oaks from little acorns grow," says the old rhyme, 'tis illustrated in this case. The battered hat post-office has given place to a first-class post-office, commensurate with the future growth of the city. It is now the distributing post-office, and employs six clerks besides the assistant postmaster.
In 1854, the Council Bluffs and Nebraska Ferry Co. purchased the land now occupied by the city and erected the first "claim house," afterwards known as the St. Nicholas. About this time the name of 0maha was given to the place. The town improved steadily until 1859, when it commenced to gain very rapidly. The inaugurating of the U.P.R.R. gave it another onward impetus, and since then the growth of the city has been almost unparalleled. There are many evidences of continued prosperity and future greatness. Like Council Bluffs, it has a large area of fertile territory tributary to it, and railroad and steamboat connections with the east, west, north and south with which to bring trade and wealth to its business firms.
The Omaha Herald, daily, democratic; Republican, daily, politics like its name. Nebraska State Journal, The Agriculturist, and the Western World, monthly journals, are published here. There are two collegiate institutes and convent schools, seven private, and six public schools in the city. There are also 15 churches.
There are two lines of stages, with headquarters in Omaha, both owned by the "Western Stage Company." The "Northern Stage Line" leaves Omaha daily, Sundays excepted, for Sioux City, Iowa, distant 100 miles, via Cummings City, DeSoto, Blair, Fort Calhoun, Decatur, and Dakota, all these points being in Nebraska, and on the Missouri river. The "Southern Stage Line" leaves daily, Sundays excepted, for Troy, Kansas, distant 120 miles, via Plattsmouth and Nebraska City. Both lines carry the United States mail.
The traveler can reach any point on the Missouri or Mississippi rivers, north or south, by steamboat, during navigation. Besides the Union Pacific, the fountain head of which is Omaha, and the connection by ferry with the various other Railroads at Council Bluffs; Omaha has two other projected lines already commenced, which, when completed, will prove important arteries, bringing the wealth of the surrounding country to its natural center.
Dale Creek Bridge, U.P.R.R—(Described on page 61.)
This Railway Company was chartered under the general railway act—giving to any company having ten miles of road completed by the fifteenth of February, 1870, two thousand acres of land to every mile of road, not exceeding fifiy miles. The Omaha and Northwestern complied with said act, and will speedily continue the road to the mouth of the Niobrara River, with a view of extending at some future time to Fort Berthold on the Missouri River.
The course of the road is five miles up the Missouri River Valley, then northwest to the Valley of the Papillion, thence to the Elkhorn River and up the Elkhorn Valley to the mouth of the Niobrara.
The Omaha and South-Western Railway Co. were chartered under the general railway act, having, completed their first ten miles of road before the fifteenth of February, 1870. Its course is about six miles down the Missouri River Valley, till very near the mouth of the Platte, then up the Platte to a point just above the mouth of Salt Creek and near Ashland, where it crosses the Platte and runs south westerly to Lincoln, the capital of Nebraska, which is its terminus.
Omaha has 11 hotels, the Cozzens and Wyoming taking precedence. Besides these, a new hotel is contemplated for which upwards of $150,000 has been subscribed, and strong efforts are being made for its completion during the present year.
There are 29 manufactories, one distillery, and six breweries. The whole number of merchants who reported sales of and over the value of $25,000 for the year 1868, was 85, 25 of whom are wholesale. The sales of these firms for the year ending May, 1869, foot up a total of $8,800,000.
This department is under the command of Brevet Major-General C.C. Augur, Brigadier-General U.S.A., with headquarters at Omaha, Nebraska.
Brevet Major George B.Russel, Aide-de-Camp; Brevet Lieutenant Colonel H. G. Litchfield, Aide-de-Camp.
Brevet Brigadier General George D. Ruggles, Assistant Adjutant General; Brevet Brigadier General Nelson B. Sweitzer, Acting Assistant Inspector General; Brevet Brigadier General Wm. Myers, Chief Quartermaster; Brevet Brigadier General John W. Barriger, Chief Commissary; Brevet Brigadier General Joseph B. Brown, Medical Director; Brevet Brigadier Gerleral Benjamin Alvord, Chief Paymaster; Brevet Colonel Edward Wright, Paymaster; Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Jacob E Burbank, Paymaster; Major R.D.Clarke, Paymaster; First Lieutenant M. B. Adams, Chief Engineer; and Brevet Major J. R. McGinness, Chief Ordinance Officer.
The department consists of the States of Iowa and Nebraska, the Territories of Utah, Wyoming and Colorado.
The barracks were established in 1868, are eight in number, capable of accommodating 1000 men. They are situated about three miles north, and in full view of the city. Latitude 40 Deg. 20 Min.; Longitude 96 Deg. from Greenwich. Eighty acres of land is held as reserved, though no reservation has yet been declared at this post. There is an
excellent carriage road to the barracks, and the post commander, General Palmer, has constructed a fine drive around them, which affords pleasure parties an excellent opportunity to witness the dress-parades of "the boys in blue." It is a favorite resort on Sundays; the parade, the fine drive, and improvements around the place, calling out many of the fashionable pleasure seekers of Omaha. The grounds have been planted with shade trees, and in a few years it will become one of the many pleasant places around the growing city of Omaha.
The post is the main distributing point for all troops and stores destined for the western side of the "Big Muddy." The barracks were erected for the purpose of quartering the troops during the winter season, when their services were not required on the plains—and as a general rendezvous for all troops destined for that quarter.
In the first volumes of the Guide we attempted to give the Names of the Officers commanding each Post in the Department, with the names and number of the companies under their command; but the changes are so rapid, that we have found it impossible to keep up with them, and shall discontinue any further efforts.
One must not expect to have all of the comforts of a luxurious hotel or his own pleasant home while crossing the vast distance between Omaha and San Francisco, unless he takes passage in a
thereby insuring a refreshing sleep and a palace by day and night. This, however, costs an extra fee. These splendid coaches accompany each train. (See Time Table for prices.) The first thing to do is to purchase the right ticket; then have your baggage checked through, take good care of your check, and you will need to take no further trouble about your baggage after you get the check, until you get to the place to which it is destined, when you will need to look after it. Eating Houses are numerous, and accommodations at all the principal stations for all those who wish to "stop over" a day or two are ample; charges, about $4.00 per day. There is no longer any necessity of purchasing provisions to take along, as the meals are good; charges, from 75 cents to $1.00. Now as you are about to leave the busy hum and ceaseless bustle of the city for the broad-sweeping plains, the barren patches of desert, and the grand old mountains—for all these varied features of the earth's surface will be encountered before we reach the Pacific coast—lay aside all city prejudices and ways for the time; leave them in Omaha, and for once be natural while among nature's loveliest and grandest creations. Having done this, you will be prepared to enjoy the trip—to appreciate the scenes which will rise before you. Do not judge of the people you meet by their clothes, or think you are going west to find fools, as a millionaire may be in buckskin, or a graduate in rags. Above all, forget everything but the journey,—and in this consists the secret of having a good time generally.
All ready—"All aboard"—and we pass along through the suburbs of the town for about four miles, when we arrive at
at an altitude of 1,142 feet. Six miles beyond we arrive at
ten miles from Omaha. Elevation 976 feet. Passenger trains make a short stop.
The country around this station is rich prairie land, well cultivated. A small cluster of buildings is near the road; the station is of little importance, merely for local accommodation. Five miles beyond we come to
Elevation 972 feet. The station is on the east side of Papillion river, or creek, as it is often called, a narrow stream, of
some 50 miles in length, which, running southward, empties into Elkhorn river, a few miles below the station. The bridge over the stream is a very substantial wooden structure.
This station on the east bank of Elkhorn river, is 14 miles beyond the last named, and is of more importance in point of freight—it being the outlet of Elkhorn river valley. Its elevation is 1,150 feet.
Five miles after leaving the station, we cross Elkhorn river, a stream of about 300 miles in length. It rises among the hills of the divide, near where the headwaters of Niobrara river rise and wend their way toward their final destination, the Missouri. The course of Elkhorn creek, or river, is east of south. It is one of the few streams in this part suitable for mill purposes, and possesses many excellent mill sites along its course. The valley of this stream averages about 8 miles in width, and is of the best quality of farming land. It is thickly settled by Germans for over 100 miles in length. At this station, both freight and passenger trains stop; the passenger trains only for a few minutes. Some varieties of fish are found in the stream; the pickerel being among the number, and very plenty. The buffalo fish, pike, cat, and several other kinds are caught in great numbers. Wild turkey on the plains, and among the low hills, along with deer and antelope, afford sport and excitement for the hunter. The river swarms with ducks and geese at certain seasons of the year, that come here to nest and feed. The natural thrift of the German is manifested in his well conducted farms, comfortable houses, surrounded by growing orchards and well tilled gardens. There is no pleasanter valley in Nebraska than this, or one where the traveller will find a better field for observing the rapid growth and great natural resources of the Northwest; and should he choose to pass a week or more in hunting and fishing, he will find ample sport and a hospitable home with almost any of the German settlers.
Elevation, 1,120 feet. The Platte river hills can be seen in the distance, but a few miles away, in a south-westerly direction. Between Valley and Fremont we catch the first view of the Platte river to the left.
Twelve miles after leaving Valley we come to Fremont, the county-seat of Dodge county, Nebraska, Elevation, 1,176 feet. It is a telegraph, passenger and eating station. Here is one of the best eating houses on the whole line, kept in one of the Railroad company's substantial buildings, by Messrs Chas. Tenent & Brother, who cater to the satisfaction of all. The town is situated about three miles from Platte river, and contains a population of about 2,000 people. The Company have, besides their excellent depot at this station, a round house with six stalls. The public buildings include a jail and court house, (both very necessary, though more useful than ornamental), three churches and some fine school-houses. It is a thriving place in the midst of a beautiful country. The Sioux City and Pacific R.R. connects here with the U.P., and with its connections at St. John, Iowa, the C. & N.W.R.R., give a route 33 miles shorter to Chicago than via Omaha and Council Bluffs.
We are now fairly on the Platte river, and for many miles we shall pass closely along its north bank, at other times, the course of the river can only be traced by the timber growing on its banks. Broad plains are the principal features, skirted in places with low abrupt hills, which here in this level country, rise to the dignity of "bluffs."
It would never do to omit a description of this famous stream, up the banks of which so many emigrants toiled in the "Whoa haw" times, from 1850 to
the time when the railroad destroyed Othello's occupation. How many blows from the butt of the ox-whip have fallen on the sides of the patient oxen as they toiled along, hauling the ponderous wagons of the freighters, or the lighter vehicles of the emigrant? How often the sharp ring of the "popper" aroused the timid hare or graceful antelope, and frightened them away from their morning meal of waving grass? How many tremendous jaw-breaking oaths fell from the lips of the "bull-whackers" during that period, we will not even guess at; but pious divines tell us that there is a statstician who has kept a record of all such expletives; to that authority we refer our readers, who are fond of figures. Once in a while, too, the traveler will catch a glimpse of a lone grave, marked by a rude headboard, on these plains; and has he time and skill to decipher the old and time stained hieroglyphics with which it is decorated, he will learn that it marks the last resting place of some emigrant or freighter, who, overcome by sickness, laid down here and gave up the fainting spirit to the care of Him who gave it; or, perchance, he will learn that the tenant of this rentless house fell while defending his wife and children from the savage Indians, who attacked the train in the gray dawn or darker night. There is a sad, brief history connected with each, told to the passerby, mayhap in rude lines, possibly by the broken arrow or bow, rudely drawn on the mouldering head-board. However rude or rough the early emigrants may have been, it can never be charged to them that they neglected the sick or dead within their train. The sick were tenderly nursed by brave, gentle women, and the dead decently buried, and their graves marked by the men who had shared with them the perils of the trip. Those were days, and these plains the place that tried men's mettle; and here the western frontiersman shone superior to all others who ventured to cross the "vast desert" which stretched its unknown breadth between him and the land of his desires. Brave, cool and wary as the savage, with his unerring rifle on his arm, he was more than a match for any red devil he might encounter. Patient under adversity, fertile in resources, he was an invaluable aid at all times; a true friend, and bitter foe. This type of people is fast passing away, The change wrought within the last few years has robbed the plains of its most attractive feature—to those who are far away from the scene—the emigrant train. Once, the south bank of the Platte was one broad thoroughfare, whereon the long trains of the emigrants, with their white-covered wagons, could be seen stretching away for Many miles in an almost unbroken chain. Now, on the north side of the same river, in almost full view of the "old emigrant road," the cars are bearing the freight and passengers rapidly westward, while the oxen that used to toil so wearily along this route, have been transformed into "western veal" to tickle the palates of those passengers, or else, like Tiny Tim, they have been compelled to "move on" to some fields of labor.
To give some idea of the great amount of freighting done on these plains, we present a few figures, which were taken from the books of freighting firms in Atchison, Kansas. In 1865, this place was the principal point on the Missouri river, from which freight was forwarded to the Great West, including Colorado, Utah, Montana, &c. There was loaded at this place, 4,480 wagons, drawn by 7,310 mules, and 29,720 oxen. To control and drive these trains, an army of 5,610 men was employed. The freight taken by these trains amounted to 27,000 tons. Add to these authenticated accounts, the estimated business of the other shipping points, and the amount is somewhat astounding. Competent authority estimated the amount of freight shipped during that season from Kansas City, Leavenworth, St. Joe, Omaha and Plattsmouth, as being fully equal, if not
superior to that shipped from Atchison, with a corresponding number of Wagons, men, mules and oxen. Assuming these estimates to be correct, we have this result: During 1865, there were employed in this business, 8,960 wagons, 14,620 mules, 59,440 cattle, and 11,220 men, who moved to its destination, 54,000 tons of freight. To accomplish this, the enormous sum of $7,289,300 was invested in teams and wagons alone.
But to return to the river, and leave facts and figures for something more interesting. "But," says the reader, "ain't the Platte river a fact?" Not much of one, frequently, for at times, after you pass above Julesburg, there is more fancy than fact in the streams. In 1863, teamsters were obliged to excavate pits in the sand or the river-bed, before they could find water enough to water their stock. Again, although the main stream looks like a mighty river, broad and majestic, it is as deceiving as the "make up" of a fashionable woman of to-day. The river looks broad and deep; try it, and you will find that your feet touches the treacherous sand ere your instep is under water. There's a nice place, where the water appears to be rippling along over a smooth bottom, close to the surface; try that, and in you go, over your head in water, thick with yellowish sand. You don't like the Platte pretty well when you examine it in this manner; neither do the old teamsters speak well of this broad western river. The channel is continually shifting, caused by the vast quantities of sand which are continually floating down its muddy tide. The sand is very treacherous, too, and woe to the unlucky wight who attempts to cross this stream before he has become acquinted with the fords. Indeed, he ought to be introduced to the river and all its branches before he undertakes the perilous task. If anything goes wrong, and the train comes to a stop, down it sinks in the yielding quicksand, until the wagons, are so firmly bedded that it requires more than double the original force to pull them out; and often they must be unloaded to prevent the united teams from pulling them to pieces, while trying to lift the load and wagon from the sandy bed. The stream is generally very shallow during the fall and winter; in many places no more than six or eight inches in depth, over the whole width or the stream. Numerous small islands, and some quite large are seen while passing along, which will be noticed in their proper place.
From Omaha to the Platte river, the course of the road is southerly, until it nears the river, when it turns to the west, forming, as it were, an immense elbow. Thence, along the valley, following the river, it runs to Kearney, with a slight southerly depression of its westerly course; but from thence to the North Platte, it recovers the lost ground, and at this point is nearly due west from Fremont, the first point where the road reaches the river. That is as far as we will trace the course of the road at present.
The first view of the Platte valley is impressive, and should the traveler chance to behold it for the first time in the spring or early summer it is then very beautiful; should he behold it for the first time when the heat of the summer's sun has parched the plains, it may not seem inviting, its beauty may be gone, but its majestic grandness still remains. The eye almost tires in searching for the boundary of this vast expanse, and longs to behold some rude mountain peak in the distance, as proof that the horizon is not the girdle that encircles this valley. When one gazes on mountain peaks and dismal gorges, on foaming cataracts and mountain torrents, the mind is filled with awe and wonder, perhaps fear of Him who hath created these grand and sublime wonders.—On the other hand, these lovely plains and smiling valleys—clothed in verdure, and decked with flowers—fill the mind with love and veneration for their Creator, leaving on his heart the impression of a joy and beauty which shall last forever.
Though we have stated that the
Hanging Rock, Echo Canyon. (See page 90.)
Platte river was not a reliable fact, we did not exactly mean it in that sense. It has not done much for navigation, neither will it, yet it drains the waters of a vast scope of country, thereby rendering the vast valleys fertile, and furnishing almost numberless acres, which now await but the advent of the hardy and industrious pioneer, to place them in the front rank of grain producing countries. The average width of the river, from where it empties into the Missouri to the junction of the North and South Forks, is not far from three fourths of a mile; its average depth about six inches. It is unnavigable for anything but a shingle, even in its highest stage. In the months of September and October, the river is at its lowest stage. The water is of the same muddy color that characterizes the Missouri river, caused by the quicksand bottom.
The lands lying along this river, belonging to the U.P.R.R., are now in the market, and the company are offering liberal terms and great inducements to settlers. Most of the land is as fine agricultural and grazing land as can be found in any section of the Northwest. Should it be deemed necessary to irrigate these plains, as some are inclined to think is the case, there is plenty of fall in either fork, or in the main river, for the purpose, and during the months when irrigation is required, there is plenty of water for that purpose, coming from the melting snow on the mountains. Ditches could be led from either stream and over the plains at little expense. Many, however, claim that in ordinary seasons, irrigation is unnecessary. We now return to the road and the stations.
Seven miles west of Fremont, is a new station of but little importance. Eight miles further, and we arrive at
A telegraph and passenger station. Elevation, 1,259 feet. This is a thriving town of some 400 inhabitants, situated near the river bank, and surrounded by a fine agricultural country, where luxuriant crops of corn give evidence of the fertility of the soil. For a few miles we ride nearer the river's bank than at any point between Fremont and North Platte. The south bank of the Platte is lined with timber, mostly cottonwood, which presents a beautiful appearance, and suggests the feasibility of raising timber in profusion on these plains.
Fourteen miles beyond North Bend, we stop at Schuyler, the county-seat for Colfax county. This is a telegraph and passenger station. Elevation, 1,335 feet. The town contains some 300 or 400 inhabitants. The country appears to be unchanged— presenting the same general appearance as that through which we have passed. Eight miles from Schuyler we pass
A new and unimportant flag-station.
Ninety-two miles from Omaha, and 16 miles from Schuyler, we arrive at Columbus, a telegraph and passenger station. Elevation, 1,432 feet. The town contains about 1,000 inhabitants, three churches, good schools, and several hotels and eating-houses. It is the county-seat of Platte county, and is called by George Francis Train the geographical center of the United States. He advocated the proposition that the government buildings should be located here, and the capitol removed from Washington to this point. Probably, when George is elected President in '72, he will carry out the idea, and we shall behold the capitol of the Union located in the center of the public domain. At one time this was a very busy place; large amounts of government corn being shipped to this point by rail in July and August of '67. Over 10,000,000 of pounds were re-shipped on wagons from this point to Laramie and the government posts and camps in the Powder river country. This was the first gov-
ernment shipment of freight over the Union Pacific Railroad.
Soon after leaving Columbus, we cross Loup Fork -view image- on a fine wooden bridge, constructed in a substantial manner. This stream rises 75 miles northeast of North Platte City, and runs through a fine farming country, Until it unites with the Platte. Plenty of fish of various kinds are found in the stream, and its almost innumerable tributaries. These little streams water a section of country unsurpassed in fertility and agricultural resources. Game in abundance is found in the valley of the Loup, consisting of deer, antelope, turkeys and prairie chickens, while the streams abound in ducks and geese. North of this point lies the Pawnee Reservation. We now cross the Loup Fork and soon arrive at
Between Columbus and Silver creek. After leaving Jackson, we cross Silver creek. and arrive at
Elevation, 1,534 feet. This point is 17 miles from Columbus, and 12 miles east of
A side track and signal station between Silver Creek and
Elevation, 1,686 feet. The "old emigrant road" from Omaha to Colorado crosses the river opposite this point, at the old "Shinn's Ferry."
Elevation, 1,716 feet. A signal station 10 miles from Lone Tree, and 12 miles from
Named after an island in the Platte river, about two miles distant. This is one of the regular eating-stations, 30 minutes being allowed for that purpose. The Nebraska House is the principal hotel in the place. The town contains from 500 to 600 inhabitants, one Catholic and one Methodist church, three stores, one brewery, and a fine school-house. The country is well- cultivated; fields of corn, wheat and oats greeting the eye along each side of the road.
Grand Island, from which the station takes its name, is the largest island in the Platte River. It is about 80 miles long by four wide, well wooded and of fertile soil. The timber is mostly cottonwood. The island is reserved by Government and is guarded by soldiers. It is the most beautiful point on the river.
After leaving this point, the traveler should keep his "eye peeled" for buffalo. For the next 200 miles he will be within the buffalo range, where, at certain seasons of the year, these animals cross the river. During the spring they cross from the Arkansas and Republican valleys—where they have wintered—to the northern country, returning late in the fall. A friend sitting by my side says that in '60, immense quantities were on these plains, on the south side of the Platte, near Fort Kearney, the herds being so large that often emigrant trains had to stop while they were crossing the road. At Fort Kearney, in '59 and '60, an order was issued forbidding the soldiers to shoot the buffalo on the parade ground. During the last two or three years these huge animals have been seen in that section. Leaving Grand Island we pass a signal station, called
Soon after leaving this station we cross Wood river, on a substantial bridge, and for several miles follow close along its banks, which are thickly settled, the farms now being covered with luxuriant crops of wheat, oats and corn: Wood river rises in the bluffs, and runs south east until its waters unite with those of the Platte. Along the whole length of the stream, and its many tributaries, in land for agricultural purposes, is unsurpassed by none in the Northwest, and we might say, in the world. The banks of the river
and tributaries are well wooded; the streams abound in fish and wild fowl; and the country adjacent is well supplied with game, deer, antelopes, turkeys, chickens, rabbits, etc., forming a fine field for the sportsman.
This valley was one of the earliest settled in Central Nebraska, the hardy pioneers taking up their lands when the savage Indians held possession of this, their favorite hunting ground. Several times the settlers were driven from their homes by the Indians, suffering fearfully in loss of life and property, but they as often returned, until they succeeded in securing a firm foot-hold. To-day the evidences of the struggle can be seen in the low, strong cabins, covered on top with turf, and the walls loop-holed, and enclosed with the same material which guards the, roofs from the bullets and flaming arrows of the warriors.
Telegraph and passenger station, 10 miles from Pawnee. Elevation, 1907 feet. Considerable freight is left here for the Wood river country.
Side-track and flag station, between Wood river and
This station is 8 miles from Gibbon. Elevation 2,106 feet. Telegraph and passenger station. It is named after old Fort Kearney, on the south side of the Platte, opposite the station.
In the Military district of the Republican, under command of Major General U.H. Emory, was established at Fort Childs, Indian Territory, in 1848, by volunteers of the Mexican War. Changed to Fort Kearney in March, 1849. In 1858 the post was rebuilt by the late Brevet Colonel Chas. May, 3d Dragoons. It is situated five miles south of Kearney Station, on the south bank of the Platte, which is at this point three miles wide and filled with small islands. It is commanded, by Captain E. Pollock, of the Ninth Infantry. Company E of the 9th Infantry is stationed here. Post-Surgeon—Dr. W.H. Bradley. At high water it is very difficult to cross the river with supplies for the fort, there being no bridge in this vicinity; from the station, the goods are conveyed to the fort by government teams. Latitude, 40 Deg. 33 Min., longitude 99 Deg. 06 Min. Two miles above the fort, on the south bank, is Kearney City, more commonly called "Dobey Town." This was once a great point with the old Overland Stage Company, and at that time contained about 1,000 inhabitants, who, with the withdrawal of the patronage of the line and the abandonment of the south-side route of travel, left the town to ruin and desolation. Now, we are told, the inhabitants consist of but "our old cat and another one," though what number of people that expresses, we are unable to determine.
Side-track and flag station, 10 miles from Kearney station. We now see less evidence of civilization, except what is in connection with the railroad.
This station is 11 miles from Stevenson and 211 from Omaha, and is the depot for the wood cut on Elm creek. A few small houses constitute the "town."
Elm creek is crossed soon after leaving the station, and is a small, though quite a lengthy stream. It is well-wooded, the timber consisting almost entirely of red elm, rarely found elsewhere in this part of the country, and there is plenty of good farming land here, still unsettled.
Intervening side-track station.
This station is 9 miles west of Overton and 230 from Omaha. Elevation, 2,370 feet. Named after an old stage station and military camp on Plum creek, a small stream which heads in very rugged bluffs southwest of the old
stage station, and empties its waters into the Platte on the south or opposite side of the river from the railroad.
This old station on the "old emigrant road," was the nearest point to the Republican river country, being but 18 miles from that stream—the heart of the great Indian rendezvous and their supposed secure stronghold. At this point many of the most fearful massacres which occurred during the earliest emigration were perpetrated by the Sioux, Cheyennes, and Arapahoes. The bluffs here come very close to the river, affording the savages an excellent opportunity for surprising a train, and being very abrupt and cut up with gulches and canyons, afforded them ample hiding places, from which they swooped down on the luckless emigrant, often massacring the larger portion of the party.
Here the bottoms are very wide, having steadily increased in width for several miles. Along the river is heavy cottonwood timber, which has extended for the last 50 miles. From this point westward the timber gradually decrease in size and quantity.
A telegraph and passenger station 250 miles from Omaha, and 10 miles beyond Cayote. Elevation, 2,511 feet. Here may be seen a few board and log houses, with their sides pierced with loop-holes and walled up with turf, the roofs being covered with the same material, which reminds one of the savage, against whom these precautions were taken. It derives its name from an island in the Platte, the second in size in that stream. And we might add, that from here up the river the traveler will doubtless observe, many of the rude forts along the road side as well as at the stations. The deserted ranches to be met with along the "old emigrant road," on the south side of the river, are fortified in the same manner. The fort was generally built of logs, covered on top and walled on the side in the manner described. They are pierced with loop-holes on all sides, and afforded a safe protection against the Indians. They generally stood about fifty yards from the dwelling, from which an underground passage led to the fort. When attacked, they re-retreated to their fortification, and there fought it out on that line.
Side-track and flag station between Willow Island and
A telegraph, military, freight and passenger station, 268 miles from Omaha, and 8 miles west of Warren. Elevation, 2,637 feet. The station derives its name from an island in the river, which is of considerable size. A few rough houses constitute the town. Soldiers were formerly drawn up in line on the arrival of trains here and at many other stations along the line detailed to protect the company's men and property from any wandering bands of Indians who may chance to pass through this part of the valley, as this is one of their favorite crossings.
Headquarters District of the Republican. This post was established Feb. 20, 1866, by Major S.W. O'Brien, of the 7th Iowa Cavalry. It was originally known as "Cantonment McKeon," and also as "Cottonwood Springs." At the close of the war, when the regular army gradually took the place of the volunteers who had been stationed on the frontier during the rebellion, the names of many of the forts were changed, and they were re-named in memory of those gallant officers who gave their lives in defense of their country. Fort McPherson was named after Major-General James B. McPherson, who was killed in the battle before Atlanta, Georgia, July 22d, 1864. The post is now commanded by Brevet Major-General W.H. Emory, Colonel of the 5th Cavalry. Companies F, H, I, L and M, of the 5th Cavalry constitute the garri-
son. Assistant Surgeon A.D. Willson, U.S.A., is acting surgeon.
The distance from McPherson Station is seven miles, from which place the garrisons receive their supplies. There is no bridge across the stream, and in high water persons visiting the fort are obliged to go to North Platte Station, where they can cross the river by a better ford. Latitude, 41 deg.; longitude, 100 deg. 30 min.
Nine miles from Brady's. From this point it is about 6 miles to the river. The station was named in honor of General McPherson; and from existing signs one would think that his services or that of some other fighting man had been needed here in former times.
Leaving McPherson, we ride for about 13 miles, when we arrive at the North Platte, which we cross on a very long and substantial trestle bridge. The river rises in the mountains of Colorado, in the North Park. Its general course is to the southeast. It is crossed again by the railroad at Fort Steele, 695 miles west of Omaha. The general characteristics of the stream are similar to those of the main river.
On the west bank of this stream, 80 miles north, is Ash Hollow, rendered famous by General Harney, who gained a decisive victory over the Sioux Indians. For 100 miles up this river the "bottoms" are from 10 to 15 miles wide—very rich lands, which are susceptible of cultivation, though, perhaps, requiring irrigation. Game in abundance is found in this valley, together with numerous bands of wild horses.
Fort Laramie is situated on this stream, about 150 miles from the junction, near where the Laramie river unites with this stream. After crossing the river and proceeding about one mile we arrive at the end of the Platte division, and the beginning of the Lodge Pole division.
The city is 291 miles west of Omaha; 1,485 miles east of Sacramento. Elevation, 2,789 feet. The road was finished to this place, November, 1866. Here the company have a stone round-house of 20 stalls, a blacksmith and repair shop, all of stone.
Company K of the Ninth Infantry, Brevet Lieut. Colonel C.D. Emory commanding, is stationed at this place to guard the bridge, etc. In its palmiest days, the city boasted a population of over 2,000, which is now reduced to as many hundreds, independent of the company men. Until the road was finished to Julesburg, which was accomplished in June, '67, all freight for the West was shipped from this point, and then the town was in the height of its prosperity. Then the gamblers, the roughs and scallawags, who afterward rendered the road accursed by their presence, lived in clover; for was there hard working, foolish men enough in the town to afford them an easy living. When the town began to decay they sallied forth, and for many months followed up the road, cursing with their Upas blight every camp and town, until some one of their numerous victims turned on them and "laid them out," or an enraged and long suffering community arose in their own defense, binding themselves together, a la vigilantes, and, for want of a legal tribunal, took the law into their own hands, and hung them to the first projection, high and strong enough to sustain their worthless carcasses, until they "went dead again" and the country was rid of their presence. Some few escaped the just punishment of their crimes, and may yet be seen at some points of the road, plying their nefarious games, and robbing their unsuspecting countrymen. A portion of the roughs who followed up the U.P.R.R., have found their way to Sacramento and San Francisco, where their crimes have already caused the citizens of those cities to talk of reorganizing their old vigilance committees. Should
Devil's Slide, Weber Canyon, U.P.R.R. Described on page 94.
this event occur, a stout rope and a short shrift will be the last of the roughs of the U.P.R.R.; for the climate of California is decidedly unhealthy for these lawless desperadoes.
But to return to our notes of the city, from which we have incidentally wandered, as the man remarked when explaining how he became separated from his wife. The town now consists of about 25 wooden and log buildings, including a jail (a very useful institution,) The Railroad House—a fine building—was burned to the ground about the 1st of July, 1869; but now another building of the same size and finish has been erected by the energetic railroad company, where passengers can obtain a first rate meal. The company have a round-house of 20 stalls, blacksmith and repair shop, built of stone located here. The country now bears the appearance of a grazing instead of an agricultural section, though excellent farming land is found along the river-bottoms, still unoccupied.
Eight miles west of North Platte. After leaving Platte City, we turn more to the west and pass for 17 miles over a broad prairie when we arrive at
Nine miles from Nichols, gradually we lose sight of the timber, and when we reach the sand bluffs, just above the station, it has entirely disappeared. Here on the south side of the river, is the famous O'Fallon's Bluffs, a series of sand hills interspersed with ravines and gulches, which come close to the river's bank, forming abrupt bluffs, which turned the emigrants back from the river, forcing them to cross these sand hills, a distance of eight miles, through loose yielding sand, devoid of vegetation. Here, as well as at all points where the bluffs come near the river, the emigrants suffered severely, at times, from the attacks of the Indians. Opposite, and extending above this point, is a large island in the river, which was once a noted camping ground of the Indians. These bluffs are the first of a series of sand hills, which extend north and south for several hundred miles. At this point, the valley is much narrower than that through which we have passed. Here we first enter the "alkali belt," which extends from this point to Julesburg, about 70 miles. The soil and water is strongly impregnated with alkaline substances. We now leave the best farming lands, and enter the grazing country.
This station is directly opposite the old stage station of that name, on the south side of the river. After leaving the station, the road passes through the sand-bluffs, which here come close to the river's brink. A series of cuts and fills, extending for several miles, brings us on to the bottom land again, when we arrive at
A small, unimportant station.
This station is 342 miles from Omaha. Elevation, 3,192 feet. Ten miles further we come to
A small, unimportant station. On the south side of the river, opposite, is the old ranche and trading post of the noted Indian trader and Indian Peace Comissioner—Beauva. Just below this point is the old California crossing, where the emigrants crossed when striking for the North Platte and Fort Laramie.
This station is 9 miles west of Brule, and 360 from Omaha. Elevation, 3,325 feet. The station derives its name from a large spring—the first found on the road—which makes out of the bluffs, opposite the station, on the right hand side of the road, and in plain view from the cars. The water is excellent, and will be found the best along this road. After leaving this station we pass—by a series of cuts and fills—
another range of bluffs, cut up by narrow ravines and gorges. At points, the road runs so near the river-bank that the water seems to be right under the cars. Just before we arrive at the next station—Julesburg—we can see the old town of that name on the south side of the river. The town consists of a few dobey houses, now deserted. The town was named after Jules Burg, who was brutally assassinated, as will be related in another part of the GUIDE.
This is a telegraph, military, freight and pasenger station, 16 miles from Big Springs, and 377 from Omaha. Elevation, 3,394 feet. The road was completed to this point about the last of June, '67, and all Government freight for the season was shipped to this place, to be reshipped on wagons to its destination. At that time Julesburg had a population of 4,000; now the town is completely deserted, except as a point for receiving military supplies for Fort Sedgwick, four miles south and on the south bank of the river. During the "lively times," Julesburg was the roughest of all rough towns along the Union Pacific line. The roughs congregated there, and a day seldom passed but what they "had a man for breakfast." Gambling and dance houses constituted a good portion of the town; and it is said that mortality and honesty clasped hands and departed from the place. We have not learned whether they ever returned; and really we have our doubts about their ever having been there.
From this point to Denver, Colorado, the distance is 200 miles, following the course of the Platte river. During the winter of '65 and '66 most of the wood used at Julesburg and Fort Sedgwick was hauled upon wagons from Denver, at an expense of from $60 to $75 per cord for transportation alone, and was sold to Government, by contract, at $105 per cord. The wood cost in Denver about $20. Besides this, the contractors were allowed by Government to put in what hard wood they could get at double the price, or $210 per cord, which by many was thought to be a "pretty soft snap." The "hard wood" was obtained in the scrub-oak bluffs of Colorado, 50 miles south of Denver City, and cost no more for transportation than did the pine. John Hughes, of Denver, was the contractor—a more successful and enterprising one it would be hard to find in Colorado or elsewhere.
This post was established May 19, 1864, by the Third United States Volunteers, and named after Major-General John Sedgwick, Colonel Fourth Cavalry, U.S.A., who was killed in battle at Spottsylvania Court House, Virginia, May 9th, 1864. Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel E.F. Townsend, Major 9th Infantry, is commander of this post. The garrison consists of companies B and D of the 9th Infantry and company K, 2d Calvary. Post Chaplain, David White; Post Traders, Chambers & Co. Located in the northeast corner of Colorado Territory, on the south side of South Platte river, four miles distant, on the old emigrant and stage road to Colorado. Latitude, 41 deg.; longitude, 102 deg. 30 min.
This stream, which we have ascended to this place, and are now about to leave, rises in the Middle Park of the Rocky Mountains Colorado Territory. The valley extends from Julesburg, up the river about 225 miles, to where the river emerges from the mountains. The average width of the valley is about three miles, and the soil affords excellent grazing. Game is abundant along the entire length of the valley.
Leaving Julesburg, the road turns to the northwest, and follows up the valley of the Lodge Pole creek, near to Egbert Station, about 100 miles distant. The last of Utah and California emigration crossed the Platte river at Julesburg, and followed up this valley to the Cheyenne Pass.
A new station, 10 miles West of Julesburg, and 10 miles east of
Elevation, 3,800 feet. The valley is narrow and furnishes fine grazing lands, on which may be seen, at almost any time, large herds of antelope. Eleven miles further we arrive at
a new station, six miles east of
Nebraska Territory. Company F, of the 9th Infantry, is stationed here, Linder command of Brevet Major Chas. O. Wood, Capt. 9th Infantry. A regular eating station, where trains stop thirty minutes.
The company have a round house, of ten stalls, and machine shop at this place, which add to the interest and business of the station. The place contains about 100 inhabitants, and is the most important station between North Platte and Cheyenne.
The MOORE HOUSE is kept by James A. Moore, Esq., an old pioneer and hero, of the "Pony Express," who made the most remarkable ride on record. "Jim" was at Midway station (south side of the Platte) June 8th, 1860, when a very important Government despatch arrived for the Pacific Coast. Mounting his pony he left for Julesburg, 140 miles distant, where, on arriving, he met a return despatch from the Pacific, equally important; resting only seven minutes, and without eating, returned to Midway making the "round trip"—280 miles—in fourteen hours and forty-six minutes. The despatch reached Sacramento from St. Joseph, Mo., in eight days, nine hours and forty minutes.
Fifty-six miles southwest from this place, and eight miles south of the South Platte River, is Kelley's Springs, named after Wm. Kelley, an old pioneer, formerly of the American Ranch, on the old "Platte River road." These springs were noted as a resort for Indians, where they were wont to congregate, and from their secure position the war parties would swoop down on to Valley Station, Wisconsin and American Ranches, and the luckless emigrants. After one of these forays they would return to their fastness with their prisoners and plunder. From this rendezvous, in 1864, a war party started, which, among other ruthless deeds, slew Mr. Henry Andrews, then a young and esteemed citizen of Denver, but formerly of Chicago. He was one of the first slain; and the excitement caused by his death induced the citizens of Colorado to arm and prepare to defend their homes and the emigration. Men were raised for service—for a hundred days—and the Colorado Indian War began in earnest. In July, 1869, General Carr surprised a war party at these springs, and slew 51 of the "Friendlies," captured 17 women and children, 350 animals, 86 lodges, and a large amount of camp equipage. He also rescued one white woman, who had been a prisoner among them for over three years.
nine miles west of Sidney. Ten miles further we arrive at
Elevation, 4,370 feet. Large quantities of wood are stored here, which is cut about 20 miles north of this point, on Lawrence Fork, and Spring Canyon, tributaries of the North Platte River.
At this point, and for several miles up and down the valley, the dwellings of the prairie dogs frequently occur; but three miles west of the station they are found in great numbers, and there the great prairie dog city is situated. It occupies several hundred acres on each side of the road, where these sagacious little animals have taken land and erected their dwellings without buying lots of the company. (We do not know whether the company intend to eject them.) Their dwellings consist of a little mound, with a hole in the top,
from a foot to a foot and a half high, raised by the dirt excavated from their burrows. On the approach of a train, these animals can be seen scampering for their houses; arrived there, they squat on their hams or stand on their hind feet, barking at the train as it passes. Should any one venture too near, down they go into their holes, and the city is silent as the city of the dead.
It is said that the opening in the top leads to a subterranean chamber, connecting with the next dwelling, and so on through the settlement; but this is a mistake, as a few buckets of water will drown out any one of them. The animal is of a sandy-brown color, and about the size of a large fox squirrel. In their nest, living in perfect harmony with the dog, may be found the owl and rattlesnake, though whether they are welcome visitors is quite uncertain. The prairie-dog lives on grasses and roots, and is generally fat; and by many, especially the Mexicans, considered good eating, the meat being sweet and tender, according to their report. Wolves prey on the little fellows, and they may often be seen sneaking and crawling near a town, where they may, by chance, pick up an unwary straggler. But the dogs are not easily caught, for some one is always looking out for danger, and on the first intimation of trouble, the alarm is given, and away they all scamper for their holes.
About 40 miles due north from this station is the noted Court-house Rock, on the North Platte river. It is plainly visible for fifty miles up and down that stream. It has the appearance of a tremendous capitol building, seated on the appex of a pyramid. From the base of the spur of the bluffs, on which the white Court-house Rock is seated, to the top of the rock, must be near 2,000 feet. Old California emigrants will remember the place and the many names, carved by ambitious climbers, in the soft sand-stone, of which it is composed. From the foundation of the Court-house Rock to its top is about 200 feet.
Twenty five miles from Court-house Rock, up the same river, is Chimney Rock, 500 feet high. It has the appearance of a tremendous cone-shaped sandstone column, rising directly from the plain, the elements evidently having worn away the bluffs, leaving this harder portion standing. We next arrive at
Nine miles west of Potter, a new and unimportant station.
Situated at the lower end of the Pine Bluffs, which, at this point, are near the station.
We now enter what the plain's men call "the best grass country in the world," and one of the best points for Antelope on the route. The valley, bluffs and low hills are covered with a luxuriant growth of Gramma or "bunch" grass, one of the most nutritious grasses grown. Stock thrive in this section all the season, without care, excepting what is necessary to prevent them from straying beyond reach. Old work-oxen that had traveled 2,500 miles ahead of the freight wagon during the season, have been turned out to winter by their owners, and by the following July they were "rolling fat," fit for beef. We know this to be a fact, from the actual experience of one of the publishers of the GUIDE, who has had ten years' residence in the Territories. This country is destined to become—and the day is not far distant—the great pasture land of the continent. There is room for millions of cattle in this unsettled country, and then have grazing land enough to spare to feed half the stock in the Union. This grazing section extends for about 700 miles, north and south, on the eastern base of the Rocky Mountains, with an average width of 200 miles, besides the vast area included in the thousands of valleys, great and small, which are
found in all the mountain ranges. From the base of the mountains, nearly across this grazing belt, cattle find abundant water, for the mountain valleys are each supplied with creeks and rivers. Springs abound, in various sections, so that no very large section of land is devoid of natural watering places. The grass grows from nine to twelve inches high, and is peculiarly nutritious. It is always green near the roots, summer and winter. During the summer the dry atmosphere cures the standing grass as effectually as though cut and prepared for hay. The nutritive qualities of the grass remain uninjured, and stock thrive equally well on the dry feed. In the winter what snow falls is very dry, unlike that which falls in more humid climates. It may cover the grass to the depth of a few inches, but the cattle readily remove it, reaching the grass without trouble.
Again, the snow does not stick to the sides of the cattle and melt there, chilling them through, but its dryness causes it to roll from their backs, leaving their hair dry. The cost of keeping stock in this country is just what it will cost to employ herders—no more. The contrast between raising stock here and in the East must be evident—so much so, that even a blind man could see it. Again, by stocking this country with sheep, an untold wealth would be added. The mountain streams afford ample water power for manufactories, and wool enough could be grown here with which to clothe all the people of the Union, when manufactured into cloth. With the railroad to transport the cattle and sheep to the Eastern market, what is there to prevent immense fortunes from being realized here by stock-raising? Already Colorado contains over a million of sheep and vast herds of cattle. One man in Southern Colorado has over 40,000 head of the former kind of stock, and yet Colorado possesses no advantages for this business which is unshared by this portion. The time will come when the eastern-bound trains will be loaded with cattle and sheep for the Chicago, New York and Boston markets; for to this section must the East eventually turn for their supply of meat. We are well acquainted with parties who, but a few years since, started in the business of stock-raising, in Colorado, with but limited means. Now they are the owners of large herds of stock, which they have raised in that Territory without ever feeding them one pound of hay or grain.
No drought, which has been experienced in these Territories, has ever seriously affected the pasturage, owing to the peculiar qualities of the grasses indigenous to the country.
This is another unimportant station, with side-track. Elevation, 4,860 feet. Near this station, we leave Nebraska, and enter the dominion of the young Territory of Wyoming. Although in a different territory, we find no change in the features of the country worthy of note. Bushnell is 12 miles west of Antelope.
Ten miles further west and we come to Pine Bluffs. During the building of the road, this place was known as "Rock Ranch." Considerable wood—pitch pine—is cut for the railroad in the bluffs, a few miles to the southward, from which the station derives its name. The bluffs are on the left hand side of the road, and at this point are quite high and rocky, extending very near the track. Elevation of Pine Bluff station, 5,026 feet.
Established in May, 1865; was abandoned in May, 1868, and its garrison transferred to Laramie. It is about 60 miles north of this station, on the North Platte River, at the Western base of what is known as Scott's Bluffs. Latitude, 40 dg. 30 min.; longitude, 27 dg.
Finger or Needle Rock, Weber Canyon, U.P.R.R—(From photograph by Savage & Otinger, Salt Lake City.)
An unimportant station, 11 miles beyond the bluffs. Near this point we leave Lodge Pole creek. From this point to the source of the stream in the Black Hills, about 40 miles away, the valley presents the same general appearance until it reaches the base of the mountains. Bear, deer and wolves abound in the country around the source of the stream, and herds of antelope are scattered over the valley. At one time beavers were plenty in the creek, and a few of these interesting animals are still to be found in the lower waters of the stream, near to its junction with the Platte. This valley was once a favorite hunting ground of the Sioux and Cheyennes, who long resisted the attempts to remove them to the reservation.
Twelve miles west of Egbert we reach Hillsdale, an unimportant station. It was named after a Mr. Hill, one of the engineer party, who was killed near this place by the Indians while he was engaged in his duty. The party were locating the present site of the road when attacked.
About 50 miles to the south is "Fremont's orchard," on the South Platte river, about 65 miles below Denver City, Colorado, and in that Territory. It was named after Col. Fremont, who discovered this point in his exploring expedition. It consists of a large grove of cottonwood trees, mostly on the south side of the river. The river here makes an abrupt bend to the north, then to the south, cutting its way through a high range of sand hills—the third range from the Missouri river. Where the river forces its way through the bluffs, they are very high and abrupt on the south side. The two bends leave a long promontory of sand hills, the end of which is washed by the waters. At a distance, this grove of cottonwoods on the bottom land reminds one of an old orchard, such as are often seen in the Eastern States.
Leaving Hillsdale, we pass along the bank of a small creek, dry at intervals. About 10 miles from Hillsdale, we leave the bed of the creek, and rise on to the table land, and then, if the day be a fair one, the traveler can catch the first glimpse of the Rocky Mountains directly ahead. On the right we can catch glimpses of the Black Hills, stretching their cold, dark ruggedness far away to the right—as far as the eye can see; but the bold, black line, that dark shadow on the horizon— which will soon take tangible shape and reality—but which now seems to bar our way as with a gloomy impenetrable barrier, is the "Great Rocky Mountain Chain," the back-bone of the American continent, though bearing different names in the Southern Hemisphere. The highest peak which can be seen rising far above that dark line, its white sides gleaming above the general darkness, is Long's Peak, one of the highest peaks on the continent. Away to the left rises Pike's Peak, its towering crest robed in snow. It is one of those mountains which rank among the loftiest. It is one of Colorado's grandest mountains, and on a fair day is plainly visible from this point, 175 miles distant. Should the air be very clear, farther away still, and more to the left, the long line of the Spanish peaks can be distinctly traced with a good glass. But while we are gazing on the newly opening scenes of mountain range and snowy peaks, the cars have glided on their way—for they have no sentiment—and we arrive at
An unimportant station on the table-land; and a little farther on we enter Crow Creek valley. After passing through a series of cuts and fills, we can see the Denver Pacific R.R., on the left side. Directly ahead can be seen, for several miles, the far-famed "Magic City of the Plains;" but in less time than it takes us to tell it, the space has been passed, the puffing locomotive has ceased its angry snorts, and is stationary once more, and amid a mimic din,
brought about by two or three hackmen and twice as many hotel runners, we step from the cars into the streets of
This is the largest town between Omaha and Ogden. Trains stop here 30 minutes, it being one of the regular stations where passengers are provided with meals, for a consideration. The elevation is 6,041 feet. Distance from Omaha, 516 miles; from Sacramento, 1,260 miles; from Denver City, 110 miles. Cheyenne City is situated, properly speaking, on a broad open plain, the Crow creek, a small stream, winding around two sides of the town. The land rises slightly to the westward. To the east it stretches away for miles, apparently level, though our table of elevations shows to the contrary, The soil is composed of a gravelly formation, with an average loam deposit. The sub-soil shows volcanic matter, mixed with marine fossils, in large quantities. The streets of the town are broad and laid out at right angles with the railroad. By the census of '69 Cheyenne contains 3,000 inhabitants. The streets present a lively business appearance, and the traveler feels that he has arrived at a town of more importance and energy than any he has seen along the road.
On the fourth day of July, 1867, there was one house in Cheyenne, no more. At one period there were 6,000 inhabitants in the place and about the vicinity, but as the road extended westward, the floating, tide-serving portion followed the road, leaving the more permanent settlers, who have put up substantial buildings of brick and stone wherein they are carrying on all branches of trade which mark a thriving and steadily growing city.
At one time Cheyenne had her share of the "roughs" and gambling hells, dance houses, wild orgies; murders by night and day were rather the rule instead of the exception. This lasted until the business men and quiet citizens tired of such doings, and suddenly an impromptu vigilance committee appeared on the scene, and several of the most, desperate characters were found swinging from the end of a rope, from some convenient elevation. Others taking the hint, which indicated they would take a rope unless they mended their ways, quietly left the city. At the present time, Cheyenne is an orderly and well governed town. The first Mayor of Cheyenne was H.M. Hook, an old pioneer, elected August 10, 1867, who was afterwards drowned in Green river, while prospecting for new silver mines.
Cheyenne is the great central distributing point and depot for the freight and travel destined for Colorado and New Mexico, and the vast country to the north. In the fall of '69, Cheyenne suffered severely by a large conflagration which destroyed a considerable portion of the business part of the town, involving a loss of half a million dollars. The inhabitants, with commendable zeal, are rebuilding, in many instances with less destructible material than before.
The Cheyenne Leader, daily and weekly; Republican in politics, was established in September, 1867; owned and edited by N.A. Baker.
The Wyoming Tribune is a live weekly Republican journal, and we learn they are about to issue a daily.
Cheyenne has one public and other private schools, and a good school building.
Churches are not very numerous yet, though there are efforts being made in the matter, looking toward the erection of several. The St. Mark's Episcopal Church is a fine edifice, and the Catholics have erected another. The Methodists and Congregationalists hold service in the school house, while their churches are being erected.
Cheyenne has several manufactories, the usual local manufactures, such as
THE FIRST STEAM RAILROAD TRAIN IN AMERICA.
The above illustration was drawn and engraved from the original painting in the possession of the Connecticut Historical Society, and represents and EXCURSION TRAIN on the Mohawk and Hudson R.R. from Albany to Schenectady, N.Y., in 1831, the first steam train in America. The engine was the "John Bull," imported from England, as well as the engineer, John Hampton, "express for this road, at large expense." Her cylinder was 5 1/2 inches, 16 inch stroke, wheels 4 1/2 feet. Boilers had 30 copper tubes, 5 feet long, 4 inches in diameter. Connecting rods worked on double cranks on front axle. Weight of engine, complete, 4 tons. The tender represents the method of carrying the fuel— wood— in barrels, with a few sticks handy for immediate use. The cars were regular stagecoach bodies set on car-wheels. On this grand excursion "trial trip" were 16 persons, who were then thought ventursome, many of whom have filled important positions in the councils of the country since. Here is food for thought and comparison with the present day.
boots and shoes, saddlery and harness making, being carried on to some extent. The item of saddles is one of great importance on the plains.
The saddle of the plains, and of most Spanish countries, is a different article altogether from the Eastern "hog skins." When seated in his saddle, the rider fears neither fatigue nor injury to his animal. They are made for use—to save the animal's strength, as well as to give ease and security of seat to the rider. The best now in use is made with what is known as the "California Tree."
From the time the hardy miner first discovered the yellow metal in the wilds of California, the art has been practiced in a rude way in all the mining localities. The lucky miner, who found a "chispa" of more than ordinary beauty, would send it to the "dear ones at home," in its crude state, if he were devoid of mechanical ingenuity or knowledge. On the other hand, if he possessed any knowledge of tools, and often when he did not, he would pass his spare hours in hammering out a ring, cross, or some other ornament. Rude and rough the conception and workmanship of the trifle undoubtedly, but it was still as dearly prized, aye, it was of far more value to those who received it, than though it possessed the exquisite finish of the finest specimens of the art. And as rare and costly gems were occasionally found, they, too, were incorporated among the presents sent to absent friends, and ere long the diamond, emerald and moss agate began to attract the attention of the best jewelry houses in the world.
The manufacture of moss agate jewelry has grown into an extensive trade, since it has been discovered that this beautiful stone can be procured in large quantities in Wyoming Territory. [At Church Buttes and Millerville they are found in greater quantities and of better quality than those which are gathered elsewhere.] Of the most beautiful and variegated shades of coloring—of very hard, close and fine grain, they receive a brilliant polish under the hand of the skillful lapidary, and when mounted in the rich setting of California or Colorado gold, they form as rich and tasteful ornaments as can be produced from the shops of either the old or new world.
Ten or twelve of the most experienced workmen are employed here by one firm, whose address will be found under the head of "Moss Agates," in our "Special Department."
There are several wholesale houses in the town doing a large and steadily increasing business with the towns to the westward, along the line, and in the
adjacent Territory. The streets present a brisk appearance, indicative of the life and animation attending a growing town. There are two banks in Chyenne, both of which are doing a good business.
There are several hotels, the chief of which is the companies' fine building, the interior arrangements of which are well spoken of by travelers.
Cheyenne has her theatre and museum, swimming baths and beer gardens. McDaniels theatre is a snug little place, very well supplied with scenery, sufficient for the rendering of small, light pieces, and will seat 250 or 300 people. There is also quite a menagarie connected with the place.
The company buildings are of stone, brought from Granite Canyon. They consist of a round-house of 20 stalls, and machine and repair shop. The freight office and depot buildings are of wood, and fine structures. The freight office was opened for business during the first part of November, '67, at which time the road was completed to this station. About 100 men are now employed at the shops; A. J. Fairbanks, master mechanic.
Several mining companies have been incorporated in the city, for the purpose of working various mines which are located within 35 miles of the town. Among these companies is the "Iron Mountain Manufacturing Company," which was organized for the purpose of working the company's mines in Iron Mountain, on the Chugwater, 32 miles northwest of the city. From the first reports of this mine it was pronounced almost impracticable to do any thing with it, or rather with the mountain, which, report says, is a mass of iron, nearly pure. The present company, however, propose to overcome this difficulty, by incorporating with the ore from this place an inferior quality which is found near by, along with coal sufficient for smelting purposes. The latter mines (of iron and coal) lie to the southward, and are easy of access. In this connection, we might mention that a company has been incorporated, the object of which is the construction of a railroad from Cheyenne to Iron Mountain. That is all that has been done toward building the road, however. The erection of smelting works and the manufacture of iron in Cheyenne would add largely to the growth and prosperity of the Territory, and it is evident that, ere long, this result will be obtained.
But little land is cultivated around this place. A few small gardens on the bottom lands of Crow creek are all the evidences of this branch of industry which we observed. The soil is good, and the hardiest kinds of vegetables and grains could be raised successfully with irrigation. Grazing is the main feature of the country, and to that the attention of the people is turned, to the exclusion of other business.
Before proceeding to mention the forts in this locality, the reader may be interested in learning something in reference to the Big Horn river country, which has attracted considerable attention.
The Big Horn river rises about latitude 43, in Wyoming Territory, and flows nearly due north, and empties into the Yellowstone, in the Territory of Montana. It is the largest branch of the Yellowstone, which is now known only to the hunter, trapper and distant campaigner, but which will some day be known in the markets of the world for the crops and minerals it will bring to them. About midway of its course the Big Horn breaks through the mountains forming one of the largest and grandest canons in the world. Up to this point it is known on the maps as the Wind river, but from the mountains
to the Yellowstone it is the Big Horn proper, and it is of this part of the river that we now propose to write. All the elements of prosperity and wealth are found in the Big Horn country, where our people need it for settlement and culture. Soil and climate are all that could be desired. The rivers are large, and able to market great crops and stores of minerals. All the streams abound with fish, such as bass and trout. The mountains furnish plenty of good pine for lumber, sand and freestone, limestone and clay, and good coal crops out in places in the mountains. Iron ore is also found in the mountains, and gold bearing quartz was discovered in the Big Horn Mountains in 1864 or 1865 by a party of miners from California. Color of gold can be found in the streams, and a great many fine specimens of nugget gold have been picked up by the Indians and brought into the forts and traded for sugar and coffee.
The gulches embrace the head waters of the Big Horn, Powder river and Clear creek, and their innumerable tributaries, in all of which gold has been discovered, and in some places in paying quantities. For some time past, strong efforts have been made by the prominent business men of Cheyenne and other cities to organize an expedition to explore and settle the country the coming summer, but with what success remains yet to be seen—that the country is rich there can be no doubt.
Established July 31, 1867, by General Augur; is intended to accommodate 16 companies, though at the present time but 10 are stationed here. Companies G, H and I, of the 9th, and B, of the 4th, Infantry, and companies A, B, C, D, E, and G, of the 5th, Cavalry. Post Commander, Brevet Major-General John H. King, colonel 9th Infantry. Post Surgeon C.H. Alder, U.S.A.; Post Trader, Mr. Woolly; Post Chaplain, Rev. E.B. Tuttle. The post is situated three miles from Cheyenne, on Crow Creek, which washes two sides of the enclosure. Latitude, 41 deg. 08 min.; Longitude 104 deg. 45 min. It is connected by side-track with the U.P.R.R. at Cheyenne. The quartermaster's department—12 store-houses—is located between the fort and the town, at "Camp Carling." Several million pounds of Government stores are gathered here, from which the forts to the northwest draw their supplies. The reservation on which the fort is situated was declared by the President, June 28th, 1869; 4,512 acres.
This fort was established Aug. 12th, 1849, by Major W.F. Sanderson, Mounted Rifles. The place, once a trading post of the Northwestern Fur Company, was purchased by the Government, through Brice Husband, the company's agent, for the site of a military post. It was at one time the winter quarters of many trappers and hunters. It is also noted as being the place where several treaties have been made between the savages and whites—many of the former living around the fort, fed by Government, and stealing its stock in return. The reservation declared by the President on the 28th of June, 1869, consists of 54 square miles. It is situated 89 miles from Cheyenne—the nearest railroad station—on the left bank of the Laramie, about two miles from its junction with the North Platte, and on the Overland Road to Oregon and California.
Brevet Brigadier-General Franklin F. Flint, colonel Fourth Infantry, is the present post commander. The garrison consists of six companies of the Fourth Infantry. Assistant Surgeon, J.B. Girard, U.S.A., is at present post surgeon; Chaplain, A. Wright; Post Trader, S.E. Ward. The only regular conveyance to the Post is by Government mail ambulance from Cheyenne. Latitude, 42 dg. 12 min. 38 sec.; longitude, 104 dg. 31 min. 26 sec.
This Post was named for Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel William J. Fetterman, Captain 18th Infantry, killed at the Fort Phil. Kearney massacre, December 21st, 1866. Established July, 19th, 1867, by four companies of the Fourth Infantry under command of Brevet Colonel William McE. Dye, Major Fourth Infantry. It is situated at the mouth of La Poele Creek, on the south side of the North Platte river, 135 miles from Cheyenne, 90 miles south of Fort Reno, and 70 miles northwesterly from Fort Laramie. Latitude, 42 deg. 49 min. 08 sec.; longitude, 105 deg. 27 min. 03 sec. The reservation of sixty square miles was declared June 28th, 1869. The garrison consists of companies A, E and H, of the Fourth Infantry, Brevet Col. C.A. Chambers, Maj. 4th Infantry, post commander; Dr. Purcell, U.S.A., post surgeon; Robert Wilson, of Denver, post trader. Cheyenne is the nearest railroad station.
was situated on the North Platte River, at what was known as "Old Platte Bridge," on the Overland Road to California. and Oregon, 55 miles north of Fort Fetterman; was built during the late war; rebuilt by the 18th Infantry in 1866, and abandoned in 1867, and its garrison, munitions of war, etc., were transferred to Fort Fetterman. The bridge across the Platte at this place cost $65,000—a wooden structure, which was destroyed by the Indians shortly after the abandonment of the post.
was established during the war by General E.P. Connor, for the protection of the Powder River country. It was situated on the Powder River, 225 miles from Cheyenne and 90 miles from Fort Fetterman, and 65 miles from Fort Phil. Kearney. It was rebuilt in '66 by the 18th Infantry, and abandoned in July, 1868.
was established July, 1866, by four companies of the 18th Infantry, under command of Colonel H.B. Carrington, 18th Infantry. This post was situated 290 miles north of Cheyenne, in the very heart of the hunting grounds of the northern Indians, and hence the trouble the troops had with the Indians in establishing it. Here it was where the great massacre was in 1866. It was also abandoned in July, 1868.
was established in 1866, by Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel N. C. Kinney, Captain 18th Infantry, and two companies of that regiment. Was at the foot of the Big Horn Mountain, 90 miles from Fort Phil. Kearney, and 380 from Cheyenne, on the Big Horn river. Was also abandoned in July, 1868.
In connection with Cheyenne, we have spoken of the Denver Pacific Railroad, which terminates at this point. Here travellers for the South will change cars and take the Denver Pacific Railroad for Denver, Golden City, Central City, Santa Fe and all points in Colorado and New Mexico. We will now proceed to give a short view of this road, Colorado and its towns and resources, for the benefit of those who are about to visit this land for the first time—commencing with the railroad.
COLORARO was first visited by white men—Spaniards—in 1540. Explored by Z.M. Pike, who gave his name to Pike's Peak, in 1806; by Col. S.H. Long in 1820, who named Long's Peak; by Gen. Fremont in 1843; by Gov. William Gilpin in 1840, who has traversed the country more or less until the present time.
"IVEN CRACKEN," occupied in 1860, fifty miles south of Denver, on Cherry Creek, the first country residence of the publisher. It is thought that little change has been made during the last 1,800 years, not since the rocks were rent.
SOLILOQUY, Denver, 1864-9.—Hall, hauled; Steck, stuck; Downing, did; Bright, Ford-ed; Whitest, Cook-ed. School Fund Evaporated!!!
"CORRAL" (Spanish).—A pen made of posts set on end in tile ground close together, and fastened with rawhide thongs, or by wagons drawn in a circle forming an enclosure.
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