In the fall of 1867, the Board of Trade, of Denver City, Colorado Territory, organized a company, the object of which was to connect that city by rail and telegraph lines with the Union Pacific Railroad at Cheyenne. The distance to be overcome was 110 miles, through a country possessing no serious obstacles, and many favorable inducements to the enterprise. For a great part of the way, the country along and for some distance on either side of the line, is a rich farming country and the remainder of the road is through the celebrated grazing country, extending southward from Cheyenne. The desire to open up this rich country, to connect the city of Denver with the trans-continental railroad, by which to afford a way for cheap and fast freight, and rapid transit of passengers, induced the people of the Territory of Colorado to take hold of the scheme, when proposed, with commendable zeal and alacrity. After the formation of the company, the surveys and subsequent labor of grading the road was pushed rapidly forward, until the road bed was graded and ready for the rail from Denver to Cheyenne.
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The Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division (Kansas Pacific Railway), was completed to Denver August 15, 1870, where it connects with the Denver Pacific Railroad, thence by the latter, making connections at Cheyenne with the trains for the east or west, on the "Great Trans-Continental Railroad." Connections are also made at Denver with the Colorado Central Railroad, which was completed to Golden City (13 miles west) September 23, 1870.
The original route proposed for the Kansas Pacific Railroad was to commence at Kansas City, in the great bend of the Missouri; thence westward, via Fort Lyon, on the Arkansas River, through New Mexico and Arizona to San Diego, on the Pacific Ocean; thence along the coast to San Francisco. Whether it is to be completed or not remains to be seen.
Another projected line, called the Denver, South Park and Rio Grande Railroad, is spoken of, and a company has been organized. Route proposed: Up the valley of the Platte River from Denver to the South Park; thence to the valley of the Rio Grande Del Norte, with a branch to Blue River and Middle Park. For the first 20 miles this line would run over open plains— the valley of the Platte. From thence 30 miles, through the finest timbered lands in Colorado (provided they could ever blast through Platte Canyon), passing the forks of the Platte near good wagon roads. About 50 miles from Denver the line enters South Park, at the mouth of Tarryall Creek. At this point it reaches one of the most fertile valleys in the Territory. It is about 30 miles broad by 60 in length, and very productive. About 20 miles from this place are the extensive salt works of Colorado.
The Denver and Santa Fe Railroad Company was organized to construct a road along the base of the mountains to the southern line of the Territory, via Colorado City, Pueblo and Trinidad; thence to the Moreno mines, New Mexico. The line follows a succession of north and south valleys, and is said to offer many advantages in the matter of construction, easy grades, etc. The country bordering on the route is extensively cultivated, rich in iron and coal, and noted as a fine stock growing country. Moreno Mines of New Mexico, the proposed terminus, are rich and extensive; but the two last roads are on paper now, and though they are very desirable to the country, and would, doubtless, be good paying investments, some time must and will elapse before we can expect to see them commenced or completed.
We will now give a look at the town where so many proposed railroads will in time add their quota of wealth and prosperity. Denver City is the capital of Colorado Territory, shire town of Arapaho County, and is
situated on the Platte river, at the junction of Cherry Creek, 6,000 feet above the level of the sea, 13 miles from the eastern base of the mountains, which protect it from the cold winds of the winter. The mountains extend north and south as far as the eye can trace their rugged height. These highest points, Long's Peak, to the north, and Pikes Peak, to the south, are in full view, towering far above the tops of the surrounding mountains. An open, rolling country surrounds the city, being the outer border of that immense plain which stretches away to the waters of the Missouri river, 600 miles to the eastward. Denver is about due south from Cheyenne; by railroad, 110 miles. Population, 5,000.
That is what every one wants first, so we give a list of those published here.
The Rocky Mountain News, daily and weekly, by Byers and Daily, of Republican proclivities, is the oldest paper in the Territory, established in '59. Colorado Tribune, daily, semi-weekly and weekly, by Woodbury & Walker, Republican. Rocky Mountain Herald, daily and weekly, by O.J. Goldrick, Democratic. These are a credit to any community, and we think, by the way, that Colorado has more and better newspapers, according to her age and population, than can be found in any other part of our commonwealth.
These institutions, which mark a people's progress in the more enlightened and cultivated phases of civilization, are well represented in Denver and the other cities of the Territory. In Denver city the schools are flourishing, including two seminaries; and, for a new country, the school houses are commodious, and present an outside appearance equal, and, in many cases, superior to those of older communitites.
This institution is located in Denver, and does a good business in smelting and assaying gold and silver bullion, turning it out in bars. By act of Congress, it was changed into an assay office, some time during the year '67, on what grounds we know not. By reference to the books of the office for the months of January and February of 1868, we find that business receipts, for smelting and assaying, were largely on the increase; that an excess of about $53,000 over the corresponding months of the previous year showed conclusively that the gold and silver product of the country was in a healthy and flourishing condition.
During those months, the office paid out, in assayed gold and silver bars, about $108,000. The business for the six months ending December 31, 1869, coin value, was bullion assayed and run into bars, gold and silver, $624,569.07. This exceeds the previous business for any full year, and 1870 is expected to show still better figures.
This institution was organized in Denver in 1867, representing the business men of the city. It takes the lead in public enterprises, and has been very instrumental in promoting the growth and prosperity of the city. By reference to their books, an idea of the mercantile trade of Denver may be obtained. By this means, we learn that for the year 1869 the sales of merchandise in Denver amounted to over $7,000,000; grain sold, 10,000,000 pounds; value of manufactured goods, $500,000; lumber shipped out of the Territory, 2,000,000 feet; total amount of lumber sold, 4,000,000 feet; value of buildings erected, $300,000; gold and silver deposited in U.S. branch mint, $555,452.83; value of mill and other machinery imported, $76,000; value of fruit trees planted, $9,814; gold shipped East from Denver by Wells, Fargo & Co., $2,400,000, besides that taken away by private conveyance, which is estimated at about the same amount; number of cattle shipped, 14,000 head; hides shipped,
60,296 pounds; Wool, 27,000 pounds; the value of city property, by Assessor's books for that year, $4,000,000. From this data the reader can form some idea of the business of Denver and the resources of the Territory.
There are three first class hotels in this city—the American, Tremont and Pacific.
There are two flour mills in the city, which turn out an excellent article of flour for home use and export.
Strong efforts are being made to establish a woolen mill, with every prospect of success.
The Ford Park Association have a race track about two miles northeast of the city; it is handsomely enclosed, and kept in good repair. On every afternoon the fast horses of Denver and their fast drivers can be seen enjoying the smooth track at 2:40 speed.
The State Agricultural Society has 40 acres of ground adjoining Denver, where stalls, &c., have been erected for the accommodation of animals at the annual fairs. A half mile race track is laid out, and the buildings and land enclosed with a concrete wall, the whole costing about $10,000.
MAIL AND EXPRESS STAGES are run regularly from Denver to Santa Fe, 450 miles.
Within a few years, the water of the Platte River has been brought into the city by a ditch, about 15 miles long, and its waters are suffered to flow through the streets, reminding the tourist of Salt Lake City. Shade trees have been planted along the streets, and tasty gardens have sprung into existence under the influence of the change wrought within the city by the presence of water in quantities sufficient for irrigation. Another change is noted by the old benzine encompassers who mysteriously shake their heads, when speaking of improvements, and assert that the whiskey has also been irrigated.
About 13 miles west of Denver we come to Golden City, situated on Clear Creek, near where it debouches from the eastern base of the Rocky Mountains. The town contains about 1,500 inhabitants, a pottery and paper mill—the only ones in the Territory; also, flour and saw mills and other manufactories. The place is well supplied with schools, churches, &c. The Colorado Transcript is published here by George West, a pioneer of the early days of the Territory. The Tremont House and Johnson House are the principal hotels. Same quartz mines are found here, and the whole section is underlaid with coal mines of good quality, which are successfully worked.
"Golden" celebrated, September 23, 1870, the completion of the COLORADO CENTRAL RAILROAD from that city to Denver. "Let those laugh who win." It was a grand triumph for the Hon. W.A.H. Loveland and his friends, and we heartily congratulate Mr. L.— the father of Golden City, and an old pioneer of '59—who has labored for years to push the road ahead, never allowing himself to despair, although all around him "looked black" and some "pulled back." Colorado has need of more such men— energetic and ambitious—to enhance the welfare of the country.
This is a portion of the road chartered to be constructed through Berthoud Pass to Utah. It will follow up the valley of Clear Creek through the rich silver and gold mining districts of Gilpen and Clear Creek counties, in which are located the cities of Central Black Hawk, Georgetown, Idaho and Empire. Stages leave Golden City daily, on arrival of the cars, for all the above cities and the mountain towns generally,
CLEAR CREEK rises about 60 miles from the city, emptying its waters into the Platte four miles below Denver. The stream affords great natural advantages for manufactories, the water power being unlimited and mill sites numerous.
THE First Regiment of Colorado Volunteers, on their return from New Mexico in '62, were called "pet lambs."
The whole country, from the mountains to Denver, is excellent farming land, irrigated by canals connecting with the creek. Orchards have been planted along the creek, and the result has established the fact that fruit can be raised successfully in this section.
Here the proposed system of tram roads branch out. The original trunk line, as chartered, extended from Denver to Golden City, thence diverged, via Bergen Precinct, to Georgetown and the South Park. Another line diverged from Golden City to the northwest, extending to Black Hawk and Central City, in Gilpin county. The line first named enters the best timbered lands in Colorado.
When these projectea improvements are completed, the lumber, coal, wood, etc., of these sections can be landed in Denver and Golden City at greatly reduced prices from present rates.
This is the only system of railroads applicable to a rough, mountainous country like this. Of narrow guage and light cars, they can wind in and out among the ravines, hills and gulches, where it would be unprofitable or impossible to build a large iron road. The almost inexhaustible supplies of timber around Bergen, the copper ores abounding there, the lime-rock and stone quarries, the immense deposits of coal, which will, in time, be in demand—all of which could be transported in this manner cheaper by half than at present prices of freighting—must render the road, when completed, a most profitable investment to the owners, as well as a benefit to the people at large.
Another great item in regard to this style of road should be considered. The people of Colorado can build these roads themselves, and retain the cost of their construction, and the profits arising from working them, in their own country, among their own people.
When these roads are working, immense bodies of refractory ores can be cheaply moved from the mines to the valley, on their way East for working, or they can be moved to furnaces in the valley, or the coal and wood necessary in smelting can be moved to the mines, which cannot be done now, owing to the expense of transportation by freight teams. Time and circumstances will yet make this system of roads a public necessity.
It is worthy of serious consideration on the part of those interested in the internal improvements of their country, that the benefits accruing therefrom shall belong to themselves as far as possible, and not to be taken from the country to pay interest on or principal of foreign capital. The citizens of a State should always control a State's improvement, thereby preventing monopolies from ruling or oppressing them.
These towns, lying about two miles from each other, on Gregory's Gulch, really constitute one town, although possessing two distinct organizations and governments. They are connected by stage with Denver, and situated about 38 miles west from the same place, and contain, in the aggregate, from 7,000 to 8,000 inhabitants. The towns have good public buildings, schools, churches and hotels. The principal hotels are, the Mountain House, Black Hawk; St. Nicholas, and Connor House, Central City. The Central City Register, daily, Republican, by Collier & Hall, and the Daily Colorado Herald, Democratic, by T.J. Campbell, are published here.
The principal business of the place consists in mining, this being claimed as the chief gold mining town in Colorado. It was the first mining camp established. W.N. Byers pitched his tent here in '58 or '59. Several quartz mills are located here, and an immense number of veins crop out in every direction. With successful milling these veins or lodes must yield an enormous revenue. As yet the country is hardly prospected, owing to the fact that mill facilities are not such as to encourage it. The great want of Colorado is a desulphurizing process by which the metal
WASH–A–KIE, Peace Chief of the Shoshone Indians.
(From photograph by Savage & Otinger, Salt Lake City.)
can be obtained from the rock without this great waste, which has accompanied the usual method of working heretofore.
About 35 miles from Denver, via Mt. Vernon, we come to Idaho City, situated at the mouth of Virginia canyon. The town contains about 1,000 inhabitants. It is celebrated for its mineral springs, which are in the heart of the city. A hotel and bath house are connected with the springs, which are becoming a noted summer resort. There are three others in the town, which, with the former named, afford ample accommodation for the traveler. The waters are highly recommeded for various diseases, especially chronic cases of long standing
This town is situated in Clear Creek county, in the center of the famous silver mines of Colorado, at the base of the Snowy Range, about 8,000 feet above the level of the sea. It is distant from Denver about 50 miles to the westward. The city contains about 5,000 inhabitants, and is well supplied with schools, churches and hotels—the two principal ones of the last named institutions being the Barton And the Legget Houses. The Georgetown Miner, a lively newspaper, is published here, by Barnard & Ward. Grey's Peak, just above the town, is 14,500 feet high.
The silver mines around this place are simply wonderful, in their number, magnitude, and richness. But some other than the ordinary mill process, or yet the furnace process now in use, must be discovered, before the principal lodes can be worked to advantage, on account of the refractory character of much of the ore. Not but what the mines pay with the present process, but still not more than half, and often not more than a third or fourth of the silver contained in the rock is saved, which entails a severe loss on the miner. Large amounts of ore are being shipped from these mines to England for smelting. The "Terrible Lode," the most noted of any in the vicinity, has recently been sold through the "British and Colorado Mining Bureau," of London, to an English company, who are about to erect extensive works for reducing the ores.
About 65 miles to the southward from Denver, is Colorado City, situated on the stage road from Denver to Santa Fe, at the base of Pike's Peak, containing a population of, perhaps, 500, and about 75 houses, some of logs, frame, and few of sandstone. The country adjacent is fine farming land, and many large droves of horses and cattle, as well as herds of sheep, are kept in this section. When the accommodations are sufficient to entice travelers to remain in the place, it will doubtless become a favorite summer resort for travelers.
About 1 1/2 miles west is a singular wild and beautiful place, which some poetic individual has given the title which heads this paragraph. Several rocks, or rather, two high ridges of rock, rise perpendicularly from the valley to the height of two hundred feet or more, but a few yards apart, forming a lofty inclosure, which embraces a beautiful miniature valley, which seems to nestle here away from the gaze of the passer-by, as though, like some timid damsel, it feared that its beauty would prove its destruction. Such has been its fate, as we are told that some unpoetical heathen has plowed up its virgin bosom and planted it with beets. There is little poetry in the heart when the stomach is empty.
These healing springs, several in number, are situated about three miles from Colorado City, near the source of the Fountain Qui la Bonille, a small stream, which empties into the Arkansas river, near Pueblo. They are said to possess great medicinal virtues.
The farming lands in this section are unsurpassed by any in the Territory. They extend in one unbroken range to Pueblo City, on the Arkansas river, and far away in all directions from that point.
Is about 160 miles from Denver, with which it is connected by stage and telegraph lines. The town is situated near the junction of the Fountain Qui la Bonille with the Arkansas. The town contains about 1,000 inhabitants, has good schools, churches and hotels. The two principal hotels are the Valley House and Planters' House. The Colorado Chieftain is published here by Sam McBride.
Pueblo is the center of the richest agricultural district in the Territory. Thousands of sheep and cattle are fed on this range, and along the river, farming is carried on with success and on a large scale.
The fine water power available, and these broad fertile plains and productive uplands, on which roam so many thousand sheep, point to the probable fact that woollen manufactories will soon be established here. The citizens of Pueblo cannot afford to send their wool to a foreign market, when they have every requisite for manufacturing it at home. If wool buyers can afford to purchase their wools, and freight them long distances, and then manufacture them at a profit, surely the citizens could manufacture them at home by their own machinery, for the item of freight would pay the difference in the price of labor.
Colorado Territory has advantages which, if improved, will render her the great wool producing country of the Union.
It is not our purpose to enter into a very minute description of this remarkable country. Volumes would not suffice to do jutice to this Territory, her vast resources; her mines of gold, silver, iron, coal and copper; her rich and fertile valleys; her broad plains, on which roam thousands of cattle, sheep and horses; her vast agricultural resources; her dense forests and lofty mountains; her genial climate and whole-souled people, cannot be described in one small volume with any degree of accuracy or justice; in fact, they cannot be described at all, they must be seen to be appreciated, and the reader of any work treating on Colorado must live among her hardy, hospitable people before he or she can understand them or comprehend their real character. No one can learn these things from books, though he may get a little light on the subject, as a friend of ours remarked when he fell out of the window.
Colorado, once, by bill passed by Congress, became a State, had the President but ratified the act. But President Johnson vetoed the bill.
The Territory contains about 110,000 square miles, and a variously estimated population. From 30,000 to 60,000 inhabitants is accorded her; probably an average of the two numbers would be very nearly correct.
The climate is dry, and very healthy, the Territory being unsurpassed in this respect. Diseases common in the older States are unknown here. Pulmonary complaints are either eradicated from the system of invailds who resort to this country, or the disease becomes so modified that the sufferer enjoys a marked improvement in his condition.
The report of the Agricultural Society of Colorado shows that stock-raising is carried on to a great extent, and with very flattering results.
At the fair of '68, several varieties of wheat were on exhibition, raised in the Territory, as well as oats, barley and corn, the three latter yielding handsome returns. Wheat is said to yield as high as 40 bushels to the acre.
No State in the Union, California ex-
cepted, can excel Colorado, in the production of vegetables. Owing to the dryness of the black loam, irrigation is necessary to secure good crops, for which purpose ditches have been dug from the neighboring streams, which afford all the water required. These ditches also afford ample water power for mills of various kinds.
Colorado is rich in the precious metals, gold and silver being found in different parts of the Territory. "Pike's Peak" became famous in 1859-60, though it is said that gold was discovered in '49 in the Territory. The placer mines were never very extensive, at least, those which have been discovered were not lasting ones. It appears that the chief wealth of the mines lies in the gold and silver-bearing quartz lodes. In some localities the rock is very easily worked, but in others the ore is very refractory, requiring desulphurizing before much of the precious metal can be obtained by mill process. Several companies have tried the experiment of roasting the ores in furnaces of their own invention, the expense of which came from the miners' pockets. Most, if not all, these experiments have proved failures, the furnaces desulphurizing only a portion of the ore.
Along the base of the mountains, for many miles north and south of Denver, coal has been discovered at various points. Many persons estimate the extent of the coal fields at 5,000 square miles. To the north of the city several companies have opened mines, which are worked enough to supply home consumption.
The veins of these mines are from five to 19 feet thick. At one point eleven veins overlap each other, showing an aggregate depth of fifty feet solid coal.
The Denver Pacific R.R. passes within 12 miles of these coal fields, which are now being worked, and within a mile and a half of a vein, six feet thick. The proposed Coal Creek Valley R.R. will connect these mines with the Denver Pacific R.R. when completed.
Large quantities of iron ore are found, and, in connection with the coal deposits, promise a rich harvest for the manufacturer. This coal is bituminous, and is harder, brighter, less dirty and odorous, burns with a purer flame, and leaves less residue than the coal from Illinois. It will eventually constitute one of the great sources of the wealth of this remarkable country. Iron ore is found in various localities, of good quality and in large quantities. The manufacture of iron cannot long remain in the back ground, when coal in such quantities and plenty of excellent iron ore can be obtained at the mere expense of mining.
The grandest mountains in North America are found in this Territory. They raise their snow-clad peaks far above their compeers, rising proudly and defiantly into the clear blue sky; their gray sides and white crests being visible through this clear atmosphere for many, many miles.
In the pure air of this country objects like these are visible for a great distance, so great, indeed, that were it named, those who have never been in these regions would at once deny the statement; that's nothing, however, if they should deny it, for we have known some men who denied their country, and many who denied their wives. But that is foreign to the subject, and has no connection with the mountains of Colorado.
Long's Peak and Pike's Peak are over 14,000 feet above the level of the sea. Grey's Peaks, the highest point yet explored in the Territory, are 14,300 and 14,500 feet high, They were named for the celebrated Cambridge botanist. There are other peaks less high, but none the less grand and majestic. The Alps, storied monuments of poetical, legendary fame, cannot compare with these mountains in scenes of sublime beauty and awful grandeur. Here, all of the vast scene is before you, the pure
air bringing the distant mountains within your vision, as though anxious that the whole grand beauty of the scene should be visible at one and the same time. The mind drinks in the inspiration of the glorious vision at one draught, and filled with awe, wonder and admiration, the bounding heart almost stands still, while the eager eyes gaze on the grandest panorama in nature. From the top of Grey's Peaks, either of them, a morning scene of glorious beauty is unfolded, such as one rarely sees in any clime, for nature, in her wildest moods, has never excelled her handiwork here, a panoramic view or which now lies before us. European travelers tell us that nowhere within the range of European travel can such scenes be found—scenes so full of beauty, sublimity and inspiration.
Nowhere on the old continent do we ascend so high; from no point is the view so wide and comprehensive. From Alpine summits, the tourist's gaze extends over one petty province to rest upon another. Here, the eye fails to reach the extent of even one portion of our country, and the far distant horizon closes in the scene, by dropping an airy curtain, whose fleecy fringes rest on mountain peaks and vast plains, in far distant portions of the same fair land.
From one side of the summit, the waters of a quiet, little spring, ripple softly away, as though afraid to venture on the vast distance which lies between them and the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, their final destination. On the other side of the crest the scene is repeated, with this difference, that the waters stealing away through beds of tiny, delicately tinted, mountain flowers, are destined to reach the Pacific Ocean, on the other side of the continent. So close together in their infancy, so far apart in their prime, or at their final grave, the ocean. This point is the apex, the center of the North American Continent, the crowning peak of that great back-bone, whose iron ribs are represented by the many spurs that branch away in earnest support of the whole grand system.
From this point, range on range, gorge after gorge, can be seen, interspersed with rugged peaks, which lend a peculiar wildness to the scene. Away to the east, lies the vast, grayish expanse of the plains, looking like some great ocean, its breast unstirred by the passing breeze, or rippled by a single prow. Nearer, still, among the bordering mountains, nestling in the hollows and between the brown heights, lie miniature prairies, patches of green, on which the rays of the morning sun fall in folds of yellow light, enveloping them in a flood of golden beauty. Small, and insignificant as they appear, when compared with the vast sea of plains beyond, they are really large valleys, in which are found the farming lands of Colorado.
These little valleys, as seen from the mountain tops, prove, on entering them, to be both wide and long. They consist of the North, Middle, San Luis, and South Parks, which lie along, on either side, of the line of Central Colorado. Each is a great central park or valley in itself, shut out from its neighbor by dividing ranges of rugged hills, the only entrances being along the numerous water courses, which have their origin in the valleys and cut their way through the surrounding mountains in their passage to the sea. The extent of these parks vary, the largest being about 80 miles long, with an average width of 40 miles. The smallest of the number will not exceed 40 miles in length, with a width of about 15 miles. Some of these lie on the Atlantic side of the "backbone," while some rest on the Pacific side, their altitude being from 7,000 to 10,000 feet. They are, in fact, great upland basins, the reservoirs of the debris, which, for centuries, have washed down the mountain sides. Their soil is fertile, yielding wild grasses in abun-
dance, furnishing food for vast herds of sheep and cattle.
In Europe or New England, were such plains found at such an altitude and in similar latitude, they would be worthless, barren wastes—probably regions of perpetual ice and snow; but here grains and vegetables are successfully cultivated, and cattle graze the year round at the height of 7,000 feet, this altitude and that of the highest—10,000 feet—and including those, also, afford excellent summer pasturage and great crops of natural grass, which is cured for hay and exported.
Theses great fertile areas constitute one of the great resources of the Territory—an unbounded field of wealth which requires no expensive machinery to develop. When these plains shall have been stocked and settled—when the golden grain shall wave in the morning breeze around the home of the pioneer—when these lands shall have been divided up and peopled—a new era of wealth and prosperity will dawn on Colorado—an era of steadily increasing and permanent progress, such as mines can never give.
With this sketch of Colorado, short and imperfect, because it is impossible to do justice to this country, we take our leave of it, and return to Cheyenne, where we start once more for the West. We shall soon be rising up among the Black Hills, which are stretching far away in a long, rugged line before us. Soon we cross Crow creek on a Howe truss bridge, one of the best on the line. We leave the creek and follow up the bed of a small, dry ravine. Now we have a fine view of Fort Davy Russell, of which we have spoken. Soon we arrive at
Seven miles from Cheyenne. Here, the traveler going East can obtain a fine view of Cheyenne and Fort Davy Russell, which lie directly ahead of his train. Elevation, 6,325 feet.
Eight miles farther on we arrive at Otto, a side-track station. We are now 6,724 feet above the sea, and the traveler should note the rapid rise made from this point, in surmounting the Black Hills. Here the heavy grading commences.
To the north of this place, at the base of the hills, is a fine valley. Here Crow creek finds its source in many fine springs. The valley contains very superior grazing land and, in conjunction with the adjacent hills, affords ample game for the hunter.
Fifteen miles from this station, to the north, at the eastern entrance of Cheyenne Pass, is the site of old fort Walbach, now deserted. Near this fort is the head waters of Lodge Pole creek.
Five miles beyond Otto. Elevation, 7,298 feet. At this point is extensive stone quarries, whence was taken the rock for the company's buildings in Cheyenne, also for the stone warehouses. Limestone abounds in this vicinity, and many kilns have been erected. To the left of the road, and down the canyon a few hundred yards, is a fine spring from whence the water is elevated to the tank by the road side. Half a mile to the south is the head waters of Lone Tree creek, a tributary of the South Platte river. Along the road now is heavy rock work. And on the exposed portions of the road may be seen to snow fences. Built of plank or stone. Crossing the head of the canyon, we reach
A side-track station, six miles farther west. Elevation, 7,298 feet. Heavy rock work, and snow sheds and fences mark the road. Much wood is stored here, hauled from the canyons in the surrounding hills.
The country here presents a wild, rugged and grand appearance. The level ground or the little valleys are covered with a fine coat of grass, and now and then
First Construction Train passing the Palisades, C.P.R.R. (see page 133.)
clumps of stunted pine appear by the road side. On either hand, near by. High bold masses of granite rear their gray sides, piled one on the other in wild confusion. The scene is peculiarly impressive as we near Sherman, especially if it chance to be one of those days when the clouds float low down the horizon: then the traveler looks over the intervening space between him and the mountain range beyond, and sees naught but floating masses of vapor; no mountains, no valley, no forest, only these fleecy shapes, and a long dark line rising above them, o'ertopped by the glistening sides of Long's Peak. The altitude gained, we seem to have moved along a level plane, covered with grass, rocks and shrubs, until we reach
Eight thousand two hundred and forty-two feet above the level of the sea. It is named in honor of General Sherman the tallest general in the service. This station is 549 miles from Omaha and 1,365 from San Francisco. The maximum grade from Cheyenne to Sherman is 88,176 per mile. Seventy-five miles to the southwest is Long's Peak.
To the south, 165 miles away, is Pike's Peak, both plainly visible. To the northwest, about 100 miles distant, is Elk Mountain, another noted landmark. Fine springs of water abound in almost every ravine. This is a noted point for game, black and cinnamon bears being found in the hills, and occasionally, "mountain lions."
At this point the company has a stone round house of five stalls, for repairs. The trains stop here, though, but a few minutes. It is merely a telegraph and freight station. About 25 houses of logs and boards constitute the town. One store, two hotels and two saloons make up the business portion of the town. The freight taken on at this station for the East and West, is very extensive, consisting of sawed lumber, telegraph poles and wood obtained in the hills and ravines but a few miles distant.
These hills are covered in sections with a dense growth of hard, spruce pine, which, as to quality, and adaptability for being dressed, resembles the hemlock of the Eastern States. The timber is not of large growth, judging from the piles of sawed lumber which we observed. We found no board over 20 inches wide, and the lumber had been sawed as wide as the log would allow. This country contains an almost inexhaustible supply of timber, and for years to come, the country east of Sherman will draw its supplies from this point. Years must elapse ere the railroad company can exhaust the wood growing within easy distance of the station. For many miles away the hills extend, every ravine and slope covered with a dense forest, through which roam the wild beasts, unawed by the near approach of civilization.
At this elevated point, the tourist, if his "wind is good," can spend a long time pleasantly in wandering amid some of the wildest, grandest scenes to be found on the continent. There are places where the rocks rise higher, where the chasms are far deeper, where the surrounding peaks may be loftier, and the torrents mightier in their power, and still they do not possess such power over the mind of man as does the wild, desolate looking landscape around Sherman. Although the plateau is covered with grass, and occasional shrubs and stunted trees greet the eye, the surrounding bleakness and desolation render this place one of awful grandeur. The hand of Him who rules the universe is nowhere else more marked, and in no place so utterly alone, so completely isolated from mankind, and left entirely with nature as at Sherman, on the Black Hills of Wyoming.
At first the tourist experiences much difficulty in breathing, the extreme lightness of the air trying his lungs to their utmost capacity, but when he becomes accustomed to the change, and begins to inhale long draughts of the pure mountain air, he feels like a new man, and
begins to wonder how it came that he never tried the mountain atmosphere before.
The presence of snow sheds and fences by every cut induced us to inquire of a gentleman who has resided here for some time, regarding the storms, snows, weather, and the character of the the winters here in general. He showed us a table, where he had recorded the weather during the winter of '68-9. From this we learned that the deepest snow which fell at this point, at one time, or that laid on the ground at any one time during the winter and spring, was but three inches, and that fell in May. It is not the depth of snow that causes any inconvenience to the working of the road, but it is the drifting of it into the cuts during the heavy winds. For the purpose of preventing this, the sheds, fences and walls are erected along the road, the latter a few rods away from the banks, of the cuts. The fences cause an eddy or current of air, which piles the snow along in huge drifts, keeping it, in a great measure, from the track. Snow sheds cover the deepest cuts along the road, where obstructions from the snow is most likely to occur. The cold rains and deepest snows come with an east wind; the worst storms from the southwest. The coldest day of the season,('68-9), the thermometer marked 8 dg. below zero. This occurred on the 29th of January. On the warmest day recorded in January, the mercury stood at 22 dg. above zero at noon, and, at five o'clock, P.M., 20 dg. At Omaha, during the summer, the range marked was 110 dg. Fahrenheit; at this point, 82 dg.
From among the surrounding hills several streams rise from the numerous springs, and wind their way among rocks and through gorges until they are lost in the waters of other streams. Dale creek heads six miles to the north, and empties into the Cache-a-La Poudre river. The latter stream rises about 35 miles southwest from Sherman and empties into the south Platte.
Numbers of little creeks head near by, each and every one abounding in trout of the finest quality. There is no spot along the line of road which can be compared to the locality around Sherman for trout fishing. The tiniest rivulets swarm with them, and their speckled sides glisten in every eddy. They weigh from one-fourth to two pounds, and their flesh is as hard and white as that of the mountain trout of Vermont.
Antelope, elk, black-tailed deer, bear, sage hens and grouse abound in the hills and on the plateaus. The angler, hunter or tourist should never pass Sherman without pausing long enough to fly a hook and try his rifle. Doubtless this point will become a favorite summer resort for travelers, possessing, as it does, eminent attractions for hunting and fishing.
From Sherman to Rawlings the road runs between the Black Hills and the Rocky Mountain range, presenting varied and impressive scenery at various points.
Leaving Sherman, the road turns to the left, and three miles further on we reach
A plated framework structure, 650 feet long, and 126 feet high, spanning Dale creek from bluff to bluff. The bridge is the grandest feature of the road. Standing on trestles, interlaced with each other, and securely corded together, it presents a light, airy and graceful appearance when viewed from the creek. [See illustration. -view image- ] The beautiful little stream looks like a silver thread below us, the sun glistening its surface with a thousand flashes of silvery light. Anon, the dark walls of the canyon shade it, as though they were envious or jealous of its beauty being rendered common property. A narrow
green valley, just above the bridge, or rather a strip of green sward, on which stands one house, is the site of the former Dale City, where, at one time, were over 600 inhabitants. Here, too, as well as around Sherman, are found countless flowers of every variety and hue. Dr. Latham, surgeon of the U.P.R.R., informed us that he had classified over 300 varieties of the flowers which grow in this section and on the Laramie and Cheyenne plains.
Dale creek is one of the tributaries of this stream, along the banks of which lies a lovely valley nestled in a mountain range to gladden the sight of the weary traveler, or to afford a home for the industrious emigrant. Fifteen miles to the southwest of Sherman, is Virginia Dale station, which some "yellow covered novelist" has immortalized in a "blood and thunder story," wherein he entitled this station the Robber's Roost, though he disdains to inform us what they roosted on. But aside from this questionable honor, Virginia Dale station is the most widely known and celebrated of any locality in these mountains. There are a few good buildings around the place, where excursionists, who visit here to enjoy the scenery, mountain air, and rare fishing and hunting, are provided for.
The place was originally a stage station on the old Salt Lake and California road, and was laid out and kept by the notorious Jack Slade, who was division superintendent for the old C.O.C. Stage Co., from '60 to '63. It was supposed that Slade was the head of a gang of desperadoes who infested the country, running off stock from emigrants, and appropriating the same. At any rate, he was a noted desperado, having, it is said, killed 13 men. The last of his exploits was the wanton and cruel murder of Jules Burg, the person who gave his name to Julesburg. Slade had a quarrel with Jules in 1861, which ended in a shooting scrape, wherein Slade was forced to "take water." In '63 some of the drivers on the line, friends and companions of Slade's, decoyed Jules to the Cold Spring ranch, on the North Platte river, kept at the time by old Antoine Runnels, commonly known as "the Devil's left bower." He was a great friend of Slade's, who appears to have rightfully earned the title of "right bower" to that same warm natured individual. The place where this tragedy occurred is 50 miles north of Cheyenne, and 25 miles below Fort Laramie, whither Slade repaired from Cottonwood Springs in an extra coach as soon as he was notified of the capture of his old enemy. He drove night and day, arriving at Cold Spring ranch early in the morning. On alighting from the coach, he found Jules tied to a post in the corral, in such a position as to render him perfectly helpless. Slade shot him twenty-three times, taking care not to kill him, cursing all the time in a most fearful manner, returning to the house for a "drink" between shots. While firing the first twenty-two shots, he would tell Jules just where he was going to hit him, adding that he did not intend to kill him immediately—that he intended to torture him to death. During this brutal scene, seven of Slade's friends stood by and witnessed the proceedings. Unable to provoke a cry of pain or a sign of fear from the unfortunate Jules, he thrust the pistol into his mouth, and at the twenty-third shot blew his head to pieces. Slade then cut the ears from his victim and put them in his pocket.
In the saloons of Denver City and other places he would take Jules' ears out of his pocket, throw them down on the bar, and openly boasting of the act, would demand the drinks on his bloody pledges, which were never refused him. Shortly after this exploit it became too hot for him in Colorado, and he was forced to flee. From thence he went to Virginia City, Montana, where he continued to prey upon society. The people in that country had no love for
his kind of people nor use for them. They captured him, after his conduct had become insupportable, and hung him, as he richly deserved, and Jack Slade's career was ended. His wife arrived at the scene of execution just in time to behold his dead body. She had ridden on horseback 30 miles for the avowed purpose of shooting Slade, to save the disgrace of having him hung, and she arrived on the scene, with revolver in hand, only a few minutes too late to execute her scheme—the desperado was dead, and he died "with his boots on."
Virginia Dale is situated at the head of a deep gorge, on Dale creek, near the Cache-a-la Poudre river. On the east side of the canyon, the wall of overhanging rock rises about 600 feet high, for a mile along the stream, giving a wild and picturesque beauty, a sublimity and grandeur to the scene, rarely surpassed. This point is called the "Lover's Leap," though we never learned as any one ever leaped therefrom. If he or she did, we reckon that the jar, on alighting, in the valley, 600 feet below, must have knocked all love, romance, or sentiment out of them. In and around this place are numerous dells, grottoes, gorges, canyons, precipices, towering peaks and rugged recesses, enough to employ the tourist for some time in examining their beauties.
At this point the valley of the Cache-a-la Poudre, a tributary of the South Platte river may be said to begin, and from here on, down the river for twenty-five or thirty miles, stretches one of the loveliest valleys in the Territory. It is thickly settled, and the settlers raise abundant crops.
While passing down the valley, we pass LaPorte City, which contains about 500 inhabitants. The Spotswood House is the principle hotel. It is situated in the midst of a fine country, well cultivated and near the river. It contains a hotel, stores, post office and several fine buildings.
From this point, on to Denver City, Colorado, along the banks of every stream, lie fine farming lands with deep, rich soil, abundant water, genial climate; in fact, possessing all the requisites for successful cultivation and pleasant homes. The only wonder to us is that such countries should be so long unknown and so thinly settled. In portions of this section coal fields abound—these beautiful valleys lying on the edge of the coal deposit of Colorado.
Time, that power which works such wonders, will rectify all this, and ere long homes as lovely and attractive as those to be found in the valleys of the old States, will spring up here, and the orchard, vineyard and waving grain will invite the traveler to pause and note the real wealth and matchless beauty of the country. There is room and good land enough among these mountains to provide homes for thousands of the toiling, homeless sons of the old States. Will they come and avail themselves of nature's bounty, and redeem this country from its wild state, and here build themselves homes where, at length, they will find life worth living for, or will they toil among the stumps and rocks of the East, to eke out a scanty subsistence? "Quien sabe?"
We now return to the railroad once more, and take up our record of the route.
Side track, nine miles from Sherman. Elevation, 7,857 feet. From Sherman, no steam is needed to propel the train, for the down grade is sufficient to carry us swiftly along, under the steadying guidance of the brakes, from Sherman to Laramie, as the grade averages a little over 47 1/2 feet to the mile. Rock work and snow fences are found doubled in many places, to protect the deep cuts. Between Harney and the next station, can be seen the old Denver and Salt Lake stage road, the telegraph marking the line for some distance along the
road to the left. We are now on the Laramie Plains, at the station of
Elevation, 7,336—named from several ridges of red sandstone—lying between us and the Black Hills, in full view of our sight. The sandstone bluffs or hills have been washed and worn by the elements, until in places they rear their peaks from 500 to 1,000 feet above the plain, in wild fantastic shapes and grotesque figures. Rocks which, at a distance, might be taken for castles, rise side by side with the wall of an immense fort; churches rear their roofs, almost shading the lowly cottage by their side; columns, monuments and pyramids are mixed up with themselves and each other, as though some malignant power had carried off some mighty city of the olden time, and, wearying of his booty, had thrown it down upon these plains without much regard to the order in which the buildings were placed. Opposite to this station, about 50 miles away, the Laramie river rises on the eastern slope of the Medicine Bow Mountains, its source being composed of almost innumerable springs. Its general course is northeast, for 200 miles, when it empties into the North Platte river at Fort Laramie. Competent judges consider these plains and adjacent valleys as good a stock range as any in the world. On the bottoms, the wild grass grows from two to three feet high, and the bluffs are covered with luxuriant growths of bunch grass.
By which Fort Sanders receives its supplies. Elevation, 7,163 feet.
This post was established June 23d, 1866, by two companies of the Third Battalion, U.S. Infantry, under command of Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel H.M. Mizner, Captain 18th Infantry. The present post-commander is Capt. E.M. Coates, 4th Infantry; Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel J.H. Frantz, Surgeon U.S.A., is post-surgeon. Post-Trader, William Alexander Steel. The garrison consists of companies C and I of the Fourth U.S. Infantry. The fort is beautifully situated on the east of the road, about three miles from Laramie City, close along-side of the track, and in full view from the cars for some miles, when approaching or leaving the post. Latitude, 41 dg., 13 min., 4 sec. (observation); longitude, 105 dg., 40 min. (approximate.) Three miles farther on, we come to
The end of Lodge Pole and commencement of Laramie Division. Elevation—7,122 feet. Distance from Omaha 573 miles; from Sacramento 1,203 miles. Directly to the east of this place can be seen the Cheyenne Pass wagon road—the old emigrant route— which crosses the plain and river about half a mile below the city, running thence northwest to the base of the mountains, parallel with the railroad. The Passenger trains stop here 30 minutes to allow time for eating, this being the first eating station west of Cheyenne.
Is regularly laid out, at right angles with the road. A stream of clear, cold water runs through three of the principal streets; the buildings are small and generally rough, after the manner of new places, but a better class of substantial, permanent structures of stone, is being erected. The time since the road was completed up to this point, June, '68, has been too short to allow of much improvement in the way of costly buildings, when the material of which they are constructed has to be moved so many miles by the road. The spirit of improvement is manifested, however, which in time will render this a pleasant town. With the water flowing through their streets, it would seem strange, a few years hence, to see them bare of shade trees, or private residences unornamented with fruit trees and gardens. The spring, which affords ample water for the town, is very large, and lies at the foot of the Black Hills, a few miles away.
Palisades, C.P.R.R. See page 133.
The railroad was completed to this point in June, '68. The company, following out their general plan of buildings along their road, at all important stations, have here erected a magnificent hotel, as fine as can be found along the whole length of their line; in fact, it is the largest and finest hotel of the many they have built—and is kept by those who spare no pains to make their guests feel that "it is good to live."
Laramie has several good schools and one daily newspaper, the Sentinel,—Republican in politics. There are several snug little churches—the Episcopal, Methodist, and Catholic now in use, Baptist and Presbyterian and others, in prospective.
There are Masonic, Odd Fellows and Good Templars Lodges here, the latter numbering 110 members.
Speaking of churches, reminds us that the American Baptist Home Mission Society has obtained from the officers of the U.P.R.R. Co. a promise of grants of land along the line of the road, on which to locate missions. The Society has appointed a committee, consisting of Rev. E.E. Taylor, of Brooklyn, and Rev. Dr. J.S. Backus, of New York, Corresponding Secretaries of the Board, together with several other reverend gentlemen, to carry the plan into execution. They propose to select sites along the line, for missions, the lots selected by them to be donated for that purpose by the two companies. Speed the work, oh ye missionaries! you have the best wishes for the success of your enterprise. There is a broad field to work in, and some of the hardest kind of material from which to manufacture good Christians.
Laramie was the first place in America, or in the world even, where a female jury was empaneled. Their first case was that of a Western desperado, and there was no flinching from duty on the part of the "weaker sex." Before bringing in their verdict they invoked the divine guidance—while their nurses calmed the rising generation by singing,Nice little baby, don't get in a fury,
These buildings are of stone, which was obtained from Rock creek, 50 miles distant to the northward. The roundhouse contains 20 stalls. The machine shop is 75 x 125 feet, used for general repairing. The depot buildings are of wood. About 100 men are employed in the various departments now, though there have been employed as high as 260 at one time. All the necessary machinery of first-class shops is in operation, under the charge of R. Galbraith, master mechanic. The supply of coal is obtained about 75 miles west, though good coal beds have now been discovered within 30 miles.
At this place
Has commenced in earnest (as though in answer to our remarks on pages 39 and 67); already 12,000 head of cattle are on the "Laramie Plains," owned mostly by Eastern parties and Dr. Latham, Surgeon U.P.R.R. Hospitals at this place.
Curious passengers will note from this city west the railroad laborers—section hands—are all CHINAMEN; they are said to be very reliable, and as they don't drink whiskey the saloons along the line are getting almost as scarce as the grasshoppers and mice. The saloon men are all "anti-Chinese."
Situated west of the track a few hundred yards north of the station, is devoted exclusively to the use of the company. It is under the charge of Dr. H.D. Latham. In this building, any one who has become ill or injured, while in the company's employ, is taken care of and treated in the best
All persons, in the Territories, of mixed blood, are called "greasers." "Peons" are Mexican slaves.
manner. The clean rooms and good food found here reflect credit on the management. The best medical attendance is given to the unfortunates who are treated here, of whom, at times, there are very many. Although the hospital is strictly speaking, intended only for the employes of the road, many others, strangers, who have arrived here sick and destitute, have been kindly cared for, and medical attendance furnished them free of charge. The building itself, the manner in which it is conducted, and the spirit which prompted its erection, are alike honorable to the liberal and humane policy of the company. "Corporations have no souls," is a saying often, quoted, and, we admit, it is very generally believed. But the hospital buildings put up and kept in working order by the U.P.R.R. and the C.P.R.R. would at least indicate that they possessed soul enough to show them the policy, if you choose to call it thus, of providing for the health and comfort of the men in their employ.
This belt of fine grazing land is about 20 miles wide, by 60 miles long, and is considered one of the best stock sections in the Territory. The remarks about the grazing lands, made elsewhere, will well apply to this section. Beef can be raised and fattened on these plains at an expense not exceeding the cost of such cattle in Texas, where, as every one knows, they raise themselves and form the largest half of the population. The peculiar features of these grasses are similar to those already described. The plains are higher, and frost makes its appearance earlier in the fall, but the grass is cured before its arrival by the summer sun, so that the cold weather does not injure it. We need only to mention the well known fact, that, before the white man drove them away, thousands of buffalo roamed over these plains—furnishing the Indians with unlimited quantities of beef—to convince any one that the laudations of this as a grazing country are not exaggerated or wild ideas of enthusiasts, but simply facts, substantiated by past and present experience. Agriculture is at present confined to experiments, yet they have demonstrated that the hardy vegetables can be cultivated with success, on the bottom lands, without irrigation. It is generally conceded that wheat and barley can be raised with profit to the producer here. We should consider the Laramie Plains to be unsafe for those crops, their altitude rendering them subject to severe late spring and early fall frosts.
Crystal Lake is about 40 miles to the westward of Laramie, Sheep Mountain—one of the peaks in the Rocky Mountain range— rears its head for 12,000 feet above the sea. Should the tourist desire to visit the place, he will find the road rough, and the ascent toilsome, owing to the steepness of the road and rough country to be traversed. But the view when once on the summit, will well repay for the trouble. Near this mountain the head waters of the Laramie river have their sources in innumerable springs among the gloomy canyons and gorges. Before we begin the ascent of the mountain we enter one of the grandest forests in the country. For ten miles we toil on through the forest, which is so dense that the sunlight lingers and grows pale as it lightens the upturned faces of the mountain flowers with its cheering beams. Bear, mountain lions and the mountain sheep range here; their haunts, until lately, never having been invaded by the pale face. The silence is unbroken and almost oppressive, save when the breaking of a dry twig under our feet gives us a momentary relief, or the soughing of the winds among the tree tops breaks the awful stillness, which seems to repel our further advance as with some fearful presentiment. Emerging from this gloom into the fair sunlight, we find ourselves on the highest point of the mountain, from which we can look over piles of fleecy clouds floating below us
to other ranges far beyond. Peak on peak, ridge on ridge, they ascend, until their snow-clad heights are lost in the distance, or in the vast blue dome above. Looking down we behold a vast succession of dark ridges and gray peaks through the rifts in the fog-like vapor floating above them. These dark ridges derive their sombre hue from the forests of pine which extend, for miles and miles, in all directions. To the east we see a deep indentation in the mountains, which is Laramie plains. Across this apparently narrow line the rugged masses of the Black Hills rise in their grandeur, their black crests closing the westward scene.
Turn now to the immediate landscape. Here is a green, grassy lawn, dotted with tiny flowers, of varieties such as we never before beheld, or ever read of, and right before us, in the centre of this lawn, lies a circular lake nearly a mile wide, its clear, soft, cold water glistening in the rays of the sun and reflecting, as in a mirror, every object on its banks, transforming them into many fantastic shapes, as the breeze lovingly kissed the silver surface, lifting it, into little ripples, which speed away like some coy maiden who flees from the embrace which she has provoked from her ardent swain. The scene is one of unsurpassing loveliness immediately around you; while the view in the distance is grand, aye, sublime,— beyond the power of words to depict. Whoever visits this place cannot fail of being impressed with its wondrous beauty, and his mind will take newer and clearer impressions of the power of "Him who hath created all things."
During the building of the road, thousands of ties were floated down to Laramie, and thence hauled along the line. The supply of lumber in this region is as near inexhaustible as can well be imagined, where forests do not recover from the cutting. There will be no second growth of the timber here; when once cut off, it is gone forever. Saw mills will find employment for many generations, though, ere they can lay bare these mountains,
The mining prospects of Laramie are excellent in many respects. From 40 to 50 miles of mining range is claimed along the base of the mountains, in and around the head waters of the Laramie, which is said will pay well. About 40 miles to the westward of Laramie, are the "Last Chance" and "Douglass Creek" mines, but a few miles apart, and lying between the Medicine Bow Mountains and the Snowy Range. (By way of parenthesis, we would remark, that where the term "Snowy Range" is used, it refers to the Rocky Mountains). The highest ridge of this range, the great backbone of the continent, is covered with snow for a great part of the season; the highest peaks ever wearing their white robes, even when the passes are covered with flowers. This renders them very conspicuous, easily discerned at a great distance. Hence the term "Snowy Range." The Black Hills are part and parcel of the chain, though acting as advance guard, and being less in elevation, although, the pass over these hills is higher than the pass over the main chain, or Snowy Range. The Medicine Bow, and other ranges of which we shall speak, are all parts of the great chain, sectionalizing by natural divisions of valleys or water courses, or perhaps by nothing but a local name. With this explanation, we will return to the mines, and "prospect," a little while. "Last chance" and "Douglass Creek" mining section is strictly a placer country. The gold is of the coarse order, of good quality and easily obtained, as the "diggings" are what is termed in California "shallow," or "surface diggings."
We have no hesitancy in saying that every indication is favorable to the theory that this country, and a very large partion of it, too, is rich in the precious metals.
About 40 miles beyond "Last Chance mines" are the "North Park" placer mines. These mines are confined to one mountain, the whole of which, as far as has been tested, being "pay gravel." About 50 miles southeast of this point, on the same range of mountains, is another mining point. The nearest railroad station for the mines last mentioned, is Sherman.
Coal has been found, low down in the plains, but the nearest coal mines of any size, yet worked, are about 70 miles to the westward, along the railroad. At these mines an excellent variety of coal is obtained, easily mined and found in large quantities.
We will now consider the general features of the country around the city, that the traveler may judge for himself of the capacities of this part of Wyoming, for grazing, lumbering, mining, and other sources of wealth and prosperity. In general descriptions, the tourist or traveler speaks of the Laramie plains as being or including all the country lying between the western base of the Black Hills and the eastern base of the Snowy Range or Rocky Mountains. This country is really a grand park, similar in formation to the great parks of Colorado, though of much less altitude. These "parks" are immense bodies of table lands, enclosed by the peaks and ridges of the surrounding mountains, sheltered by them from the cold winds, watered by them from the never-failing streams which flow from gorges and canyons among these peaks, from which the snow is never absent. The average elevation of the Laramie plains or park is about 6,500 feet, though where the city stands it is more. The Black Hill ranges of the Rocky Mountains form the eastern and northern boundary of the "plains." This range extends nearly due north to Laramie Peak, about 150 miles, thence west, terminating in the Seminole Mountains. Here a prominent peak, rises at the mouth of the Sweetwater river, which enters the North Platte from the west, and is really the west fork of the Platte. On the south the park or plain is bordered by the main range of the Rocky Mountains, which here reach an elevation of from 10,000 to 17,000 feet above the sea, snow-capped always. For a distance of 8,000 or 9,000 feet these slopes are covered with dense pine forests. Here is the timber to feed and the water power to run any number of saw-mills for years to come. And the constantly increasing demand for this article will insure a permanent, and lucrative trade. Here is one great source of wealth, one branch of industry, which will furnish employment to many.
The prominent "peaks" of this section are "Sheep's Head," "Elk Mountain," and "Medicine Bow" mountains, near the head waters of the Laramie and North Platte rivers, and the "peaks" south of North Platte crossing. These points stand like guardian sentinels, at intervals along the crest of the mountain ranges which enclose the Laramie park.
In these mountain ranges, mines of gold, silver, copper, iron and coal have been discovered, and, in several cases, worked to advantage, while a vast region, doubtless equally well stored with mineral deposits, has never been prospected or explored. This field will, eventually, prove another source of wealth and prosperity to Laramie and those places near the diverging points for the various mining localities. These general observations might apply in a great measure to Cheyenne, for the mountains surrounding those plains are supposed to be rich in various kinds of mineral deposits.
On the, west, from out the Elk Mountains, juts the Rattlesnake range, extending north to the North Platte, carrying an elevation of nearly 8,000 feet.
Through the western range the North Platte canyons, and, on the east, the Medicine Bow river cuts through the eastern range, separating it from the foot hills of the northerly range of
the Black Hills. Through the plains run the Big, and Little Laramie rivers which, as we before stated, rise in the mountains which border the western rim of the plains. These streams canyon through the Black Hills north of Laramie Peak, and enter the North Platte near Fort Laramie.
Rock creek rises east of Medicine Bow, and after flowing north to about latitude 42 dg., flows west and empties into Medicine Bow. This river rises in Medicine Bow Mountains and flows north to about the same latitude as Rock creek, thence west; and canyons through Rattlesnake range or hills, entering the North Platte about 150 miles northwest of Fort Saunders, in latitude 42 dg. 3 min.
By this showing, it will be observed that the immense park, or Laramie plains, is well watered - sufficiently for grazing, and irrigation. We have been more explicit, have dwelt longer on these points, than we should have done, did we not feel a desire to show to the emigrant, or to those who are seeking good locations for grazing lands, that the Laramie plains possess these advantages in an eminent degree. We have wandered far away from the plains in our descriptions, but the grazing lands end not with the plains. The mountain sides, until the timber belt is reached, the valleys, bluffs, and foot hills, all present the same feature in point of luxuriant crops of grass. The valleys of the streams mentioned also contain thousands of acres of meadow land, where hay can be cut in abundance, and, if the season will permit, wheat, barley and rye might be grown to advantage, the soil being a black loam, and sufficiently moist to insure good crops without irrigation.
With these general remarks, we will take up the thread of our discourse, and resume our review of the road. As we are about to leave Laramie, it may be well to remark that we are leaving schools, churches, and the other indications of civilization, nor will we find them again until we enter the Salt Lake Valley. "All aboard," and off we go, with the assurance from the conductor to a timid individual that now we are going to cross the Rocky Mountains. Soon after leaving the city we cross the Laramie river, and on through these wide eading plains, until we reach
Eight miles west of Laramie and six miles east of
On the Little Laramie river, six miles from Howell's. Elevation, 7,068 feet. Large quantities of ties were received at this point, which were cut at the head of the river and floated down the stream in high water. We cross Little Laramie, which rises in the mountains in the west, and empties into Laramie river. The same description will apply to Whisky creek, a small stream which we cross next, and soon we reach
It is 15 miles west of Wyoming; elevation, 7,044 feet. Near the station, to the westward, lies a beautiful sheet of water, about three miles long by half a mile wide, called Cooper's Lake. At this point, during the construction of the road, an immense number of ties were delivered, which were obtained along the base of the mountains, about 18 miles to the westward, where abundance of timber is found. Several saw mills have been erected among those hills, and the lumber trade is now assuming an important position. Four miles west of Cooper's Lake is
Elevation, 7,169 feet. We are now entering the rolling prairie country, where, for 25 miles either way along the road, vast herds of elk, deer and antelope are found at different seasons of the year, the elk being mostly found in the winter, when the snow drives them from the mountains. We also begin to find occasional bunches of sage brush, which tell us that we have entered the country where this more useful than or-
namental shrub abounds. Occasionally we pass through cuts and over low fills, by snow fences, and through snow sheds, the country growing rougher as we pass along to
Eight miles further north. Elevation, 6,810 feet. Sage brush is the rule. Just before entering the station, we pass through a very deep cut—one of the deepest on the road—where a little spur of the bluffs rises abruptly from the plains, right in the way of the road. Just before reaching the next station, we cross Rock creek, famous for its trout fishing. It rises in the mountains to the west, and empties its waters in the Laramie river.
Coal and water station. Elevation 6,690 feet. Through various cuts, and over fills, through a rough, rolling country, winding around the spurs of the hills which interlock with each other, over creeks and across ravines, for 15 miles of difficult engineering, and middling heavy work, and we arrive at
With an elevation of 6,680 feet. Soon after passing the station we come to Como Lake, a beautiful little sheet of water, lying to the right of the road. It is about two miles long by one mile wide, and contains plenty of fish. Ducks abound here in great numbers. Passing on, we cross Medicine Bow river, which rises to the west, in the Medicine Bow Mountains, emptying its waters into the North Platte river.
This river was long a noted resort for Indians, and several treaties have been made on its banks between the "noble red men" and their palefaced "brothers." The valley of the river, above the station, for twenty miles or more, is broad, fine bottom land until it reaches the base of the mountain. From thence to its source the course of the river is through immense forests of pine, which present unrivaled facilities for lumbering. Fish are found in great quantities in the stream, and the various kinds of game which abound in this country are found in the mountains where the river has its source. Soon after crossing the river we arrive at
With a round house of five stalls, seven miles west of Como. Elevation, 6,550 feet. Leaving this station we pass over a smooth, level plain for about five miles, when we enter a rougher country and find evidences of heavier work. We wind around a point, passing through deep cuts and over fills, until we arrive at
Eleven miles west of the last station. Here was discovered the first coal on the Union Pacific R.R. Two banks or coal veins have been opened, the veins averaging about nine feet. The working capacity of the veins is 200 tons per day. The coal is shipped eastward much of it finding its way to Omaha: besides supplying the towns along the road. About 300 men are employed in the mines. The coal is raised from the mine and dumped into the flats while standing on the track, the shaft of the mine being between the main and side track. A stationary engine furnishes the hoisting power. Carbon is distant from Omaha 656 miles. Elevation, 6,750 feet.
Through a succession of cuts, some quite heavy, for six miles, and we arrive at
Unimportant and uninviting. Elevation, 6,898 feet. Seven miles west we arrive at
Station, at an elevation of 6,950 feet, and 1,107 miles from Sacramento. It was named for Colonel Percy, who was killed by the Indians, when the survey of the road was being made. He was surprised by a party of war-
riors and retreated to a cabin, where for three days he withstood their attacks, killing several of his assailants. At the end of that time they managed to fire the cabin, and when the roof fell in the Colonel rushed out and was immediately dispatched by the Mr. "Lo's."
During the construction of the road, this was an important station. Ties, telegraph poles, wood and bridge timber were landed at this point, in immense quantities. They were obtained at Elk Mountain, seven miles to the south. The old stage road winds around the base of the mountain, between that and the railroad. At the foot of the mountain was once an important stage station, now deserted. Near this was old Fort Halleck, now abandoned. The last remnant of those days, '66, is now found in the person of Mr. Foot, sutler of the old fort, who still resides there, and at his ranch offers a pleasant resting place to the tourist. To those who visit this locality we would say, find his ranch, and from thence, with Mr. Foot as your guide, you can safely explore the grand scences around and among these mountains.
Elk Mountain is a noted landmark, and quite a curiosty in its way. It rises to a great height, its top being covered with snow a great portion of the year, and at any time snow can be found in places on the summit. It has the appearance of being an isolated peak, though, really, it is the extreme northern spur of the Medicine Bow Mountains. It is, however, surrounded by rolling prairie land, and seems to rise boldly from it, rough, rugged and alone. On the west side, the summit is easily reached by a good road, made by the lumbermen. The mountain is nearly round, about six miles in diameter at its base. Its sides are covered with dense forests of pine, aspen and hemlock. It is worthy of note, that this is the only point where the latter species of timber is found along the line of the road. It grows in profusion with the spruce in the gorges, near the summit
To the south, is a fine valley, about 15 miles wide by 20 miles long. Pass creek, which rises in the Medicine Bow Mountains, runs through this valley on its way to the North Platte river. Large quantities of hay are cut in the bottom lands along the creek. This stream, like all others which rise in this range, is full of fine trout and other fish. Antelopes abound on the plain, while elk, deer, bear, mountain sheep and mountain lions find their homes in the dark ravines and gloomy gorges of the mountain.
Six miles west of Percy. From this point, and we might say, from Percy station to the Platte river, we pass down the valley of an alkali ravine. Sagebrush and stagnant pools of alkali water are the only objects that greet the eye—an unpleasant greeting, it must be confessed.
Five miles west, we arrive at St. Mary's. Soon after leaving St. Mary's, we enter the ravine, where the bluffs assume more formidable features. The ravine becomes a gorge, and the rugged spurs shoot out as though they would reach the opposite wall, and bar out farther progress. The first one of these spurs does indeed bar our way, or did until the tunnel we are entering was completed. Before this tunnel was finished, the company laid the road around the point of the spur on a temporary track. Emerging from the tunnel, we rush down the gorge, the wall now rising close, abrupt, and high, on either hand, we arrive at
An unimportant station, eight miles west of St Mary's—down—down we go the rough spurs point out from either wall of the canyon, an indenture in one bank marking a projection on the other. While looking on this scene, one cannot help fancying that at one time this chasm was not; that some fearful convulsion of nature rent these mighty rocks in twain, leaving these rugged
Crossing Truckee River, six miles east of Boca, C.P.R.R.
walls and fetid pools to attest the fact. Suddenly we whirl out of the mouth of this chasm—out onto the level lands of the North Platte river—cross a substantial wooden bridge, and stop at
A fort and regular passenger station, 8 miles west of Walcotts—elevation, 6,840.
This fort was established June 30th, 1868, by four companies of the 30th Infantry, under command of Brevet Col. R.I. Dodge, Major 30th Infantry. Captain C.C. Rawn, present post commander. The garrison consists of companies B, D, F and I of the seventh Infantry. J.K. Carson, U.S.A., post surgeon. About two miles west of Fort Steele formerly stood
Now entirely abandoned. The road was completed to this point the last of July, 1868. At that time a large amount of freight for Fort Fred Steele, Montana, Idaho, Utah, and the western country was reshipped in wagons at this point, and during August and September the place presented a lively aspect, which continued until the road was finished to Bryan, about the first of October. The town at that time was composed of canvas tents. About 3,000 people of all kinds made the population; a harder set it would be impossible to find. Roughs, thieves, petty gamblers (the same thing), fast women, and the usual accompaniments of the railroad towns flourished here in profusion. There were high old times in Benton then, but long before the road reached Bryan, the people "packed up their tents and stole noiselessly away," leaving only a few old chimneys and post-holes to mark the spot of the once flourishing town. All the water used by this people was hauled two miles from the Platte river at an expense of one dollar per barrel, or ten, cents per bucket-full.
At Benton, the bluffs which mark the entrance to the canyon of the Platte near Fort Steele, are plainly visible and will continue in sight until we near Rawlings Station. They are of gray sandstone, worn, marked by the waters or by the elements, far up their perpendicular sides. They are on the opposite side of the river, the banks on the west side being comparatively low.
At this point, the river makes a bend, and for several miles we seem to be running down the river, parallel with it, though really drawing away from the stream.
To the south, is a long, high ridge of gray granite, called the "Hog's Back." it is about four miles away from the road, and runs parallel with it for about 15 miles, terminating in the highlands of Rawlings Springs. It is very narrow at the base, not exceeding half a mile in width, yet it rises from 500 to 2,000 feet high. The ridge is so sharp that cattle cannot be driven across it, and in many places it is all but impracticable for a man to attempt to walk along its summit. Where this ridge reaches the riverbank, about two and a half miles above the bridge, the walls are perpendicular, and very high, from 1,500 to 2,000 feet. A corresponding bluff on the opposite side shows that the river has cut a channel through this ridge, which at one time barred the progress of the waters.
On the south side of the ridge is a very pretty little valley, through which flows a small creek into the Platte. It furnishes fine grazing, and is in marked contrast to the surrounding country.
Many years ago this green and peaceful looking vale was the scene of a fearful battle between the Sioux and their inveterate enemies, the Utes. The Sioux were encamped in the valley, and were surprised by the Utes, who stole on them in the gray light of the morning, and attacked them furiously. Though taken by surprise, the Sioux fought bravely, but were surrounded and overpowered. When trying to escape, they essayed to cross the Hog's Back, but every one who raised his head above the crest was picked off instantly. A portion of the band escaped in another direction, leaving their dead comrades on the field. The Sioux were so badly whipped that
from that time forward they called the Utes "Bad Medicine."
We will make a brief paragraph regarding the Platte above the fort, although we have spoken of the river before. From Fort Steele to the head waters of the Platte is about 150 to 200 miles It rises in the mountains of the North Park, its waters being supplied by many tributaries, which, at present, are mostly nameless. The course of the river, from its source to this point, is nearly due north. The stream and its tributaries abound in fish; the surrounding country in game.
About twenty-five miles above the fort, is the Platte ferry, on the old overland stage road. Good bottom lands are found along the stream at intervals. About 100 miles further up, the tributaries of the river begin to empty their waters into the main stream. Here the timber land commences, where was cut great numbers of ties, which were floated down the river to the road.
Douglass creek and French creek run through heavy timbered valleys, and here the work of cutting ties commenced.
These streams are icy cold and abound in trout. Gold mines and gulch diggings were discovered here, but not prospected to any great extent. On the west side of the river Monument and Big creeks empty their waters nearly opposite the creeks first named.
Big creek rises in a beautiful lake, about three miles long by half a mile wide. A half mile above this lies another lake, but little smaller. "Float mineral"—galena—was found here, but no prospecting attempted. The ground is disputed territory between the Sioux and Utes, rendering it very unsafe for small parties.
Eight miles from Douglass creek coal is found in abundance, and farther on, fine-looking quartz veins crop out on the hill side; but what they contain is unknown, as they have never been prospected. Near here are sulphur springs, seven in number, and very hot; while, along side of them rises a clear, sparkling spring of ice cold water, and we opine that the time is not far distant when these springs will be taken up and improvements made, and one of the finest "watering places" in the world will be opened to the public—we will see.
Fish of many kinds, and beavers, are abundant in the streams; the beavers erecting dams often six feet high. The mountains and forests are full of game, and in them and the open valleys can be found elk, deer, antelope, bear, mountain sheep and lion, and, occasionally, the bison or mountain buffalo.
The forests are dense and large in extent; the valleys fertile and of good size. All in all, it is a grand, wild country, where the tourist would enjoy himself, to his heart's content, in hunting, fishing and fighting the Indians.
Eight miles west of Fort Steele we pass this station, making but a short stop. Five miles further, we arrive at
This place is one of the regular eating stations, the company having put up a fine hotel here for the accommodation of the travel on the road. Elevation, 6,732 feet. Distance from Omaha, 709 miles. The town contains about 400 inhabitants. The company have a round house, of ten stalls, built of stone, also a machine shop, built of the same material.
The surrounding country is rough and broken, covered with sage-brush and flecked with alkali. Near and above the town are the springs which give their name to the place. They consist of the seepage of a narrow, wet ravine, which extends about a mile above the town. The bed of the ravine as far as the water extends, is white with alkali, where the pools of stagnant water do not cover it. At the foot of this wet strip of land a trench has been cut, from
which flows a stream of water, better to the taste than that found in the "springs."
Leaving Rawlins, we follow the wet ravine, through a natural pass about 300 feet wide, which leads between two high bluffs, at the head of the wet ground alluded to. It appears that at this point the hills crossed the ravine, which has since cut its way through them. Perhaps a large lake was imprisoned above, which burst these walls and left a natural route for the railroad. The bluffs are about 100 feet high on each side of the road, almost perpendicular, of hard, gray granite, and from this place was taken the stone used in constructing the round house and machine shop at the springs. Beyond the pass we follow up this dry channel through a sage-brush and alkali country to
An unimportant place, 14 miles west of Rawlins; elevation, 6,900 feet. We are rapidly rising and in a few miles further ride we shall be on the summit of the Rocky Mountains.
Through sage-brush and alkali beds for 14 miles before we arrive at this station. We are now near the summit of the great "backbone" of the continent, the Rocky Mountains. According to General Dodge, we are now just 7,030 feet above the level of the sea.
Two and a half miles west of this point, a flag, planted by the wife of Captain Clayton, near the track, marks, the summit 7,100 feet above the level of the sea. This point is about 185 miles from Sherman, 737 from Omaha, and from San Francisco, 1,177.
On this wild spot, surrounded by few evidences of vegetation, and those of the most primitive form, this little flag-staff marks the center of the grandest range of mountains on the continent. Amid what seems to have been the wreck of mountains, we stand and gaze away in the vast distance, at the receding lines of hill, valley and mountain peaks, which we have passed in our journey. We feel the cool mountain breeze on our cheeks, but it brings no aroma of life and vegetation with its cooling current. We feel and know that the same sky which hangs so warm and blue over the smiling valleys, looks down upon us now; but how changed the aspect; thin, gray and cold it appears, and so clear that we almost expect to see the stars looking down through the glistening sunbeams. We do not seem to be on the mountain height, for the expanse seems but a once level plain, now arched and broken into ugly, repulsive hollows and desolate knobs.
Here, if a spring should arise from this sage-brush knoll, its waters would divide, and the different portions eventually mingle with the two oceans which wash the opposite sides of the continent. We enter the cars and pass on, the track seeming to be lost but a short distance in our front. The view from the rear of the car is the same. The track seems to be warped up and doubled out of sight. The curvature of this back-bone gives the track a similar appearance to that witnessed at Sherman. Although much higher at Sherman, still this is the continental divide, but the low, broad pass brings us 1,212 feet below that place. To the north, the Seminole Mountains rear their rugged heights, and farther on, and more to the westward, can be seen the long lines and gray peaks of the Sweetwater range. Still farther to the west and north, the Wind River Mountains close the scene in the dim distance, their summits robed in snow. Away to the south can be seen the bills which form the southern boundary of the pass, near by where the Bridger Pass station is situated on the old overland stage road. Between these mountain crests, about 150 miles apart, the pass extends an undulating, broken, bent, and double plain, if such a thing can be supposed to have been created.
With a last look at this rugged, barren, desolate region, we speed away over the crest, and down the grade to
A station 15 miles to the westward. Elevation, 6,697 feet.
Nine miles from Wash-a-Kie. Elevation, 6,710 feet. The country around here is called the red desert from the color of the barren soil. It is a huge basin, its waters having no outlet. Several alkali lakes are found in it, but nothing lives on its surface. It is said that a jack rabbit once tried to cross it, but died of starvation and thirst before he accomplished his journey. The soil is bad between Table Rock and Creston, the extreme points of the desert, 38 miles apart. It is composed of the decomposition of shale and calcareous clays, and is deep red, showing the presence of an hydrous sesquioxide of iron. The southern margin of the basin is mainly sand, which is lifted up by every passing breeze, to fall in drifts and shifting mounds
Fourteen miles westward, we reach this station, on the outer edge of the desert, which has an elevation of 6,890 feet. Off to the left can be seen a long line of bluffs, rising from 50 to 500 feet above the surrounding country. They are of red sandstone, worn, cut and fluted by the action of the elements. One of these bluffs, which gives its name to the station, is level on the top, which rises about 500 feet above the road, and extends for several miles. Heavy cuts and fills are found here, showing that the road is passing through the rim of the desert. After passing through this rim, we go on, through a rough and broken country for ten miles, when we arrive at
At this place the company have a ten-stall round-house, and a machine shop. Elevation, 6,685 feet.
As we leave this station, we begin the descent of the celebrated Bitter creek, the valley of which we shall follow to Green river, about 60 miles away. The valley is narrow, the bluffs coming near the stream on either side. The stream is small and so strongly impregnated with alkali as to be almost useless for man or beast. The banks and bottoms are very treacherous in places, miring any cattle which attempt to reach its fetid waters. This section was always a terror to travelers, emigrants and freighters for nothing in the line of vegetation grows theron excepting grease wood and sage-brush. The freighter, especially, who had safely navigated this section, would "ring his popper" and swear that he was a "tough cuss on wheels, from Bitter creek."
From the source to the mouth of this stream, every indication points to the fact that deposits of oil underlie the surface. Coal veins, valuable ones, have been found, and an oil bearing shale underlies a large portion of the valley. The old overland stage and emigrant road follows this valley from its source to Green river. From the bluffs, spurs reach out as though they would like to meet their jagged friends on the opposite bluffs, and around the rough points the cars roll merrily on until we arrive at
Nine miles west of Bitter creek station. Elevation, 6,600 feet. Near this station is a coal mine, or vein, about four feet thick, which produces an excellent quality of coal. The mine has a working capacity of 100 tons per day. Four miles west we arrive at
Where exists coal in great abundance, of very superior burning quality, free of sulphur and smoke. There are several veins in the vicinity, from seven to ten feet thick. This coal is highly spoken of, and the mine can produce 800 tons per day when necessary. The mine is very easily worked, and has an excellent roof. Seven miles to the west, after passing through the same desolate region, we arrive at
Eight hundred and five miles west
from Omaha. Elevation, 6,490 feet. The Junction House is the principal hotel. Coal mines are found near the place. One has been opened, which is five feet thick, by the Wyoming Coal Company. It has a working capacity of 100 tons per day. The coal is said to be of very ordinary quality.
Stages leave this point daily in summer for Sweetwater Mines, on arrival of the cars. The distance to the mines, by this route is from 70 to 80 miles.
These mines are attracting considerable attention just now, therefore, a short description of them may not be uninteresting to our readers. The mines, or rather Sweetwater district, lies on the Sweetwater river, a tributary of the Wind river, which passes through a very fine mineral and agricultural country. The Sioux and Cheyennes have long held possession of this section, guarding it from the intrusive white man and occasionally fighting among themselves for possession. The great trouble now is to keep up a mining settlement against their aggressions, and to protect the miners and settlers from their onslaughts. The Government has stationed detachments of soldiers in various parts of the district. With these precautions, there is a tolerable degree of safety for the adventurer and miner. The Indians—"friendlies"—have made several raids of late on the settlers, and have killed a number of miners and ranch men, but were finally driven off by the miners, who made a few "friendly."
The mines are "real," the ledges large and showing plenty of gold. The principal lodes are "Miner's Delight," "Buckeye," "Carriboo," "Mammoth Lode," "Gold Hunter," "Mary Ellen," and "Atlantic." These lodes are said to be very rich. We examined some rock from the various mines, which showed plenty of gold and was really very rich for surface rock. But their permanent value remains to be tested by deep shafts which shall expose the lodes below the water line.
Placer gold in paying quantities has been found, and several claims are being worked to great advantage to their owners. The Indians used to bring very fine specimens of coarse gold from this section, long before the white man found his way to it. About 2,000 miners are now at work in the district.
The principal place in the district is South Pass City. Population, 1,500. Principal hotel, the Irvin House.
About 55 miles from South Pass, on Wind River, is Buffalo Bull Lake. It is said that no boat as yet has ever floated on its surface, the Indians being very superstitious about a famous old bull, who, after all his herd had been killed, plunged into this lake, where he has often been seen and frequently been heard to roar. The Indians have as mortal fear of the lake and its strange inhabitant, and few can be induced to venture into its waters. A few winters since some Indians went out on the ice to cut a fish-hole, and had just completed their work when they heard the bull directly beneath them, and dropping fishing-tackle, knives and blankets, they fled for their lives, and could never be prevailed upon to go back—strange lake that—good joke on the "friendly."
This town is situated about four miles from South Pass City, north of east. Population, about 300.
Is about four miles from Atlantic City, and contains about 150 inhabitants. All of these towns are mining camps, not of any real permanency yet, nor will they be until the stability of the mines is established. Silver, as well as gold and placer mines, have been found, and report says the lodes are very rich, and—
like some of the gold bearing ores—rather refractory in working.
The valley of which we made mention, and those which lie along the tributaries of Wind river, are very fertile, but heretofore the Indians would allow no whites there; therefore, agriculture is in the back ground at present. The country to the east is said to be rich in gold. Where the settlers have been permitted to till the ground, currants, raspberries, gooseberries, blackberries, strawberries, cherries, plums and apples grow in profusion, proving the capabilities of the soil. The country east to the "Big Horn Mountain" is as yet unexplored—it is the objective point of the "Big Horn Expedition," already spoken of.
Wind river is a tributary of the Big Horn river, which empties into the Yellowstone. The streams abound in fish, including trout of excellent flavor. The valleys and mountains furnish game in abundance, including deer, elk, antelope, mountain sheep, buffalo, cinnamon, brown, black and grizzly bears.
With this short sketch of this locality, which is daily growing in importance, we return to our description of the road, merely premising, that while we have been telling you of this country, that the cars have arrived at the next station, Salt Wells, twelve miles to the westward from Point of Rocks.
Side-track and wood station, until coal became abundant. Elevation, 6,360 feet. The country is desolate and covered with grease-wood and sage brush. The water is brackish, and in places very salt. From eight to ten miles south, in the gulches and on the Bitter Creek Range, elk, deer and many varieties of game are found in abundance. Passing on through this uninviting valley, for 11 miles, we arrive at
A small, uninteresting station, except for the coal mines discovered here. Three miles more, brings us to
Another unimportant station, but where better water is found than at any other point on the creek, and this is very saline. It boils up out of the bluffs, looking very clear and nice, but it is very deceiving—an uncommon thing in this truthful world. The station is on the line of the 109th degree of longitude. Elevation, 6,280 feet. A vein of coal, of good quality, about four feet in thickness, has been discovered, but at present the owners are not working it.
From this point to Green River, the scenery becomes more grand and impressive, the bluffs rising higher and the gorge narrowing, until the hills seem to hang over the narrow valley with their frowning battlements. Through this gorge we rattle on for 14 miles, when we arrive at the site of the deserted city of Green River, close to the station of that name.
Elevation, 6,140 feet. Distance from Omaha, 845 miles; from Sacramento, 931 miles. This station is on the east side of Green River, and close by the old overland stage company's ford.
This now deserted city was laid out about the first of July, 1868, by H.M. Hook, first Mayor of Cheyenne City. In this enterprise, James Moore, of Cheyenne, was interested, and these gentlemen suppose that the terminus of the road would be at this point during the winter. In September, 1868, the place had a population of over 2,000, and substantial adobe buildings were erected, and the town presented a permanent appearance. But the river was bridged and as the road stretched away to the westward, the town declined as rapidly as it arose, the people moving on to Bryan, Bear River, and other points, until there was no one left but those connected with the stations—in the company's employ. The walls of the old buildings are still standing, some with the roofs still covering them,
though most of them have only the bare walls, the roofs now doing duty at some other point. Geographical indications point to the fact, that this station may become an important one in time, however desolate it may now be.
This stream rises in the northwest of the Wind River Mountains, at the base of Fremont's Peak. The source of the river is found in innumerable little streams, about 200 mile from the railroad crossing. About 150 miles below the station the river empties into the Colorado river. The name, "Green river," implies the color of the water, but one would hardly expect to behold a large, rapid river, whose waters possess so deep a hue. The river, for some distance up the stream, commencing about fifty miles above the station, runs through a soil composed of decomposed rock, slate, etc., which is very green, and easily washed and worn away, which accounts for the color of the water. At all seasons of the year the water is very good, the best, by far, of any found in this part of the country. The tributaries abound in trout of fine flavor, and the main river is well stocked with the finny tribe, Game of all kinds abound along the river and in the adjacent mountains.
The lower stream presents a very marked feature, aside from the high bluffs of worn sandstone and sedimentary deposits. These features are strongly marked, above the bridge, for several miles; but of that we will speak more in detail as we ascend the river.
From this station, the celebrated exploring expedition of Major Powell started on the 24th of May, 1869. Major Powell left Chicago, Friday, May 7th, for Green River City, accompanied by about a dozen well armed, intrepid men, mostly Western hunters. They had four well built boats, with which to explore the mysterious and terrible canyons of Green river and the Colorado. These gorges were comparatively unknown, the abrupt mountain walls having turned the travel far from their sterile shores. Science and commerce demanded a solution of the question "Can the upper Colorado be navigated?" and Major Powell undertook to solve the problem. After he started on his journey, long before any authentic accounts could be had, the community were thrown into a terrible excitement by the report that the expedition was lost—that all were drowned but one. Soon after this, the public were relieved by the published letters of Major Powell, announcing his safety. The party encountered hardships like all exploring expeditions, discovered beautiful scenery, and in their report have thrown some light on the mysteries of this before untraveled country, but as a detailed description has been given the public in the lectures of Major Powell and in many of the journals of the day, we will not wander farther away, but return with the reader to the Railroad.
After crossing Green River on a fine bridge, the cars pass along through heavy cuts, almost over the river in places, affording a fine view of the frowning cliffs or, the east side of the river. Twenty miles to the northwest, a large barren butte, pilot knob, stands in isolated loneliness. Soon we leave the river and pass along a dreary barren waste, for 13 miles, we arrive at
A regular eating station. The country around is barren, composed of red sand, and uninviting in the extreme. We are again increasing our elevation, and will soon be above this cheerless range, into a higher and more hospitable region. Elevation at this station, 6,340 feet. Round-house of 12 stalls, and machine shops. This station, during its early days, was quite lively, and troubled with the usual number of roughs, gamblers and desperadoes. When the Vigilance Committee was in session, they waited on one of the latter class, a noted desperado, and gave him 15 minutes to leave town. He mounted his mule and said: "Gentlernen, if this d—m mule don't buck, I don't want but five." We
Summit Sierra Nevada Mountains–10,000 feet high.–C.P.R.R.—(From photograph.)
commend his judgement, and consider that for once his head was level.
From this point it is 90 miles to South Pass City, Sweetwater mines, to which place a line of stages are dispatched daily on the arrival of the cars, carrying the Express and U.S. mails. About 80 miles from Bryan is the Pacific Springs, on the old "California trail."
At this station we approach Black Fork, a tributary of Green river. It rises in the Uintah Mountains, about 100 miles to the southwest, and empties into Green river, below Green River City. The bottom lands of this river, for fifty miles above Bryan, are susceptible of irrigation and the production of small grains. These lands range from a quarter to a mile in width.
The road was completed to Bryan in September, '68, and large amounts of freight were delivered here to be reshipped to the westward. At the present time a heavy freighting trade is carried on between this point and the Sweetwater mines. Leaving Bryan, we ascend Black Fork, crossing it twice before we arrive at the next station. About 12 miles beyond Bryan, on the right, to the north, the road leading to Sweetwater can be plainly seen, the long line of telegraph poles marking the route up the broad ravine. At the same point, the old Mormon trail from Johnson's Ford, on Green river, 12 miles above Green River Station, comes in from the northeast. About five miles beyond these roads and 18 miles from Bryan we arrive at
Here we enter Utah Territory. General C. Augur, has selected this place as being the best shipping point for the government stores and soldiers destined for the Sweetwater mines. It has an advantage in distance of about 10 miles, and it is said that the road, by this route, is preferable to any other. Government trains afford protection to emigrants, miners etc., who travel this road to and from the mines. The station is named for an old settler, Mr. Granger, who keeps a ranch near by. Near Granger we cross Ham's Fork, on a good wooden bridge, just at its junction with Black's Fork.
This stream rises about forty miles to the northwest, in Hodge's Pass. The bottom lands of this stream are very productive of grass; the upper portion of the valleys, near the mountains, produce excellent hay crops. It is supposed that the small grains would flourish here under irrigation, but the experiment has not yet been tried on a large scale, though the whole valley can be irrigated with but little labor.
In 1867 the U.P.R.R. Co. surveyed a route from this point—Ham's Fork—via Salmon Falls, Old's Ferry on the Snake river, Umatilla to Portland, Oregon. The route, as surveyed, is 460 miles by railroad, 315 by steamboat.
Leaving Granger, we find that we are leaving Black's Fork, to the left, as also the old stage road, which follows up that stream to Fort Bridger. Now we bear away to the right and follow up the bank of the BIG MUDDY, which we cross and recross several times before we reach Peidmont—where we shall leave it—some 50 miles ahead. The valley of the stream is narrow, producing sage-brush and greasewood in luxuriance, and would produce good crops, with irrigation. Above Carter's Station, the bluffs come nearer together, forming a rather rugged route for the road. The bluffs at this point are rough and broken, and in the gorges a great amount of scrub-cedar wood is obtained. Soon we arrive at the noted Moss Agate station,
This station is 11 miles from Granger, 887 miles from Omaha, and 889 miles from Sacramento. Elevation, 6,317 feet. Freight and passenger trains stop here, and passengers can find accommodations if they wish to explore the country for moss agates or scenery.
These beautiful stones are found along the line of the road from Green River to Piedmont, but in greater profusion here than at any other point near
the road. They are found on top of the bluffs, where the wind has blown the dirt and sand away, leaving them exposed on the surface.
We have a few words to say to the tourist who may stop here to look for these gems. When you go out to hunt for them, don't be in a hurry—take your time and keep cool. Take a hammer along also. Crack the rocks and ledges; look at the pebbles beneath your feet; and when you find one of the agates, if it looks dull and rusty don't throw it away in hopes of finding a prettier one, for often the dull-looking stone, when rightly cut and dressed, is very beautiful and valuable.
But one word further regarding the search for moss agates. We will direct you to a far better place. Go to the next station west, Carter's, and from thence go to Fort Bridger, 10 miles distant. When you get there, don't put on any city airs, but keep the man on the outside, and the fop for the city, and act like a reasonable being. Go to our friend Judge Carter's commodious hotel, and then form the acquaintance of some genial fellow, of whom there are plenty to be found at the fort. Then obtain a food horse, or some other mode of conveyance, and with your companion start out in quest of the object of your search. You will go from five to ten miles east on the "old overland stage road," toward Millersville, and there you will find the agate in greater quantity and of better quality than at any other place in the country, as far as heard from. Besides the agates, you will find, near Fort Bridger, the finest fishing and hunting to be found anywhere this side of the Rocky Mountains. We know these things to be so from actual experience.
But to return to Church Buttes station, which derives its name from the peculiar formation of the sandstone bluffs, which extend for many miles on the left hand side of the road, about ten miles distant. At the old Church Buttes station, on the "old overland stage road," about nine miles to the south, they rise in lofty domes and pinnacles, which, at a distance, resemble the fluted comlumns of some cathedral of the olden time, standing in the midst of desolation, its lofty, turreted roof and towering spires rising far above the surrouonding country; but on nearer approach, the scene changes, and we find a huge mass of sandstone, worn and washed by the elements, until it has assumed the outline of a church, but of the grandest dimensions, it being visible for 14 miles.
We leave the station, the buttes and moss agates, and after a ride of 17 miles, we arrive at
We find this a military, telegraph, freight and passenger station. Elevation 6,550 feet. The station is named for Judge Carter, of Fort Bridger. This gentleman has a large warehouse at this point, where freight is received for Virginia City, Helena, and Bannock City Montana Territory. This route is said to be 80 miles shorter than any other road leading from the U.P.R.R. to these cities.
This post was established in 1858 by General A.S. Johnson, and called after James Bridger, the renowned hunter, trapper and guide. The present post commander is Brevet Maj. D.S. Gordon, Capt. 2d Cavalry. The garrison consists of companies E, H and K of the 7th Infantry, and Company D 2d Cavalry.
Assistant-Surgeon, W. E. Waters, U.S.A., is the present post surgeon. The Rev. Edward H. Leavitt is the present post chaplain. W.W.E. Carter, post trader.
The fort is 159 miles from Salt Lake city; 69 miles from Green River, and 130 miles from the Sweetwater gold mines. Latitude, 41 dg., 18 min, and 12 sec. 11 longitude, 110 dg., 32 min. and 38 sec.
The valley in which the post is situated affords fine grazing, and is nearly all susceptible of irrigation. At Carter's
Station, freight and passengers for the fort are left, thence to the fort by government conveyance, there being no other.
As this post is one of great historic interest, we publish the following
Which were handed to us by one of our friends, who was with the first party of soldiers who arrived at the place where the fort now stands:
"Early in the winter of 1857, on the 23d of November, the winds were blowing cold and bleak over the snow-covered ridges surrounding Bridger—a town with a significant name, but nothing but a name except an old stone building with the appelation of fort attached to it. Built by the Mormons, and surrounded by a small redoubt and chevaux de frise pierced for three six-pound mountain howitzers.
"The U.S. forces, comprising the fifth, seventh and tenth infantry, second dragoons and four companies of the fourth artillery, the whole under command of Brigadier-General Albert Sidney Johnson, were on their way to Salt Lake City, the fifth under Major Ruggles, the seventh under Colonel Morrison, the second dragoons under Colonel Howe, the fourth artillery, under Major Williams, entered Bridger on the 23d of November, and established a camp, while a part of the supply train accompanying the expedition, numbering at least 160 wagons, was behind, delayed by the heavy snows, entirely separated from the command, and forced to encamp about one mile from each other on the Big and Little Sandy rivers. [Note.—These streams are tributaries of Green river on the east rising near South Pass, about 160 miles north of Bridger.]
[Note.—These streams are tributaries of Green river on the east rising near South Pass, about 160 miles north of Bridger.]
"While encamped there, a party of Mormons under the command of Orson Pratt, the generalissimo of the so-called Mormon Legion, assisted by one Fowler Wells, another formidable leader of the Mormon church militant, dashed in and surrounded the trains in the dark hours of the night, completely surprising the entire party, not one escaping to give the alarm. After taking the arms and equipments from the men, they gave them a very limited amount of provisions to last them through to Leavenworth, allowing them at the rate of five head of cattle for twenty men, and then started them off in the wilderness to reach that place—about 1,000 miles distant with no weapons other than their pocket knives with which to protect themselves against the Indians or to procure game when their limited supply of provisions should become exhausted. After accomplishing this soldierly, humane and Christian act, the Mormons set fire to the train, burning up everything which they could not carry away, and retreated, driving the stock with them, while those left to starve turned their faces eastward. There were 230 souls in that despoiled party, only eight of whom ever reached the border settlements; the knife of the savage, and starvation, finishing the cruel work begun by merciful Mormons. The survivors reached Leavenworth in June '58, bringing the sad intelligence of the fate of their comrades.
"The loss of these trains necessarily cut short the supplies in Bridger. The troops were put on short rations and to add to their horror, the beef cattle accompanying the expedition had nearly all frozen to death, leaving but a few head in camp.
"At Black Fork, the command lost over 300 head in one night; the horses and mules dying in about and equal ratio. Before reaching Bridger, the dragoons were compelled to bury their saddles in the snow, the horses being unable to carry them. The animals were compelled to subsist on sage-brush for two-thirds of the time, and then, to obtain this fibrous shrub, they were compelled to remove snow several feet deep. The men had no other fuel; no water only as they melted snow, for three weeks befor reaching Bridger.
"When the news arrived at the camp that the trains were destroyed, the troops
immediately began to forage for anything that was palatable, well knowing that no supplies could reach them before late in the spring. The snow was then, on an average, from six to seven feet deep, and the game had mostly left the hills. The rations were immediately reduced one-half, but even this pittance failed on the 28th day of February, when one-quarter ration per man was issued, being the last of all their stores. Two 100 pounds, sacks of flour were secured by Major E.R.S. Canby, who gave for them $300 in gold. They were placed in his tent, which stood where the old flag staff now stands, and he supposed his treasure secure. But that night a party of men belonging to Company I, 10th Infantry, commanded by Lieutenant Marshall, made a coup d'etat on the tent, pulling out the pins and throwing the tent over the astonished Major, but securing the flour, with which they escaped in the darkness, and succeeded in hiding it about a mile from camp, in the sage brush. All was confusion. The long roll was beaten, the troops turned out and answered to their names, no one being absent. So the matter ended for the time. The next day, at guard mount, the Major commenced a personal search among the tents for his flour. He found what? In one tent, two men were cooking a piece of mule meat; in another, he found five men cutting up the frozen skin of an ox, preparatory to making soup of it, the only other ingredient to the savory mess being a little flour. Overcome by the sight of so much wretchedness, the Major sat down and cried at his inability to assist them. He asked the men if they could obtain nothing better to eat, and was answered in the negative.
"The severity of the suffering endured by the men nearly demoralized them, still they went out foraging, dragging their wasted forms through the snow with great difficulty. Some would meet with success in their hunts at times; others would not, The mules and horses were either killed and eaten by the men, or died of cold and hunger, which left them without the means of supplying their camp with wood, only as they hauled it themselves. But the men did not murmur. Twenty or thirty would take a wagon and haul it five or six miles to the timber, and after loading it with wood, haul it to camp. Each regiment hauled its own wood, thus securing a daily supply. Some days a stray creature would be slain by the hunters, and there would be rejoicing in the camp once more.
"Early in the spring of '58 most of the men departed for Salt Lake City, leaving companies B, D and K of the 10th Infantry, and company F, 7th Infantry. Twenty-seven men from each company were detailed to go to the pineries, 25 miles away, to cut timber with which to erect quarters. On arriving in the pinery, they found an old saw mill and race, which had been used by the Mormons, and everything convenient but the necessary machinery. Luckily the quarter master's department had the required machinery, and soon they had a saw mill in good running order. By the 15th of September, 1858, the quarters were up and ready for use. They were large enough for five companies, including a chapel, hospital, sutler's store, guard house, etc. Before these quarters were finished, the quarter master's department and ordnance department, together with the commissary stores, were all stored within the little stone house, there being no other safe shelter.
"The Fourth of July, '58, was duly observed and honored. The flag staff was raised in the center of the parade ground, the flag hoisted by Major Canby and prayers said by Major Gatlin, and to the credit of the soldiers present be it said, that one Fourth of July was celebrated by sober men, not one soldier being intoxicated, though there was liquor in the camp.
"On the 23d of September, 1858, a large train of supplies arrrived, causing great joy among the troops. Two days later three long trains of supplies filed
through the place on their way to Salt Lake City. * * * * *
"The fort was named for 'Jim Bridger,' an old hunter, who lived here more than 30 years. He is still alive, living in St. Louis, Missouri. He was at Bridger in May, '69, for a visit, remaining one week. Luther Mann, (citizen,) Indian Agent for the Shoshones and Bannocks, has resided here for three years. The chief of the Shoshones, Washakie -view image- , whose picture will be found on another page, is a very kind, honorable Indian, and has been the steadfast friend of the whites for many years.
Black's Fork, which runs through the center of the parade ground, affords excellent water, and with Smith's Fork, a stream five miles southeast, affords as good trout as there is in the country."
With the closing of our correspondent's narrative, we resume our route, taking up the connection at
Named for James Bridger, the old hunter, trapper and guide, who first came to the country in the employ of the American Fur Company over 40 years ago. He undoubtedly knows more of this country than any white man now living. Large quantities of wood, cedar and pine, are obtained here. The bluffs are now nearer on either hand. We cross and recross the "muddy" very often, the little stream being more crooked than the streets in Boston. Within a few miles of Piedmont, we observe the old overland road, where it comes down the mountains, crossing the railroad to the west, at Burn's Ranche, the route marked by the line of telegraph poles. Three miles west, on the stage road, is Soda Springs, near by a dirty looking house, which is the headquarters of one who is said to be "the dirtiest man in Utah."
The altitude of Bridger Station is 6,780 feet. For the next two stations we shall ascend, until we eclipse the altitude of Creston. Fifteen miles west of Bridger, is
Unimportant, with an altitude of 7,123 feet. The country is rough and broken. To the south, the mountains are well timbered with pine and Cedar. A great many ties were obtained in this section while the road was being constructed.
Nine miles to the westward of Piedmont. This is the second highest point on the U.P.R.R., the elevation being 7,540 feet—is 839 miles from Sacramento, and 937 from Omaha. It derives its name from the high mountain to the north, called "Quaking Asp." The summit of this mountain is covered with snow during the most of the year. The "quaking asp," or aspen, a species of poplar, grows in profusion in the gulches and on the side of the mountain. The "old overland stage road" winds around the northern base, while the railroad girds its southern borders, nearly encircling it between the old and new; decay and death marking the one, life, energy and growing strength, the other. Leaving Aspen, we soon arrive at the site of the
Of early railroad days, but now entirely deserted. It is situated in a little valley at the mouth of a ravine, where the old overland stage road comes down from the north of Quaking Asp Mountain. At one time this place was quite populous, and was supposed likely to become a permanent town. At this point, the roughs and gamblers who had been driven from point to point westward, made a stand, congregating in large numbers. They swore that they would be driven no farther; that here they would stay, and fight it out to the bitter end. The town was about two miles to the eastward of the river, and when the roughs felt that trouble was coming on them, they withdrew to the hills and organized for a raid on the town. Meanwhile some of the roughs remained in the town, and among them were three
Interior View of Snow Sheds on the Sierra Nevada Mountains, C.P.R.R.
See page 163.
noted garroters, who had added to the long list of their crimes that of murder. The citizens arose, seized and hung them. In this act they were sustained by the law-abiding people, also by the Index, a paper which had followed the road, but was then published here. This hastened the conflict, and on the 19th of November, '68, the roughs attacked the town in force. This attack was repulsed by the citizens, though not until the
Cost sixteen lives, including that of one citizen. The mob first attacked and burned the jail, taking thence one of their kind who was confined there. They next sacked the office and destroyed the material of the Frontier Index. Elated with their success, the mob, numbering about 300 well-armed desperadoes, marched up the main street and made an attack on a store, belonging to one of the leading merchants. Here they were met with a volley from Henry rifles, in the hands of brave and determined citizens, who had collected in the store. The mob was thrown into confusion, and fled down the street, pursued by the citizens, about thirty in number. The first volley and the running fight left fifteen of the desperadoes dead on the street. The number of wounded was never ascertained, but several bodies were afterwards found in the gulches and among the rocks, where they had crawled away and died. One citizen was slain in the attack on the jail. From this time forward the roughs gave Bear River City a wide berth.
The town declined as soon as the road passed that point, and now there is nothing left to mark the place, except a few posts and old chimneys, broken bottles and scattered oyster cans. About two miles beyond the old town site, we cross Bear river on a pile or trestle bridge, 600 feet long, and follow down the west bank for 11 miles over a fine bottom, nearly level. The bluffs are high and broken, coming close to the road, leaving but a narrow valley.
Near the crossing, an oil well had been discovered, which bids fair to become of some importance. Sulphur springs and coal mines have been found in the vicinity. Gold has been discovered also, but not in quantities sufficient to cause much excitement.
This stream rises about sixty miles to the south in the Uintah and Wahsatch Mountains. It has many tributaries, which abound in very fine trout. Quite a business is carried on in catching and salting them for the trade. The river here runs almost due north, to Port Neuf Gap. Before reaching the Gap, the river runs through Bear lake, and the valley of that name.
Bear Lake Valley is a point of great interest on account of the fertility of the soil, its romantic situation, the beautiful and grand scenery of rock, lake and mountain in that neighborhood. The valley lies in Rich county, the most northern county in Utah Territory, and is about 25 miles long, with a varying width.
The lake, from which it takes its name, is in reality a widening of Bear river. It is about 15 miles long by seven wide, and contains plenty of trout and other fish. There are some pretty Mormon settlements at different points along the lake shore.
There is a report, which is strongly believed by some of the old settlers, and it is sustained by Indian tradition, that acquatic monsters, whose shapes are difficult to describe—inhabit these waters. Whether this be the case or not, we do not pretend to say, but this we do know, we never saw them.
The entire region is wild and picturesque, and would well repay the tourist for the time spent in visiting it. About 30 miles distant, to the north, are the far-famed Soda Springs of Idaho, situated in Oneida county, Idaho Territory.
The usual routes by which this is reached are via Ogden or Corinne. By the former the route is shorter; by
the latter a better road. Should we leave Ogden, we proceed up Ogden canyon for 12 miles, across Ogden valley, and over a rough mountain road, a distance of over 80 miles further into Bear Lake Valley.
If by way of Corinne, we proceed to Brigham city, four miles distant, and then up the Box Elder, and down the Wellsville canyons, 18 miles further, thence across Cache valley, with its 600 square miles of beautiful lands, to Logan, the county-seat, 10 miles further. From this point the old road runs north 20 miles, through Richmond, Smithfield, and Hyde Park to Franklin, and then turns to the east through the mountains, 40 miles more. A new road is being constructed up Logan canyon which will materially shorten the distance.
At Port Neuf Gap, the river turns, and thence its course is nearly due south, until it empties into Great Salt Lake, near the town of Corinne. The course of the river can best be understood when we say that it resembles the letter U in shape. From where it rises it runs due north to latitude 42 dg. 30 min., then suddenly turning, it runs south to latitude 41 dg. 43 min., before it finds the lake. Within this bend lies the Wahsatch Mountains, a spur of the Uintah, a rugged, rough, bold but narrow range.
We now return to the road, which we left near the old Bear River City. Passing down the stream, through the valley spoken of, we cross Yellow creek, one of the tributaries of Bear river, and arrive at
Here, for a time, was the distributing point of the Salt Lake freight and travel. It is 18 miles from Aspen, and has an elevation of 6,835 feet. We are informed that Evanston is to be made an eating station instead of Wahsatch, and that all the companies' shops are to be removed from the latter place to Evanston. Sulphur springs are close by, and an oil well has been bored 200 feet with good prospects of success, and boring for other wells is soon to be commenced. A regular line of stages run from here, carrying passengers and mails to Helena, Montana. We follow up a beautiful little valley, watered by Yellow and Porter's creeks for 12 miles, to the head of Echo canyon. Near this place are some very valuable coal mines, which supply a large amount of coal to the railroad company. The mines are said to be very extensive, and easily worked. The coal is of excellent quality and the mines are of incalculable benefit to the company.
Two miles farther west we arrive at
A station of but little importance, nine miles from
Elevation, 6,879 feet. From Omaha, 956 miles; from Sacramento, 810 miles. This is a regular eating station, the "Trout House" being the only place for travelers to enjoy a square meal! The company have a machine shop and round house, built of wood. The town contains about 30 small houses, with a population of about 300. Several sidetracks and switches attest the business done here at one time. As before intimated, it is expected the town will soon be moved to Evanston.
The surrounding country is rather broken, though not rough, when compared with other portions over which we have passed. Grass in abundance covers the hills, and it is claimed by those who reside there, that the small grains can be grown successfully.
[NOTE.—We agree with them on this point, merely remarking that the smaller the grain they attempt to raise, the more it will resemble the crop produced.]
Game is found in the hills—deer, elk and antelope. In the Uintah and Wahssatch ranges, brown, black and cinnamon bear are found. We might add that all the ranges spoken of are well timbered with spruce and pine.
On leaving Wahsatch, we arrive at the divide and head of Echo canyon, one
half mile distant. Here we find the longest tunnel on the road, 770 feet in length, cut through hard red clay and sandstone. It is at present approached from the east by two long pieces of trestle work, one of which is 230 feet long and 30 feet high; the other, 450 feet long and 75 feet high, which will be filled in in time. It opens to the westward, into a beautiful little canyon, with a narrow strip of grassy bottom land on either side of a miniature stream, known as the North Fork of Echo. The hills are abrupt, and near the road, leaving scarcely more than room for a roadway, including the grassy land referred to. Along these bluffs, on the left hand side of the stream, the road-bed has been made by cutting down the sides of the hills and filling hollows, in some places from 50 to 75 feet deep.
Before the tunnel was completed, the road was laid temporarily from the divide into Echo canyon by a Z or zig-zag track, which let the cars down to the head of the canyon. The great difficulty to overcome here was the absence of spurs or sloping hills to carry the grade. Every thing seems to give way at once, and pitch headlong away to the level of the lake. The rim, or outer edge of the table lands, breaks abruptly over, and the streams which make out from this table land, instead of keeping their usual grade, seem to cut through the rim and drop into the valley below, there being no uplands to carry them.
By the present line of the road we enter the canyon proper at the little station of
This has an elevation of 6,290 feet. Unless the coal-bearing veins which have been discovered below should be traced as far as this point, we cannont expect this station to reach any great importance. In the event of coal being found here, it would attain a better position as a coaling depot. It derives its name from the long line of sandstone bluffs on the right hand side of the canyon, which are worn and torn away until, in the distance, they have the appearance of the old feudal castles so often spoken of, so seldom seen, by modern tourists. For a long distance these rocks line the right hand bank of the canyon, their massive red sandstone fronts towering from 500 to 2,000 feet above the little valley, and bearing the general name of "Castle Rocks."
Now we descend the canyon amid some of the grandest and wildest scenery imaginable. We do not creep on it as though we mistrusted our powers, but with a snort and roar the engine plunges down the defile, which momentarily increases to a gorge, only to become, in a short distance, a grand and awful chasm. About seven miles below Castle Rock, the traveler can behold the natural bridge, a conglomerate formation, spanning a cleft in the wall on the right hand side. This
Of Echo has more than a local reputation. (See Illustration. -view image- ) It gave the name to one of the overland stage stations, when the completion of this road was, but in the dreams of its sanguine projectors, an undefined and visionary thing of the future. The rock is close by the old stage road at the foot of the mountain, and looks as though the elements had been wearing the center of it away for centuries, until they had succeeded in cutting it in two, save the harder crust, which now spans the channel made by old father Time.
The left hand side of the canyon presents but few attractions, compared with the bolder and loftier bluffs opposite. The left hand wall breaks away and recedes in sloping, grassy hillsides, while we know not what lies beyond these walls to our right, for they close the view in that direction. Wall, solid wall, broken wall, walls of sandstone, walls of granite, and walls of a conglomerate of both, mixed with clay, rise far above us, and shut from our vision whatever lies beyond.
The beauties of Echo canyon are so
PULPIT ROCK, (foot of Echo Canyon.)
many, so majestic, so awe inspiring in their sublimity, that their is little use in calling the traveler's attention to them. But as we rush swiftly along, seemingly beneath these towering heights, we can note some of the most prominent features.
The only difficulty will be that one will hardly see them all, as the cars thunder along, waking the echoes among these castellated monuments of red rock, whose towering domes and frowning buttresses gave the name to this remarkable opening in the Wahsatch Mountains. Four miles below Hanging Rock the walls rise in massive majesty—the prominent features of the canyon. Rain, wind and time have combined to destroy them, but in vain. Centuries have come and gone since that mighty convulsion shook the earth to its center, when Echo and Weber canyons sprung into existence—twin children, whose birth was heralded by throes, such as the earth may never feel again, and still the mighty wall of Echo remains, bidding defiance alike to time and his co-laborers, the elements; still hangs the delicate fret and frost work from the walls; still the pillar, column, dome and spire stand boldly forth in all their grand, wild and wierd beauty to entrance the traveler, and fill his mind with wonder and awe.
About six miles below Hanging Rock, up on the topmost heights of the towering cliffs, a thousand feet above the bed of the canyon, can be seen the fortifications erected by the Mormons, to defend this pass against the army under Johnson, sent out in '57 by Uncle Sam. These fortifications consist of massive rocks, placed on the verge of the precipice, which were to be toppled over on the heads of the soldiers below, but the experiment was never made, so the rocks remain, to be used on some other foe, or as evidences of a people's folly.
On goes the engine, whiffing us past castle, cathedral, towering column and rugged battlement, past ravines which cut the walls from crest to base in awful chasms, shooting over bridges and flying past and under the overhanging walls; when, after crossing the Echo creek thirty-one times in twenty-six miles, we rush past the Witches' Cave and Pulpit Rock, our engine giving
a loud scream of warning to the brakeman who, "throwing on the brakes," brings the train to a stop, and we get out once more to examine the country, Weber river and Echo City station.
Before we take final leave of Echo canyon we will relate an incident, thrilling in its nature, but happily ending without serious results, which occurred there during the construction of the road from Echo City to the mouth of Weber, and is known as
Mr. Miles, or "Paddy" as he was familiarly called, was foreman to the Casement Brothers, who laid the track of the U.P.R.R. One morning, Paddy started down Echo canyon with a long train of flat cars, sixteen in number, loaded with ties and iron rails for the road below Echo City, where were then, as now, the station, switches, etc. The reader will remember that, from the divide to the mouth of Echo canyon is heavy grade, no level place on which cars would slack their speed.
The train had proceeded but a few miles down the canyon, going at a lively rate, when the engineer discovered that the train had parted, and four loaded cars had been left behind. Where the train parted the grade was easy, hence that portion attached to the locomotive had gained about half a mile on the stray cars. But when discovered, they were on heavy grade and coming down on the train with lightning speed. What was to be done? The leading train could not stop to pick them up, for, at the rate of speed at which they were approaching, a collision would shiver both trains, destroying them and the lives of those on board.
There were two men, Dutchmen, on the loose cars, who might put on the brakes, and stop the runaway. The whistle was sounded, but they heard it not; they were fast asleep behind the pile of ties. On came the cars, fairly bounding from the track in their unguided speed, and away shot the locomotive and train. Away they flew, on, around curves and over bridges, past rocky points and bold headlands; on with the speed of the wind, but no faster than came the cars behind them.
"Let on the steam," cried Paddy, and with the throttle chock open, with wild terrible screams of the whistle, the locomotive plunged through the gorge, the mighty rocks sending back the screams in a thousand ringing echoes.
"Off with the ties," shouted Paddy, once more, as the whistle shouted its warning to the station men to keep the track straight and free, for there was no time to pause—that terrible train was close on to them, and if they collided, the canyon would have a fearful item added to its history. On went the train past the side-tracks, the almost frantic men throwing off the ties, in hopes that some of them would remain on the track, throw off the runaways, and thus save the forward train. Down the gorge they plunged, the terror keeping close by them, leaping along—almost flying, said one, who told us the tale—while the locomotive strained every iron nerve to gain on its dreaded follower. Again the wild scream of the locomotive of "switches open," rung out on the air and was heard and understood in Echo City. The trouble was surmised, not known, but the switches were ready, and if the leading train had but the distance it could pass on and the following cars be switched off the track, and allowed to spend their force against the mountain side. On shot the locomotive, like an arrow from the bow, the men throwing over the ties until the train was well nigh unloaded, when just as they were close to the curve by which the train arrives at the station, they saw the dreaded cars strike a tie, or something equally of service, and with a desperate plunge rush down the embankment, some 15 feet, to the little valley, and creek below. "Down breaks," screamed the engine, and in a moment more the cars entered Echo City, and were quietly waiting on the side-track for further developments. The excited crowd, alarmed by the repeated whistling, was soon in-
formed of the cause of these screams, and immediately went up the track to the scene of the disaster, to bring in the dead bodies of the unfortunate Dutchmen, who were surely crushed and torn in pieces. When they arrived at the scene of the disaster, they found the poor unfortunates sitting on the bank, smoking their pipes and unharmed, having just woke up. The first they knew of the trouble was when they were pitched away from the broken cars on the soft green sward. The debris of car frames, wheels and ties gave them the first intimation they had received that something was the matter. It is related that a young and eccentric lady from San Francisco, who was on her bridal tour, happened to be at Echo City when the train came thundering in. On learning the trouble and narrow escape of the party, she took her husband's arm, remarking, "I don't want any of that in mine; no, thank you, none for Joe."
Rises in the Wahsatch Mountains, 70 miles to the south, its waters being supplied by thousands of springs, many larger tributaries, and the everlasting snows of this rugged mountain range. It empties into the Great Salt Lake, just below Ogden, about 50 miles from Echo City. The valley of the Weber, from Echo City, up to its source, is very fertile, and thickly settled by the Mormons. Three miles above this station is Chalk creek, where a fine coat bank has been discovered. Three miles beyond this point is Coalville, a Mormon settlement of 1,000 inhabitants—a thriving village. Its name is derived from the carboniferous formations existing there. The coal beds are extensive, some of the veins being of good quality, others being lignite. Most of the coal used in Salt Lake City comes from this place. It is 45 miles from this point to the capital of Utah.
Seven miles beyond Coalville is the pleasant village of Winship, situated at the junction of Silver Creek and Weber river, containing 1,000 inhabitants. The "old stage road" follows up Weber to this point, thence up Silver creek, via Parley Park, and thence to Salt Lake City, 50 miles distant from Echo.
This is a beautiful valley on the stage road, about five miles long by three miles wide. It is very fertile, producing fine crops of small grain. Several hundred settlers have located and made themselves homes. There is a fine hotel, once kept as a stage station, now kept by William Kimball, oldest son of Heber C. Fish in any desired quantity can be caught in the streams, and game of many varieties, including deer and bear, inhabit the adjoining mountains. It is one of those pleasant places where one loves to linger, regrets to leave and longs to visit again. We earnestly advise tourists to visit it; they will not regret a week or month among the hills and streams of the upper Weber.
We will now retrace our steps and take a momentary view of
Elevation, 5,540 feet. From Omaha, 991 miles, and 785 from Sacramento. The town is situated at the foot of the bluff, which towers far above it. As we enter the city from Echo, we turn to our right, close at the base of the cliff, where stands Pulpit Rock, at our right [see illustration -view image- ], and the old stage ranch on the left, just where it appears that we must pitch off into the river, and the town is all before us. It looks pleasanter then than it does if you stay there longer, but if you like to hunt and fish you can render a lengthy stay quite pleasant. Echo creek, Chalk creek, Silver creek and Weber river afford excellent trouting, while antelope, are shot near the city. The mountains abound in bear, deer and elk.
Echo has many natural advantages,
being a central point for a rapidly improving country. It now contains about 750 inhabitants, including those settlers near by and the railroad employes. Coal beds, extensive ones, are found near by, as well as an indefinite quantity of iron ore, which must possess a market value, sooner or later.
Near Echo City, across the Weber, a ravine leads up the mountain side, winding and turning around among the gray old crags, until it leads into a beautiful little dell, in the center of which reposes a miniature lakelet, shut in on all sides by the hills. It is a charming, beautiful tiny little gem, nestled amid a gray, grand setting of granite peaks and pine clad gorges—a speck of delicate ethereal beauty, amid the strength and ruggedness of a coarser world.
We shall not attempt to give a minute description of this remarkable place, which would fill a volume were its beauties fully delineated, and each point of interest noted. But as one of the grand and remarkable features of the road it demands a notice, however meager, at our hands. For about 40 miles, the river rushes, foaming along, between two massive mountain walls, which close the landscape on either hand. Now, the torrent plunges over some mighty rock which has fallen from the towering cliff; anon, it whirls around in frantic struggles to escape from the boiling eddy, thence springing forward over a short, smooth rapid, only to repeat the plunge again and again, until it breaks forth into the plains, whence it glides away toward the lake, as though exhausted with its wild journey through the canyon.
From the time of leaving Echo City the traveler must closely watch the canyon walls, for fresh objects of wonder and interest will spring suddenly into sight on either hand.
Leaving Echo City, the cars speed along the banks of the Weber for about six miles, when they enter the Narrows of Weber canyon, through which the road is cut for two miles, most of the way in the side of the steep mountain that drops its base in the river bed. Shortly after entering the Narrows, the
Is passed—a thrifty branching pine—bearing on its trunk a sign-board that tells the western bound traveler that he has passed over 1,000 miles of railway from Omaha. [See illustration. -view image- ] This living mile stone of nature's planning, has long marked this place; long before the hardy Mormon passed down this wild gorge; long before the great transcontinental railroad was even thought of. It stood a lonely sentinel, when all around was desolation; when the lurking savage and wild beast claimed supremacy, and each in turn reposed in the shade of its waving arms. How changed the scene! The ceaseless bustle of an active, progressive age, the hum of labor, the roar and rush of the passing locomotive has usurped the old quiet, and henceforward the lone tree will be, not a guide to the gloomy past, but an index of the coming greatness of a regenerated country.
Near the "thousand mile tree" two ridges of granite rock are seen on the left hand side of the road, reaching from the river nearly to the summit of a sloping, grass-clad mountain. They are from 50 to 200 feet high, narrow slabs, standing on the edge, as though forced out of the mountain side. The two ridges run parallel with each other, about 100 feet apart, the space between being covered with grass, wild flowers and climbing vines. [See illustration. -view image- ]
Rushing swiftly along, we lose sight of these rocks to behold others more grand, of different shapes, and massive proportions. The mountains seem to have been dovetailed together, and then torn rudely asunder, leaving the rough promontories and rugged chasms, as so many obstacles to bar our progress. But engineering skill has triumphed over
ONE THOUSAND MILE TREE, (West from Omaha.)
all. Where the road could not be built over or around these points, it is tunneled under. Now, we shoot across the river, and dart through a tunnel 550 feet long, cut in solid rock, with heavy cuts and fills at either entrance. Just before entering this tunnel, high up to the left, formerly stood "Finger Rock -view image- ," as seen in the illustration, but which has been broken away, so as not to be visible now. The frowning cliffs bar our further way, and again we cross the roaring torrent and burrow under the point of another rocky promontory. Here the road stretches across a pretty little valley, known as Round Valley.
Dashing along, with but a moment to spare in which to note its beauties, we enter the narrowing gorge again, where the massive walls close in and crush out the green meadows. Between these lofty walls, with barely room for the track between them and the foaming torrent at our feet, on, around a jutting point, and again we emerged into a lengthened widening of the canyon, and we pause for a moment at
This station lies between two Mormon settlements, which, taken in connection, are called Morgan City. The buildings are mostly of logs and sun-dried bricks. The villages are separated by the river, which flows through bottom land, much of which is under cultivation for 10 miles.
The road follows down the right hand bank through this valley until just below this station, when it crosses to the left hand side, which it follows for two miles further, between towering mountains, the valley now lost in the narrow, gloomy gorge, when suddenly the whistle shrieks the password as we approach
Twelve miles from Weber. Soon after leaving the station, the brink of the torrent is neared and the wild scenery of the Devil's Gate is before us. Onward toils the long train across the bridge; 50 feet above the seething cauldron of waters, where massive frowning rocks rear their crests, far up toward the black and threatening clouds which hover over this witches' cauldron. With bated breath, we gaze on this wild scene and vainly try to analyze our feelings, in which awe, wonder, and admiration are blended. No time for thought, as
to how or when this mighty work was accomplished; no time or inclination to compare the work of Nature with the puny work beneath us, but onward, with quickened speed, down the right hand bank of the stream; on between these massive piles, worn and seamed in their ceaseles struggles against the destroying hand of time; on to where yon opening of light marks the open country; on, past towering mountain and toppling rock, until we catch a view of the broad, sunlit plains, and from the last and blackest of the buttresses which guard the entrance into Weber, we emerge to light and beauty, to catch the first view of the Great Salt Lake—to behold broad plains and well cultivated fields which stretch their lines of waving green and golden shades beyond,
We have now passed through the Wahsatch Mountains, and are fairly in the Great Salt Lake Valley. The elevation at this point is 4,560 feet, 2,319 feet lower than Wahsatch, 58 miles to the eastward. From this point to Omaha the distance is 1,024 miles; to Sacramento, 752 miles.
The road winds around to the right soon after leaving the station, following the base of the mountains, with the river on the left. We pass through a fertile country, dotted with well tilled farms, for six miles, when we pass Taylor's Switch, near by Taylor's Mills, and two miles from Ogden City.
Elevation, 4,301 feet. From Omaha, 1,032 miles, San Francisco, 882 miles.
The government has decided to fix the terminus and point of junction of the Union and Central Pacific Railroad companies on the line of railroad as now located and constructed northwest of the station at Ogden, and within the limits of section 36, of township 7, of range 2, situate north and west of the principal meridan and base line in the territory of Utah, and the said companies are hereby authorized to enter upon, use, and possess sections 25, 26 and 35 of township 7.
The Union & Central Pacific Roads have a union depot, large freight houses, round houses, machine and repair shops, and employ a large number of men. It is a regular eating station, and a good restaurant is kept in the fine building erected by the company.
The business part of the town is three-fourths of a mile from the depot; the Utah Central about a quarter of a mile nearer the center of the city. The latter cars, however, back down to the Union depot for passengers, thus connecting the three roads at one and the same station, taking passengers from the same depot.
The city is at the mouth of Ogden canyon, one of the gorges which pierce the Wahsatch range, and between the Weber and Ogden rivers. It has a population of about 3,500. The Ogden House is the principal hotel. The town is mostly Mormon, the schools and churches being under the control of the Church of Latter Day Saints. It is the county seat of Weber county, and will, in time, become a place of considerable importance, owing to the fact that it is the terminus of the Utah Central as well as the Union & Central Pacific Railroads. The Mormons have a Tabernacle here, and a semi-weekly newspaper, " The Ogden Junction."
The scenery immediately around Ogden is not very striking, but still there is enough to interest the tourist for a day, if he but take the trouble to wander among the hills and along the canyons. Ogden canyon is about five miles long, and from its mouth to its source, from plain to mountain top, the scenery is grand and imposing. About six miles from Ogden, up in the mountains behind the town, is a lovely little valley called "the basin" watered by mountain streams and covered with a luxuriant growth of grass.
Before proceeding further we will take a hasty view of Utah Territory, beginning with the Utah Central Rail Road.