Richard F. Burton, The City of the Saints, and Across the Rocky Mountains to California (New York: AMS Press Inc., 1971), 145-202.
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17th August. To the Valley of the Sweetwater.
The morning was bright and clear, cool and pleasant. The last night's abstinence had told upon our squeamishness: we managed to secure a fowl, and with its aid we overcame our repugnance to the massive slices of eggless bacon. At 6:30 A.M. we hitched up, crossed the rickety bridge at a slow pace, and proceeded for the first time to ascend the left bank of the Platte. The valley was grassy; the eternal sage, however haunted us; the grouse ran before us, and the prairie-dogs squatted upon their house-tops, enjoying the genial morning rays. After ten miles of severe ups and downs, which, by-the-by, nearly brought our consort, the official's wagon, to grief, we halted for a few minutes at an old-established trading-post called "Red Buttes." The feature from which it derives its name lies on the right bank of, and about fives miles distant from the river, which here cuts its way through a ridge. These bluffs are a fine bold formation, escarpments of ruddy argillaceous sandstones and shells, which dip toward the west: they are the eastern wall of the mass that hems in the stream, and rear high above it their conical heads and fantastic figures. The ranch was on the margin of a cold, clear spring, of which we vainly attempted to drink. The banks were white, as though by hoar-frost, with nitrate and carbonate of soda efflorescing from the dark mould. Near Red Buttes the water is said to have a chalybeate flavor, but of that we were unable to judge.
Having allowed the squaws and half-breeds a few minutes to gaze, we resumed our way, taking off our caps in token of adieu to old Father Platte, our companion for many a weary mile. We had traced his course upward, though its various phrases and vicissitudes, from the dignity and portliness of his later career as a full-grown river to his small and humble youth as a mountain rivulet, and—interest, either in man or stream, often results from the trouble we take about them—I looked upon him for the last time with a feeling akin to regret. Moreover, we had been warned that from the crossing of the North Platte to the Sweetwater all is a dry, and dreary, and desolate waste.
On the way we met a mounted Indian, armed with a rifle and habited in the most grotesque costume. "Jack"—he was recognized by the driver—wore a suit of buckskin, and a fool's-cap made out of an old blanket, with a pair of ass-ear appendages that hung backward viciously like a mule's; his mouth grinned from ear to ear, and his eyes were protected by glass and wire goggles, which gave them the appearance of being mounted on stalks like a crustacean's. He followed us for some distance, honoring us by riding close to the carriage, in hopes of a little black-mail; but we were not generous, and we afterward heard something which made us glad that we had not been tempted to liberality. He was followed by an ill-favored squaw, dressed in a kind of cotton gown, remarkable only for the shoulders being considerably narrower than the waist. She sat her bare nag cavalierly, and eyed us as we passed with that peculiarly unpleasant glance which plain women are so fond of bestowing.
After eighteen miles' drive we descended a steep hill, and were shown the Devil's Backbone. It is a jagged, broken ridge of huge sandstone boulders, tilted up edgeways, and running in a line over the crest of a long roll of land: the tout ensemble looks like the vertebræ of some great sea-serpent or other long crawling animal; and, on a nearer view, the several pieces resolve themselves into sphinxes, veiled nuns, Lot's pillars, and other freakish objects. I may here remark that the aut Cæsar aut diabolus of the medieval European antiquary, when accounting for the architecture of strange places, is in the Far West consigned without partnership to the genius loci, the fiend who, here as in Europe, has monopolized all the finest features of scenery. We shall pass successively the Devil's Gate, the Devil's Post-office and the Devil's Hole—in fact, we shall not be thoroughly rid of his satanic majesty's appurtenances till Monte Diablo, the highest of the Californian coast-range, dips slowly and unwillingly behind the Pacific's tepid wave.
We nooned at Willow Springs, a little doggery boasting of a shed and a bunk, but no corral; and we soothed with a drink of our whisky, the excited feelings of the rancheros. The poor fellows had been plundered of their bread and dried meat by some petty thief, who had burrowed under the wall, and they sorely suspected our goggled friend, Jack the Arapaho. Master Jack's hair might have found itself suspended near the fireplace if he had then been within rife-shot; as it was, the two victims could only indulge in consolatory threats about wreaking their vengeance upon the first "doggond red-bellied crittur" whom good fortune might send in their way. The water was unusually good at Willow Springs; unfortunately, however, there was nothing else.
At 2:30 P.M. we resumed our way through the yellow-flowered rabbit-bush—it not a little resembled wild mustard—and a thick sage-heath, which was here and there spangled with the bright blossoms of the wilderness. After about twenty miles we passed, to the west of the road, a curious feature, to which the Mormon exodists first, on dit, gave the name of Saleratus Lake. It lies to the west of the road, and is only one of a chain of alkaline waters and springs whose fetor, without exaggeration, taints the land. Cattle drinking of the fluid are nearly sure to die; even those that eat of the herbe salée, or salt grass growing upon its borders, are known by its reddish-yellow and sometimes bluish tinge, will suffer from a disease called the "Alkali," which not unfrequently kills them. The appearance of the Saleratus Lake startles the traveler who, in the full blaze of midday upon this arid waste, where mirage mocks him at every turn, suddenly sees outstretched before his eyes a kind of Wenham Lake solidly over-frozen. The illusion is so perfect that I was completely deceived, nor could the loud guffaws of the driver bring me at once to the conclusion that seeing in this case is not believing. On a near inspection, the icy surface turns out to be a dust of carbonate of soda, concealing beneath it masses of the same material, washed out of the adjacent soil, and solidified by evaporation. The Latter-Day Saints were charmed with their trouvaille, and laid in stores of the fetic alkaline matter, as though it has been manna, for their bread and pastry. It is still transported westward, and declared to be purer than the saleratus of the shops. Near the lake is a deserted ranch, which once enjoyed the title of "Sweetwater Station."
Four miles beyond this "Waterless Lake"—Bahr bila Ma as the Bedouin would call it—we arrived at Rock Independence, and felt ourselves in a new region, totally distinct from the clay formation of the mauvaises terres over which we have traveled for the last five days. Again I was started by its surprising likeness of the scenery of Eastern Africa: a sketch of Jiwe la Mkoa, the Round Rock in eastern Unyamwezi, would be mistaken, even by those who had seen both, for this ground échantillon of the Rocky Mountains. It crops out of an open plain, not far from the river bed, in dome shape wholly isolated, about 1000 feet in length by 400-500 in breadth; it is 60 to 100 feet in height, and in circumference 1½ to 2 miles. Except upon the summit, where it has been weathered into a feldspathic soil, it is bare and bald; a scantly growth of shrubs protrudes, however, from its poll. The material of the stern-looking dome is granite, in enormous slabs and boulders, cracked, flaked, seared, and cloven, as if by igneous pressure from below. The prevailing tradition in the West is, that the mass derived its name from the fact that Colonel Frémont there delivered an Independence-day oration; but read a little farther. It is easily ascended at the northern side and the southeastern corner, and many climb its rugged flanks for a peculiarly Anglo-American purpose—Smith and Brown have held high jinks here. In Colonel Fremont's time (1842), every where within six or eight feet of the ground, where the surface is sufficiently smooth, and in some places sixty or eighty feet above, the rock was inscribed with the names of travelers. Hence the Indians have named it Timpe Nabor, or the Painted Rock, corresponding with the Sinaitic "Wady Mukattab." In the present day, though much of the writing has been washed away by rain, 40,000-50,000 souls are calculated to have left their dates and marks from the coping of the wall to the loose stones below this huge sign-post. There is, however, some reason in the proceeding; it does not in these lands begin and end with the silly purpose, as among climbers of the Pyramids, and fouilleurs of the sarcophagi of Apis, to bequeath one's few poor letters to a little athanasia. Prairie travelers and emigrants expect to be followed by their friends, and leave, in their vermilion outfit, or their white house-paint, or their brownish-black tar—a useful article for wagons—a homely but hearty word of love or direction upon any conspicuous object. Even a bull or a buffalo's skull, which, lying upon the road, will attract attention, is made to do duty at this Poste Restante.
I will here take the liberty of digressing a little, with the charitable purpose of admiring the serious turn with which the United States explorers perform their explorations.
Colonel Frémont thus calls to mind the earnest deeds of a by-gone day. "One George Weymouth was sent out to Maine by the Earl of Southampton, Lord Arundel, and others, and in the narrative of their discoveries he says, 'The next day we ascended in our pinnace that part of the river which lies more to the westward, carrying with us a cross—a thing never omitted by any Christian traveler—which we erected at the ultimate end of our route.' This was in the year 1605, and in 1842 I obeyed the feeling of early travelers, and left the impressions of the cross deeply engraved on the vast rock, one thousand miles beyond the Mississippi, to which discoverers have given the national name of Rock Independence."
Captain Stansbury is not less scrupulous upon the subject of traveling proprieties. One of his entries is couched as follows: "Sunday, June 10, barometer 28:82, thermometer 70°. The camp rested: it has been determined, from the commencement of the expedition, to devote this day, whenever practicable, to its legitimate purpose, as an interval of rest for man and beast. I here beg to record, as the result of my experience, derived not only from the present journey, but from the observations of many years spent in the performance of similar duties, that, as a mere matter of pecuniary consideration, apart from all higher obligations, it is wise to keep the Sabbath."
Lieutenant W. F. Lynch, United States Navy, who in 1857 commanded the United States Expedition to the River Jordan and the Dead Sea, and published a narrative not deficient in interest, thus describes his proceedings at El Meshra, the bathing-place of the Christian pilgrims:
"This ground is consecrated by tradition as the place where the Israelites passed over with the ark of the covenant, and where the blessed Savior was baptized by John. Feeling that it would be desecration to moor the boats at a place so sacred, we passed it, and with some difficulty found a landing below.
"My first act was to bathe in the consecrated stream, thanking God, first, for the precious favor of being permitted to visit such a spot; and, secondly, for his protecting care throughout our perilous passage. For a long time after I sat upon the bank, my mind oppressed with awe, as I mused upon the great and wondrous events which had here occurred." In strange contrast with these passages stands the characteristic prophecy, "The time is coming—the beginning is come now—when the whole worthless list of kings, with all their myrmidons, will be swept from their places, and made to bear a part in the toils and sufferings of the great human family," etc., etc.
I would not willingly make light in others of certain finer sentiments—veneration for instance, and conscientiousness—which Nature has perhaps debarred me from overenjoying; nor is it in my mind to console myself for the privation by debasing the gift in those gifted with it. But—the but, I fear, will, unlike "if," be any thing rather than a great peacemaker, in this case—there are feelings which, when strongly felt, when they well from the bottom of the heart, man conceals in the privacy of his own bosom; and which, if published to the world, are apt to remind the world that it has heard of a form of speech, as well as argument, ranking under the category of ad captandum vulgus.
About a mile beyond Independence Rock we forded the Sweetwater. We had crossed the divide between this stream and the Platte, and were now to ascend our fourth river valley, the three others being the Missouri, the Big Blue, and the Nebraska. The Canadian voyageurs have translated the name Sweetwater from the Indian Pina Pa; but the term is here more applicable in a metaphorical than in a literal point of view. The water of the lower bed is rather hard than otherwise, and some travelers have detected brackishness in it, yet the banks are free from saline hoar, which deters the thirstiest from touching many streams on this line. The Sweetwater, in its calmer course, is a perfect Naiad of the mountains; presently it will be an Undine hurried by that terrible Amagké, to which Jove himself must bend his omniscient head, into the grisly marital embrace of the gloomy old Platte. Passing pleasant, after the surly ungenial silence of the Shallow River, is the merry prattle with which she answers the whisperings of those fickle flatterers, the winds, before that wedding-day when silence shall become her doom. There is a something in the Sweetwater which appeals to the feelings of rugged men: even the drivers and the station-keepers speak of "her" with a bearish affection.
After fording the swift Pina Pa, at that point about seventy feet wide and deep to the axles, we ran along its valley about six miles, and reached at 9:15 P.M. the muddy station kept by M. Planté, the usual Canadian. En route we had passed by the Devil's Gate, one of the great curiosities of this line of travel. It is the beau ideal of a kanyon [canyon], our portal opening upon the threshold of the Rocky Mountains: I can compare its form from afar only with the Brêche de Roland in the Pyrenees. The main pass of Aden magnified twenty fold is something of the same kind, but the simile is too unsavory. The height of the gorge is from 300 to 400 feet perpendicular, and on the south side threatening to fall: it has already done so in parts, as the masses which cumber the stream-bed show. The breadth varies from a minimum of 40 to a maximum of 105 feet, where the fissure yawns out, and the total length of the cleft is about 250 yards. The material of the walls is a gray granite, traversed by dikes of trap; and the rock in which the deep narrow crevasse has been made runs right through the extreme southern shoulder of a ridge, which bears appropriately enough the name of "Rattlesnake Hills." Through this wild gorge the bright stream frets and forces her way, singing, unlike Liris, with a feminine untaciturnity, that awakes the echoes of the pent-up channel—tumbling and gurgling, dashing and foaming over the snags, blocks, and boulders, which, fallen from the cliffs above, obstruct the way, and bedewing the cedars and bright shrubs which fringe the ragged staples of the gate. Why she should not have promenaded gently and quietly round, instead of through, this grisly barrier of rock, goodness only knows: however, willful and womanlike, she has set her heart upon an apparent impossibility, and, as usual with her sex under the circumstances, she has had her way. Sermons in stones—I would humbly suggest to my gender.
Procrastination once more stole my chance; I had reserved myself for sketching the Devil's Gate from the southwest, but the station proved too distant to convey a just idea of it. For the truest representation of the gate, the curious reader will refer to the artistic work of Mr. Frederick Piercy; that published in Captains Marcy's "List of Itineraries" is like any thing but the Devil's Gate; even the rough lithograph in Colonel Frémont's report is more truthful.
We supped badly as mankind well could at the cabaret, where a very plain young person, and no neat-handed Phyllis withal, supplied us with a cock whose toughness claimed for it the honors of grandpaternity. Chickens and eggs there were none; butcher's meat, of course, was unknown, and our hosts ignored the name of tea; their salt was a kind of saleratus, and their sugar at least half Indian-meal. When asked about fish, they said that the Sweetwater contained nothing but suckers, and that these, though good eating, can not be caught with a hook. They are a queer lot, these French Canadians, who have "located" themselves in the Far West. Travelers who have hunted with them speak highly of them as a patient, submissive, and obedient race, inured to privations, and gifted with the reckless abandon—no despicable quality in prairie traveling—of the old Gascon adventurer; armed and ever vigilant, hardy, handy, and hearty children of Nature, combining with the sagacity and the instinctive qualities all the superstitions of the Indians; enduring as mountain goats; satisfied with a diet of wild meat, happiest when it could be followed by a cup of strong milkless coffee, a "chasse café" and a "brule-gueule;" invariably and contagiously merry; generous as courageous; handsome, active, and athletic; sashed, knived, and dressed in buckskin, to the envy of every Indian "brave," and the admiration of every Indian belle, upon whom, if the adventurer's heart had not fallen into the snares of the more attractive half-breed, he would spend what remained of his $10 a month, after coffee, alcohol, and tobacco had been extravagantly paid for, in presents of the gaudiest trash. Such is the voyageur of books: I can only speak of him as I found him, a lazy dog, somewhat shy and proud, much addicted to loafing and to keeping cabarets, because, as the old phrase is, the cabarets keep him—in idleness too. Probably his good qualities lie below the surface: those who hide a farthing rush-light under a bushel can hardly expect us, in this railway age, to take the trouble of finding it. I will answer, however, for the fact, that the bad points are painfully prominent. By virtue of speaking French and knowing something of Canada, I obtained some buffalo robes, and after a look at the supper, which had all the effect of a copious feed, I found a kind of out-house, and smoked till sleep weighed down my eyelids.
We arose at 6 A.M., before the rest of the household, who, when aroused, "hifered" and sauntered about all desœuvrés till their wool-gathering wits had returned. The breakfast was a little picture of the supper; for watered milk, half-baked bread, and unrecognizable butter, we paid the somewhat "steep" sum of 75 cents; we privily had our grumble, and set out at 7 A.M. to ascend the Valley of the Sweetwater. The river-plain is bounded by two parallel lines of hills, or rather rocks, running nearly due east and west. Those to the north are about a hundred miles in extreme length, and, rising from a great plateau, lie perpendicular to the direction of the real Rocky Mountains toward which they lead: half the course of the Pina Pa subtends their southern base. The Western men know them as the Rattlesnake Hills, while the southern are called after the river. The former—a continuation of the ridge in which the Sweetwater has burst a gap—is one of those long lines of lumpy, misshappen, barren rock, that suggested Rocheuses. In parts they are primary, principally syenite and granite, with a little gneiss, but they have often so regular a line of cleavage, perpendicular as well as horizontal, that they may readily be mistaken for stratifications. The stratified are slaty micaceous shale and red sandstone, dipping northward, and cut by quartz veins and trap dikes. The remarkable feature in both formations is the rounding of the ridges or blocks of smooth naked granite: hardly any angels appeared; the general effect was, that they had been water-washed immediately after birth. The upper portions of this range shelter the bighorn, or American moufflon, and the cougar, the grizzly bear, and the wolf. The southern or Sweetwater range is vulgarly known as the Green-River Mountains: seen from the road, their naked, barren, and sandy flanks appear within cannon shot, but they are distant seven miles.
After a four-miles' drive up the pleasant valley of the little river-nymph, to whom the grisly hills formed an effective foil, we saw on the south of the road "Alkali Lake," another of the Trona formations with which we were about to become familiar; in the full glare of burning day it was undistinguishable as to the surface from the round pond in Hyde Park. Presently ascending a little rise, we were shown for the first time a real bit of the far-famed Rocky Mountains, which was hardly to be distinguished from, except by a shade of solidity, the fleecy sunlit clouds resting upon the horizon: it was Frémont's Peak, the sharp, snow-clad apex of the Wind River range. Behind us and afar rose the distant heads of black hills. The valley was charming with its bright glad green, a tapestry of flowery grass, willow copses where the grouse ran in and out, and long lines of aspen, beech, and cotton-wood, while pine and cedar, cypress and scattered evergreens, crept up the cranks and crannies of the rocks. In the midst of the Firdaus—so it appeared to us after the horrid unwithering artemisia Jehennum of last week—flowed the lovely little stream, transparent as crystal, and coquettishly changing from side to side in her bed of golden sand. To see her tamely submit to being confined within those dwarf earthen cliffs, you would not have known her to be the same that had made that terrible breach in the rock-wall below. "Verium et mutabile semper," etc.: I will not conclude the quotation, but simply remark that the voyageurs have called her "She." And every where, in contrast with the deep verdure and the bright flowers of the valley, rose the stern forms of the frowning rocks, some apparently hanging as though threatening a fall, others balanced upon the slenderest foundations, all split and broken as though earthquake-riven, loosely piled into strange figures, the lion couchant, sugar-loaf, tortoise, and armadillo—not a mile, in fact, was without its totem.
The road was good, especially when hardened by frost. We are now in altitudes where, as in Tibet, parts of the country for long centuries never thaw. After passing a singular stone bluff on the left of the road, we met a party of discharged soldiers, who were traveling eastward comfortably enough in government wagons drawn by six mules. Not a man saluted Lieutenant Dana, though he was in uniform, and all looked surly as Indians after a scalpless raid. Speeding merrily along, we were shown on the right of the road a ranch belonging to a Canadian, a "mighty mean man," said the driver, "who onst gin me ole mare's meat for b'ar." We were much shocked by this instance of the awful depravity of the unregenerate human heart, but our melancholy musings were presently interrupted by the same youth, who pointed out on the other side of the path a mass of clay (conglomerate, I presume), called the Devil's Post-office. It has been lately washed with rains so copious that half the edifice lies at the base of that which is standing. The structure is not large: it is highly satisfactory—especially to a man who in this life has suffered severely, as the Anglo-Indian ever must from endless official and semi-official correspondence—to remark that the London Post-office is about double its size.
Beyond the Post-office was another ranch belonging to Portuguese named Luis Silva, married to an Englishwoman who had deserted the Salt Lake Saints. We "staid a piece" there, but found few inducements to waste our time. Moreover, we had heard from afar of an "ole 'ooman," and Englishwomen, a Miss Moore—Miss is still used for Mrs. by Western men and negroes—celebrated for cleanliness, tidiness, civility, and housewifery in general, and we were anxious to get rid of the evil flavor of Canadians, squaws, and "ladies."
At 11 A.M. we reached "Three Crossings," when we found the "miss" a stout, active, middle-aged matron, deserving of all the praises that has so liberally been bestowed upon her. The little ranch was neatly swept and garnished, papered and ornamented. The skull of a full-grown bighorn hanging over the doorway represented the spoils of a stag of twelve. The table-cloth was clean, so was the cooking, so were the children; and I was reminded of Europe by the way in which she insisted upon washing my shirt, an operation which, after leaving the Missouri, ça va sans dire, had fallen to my own lot. In fact, this day introduced me to the third novel sensation experienced on this western side of the Atlantic. The first is to feel (practically) that all men are equal; that you are no man's superior, and that no man is yours. The second—this is spoken as an African wanderer—to see one's quondam acquaintance, the Kaffir, laying by his grass kilt of coat of grease, invest himself in broadcloth, part his wool on one side, shave what pile nature has scattered upon his upper lip, chin, and cheeks below a line drawn from the ear to the mouth-corner after the fashion of the times when George the Third was king, and call himself, not Sambo, but Mr. Scott. The third was my meeting in the Rocky Mountains with this refreshing specimen of that far Old World, where, on the whole, society still lies in strata, as originally deposited, distinct, sharply defined, and rarely displaced, except by some violent upheaval from below, which, however, never succeeds long in producing total inversion. Miss Moore's husband, a decent appendage, had transferred his belief from the church of England to the Church of Utah, and the good wife, as in duty bound, had followed in his wake whom she was bound to love, honor, and obey. But when the serpent came and whispered in Miss Moore's modest, respectable, one-idea'd ear that the Abrahams of Great Salt Lake City are mere "sham Abrams"—that, not content with Sarahs, they add to them an unlimited supply of Hagars, then did our stout Englishwoman's power of endurance break down never to rise again. "Not an inch would she budge;" not a step toward Utah Territory would she take. She fought pluckily against the impending misfortune, and—à quelque chose malheur est bon!—she succeeded in reducing her husband to that state which is typified by the wife using certain portions of the opposite sex's wardrobe, and in making him make a good livelihood as station-master on the wagon-line.
After a copious breakfast, which broke the fast of the four days that had dragged on since our civilized reflection at Fort Laramie, we spread our buffalos and water-proofs under the ample eaves of the ranch, and spent the day in taking time with the sextant—every watch being wrong—in snoozing, dozing, chatting, smoking, and contemplating the novel view. Straight before us rose the Rattlesnake Hills, a nude and grim horizon, frowning over the soft and placid scene below, while at their feet flowed the little river—splendidior vitro—purling over its pebbly bed with graceful meanderings through clover prairillons and garden-spots full of wild currants, strawberries, gooseberries, and rattlesnakes; while, contrasting with the green River Valley and the scorched and tawny rock-wall, patches of sand-hill, raised by the winds, here and there cumbered the ground. The variety of the scene was much enhanced by the changeful skies. The fine breeze which had set in at 8 A.M. had died in the attempt to thread these heat-refracting ridges, and vapory clouds, sublimated by the burning sun, floated lazily in the empyrean, casting fitful shadows that now intercepted, then admitted, a blinding glare upon the mazy stream and its rough cradle.
In the evening we bathed in the shallow bed of the Sweetwater. It is vain to caution travelers against this imprudence. Video meliora proboque—it is doubtless unwise—but it is also mera stultitia to say to men who have not enjoyed ablutions for a week or ten days, "If you do take that delicious dip you may possibly catch fever." Deteriora sequor—bathed. Miss Moore warned us strongly against rattlesnakes, and during our walk we carefully observed the Indian rule, to treat upon the log and not to overstep it. The crotalus, I need hardly say, like other snakes, is fond of lurking under the shade of fallen or felled trunks, and when a heel or a leg is temptingly set before it, it is not the beast to refuse a bite. Accidents are very common, despite all precautions, upon this line, but they seldom, I believe, prove fatal. The remedies are almost endless: e.g., hartshorn, used externally and drunk in dilution; scarification and irrumation of the part, preceded, of course, by a ligature between the limb and the heart; application of the incised breast of a live fowl or frog to the wound; the dried and powdered blood of a turtle, of this two pinches to be swallowed and a little dropped upon the place bitten; a plaster of chewed or washed plantain-leaves—it is cooling enough, but can do little more—bound upon the puncture, peppered with a little finely-powdered tobacco; pulverized indigo made into a poultice with water; cauterization by gunpowder, hot iron or lunar caustic; cedron, a nut growing on the Isthmus of Panama—of this remedy I heard, in loco, the most wonderful accounts, dying men being restored, as if by magic, after a bit about the size of a bean had been placed in their mouths. As will be seen below, the land is rich in snakeroots, but the superstitious snakestone of Hindostan—which acts, if it does act, as a absorbent of the virus by capillary attraction—is apparently unknown. The favorite remedy now in the United States is the "whisky cure," which, under the form of arrack, combined in the case of scorpion-sting with a poultice of chewed tobacco, was known for the last fifty years to the British soldier of India. It has the advantage of being a palatable medicine; it must also be taken in large quantities, a couple of bottles sometimes producing little effect. With the lighted end of a cigar applied as moxa to the wound, a quantum sufficit of ardent spirits, a couple of men to make me walk about when drowsy by the application of a stick, and, above all, with the serious resolution not to do any thing so mean as to "leap the twig," I should not be afraid of any snake yet created. The only proviso is that our old enemy must not touch an artery, and that the remedies must be at hand. Fifteen minutes lost, you are "down among the dead men." The history of fatal cases always shows some delay.
We supped in the evening merrily. It was the best coffee we had tasted since leaving New Orleans; the cream was excellent, so was the cheese. But an antelope had unfortunately been brought in; we had insisted upon a fry of newly-killed flesh, which was repeated in the morning, and we had bitterly to regret it. While I was amusing myself by attempting to observe an immersion of Jupiter's satellites with a notable failure in the shape of that snare and delusion, a portable telescope, suddenly there arouse a terrible hubbub. For a moment it was believed that the crotalus horridus had been taking liberties with one of Miss Moore's progeny. The seat of pain, however, soon removed the alarming suspicion, and—the rattlesnake seldom does damage at night—we soon came to the conclusion that the dear little fellow who boo-hoo'd for forty had been bitten by a musqueto [mosquito] somewhat bigger than its fellows. The poor mother soon was restored to her habits of happiness and hard labor. Not contented with supporting her own family, she was doing supererogation by feeding a little rat-eyed, snub-nosed, shark-mouthed half-breed girl, who was, I believe in the market as a "chattel." Mrs. Dana pointed out to me one sign of demoralization on the part of Miss Moore. It was so microscopic that only a women's acute eye could detect it. Miss Moore was teaching her children to say "Yes, surr!" to every driver.
With renewed spirit, despite a somewhat hard struggle, with the musquetoes [mosquitoes] we set out at the respectable hour of 5:45 A.M. We had breakfasted comfortably, and an interesting country lay before us. The mules seemed to share in our gayety. Despite a long ringing, the amiable animals kicked and bit, bucked and backed, till their recalcitrances had almost deposited us in the first ford of the Sweetwater. For this, however, we were amply consoled by the greater misfortunes of our consort, the official wagon. After long luxuriating in the pick of the teams, they were to-day so thoroughly badly "muled" that they were compelled to apply for our assistance.
We forded the river twice within fifty yards, and we recognized with sensible pleasure a homely-looking magpie (Pica Hudsonica), and a rattlesnake, not inappropriately, considering where we were, crossed the road. Our path lay between two rocky ridges, which gradually closed inward, forming a regular kanyon, quite shutting out the view. On both sides white and micaceous granite towered to the height of 300 or 400 feet, terminating in jagged and pointed peaks, whose partial disruption covered the angle at their base. Arrived at Ford No. 5, we began an ascent, and reaching the summit, halted to enjoy the fine back view of the split and crevassed mountains.
A waterless and grassless track of fifteen to sixteen miles led us to a well-known place—the Ice Springs—of which, somewhat unnecessarily, a marvel is made. The ground, which lies on the right of the road, is a long and swampy trough between two waves of land which permit the humidity to drain down, and the grass is discolored, suggesting the presence of alkali. After digging about two feet, ice is found in small fragments. Its presence, even in the hottest seasons, may be readily accounted for by the fact that hereabouts water will freeze in a tent during July, and by the depth to which the wintry frost extends. Upon the same principle, snow gathering in mountain ravines and hollows long outlasts the shallower deposits. A little beyond Ice Springs, on the opposite side of, and about a quarter of a mile distant from the road, lie the Warm Springs, one of the many alkaline pans which lie scattered over the face of the country. From the road nothing is to be seen but a deep cunette full of percolated water.
Beyond the Warm Springs lay a hopeless-looking land, a vast slope, barren and desolate as Nature could well make it. The loose sands and the granite masses of the valley had disappeared; the surface was a thin coat of hard gravelly soil. Some mosses, a scanty yellow grass, and the dark gray artemisia, now stunted and shrunk, were sparsely scattered about. It had already begun to give way before an even hardier creation, the rabbit-bush and the greasewood. The former, which seems to thrive under the wintry snow, is a favorite food with hares, which abound in this region; the latter (Obione, or Atriplex canescens, the chamizo of the Mexicans) derives its name from the oleaginous matter abundant in its wood, and is always a sign of a poor and sterile soil. Avoiding a steep descent by a shorter road, called "Landers' Cut-off," we again came upon the Sweetwater, which was here somewhat broader than below, and lighted upon a good grass and underbrush, willow copses, and a fair halting-place. At Ford No. 6—three followed one another in rapid succession—we found the cattle of a traveling trader scattered over the pasture-grounds. He proved to be an Italian driven from the low country by a band of Sioux, who had slain his Shoshonee [Shoshone] wife, and at one time had thought of adding his scalp to his squaw's. At Ford No. 8, we came upon a camping-ground, usually called in guide-books "River Bank and Stream." The Sweetwater is here twenty-five feet wide. About three miles beyond it lay the "Foot of Ridge Station," near a willowy creek, called from its principal inhabitants the Muskrat. The ridge from which it derives its name is a band of stone that will cross the road during to-morrow's ascent. Being a frontier place, it is a favorite camping-ground with Indians. To-day a war party of Sioux rode in, en route to provide themselves with a few Shoshonee scalps.
We made a decided rise to-day, and stood at least 6000 feet above the level of the sea. The altitude of St. Louis being in round numbers 500 feet, and reckoning the diminution of temperature at 1° F.=100 yards, we are already 19° to 20° F. colder than before. The severity of the atmosphere and the rapid evaporation from the earth cause an increase of frigidity, to which the salts and nitrates upon the surface of the soil, by absorbing the hydrogen of the atmosphere—as is shown by the dampness of the ground and the absence of dust around the Saleratus Lakes—greatly add. Another remark made by every traveler in these regions is the marked influence upon the temperature caused by the presence and the absence of the sun. The day will be sultry and oppressive, and a fire will be required at night. In the morning, about 11 A.M., the thermometer showed 80° Fahrenheit; at 4 P.M., the sky being clouded over, it fell 25°; before dawn, affected by the cold north wind from the snows at the Pass, it stood at 40°.
The lowering firmament threatened rain, of which, however, the thirsty land was disappointed. Moreover, all were agreed that snow was to be expected in another fortnight, if not sooner. Glacial storms occasionally occur in July and August, so that in some years the land may be said to have no summer. In winter the sharpness of the cold is such that it can be kept out only by clothes of the closest texture; the mountain-men, like the Esquimaux, prefer to clothe themselves cap-a-piè in the prepared skins of animals. We were all animated with a nervous desire for travel, but there was the rub. The station-master declared that he had no driver, no authority to forward two wagonsful, and no cattle; consequently, that the last comers must be last served, and wait patiently at Rocky Ridge till they could be sent on. They would find antelopes in plenty, perhaps a grizzly, and plenty of plover, crows, and delicate little ground-squirrels by the burrowful, to "keep their hands in." We being the first comers, a title to preference rarely disputed in this law-and-rule-abiding land, prudently held ourselves aloof. The Judiciary, however, was sorely "exercised." Being a "professor," that is, a serious person, he could not relieve his mind by certain little moyens which naturally occurred to the rest of the party. Many and protracted were the powwows that took place on this momentous occasion. Sometimes our quondam companions—we now looked upon them as friends lost to us—would mysteriously disappear as though the earth had swallowed them, and presently they would return with woe-begone step and the wrinkled brow of care, simulating an ease which they were far from feeling.
The station rather added to than took from our discomfort: it was a terrible unclean hole; milk was not procurable within thirty-five miles; one of the officials was suffering sorely from a stomach-ache; there was no sugar, and the cooking was atrocious. With a stray title-pageless volume of some natural history of America, and another of agricultural reports—in those days, before reform came, these scientific and highly elaborate compositions, neatly printed and expensively got up at the public expense, were apparently distributed to every ranch and station in the line of road—I worked through the long and tedious afternoon. We were not sorry when the night came, but then the floor was knobby, the musquetoes [mosquitoes] seemed rather to enjoy the cold, and the banks swarmed with "chinches." The coyotes and wolves made night vocal with their choruses, and had nearly caused an accident. One of the station-men arose, and, having a bone to pick with the animals for having robbed his beef-barrel, cocked his revolver, and was upon the point of firing, when the object aimed at started up and cried out in the nick of time that he was a federal marshal, not a wolf.
We rose with the daybreak; we did not start till nearly 8 A.M., the interim having been consumed by the tenants of our late consort in vain palaver. We bade adieu to them and mounted at last, loudly pitying their miseries as they disappeared from our ken. But the driver bade us reserve our sympathy and humane expressions for a more fitting occasion, and declared—it was probably a little effort of his own imagination—that those faithless friends had spent all their spare time in persuading him to take them on and to leave us behind. I, for one, will never believe that any thing of the kind had been attempted; a man must be created with a total absence of the bowels of compassion who would leave a woman and a young child for days together at the foot of Ridge Station.
The road at once struck away from the Sweetwater, winding up and down rugged hills and broken hollows. From Fort Laramie the land is all a sandy and hilly desert where one can easily starve, but here it shows its worst features. During a steep descent a mule fell, and was not made to regain its footing without difficulty. Signs of wolves, coyotes, and badgers were abundant, and the coqs de prairie (sage-chickens), still young and toothsome at this season, were at no pains to get out of shot. After about five miles we passed by "Three Lakes," dirty little ponds north of the road, two near it and one distant, all about a quarter of a mile apart, and said by those fond of tasting strange things to have somewhat the flavor, as they certainly have the semblence, of soapsuds. Beyond this point we crossed a number of influents of the pretty Sweetwater, some dry, other full: the most interesting was Strawberry Creek: it supplies plenty of fragrant wild fruit, and white and red willows fringe the bed as long as it retains its individuality. To the north a mass of purple nimbus obscured the mountains—on Frémont's Peak it is said always to rain or snow—and left no visible line between earth and sky. Quaking Asp Creek was bone dry. At MacAchran's Branch of the Sweetwater we found, pitched upon a sward near a willow copse, a Provençal Frenchman—by what "hasard que les septiques appellent I'homme d'affaires du bon Dieu" did he come here?—who begged us to stop and give him the news, especially about the Indians: we could say little that was reassuring. Another spell of rough, steep ground placed us at Willow Creek, a pretty little prairillon, with verdure, water, and an abundance of the larger vegetation, upon which our eyes, long accustomed to artemisia and rabbit-bush, dwelt with a compound sense of surprise and pleasure. In a well-built ranch at this place of plenty were two Canadian traders, apparently settled for life; they supplied us, as we found it necessary to "liquor up," with a whisky which did not poison us, and that is about all that I can say for it. At Ford No. 9, we bade adieu to the Sweetwater with that natural regret which one feels when losing sight of the only pretty face and pleasant person in the neighborhood; and we heard with a melancholy satisfaction the driver's tribute to departing worth, viz., that is upper course is the "healthiest water in the world." Near this spot, since my departure, has been founded "South-Pass City," one of the many mushroom growths which the presence of gold in the Rocky Mountains has caused to spring up.
Ten miles beyond Ford No. 9, hilly miles, ending in a long champaign having some of the characteristics of a rolling prairie, with scatters of white, rose, and smoky quartz, granite, hornblende, porphyry, marble-like lime, sandstone, and mica slate—the two latter cropping out of the ground and forming rocky ridges—led us to the South Pass, the great Wasserscheide between the Atlantic and the Pacific, and the frontier points between the territory of Nebraska and the State of Oregon. From the mouth of the Sweetwater, about 120 miles, we have been rising so gradually, almost imperceptibly, that now we unexpectedly find ourselves upon the summit. The distance from Fort Laramie is 320 miles, from St. Louis 1580, and from the mouth of the Oregon about 1400: it is therefore nearly midway between the Mississippi and the Pacific. The dimensions of this memorial spot are 7490 feet above sea-level, and 20 miles in breadth. The last part of the ascent is so gentle that it is difficult to distinguish the exact point where the versant lies: a stony band crossing the road on the ridge of the table-land is pointed out as the place, and the position has been fixed at N. lat. 48° 19', and W. long. 108° 40'. The northern limit is the noble chain of Les Montagnes Rocheuses, which goes by the name of the Wind River; the southern is called Table Mountain, an insignificant mass of low hills.
A pass it is not: it has some of the features of Thermoplæ or the Gorge of Killiecrankie; of the European St. Bernard or Simplon; of the Alleghany Passes or the Mexican Barrancas. It is not, as it sounds, a ghaut between lofty mountains, or, as the traveler may expect, a giant gateway, opening through Cyclopean walls of beetling rocks that rise in forbidding grandeur as he passes onward to the Western continent. And yet the word "Pass" has its significancy. In the New World where Nature has worked upon the largest scale, where every feature of scenery, river and lake, swamp and forest, prairie and mountain, dwarf their congeners in the old hemisphere, this majestic level-topped bluff, the highest steppe of the continent, upon whose iron surface there is space enough for the armies of the globe to march over, is the grandest and the most appropriate of avenues.
A water-shed is always exciting to the traveler. What shall I say of this, where, on the topmost point of American travel, you drink within a hundred yards of the waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans—that divides the "doorways of the west wind" from the "portals of the sunrise?" On the other side of yon throne of storms, within sight, did not the Sierra interpose, lie separated by a trivial space the fountain-heads that give birth to the noblest rivers of the continent, the Columbia, the Colorado, and the Yellow Stone, which is to the Missouri what the Missouri is to the Mississippi, whence the waters trend to four opposite directions: the Wind River to the northeast; to the southeast the Sweetwater and the Platte; the various branches of the Snake River to the northeast; and to the southwest the Green River, that finds its way into the California Gulf. It is suggestive spot, this "divortia aquarum:" it compels Memory to revive past scenes before plunging into the mysterious "Lands of the Here-after," which lie before and beneath the feet. The Great Ferry, which steam has now bridged, the palisaded banks of the Hudson, the soft and sunny scenery of the Ohio, and the kingly course of the Upper Mississippi, the terrible beauty of Niagara, and the marvels of that chain of inland seas which winds its watery way from Ontario to Superior; the rich pasture-lands of the North, the plantations of the semi-tropical South, and the broad cornfields of the West; finally, the vast meadow-land and the gloomy desert-waste of sage and saleratus, of clay and mauvaise terre, of red butte and tawny rock, all pass before the mind in rapid array ere they are thrust into oblivion by the excitement of a new departure.
But we have not yet reached our destination, which is two miles below the South Pass. Pacific Springs is our station; it lies a little down the hill, and we can sight it from the road. The springs are a pond of pure, hard, and very cold water, surrounded by a strip of shaking bog, which must be boarded over before it will bear a man. The hut would be a right melancholy abode were it not for the wooded ground on one hand, and the glorious snow-peaks on the other side of the "Pass." We reached Pacific Springs at 3 P.M., and dined without delay, the material being bouilli and potatoes—usual luxuries. About an hour afterward the west wind, here almost invariable, brought up a shower of rain, and swept a vast veil over the forms of the Wind-River Mountains. Toward sunset it cleared away, and the departing luminary poured a flood a gold upon the majestic pile—I have seldom seen a view more beautiful.
From the south, the barren rolling table-land that forms the Pass trends northward till it sinks apparently below a ridge of offsets from the main body, black with timber—cedar, cypress, fir, and balsam pine. The hand of Nature has marked, as though by line and level, the place where vegetation shall go and no farther. Below the waist the mountains are robed in evergreens; above it, to the shoulders, they would be entirely bare but for the atmosphere, which has thrown a thin veil of light blue over their tawny gray, while their majestic heads are covered with ice and snow, or are hidden from sight by thunder-cloud or the morning mist. From the south, on clear days, the cold and glittering radiance may be seen at a distance of a hundred miles. The monarch of these mountains is "Frémont's Peak;" its height is laid down at 13, 570 feet above sea level; and second to it is a hoary cone called by the station-people Snowy Peak.
That evening the Wind-River Mountains appeared in marvelous majesty. The huge purple hangings of rain-cloud in the northern sky set off their huge proportions, and gave prominence, as in a stereoscope, to their gigantic forms, and their upper heights, hoar with the frosts of ages. The mellow radiance of the setting sun diffused a charming softness over their more rugged features, defining the folds and ravines with a distinctness which deceived every idea of distance. And as the light sank behind the far western horizon, it traveled slowly up the mountain side, till, reaching the summit, it mingled its splendors with the snow—flashing and flickering for a few brief moments, then wasting them in the dark depths of the upper air. Nor was the scene less lovely in the morning hour, as the first effulgence of day fell upon the masses of dew-cloud—at this time mist always settles upon their brows—lit up the peaks, which gleamed like silver, and poured its streams of light and warmth over the broad skirts reposing upon the plain.
This unknown region was explored in August, 1842, by Colonel, then Brevet Captain, J. C. Frémont, of the United States Topographical Engineers; and his eloquent descriptions of the magnificent scenery that rewarded his energy and enterprise prove how easily men write well when they have a great subject to write upon. The concourse of small green tarns, rushing waters, and lofty cascades, with the gigantic disorder of enormous masses, the savage sublimity of the naked rock, broken, jagged ones, slender minarets, needles, and columns, and serrated walls, 2000 to 3000 feet high, all naked and destitute of vegetable earth; the vertical precipices, chasms, fan fissures, insecure icy passages, long moraines, and sloping glaciers—which had nearly proved fatal to some of the party; the stern recesses, shutting out from the world dells and ravines of exquisite beauty, smoothly carpeted with soft grass, kept green and fresh by the moisture of the atmosphere, and sown with gay groups of brilliant flowers, of which yellow was the predominant color: all this glory and grandeur seems to be placed like a picture before our eyes. The reader enjoys, like the explorer, the fragrant odor of the pines, and the pleasure of breathing, in the bright, clear morning, that "mountain air which makes a constant theme of the hunter's praise," and which causes man to feel as if he had been inhaling some exhilarating gas. We sympathize with his joy in having hit upon "such a beautiful entrance to the mountains," in his sorrow, caused by accidents to a barometer and thermometer, and in the honest pride with which, fixing a ramrod in the crevice of "an unstable and precarious slab, which it seemed a breath would hurl into the abyss below," he unfurled the Stars and Stripes, to wave in the breeze where flag never waved before—over the topmost crest of the Rocky Mountains. And every driver upon the road now can tell how, in the profound silence and terrible stillness and solitude that affect the mind as the great features of the scene, while sitting on a rock at the very summit, where the silence was absolute, unbroken by any sound, and the stillness and solitude were completest, a solitary "humble-bee" winging through the black-blue air his flight from the eastern valley, alit upon the knee of one of the men, and, helas! "found a grave in the leaves of the large book, among the flowers collected on the way."
The Wind-River Range has other qualities than mere formal beauty to recommend it. At Horseshoe Creek I was shown a quill full of large gold-grains from a new digging. Probably all the primitive masses of the Rocky Mountains will be found to contain the precious metal. The wooded heights are said to be a very paradise of sport, full of elk and every kind of deer; pumas; bears, brown as well as grizzly; the wolverine; in parts the mountain buffalo—briefly, all the noble game of the Continent. The Indian tribes, Shoshonees and Blackfeet, are not deadly to whites. Washiki, the chief of the former, had, during the time of our visit, retired to hilly ground, about forty miles north of the Foot of Ridge Station. This chief—a fine, manly fellow, equal in point of physical strength to the higher race—had been a firm friend, from the beginning, to emigrant and settler; but he was complaining, according to the road officials, that the small amount of inducement prevented his affording good conduct any longer—that he must rob, like the rest of the tribe. Game, indeed, is not unfrequently found near the Pacific Springs; they are visited, later in the year, by swans, geese, and flights of ducks. As this season they seem principally to attract coyotes—five mules have lately been worried by the little villains—huge cranes, chicken-hawks, a large species of trochilus, and clouds of musquetoes, which neither the altitude, the cold, nor the eternal wind-storm that howls through the Pass can drive from their favorite breeding-bed. Near nightfall a flock of wild geese passed over us, audibly threatening an early winter. We were obliged, before resting, to insist upon a smudge, without which fumigation sleep would have been impossible.
The shanty was perhaps a trifle more uncomfortable than the average; our only seat was a kind of trestled plank, which suggested a certain obsolete military punishment called riding on a rail. The station-master was a bon enfant; but his help, a Mormon lad, still in his teens, had been trained to go in a "sorter" jibbing and somewhat uncomfortable "argufying," "highfalutin'" way. He had the furor for fire-arms that characterizes the ingenuous youth of Great Salt Lake City, and his old rattletrap of a revolver, which always reposed by his side at night, was as dangerous to his friends as to himself. His vernacular was peculiar; like Mr. Boatswain Chucks (Mr. D-------s), he could begin a sentence with polished and elaborate diction, but it always ended, like the wicked, badly. He described himself, for instance, as having lately been "slightly inebriated;" but the euphuistic periphrases concluded with an asseveration that he would be "Gord domned" if he did it again.
The night was, like the day, loud and windy, the log hut being somewhat, crannied and creviced, and the door had a porcelain handle, and a shocking bad fit—a characteristic combination. We had some trouble to keep ourselves warm. At sunrise the thermometer showed 35° Fahrenheit.
We rose early, despite the cold, to enjoy once more the lovely aspect of the Wind-River Mountains, upon whose walls of snow the rays of the unrisen sun broke with splendid effect; breakfasted, and found ourselves en route at 8 A.M. The day did not begin well: Mrs. Dana was suffering severely from fatigue, and the rapid transitions from heat to cold; Miss May, poor child! was but little better, and the team was re-enforced by an extra mule returning to its proper station: this four-footed Xantippe caused us, without speaking of the dust from her hoofs, an immensity of trouble.
At the Pacific Creek, two miles below the springs, we begun the descent of the Western water-shed, and the increase of temperature soon suggested a lower level. We were at once convinced that those who expect any change for the better on the counter-slope of the mountains labor under a vulgar error. The land was desolate, a red waste, dotted with sage and greasebush, and in places pitted with large rain-drops. But, looking backward, we could admire the Sweetwater's Gap heading far way, and the glorious pile of mountains which, disposed in crescent shape, curtained the horizon; their southern and western bases wanted, however, one of the principal charms of the upper view: the snow had well-nigh been melted off. Yet, according to the explorer, they supply within the space of a few miles the Green River with a number of tributaries, which are called the New Forks. We kept them in sight till they mingled with the upper air like immense masses of thunder-cloud gathering for a storm.
From Pacific Creek the road is not bad, but at this season the emigrant parties are sorely tried by drought, and when water is found it is often fetid or brackish. After seventeen miles we passed the junction of the Great Salt Lake and Fort Hall roads. Near Little Sandy Creek—a feeder of its larger namesake—which after rains is about 2-5 feet deep, we found nothing but sand, caked clay, sage, thistles, and the scattered fragments of camp-fires, with large ravens picking at the bleaching skeletons, and other indications of a halting-ground, an eddy in the great current of mankind, which, ceaseless as the Gulf Stream, ever courses from east to west. After a long stage of twenty-nine miles we made Big Sandy Creek, an important influent of the Green River; the stream, then shrunken, was in breadth not less than five rods, each = 16.5 feet, running with clear, swift current through a pretty little prairillon, bright with the blue lupine, the delicate pink malvacea, the golden helianthus, purple aster acting daisy, the white mountain heath, and the green Asclepias tuberosa, a weed common throughout Utah Territory. The Indians, in their picturesque way, term this stream Wágáhongopá, or the Glistening Gravel Water. We halted for an hour to rest and dine; the people of the station, man and wife, the latter very young, were both English, and of course Mormons; they had but lately become tenants of the ranch, but already they were thinking, as the Old Country people will, of making their surroundings "nice and tidy."
Beyond the Glistening Gravel Water lies a mauvaise terre, sometimes called the First Desert, and upon the old road water is not found in the dry season within forty-nine miles—a terrible jornada for laden wagons with tired cattle. We prepared for drought by replenishing all our canteens—one of them especially, a tin flask, covered outside with thick cloth, kept the fluid deliciously cold—and we amused ourselves by the pleasant prospect of seeing wild mules taught to bear harness. The tricks of equine viciousness and asinine obstinacy played by the mongrels were so distinct, that we had no pains in determining what was inherited from the father and what was from the other side of the house. Before they could be hitched up they were severally hustled into something like a parallel line with the pole, and were then forced into their places by a rope attached to the fore wheel, and hauled at the other end by two or three men. Each of these pleasant animals had a bell: it is sure, unless corraled to run away, and at night sound is necessary to guide the pursuer. At last, being "all aboord," we made a start, dashed over the Big Sandy, charged the high stiff bank with an impetus that might have carried us up an otter-slide or a Montagne Russe, and took the right side of the valley, leaving the stream at some distance.
Rain-clouds appeared from the direction of the hills: apparently they had many centres, as the distant sheet was rent into a succession of distinct streamers. A few drops fell upon us as we advanced. Then the fiery sun "ate up" the clouds, or raised them so high that they became playthings in the hands of the strong and steady western gale. The thermometer showed 95° in the carriage, and 111° exposed to the reflected heat upon the black leather cushions. It was observable, however, that the sensation was not what might have been expected from the height of the mercury, and the perspiration was unknown except during severe exercise; this proves the purity and salubrity of the air. In St. Jo and New Orleans the effect would have been that of India or of a Turkish steam-bath. The heat, however, brought with it one evil—a green-headed horsefly, that stung like a wasp, and from which cattle must be protected with a coating of grease and tar. Whenever wind blew, tourbillons of dust coursed over the different parts of the plain, showing a highly electrical state of the atmosphere. When the air was unmoved the mirage was perfect as the sarab in Sindh or Southern Persia; earth and air were so dry that the refraction of the sunbeams elevated the objects acted upon more than I had ever seen before. A sea lay constantly before our eyes, receding of course as we advanced, but in all other points a complete lusus naturœ. The color of the water was a dull cool sky-blue, not white, as the "looming" generally is; the broad expanse had none of the tremulous upward motion which is its general concomitant; it lay placid, still, and perfectly reflecting in its azure depths—here and there broken by projecting capes and bluffs headlands—the forms of the higher grounds bordering the horizon.
After twelve miles' driving we passed through a depression called Simpson's Hollow, and somewhat celebrated in local story. Two semicircles of black still charred the ground; on a cursory view they might have been mistaken for burnt-out lignite. Here, in 1857, the Mormons fell upon a corraled train of twenty-three wagons, laden with provisions and other necessaries for the federal troops, then halted at Camp Scott awaiting orders to advance. The wagoners, suddenly attacked, and, as usual, unarmed—their weapons being fastened inside their awnings—could offer no resistance, and the whole convoy was set on fire except two conveyances, which were left to carry back supplies for the drivers till they could reach their homes. On this occasion the dux facti was Lot Smith, a man of reputation for hard riding and general gallantry. The old Saint is always spoken of as a good man who lives by "Mormon rule of wisdom." As at Fort Sumter, no blood was spilled. So far the Mormons behaved with temper and prudence; but this their first open act of rebellion against or secession from, the federal authority nearly proved fatal to them; had the helm of government been held by a firmer hand than poor Mr. Buchanan's, the scenes of Nauvoo would have been acted again at Great Salt Lake City. As it was, all turned out à merveille for the saints militant. They still boast loudly of the achievement, and on the marked spot where it was perfomed the juvenile emigrants of the creed erect dwarf graves and nameless "wooden" tomb-"stones" in derision of their enemies.
As sunset drew near we approached the banks of the Big Sandy River. The bottom through which it flowed was several yards in breadth, bright green with grass, and thickly feathered with willows and cotton-wood. It showed no sign of cultivation; the absence of cereals may be accounted for by its extreme cold; it freezes there every night, and none but the hardiest grains, oats and rye, which here are little appreciated, could be made to grow. We are now approaching the valley of the Green River, which, like many of the rivers in Eastern States, appears formerly to have filled a far larger channel. Flat tables and elevated terraces of horizontal strata—showing that the deposit was made in still waters—with layers varying from a few lines to a foot in thickness, composed of hard clay, green and other sandstones, and agglutinated conglomerates rise like islands from barren plains, or form escarpments that buttress alternately either bank of the winding stream. Such, according to Captain Stansbury, is the general formation of the land between the South Pass and the "Rim" of the Utah Basin.
Advancing over a soil alternately sandy and rocky—an iron flat that could not boast of a spear of grass—we sighted a number of coyotes, fittest inhabitants of such a waste, and a long, distant line of dust, like the smoke of a locomotive, raised by a herd of mules which were being driven to the corral. We were presently met by the Pony Express rider; he reined in to exchange news, which de part et d' autre were simply nil. As he pricked onward over the plain, the driver informed us, with a portentous rolling of the head, that Ichabod was a'mighty fine "shyoot." Within five or six miles of Green River we passed the boundary stone which bears Oregon on one side and Utah on the other. We had now traversed the southeastern corner of the country of Longeared men, and were entering Deserét, the land of the Honey-bee.
At 6:30 P.M. we debouched upon the bank of the Green River. The station was the home of Mr. Macarthy, our driver. The son of a Scotchman who had settled in the United States, he retained many sings of his origin, especially freckles, and hair which one might almost venture to describe as sandy; perhaps also, at times, he was rather o'er fond of draining "a cup o' kindness yet." He had lately taken to himself an English wife, the daughter of a Birmingham mechanic, who, before the end of her pilgrimage to "Zion on the tops of the mountains," had fallen considerable away from grace, and had incurred the risk of being buffeted by Satan for a thousand years—a common form of commination in the New Faith—by marrying a Gentile husband. The station had the indescribable scent of a Hindoo village, which appears to result from the burning of bois de vache and the presence of cattle: then were sheep, horses, mules and a few cows, the latter so lively that it was impossible to milk them. The ground about had the effect of an oasis in the sterile waste, with grass and shrubs, willows and flowers, wild geraniums, asters, and various cruciferœ. A few trees, chiefly quaking asp, lingered near the station, but dead stumps were far more numerous than live trunks. In any other country their rare and precious shade would have endeared them to the whole settlement; here they were never safe when a log was wanted. The Western man is bred and perhaps born—I believe devoutly in transmitted and hereditary qualities—with an instinctive dislike to timber in general. He fells a tree naturally as a bull-terrier worries a cat, and the admirable woodsman's axe which he has invented only serves to whet his desire to try conclusions with every more venerable patriarch of the forest. Civilized Americans, of course, lament the destructive mania, and the Latter-Day Saints have learned by hard experience the inveterate evils that may arise in such a country from disforesting the ground. We supped comfortably at Green-River Station, the stream supplying excellent salmon trout. The kichimichi, or buffalo berry, makes tolerable jelly, and alongside the station is a store where Mr. Burton (of Maine) sells "Valley Tan" whiskey.
The Green River is the Rio Verde of the Spaniards, who named it from its timbered shores and grassy islets: it is called by the Yuta Indians Piya Ogwe, or the Great Water; by the other tribes Sitskidiágí or "Prairie-grouse River." It was nearly at its lowest when we saw it; the breadth was not more than 330 feet. In the flood-time it widens to 800 feet, and the depth increases form three to six. During the inundation season a ferry is necessary, and when transit is certain the owner sometimes nets $500 a week, which is not unfrequently squandered in a day. The banks are in places thirty feet high, and the bottom may average three miles from side to side. It is a swift-flowing stream, running as if it had no time to lose, and truly it has a long way to go. Its length, volume, and direction entitle it to the honor of being called the head water to the great Rio Colorado, or Colored River, a larger and more important stream than even the Columbia. There is some grand exploration still to be done upon the line of the Upper Colorado, especially the divides which lie between it and its various influents, the Grand River and the Yaquisilla, of which the wild trapper brings home many a marvelous tale of beauty and grandeur. Captain T. A. Gove, of the 10th Regiment of Infantry, then stationed at Camp Floyd, told me that an expedition had often been projected: a party of twenty-five to thirty men, well armed and provided with inflatable boats, might pass without unwarrantable risk though the sparsely populated Indian country: a true report concerning regions of which there are so many false reports, all wearing more or less the garb of fable—beautiful valleys inclosed in inaccessible rocks, Indian cities and golden treasures—would be equally interesting and important. I can not recommend the undertaking to the European adventurer: the United States have long since organized and perfected what was proposed in England during the Crimean war, and which feel, as other projects did, to the ground, namely, a corps of Topographical Engineers, a body of well-trained and scientific explorers, to whose hands the task may safely be committed.
We passed a social evening at Green-River Station. It boasted of no less than three Englishwomen, two married, and one, the help, still single. Not having the Mormonite retenue, the dames were by no means sorry to talk about Birmingham and Yorkshire, their birthplaces. At 9 P. M. arrived one of the road-agents, Mr. Cloete, from whom I gathered that the mail-wagon which once ran from Great Salt Lake City had lately been taken off the road. The intelligence was by no means consolatory, but a course of meditation upon the saying of the sage, "in for a penny, in for a pound," followed by another visit to my namesake's grog-shop, induced a highly philosophical turn, which enabled me—with the aid of a buffalo—to pass a comfortable night in the store.
We were not under way before 8 A. M. Macarthy was again to take the lines, and a Giovinetto returning after a temporary absence to a young wife is not usually rejoiced to run his course. Indeed, he felt the inconveniences of a semi-bachelor life so severely, that he often threatened in my private ear, chemin faisant, to throw up the whole concern.
After the preliminary squabble with the mules, we forded the pebbly and gravelly bed of the river—in parts it looks like a lake exhausted by drainage—whose swift surging waters wetted the upper spokes of the wheels, and gurgled pleasantly around the bags which contained the mail for Great Salt Lake City. We then ran down the river valley, which was here about one mile in breadth, in a smooth flooring of clay, sprinkled with water-rolled pebbles, overgrown in parts with willow, wild cherry, buffalo berries, and quaking asp. Macarthy pointed out in the road-side a rough grave, furnished with the normal tomb-stone, two pieces of wagon-board: it was occupied by one Farren, who had fallen by the revolver of the redoubtable Slade. Presently we came to the store of Michael Martin, an honest Creole, who vended the staple of prairie goods, Champagne, bottled cocktail, "eye-opener," and other liquors, dry goods—linen drapery—a few fancy goods, ribbons, and finery; brandied fruits, jams and jellies, potted provisions, buckskins, moccasins, and so forth. Hearing that Lieutenant Dana was en route for Camp Floyd, he requested him to take charge of $500, to be paid to Mr. Livingston, the sutler, and my companion, with the obligingness that marked his every action, agreed to deliver the dollars, sauve the judgment of God in the shape of Indians, or "White Indians." At the store we noticed a paralytic man. This original lived under the delusion that it was impossible to pass the Devil's Gate: his sister had sent for him to St. Louis, and his friends tried to transport him eastward in chairs; the only result was that he ran away before reaching the Gate, and after some time was brought back by Indians.
Resuming our journey, we passed two places where trains of fifty-one wagons were burned in 1857 by the Mormon Rangers: the black stains had bitten into the ground like the blood-marks in the palace of Holyrood—a neat foundation for a structure of superstition. Not far from it was a deep hole, in which the plunderers had "cached" the iron-work which they were unable to carry away. Emerging from the river plain we entered upon another mauvaise terre, with knobs and elevations of clay and green gault, striped and banded with lines of stone and pebbles: it was a barren, desolate spot, the divide between the Green River and its western influent, the shallow and somewhat sluggish Black's Fork. The name is derived from an old trader: it is called by the Snakes Ongo Ogwe Pa, or "Pine-tree Stream;" it rises in the Bear-River Mountains, drains the swamps and lakelets on the way, and bifurcates its upper bed forming two principal branches, Ham's Fork and Muddy Fork.
Near the Pine-tree Stream we met a horse-thief driving four bullocks: he was known to Macarthy, and did not look over comfortable. We had now fallen into the regular track of Mormon emigration, and saw the wayfarers in their worst plight, near the end of the journey. We passed several families, and parties of women and children trudging wearily along: most of the children were in rags or half nude, and all showed gratitude when we threw them provisions. The greater part of the men were armed, but their weapons were far more dangerous to themselves and their fellows than to the enemy. There is not on earth a race of men more ignorant of arms as a rule than the lower grades of English; becoming an emigrant, the mechanic hears that it may be necessary to beat off Indians, so he buys the first old fire-arm he sees, and probably does damage with it. Only last night a father crossed Green River to beg for a piece of cloth; it was intended to shroud the body of his child, which during the evening had been accidentally shot, and the station people seemed to think nothing of the accident, as if it were of daily recurrence. I was told three, more or less severe, that happened in the course of a month. The Western Americans, who are mostly accustomed to the use of weapons, look upon these awkwardnesses with a profound contempt. We were now in a region of graves, and their presence in this wild was not a little suggestive.
Presently we entered a valley in which green grass, low and dense willows, and small but shady trees, an unusually vigorous vegetation, refreshed, as though with living water, our eyes, parched and dazed by the burning glare. Stock strayed over the pasture, a few Indian tents rose at the farther side; the view was probably pas grand' chose, but we thought it splendidly beautiful. At midday we reached Ham's Fork, the northwestern influent of Green River, and there we found a station. The pleasant little stream is called by the Indian Turugempa, the "Blackfoot Water."
The station was kept by an Irishman and a Scotchman—'Dawvid Lewis:" it was a disgrace; the squalor and filth were worse almost than the two—Cold Springs and Rock Creek—which we called our horrors, and which had always seemed to be the ne plus ultra of Western discomfort. The shanty was made of dry stone piled up against a dwarf cliff to save back wall, and ignored doors and windows. The flies—unequivocal sign of unclean living!—darkened the table and covered every thing put upon it; the furniture, which mainly consisted of the different parts of wagons, was broken, and all in disorder; the walls were impure, the floor filthy. The reason was at once apparent. Two Irishwomen, sisters, were married to Mr. Dawvid, and the house was full of "childer," the noisiest and most rampageous of their kind. I could hardly look upon the scene without disgust. The fair ones had the porcine Irish face— I need hardly tell the reader that there are three orders of physiognomy in that branch of the Keltic family, viz., porcine, equine, and simian—the pig-faced, the horse-faced, and the monkey-faced. Describing one I describe both sisters; her nose was "pugged," apparently by gnawing hard potatoes before that member had acquired firmness and consistency; her face was powdered with freckles; her hair, and, indeed, her general costume, looked, to quote Mr. Dow's sermon, as though she had been rammed through a bush fence into a world of wretchedness and woe. Her dress was unwashed and in tatters, and her feet were bare; she would not even take the trouble to make for herself moccasins. Moreover, I could not but notice that, though the house contained two wives, it boasted only one cubile, and had only one cubicalum. Such things would excite no surprise in London or Naples, or even in many of the country parts of Europe; but here, where ground is worthless, and building material is abundant, and where a few hours of daily labor would have made the house look at least respectable, I could not but wonder at it. My first impulse was to attribute the evil, uncharitably enough, to Mormonism; to renew, in fact, the stock-complaint of nineteen centuries' standing—
"Fœcunda culpæ secula nuptias
Primùm inquinavere, et genus et domus."
A more extended acquaintance with the regions west of the Wasach taught me that the dirt and discomfort were the growth of the land. To give the poor devils their due, Dawvid was civil and intelligent, though a noted dawdler, as that rare phenomenon, a Scotch idler, generally is. Moreover, his wives were not deficient in charity; several Indians came to the door, and none went away without a "bit" and a "sup." During the process of sketching one of these men, a Snake, distinguished by his vermilion'd hair-parting, eyes blackened as if by lines of soot or surma, and delicate Hindoo-like hands, my eye fell upon the German-silver handle of a Colt's revolver, which had been stowed away under the blankets, and a revolver in the Lamanite's hands breeds evil suspicions.
Again we advanced. The air was like the breath of a furnace; the sun was a blaze of fire—accounting, by-the-by, for the fact, that the human nose in these parts seems invariably to become cherry-red—all the nullahs were dried up, and the dust-pillars and mirage were the only moving objects on the plain. Three times we forded Black's Fork, and then debouched once more upon a long flat. The ground was scattered over with pebbles of granite, obsidian, flint, and white, yellow, and smoky quartz, all water-rolled. After twelve miles we passed Church Butte, one of many curious formations lying to the left hand or south of the road. This isolated mass of stiff clay had been cut and ground by wind and rain into folds and hollow channels which from a distance perfectly simulate the pillars, groins, and massive buttresses of a ruinous Gothic cathedral. The foundation is level, except where masses have been swept down by the rain, and not a blade of grass grows upon any part. An architect of genius might profitably study this work of Nature: upon that subject, however, I shall presently have more to say. The Butte is highly interesting in a geological point of view; it shows the elevation of the adjoining plains in past ages, before partial deluges and the rains of centuries had effected the great work of degradation.
Again we sighted the pretty valley of Black's Fork, whose cool clear stream flowed merrily over its pebbly bed. The road was now populous with Mormon emigrants; some had good teams, other hand-carts, which looked like a cross between a wheel-barrow and a tax-cart. There was nothing repugnant in the demeanor of the party; they had been civilized by traveling, and the younger women, who walked together and apart from the men, were not too surly to exchange a greeting. The excessive barrenness of the land presently diminished; gentian and other odoriferous herbs appeared, and the greasewood, which somewhat reminded me of the Sindhian camel-thorn, was of a lighter green than elsewhere, and presented a favorable contrast with the dull glaucous hues of the eternal prairie sage. We passed a dwarf copse so strewed with the bones of cattle as to excite our astonishment: Macarthy told us that it was the place where the 2d Dragoons encamped in 1857, and lost a number of their horses by cold and starvation. The wolves and coyotes seemed to have retained a predilection for the spot; we saw troops of them in their favorite "location"—the crest of some little rise, whence they could keep a sharp look-out upon any likely addition to their scanty larder.
After sundry steep inclines we forded another little stream, with a muddy bed, shallow, and about thirty feet wide: it is called Smith's Fork, rises in the "Bridger Range" of the Uinta Hills, and sheds into Black's Fork, the main drain of those parts. On the other side stood Millersville, a large ranch with a whole row of unused and condemned wagons drawn up on one side. We arrived at 5:15 P.M., having taken three hours and fifteen minutes to get over twenty miles. The tenement was made of the component parts of vehicles, the chairs had backs of yoke-bows, and the fences which surrounded the corral were of the same material. The station was kept by one Holmes, an American Mormon, and an individual completely the reverse of genial; he dispensed his words as if shelling out coin, and he was never—by us at least—seen to smile. His wife was a pretty young Englishwoman, who had spent the best part of her life between London and Portsmouth; when alone with me she took the opportunity of asking some few questions about old places, but this most innocent tête-à- tête was presently interrupted by the protrusion through the open door of a tête de mari au naturel, which a truly refrogné and vinegarish aspect, which made him look like a calamity. After supplying us with a supper which was clean and neatly served, the pair set out for an evening ride, and toward night we heard the scraping of a violin, which reminded me of Tommaso Scarafaggio:
"Detto il sega del villagio
Perché suona il violino."
The "fiddle" was a favorite instrument with Mr. Joseph Smith, as the harp with David; the Mormons, therefore, at the instance of their prophet, are not a little addicted to the use of the bow. We spent a comfortable night at Millersville. After watching the young moon as she sailed through the depths of a firmament unstained by the least fleck of mist, we found some scattered volumes which rendered us independent of our unsocial Yankee host.
We breakfasted early the next morning, and gladly settled accounts with the surly Holmes, who had infected—probably by following the example of Mr. Caudle in later life—his pretty wife with his own surliness. Shortly after starting—at 8:30 A.M.—we saw a little clump of seven Indian lodges, which our experience soon taught us were the property of a white; the proprietor met us on the road, and was introduced with due ceremony by Mr. Macarthy. "Uncle Jack" (Robinson, really) is a well-known name between South Pass and Great Salt Lake City; he has spent thirty-four years in the mountains, and has saved some $75,000, which have been properly invested at St. Louis; as might be expected, he prefers the home of his adoption and his Indian spouse, who has made him the happy father of I know not how many children, to good society and bad air farther east.
Our road lay along the valley of Black's Fork, which here flows from the southwest to the northeast; the bottom produced in plenty luxuriant grass, the dandelion, and the purple aster, thickets of a shrub-like hawthorn (cratœgus), black and white currants, the willow and cotton-wood. When almost in sight of the military post we were addressed by two young officers, one of them an assistant surgeon, who had been engaged in the healthful and exciting pursuit of a badger, whose markings, by-the-by, greatly differ from the European; they recognized the uniform, and accompanied us to the station.
Fort Bridger lies 124 miles from Great Salt Lake City; according to the drivers, however, the road might be considerably shortened. The position is a fertile basin cut into a number of bits by Black's Fork, which disperses itself into four channels about 1.5 mile above the station, and forms again a single bed about two miles below. The fort is situated upon the westernmost islet. It is, as usual, a mere cantonment, without any attempt at fortification, and at the time of my visit was garrisoned by two companies of foot, under the command of Captain F. Gardner, of the 10th Regiment. The material of the houses is pine and cedar brought from the Uinta Hills, whose black flanks supporting snowy cones rise at the distance of about thirty-five miles. They are a sanitarium, except in winter, when under their influence the mercury sinks to –20° F., not much less rigorous than Minnesota, and they are said to shelter grizzly bears and an abundance of smaller game.
The fort was built by Colonel James Bridger, now the oldest trapper on the Rocky Mountains, of whom Messrs. Frémont and Stansbury have both spoken in the highest terms. He divides with Christopher Carson, the Kit Carson of the Wind River and the Sierra Nevada explorations, the honor of being the best guide and interpreter in the Indian country: the palm for prudence is generally given to the former; for dash and hard fighting to the latter, although, it is said, the mildest mannered of men. Colonel Bridger, when an Indian trader, placed this post upon a kind of neutral ground between the Snakes and the Crows (Hapsaroke) on the north, the Ogalalas and other Sioux to the east, the Arapahoes and Cheyennes on the south, and the various tribes of the Yutas (Utahs) on the southwest. He had some difficulties with the Mormons, and Mrs. Mary Ettie Smith, in a volume concerning which something will be said at a future opportunity, veraciously reports his barbarous murder, some years ago, by the Danite band. He was at the time of my visit absent on an exploratory expedition with Captain Raynolds.
Arrived at Fort Bridger, our first thought was to replenish our whisky-keg: its emptiness was probably due to the "rapid evaporation in such an elevated region imperfectly protected by timber;" but, however that may be, I never saw liquor disappear at such a rate before. Pur parenthèse, our late friends the officials had scarcely been more fortunate: they had watched their whiskey with the eyes of Argus, yet, as the driver facetiously remarked, though the quantity did not diminish too rapidly, the quality lost strength every day. We were conducted by Judge Carter to a building which combined the function of post-office and sutler's store, the judge being also sutler, and performing both parts, I believe, to the satisfaction of every one. After laying in an ample provision of biscuits for Miss May and korn-schnapps for ourselves, we called upon the commanding officer, who introduced us to his officers, and were led by Captain Cumming to his quarters, where, by means of chat, "solace-tobacco," and toddy—which in these regions signifies "cold with"—we soon worked our way through the short three quarters of an hour allowed us. The officers complained very naturally of their isolation and unpleasant duty, which principally consisted in keeping the roads open for, and the Indians from cutting off, parties of unmanageable emigrants, who look upon the federal army as their humblest servants. At Camp Scott, near Bridger, the army of the federal government halted under canvas during the severe winter of 1857-1858, and the subject is still sore to military ears.
We left Bridger at 10 A.M. Macarthy explained away the disregard for the comfort of the public on the part of the contractors in not having a station at the fort by declaring that they could obtain no land in a government reservation; moreover, that forage there would be scarce and dear, while the continual influx of Indians would occasion heavy losses in cattle. At Bridger the road forks: the northern line leads to Soda or Bear Springs, the southern to Great Salt Lake City. Following the latter, we crossed the rough timber bridges that spanned the net-work of streams, and entered upon another expanse of degraded ground, covered as usual with water-rolled pebbles of granite and porphyry, flint and greenstone. On the left was a butte with a steep bluff sides, called the Race-course: the summit, a perfect mesa, is said to be quite level, and to measure exactly a mile round—the rule of the American hippodrome. Like these earth formations generally, it points out the ancient level of the land before water had washed away the outer film of earth's crust. The climate in this part, as indeed every where between the South Pass and the Great Salt Lake Valley, was an exaggeration of the Italian, with hot days, cool nights, and an incomparable purity and tenuity of atmosphere. We passed on the way a party of emigrants numbering 359 souls and driving 39 wagons. They were commanded by the patriarch of Mormondom, otherwise Captain John Smith, the eldest son of Hyrum Smith, a brother of Mr. Joseph Smith the Prophet, and who, being a child at the time of the murderous affair at Carthage, escaped being coiffe'd with the crown of martyrdom. He rose to the patriarchate on the 18th of February, 1855; his predecessor was "old John Smith"—uncle to Mr. Joseph, and successor to Mr. Hyrum Smith—who died the 23rd of May, 1854. He was a fair-complexioned man, with light hair. His followers accepted gratefully some provisions with which we could afford to part.
After passing the Mormons we came upon a descent which appeared little removed from an angle of 35°, and suggested the propriety of walking down. There was an attempt at a zigzag, and, for the benefit of wagons, a rough wall of stones had been run along the sharper corners. At the foot of the hill we remounted, and, passing through a wooded bottom, reached at 12 15 P.M.—after fording the Big Muddy—Little Muddy Creek, upon whose banks stood the station. Both these streams are branches of the Ham's Fork of Green River; and, according to the well-known "rule of contrairy," their waters are clear as crystal, showing every pebble in their beds.
Little Muddy was kept by a Canadian, a chatty, lively, good-humored fellow blessed with a sour English wife. Possibly the heat—the thermometer showed 95° F. in the shade—had turned her temper; fortunately, it had not similarly affected the milk and cream, which were both unusually good. Jean-Baptiste, having mistaken me for a Française de France, a being which he seemed to regard as little lower than the angels—I was at no pains to disabuse him—was profuse in his questionings concerning his imperial majesty, the emperor, carefully confounding him with the first of the family; and so pleased was he with my responses, that for the first time on that route I found a man ready to spurn cet animal féroce qu'on appelle la pièce de cinq francs—in other words, the "almighty dollar."
We bade adieu to Little Muddy at noon, and entered a new country, a broken land of spurs and hollows, in parts absolutely bare, in others clothed with a thick vegetation. Curiously shaped hills, and bluffs of red earth capped with a clay which much resembled snow, bore a thick growth of tall firs and pines whose sombre uniform contrasted strangely with the brilliant leek-like, excessive green foliage, and the tall, note-paper-colored trunks of the ravine-loving quaking asp (Populus tremuloides). The mixture of colors was bizarre in the extreme, and the lay of the land, an uncouth system of converging, diverging, and parallel ridges, with deep divisions—in one of these ravines, which is unusually broad and grassy, rise the so-called Copperas Springs—was hardly less striking. We ran winding along a crest of rising ground, passing rapidly, by way of farther comparison, two wretched Mormons, man and woman, who were driving, at a snail's pace, a permanently lamed ox, and after a long ascent stood upon the summit of Quaking-Asp Hill.
Quaking-Asp Hill, according to the drivers, is 1000 feet higher than the South Pass, which would exalt its station to 8400 feet; other authorities, however, reduce it to 7900. The descent was long and rapid—so rapid, indeed that oftentimes when the block of wood which formed our brake dropped a bit of the old shoesole nailed upon it to prevent ignition, I felt, as man may be excused for feeling, that catching of the breath that precedes the first five-barred gate after a night of "heavy wet." The sides of the road were rich in vegetation, stunted oak, black-jack, and box elder of the stateliest stature; above rose the wild cherry, and the service-tree formed the bushes below. The descent, besides being decidedly sharp, was exceedingly devious, and our frequent "shaves"—a train of Mormon wagons was crawling down at the same time—made us feel somewhat thankful that we reached the bottom without broken bones.
The train was commanded by a Captain Murphy, who, as one might expect from the name, has hoisted the Stars and Stripes—it was the only instance of such loyalty seen by us on the Plains. The emigrants had left Council Bluffs on the 20th of June, an unusually late date, and, though weather-beaten, all looked well. Inspirited by our success in surmounting the various difficulties of the way, we "poked fun" at an old Yorkshireman, who was assumed, by way of mirth, to be a Cœlebs in search of polygamy at an epoch of life when perhaps the blessing might come too late; and at an exceedingly plain middle-aged and full-blooded negro woman, who was fairly warned—the children of Ham are not admitted to the communion of the Saints, and consequently to the forgiveness of sins and a free seat in Paradise—that she was "carrying coals to Newcastle."
As the rays of the sun began to slant we made Sulphur Creek; it lies at the foot of a mountain called Rim Base, because it is the eastern wall of the great inland basin; westward of this point the waters can no longer reach the Atlantic or the Pacific; each is destined to feed the lakes,
Beyond Sulphur Creek, too, the face of the country changes; the sedimentary deposits are no longer seen; the land is broken and confused, upheaved into huge masses of rock and mountains broken by deep kanyons, ravines, and water-gaps, and drained by innumerable streamlets. The exceedingly irregular lay of the land makes the road devious, and the want of level ground, which is found only in dwarf parks and prairillons, would greatly add to the expense of a railway. We crossed the creek, a fetid stagnant water, about ten feet wide, lying in a bed of black infected mud: during the spring rains, when flowing, it is said to be wholesome enough. On the southern side of the valley there are some fine fountains, and on the eastern are others strongly redolent of sulphur; broad seams of coal crop out from the northern bluffs, and about a mile distant in the opposite direction are the Tar Springs, useful for greasing wagon-wheels and curing galled-backed horses.
Following the valley, which was rough and broken as it well could be, we crossed a small divide, and came upon the plain of the Bear River, a translation of the Indian Kuiyápá. It is one of the most important tributaries of the Great Salt Lake. Heading in the Uinta Range to the east of Kamas Prairie, it flows with a tortuous course to the northwest, till, reaching Beer Springs, it turns sharply round with a horseshoe bend, and sets to the southwest, falling into the general reservoir at a bight called Bear-River Bay. According to the mountaineers, it springs not far from the sources of the Weber River and of the Timpanogos Water. Coal was found some years ago upon the banks of the Bear River, and more lately near Weber River and Silver Creek. It is the easternmost point to which Mormonism can extend main forte; for fugitives from justice "over Bear River" is like "over Jordan." The aspect of the valley, here half a mile broad, was prepossessing. Beyond a steep terrace, or step which compelled us to all dismount, the clear stream, about 400 feet in width, flowed through narrow lines of willows, cotton-wood, and large trees, which waved in the cool refreshing western wind; grass carpeted the middle levels, and above all rose red cliffs and buttresses of frowning rock.
We reached the station at 5:30 P.M. The valley was dotted with the tents of Mormon emigrants, and we received sundry visits of curiosity; the visitors, mostly of the sex conventionally termed the fair, contented themselves with entering, sitting down, looking hard, tittering to one another, and departing with Parthian glances that had little power to hurt. From the men we heard tidings of "a massacree" of emigrants in the north, and a defeat of Indians in the west. Mr. Myers, the station-master, was an English Saint, who had lately taken to himself a fifth wife, after severally divorcing the others; his last choice was not without comeliness, but her reserve was extremely; she could hardly be coaxed out of a "Yes, sir." I found Mr. Myers diligently perusing a translation of "Volney's Ruins of Empire;" we had a chat about the Old and the New Country, which led us to sleeping-teme. I had here a curious instance of the effect of the association of words, in hearing a by-stander apply to the Founder of Christianity the "Mr." which is the "Kyrios" of the West, and is always prefixed to "Joseph Smith:" he stated that the mission of the latter was "far ahead of" that of the former prophet, which, by-the-by, is not the strict Mormon doctrine. My companion and his family preferred as usual the interior of the mail-wagon, and it was well that they did so; after a couple of hours entered Mr. Macarthy, very drunk and "fighting mad." He called for supper, but supper was past and gone, so he supped upon "fids" of raw meat. Excited by this lively food, he began a series of caprioles, which ended, as might be expected, in a rough-and-tumble with the other three youths who occupied the hard floor of the ranch. To Mr. Macarthy's language on that occasion horresco referens; every word was apparently English, but so perverted, misused, and mangled, that the home reader would hardly have distinguished it from High-Dutch: e.g., "I'm intire mad as a meat-axe; now du don't, I tell ye; say, you, shut up in a winkin', or I'll be chawed up if I don't run over you; 'can't come that 'ere tarnal carryin' on over me," and—O si sic omnia! As no weapons, revolvers, or bowie-knives were to the fore, I thought the best thing was to lie still and let the storm blow over, which it did in a quarter of an hour. Then, all serene, Mr. Macarthy called for a pipe, excused himself ceremoniously to himself for taking the liberty with the "Cap's." meerschaum solely upon the grounds that it was the only article of the kind to be found at so late an hour, and presently fell into a deep slumber upon a sleeping contrivance composed of a table for the upper and a chair for the lower portion of his person. I envied him the favors of Morpheus: the fire soon died out, the cold wind whistled through the crannies, and the floor was knotty and uneven.
At 8 15 A.M. we were once more en voyage. Mr. Macarthy was very red-eyed as he sat on the stool of penitence: what seemed to vex him most was having lost certain newspapers directed to a friend and committed to his private trust, a mode of insuring their safe arrival concerning which he had the day before expressed the highest opinion. After fording Bear River—this part of the land was quite a grave-yard—we passed over rough ground, and, descending into a bush, were shown on a ridge to the right a huge Stonehenge, a crown of broken and somewhat lanceolate perpendicular conglomerates or cemented pudding-stones called not inappropriately Needle Rocks. At Egan's Creek, a tributary of the Yellow Creek, the wild geraniums and the willows flourished despite the six feet of snow which sometimes lies in these bottoms. We then crossed Yellow Creek, a water trending northeastward, and feeding, like those hitherto forded, Bear River: the bottom, a fine broad meadow, was a favorite camping-ground, as the many fire-places proved. Beyond the stream we ascended Yellow-Creek Hill, a steep chain which divides the versant of the Bear River eastward from that of Weber River to the west. The ascent might be avoided, but the view from the summit is a fine panorama. The horizon behind us is girt by a mob of hills, Bridger's Range, silver-veined upon a dark blue ground; nearer, mountains and rocks, cones and hog-backs, are scattered about in admirable confusion, divided by shaggy rollers and dark ravines, each with its own little water-course. In front the eye runs down the long bright red line of Echo Kanyon [Canyon], and rests with astonishment upon its novel and curious features, the sublimity of its broken and jagged peaks, divided by dark abysses, and based upon huge piles of disjointed and scattered rock. On the right, about half a mile north of the road, and near the head of the kanyon, is place that adds human interest to the scene. Cache Cave is a dark, deep, natural tunnel in the rock, which has sheltered many a hunter and trader from wild weather and wilder men: the wall is probably of marl and earthy limestone, whose whiteness is set off by the ochrish brick-red of the ravine below.
Echo Kanyon has a total length of twenty-five to thirty miles, and runs in a southeasterly direction to the Weber River. Near the head it is from half to three quarters of a mile wide, but it's irregularity is such that no average breadth can be assigned to it. The height of the buttresses on the right or northern side varies from 300 to 500 feet; they are denuded and water-washed by the storms that break upon them under the influence of southerly gales; their strata here are almost horizontal; they are inclined at an angle of 45°, and the strike is northeast and southwest. The opposite or southern flank, being protected from the dashing and weathering of rain and wind, is a mass of rounded soil-clad hills, or sloping slabs of rock, earth-veiled, and growing tussocks of grass. Between them runs the clear, swift, bubbling stream, in a pebbly bed now hugging one, then the other side of the chasm: it has cut its way deeply below the surface; the banks or benches of stiff alluvium are not unfreqently twenty feet high; in places it is partially dammed by the hand of Nature, and every where the watery margin is the brightest green, and overgrown with grass, nettles, willow thickets, in which the hop is conspicuous, quaking asp, and other taller trees. Echo Kanyon has but one fault: its sublimity will make all similar features look tame.
We entered the kanyon in somewhat a serious frame of mind; our team was headed by a pair of exceedingly restive mules; we had remonstrated against the experimental driving being done upon our vile bodies, but the reply was that the animals must be harnessed at some time. We could not, however, but remark the wonderful picturesqueness of a scene—of a nature which in parts seemed lately to have undergone some grand catastrophe. The gigantic red wall on our right was divided into distinct blocks or quarries by a multitude of minor lateral kanyons, which, after rains, add their tribute to the main artery, and each block was subdivided by the crumbling of the softer and the resistance of the harder material—a clay conglomerate. The color varied in places from white and green to yellow, but for the most part it was a dull ochrish red, that brightened up almost to a straw tint where the sunbeams fell slantingly upon it from the strip of blue above. All served to set off the curious architecture of the smaller masses. A whole Petra was there, a system of projecting prisms, pyramids, and pagoda towers, a variety of form that enabled you to see whatever your peculiar vanity might be—columns, porticoes, façades, and pedestals. Twin lines of bluffs, a succession of buttresses all fretted and honeycombed, a double row of steeples slipped from perpendicularity, frowned at each other across the gorge. And the wondrous variety was yet more varied by the kaleidoscopic transformation caused by change of position: at every different point the same object bore a different aspect.
And now, while we are dashing over the bouldered crossings; while our naughty mules, as they tear down the short steep pitches, swing the wheels of the mail-wagon within half a foot of the high bank's crumbling edge; while poor Mrs. Dana closes her eyes and clasps her husband's hand, and Miss May, happily unconscious of all peril, amuses herself by perseveringly perching upon the last toe that I should have been inclined to offer, the monotony of risk may be relieved by diverting our thoughts to the lessons taught by the scenery around.
An American artist might extract from such scenery as Church Butte and Echo Kanyon a system of architecture as original and national as Egypt ever borrowed from her sandstone ledges, or the North of Europe from the solemn depths of her fir forests. But Art does not at present exist in America; as among their forefathers farther east, of artists they have plenty, of Art nothing. We can explain the presence of the phenomenon in England, where that grostesqueness and bizarrerie of taste which is observable in the uneducated, and which, despite collections and art-missions, hardly disappears in those who have studied the purest models, is the natural growth of man's senses and perceptions exposed for generation after generation to the unseen, unceasing, ever-active effect of homely objects, the desolate aspects of the long and dreary winters, and the humidity which shrouds the visible world with its dull gray coloring. Should any one question the fact that Art is not yet English, let him but place himself in the centre of the noblest site in Europe, Trafalgar Square, and own that no city in the civilized world ever presented such a perfect sample of barbarous incongruity, from mast-headed Nelson with his coil behind him, the work of the Satirist's "one man and small boy," to the two contemptible squirting things that throw water upon the pavement at his feet. Mildly has the "Thunderer" described it as the "chosen home of exquisite dullness and stilted mediocrity." The cause above assigned to the fact is at least reasonable. Every traveler, who, after passing through the fruitful but unpicturesque orchard grounds lying between La Manche and Paris, and the dull flats, with their melancholy poplar lines, between Paris and Lyons, arrives at Avignon, and observes the picturesqueness which every object, natural or artificial, begins to assume, the grace and beauty which appear even in the humblest details of scenery, must instinctively feel that he is entering the land of Art. Not of that Art which depends for development upon the efforts of a few exceptional individuals, but the living art which the constant contemplation of a glorious nature,
makes part of a people's organization and development. Art, heavenly maid, is not easily seduced to wander far from her place of birth. Born and cradled upon the all-lovely shores of that inland sea, so choicely formed by Nature's hand to become the source and center of mankind's civilization, she loses health and spirits in the frigid snowy north, while in the tropical regions—Nubia and India—her mind is vitiated by the rank and luxuriant scenery around her. A "pretty bit of home scenery," with dumpy church tower—battlemented as the house of worship ought not to be—on the humble hill, red brick cottages, with straight tiled roofs and parallelogramic casements, and dwelling-houses all stiff-ruled lines and hard sharp angles, the straight road and the trimmed hedgerow—such scenery, I assert, never can make an artistic people; it can only lead, in fact, to a nation's last phase of artistic bathos—a Trafalgar Square.
The Anglo-Americans have other excuses, but not this. Their broad lands teem with varied beauties of the highest order, which it would be tedious to enumerate. They have used, for instance, the Indian corn for the acanthus in their details of architecture—why can not they try a higher flight? Man may not, we readily grant, expect to be a great poet because Niagara is a great cataract; yet the presence of such objects must quicken the imagination of the civilized as the savage race that preceded him. It is true that in America the class that can devote itself exclusively to the cultivation and the study of refinement and art is still, comparatively speaking, small; that the care of politics, the culture of science, mechanical and theoretic, and the pursuit of cash, have at present more hold upon the national mind than what is disposed to consider the effeminating influences of the humanizing studies; that, moreover, the efforts of youthful genius in the body corporate, as in the individual, are invariably imitative, leading through the progressive degrees of reflection and reproduction to originality. But, valid as they are, these reasons will not long justify such freaks as the Americo-Grecian capitol at Richmond, a barn with the tritest of all exordiums, a portico which is original in one point only, viz., that it wants the portico's only justification—steps; or the various domes originally borrowed from that bulb which has been demolished at Washington, scattered over the country, and suggesting the idea that the shape has been borrowed from the butt end of a sliced cucumber. Better far the warehouses of Boston, with their monoliths and frontages of rough Quincy granite; they, at least, are unpretending, and of native growth: no bad test of the native mind.
After a total of eighteen miles we passed Echo Station, a half-built ranch, flanked by well-piled haystacks for future mules. The ravine narrowed as we advanced to merge gorge, and the meanderings of the stream contracted the road and raised the banks to a more perilous height. A thicker vegetation occupied the bottom, wild roses and dwarfish oaks contending for the mastery of the ground. About four miles from the station we were shown a defile where the Latter-Day Saints, in 1857, headed by General D. H. Wells, now the third member of the Presidency, had prepared modern Caudine Forks for the attacking army of the United States. Little breastworks of loose stones, very like the "sangahs" of the Affghan Ghauts, had been thrown up where the precipices commanded the road, and there were four or five remains of dams intended to raise the water above the height of the solders' ammunition pouches. The situation did not appear to me well chosen. Although the fortified side of the bluff could not be crowned on account of deep chasms that separate the various blocks, the southern acclivities might have been occupied by sharpshooters so effectually that the fire from the breastworks would soon have been silenced; moreover, the defenders would have risked being taken in rear by a party creeping through the chapparal in the sole of the kanyon. Mr. Macarthy related a characteristic trait concerning two warriors of the Nauvoo Legion. Unaccustomed to perpendicular fire, one proposed that his comrade should stand upon the crest of the precipice and see if the bullet reached him or not; the comrade, thinking the request highly reasonable, complied with it, and received a yäger-ball through his forehead.
Traces of beaver were frequent in the torrent-bed; the "broad-tailed animal" is now molested by the Indians rather than by the whites. On this stage magpies and ravens were unusually numerous; foxes slunk away from us, and on one of the highest bluffs a coyote stood as on a pedestal; as near Baffin Sea, these craggy peaks are their favorite howling-places during the severe snowy winters. We longed for a thunder-storm: flashing lightnings, roaring thunders, stormy winds, and dashing rains—in fact, a tornado—would be the fittest setting for such a picture, so wild, so sublime as Echo Kanyon. But we longed in vain. The day was persistently beautiful, calm and mild as a May forenoon in the Grecian Archipelago. We were also disappointed in our natural desire to hold some converse with the nymph who had lent her name to the ravine—the reverberation is said to be remarkably fine—but the temper of our animals would not have endured it, and the place was not one that admitted experiments. Rain had lately fallen, as we saw from the mud-puddles in the upper course of the kanyon, and the road was in places pitted with drops which were not frequent enough to allay the choking dust. A fresh yet familiar feature now appeared. The dews, whose existence we had forgotten on the prairies, were cold and clammy in the early mornings; the moist air, condensed by contact with the cooler substances on the surface of the ground, stood in large drops upon the leaves and grasses. As we advanced the bed of the ravine began to open out, the angle of descent became more obtuse; a stretch of level ground appeared in front, where for some hours the windings of the kanyon had walled us in, and at 2 30 P.M. we debouched upon the Weber-River Station. It lies at the very mouth of the ravine, almost under the shadow of lofty red bluffs, called "The Obelisks;" and the green and sunny landscape, contrasting with the sterile grandeur behind, is exceedingly pleasing.
After the emotions of the drive, a little rest was by no means unpleasant. The station was tolerably comfortable, and the welcome addition of potatoes and onions to our usual fare was not to be despised. The tenants of the ranch were Mormons, civil and communicative. They complained sadly of the furious rain-storms, which the funnel-like gorge brings down upon them, and the cold draughts from five feet deep of snow which pour down upon the milder valley.
At 4 30 we resumed our journey along the plain of the Weber or Webber River. It is second in importance only to the Bear River: it heads near the latter, and, flowing in a devious course toward the northwest, falls into the Great Salt Lake a few miles south of its sister stream, and nearly opposite Frémont's Island. The valley resembles that described in yesterday's diary; it is, however, narrower, and the steep borders, which, if water-washed, would be red like the kanyon rocks, are well clothed with grass and herbages. In some places the land is defended by snake-fences in zigzags, to oppose the depredations of emigrants' cattle upon the wheat, barley, and stunted straggling corn within. After fording the river and crossing the bottom, we ascended steep banks, passed over a spring of salt water five miles from the station, and halted for a few minutes to exchange new with the mail-wagon that had left Great Salt Lake City this (Friday) morning. Followed a rough and rugged tract of land apparently very trying to the way-worn cattle; many deaths had taken place at this point, and the dead lay well preserved as the monks of St. Bernard. After a succession of chuck-holes, rises, and falls, we fell into the valley of Bauchmin's Creek. It is a picturesque hollow; at the head is a gateway of red clay, through which the stream passes; the sides also are red, and as the glow and glory of the departing day lingered upon the heights, even artemisia put on airs of bloom and beauty, blushing in contrast with the sharp metallic green of the quaking asp and the duller verdure of the elder (Alnus viridis). As the evening closed in, the bottom-land became more broken, the path less certain, and the vegetation thicker: the light of the moon, already diminished by the narrowness of the valley, seemed almost to be absorbed by the dark masses of copse and bush. We were not sorry to make, at 7 45 P.M., the "Carson-House Station" at Bauchmin's Fork—the traveling had been fast, seven miles an hour—where we found a log hut, a roaring fire, two civil Mormon lads, and some "fixins" in the way of food. We sat for a time talking about matters of local importance, the number of emigrants, and horse-thieves, for prospects of the road, and the lay of the land. Bauchmin's Fork, we learned, is a branch of East Kanyon Creek, itself a tributary of the Weber River; from the station an Indian trail leads over the mountains to Provo City. I slept comfortably enough upon the boards of an inner room, not, however, without some apprehensions of accidentally offending a certain skunk (Mephitis mephitica), which was in the habit of making regular nocturnal visits. I heard its puppy-like bark during the night, but escaped what otherwise might have happened.
And why, naturally asks the reader, did you not shut the door? Because there was none.
To-day we are to pass over the Wasa[t]ch, the last and highest chain of the mountain mass between Fort Bridger and the Great Salt Lake Valley, and—by the aid of St. James of Compostella, who is, I believe, bound over to be the patron of pilgrims in general—to arrive at our destination, New Hierosolyma, or Jerusalem, alias Zion on the tops of the mountains, the future city of Christ, where the Lord is to reign over the Saints, as a temporal king, in power and great glory.
So we girt our loins, and started, after a cup of tea and a biscuit, at 7 A.M., under the good guidance of Mr. Macarthy, who, after a whiskyless night, looked forward not less than ourselves to the run in. Following the course of Bauchmin's Creek, we completed the total number of fordings to thirteen in eight miles. The next two miles were along the bed of a water-course, a complete fiumara, through a bush full of tribulus, which accompanied us to the end of the journey. Presently the ground became rougher and steeper: we alighted, and set our beasts manfully against "Big Mountain," which lies about four miles from the station. The road bordered upon the wide arroyo, a tumbled bed of block and boulder, with water in places oozing and trickling from the clay walls, from the sandy soil, and from beneath the heaps of rock—living fountains these, most grateful to the parched traveler. The synclinal slopes of the chasm were grandly wooded with hemlocks, firs, balsam-pines, and other varieties of abies, some tapering up to the height of ninety feet, with an admirable regularity of form, color, and foliage. The varied hues of the quaking asp were there; the beech, the dwarf oak, and a thicket of elders and wild roses; while over all the warm autumnal tints already mingled with the bright green of summer. The ascent became more and more rugged: this steep pitch, at the end of a thousand miles of hard work and semi-starvation, causes the death of many a wretched animal, and we remarked that the bodies are not inodorous among the mountains as on the prairies. In the most fatiguing part we saw a hand-cart halted, while the owners, a man, a woman, and a boy, took breath. We exchanged a few consolatory words with them and hurried on. The only animal seen on the line, except the grasshopper, whose creaking wings gave forth an ominous note, was the pretty little chirping squirrel. The trees, however, in places bore the marks of huge talons, which were easily distinguished as the sign of bears. The grizzly does not climb except when young: this was probably the common brown variety. At half way the gorge opened out, assuming more the appearance of a valley; and in places, for a few rods, were dwarf stretches of almost level ground. Toward the Pass-summit the rise is sharpest: here we again descended from the wagon, which the four mules had work enough to draw, and the total length of its eastern rise was five miles. Big Mountain lies eighteen miles from the city. The top is a narrow crest, suddenly forming an acute based upon an obtuse angle.
From that eyrie, 8000 feet above sea level, the weary pilgrim first sights his shrine, the object of his long wanderings, hardships, and perils, the Happy Valley of the Great Salt Lake. The western horizon, when visible, is bounded by a broken wall of light blue mountain, the Oquirrh, whose northernmost bluff buttresses the southern end of the lake, and whose eastern flank sinks in steps and terraces into a river basin, yellow with the sunlit golden corn, and somewhat pink with its carpeting of heath-like moss. In the foreground a semicircular sweep of hill-top and an inverted arch of rocky wall shuts out all but a few spans of the valley. These heights are rough with a shaggy forest, in some places black-green, in others of brownish-red, in others of the lightest ash-color, based upon a ruddy soil; while a few silvery veins of snow still streak the bare gray rocky flanks of the loftiest peak.
After a few minutes' delay to stand and gaze, we resumed the footpath way, while the mail-wagon, with wheels rough-locked, descended what appeared to be an impracticable slope. The summit of the Pass was well-nigh cleared of timber; the woodman's song informed us that the evil work was still going on, and that we are nearly approaching a large settlement. Thus stripped of their protecting fringes, the mountains are exposed to the heat of summer, that sends forth countless swarms of devastating crickets, grasshoppers, and blue-worms; and to the wintry cold, that piles up, four to six feet high—the mountain-men speak of thirty and forty—the snows drifted by the unbroken force of the winds. The Pass from November to February can be traversed by nothing heavier than "sleighs," and during the snow-storms even these are stopped. Falling into the gorge of Big Kanyon Creek, after a total of twelve hard miles from Bauchmin's Fork, we reached at 11 30 the station that bears the name of the water near which it is built. We were received by the wife of the proprietor, who was absent at the time of our arrival; and half stifled by the thick dust and the sun, which had raised the glass to 103°, we enjoyed copious draughts—tant soit peu qualified—of the cool but rather hard water that trickled down the hill into a trough by the house side. Presently the station-master, springing from his light "sulky," entered, and was formally introduced to us by Mr. Macarthy as Mr. Ephe Hanks. I had often heard of this individual as one of the old triumvirate of Mormon desperadoes, the other two being Orrin Porter Rockwell and Bill Hickman—as the leader of the dreaded Danite band, and, in short, as a model ruffian. The ear often teaches the eye to form its pictures: I had eliminated a kind of mental sketch of those assassin faces which one sees on the Apennines and Pyrenees, and was struck by what met the eye of sense. The "vile villain," as he has been called by anti-Mormon writers, who verily do not try to ménager their epithets, was a middle-sized, light-haired, good-looking man, with regular features, a pleasant and humorous countenance, and the manly manner of his early sailor life, touched with the rough cordiality of the mountaineer. "Frank as a bear-hunter" is a proverb in these lands. He had, like the rest of the triumvirate, and like most men (Anglo-Americans) of desperate courage and fiery, excitable temper, a clear, pale blue eye, verging upon gray, and looking as if it wanted nothing better than to light up, together with a cool and quiet glance that seemed to shun neither friend nor foe.
The terrible Ephe began with a facetious allusion to all our new dangers under the roof of a Danite, to which, in similar strain, I made answer that Danite or Damnite was pretty much the same to me. After dining, we proceeded to make trial of the air-cane, to which he took, as I could see by the way he handled it, and by the nod with which he acknowledged the observation, "almighty convenient sometimes not to make a noise, Mister," a great fancy. He asked me whether I had a mind to "have a slap" at his namesake, an offer which was gratefully accepted, under the promise that "cuffy" should previously be marked down so as to save a long ride and a troublesome trudge over the mountains. His battery of "killb'ars" was heavy and in good order, so that on this score there would have been no trouble, and the only tool he bade me bring was a Colt's revolver, dragoon size. He told me that he was likely to be in England next year, when he had set the "ole woman" to her work. I suppose my look was somewhat puzzled, for Mrs. Dana graciously explained that every Western wife, even when still, as Mrs. Ephe was, in her teens, commands that venerable title, venerable, though somehow not generally coveted.
From Big Kanyon Creek Station to the city, the driver "reckoned," was a distance of seventeen miles. We waited till the bright and glaring day had somewhat burned itself out; at noon heavy clouds came up from the south and southwest, casting a grateful shade and shedding a few drops of rain. After taking friendly leave of the "Danite" chief—whose cordiality of manner had prepossessed me strongly in his favor—we entered the mail-wagon, and prepared ourselves for the finale over the westernmost ridge of the stern Wasa[t]ch.
After two miles of comparatively level ground we came to the foot of "Little Mountain," and descended from the wagon to relieve the poor devils of mules. The near slope was much shorter, but also it was steeper far than "Big Mountain." The counter-slope was easier, though by no means pleasant to contemplate with the chance of accident to the brake, which in all inconvenient places would part with the protecting shoe-sole. Beyond the eastern foot, which was ten miles distant from our destination, we were miserably bumped and jolted over the broken ground at the head of Big Kanyon [Canyon]. Down this pass, whose name is a translation of the Yuta name Obitkokichi, a turbulent little mountain stream tumbles over its boulder-bed, girt with the usual sunflower, vines of wild hops, red and white willows, cotton-wood, quaking asp, and various bushes near its cool watery margin, and upon the easier slopes of the ravine, with the shin or dwarf oak (Quercus nana), mountain mahogany, balsam, and other firs, pines, and cedars. The road was a narrow shelf along the broader of the two spaces between the stream and the rock, and frequent fordings were rendered necessary by the capricious wanderings of the torrent. I could not but think how horrid must have been its appearance when the stout-hearted Mormon pioneers first ventured to thread the defile, breaking their way through the dense bush, creeping and clinging like flies to the sides of the hills. Even now accidents often occur; here, as in Echo Kanyon, we saw in more than one place unmistakable signs of upsets in the shape of broken spokes and yoke-bows. At one of the most ticklish turns Macarthy kindly pointed out a little precipice where four of the mail passengers fell and broke their necks, a pure invention on his part, I believe, which fortunately, at the moment, did not reach Mrs. Dana's ears. He also entertained us with many a tale, of which the hero was the redoubtable Hanks: how he had slain a buffalo bull single-handed with a bowie-knife; and how, on one occasion, when refused hospitality by his Lamanite brethren, he had sworn to have the whole village to himself, and had redeemed his vow by reappearing in cuerpo, with gestures so maniacal that the sulky Indians all fled, declaring him to be "bad medicine." The stories had at least local coloring.
In due time, emerging from the gates, and portals, and deep serrations of the upper course, we descended into a lower level: here Big, now called Emigration Kanyon [Canyon], gradually bulges out, and its steep slopes of grass and fern, shrubbery and stunted brush, fall imperceptibly into the plain. The valley presently lay full before our sight. At this place the pilgrim emigrants, like the hajjis of Mecca and Jerusalem, give vent to the emotions long pent up within their bosoms by sobs and tears, laughter and congratulations, psalms and hysterics. It is indeed no wonder that the children dance, that strong men cheer and shout, and that nervous women, broken with fatigue and hope deferred, scream and faint; that the ignorant should fondly believe that the "Spirit of God pervades the very atmosphere," and that Zion on the tops of the mountains is nearer heaven than other parts of earth. In good sooth, though uninfluenced by religious fervor—beyond the natural satisfaction of seeing a bran-new Holy City—even I could not, after nineteen days in a mail-wagon, gaze upon the scene without emotion.
The sublime and the beautiful were in present contrast. Switzerland and Italy lay side by side. The magnificent scenery of the past mountains and ravines still floated before the retina, as emerging from the gloomy depths of the Golden Pass—the mouth of Emigration Kanyon [Canyon] is more poetically so called—we came suddenly in view of the Holy Valley of the West.
The hour was about 6 P.M.; the atmosphere was touched with a dreamy haze, as it generally is in the vicinity of the lake; a little bank of rose-colored clouds, edged with flames of purple and gold, floated in the upper air, while the mellow radiance of an American autumn, that bright interlude between the extremes of heat and cold, diffused its mild soft lustre over the face of earth.
The sun, whose slanting rays shone full in our eyes, was setting in a flood of heavenly light behind the bold, jagged outline of "Antelope Island," which, though distant twenty miles to the northwest, hardly appeared to be ten. At its feet, and then bounding the far horizon, lay, like a band of burnished silver, the Great Salt Lake, that still innocent Dead Sea. Southwestward also, and equally deceptive as regards distance, rose the boundary of the valley plain, the Oquirrh Range, sharply silhouetted by a swept of sunshine over its summits, against the depths of an evening sky, in that direction so pure, so clear, that vision, one might fancy, could penetrate behind the curtain into regions beyond the confines of man's ken. In the brilliant reflected light, which softened off into a glow of delicate pink, we could distinguish the lines of Brigham's, Coon's, and other kanyons, which water has traced through the wooded flanks of the Oquirrh down to the shadows already purpling the misty benches at their base. Three distinct and several shades, light azure, blue, and brown-blue, graduated the distances, which extended at least thirty miles.
The undulating valley-plain between us and the Oquirrh Range is 12-15 miles broad, and markedly concave, dipping in the centre like the section of a tunnel, and swelling at both edges into bench-lands, which mark the ancient bed of the lake. In some parts the valley was green; in others, where the sun shot its oblique beams, it was of a tawny yellowish-red, like the sands of the Arabian desert, with scatters of trees, where the Jordan of the West rolls its opaline wave through pasture-lands of dried grass dotted with flocks and herds, and fields of ripening yellow corn. Every thing bears the impress of handiwork, from the bleak benches behind to what was once a barren valley in front. Truly the Mormon prophecy had been fulfilled: already the howling wilderness—in which twelve years ago a few miserable savages, the half-naked Digger Indians, gathered their grass-seed, grasshoppers, and black crickets to keep life and soil together, and awoke with their war-cries the echo of the mountains, and the bear, the wolf, and the fox prowled over the site of a now populous city—"has blossomed like the rose."
This valley—this lovely panorama of green, and azure, and gold—this land, fresh, as it were, from the hands of God, is apparently girt on all sides of hills: the highest peaks, raised 7000 to 8000 feet above the plain of their bases, show by gulches veined with lines of snow that even in this season winter frowns upon the last smile of summer.
Advancing, we exchanged the rough cahues and the frequent fords of the ravine for a broad smooth highway, spanning the easternmost valley-bench—a terrace that drops like a Titanic step from the midst of the surrounding mountains to the level of the present valley-plain. From a distance—the mouth of Emigration Kanyon [Canyon] is about 4•30 miles from the city—Zion, which is not on a hill, but, on the contrary, lies almost in the lowest part of the river-plain, is completely hid from sight, as if no such thing existed. Mr. Macarthy, on application, pointed out the notabilia of the scene.
Northward, curls of vapor ascending from a gleaming sheet—the Lake of the Hot Springs—set in a bezel of emerald green, and bordered by another lake-bench upon which the glooms of evening were rapidly gathering, hung like a veil of gauze around the waist of the mountains. Southward for twenty-five miles stretched the length of the valley, with the little river winding its way like a silver thread in a brocade of green and gold. The view in this direction was closed by "Mountain Point," another formation of terraced range, which forms the water-gate of Jordan, and which conceals and separates the fresh water that feeds the Salt Lake—the Sea of Tiberias [Tiberius] from the Dead Sea.
As we descend the Wasa[t]ch Mountains, we could look back and enjoy the view of the eastern wall of the Happy Valley. A little to the north of Emigration Kanyon, and about one mile nearer the settlement, is the Red Butte, a deep ravine, whose quarried sides show mottlings of the light ferruginous sandstone which was chosen for building the Temple wall. A little beyond it lies the single City of the Dead, decently removed three miles from the habitations of the living, and farther to the north is City-Creek Kanyon [Canyon], which supplies the Saints with water for drinking and for irrigation. Southeast of Emigration Kanyon are other ravines, Parley's, Mill Creek, Great Cotton-wood, and Little Cottonwood, deep lines winding down the timbered flanks of the mountains, and thrown into relief by the darker and more misty shading of the farther flank-wall.
The "Twin Peaks," the highest points of the Wasach Mountains, are the first to be powdered over with the autumnal snow. When a black nimbus throws out these piles, with their tilted-up rock strata, jagged edges, black flanks, rugged brows, and bald heads gilt by a gleam of sunset, the whole stands boldly out with that phase of sublimity of which the sense of immensity is the principal element. Even in the clearest of weather they are rarely free from a fleecy cloud, the condensation of cold and humid air rolling up the heights of vanishing only to be renewed.
The bench-land then attracted our attention. The soil is poor, sprinkled with thin grass, in places showing a suspicious whiteness, with few flowers, and chiefly producing a salsolaceous plant like the English samphire. In many places lay long rows of bare circlets, like deserted tent-floors; they proved to be ant-hills, on which light ginger-colored swarms were working hard to throw up the sand and gravel that every where in this valley underlie the surface. The eastern valley-bench, upon whose western declivity the city lies, may be traced on a clear day along the base of the mountains for a distance of twenty miles: its average breadth is about eight miles.
After advancing about 1•50 mile over the bench ground, the city by slow degrees broke upon our sight. It showed, one may readily believe, to special advantage after the succession of Indian lodges, Canadian ranchos, and log-hut mail-stations of the prairies and the mountains. The site has been admirably ch[o]sen for drainage and irrigation—so well, indeed, that a "Deus ex machinâ" must be brought to account for it. About two miles north, and overlooking the settlements from a height of 400 feet, a detached cone, called Ensign Peak or Ensign Mount, rises at the end of a chain which, projected westward from the main range of the heights, overhangs and shelters the northeastern corner of the valley. Upon this "big toe of the Was[at]ch Range," as it is called by a local writer, the spirit of the martyred prophet, Mr. Joseph Smith, appeared to his successor, Mr. Brigham Young, and pointed out to him the position of the New Temple, which, after Zion had "got up into the high mountain," was to console the Saints for the loss of Nauvoo the Beautiful. The city—it is about two miles broad—runs parallel with the right bank of the Jordan, which forms its western limit. It is twelve to fifteen miles distant from the western range, ten from the debouchure of the river, and eight to nine from the nearest point of the lake—a respectable distance, which is not the least of the position's merits. It occupies the rolling brow of a slight decline at the western base of the Wasach—in fact, the lower, but not the lowest level of the eastern valley-bench; it has thus a compound slope from north to south, on the line of its water supplies, and from east to west, thus enabling it to drain off into the river.
The city revealed itself, as we approached, from behind its screen, the inclined terraces of the upper table-land, and at last it lay stretched before us as upon a map. At a little distance the aspect was somewhat Oriental, and in some points it reminded me of modern Athens without the Acropolis. None of the building, except the Prophet's house, were whitewashed. The material—the thick, sun-dried abode, common to all part of the Eastern world—was of a dull leaden blue, deepened by the atmosphere to a gray, like the shingles of the roofs. The number of gardens and compounds—each tenement within the walls originally received 1.50 square acre, and those outside from five to ten acres, according to their distance—the dark clumps and lines of bitter cotton-wood, locust, or acacia, poplars and fruit-trees, apples, peaches, and vines—how lovely they appeared, after the baldness of the prairies!—and, finally, the fields of long-eared maize and sweet sorghum strengthened the similarity to an Asiatic rather than to an American settlement. The differences presently became as salient. The farm-houses, with their stacks and stock, strongly suggested the Old Country. Moreover, domes and minarets—even churches and steeples—were wholly wanting, an omission that somewhat surprised me. The only building conspicuous from afar was the block occupied by the present Head of the Church. The court-house, with its tinned Muscovian dome, at the west end of the city; the arsenal, a barn-like structure, on a bench below the Jebel Nur of the valley—Ensign Peak; and a saw-mill, built beyond the southern boundary, were the next in importance.
On our way we passed the vestiges of an old moat, from which was taken the earth for the bulwarks of Zion. A Romulian wall, of puddle, mud, clay, and pebbles, six miles—others say 2600 acres—in length, twelve feet high, six feet broad at the base, and two and three quarters at the top, with embrasures five to six feet above the ground, and semi-bastions at half musket range, was decided, in 1853-54, to be necessary, as a defense against the Lamanites, whose name in the vulgar is Yuta Indians. Gentiles declare that the bulwarks were erected because the people wanting work were likely to "strike" faith, and that the amount of labor expended upon this folly would have irrigated as many thousand acres. Anti-Mormons have, of course, detected in the proceeding treacherous and treasonable intentions. Parenthetically, I must here warn the reader that in Great Salt Lake City there are three distinct opinions concerning, three several reasons for, and three diametrically different accounts of, every thing that happens, viz., that of the Mormons, which is invariably one-sided; that of the Gentiles, which is sometimes fair and just; and that of the anti-Mormons, which is always prejudiced and violent. A glance will show that this much-talked-of fortification is utterly harmless; it is commanded in half a dozen places; it could not keep out half a dozen sappers for a quarter of an hour; and now, as it has done its work, its foundations are allowed to become salt, and to crumble away.
The road ran through the Big Field, southeast of the city, six miles square, and laid off in five-acre lots. Presently, passing the precincts of habitation, we entered, at a slapping pace, the second ward, called Denmark, from its tenants, who mostly herd together. The disposition of the settlement is like that of the nineteenth century New-World cities—from Washington to the future metropolis of the great Terra Australis—a system of right angles, the roads, streets, and lanes, if they can be called so, intersecting one another. The advantages or disadvantages of the rectangular plan have been exhausted in argument; the new style is best suited, I believe, for the New, as the old must, perforce, remain in the Old World. The suburbs are thinly settled; the mass of habitation lie around and south of Temple Block. The streets of the suburbs are mere roads, cut by deep ups and downs, and by gutters on both sides, which, though full of pure water, have no bridge save a plank at the trottoirs. In summer the thoroughfares are dusty, in wet weather deep with viscid mud.
The houses are almost all of one pattern—a barn shape, with wings and lean-tos, generally facing, sometimes turned endways to the street, which gives a suburban look to the settlement; and the diminutive casements show that window-glass is not yet made in the Valley. In the best abodes the abode rests upon a few courses of sandstone, which prevent undermining by water or ground-damp, and it must always be protected by a coping from the rain and snow. The poorer are small, low, and hut-like; others are long single-storied buildings, somewhat like stables, with many entrances. The best houses resemble East Indian bungalows, with flat roofs, and low, shady verandas, well trellised, and supported by posts or pillars. All are provided with chimneys, and substantial doors to keep out the piercing cold. The offices are always placed, by hygienic reasons, outside; and some have a story and a half—the latter intended for lumber and other stores. I looked in vain for the out-house harems, in which certain romancers concerning things Mormon had informed me that wives are kept, like any other stock. I presently found this but one of a multitude of delusions. Upon the whole, the Mormon settlement was a vast improvement upon its contemporaries in the valleys of the Mississippi and the Missouri.
The road through the faubourg was marked by posts and rails, which, as we advanced toward the heart of the city, were replaced by neat palings. The garden-plots were small, as sweet earth must be brought down from the mountains; and the flowers were principally those of the Old Country—the red French bean, the rose, the geranium, and the single pink; the ground or winter cherry was common; so were nasturtiums; and we saw tansy, but not that plant for which our souls, well-nigh weary of hopes juleps long deferred, chiefly lusted—mint. The fields were large and numerous, but the Saints have too many and various occupations to keep them, Moravian-like, neat and trim; weeds overspread the ground; often the wild sunflower-tops outnumbered the heads of maize. The fruit had suffered from an unusually nipping frost in May; the peach-trees were barren; the vines bore no produce; only a few good apples were in Mr. Brigham Young's garden, and the watermelons were poor, yellow, and tasteless, like the African. On the other hand, potatoes, onions cabbages, and cucumbers were good and plentiful, the tomato was ripening every where, fat full-eared wheat rose in stacks, and crops of excellent hay were scattered about near the houses. The people came to their doors to see the mail-coach, as if it were the "Derby dilly" of old, go by. I could not but be struck by the modified English appearance of the colony, and by the prodigious numbers of the white-headed children.
Presently we debouched upon the main thoroughfare, the centre of population and business, where the houses of the principal Mormon dignitaries and the stores of the Gentile merchants combine to form the city's only street which can be properly so called. It is, indeed, both street and market, for, curious to say, New Zion has not yet built for herself a baza[a]r or market-place. Nearly opposite the Post-office, is a block on the eastern side, with a long veranda, supported by trimmed and painted posts, was a two-storied, pent-roofed building, whose sign-board, swinging to a tall, gibbet-like flag-staff, dressed for the occasion, announced it to be the Salt Lake House, the principal, if not the only establishment of the kind in New Zion. In the Far West, one learns not to expect much of the hostelry; I had not seen aught so grand for many a day. Its depth is greater than its frontage, and behind it, secured by a porte cochère, is a large yard for corraling cattle. A rough-looking crowd of drivers, drivers' friends, and idlers, almost every man openly armed with revolver and bowie-knife, gathered round the doorway to greet Jim, and "prospect" the "new lot;" and the host came out to assist us in transporting our scattered effects. We looked vainly for a bar on the ground floor; a bureau for registering names was there, but (temperance, in public at least, being the order of the day) the usual tempting array of bottles and decanters was not forthcoming; up stairs we found a Gentile ballroom, a tolerably furnished sitting-room, and bedchambers, apparently made out of a single apartment by partitions too thin to be strictly agreeable. The household had its deficiencies; blacking, for instance, had run out, and servants could not be engaged till the expected arrival of the hand-cart train. However, the proprietor, Mr. Townsend, a Mormon, from the State of Maine—when expelled from Nauvoo, he had parted with land, house, and furniture for $50—who had married an Englishwoman, was in the highest degree civil and obliging, and he attended personally to our wants, offered his wife's services to Mrs. Dana, and put us all in the best of humors, despite the closeness of the atmosphere, the sadness ever attending one's first entrance into a new place, the swarms of "emigration flies"—so called because they appear in September with the emigrants, and, after living for a month, die off with the first snow—and a certain populousness of bedstead, concerning which the less said the better. Such, gentle reader, are the results of my first glance at Zion on the tops of the mountains, in the Holy City of the Far West.
Our journey had occupied nineteen days, from the 7th to the 25th of August, both included; and in that time we had accomplished not less than 1136 statute miles.