"From the Plains," New York Daily Times, 23 July 1852
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Correspondence of the St. Louis Intelligencer.
PLATTE RIVER, OPPOSITE FORT LARAMIE, June 9,
We arrived here yesterday morning, after a journey of two weeks, from New Fort Kearney. Our route has been a somewhat different one from that of any previous emigration. We crossed the main Platte twenty miles above New Fort Kearney, to the north side; the ford proved to be a good one, owing to the great width of the river, which is at this point two miles in width. On the north side of the river we found a much better grade, good roads, and water. Timber is entirely lost sight of for two hundred miles, but we found an abundance of buffalo chips, answering very well for fuel. The emigration on the north side of the river is much greater than that on the south, the great mass of them hailing from Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Along the Platte the principal growth consists of very coarse grass, and a few cotton-woods and willows, and stunted cedars. Upon the plains we found short, hard grass, much of the last year's growth, recently burned and still burning in every direction, and within fifty miles of Fort Laramie, we have met with cactus and wild sage. The only animals seen have been buffalo, antelope, wolves and prairie doges, but we been have fortunate enough to obtain a bountiful supply of buffalo and antelope. Four of our party were surrounded by some hundreds of buffalo a few days since, and were in imminent danger of being trodden to death. The meat I think rather course, and inferior to our home beef. The excitement of a Buffalo hunt, with a company of good fellows, is, in itself, worth the journey here. The scenery for the past seventy miles has been in some places approaching the grand, the ancient bluff ruins, resembling fortifications, castles, &c., in ruins, on the north side of the road, Chimney Rock and Capital Hills on the south side, are worthy the pencil of an artist. The weather has been excessively warm until the night of the 5th, when a heavy, cold rain set in, since which time we have had October weather, rendering our overcoats quite comfortable.
We do not find the destruction of property along the road so great as in former years. I have met with only five deserted cattle and one horse. I learn by inquiry that a great portion of the emigration have too small a quantity of provisions, and I fear they will suffer. I obtained from the store at Fort Laramie yesterday the scale of prices of leading articles: Coffee 40c,; Sugar (scarce) 75c.; Tea (inferior) $2.50; Tobacco (good) $3; Smoking Tobacco (St Louis make) $1; Flour (at Commissary's) $10.50 P 100 lbs.; Ribbed Sides $15--all other articles in proportion. The charge for shoeing horses is $8 each.
I find the buildings in good repair, and well adapted for their present use; the dwellings are of frame, two stories high, with double porches and railings, painted white; the small outbuildings, stables, &c., are of adobes. There is a good blacksmith and wagon-maker's shop here, very accommodating to those who pay them handsomely; there are, also, three bakeries, where the poor emigrant can obtain an apology for a loaf of bread at forty cents, and a small dried apple pie for fifty cents. Capt. KETCHUM is in command here with sixty-four privates, all now in good health. Mr. TUTT superintends the store, where a full supply of "chicken fixins" can be obtained at remunerating prices. The Government have a ferry across the Platte, within two miles of the fort, in charge of two mountain men, very accommodating also, at the most exorbitant prices--eight dollars for ferrying four horse team, twenty-five cents for foot passengers.
Yesterday a band of Dacotah Indians crossed at the ferry. They are well-dressed, fine looking Indians, owning a large number of horses, more comfortable, and better supplied with articles of comfort than any other tribe I have yet met with.