Fannie De C. Miller.

Snap notes of an eastern trip, from diary of Fannie de C. Miller online

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sign, passes us on to a small tunnel, which wafts
my thoughts back to San Rafael. A quiet,
charming little fertile valley runs north from
this spot, which is lost to the eye in the dark
some depths of the rugged Rockies. Wild
flowers cheer the wayside with their bright
presence, and are like the low, soft voices of
cherished friends calling us down from con
templation of those tremendous boulders and
bluffs that have been holding our hearts in
awe and admiration.

Along here we enter a tunnel so many feet
in length that it takes four minutes to pass
through; then comes Tennessee Pass tunnel,
which is noted by Mrs. Murphy as I slept, the
drowsy influence having possessed me for the
first time. I awake with a chill, and, noting the
altitude, am physically aware that the raw air
is due to the uiimelted snow on the sculptur
esque chain of the Rockies surrounding us, the
first snow we have seen. A small hamlet, Bar-
netts, rapidly followed by Riverside, and we
glide through pleasant plains, with the Denver
and Rio Grande Narrow Gauge on our left.
The rocks are less precipitous and imposing.



28



Before us spread vast fields of potatoes and
grain, with a clear, limpid stream flowing
through them. In one field hay cutting had
begun. The country now resembles California,
since crossing the range. The tortuous Mar
shall Pass is entrancing in its fear-inspiring
grandeur. At 5:30 p. M. we are brought into
Salida, and dinner announced, of which we
partake con gusto. "Monte Christo Hotel" be
longs to the Rio Grande Company, and the
meal was the best we have had since leaving
California, even before "the buffet went on
with Malone," at Ogden.

Walking around for a few minutes, Maud
and I swell our spoon collection, and all re-
enter the train, after a last glance at the Swiss
style and setting of the hotel in the midst of
created beauty. We hear a puff and a screech
and away we go, leaving Salida, on the Arkan
sas, beautifully embedded in leafy solitudes.
My girl cousins and self are seated upon the
platform and steps to view the country, and I
note Texas Creek as one of the stations. We
are speeding, they say, at the rate of twenty-five
miles per hour, and almost repeating the "scen
ery of the Rio Grande in Texas Creek Canon.
We arrive at a place lettered "SALOON," what
ever that meam, six miles from the Royal Gorge
of the Arkansas, which we are anxiously, wait-



OVER THE DENVER AND RIO GRANDE. 29

ing to behold. The sable wings of night are
silently folding, yet we hope to view the gorge-
like storied " Melrose " by moonlight. The
river is on our right, \\nld and wide, seething,
tumbling over broken rocks, with fantastic
shadows lurking o er its troubled bosom, whilst
it roars in hollow tones to the echo of the wind
ing abyssmal chasm. Canon City, a prettily-
set place of several thousand inhabitants, on
the Arkansas, backed by mountains, is happily
a breathing-place after the suppressed emotion
inspired by the most sublimely grand vista in
the scenic history of wonderful Colorado. The
magnificent bluffs of the Royal Gorge loom sky
ward three thousand feet, some of them over
hanging the train, rendering the wild landscape
charmingly fascinating in its awful danger.

Silence falls upon the trio; awe is expressed
in every feature; and I lookup with a sense of
devotion, picturing the sky reaching down to
kiss the ambitious brows of the lofty cliffs,
leaving breath thereon in form of curling
clouds. These almost star-high reaching ram
parts of God s solid masonry climb higher and
higher, each more imposing in imperial su
premacy than the last, on either side of the
passageway through which the river and our
iron horse race.

As we, in tremorous fear, continue to gaze



30 SNAP NOTES.

upward, in all the dignity of silence, at God s
matchless work, the night clouds lower, but an
other bend in the high-walled canon shows the
moon bursting in brilliant effulgence of shim
mering silver upon the sinuous river, over
which is flung, in clearly mirrored outlines,
branches and limbs of poplar, willow, and cot-
tonwood, making a weird picture for black and
white effect.

We enter the drawing room, and I sit by the
window watching all the moon reveals. I
pleasurably note the rippling, dimpling, purl
ing river running beside us, then curving away
to hide amid trees and shrubbery, the moon
rays glittering upon its bosom, and casting
smiling beams upon rock and tree and stream
alike, yet received differently by each. Mr.
and Mrs. C., of Philadelphia, are spending the
evening with us, in our drawing room. At
nine o clock p. M. we draw up at Pueblo, an
important city, on the Arkansas River also,
receiving its name from the fact that it re
mains on the site of an old Mexican pueblo,
which means town. The tourist, from the
train, observes for the most prominent feature
an elegant hotel of stone, built at enormous
cost, standing at the depot, presenting a sub
stantial appearance. At one gable end is a
tall tower, embracing a clock. The street cars



OVER THE DENVER AND RlO GRANDE. 31

run over an elevated bridge spanning the rail
road near the hotel and adding to its business
effect. The location of the city, in the heart
of such a rich State, with so many natural
advantages, cannot fail to speed its rapid prog
ress towards becoming the " leading manufac
turing center between the Missouri River and
Pacific Coast." Gliding slowly on, the dark,
deep waters of the river course through the
city, and the number of railroad tracks prove
the importance of Pueblo s position as a com
mercial mart. Scudding away we come to
Colorado Springs, a healthful, fashionable, and
.romantic resort. Our Philadelphia acquaint
ances leave us here, and I peer out for a view of
the surroundings, but, like the Garden of the
Gods, which misty half-light prevented a view
of, now this lovely spot too is obscured, yet
I succeed in catching a glimpse of a Monte
Christan scene on the mountain ledge west of
the town, where electric lights play fantastic
pranks with stray moonbeams. They tell me
it is Colorado Springs Hotel, a beautiful and
popular resort, It is now 11:30 o clock p. M.
We are heading for Denver, and are about to
retire, to allow weary nature her just repose.



CHAPTER III.

FEOM DENVER TO DETROIT.

August 21, Friday.

T^TJE were called early this morning, as our

train steamed into Denver, and, rising
immediately, dressed quickly, leaving our Pull
man sleeper, "Estrella," with fond farewell and
mental gratitude for its very comfortable con
veyance of us so far. We take a carriage and
drive to the "Windsor," a fine house, conducted
on the English plan, have breakfast, and come
to our rooms to prepare for an outing. The
morning is lovely, balmy, and fresh, the air
keen and invigorating. We boarded the cable
car, and rode the length of Larimer Street and
back, took transfers to Sixteenth Street, the
most superb and interesting thoroughfare in
Denver, walled on both sides with immense
stone and brick business buildings, and farther
out residences of wealthy people fill the sight,
green lawns and pretty gardens please, and
everything presents a heavy, massive appear
ance, owing, I suppose, to the stone, to which J

(32)



FROM DENVER TO DETROIT. 33

am, as a California!!, unaccustomed, it began
raining soon after we started out, and has con
tinued all day. Returning for our lunch, and
to write some letters and telegrams, at three
o clock we ordered a carriage and drove all
around the phenomenal city, of over one hun
dred thousand inhabitants, thence up "Castle
Hill," where everything to be shown we saw.
The residences and homes of merchants, bank
ers, cattle kings and mine owners, ex-governors,
senators, and other noted individuals, are re
markably elegant. The house of Senator
Tabor is a superb structure, and that of Mr.
Porter, the greatest cattle king of Colorado, is
the finest in the city, the interior decorations
alone having cost a comfortable fortune. The
stone State house, uncompleted, is being erected,
at a cost of $3,000,000, and promises to be supe
rior to any public building in the great West.
In driving about we pass by the St. Mary s
Academy for young ladies, conducted by the
Sisters of Loretta, a large, commodious brick
building. We make some purchases, com
memorative of our visit, and return to the
Windsor. Dine at six, and at half past eight
take the train for Omaha, en route for Chicago.
Mrs. Murphy secured the "Garda" on the
vestibule sleeper of the Burlington route, and
we are again very comfortably situated, and
3



34 SNAP NOTES.

happy as heretofore. The prime adventure
of the drawing room was experienced by Mrs.
Murphy, but her own diary must furnish the
details. After we retired, I experienced ex
treme cold, and remembered, with a longing
heart, my sealskin coat, over a thousand miles
away. With the first streaks of dawn we were
aroused for breakfast, and partook of it in the
" diner," reaching Holdridge during the meal.
We are now traveling over Nebraska, a thrifty-
looking and productive country, under culti
vation as far as the eye is unforbidden by dis
tance to go. Axtell, Heartwell, and other
small, unimportant places are rapidly viewed
as we steam through a fine farming and graz
ing territory. The air is chilly, but the day
is bright and sunny.

Upon Hearing Hastings I inquire about the
Platte River. A gentleman furnishes the infor
mation that it is farther south, on the Atchison,
Topeka, and Santa Fe route, whereat I am dis
appointed, being deprived of going over part
of the pioneers trail, of which I have so often
heard my dear ones speak. The broad fields
are teeming "rich with golden grain." Farm
houses, environed by orchards and small flower
gardens and vegetable plots, dot the vast ex
panse, relieving the eye of grain and corn
views. At Fairmount we lunch in dining; car



FROM DENVER TO DETROIT. 35

"Lincoln," and enjoy both the occasion and
repast. Nothing noteworthy in sight.

The towns resemble California rural districts ;
the houses are all built of wood, like ours, and
the fencing is all wire. Stock appear in limited
number, but look fat and well. These vast
plains, flat as a slate, replete with the result of
farmers industry and pluck, were like the
Nevada sweep of sage land when our sturdy
pioneers of 44 wended their way westward.
The majority of those pioneers have passed to
their last resting station, after having sur
mounted the wearisome mountains of life s
difficulties, and patiently trod the monotonous
plains of existence, meekly obedient to the
will of our Heavenly Father, and gratefully
responsive when his voice summoned their
tired feet to rest and their wandering hearts
home, and these prairies are ateem with the
result of work and wealth. At Lincoln, Neb.,
we halted about two o clock, and had twenty-
five minutes to walk around. Cousin Maud,
as usual, made a raid on the fruit man, and, to
our surprise, was informed that miserable pears
were four for twenty-five cents, whereas in Cal
ifornia we would fling the same kind of fruit
away. Think of selling a half-spoiled pear for
six and one-fourth cents, bananas (half black
and all soft) four for a quarter, and five peaches



36 SNAP NOTES.

at the same rate. Verily, one must travel to
learn the value of what we depreciate, even
scorn, at home. If this is not the " corn-cracker
State," it ought to be, we see such profusions of
it growing, and what we had at table was excel
lent.

Ashland is green and pretty; the pastures
feed fine cattle, and the vernal spring of our
peerless State is not more beautiful than the
country I here behold. We cross a broad,
sandy-bottomed river, which just above us is
spanned by a long bridge, and its low banks are
self-edged with trees and undergrowth. Upon
consulting my map I find that it is the oft-
heard-of Platte. The gentleman who blighted
my hopes as to its location was wrong. Nu
merous herds of contented cattle are scattered
over the verdant fiat, presenting a happy picture.
The country of the Platte is indeed "green
fields and pastures new." How my heart
yearns for the impossible privilege of convers
ing upon these scenes with my late father, and
comparing notes with his experiences! The
hay, I notice, is stacked in small pineapple
shape, and looks odd to Californians.

Our matron has amused herself playing
Solitaire nearly all day a la Mr. Ballou, of
Mark Twain s sagebrush days. Cousin Evie
has slept most of the time, in an easy posture,



FROM DENVER TO DETROIT. 37

which I am sure she enjoys. Cousin Maude
talked, read "Lost in New York," bought fruit,
and performed her ablutions about every half
hour in hopes of transferring as little real estate
as possible from Nebraska.

I snapped off these straggling notes, and
watched the scenery. At half past three in the
afternoon we heard "Omaha!" called, and 1
strained my eyes to obtain a full view of the
city, and Council Bluffs, with its world of
memories to the pioneers. Our stay of half an
hour s duration was employed by our party in
walking around, viewing the surroundings for
mental storing, eating popcorn Maud s treat, of
course and talking over our experiences thus
far. At 4: 15 o clock we respond to the order,
"All aboard!" and are soon steaming rapidly
along the banks of the Missouri, on the western
border of the State of Iowa. The vicinity is
the scene so cherished by our pioneers, whence
they date the beginning of their westward pil
grimage, " Crossing the Missouri River at
Coun-cil Bluffs on the 3d of May, 1844," etc.,
and now my memory, charged with long recit
als of their vicissitudes, is overpowered by a
sea of emotion, and I cannot restrain the tears
that well up, to the sweet relief of my heart.
Have just passed by Plattsmouth Station, and
a few minutes brings us to the lengthy bridge



38 BtfAP NOTES.

across the Missouri s broad bosom, which bridge,
I am told, is half a mile long. As I gaze back
upon the scene, it is one of interest and beauty,
the valley thickly set with natural trees and
trailing brush, the waters of the wide river
gleaming through them like flecks of silver, in
the rich flush of the setting sun. The meadow
lands are flourishing and freshly springlike,
dotted with cattle, lazy and fat. Pacific Junc
tion is the first station that delays us a length
of time. It is here the trains for the Pacific
meet, from Missouri and the East The next
cozy hamlet is Glenwood, a sweet little place,
full of romantic situations.

Creston, a larger town, was gained about
8:30 p. M., and is brightly attractive at night in
the garish glare of gas and electric lights. We
retire, weary indeed, and, after broken snatches
of sleep, unrefreshing, to say the least, are
aroused at 7 o clock A. M., Sunday, August 23,
to dress for breakfast, in the expectation of
reaching Chicago on time. The suburbs of the
metropolis, as we approach, are alluring in their
peace-filled beauty and restfulness, but I am eager
to enter "the Windy City," and can only glance
at these introductory charms to it. At 8 o clock
we reach the depot, secure a conveyance, and
are rattled through the sloppy streets to the
"Auditorium," an elegant hotel overlooking



FROM DENY EH TO DETROIT, 39

Lake Michigan. The building is ten stories
high, with a tower ten tiers higher, from which
a bird s-eye view of the whole city may be
obtained. The view from our window, in the
seventh story, is truly interesting. The great
blue lake stretches its heaving bosom of sixty
miles before my unaccustomed vision, and its
majestic length of three hundred and fifty
miles sweeps beyond sight. As I stand by the
window, viewing with curiosity and wonder the
largest lake it has been my fortune to see, I note
the steamboats plying to and fro over its rippling
surface, landing passengers almost "within a
stone s throw" of our location, then the ten
railroad tracks parallel with the sweep of green
swards seamed with paths, and next the clean,
broad, smooth boulevard called Michigan Av
enue.

After refreshing our appearances, a most
necessary and satisfactory obligation, we de
scend to our dinner in the French restaurant,
^on the first floor, the hotel being one of those
conducted on the European plan. After din
ner, procuring a carriage with "a character"
for a coachman, we drive to the parks, World s
Fair grounds, via the cleanly boulevard, which
our driver innocently styles "the bully-yard."
Like Denver s soft treat, it began raining soon
after we started out and has kopt continually



40 SXAI* NOTES.

pouring; twice we sought shelter in stables
awaiting the abatement of the rainstorm. The
park has some excellent specimens of landscape
gardening, particularly noticeable a " World s
Fair Globe" surmounting a green knoll, the
water being represented in Echeverias Metalica
and the continents by the red Coleus. Probably
the novel arrangement, measuring several feet
in diameter, has been constructed of wire filled
in with earth, the plants sown on the outside,
the whole being ingeniously designed. Re
turning we seek the seclusion which our
boudoirs grant, and soon retire to sleep soundly.

Monday, August 24.

After our matin meal, Martin, Maud, and
myself go out shopping, and to see the city
that pork and pluck have made famous. We
see none of the former. Mrs. Murphy is quite
ill, so we do not remain away longer than to pur
chase a few souvenirs, beautiful spoons being
our most valuable collection. During the after
noon I remain with Mrs. M., while my cousins
go out and around, and in the evening to the
theater. I decline attending amusements with
them during my season of wearing mourning,
and retire at midnight to enjoy balmy sleep.

Tuesday, August 25.
Rose this morning at seven o clock, break-



FROM DENVER TO DETROIT. 41

fasted at ten, thereafter packed our trunks for
Boston. I wrote letters to some friends in New
England, acquainting them with the likeli
hood of my presence in the vicinity of their
abiding places. Mrs. Murphy went with me to
Father D. J. Riordan s residence, whose address
had been kindly furnished me by His Grace
Archbishop Riordan prior to my departure
from California.

With a stubborn coachman and limited time
we are deprived of seeing other friends and the
pleasure of visiting the cathedral built by the
late Bishop Thomas Foley, which I was desir
ous of inspecting. We return to dine at the
hotel and prepare for the train, which leaves at
3:10 i. M., and we are "on time" at the busy
depot, of which w r e take farewell without re
gret. Now, at 3:30 o clock, we are flying on the
wings of steam along the shore of the beautiful
blue lake, leaving the tall buildings of the
phoenix-like city in the distance, getting
glimpses of small towns along the route, but
moving too rapidly to be able to read the
names on the stations. At 5: 10 we rush into
Michigan City, in the "Hoosier" State, Indiana.
Have remarked the forests of small trees grow
ing thickly, and meadow lands whence timber
has been removed look rich and thrifty under
cultivation, but, like similar spots in California



42 SNAP NOTES.

have many tree stumps ungrubbed in their
midst.

Michigan City is a large, enterprising place,
with a generous supply of natural trees and
tall church spires. I recognize the Catholic
edifice, with its gilded cross surmounting the
tower. We now occupy the drawing rooms of
the "Tidal Wave" coach, of Michigan Central.
The almost dense forests of young growth ob
scure the view on either side of the railroad,
and the country, Michigan, we are traversing
is full of health -giving properties and extensive
agricultural advantages. Timber resembling
our lofty redwood attracts my fancy, but I be
lieve it is a species of fir. A little station is
marked A very s, in the heart of enviable sur
roundings as far as created beauty goes, thence
another forest, followed by homes of farmers
snug in sweet content, with orchards fruit laden
and graceful corn fields. We have just been
regaled by sight of a lovely, grassy-edged lake,
whose breast palpitates beneath a fragrant load
of water lilies, lazy and lolling as those of the
Nile, but we are swept onward ere the vision is
fully satisfied. At 5:45 we "slow up" at Niles,
on the banks of the St. Josephs River, a ro
mantic looking stream, and are delayed a few
minutes. A boy opens our drawing room un
ceremoniously, and presents each lady with an



FROM DENVER TO DETROIT. 43

exquisite little bouquet, "Compliments of Chief
Engineer s Office, Niagara Falls Route," of
Michigan Central.

WelHaunched on the "Tidal Wave," skim
ming over the southern portion of the State, I
mark verdurous forest and grove and silvery
streams peeping through the bushes, then "run
ning away," as though affrighted by the snort
of the iron steed, as he madly dashes past. Fo-
liaged trees again over numberless acres.
Verily Michigan is a richly wooded State.
Having coursed over a fine country, we reach
Ostemo at 6:55, a small place of no particular
distinction, and, darkness suddenly wafting
downwards, our gas is lit, and we shall soon
pardon me for using a nautical phrase
"turn in."

About seven o clock we enter Kalamazoo, a
city I have often heard of. A church is promi
nent near the railroad track. Its two very
lofty spires, with plain Roman crosses, show
up conspicuously as we approach. The city is
large and flourishing, with an outlook of as
sured prosperity. The river and its bridge are
valuable adjuncts to its features. Continuing
onward we sight Jackson, another large, im
portant city, and then Ann Arbor, patronized
by Californians for the college of law it main
tains. Nearing Detroit, our higgligehad to be




44 SNAP NOTES.

checked or marked before crossing the river
into Ontario, Canada, across which we must
run to Niagara. At ten o clock p. M. we steam
away from Ypsilanti to the Detroit. We reach
Detroit City late, and I am suggesting to Mrs.
Murphy to "stop off" here for the night and
obtain a view of the city, call upon Bishop
John Foley, and resume our journey to-morrow
evening, but she thinks otherwise, so we retire
to rest, which we all need, and the confusion
and noise crossing the river is anything but
conducive to peaceful slumber.



CHAPTER IV.

A VISIT TO NIAGARA.

August 6, Wednesday.

A T seven o clock we are called up at Falls
-*- View to see Niagara. The vast sweep
of waters to the falls is to me more surprising
than the falls themselves, inasmuch as I had
never seen pictures of them from the point
whence we now inspect them, and they do not
impress me with their enormity. In a few
minutes we cross the great Cantilever Bridge,
nine hundred and ten feet long, and are at
Niagara, We register at the Cataract House
for the day, taking an early breakfast, then
secure a three-seated conveyance, and ride to
the different points of interest. Driving over
a common rough country road of some dis
tance, the first scene visited is Whirlpool Rapids,
where we pause, overawed at the grand spec
tacle, the fierce, wild, angry -looking waters
rushing madly downwards, throwing up foam
in feathery flecks as it dashes over the crags
that form the rude bed of the river. The force

(45)



46 SNAP NOTES.

of the water flow here is tremendous, yet it must
be borne in mind that the supply, from four
great lakes, compressed in the width of three
hundred feet, rushes frantically onward at the
rate, I believe, of twenty-seven miles an hour.
We had our photographs taken at this place.
I ordered mine to be sent home, that the loved
ones may see how I am enjoying the, to me,
new wonders of God s footstool. Ascending
the bank by the ingeniously-constructed ele
vator, we purchase some souvenirs, arraquettes,
etc., etc., and drive to the great whirlpool, which
is four hundred feet deep, and a marvel in
itself. The swirling green waters make one
dizzy to watch and wonder at. It was here
that Captain Webb was last seen alive, and it
is here that so many have attempted the dan
gerous feat of swimming across. Six men and
one woman have succeeded, wearing cork
jackets, and one in a lifeboat, the daring female
performing the feat in a barrel. The day is
beautiful, sunny, and warm in truth, the
brightest we have had since leaving Nevada.
AVandering around I stray toward the stairway
above the great whirlpool, and the outlet, and
count sixteen hundred and sixteen steps, weari
some to look at, and a task of importance to
double. The view from a pathway on the hill
side, suggesting fearful power, is occasion for


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Online LibraryFannie De C. MillerSnap notes of an eastern trip, from diary of Fannie de C. Miller → online text (page 2 of 8)