Edmund Frederick Erk.

A merry crusade to the Golden Gate : under the banners of Allegheny Commandery, No. 35, Knights Templar, Allegheny, Pa. : a complete story of the Twenty-ninth Triennial Conclave, Grand Encampment, Knights Templar, U.S.A. ... and a tour of ten thousand miles through the wonderland of the West online

. (page 31 of 38)
Online LibraryEdmund Frederick ErkA merry crusade to the Golden Gate : under the banners of Allegheny Commandery, No. 35, Knights Templar, Allegheny, Pa. : a complete story of the Twenty-ninth Triennial Conclave, Grand Encampment, Knights Templar, U.S.A. ... and a tour of ten thousand miles through the wonderland of the West → online text (page 31 of 38)
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with matter, and aside from matter we do not find evil existing (the
ice melted). That is true. At least, such evil as we might find apart
from matter, would be outside the jurisdiction of the court. Evil and
matter are inseparable. So what's the matter?

The jury deliberated at length, and brought in the verdict of "rob-
bery in the thirty-second degree." The loss being ice, the learned
jurymen naturally settled upon the thirty-second degree because of its
being the freezing point.

In passing sentence upon the prisoner, who persistently denied his
guilt, the judge reviewed the seriousness of the offense, declaring that
even diamonds and gold could be returned, but ice once stolen could
never be wholly replaced. He then announced that he would be
especially lenient, because of the previous good character of the prisoner,
and sentenced him to the commissary car to serve refreshments.

After the prisoner had faithfully worked out his sentence to the
satisfaction of a large and enthusiastic audience, the gentlemen of the
party were in receipt of a kind invitation extended by the ladies, to be
their guests at an entertainment which the ladies promised to provide.
Using the abutting platforms of two coaches as a stage, they presented
a program of song and recitations, which proved to be one of the most
pleasing entertainments that it was our privilege to witness.

Having previously passed the small settlements of Hackberry and
Peach Springs, we arrived at Seligman, where the Pacific time changes


to Mountain time. The latter is an hour faster than the former, or two
hours slower than Pittsburgh time. We interviewed our watches at
this point, and made the necessary corrections, after which cards were
suggested, this diversity was indulged in as we passed the town of Gleed
and arrived at Ash Fork.

Ash Fork is an important railroad junction. Here the Santa Fe,
Prescott & Phoenix railroad, which is a branch of the Santa Fe system,
connects with the main line and traversing south and southeast, enter-
ing a rich mining region and communicates with several important points
for a distance of 275 miles. Passing through a country which is as rich
in scenery as it is in minerals, one reaches the important city of Phoenix
within a half day. Nearby is the famous Vulture mine, which has pro
duced $20,000,000 in ore. Near Prescott some engineering problems
have been solved by rock-cuts, trestles, detours and loops. World-
famous mineral developments lie about the vicinity of Prescott. Here
are the Congress and Rich Hill gold mines. The great United Verde
copper mine is at Jerome, reached by a crooked narrow gauge line
which passes through a wild country.

As we left Ash Fork night was falling fast. The fading of sun-
light and the approach of the deep eventide shadows cast a dreary
desolation over the desert. A glance from the car window swayed one
with a solitude that had the touch of romance. For one to venture
upon that unfertile and forsaken waste at night, would be like renoun-
cing the world, and casting oneself into utter oblivion. Eye and mind
were both bewildered as we centered our gaze upon the interior of our
brightly lighted, comfortable, and cheerful cars.

The hour was late when we arrived at Williams. It was here we
were to take the new branch of the Santa Fe road, which brings the,
passenger to the very rim of the Grand Canyon. The route is 65
miles, and stands as a monument to triumphant engineering skill, and
its accomplishment was only attained after the expenditure of several

The road is built across a slightly rolling mesa; in places thickly
wooded, in others open. By daylight the snow-capped San Francisco
Peaks can be seen on the eastern horizon, while Kendricks, Sitgreaves
and Williams mountains are also visible. Red Butte, thirty miles
distant, is a prominent landmark, and before reaching the terminus, the
train climbs a long, high ridge and enters the Coconino Forest, which
resembles a natural park. The grade at times was so steep that three
engines were used after we left Williams.

As we sped towards the Grand Canyon station every mind was
trained in expectancy of what we were to behold on the morrow. The
beauties and magnificence which the canyon affords are of such wide
reputation that we were impatient to see and realize it. Every con-

versation turned to the one topic. Just before we reached the canyon
our train came to a sudden stop, to await the passing of the "Special"
of Pittsburgh Commandery, No. I. This was a tremendously heavy
train, and the largest passenger train which had ever crossed the
continent. Our Praters were returning from the canyon, and as we
awaited their passing, a general order was issued to give them a rous-
ing hurrah. In a moment, the proud majestic train came whizzing
past, and we had scarcely time to give them a rousing cheer, when they
passed by. All was quiet aboard, as it was past midnight, and if we
succeeded in awakening them, they passed us before they realized what
had happened.

It was in the early hours of the morning when we reached Grand
Canyon Station. Strange, but true, all were asleep; probably because
of the anticipation of an active day. The curtain of night was per-
mitted to remain between us and the canyon, and we were satisfied to
await the dawn.


HE night was a silent one. Unbroken save by an unromantic
snore emanating from the "stag" coach. It seemed as if the
slightest sound, even if it were a hundred miles away, should be
heard; so still and frosty was the air on an altitude averaging
over 7,000 feet. Not a whisper or murmur interrupted the tranquility
throughout the night.

At half past four, or possibly five o'clock, while we were still
dreaming under our heavy coverings, our arms were violently pulled
and a voice cried out: "Get up, boys, and see the sun rise."

It was Sir Gilchrist, the "Alarm Clock," his hearty and good-na-
tured laugh, which not only forgave him his sin, but compelled the
suffering to join him, was second only to the "Oscar" type. He shouted
again and again, until all were astir: "B-u-o-y-s, here is the sun!"

With natural modesty, because of our negligee attire, window cur-
tains were stealthily raised, but when we viewed the splendor without,
they were boldly thrown aloft.

The world was ablaze! We seemed to be winging on a cloud

high in the heavens, over a prodigious abyss of space, beyond which

the Eastern rim of all the world seemed to be on fire with flaming

light. A belt of splendid rose and gold illuminated all the horizon,



darting long spears of glory into the dark sky overhead; gilding the
tops of a thousand hills, scattering over the deep purple earth below
and casting on the unbroken background of clouds beyond an enormous

The spectacle was one of unparalleled splendor. Moment by
moment it grew more wonderful in beauty of color as the brilliant
dawn gave birth to the morn, and "Light" came rushing on Creation
at the word of God. The sun rolled into sight and flooded the world
beneath with almost insufferable radiance.

Notwithstanding the sinfully early hour we had arisen, all were
cheerful, eager, and impatient to see more of the glories offered by the
majestic canyon. Hastening our dress, we proceeded up a winding
road and found ourselves on the verge of a high precipice and stand-
ing upon the very rim of the Grand Canyon.

Here the universe seemed to have suddenly yawned asunder and
a broad underworld that reached to the uttermost horizon rose up
before us in a vastness that appeared as great as that of the world itself.
One should pause and remember that this wonderful, incomprehensi-
ble canyon is 217 miles long, 13 to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep,
(vertically). Think of it!

This great stretch of vale is studded with enormous rocks of many
shapes and hues, which rise and fall with the uncertainties of an ocean
wave. They glisten and sparkle as everlasting monuments to Nature's
architecture, in every conceivable form. As one stands on the brink
of this immense chasm and gazes down from an elevation of over 7,000
feet, the wondrous rock formations point upward in a million forms,
a million sizes, and a million color combinations, which vary with the
movement of the sun. Immense and lofty Towers, the relics of a pre-
historic race, rise up with the presence and aspect of awful mysteries.
Silent and sombre Castles with their fortified and obscure remains fes-
tooned with lace-like webs of talus. Stately and gorgeous Temples,
fretted with ornamental devices, impressive in their solitude and empti-
ness. Sharp, violent and furious crags; yawning, deep chasms of gi-
gantic proportions; myriads of overwhelming pinnacles; bold and bare
escarpments; lofty and gigantic peaks, exquisitely storm-carved; ridges,
winged-walls, and deep angles with frowning gashes of incredible
depth these are but a few variations of the great sea of impressive
architecture in rock and sand, which Nature throws open between the
outer rims of this tremendous expanse. Slopes and innumerable pyra-
midal mountains take their place like kingdoms of glory; noble ampi-
theaters, profound, silent, and depopulated. Wonderful gorges ; pictur-
esque-colored galleries ; wide buttresses ; projecting hedges hewn into
vast shelves of granite ; massive cairns in monumental heaps and a chain-
like series of tremendous and deeply indented battlements and huge


military entrenchments, are strung out for miles and are lost in haze
beyond the seeing distance of the eye. Sublime and impressive altars;
huge and stately cathedral spires ; balustrades and wide-spanning arches ;
domes and alcoves that would frown defiance at the tempest; groups
of magnificent columns with lattice work and delicate carvings; im-
mense fleets of volcanic cones, titanic cliffs, buttes, caves, terraces and
minarets a labyrinth of huge architectural forms massive bulks hewn
from the gaudiest rock strata that tower upward 1,000 to 6,000 feet,
but none reaching the level of the rim upon which we stood. Some of
these formations are a mile or more wide, and all combine to awaken
the blended sensations of awe and admiration. As we viewed this pro-
digious sight, we were lost and hushed in astonishment.

In the presence of a sight so thrillingly magnificent, the thought
of every mortal turns at once to communion with the Supreme Being.
A cry of "Great Heaven" comes to the lips, and the soul realizes the
outburst in its fullest sense, might, glory and majesty. The vibrating
cloudlets in the canyon below, rolling to and fro, lightly touch the rising
peaks, columns, temples, altars and pillars, like the harpist deftly pick-
ing his instrument; and as the fleecy waves sway gently back and forth,
they seem to move in harmonious sympathy, in musical measure, to
that ever impressive melody, "Near-er, Near-er to Thee."

We were stunned and unable to comprehend the vastness of the
mighty scene. Its immensity was beyond actual realization and the
surprises and revelations it offered, came as an inspiring climax. The
rocky upheavels slowly and gradually shaped themselves^, into mimic
battlements and castles, and out of rifted clouds came broad shafts of
sunlight that painted all with bands of fire, and created belts of sombre
shadows between.

Great, enormous flocks of fleecy clouds and cloudlets wandered
hither and thither in the lower air, many hundred feet below, as though
they were feeling, but knew not where to land. Swifter and swifter
they swayed to seek escape then the sun pursued them, smote and
dissolved them. As the sun mounted, these fleeces of cloudlets arose,
and were dissipated, leaving the canyon bare. Down in the far depths
white puffs begin to appear, creating a scene of unrivalled beauty, as
they rise and overflow the rim, and become entirely dissipated under
the devouring glare of the sun. Again and again came the marshaling
in the depths, the rise and total suffusion, until the warm walls had
spent their saturation, and the sun prevailed in undisputed authority.

For the moment let us occupy ourselves with the superb view an
astonishing spectacle beyond all dreams that unfolds beneath our eyes
the most beautiful picture that human eyes can rest upon in the broad
universe ! What a silent, curious change creeps over all as the sun rises
from out of the horizon! The sharp and undeniable light streams


through every opening. The eastern wall of the canyon burns with
almost living flame, while to the west the shadows are cast so dark that
it seems as if night had lingered there. The lower canyon is in solemn
repose, though here and there shadows jump from nook and crevice and
hide themselves from the pursuing sunlight. Gradually as the inner
gorge emerges from its slumbers, the sunlight leaps about with sparkling
vivacity, and the whole scene becomes a moving panorama of light and
shadow mingled with celestial beauty.

Across the canyon to the southwest, where the sun shines with all
its brilliancy, hundreds of mighty structures of rock, miles in length,
thousands of feet in height, are thrusting themselves out of the depths
into forms of architecture so wild, so bold, so eccentric, and yet grouped
so symmetrically! Color schemes and variated tints glisten and change.
The rainbow in all its individuality of beauty pales in comparison to the
blendings and interblendings of the thousands of tints and shades with
which the Great Artist has painted His masterpiece. To see this work
of the Master, under the first rays of His great calcium, is to feel one's
weakness and inability in giving full expression language fails, words
lose the power of expression, description is impossible, only that which
God himself gave the soul has the ability to appreciate.

The curtain of clouds has lifted the sun has taken possession with
the greetings of the morn the temples, amphitheaters and many-formed
giants of architectural beauty stand out in all their splendor under the
light of day yet peace and absolute quietude prevails. A solemn, sin-
cere, and thrilling tranquility brings thoughts of eternal rest and ever-
lasting happiness! Verily, the scene is stamped upon the heart as an
image of beauty; to remain there until the pulse ceases. No impression
of gloom or terror sways the mind, and all thought of daily strife and
troubles recedes, and is lost in yesterday.

What voices spoke and cried out from the castles; what faces faded
from the earth look out upon us from the gleaming depths; what
Heavenly promise glistens from the mighty pyramids of rock, dressed
in their mantles of many hues?

As we soliloquized in these thoughts, we were sharply brought back
to the more material in life, by the announcement that breakfast awaited
us in the log cabin nearby. We hastened hither, silent in the delight,
glory, beauty and inspiration of it all. Reluctantly we directed our
steps from the canyon brink and ate, because it was eating time, without
any desire for the repast, but rather because it was a duty to perform.
It is but needless to state that the meal was a hasty one and that impa-
tience was general.

Following breakfast we drove about the rim of the canyon, stopping
at the most advantageous viewpoints. The drive in itself was exhilarat-
ing not only because of the high altitude, but because of the winding

fcofo, Putnam & Valentine. Courtesy Santa Fe R. R. \ .1


PAo/o, Putnam & Valentine. Courtesy Santa F R. R.



course which led at times to the very brink of the great, deep chasm,
and then carried us away again.

Wherever we paused to look and wonder at this great and incom-
parable marvel, there was newness and variety. No part of the
immense area of rock is duplicated. Its colors, though many and com-
plex, vary with the moving sun, minute by minute ; while passing clouds,
and lights and shadow, are reflected in the almost constant change of
color effect.

From viewpoint to viewpoint, the marvels multiplied. Details do
not impress the beholder at first glance; he is swayed and overwhelmed
by the stupendous ensemble. The river channel (that of the Colorado),
appears as a slender, silvery thread, as it winds and twists itself around
the tremendous foundations of the gigantic and massive architectural
rocks, 7,000 feet below the level of the eye.

Inky shadows hover in the depths; pale gildings of the golden rays
of the sun play upon the spire tips of the cliffs and peaks; titanic paint-
ings, in variable hues of pink, red, lavender, vermillion, gray and yellow,
blend and interblend. In the distance, white towers stand out in bold
relief amidst a purple haze ; and suffusion of rosy light, gleam in the
reflection of a hundred tinted walls. Colors gladden the faces of these
stony monarchs. The huge and mighty architectural forms would be
none the less awesome and impressive were they but grim, gray stone.
Perhaps such unity of color, or lack of color, would add solemnity; but
Nature, with a paint with which the world is unacquainted, and with a
brush that only Divinity can wield, has heightened their glory and its
own, and has rounded out a rhapsody of enchantment.

As we leave one viewpoint to seek another, our minds are occupied
in wonder if other glories and more astounding miracles are to be
beheld. Greater and more stupendous visions seem impossible, and yet,
when we again look out from the chasm's brink newer, if not greater
splendors of Nature's achievement lie before us.

A solemn silence broods over all. No warning voice of danger
comes up from the almost bottomless depths which yawn for prey. Cities
could be tossed down and land like pebbles, and over the enormous
expanse, not a murmur prevails even the river has no outcry, as it
glides smoothly and peacefully along its course.

As the mountain ranges, thousands of feet in height, looked up to
us on the rim, they seemed to offer a silent but eloquent sermon. In this
great gap in the heart of the earth, there are no worshippers, save a
few who find inspiration to pay homage to Nature. The temples seem
too sanctified for human priesthood, man is but the tiniest atom, as he
stands in their presence. Nature itself is God's appointed celebrant. Her
age and experience alone can fill this mighty pulpit. She prays silently,
but convincingly; her communions know no comparison in impressive-


ness. In thunder she starts a revival that makes the mountains ring with
echo; her songs of praise are carried forth by the birds; the winds are
the solemn warnings of her symphonies. It is Nature's pulpit, and to
use modern conceptions, her sermons are illustrated.

En route to the hotel we came to a point where we could see across
a broad curve in the canyon, which forms an immense amphitheater of
splendid towers and temples, cliffs and gorges. The opposite rim, 18
miles distant, is low enough to permit the vision to range out over the
"Painted Desert" to the long, irregular battlements of Echo Cliffs, 50
miles distant, while Navajo Mountain looms up on the horizon over
100 miles away. This great expanse, which lies open to the vision of
the human eye, is one of unbroken chaos. Probably no other equal area
contains so many supreme marvels or so many masterpieces of Nature.
The spectacle is so symmetrical, and so completely excludes the outside
world and its accustomed standards, that it is with difficulty one can
acquire any notion of its immensity.

What a great and priceless thing is a new interest ! How it takes
possession and clings to the one interested! We were in this category
shortly after luncheon, when we decided to "go down trail." For the
benefit of the uninitiated it might be well to explain that
"going down the trail" at the Grand Canyon means the ex-
citing vocation of riding or walking from the rim of the
canyon to the river, a distance of seven miles, over wind-
ing, twisting and curving pathways. Little more than half way down
the trail is a plateau, upon which a number of large tents are continually
kept to supply refreshments, and provide places of shelter for any that
might be overtaken by night on the trail.

Many of our party who decided to make the novel and interesting
trip, agreed to ride. Horses and mules were provided at the log cabin
hotel. Much to our surprise burros were not used to carry passengers.
Sir Pears insisted upon having a burro, but there were none to hire.
He feared to make the trip on horseback, and refused to mount a mule.
He declared as a measure of safety, that he could straighten out his legs
and stand up, in time of peril, if he had a burro, and let the animal walk
from under him. He admitted, however, that even the burro has its
disadvantages their large ears interrupting the view.

Sir Baumann could not pilot his mule with any degree of certainty.
Just as we were starting, the animal scampered and zigzagged across
the road, bumping and pushing into the others. He scraped one side
against a cart and the other against the log hotel, giving him a polishing
first on one side and then on the other. Finally the mule sighted the
house in which he lived, and made a dash for it. As he entered the
doorway, which was low, he incidentally scraped Sir Baumann off his
back. When the latter picked himself up, he appeared rather discouraged,


but finally, in a spirit of determination, cried as Richard III had cried:
"Give me a horse ! A horse ! My kingdom for a horse" or else I walk.

Sir Joseph J. became discouraged early. Someone held his hand as
he looked over the brink. One glance was sufficient. Shrinking back, he
shuddered and declared : "What ? I should say not ! No trail for me
seven miles down and a thousand miles back !"

It was an anxious, cautious and picturesque procession that started
"down trail," and drew a crowded audience to the rim. The older folks
watched us for hours, training field glasses upon us until we appeared
like mere flies crawling down the side of the wall. Efforts were made
to identify the various members of the party, and this afforded enter-
tainment to the spectators.

The animals entered upon their perilous journey with measured,
unfaltering step. As a matter of fact, the "down trail" tour is more
perilous for animal than man, although there is enough anxiety for both
to make it a thrilling and strikingly unusual one.

The noble and faithful animals jogged along, sometimes at a canter
when the road permitted, but always with a degree of care. The bridle
lines are not held by the rider. Instead, one hand is held on a pommel
on the front of the saddle, and the other hand on the rear of the saddle.
The greater portion of the time the animals carry their heads between
their fore legs, swinging them up and down in harmony with carefully
chosen steps.

The pathway itself was merely a narrow shelf cut into the face of
the precipice. It averaged four feet wide for the seven miles, and
naturally the descent had to be made in processional style. It was not
an exhibition drill, but the command to remain "single file" was never
violated. At times we could look over the edge of the narrow gallery
and see a bottomless wall of rock, which was upholding us ; occasionally
we saw the bottom of the precipice upon which we were riding, several
thousand feet below; in some places this could only be accomplished by
dismounting carefully, and lying down and peering, over the edge
though many did not care to do so for fear of soiling their clothes, and
for other reasons more fearsome.

Portions of the path were so steep that flights of zigzag tree-stumps
had been driven into it to afford the animals a sure footing, in carrying
their human freight in safety. These stumps were inserted in step-like
fashion, and the noble animals would carefully measure each step before
making it. At times they would bring down a fore foot, and landing
upon a smooth surface, would sprawl out, only to recover instantly and
secure safer footing. At such times when the animal failed to secure a
firm footing, earth and rock went clattering over the edge, and as it
bounded and rebounded down the ravine, the echo struck a thrill into
the heart, and touched a chord of uncertainty.


For the greater part of the way the trail was abrupt, though at

Online LibraryEdmund Frederick ErkA merry crusade to the Golden Gate : under the banners of Allegheny Commandery, No. 35, Knights Templar, Allegheny, Pa. : a complete story of the Twenty-ninth Triennial Conclave, Grand Encampment, Knights Templar, U.S.A. ... and a tour of ten thousand miles through the wonderland of the West → online text (page 31 of 38)