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 5 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 5 of 38)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

brought to a stop at a hotel within 200 yards from where the ve-
hicles started.

After all had dined, a stroll was taken about the streets of
Denver with the purpose of viewing such sights as were on view,
without distressing or exerting ourselves. Several of the Sir Knights
visited the headquarters of the local Commanderies and were most
courteously received, in some instances it almost became necessary
to use force in effecting a leave-taking. The Sir Knights of our
party who had made the call, took great pride in exhibiting and
wearing "exchange" badges which their Denver brethren had be-
stowed upon them.

The day was drawing to a close with the same rare demonstra-
tion as graced its beginning. The horizon was cast with half red-
ness; in an amber sky, depths were assuming color, long oblique
flames were empurpling the mountains, then the rocks, and finally, the
sands. Shadows were taking possession of the land which had be-
come fatigued by the heat of the first half of the day.

As the sun sank over the violet mountains and night made ready
to fall, the birds came from out of their shelter and chirruped and
sang in the gardens, while the people in the streets, terraces and
verandas rapidly became multiplied in numbers.

As we drove and walked along the streets of Denver we be-
came deeply impressed and instilled with the refreshing spirit of
comfort which seemed to pervade all things. It is in marked contrast
to the busy, restless, driving, vitality-consuming atmosphere of West-
ern Pennsylvania. One of the greatest charms of Denver life is
the "free-from-care" feeling that prevails everywhere at the close
of the work of the day. Minds are not burdened with the losses
or gains of the day, or the plans for the morrow, after nightfall.
Energies are not burned with these restless excitements, nor lives
worn out at a time when they should be in full bloom among Den-

As the farmer offers a season's rest to the acre of land which
has served him well; as the trainmen stable each engine at the end
of the division, to allow the machinery to cool; as the barber lays
aside the razor which has seen continued service, that relaxation
may bring back a keener edge so the people of the west store their
energies during the evening and night, and with fresh vitality at


command each morn, have made the country renowned for its enter-
prise and achievement.

Evening walks and drives in and about Denver are enchant-
ing. Concerts and musical functions are provided lavishly. The
people of the west have a keener appreciation of the purpose of
life and the necessity of relaxation than have their brethren in the
east. The contagion of the spirit was manifest in members of our
party, who had not only gained substantially in weight, but in cheer-
fulness as well; not to mention the improvement in looks.

We left Denver and our friend Mr. S. K. Hooper, a happy shining
light, at 9 :30 o'clock at night over the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad,
properly known as the "Scenic Line of the World." It carried us
through the portal of grandeur which opens into the grand audi-
torium of the Rocky Mountains, where Nature sings her most won-
drous music. As the train bore us rapidly southward, we became
enrapt with the inspiration wrought by the sublimity of the
mountain land. While we stood admiring the cloud-capped peaks
and the lowlands robed in misty gloom, a finer and more entranc-
ing picture burst upon us and chained every eye with magnetic force.
We were approaching Pike's Peak.

We stopped for a time at Palmer Lake, with more of mountain
and less of plain, with its Glen Park and Chautauqua. This is the
divide, the watershed, where to the north the tributaries feed the
South Platte and to the south they wind their w,ay to the Arkansas

As we start onward we come into full realization of Pike's Peak.
Previously, this monarch had been to us only a name. True we
had seen the mountain in picture, and heard of it in poem and song,
but at last it had become a reality, a shape we were sitting in the
majestic presence of the great throne.

The monarch was still far away when we first saw it, but there
was no such thing as mistaking, for it towers into the sky like a
colossal wedge, and stands in sublime solitude which bespeaks pride
and dignity. A portion of this stately piece of rock, this sky-cleaving
monolith, is above the line of eternal snow. Some of the neighbor-
ing giants of rock appear black from waist up, while Pike's Peak
stands naked and forbidding. Its sides are so perpendicular that
snow cannot rest upon them except for a few powdered streaks in
the crevices. Near the top, however, the snow takes hold and re-
mains perpetually.

Its proud stature, its august isolation, and its majestic unkin-
ship with its own kind, lends a sacred dignity to this Napoleon of
the mountain world.

We passed Monument and Husted, and caught a few glimpses


of the towns, but we could not become interested in such things,
for we were in a fever of impatience to meet the monarch of the
mountains face to face.

It was after midnight when we arrived at the trio cities of Colora-
do Springs, Colorado City and Manitou. Here Pike's Peak becomes
more rugged and sublime so vast, so grand, so solemn! While a
very world of solid weight, this monster looms up in the soft moon-
light, as a fairy delusion of frostwork that one might vanquish with
a breath. It appeared as a vision, so delicate, so airy, so graceful !

Howsoever who look upon it it is noble and beautiful, and while
it is visible no counter-attraction can command your attention. Leave
your eyes unfettered for an instant and they will revert to gaze upon
Pike's Peak. Half the night, and all of the next day, this masterpiece
of nature's architecture was our sole object of interest.

As the morning was ushered in and many of the pilgrims sought
their berths, all lights aboard the train were turned down, with the
exception of those in the "stag" coach and commissary car. The
"Terrible Quartette" expressed a desire to lift up their voices and
sing in praise of Pike's Peak. Others, equally inspired, joined in,
regardless of the formality of following the same music and song.
However, nothing was broken but the stillness of the night.

We were all fond of music, and the flute, jew's-harp, clarionet,
bazoo and bass drum played in active competition on the same tunes.
How we remember them! It is doubtful if we can ever rid them
from our minds. The triangle and grind-organ were never played
except at devotional services, or at such times when the ladies were
awake. The music from these two instruments was too inspiring
to waste on mere men.

It was greatly to our sorrow that it was impossible to have a
piano on board. Sir Sample has wonderful command over this
instrument. With a mere wave of his hand, he can make an upright
lay down and beg. As for baby grands, he can make them come
and eat out of his hand.

A proposition was made that Leininger favor us with a new
selection on the consumptive accordion. The bandbox had been
chained under his seat since the day it met with the fatal accident.
A committee appointed for the purpose used considerable persua-
sion and Leininger finally consented. Then everyone scrambled for
a gallery seat. As the musician entered with instrument under his
arm, he announced that he would play a lullaby to Pike's Peak.
"Imagine a lullaby on an accordion!" said "Kunnie."

As he strode to and fro, gracefully swinging his accordion, as
with uplifted head he sang a song of tears to the mountain king, un-
fortunately he tripped over a rope which had been stretched from


refrigerator to lunch counter. As someone yelled "Murder!" Lein-
inger fell into a heap upon his precious music-box. Amid the peals
of laughter that were echoed from the mountains, Leininger ex-
claimed: "Well, what do you think of that?" gathered himself up,
and with a painful look of disgust, picked up the fragments of his
accordion, and piece by piece, hurled it out upon the tracks.

Sir Aberli knew part of a melody something about "How
sweet it was to know something or other." We took it for granted
it would have been much sweeter if he had known all about it, for
he remembered only a few bars of the melody and played them con-

We finally contracted with him to restrain himself, but not
until all had joined with him in several efforts to improve the classic
composition. "Bobbie," who was one of the most ambitious assistant
composers, failed in his efforts. His voice was so strong that it
required eight or ten men to control it.

Starting with a faint, dismal sort of Bass about third base
it would suddenly be caught by a short-stop, and finally land some-
where between center and left field. Besides, "Bobbie" was not
acquainted with the melody which was being sacrificed, and this
also worked to his disadvantage.

William plead with him: "Come Bobbie, don't improvise. It's
too egotistical. It will provoke remark. Just stick to 'How sweet it
is to know,' etc. You can't improve upon it on the spur of the mo-

"Bobbie" insisted that he was not improvising, but was restrict-
ing his vocal efforts along the lines laid out by the composer. Sir
Greenwald expressed himself publicly on the horror of the exhibi-
tion, for which he was not allowed to join in. He stated that such
singing was to him what a red rag was to a bull, and insisted that
any further efforts on the part of the nightingales would bring dis-
grace upon the whole party, and that it was a mean advantage to
take in the presence of Pike's Peak, inasmuch as the king of the
mountains had not the power of speech to express himself.

"Bobbie," however, was not to be constrained, and continued
to tear off additional bars of his selections, meanwhile viewing the
outer world from the open door of the commissary car. William
looked at Otto and Otto looked at Burry. They turned around and
saw Oscar looking at Staiger and Staiger looking at Oscar ; then all
turned and gazed on "Bobbie." "Bill" thought he would break up
the racket by asking: "Bobbie, will you be so kind as to tell us the
altitude of Pike's Peak?" The singing went on, heedless of the
question put. Burry asked: "What street car will I take for the
South Side?" The singing continued. Oscar asked: "Bob, oh Bob,



do you think you'll work tomorrow ?" No cessation ; the storm con-
tinued. Otto tapped him on the shoulders and whispered some-
thing in his ear, but "Bobbie" only shook his head and soared higher
and higher. Then we entreated him, we begged and plead with him
in the name of all that was good, and for the sake of our dear wives
and families so many miles away, for the sake of humanity, to please
stop ; but our entreaties were of no more avail than had we remained
dumb. Then we tried the custom of politics, by endeavoring to
bribe him with money, pearls, precious stones, U. S. Bonds, and U.
S. Steel, or even offered to stop somewhere and make him a present
of a ranch with a thousand acres to boot, if he would only cease
and allow the weary to rest. We were now positive that "Bobbie"
was wound up, so we silently took "French leave" as "Bobbie" looked
without. Presently he turned about. His audience consisted only
of Johnstone seated on the refrigerator fast asleep. With guilty
conscience "Bobbie" silently tip-toed off to bed.


NDER the shadows of Pike's Peak we slept the peaceful
slumbers of the just. We dreamt of the pleasures that were
and of the pleasures that were to be. Ere the sun had risen
its head above the most distant mountain peak the pilgrims
were bounding from their berths on this cheerful mid-summer morn-
ing Tuesday, August the 23rd.

Early rising at Colorado Springs is no exertion. The fresh-
ness and exquisite purity of the atmosphere thrills one, while there
is an indescribable charm in the early gloaming, as it steals silently
over the mountains.

To enjoy the exquisite inception of a new day, one must be up
ere the glory of the starlight has paled, as we did that morning.
The air was perfumed with a heavenly fragrance. And the birds!
They swept back and forth across the valleys constantly, while
their jubilant music was never stilled.

From the position in which our "special" was side-tracked, we
commanded a glorious view of the valley, and the many peaks be-
yond. As a pale daffodil light crept upward, the stars faded from
the heavens. The great ghostly dome changed in hue from deep
purple to a cold dead white, while the distant snow-capped peaks
stood boldly forth under a glittering dazzle of light, and silvery gray


mists floated upward from the valley as if awakening from their

A faint chilled breath of some cold current heralds the daybreak
and the tremulous leaves quiver and whisper greetings to the dawn.
Suddenly a faint flush of rosy light tinges the highest peak and grad-
ually stealing downward overspreads range beyond range until, in
another moment, the whole chain of mountains were alike ablaze
in the fiery glow. Meanwhile, the valleys remain shrouded in purple
gloom and a great, solemn stillness brooded over all.

It was a deep, satisfying and never-to-be-forgotten pleasure to
observe the sun create the new morn, and gradually, slowly and
patiently clothe it with splendor after splendor, and glory upon
glories, till the miracle was complete.

Okir attentions were riveted deeply absorbed in the marvel be-
fore us. The billowy chaos of mazy mountain domes, and the
peaks draped in imperishable snow, were flooded with a glory of
changing and dissolving splendor; while through rifts in a black
cloud-bank above the sun radiated lances of diamond dust which shot
out to the zenith. The valleys of the lower world swam in a tinted
mist, which veiled the ruggedness of their crags, ribs and forests, and
turned all the forbidding region into a soft, rich and sensuous para-

We spoke not a word. No expressions were exchanged. We
could only gaze and in ecstasy drink in the wonder-work of the
heavens. Moment by moment it grew grander and more wonder-
ful in color effect. Then suddenly as the sun rolled into full sight
an orb of gleaming gold flooded the world beneath with almost in-
sufferable radiance! Voluminous masses of white clouds were hur-
ried away by the sweepings of the north winds! For an instant the
sun was hidden from view, but again appeared to demonstrate its
right of eminent domain then gracefully retired behind a soft filmy
veiling of cloud, that served to distill the light of day.

While there was no fire on board the train during the previous
night (though there was considerable of "a hot time,") there was a
marked scarcity of water in the morning, several of the early risers
wending their way down to a nearby creek to bathe in the open.
It seemed to them a blessed privilege, and resulted in those taking
the "water-cure" feeling refreshed and even light-hearted.

Returning to the railroad station, "Joe," who was in the lead,
gave the command : "Come on boys !" as he entered and gathered
his army in front of the window of the telegraph operator, who was
a young woman. Sir Gilchrist, with pride-swollen chest, and strik-
ing an attitude of independence by thrusting a thumb underneath
each suspender strap at the arm pit, announced in commanding tones :


"I want to send a message!"

"Where to?" asked the young lady with all the sweetness at
her command.

"Any old place," replied "Joe" with nonchalance, "But," he
added, "You might as well make it Allegheny."

By this time the young lady was in spirit with the occasion,
and tantalizingly inquired: "Pray, where is Allegheny?"

"What do you think of that, boys?" asked "Joe," clearly in-
dicating his injured pride. "Don't know where Allegheny is? Well,
it's bounded on the east by New York; on the west by Chicago; on
the north by Canada and on the south by Florida. Why, Allegheny
is the city that gave a world's fair to St. Louis. But never mind the
message; permit me to ask are you fond of music?"

"Oh, my, yes!" exclaimed the young lady, enraptured at the idea.
"No," she didn't have any preference, "just so it's music."

The invaders then lifted their voices to that same old, soul-
maddening screech: "Bedelia." They assaulted it, crippled it, and
then slaughtered it and nobody mourned, though the station was
half-filled with passengers. Most of them stood upon the seats,
probably to rise above such music. They applauded vigorously but
could not drown the horrible noise. They even laughed so does
the victim who has to have a tooth pulled and is helpless to resist

With further suggestion and solicitation upon the part of the
audience they started to break the peace again. Notwithstanding
the fact that we have had several open and private meetings since, and
have carefully gone over all the works of foreign and native com-
posers, we can arrive at no reasonable or definite conclusion as to
what that second song was. We still remain in the darkness and bliss
of ignorance.

Occasionally, for a very brief time, two of the participants car-
ried the same air, and when one reached a part which was most
familiar to him, he wanted to be heard, and his voice rose up in
supreme command, and started off like a race horse until another
followed with the enthusiasm of a steam calliope. Then someone
pitched his voice into a beautiful minor key it must have been a
night-key, for it was one that minors should not be permitted to
carry. Then some song-bird wrecked the whole business with a sound
similar to that made by a circular saw striking a rusty nail only to
be lost in a general shuffle of sharps, flats, majors and minors in
wasteful extravagance. Then there rose out of the wreckage a sweet
melodious voice, for a second such a brief second while the singer
was hastening through some bar that was familiar to him, (tem-
perance bar if you please). Then some one chased him to cover with


a thunderous roar like the unloading of a cartload of cobblestones
upon sheet iron, and just when victory seemed within grasp, a pass-
ing freight train whistled and shrieked by in full supremacy and
conquered the howling dervishes.

The listeners applauded and expressed a wish that the concert
(?) be prolonged, but announcement was made that it was one of
the fundamental rules of the opera company not to play more than
one engagement in a town. Experience had taught them that it
was unsafe to life and limb to appear before the same audience twice.
Sir Burry further explained that they had completely revolutionized
music, and were burying the old masters one by one, and that his
artists differed from all others in one notable respect; that they
were not merely spotted with music here and there, but were sat-
urated with it.

The young lady was full of praises. "I know," she said, "that
your music is high-grade. It so delighted me, stirred me, enraptured
me and moved me, that I could have cried all the time."

"Cried for help?" suggested Sir Greenawalt.

"Oh no," she answered, "you didn't need any. There was volume
quite sufficient to your recitals. When you come again, the com-
bined theatres of the city will not be sufficient to hold the audience."

With an entrancing smile and pleasant bow, each member of
the chorus bid adieu, and stepping out on the platform felt so smit-
ten with pride, that each dived into his pocket and pinned another
"exchange badge" on his coat as a personal reward for merit.

Following breakfast, we boarded a street car near the Colorado
Springs for a ride to Manitou, a distance of five miles west, passing
en route Colorado City, the first capital of the State. Located di-
rectly at the foot of Pike's Peak, at an elevation of 6,318 feet, is
Manitou. It sits in the lap of an amphitheatre of mountains and
foot-hills, and may truly be termed, the Switzerland of America.
The cog-wheel railroad which runs to the summit of Pike's Peak,
starts at Manitou, and here are located the celebrated medical Soda,
Sulphur and Iron Springs.

Situated in the heart of the town and at the end of the street
car line are the Soda Springs. It is a popular gathering place and
is visited by thousands of tourists annually, who come to drink of
its refreshing waters. We all partook freely, there was plenty of it,
and it never runs dry.

The Sulphur Springs have a flavor all their own. Not only do
their waters taste of minerals, but bear the perfume of several kinds
of groceries in solution such as stale Easter eggs and onions, that
have been drowned in kerosene. It bears a flavor of brimstone, or
something that would make a blazed trail at night, all the way up


Pike's Peak. It would serve as an excellent weapon for revenge.
If one would drink a quart of the sulphur water and breathe hard
on an enemy, it would produce blind staggers ; two breaths on a man
means a metallic casket for one.

At the extreme end of Ruxton Avenue, we found the Ute Iron
Springs; another large effervescing spring, but instead of the spark-
ling soda, or self-pronouncing sulphur, we found modest, strength-
giving iron water springs. Sir Gilland inquired of the attendant
if he was sure that there were no rusty nails, old wash-boilers,
horse-shoes, or other hardware at the bottom of the spring, and was
assured to the contrary. He was told of the strength-giving proper-
ties of the water, and urged everyone to partake, to gain the re-
quired strength to climb Pike's Peak. The Ute Iron Springs re-
ceived their name from the tribe of Ute Indians. Sir Lee claims that
it was the springs that made the Indians red men, for he explained
that they drank so much iron water that they became rusty inside
until it broke through their skin, and gave them the reddish out-
ward appearance.

However, all the mineral waters in the neighborhood of Manitou,
rank high as a beverage, and many persons are using them dur-
ing the entire year. They resemble those of Ems, and are beneficial
to consumptive, dyspeptic and other patients.

The tour about Manitou was of unusual interest and attraction.
Following the road due north from the Soda Springs, one enters
Williams' Canyon, a most picturesque gorge. Its walls blend with
strata of sandstone and limestone, showing colorings of pink, gray,
vermillion and white. Above are several hundred feet of limestone,
in which a number of curious caverns have been discovered, the
most notable of which being the Cave of the Winds. These caves are
three-quarters of a mile underground, and run directly through the
heart of the mountain. Here the handiwork of nature in all its
charms and wonder is to be seen. The "Diamond Hall" and "Crystal
Palace" are the principal attractions in these subterranean chambers.
The ceiling of "Diamond Hall" is decorated with graceful wreaths
and festoons of flowery alabaster, which under the influence of the
magnesium light of the guide, is beautiful to the extreme, and every
inch of wall sparkles and scintillates every conceivable color and
shade, giving the effect of diamond Mosaic work.

The Grand Caverns are beautiful caves located two and one-
half miles from Manitou over a magnificent drive up the famous Ute
Pass, one of the historic highways of the Rockies. First a mere
trail paced by the Indians in their flights over the mountains, it became
a wagon-road to Leadville, and yet serves as one of the most ac-
cessible passages over the mountains.



Presently we came to the station of the famous Cog Wheel Rail-
road which ascends a grade of twenty-five per cent, and reaches
an elevation of 14,147 feet at the summit. We gazed with interest
upon this mountain railway, and it seemed incredible that the train
which was standing ready to pull out, could creep straight up to
the mountain top. Mr. C. W. Sells and Mr. Benjamin P. Wheat,
lofty and elevating gentlemen, stood nearby, and stated it had often
performed that very miracle and any doubt in our minds was soon
dispelled as the odd-looking locomotive began to enter upon its task.
The boiler end was coupled to the coach, and the engine was tilted
sharply backward, so that it could take up the cogs that propel
the train. The coach was comfortably equipped and was composed

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 5 of 38)