Frederick E Shearer.

The Pacific tourist : J.R. Bowman's illustrated trans-continental guide of travel, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean ... : acomplete traveler's guide of the Union and Central Pacific Railroads ... online

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Online LibraryFrederick E ShearerThe Pacific tourist : J.R. Bowman's illustrated trans-continental guide of travel, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean ... : acomplete traveler's guide of the Union and Central Pacific Railroads ... → online text (page 15 of 61)
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is rare indeed, in this locality, that makes
twenty successive days' feeding a necessity.
Usually the storms last two or three days, per-
haps not as lofng, when hay and shelter are
required. The climate is healthy, and seems
especially adapted to sheep. If brought here
in a sound and healthy condition, they will re-
main so with ordinary care, and the climate
alone has been effectual in curing some of the
diseases to which they are subject. Among the
shepherd kings of the plains may be mentioned
the firms of Hutton, Alsop & Co. , King & Lane,
Bumsey & Co., T. J. Fisher & Co., and others.
The firm first named have about 15,000 in their
flock, and have accommodations at their differ-
ent ranches for 20,000 sheep. They place this
number aa the limit of their flock. Their
home ranch is on the Laramie Biver, about
fifteen miles from the city, and is worthy of a
visit from any traveler who desires information
on the subject. Their sheep are divided into

flocks of about 2,500 each; this number is all
that can be well cared for in a flock. One
man, a pony, and one or two good shep-
herd dogs are all that are necessary to care
for a flock, though some flocks are cared
for without the pony or dogs. Mexican
herders or shepherds are considered the
best, and usually cost about $25 per month
and board. They have long been accus-
tomed to the business in New Mexico,
and the most of them don't know enough
to do anything else. The wool of graded
sheep will usually more than pay all the
expenses of the flock, leaving the increase
as clear profit, and the increase depends
to a large extent on how well tn8 flock
is managed it is ordinarily eighty per cent.
Some have had an increase of tii3ir flocks
as large as ninety per cent., others as low
as sixty per cent. Some of the successful
sheep men have begun their flocks with.
Spanish Merinos, others with French Merinos,
others with Cotswolds, and others still with
Mexican sheep. These last are very hardy,
have small bodies and coarse wool. The ewes
are usually good mothers, and all of them will
hunt and dig through the snow for grass,
while other breeds would not. Mexican sheep
will live and thrive where tenderly raised
Eastern sheep will die. They are cheap
and easily graded up. On the other hand,
when once acclimated, graded sheep cost
no more care than others, and their wool
will bring double the price in the mar-
ket. Each class of sheep has its advocates
on these plains, and each class has been suc-
cessful. The climate of the country, and the
peculiar adaptation of the plains for grazing of
this nature, makes success more certain than in
similar attempts farther east; hence we predict
for this part of the country a vast wealth in
flocks of sheep at no distant date.

Stock Statistics. The total number of
stock grazing on the plains of Laramie County
at last estimate (1880) was as follows: Sheep,
120,000 head, worth $3, value, $360,000;
horned cattle, 110,000 head, worth $20, value
$2,200,000; horses and mules, 4,200 head,
worth $50, value, $210,000. Total, $2,770,000.

Early Times. In April, 1868, the first town
lots in Laramie were sold by the railroad com-
pany. There was a great rush for town lots
excitement ran very high, and the history of
Cheyenne in this respect, where men made for-
tunes in a day, was repeated here. In fact,
a month or two prior to the beginning of
the sale, the town site was covered with
wagons, tents, dugouts, etc. , of parties waiting
for the day of sale. With that sale, the set-
tlement of the town began. The first week
there were over four hundred lots sold, and
building began rapidly. In less than two weeks


something over 500 buildings and structures of
some kind had been erected. This was an ex-
ample of western growth that would astonish the
slow-going denizens of the Atlantic States. It is
true these structures were of a peculiar character,
and such as were usually found in the towns for
the time being made the business terminus of the
road. Some were of logs, some of cross-ties, others
were simply four posts set in the ground with can-
vas sides and roofs. Others still were made of
boards, in sections, and easy to be moved when
the next terminus should be made known.

The iron rails that were soon to bear the iron
horse were laid past the town on the 9th day of
May, 1868, and on the day following, the first
train arrived and discharged its freight. Lara-
mie maintained the character of all these west-

who were respectable, and who desired to do a
legitimate business could not endure for a long
time, the presence and rascalities of these border
characters. There being no law in force, the
next best thing was a resort to "lynch law."
This was the experience of Laramie.

Laramie is now an orderly, well-governed city,
where the rights of person and property are re-
spected, and forcibly reminds one of the quiet
towns in the East. All saloons and other places
of like character, are closed on the Sabbath, the
churches are well attended, and the schools are lib-
erally patronized. It is one of the most attrac-
tive towns on the line of the Union Pacific
road, and offers many advantages to those who
desire, for any reason, a change of location.

In addition to other public institutions else-


ern towiia -n the early days of their settlement.
The same class of human beings that had popu-
lated and depopulated North Platte, Julesburg,
Cheyenne, and other places, lived and flourished
here until the next move was made. They were
gamblers, thieves, prostitutes, murderers bad
men and women of every calling and description
under the heavens, and from almost every nation-
ality on the globe and when they could prey
upon no one else, would, as a matter of course,
prey upon each other. The worst that has ever
been written of these characters does not depict
the whole truth ; they were, in many cases, out-
laws from the East fled to escape the conse-
quences of crimes committed there, and each
man was a law unto himself. Armed to the very
teeth, it was simply a word and a shot, and
inany times the shot came first. Of course those

where mentioned, Laramie has the location of
the territorial penitentiary, a small wing of
which is already constructed, and which is
plainly visible only a short distance west of the
railroad track. A good hotel is kept at the
old depot. For years it was a regular dining
station, and is still one of the most important
and interesting places on the Omaha route,
but the dining station has recently been trans-
ferred to Rock Creek, fifty-two miles farther
west, the better to accommodate the hour of din-
ing to the wants of travelers. With a manu-
factory for soda, and the mines of this
article properly developed, Laramie will sup-
ply the world with soda enough to raise not
only biscuits and bread, but no small sum of
money as a return for the investment. The
rolling mills and machine and repair shops of


the company are sources of perpetual trade and
income, and must of necessity increase with the
annually increasing business of the company. A
visit to the soda lakes, gold mines, Iron Mount-
ain, Red Buttes and other places of interest in
the vicinity, together with good hotel accommo-
dations, will sure-
ly lure the trav-
eler to spend a
few days in this
" Gem city of the

Li a r a m i e
JPeafc. This is
the highest peak
of the Black Hills
Range in Wyom-
ing and Colorado,
north of Long's
Peak, and is about
10,000 feet high.
The Hayden ex-
pi o r i n g party,
who were en-
camped at its
base, describe wit-
nessing a sunset
scene of rare
beauty. The sun
passed down di-
rectly behind the
summit of Lara-
mie Peak. The
whole range of
mountains was
gilded with a
golden light, and
the haziness of the
atmosphere gave
to the whole scene
a deeper beauty.
The valleys at the
base of the Cotton-
wood and Laramie
Rivers are full of
pleasant little
streams and
grassy plains.
Sometimes these
valleys expand
out into beautiful
oval park-like
areas, which are
favorite resorts of
wild game, and
would be exceedingly desirable for settlements.
Emigrants would find here beautiful scenery,
pure air and water, and a mild and extremely
healthy climate. Cereals and roots could be easily
raised, and stock-raising could be made a source
of wealth to them and the whole community.

The Windmills of the Union rdciflc


Railway. The traveler notices with interest
the ever frequent windmills which appear at
every station, and are such prominent objects
over the broad prairies. They are used for sup-
plying the locomotives and station houses with
water. Probably no finer specimens exist in the

United States than
are found on the
lines of this road.
In these tanks
is a large hollow
globe floating in
the water. These
globes are so con-
nected with lev-
ers that when the
water has reached
a certain height,,
the slats or fans
are thrown in line
with the wind, and
the machine stops.
As the water is
drawn off for sup-
plying the locomo-
tives, the ball falls,
and the machine
is again put in mo-
tion. They are
thus self-regula-
ting and self-act-
ing. The water is
thrown up by a
forcing pump. A
curious fact may
be here mention-
ed. These tanks,
when closely cov-
ered, have thus far
proved that there
is enough caloric
in the water to
prevent it from

Wind River
Mo u ntains.
These mountains,
seen on the map
and just north of
the railroad, are
destined soon to
celebrity, for their
mining value, al-
though as yet but
partially explored.
Two well-known peaks rise among them, Fre-
mont's Peak and Snow's Peak, the latter being the
highest; its elevation is given by Fremont as 13,570
feet. The mountains are filled with a dense
growth of a species of the nut pine, which fur-
nishes food for innumerable birds and squirrels,
and supplies the Indians with their favorite food..


Indian Burial Tree. Among the Indian
tribes there are quite a number whose custom is
to honor their dead with burial places in the tops
of favored trees. The Comanches, Apaches,
Cheyennes, Arrapahoes and Kiowas all do this.
After an Indian is dead, his corpse is securely
wrapped like a mummy ; with it are put food,
arms, tobacco, etc., which its spirit is supposed to
want in his trip to the happy hunting-ground,
and the whole covered with an outer covering
made of willows. All the Indians of the tribe
celebrate mourning both before and after this is
done ; then the body is placed upon a platform,
constructed in some old tree, usually a large cot-
ton-wood. The feet of the departed Indian are
turned with care to the southward, for thither
resides the Great Spirit, so the Indians say
and thither he is going. In some of their favor-

Wyoming. They are really the first range of
the Rockies. They begin at the valley of the
North Platte River, directly south oi Fort Fet-
terman, and unite with the Medicine Bow Range,
in northern Colorado, south-west from Sherman.
Laramie Peak and Reed's Peak, north of the
Laramie Canon, are the highest peaks in this
range. The waters which flow from them east of
the Black Hills, and those which flow west from
the Medicine Bow Range, all unite in the North
Platte River, which describes a half circle around
their northern extremity, and then flows east-
ward to the Missouri River. This range of
mountains, as before stated, is crossed at Sher-
man. They have not been prospected to any
great extent for the precious metals, but gold,
silver, copper, iron and other minerals are known
to exist. Iron is found in large quantities.


ite groves, as many as eight or ten bodies have
been found in a single tree. Another mode of
burial is to erect a scaffold on some prominent
knoll or bluff. These customs are prevalent
among those Indian tribes which are most rov-
ing, and live in the saddle. Foot Indians,"
those which inhabit the plains, and are peaceable,
most invariably bury their dead in the ground
always, however, accompanied with such good
things as he will need in his trips thereafter in
the new hunting-grounds.

The Black Hills of Wyoming, and the
Medicine Bow Range. In going west, the
first range of real mountains the traveler meets
with are what are called the Black Hills of

About 18 miles north-east from Laramie is Iron
Mountain, on the head of Chugwater Creek. It
is said to be nearly pure, and will some day be
developed. There has been talk of a railroad
from Cheyenne with a branch to this mountain,
but nothing has been done yet. In searching
for a route for the Union Pacific Railway, a
survey of the Laramie Canon was made, but
it was found to be impracticable for a railroad.
It, however, has grand scenery, and will become
a place of resort, by tourists, as soon as the In-
dian question is settled. The Black Hills virtu-
ally connect with the Medicine Bow Range at
both extremities, bearing to the left around the
circle of the North Platte, and to the right south


of Sherman. The canons of both the Laramie
and Platte Rivers are rugged and grand. Lara-
mie Peak has an elevation of 10,000 feet, and
lies in plain view off to the right from Lookout
to Medicine Bow Stations.

Crossing the Black Hills, the road strikes the
Laramie Plains, and then the Medicine Bow
Range rises grandly before you. At Laramie
City the road running north you look west
and behold Sheep Mountain in front, whose sum-
mit is 10,000 feet above the sea ; to the left of
this is Mt. Agassiz, so named in honor of the
distinguished scientist who gave his life to the
cause ne loved so well. To the right of Sheep


Mountain, which is in the Medicine feow Range,
you discover what seems to be a large depression
in the mountains. This is where the Little Lara-
mie River heads, and across it, to the right, still
other peaks of this range lift their snowy heads.
The range is now on your left until you pass
around its northern bend and into the North
Platte Valley again at Fort Steele. On the
northern extremity, Elk Mountain looms up, the
best view of which can be obtained as you pass
from Medicine Bow Station to Fort Steele, pro-
vided, of course, you look when the foot hills do
not obscure your vision. The Medicine Bow
Range is also full of the precious metals, mostly


gold, but has not been developed. This
range is also heavily timbered, and abounds
in game, and, except the highest peaks, is
free from snow in the summer. The timber
is mostly pine, and immense quantities are
annually cut for railroad ties, telegraph and
fence poles and wood. Nearly every ranch
on the Laramie Plains is supplied with poles
for corrals, sheds and fences from, the Black
Hills or Medicine Bow Range. The Lara-
mie Plains is the great basin between these
two ranges, and the road has to pass north-
ward a long distance in order to find its
way out. The only marble yet discovered
in the Western country ot real value, so
ffir as we know, is the deposit owned by
the Wyoming Marble Companv, and located
twenty-five miles north of Laramie City,
twelve miles from the line of the Union
Pacific Railway. The ledge is eighty feet
wide, has been traced for ten miles on
its surface, and prospected to a depth of
one hundred feet without reaching bot-
tom. Leaving the grand views of these
mountains, vhe traveler enters upon a vast,
dreary and unproductive waste fitly called
a desert. Still its rough and broken ap-
pearance, with rocks, hills, and mountains
on either side, affords a strange and pleasant
relief from the dull monotony of the eastern

Leaving Laramie City, the track passes close
to the company's rolling mills. We soon cross
the Laramie River on a wooden truss bridge,
find run along near its banks to

Ho well, which is a side track, eight miles
from Laramie, and 580.8 miles from Omaha;
elevation, 7,090 feet. Passing over the plains,
walled in by mountains on either side, we reach
the next station,

Jfi/oiniuff, over fifteen miles from Laramie,
and 588.4 miles from Omaha; elevation, 7,068
feet. Having reached the highest altitude on
the line of the road between the two oceans, at
Sherman, you see we are now going down hill
a. little, and from this time until we cross the
Sierras, there will be a constant succession of
" ups arid downs " in our journey. Wyoming is
on the Little Laramie River, which empties into
the Laramie River near the station. It is a tele-
graph station with a few houses in the vicinity
in the midst of a fine grazing country, with
sheep and cattle ranches in sight. Leaving
Wyoming, the aspect of the country soon
changes. A bluff on the right lies near the
track, the country becomes more undulating as
we pass on, and the grass seems to grow thinner
except on the bottom near the stream. Sage
brush and greasewood, well known to all frontier
men, begin to appear. We have seen a little ot
sage brush before in the vicinity of Julesburg,
and Sidney, and now strike it again.

Cooper's Lake, 598.9 miles from Omaha,
with an elevation of 7,044 feet It is a telegraph
station with the usual side track and section-
houses. The station is named from the little
lake near by, which can best be seen from the
cars at the water tank, beyond the station. It
isn't much of a *ake, nor can much of it be seen
from the car windows. The water is said to
look very green in the summer, and to differ but
little in appearance from the green grass which
surrounds it. The lake itself is about half a
mile wide, and a mile and a half long, and about
two miles from the track, though it does not
seem half that distance. It is fed by Cooper and
Dutton Creeks, but has no visible outlet.

Lookout, 607.6 miles from Omaha, and
about thirty-five miies Irom Laramie ; elevation,
7,16y feet. The road left what may be called the
Laramie bottom at the last station, and now
winds through a rolling country, which soon be-
comes rough and broken, with the sage brush
constantly increasing. Notice the changes in
the elevation as you pass aloncr.

Miser, 615.9 miles from Omaha ; elevation,
6,810 feet. Near here coal has been found.
It is in the vicinity of Rock Creek, which is
said to be the eastern rim of the coal fields
discovered on this elevated plateau, in the mid-
dle of the Continent. From the last station
to this, and beyond, you have fine and con-
stantly changing views from the moving train,
of Laramie Peak, away off to the right, and
of Elk Mountain to the left. Sage brush is
the only natural production of the soil in this
region, and is said to be eaten by antelope and
elk in the absence of grass or anything better.
It is also said that sheep will feed upon it,
and that wherever antelope live and flourish,
sheep will do likewise.

Rock Creek, so called from a creek of the
same name, which the road here crosses ; 624.6
miles from Omaha; elevation, 6.690 feet. This
is a regular eating station, instead of Laramie.
The dining-room is beautifully decorated with
flowers, vines and horns of game, a pretty
Bay window with blooming flowers and walls
covered with vines, and the display of hanging

Rock Creek rises in the northeastern peaks
of the Medicine Bow Range, and runs in
that direction to this station, near which
it turns toward the west, and unites with
Medicine Bow River, near Medicine Bow

Stages depart from Rock Creek daily for Forts
Fetterman, McKinney, Custer, Keogh, and all
points in the Big Horn and Yellowstone regions.

Wilcox. A side track for the passing of
trains, 632.3 miles from Omaha, and 7,033 feet
above the sea. The next station is

Aurora. This station was formerly named
Como, after Lake Como, which the rail-


road here passes. One peculiarity of this lake
is that it is near Rock Creek separated from it
by a ridge of hills estimated at 200 feet high,
with no visible outlet. The station is 640.2
miles from Omaha, and 6,680 feet above the
sea. The lake has been estimated to be 200
feet above the surface of Rock Creek, from
which it is separated as above stated. It is
fed by warm springs, which also supply the
water tank of the company at the station. In a
cold day the steam from these springs can be
seen at some distance. It is also a great resort
for ducks, and sportsmen can obtain fine shooting
here in the proper season. If lizards are fish
with legs, then we have fish with legs abounding
in this lake and vicinity. These animals are from
6 to 18 inches in length, with a head a good deal
like that of a frog, and tufts or tassels where the
gills would be on a fish. They have four legs and
crawl around to a certain extent on the land.
There are two kinds of these lizards, one differ-
ing from the other in size and color more than
in shape, and either kind are devoured by the
ducks when they can be caught. The lake is
about one mile wide in the widest place, and two
and a half miles long.

VaUey of the Chug water. The Chug-
water Valley is about 100 miles long. It has
been for many years a favorite locality for winter-
ing stock, not only on account of the excellence of
the grass and water, but also from the fact that
the climate is mild throughout the winter. Cat-
tle and horses thrive well all winter without hay
or shelter. The broad valley is protected from
strong cold winds by high walls or bluffs. The
soil everywhere is fertile, and wherever the sur-
face can be irrigated, good crops of all kinds of
cereals and hardy vegetables can be raised with-
out difficulty.

In this valley and near the source of the
Chugwater, are thousands of tons of iron ore,
indicating deposits of vast extent and rich-
ness, which can be made easily accessible when-
ever desirable to construct a railroad to Mon-

Medicine Bow is 647.3 miles from Omaha ;
elevation, 6,550 feet. The river, from which the
station is named, was crossed a short distance
before we reached the station. It rises directly
south, in the Medichie Bow Mountains, and runs
nearly north to the place where it is crossed by
the railroad, after which it turns toward the
west and unites with the North Platte, below
Fort Steele.

There is a roundhouse of five stalls, in which
engines are kept to assist trains up and down
the steep grades between here and Carbon. It
was, until recently, the point from which a large
quantity of military supplies for Fort Fetter-
man and other posts was distribxited, but the
transfer now takes place mainly at Rock Creek.
There are one or two stores, with the inevitable

saloon and several dwellings, in the vicinity.
There is a good wagon road from this place to
Fort Fetterman, distance ninety miles, and it is
by far the nearest route to the gold fields in the
Black Hills of Dakota, for passengers and miners
from the West. The Indians were disinclined to
leave this region and even now hardly know how
to give it up. In the summer of 1875, they came
here and stole a herd of between three and four
hundred horses that were grazing on Rock Creek,
it. Don't they kill and scalp a white man,
when'ar they get the better on him ? The mean
varmints, they'll never behave themselves until
you give 'um a clean out and out licking. They
can't onderstand white folks' ways, and they
won't learn 'um, and ef you treat 'um decently^
they think you're afeard. You may depend on't,
Cap., the only way to treat Indians, is to thrash
them well at first.

Medicine Bow is in the midst of a rough,
broken country, over v;hich millions of antelope
and jack rabbits roam at pleasure. When the
road was built here immense quantities of ties
and wood were cut in the mountains south, and
delivered at this place.

Curiosities of Indian Life and Char-
acter. The entire country, from North Platte
over as far as the western border of Laramie
Plains, has been for years the roving ground of
the Indians, of whom we could tell many inter-
esting facts respecting their life and the curious
interviews the overland scouts, trappers, etc.,
have had with them. To a man, every scout will
unite in denunciation of their treachery. Jim
Baker, an old Rocky Mountain trapper, once
told, in his characteristic manner the following,
to General Marcy :

" They are the most onsartainest varmints in
all creation, and I reckon thar not mor'n half
human ; for you never seed a human, arter you'd
fed and treated him to the best fixins in your
lodge, just turn round and steal all your horses,

Online LibraryFrederick E ShearerThe Pacific tourist : J.R. Bowman's illustrated trans-continental guide of travel, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean ... : acomplete traveler's guide of the Union and Central Pacific Railroads ... → online text (page 15 of 61)