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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visit the mountains and California coast, every
year, in search of health, and to try the effect of a
change of climate in restoring them to activity and
vigor. There can be no question but that many
have been benefited by the change, and it is a fact
equally patent that many have left good homes,


troublesome that the route was changed to that
of the Pony Express, and soon afterwards a daily
mail was established at an expense of $1,000,000
annually. The incidents of overland stage life
have been repeated over and over again in books
of Western adventure. Here and there were
lonely post-offices away out on the distant prairies
or plains. No passengers to set down or take up,
the driver throws out his mail-bag, catches the
one thrown to him, and whirls on without stop-

Sing, or scarcely checking the speed of his team,
lorning, noon or night comes the inevitable
" refreshment station" such as it is, where the
weary passengers, well shaken up, were glad to
regale themselves on pork and beans, corn bread,
and "slumgullion" the Far Western name for
tea. Toward the middle of the night, perhaps,

kind friends, and plenty of care to die alone
and among strangers. With this last class the
main trouble is, they wait too long in the East
before starting. The disease, more or less rapid
in its strides, gets too firm a hold upon the sys-
tem becomes too deeply rooted to be easily
thrown off ; then they start for health and rest
that cannot be found, and most always go too far
in search of it. There are a few words of ad-
vice to these people, which are the result of years
of observation and experience on the plains and
among the mountains.

First, the discovery of a tendency to lung and
throat diseases should be a sufficient incentive
to prompt one to an immediate change of cli-
mate. Do not wait until a change becomes hope-
less because of the advanced stages of the disease.


Second, do not at first go too far. This is
another mistake frequently committed by those
who finally get started.

Third, do not go too fast. Remember the
railroad from Omaha, in less than two days, will
take you to an altitude of more than 8,000 feet,
and this is a severe test on a pair of healthy
lungs, to say nothing of its effect upon weak
ones. First go as far as Grand Island, and stop.
This place is 1,850 feet above the sea, and you
are in the midst of a fine prairie country,
with a generally clear atmosphere and balmy
breezes. Here are good hotel accommodations,
in a thickly settled region, where you can obtain
plenty of fresh milk, cream and eggs, and such

either along the stream or on the adjoining high-
lands, still camping out, until you reach North
Platte. Then take another rest, look around the
country, mount your horse and ride out to the
cattle ranches and live with the herders for a
time. Do not be in a hurry to get away, and
after you have been here a month or six weeks,
if you still improve, or even hold your own with
the character of the life herein prescribed, it will
be safe for you to go still farther, and in the same
manner. But if you are not benefited by the
trip thus far, it will be better for you to return to
your homes and friends, where loving hands can
smooth your pillow and administer comfort dur-
ing your declining days.


other articles of diet as are necessary and condu-
cive to your welfare. Ride or walk out from
town ; go around among the farmers, and if,
after a month or so, you improve and wish to go
farther, buy a team and wagon, and from this
place go along leisurely overland, camping out if
the weather h favorable. There are opportuni-
ties for hunting and fishing, along the road,
which will afford amusement and recreation.
When you get to Kearny Junction, stop a few
weeks. Notice the effect of your new mode of
life and the climate upon your health, and if
you simply hold your own, it is safe for you to
take another step up the Platte Valley in your
westward journey. Leisurely pursue your way,

If the journey has benefited you, pursue it
overland and camping out, to Sidney or Chey-
enne, up the Lodge Pole Valley and along side
of the railroad, or at Julesburg go up the South
Platte Valley to Greeley. You are now, if at
Cheyenne, over 6,000 feet above the sea, and be-
tween 5,000 and 6,000 feet at either Greeley or
Denver, in the midst of a rarified and dry atmos-
phere. If your health is regained, do not think
of returning, for this is almost sure to bring on a
relapse, which is usually sudden, and from which
there is no escape; your safety depends upon
your remaining in these high altitudes, and on
the high and dry plains of the West. A trip
down in New Mexico, and across the plains to


Arizona, will also prove beneficial. In the old
overland times, thousands of consumptives re-
gained their health in driving teams, and by
slowly crossing the plains, who would have died
if the same journey had been taken on the cars.
By the latter mode, the change from a damp and
heavy atmosphere in the East, to the rarified and
dry air of the plains and mountains, is too sud-
den ; and after all, if the disease has become
thoroughly seated, it is doubtful if any change
will be effectual. It is an experiment which
should only be tried with all possible safeguards
thrown around it.

Buffalo Grass. After you have passed the
stations of North Platte and Sidney, you will ob-
serve the entire country carpeted with a short,
dried up grass growing in little bunches. This is
the famous buffalo grass which covers thousands of
miles of the plains northward and southward and
westward. Though it gives to the country a
dried look, as if the very appearance of desola-
tion and sterility, yet it is the richest grass ever
known in the world. The entire State of Ne-
braska is famous for its remarkable variety of
grasses. The Platte Valley is the home of no
less than 149 varieties, all native to the soil,
and were it not for the extraordinary beauty
and luxuriance of the green carpet the grasses
make, the Valley of the Platte would be almost
wholly devoid of interest. The buffalo grass is
rarely over two to three inches in height, and its
seed is produced on flowers almost covered by
leaves close to the ground. It grows in little
tufts, broad and dense, and is exceedingly rich
and sweet, having no less than 3 6-10 per cent,
of saccharine matter. When making its first
growth in the spring, it is green, then dries on
its stem and remains the rest of the year like
cured hay on the open ground, retaining all its
sweetness. Without a single exception, horses,
mules and stock of all descriptions, will forsake
all other kinds of grass until all the buffalo grass
within reach has been consumed. While the
buffaloes roamed over this country it was their
natural food, but with their disappearance and
the coming of the white man, it is disappearing
to give place to others. Leaving North Platte,
the next station is

Nichols, 299.4 miles from Omaha, and 2,882
feet above the sea. It is simply a side track with
section-house near, in the midst of the level
bottom lands between the two rivers, both of
which are in sight. Before reaching North Platte
it will be observed that the bottom narrows, and
that the bluffs or sand-hills in some instances
approach the river's bank. But after leaving
the town, for nearly twenty miles west, the level
prairie between the rivers spreads out in view,
with bluffs on either side beyond. Between
North Platte and this station there are a few set-
tlers, but the territory is mostly occupied as the
winter range of Keith & Barton's herd of cattle,

as they are easily confined between the rivers
with little help.

O>Fallon's\s the next station. It is 307.9
miles from Omaha, with an elevation of 2,976
feet. It is a telegraph station. O'Fallon's Bluffs
are plainly visible south of the South Platte
River, which they closely approach ; at this
point we lose sight of the Valley of the North
Platte a ridge of low hills jutting down from
the west, while the railroad follows the south
river. The railroad reached this place late in the
fall of 1866, but North Platte was the terminal
station until Julesburg was reached in 1867. If
there was any timber on the streams in this
vicinity, it has long since disappeared. On an
island in the South Platte the Indians used to
camp, and from their hiding places in the sand-
hills and bluffs, frequently attacked emigrants
and trains, but as before remarked, with the buf-
faloes, the Indians disappear.

Dexter is simply a side track where trains
occasionally meet and pass. It is 31 5.2 miles from
Omaha, and has an elevation of 3,000 feet. The
bluffs here come very near the river, and they
are utilized in the building of a corral the rocky
ledge answering all the purposes of a fence.
The monotony of the scenery up to this point
now passes away, and the traveler will always
find something in the ever-varying views of rocks,
bluffs, streams and plains that will interest him
in the journey.

Alkali. A telegraph station, 322.4 miles from
the Missouri River, and 3,038 feet above the sea.
The alkali spots which have been witnessed in
the soil since we left Omaha, are now more fre-
quent, and the station naturally takes its name
from these characteristics. This station has a
small depot, side track and section-house ; is in
the midst of a fine grazing country, and opposite
an old stage station south of the river.

Koscoe. Simply a side track, 332.0 miles
from Omaha, with an elevation of 3,105 feet.
Just before reaching this place, and in this vicin-
ity, the railroad passes through more sandy
bluffs that approach the river.

Ogalalla is the next station, 341.6 miles
from Omaha. Elevation 3,190 feet. It is the
county-seat of Keith County, Nebraska, and is
destined to be the Texas town on the line of the
Union Pacific. The regular trail for driving
cattle from Texas may be said to terminate here.
It has a depot, water tank, side tracks, cattle
chutes, store, one or two boarding-houses, saloon,
etc. It is the head-quarters and outfitting place
of a large number of ranchmen, who have herds
of cattle in this vicinity. It is some twelve
miles from the North Platte River, where a num-
ber of herds find ample range. In 1880, it is
claimed that nearly 50,000 head of Texas cattle
were driven to this point, and afterwards dis-
tributed to various parties to whom they were
sold. A large number cf them were taken to the


Indian agencies at Red Cloud and Spotted Tail.
There will be numerous buildings erected soon to
accommodate the growing necessities of the town.
Leaving Ogalalla we next come to

Brule, so called from the Brule Sioux, a
band of which Spotted Tail is the chief. Red
Cloud is chief of the Ogalalla Sioux. This is
probably the most powerful tribe of Indians now
existing in the country, and when all united they
are said to be able to raise at least 10,000 war-
riors. Those of them who have been taken east
to Washington and other eastern cities, seem to
have lost their belligerent feelings toward the
whites, and will not probably go to war with
them unless misled by tricksters or influenced by
some other powerful motive. The young " bucks"
who have remained on their reservations, how-
ever, think they can whip the whole country in
a very short time if they should once get at it.
This station was a favorite crossing place with
this band of Sioux during the years when they
used to hunt on the rivers south, or go on their
scalping and horse-stealing expeditions. Brule
is 351.2 miles from Omaha, and has an eleva-
tion of 3,266 feet. North of this place, on
the North Platte, is Ash Hollow, a celebrated
camping ground for Indians and the scene of a
great victory over them by General Harney, in
1839. The whole tribe of Sioux probably have
a greater admiration for General Harney, to-day,
than for any other living American. Physical
force is the only power which they can be made
to respect and fear. Next comes

Biff Spring, which is 360.9 miles fr.m the
eastern end of the road, with an elevation of
3,325 feet. It is so named from large springs
which break to the surface of the ground at the
foot of the bluffs, on the right-hand side of the
road going west, and in plain sight of the cars.
The water tank, at this station, is supplied from
these springs. The water is excellent, and the
station is quite a camping place for those who
continue to journey overland. This is a tele-
graph station.

Barton, called after Hon. Guy C. Barton of
North Platte. It is 368.7 miles from Omaha, and
3,421 feet above the sea simply a side track
where trains meet and pass. Beyond this sta-
tion, a short distance, the old town of Julesburg
can be seen across the river. Late in 1S75, a
stray herd of about six hundred buffaloes quietly
passed over the old town site to and from the
river, where they went for water. It will proba-
bly be their last visitation to this part of the

Denver Junction 371 miles from Omaha,
3,541 feet above the sea. The "Denver Short
Line," a branch of the Union Pacific Railroad,
here turns off to the southwest, soon enters
South Platte Valley, and, by easy grades and
great saving in distance over existing routes,
Jcads direct to Denver, while the Overland Route

pursues its course directly west. This branch
is graded and bridged nearly the entire distance
and ironed part of the way. It will doubtless
be in operation through to Denver in August,
1881. This branch was first commenced some
ten years ago, but, by an agreement made in
1875, the Union Pacific, or men in the com-
pany, relinquished the proposed and completed
roads in Colorado to the Kansas Pacific, and
the latter road relinquished its through-busi-
ness to the Pacific Coast, and its efforts to com-
pel the Union Pacific to pro rate with it from
Cheyenne West. This arrangement effected th o
entire suspension of all efforts to complete thi i?
road until the Union Pacific Company bougl) fr
up the Kansas Pacific in 1879, when operations
were soon again commenced on abandoned
routes. This line will be some seventy mile?
shorter than the present route from Omaha to
Denver via Cheyenne, eighty -five miles shorter
from the Missouri River to Denver than the oltl
Kansas Pacific route from Kansas City, and 200
miles shorter than the Atchison, Topeka and
Santa Fe from the same point.

The Union Pacific Company is arrang-
ing to run a fast Denver Express through
from Omaha to Denver via this line, for the
accommodation of passengers arriving at Omaha
from the East at eight, and will enable patrons
to reach the "Queen City of the Plains" from
Chicago or St. Louis in twelve hours' quicker
time than ever before.

Weir, formerly Julesburg 377.4 mile*
from Omaha, and 3,500 feet above the sea is an
interesting historical point, and for many yeai -
has been one of the most important stations ii
Western Nebraska. It was named after Jul< i
Burg a frontier character, who was killed by
one Jack Slade, another rough, in the old ovei -
land stage times. The old town was across the
river, some four miles below the present
station, and was a pretty rough place. The
station is opposite old Fort Sedgwick, now
abandoned, and was the proposed junction of
the branch railroad, above described, up tha
South Platte River. It has been quite a place
for shipping stock, has one or two stores, some
adobe houses and stables, with cattle-yards and
chutes. At this point the Union Pacific passes
through the northeastern corner of Colorado,
and here it leaves the South Platte River and
ascends Lodge Pole Creek to within a few
miles of Cheyenne.

Incidents in the History of Julcslmrg.

The Overland Stage Company had quite an im-
portant station at Julesburg, south side of the
river, and about a mile east of the location of
Fort Sedgwick. It was in 1805, before any rails
had been laid on the Union Pacific. The stage
company had accumulated a large quantity of
supplies at this station, and the Indians knowing


this, and ever hostile to the travel of the whites
through this region, had their cupidity aroused.
Troops were scattered all along the route, and
frequently had to escort the stages from one sta-
tion to another. At Julesburg, the road crossed
the South Platte, followed the Lodge Pole up to
Sidney, and then crossed over to the North
Platte, which it ascended to Fort Laramie and
beyond. Capt. N. J. O'Brien was in command
at the fort, with one company of the Seventh
Iowa Cavalry, and two pieces of artillery. On
the 7th of January, 1875, the Sioux and Chey-
ennes, one thousand strong, discovering the
small force to defend it, attacked the fort with
great bravery. They had previously run the
stage into the station, killing one man and one
horse. When their presence was discovered,

but leaving their dead comrades to fall into the
hands of the blood-thirsty foe. The Indians per-
ceiving their disposition to fall back, redoubled
their efforts, and endeavored to cut them off from
the fort. They attacked with greater fury and
boldness than ever, and came very near effecting
their purpose. The men, however, fell back in
good order, and were successful in gaining the
fort. The Indians now surrounded this, but the
artillery was brought out and served with good
effect, so that they were kept at bay, and event-
ually night put an end to the conflict. In the
night the Indians withdrew, and when the morn-
ing broke, not one was in sight. But now comes
the most horrible part of this incident. The
men went out to find, if possible, the bodies of
their dead comrades. They found them, but


Captain O'Brien made the best disposition possi-
ble with his small force. He left a sergeant with
some twelve men in the fort, to handle the artil-
lery, and mounting the rest, thirty-seven men
and one officer, besides himself, went out to meet
the savages. The charge was sounded, and in
they went. About a mile from the fort there is
a projecting hill in the bluffs, back of and around
which the main body of the Indians were con-
cealed. As the men neared the top of this hill,
they saw the large force opposed to them, but
never flinched. The Indians charged upon them
with great fury, and for quite a time the unequal
contest was continued. But his ranks having
become depleted by the loss of fourteen of the
thirty-seven enlisted men, the captain ordered
them to fall back, which they did in good order,

nearly all were beyond recognition ; stripped of
every vestige of clothing, mutilated beyond ac-
count, cold and stark they lay, in the places they
had fallen ; their fingers, toes and ears cut off,
their mouths filled with powder and ignited, and
every conceivable indignity committed upon their
persons. Sorrowfully they gathered up these re-
mains, and conveyed them to the fort, where
they were decently buried ; but the recollections
of that awful night, did not fade from the mem-
ories of the survivors of that company. In sub-
sequent battles with the savages, their courage
was quickened and their arms nerved to deeds of
daring, which cost many a warrior his life, and
gave him a sudden exit to his happy hunting
grounds. The loss of the savages in this battle,
could not, at the time,, be accurately ascertained,


but from the best information since obtained,
admitted by the Indians themselves, they had
sixty-three warriors killed in this engagement.
None were found on the field, as they always carry
their dead away with them.

On the second day of February, less than a
month from the above attack, they appeared in
the vicinity of the fort again, and attacked and
burned the station house of the stage company,
other out-buildings and stores, and one or two
houses adjoining. Five miles below the station
was a ravine called the Devil's Dive, through
which the stages passed. Captain O'Brien and
four or five men were escorting the coach with
three or four passengers, one of whom was a lady.
As he ascended the bank of the ravine going to-
ward the fort, he saw a .smoke, and riding up to the
top of a hill, he saw Indians. Returning to the
coach, he had every man, passengers and all, care-
fully examine his arms, and caused the coach to
proceed slowly along. Soon the road neared the
bank of the river, and here he mst some team
sters with wagons, who, beyond a pistol or two,
were unarmed, and who had left the station for
some object, less than a half hour before. They
now becam3 aware of the situation, and were
greatly alarmed. These msn the captain ordered
to return and keep near tha stage, which they did,
all moving slowly toward the station and fort.
Meanwhile the heads of Indians were popping
up quite frequently, over the bluffs in the dis-
tance. Arriving near one of these, the captain
boldly rode to the top, and taking his blanket
swung it three times over his head. The Indians
saw this, and supposed he had a large force in
the rear, which hs was signaling to come up, and
they began to fly. The river was frozen, and
sand had been scattered over two roadways on
the ice. They took everything they could from
the burning station and houses, and beat a re-
treat across the river. At the first sign of their
leaving, the stage-driver and teamsters put their
animals to their utmost speed, and ran into the
fort, the captain arriving there in time to give
the Indians a few parting shots from his artillery
as the last of them, ran across the river. The
shots ricocheted along the ice, and caused the
Indians to drop some of their plunder, though
doing no further damage, as we could learn.

These are only two of the many incidents in
our frontier history, that will soon be beyond
the reach and knowledge of either the present or
future generations.

The Great Indian Battle at Summit

On the divide south of the South Platte River,
and about midway between old Fort Morgan
and old Fort Sedgwick, opposite to which Jules-
burg now stands, there are some fine springs
the only good water in quite a region of territory.
They are now called Summit Springs; and are


near the summit of a divide from which the
water, when there is any, runs north and south-
In the winter of 18(59, Major Frank North, be-
fore alluded to, received orders to recruit his
scouts for the summer campaign. He organized
one company in February, and two the following
April, the total number in the three companies
being one hundred and fifty men, exclusive of
their white officers. In April of that year, Gen-
eral Carr, taking two of these companies and
eight of the Fifth Cavalry, then stationed at
Fort McPherson, was ordered to scout the coun-
try in the Republican, Solomon and Saline Val-
leys and their tributaries, and strike any ma-
rauding bands of Indians he might find. At
that time, the Indians were raiding the advanced
settlements in the lower Republican and Solomon
Valleys, burning houses, killing and scalping
men, women and children, and stealing all this
horses they could find. The third company of
the scouts had not then been organized. As
soon as this was done, Major North was ordered
to take them across the country from Fort
Kearny, and join General Carr's command, at
the mouth of Prairie Dog Creek, in the Repub-
lican Valley. This he did, effecting a junction
about the oth of May. After scouting the coun-
try between the Republican and Solomon for
about a month, the command returned to the
Republican, where it met a supply train, which
had been sent out from Fort McPherson, and
then proceeded up the valley. On arriving at
the mouth of Medicine Creek, they struck the
trail of a large village. This was on the first
day of July, and they continued to follow it up
the river for about one hundred and twenty-five
miles. The trail then left the valley, and bore
off to the North, until it struck Frenchman
Creek, then up that creek to its source, and then
over a divide to Summit Springs, about thirty-
five miles from the headwaters of the Frenchman.
The Indians of this village kept pickets out as a
sort of a rear-guard, but did not think of an at-
tack from another quarter. The Pawnee scouts
were constantly in the advance, and kept the
command well informed of the condition and dis-
position of the Indians. They had discovered
the rear-guard of the Indians, without bein^
themselves seen, reporting their situation, and
telling just how the attack should be conducted,
in order to be successful. A wide detour would

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 9 of 61)