Henry T Williams.

Pacific tourist : Adams and Bishop's illustrated trans-continental guide of travel, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean : a complete traveler's guide of the Union and Central Pacific railroads online

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Online LibraryHenry T WilliamsPacific tourist : Adams and Bishop's illustrated trans-continental guide of travel, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean : a complete traveler's guide of the Union and Central Pacific railroads → online text (page 17 of 62)
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skirmishes with the Indians in this vicinity in
those days, and now and then you will be able to
find an old settler who will entertain you for
hours, in the recital of wild adventures and hair-
breadth escapes. A visit to the site of the old
fort and the region of country around, together
with a close view of the grand scenery of the
mountains, will amply repay the traveler for his
time and money. About four miles south of
Percy, fine veins of coal were discovered in 1875,
but they have not been opened or tested. One
is nine and the other over twenty feet in thick-
ness. Notice a suggestive sign as you pass the
station. It is "Bowles's Hotel," and of course,
indicates that everything is perfectly "straight"

South of this station there is some very fine
grazing land, mostly in the valleys of the little
streams that head in the Medicine Bow Range,
and flow westward into the North Platte River,
and a considerable quantity of hay is cut during
favorable seasons.

A Curious and Exciting ~Race. En-
gineers have told of a curious scene on the Pacific
Railroad not far from the Laramie Plains, of a
race between the locomotive and a herd of deer.
At daybreak, the locomotive, with its long train
of carriages and freight cars, entered a narrow
valley or gorge, where runs quite a rivulet of
clear and cold mountain water. On the banks
of this stream a large herd of red deer were
standing, occasionally lapping the refresh-
ing element. The timid creatures, startled by
the presence in their midst of the " iron horse,"
knew not what course to pursue in order to get
away from it. The engineer, to add to their
evident perplexity, caused the whistle to send
forth its loudest and most discordant shriek.
This was enough for the deer. To get beyond
reach of this new enemy, they started up the
road, taking the course the locomotive was
pursuing. The race became exciting. It was a
superb trial of steam and iron against muscle
and lung. The engineer " put on steam," and
sent his locomotive with its burdensome train,
whirling along the track ; but for many miles
six or seven it was estimated the frightened
animals kept ahead, fairly beating their antago-
nist. At last the pursued and pursuer got into a
more open country. This the deer perceiving,
they sprang on one side, and, with unabated
speed, ran to a safe distance, where beyond reach
of locomotive or rifle, they stood and gazed with
dilated eyes their limbs trembling from un-
usual exertion, and gasping for breath at their
fast receding enemy.

Dnnn is the next station simply a side
track. It is 674.2 miles from Omaha; elevation,
6,875 feet. The rugged, broken character of the
country with cuts for the track, and fills in the




valleys, will interest the observing tourist if he
passes by in daylight.

St. Marysj 681.7 miles from Omaha, with

elevation of 6,751 feet. It is a telegraph sta-
tion with accompanying side tack, section-house,
etc. From this station to the next, the bluffs
are rugged and wild, i\\ a , road passing through a
short tunnel and several deep cuts. There is
nothing but the changing scenery as you move
along with the train, to relieve this country from
its desolate appearance. Sage brush and grease-
wood continue to be the only products of the soil.

Walcott, a side track 689.5 miles from the
Missouri River, and 6,800 feet above the sea.
After leaving this station, the road winds around
the bluffs, passing through some very deep cuts,
near one of which there is a stone quarry from
which stone is taken by the company for road
purposes at Green River. A side track to the
quarry has been laid and stone easily loaded on
the flat cars used for their transportation. Sud-
denly bursting through one of these cuts we
enter the valley of the Platte, through what is
called Rattle Snake Pass, by the railroad men,
and arrive at

Fort Steele, which is 695.3 miles from
Omaha, 122.5 miles from Laramie, and has an
elevation of 6,810 feet. It is a telegraph station,
and the site of the government post of the same
name We cross North Platte River just before
arriving at the station, and are 4,051 feet higher
tha:i when we crossed the same stream at North
Platte City, near the junction of the two Plattes
in the State of Nebraska. Fort Steele was
established on the last day of June, 1868, by

Col. R. I. Dodge, then of the Thirtieth United
States Infantry. It is considered a good strate-
gic point, as well as a convenient base of supplies,
in case of a campaign against the Indians. The
buildings are mostly of logs, and none of them
very comfortable. In 1875, the government fin-
ished a fine stone hospital building here. The
station also does considerable government busi-
ness, and there is a government depot for receiv-
ing and storing supplies near the track. The
valley of the North Platte at this upper cross-
ing is quite narrow 7 , without the broad and
fertile bottom-lands we were accustomed to ,-ee
below as we whirled along its banks. From the
head of this river in the North Park of Colorado,
to a point as far down as Fort Laramie, its route
describes the form of a horseshoe. Its tributa-
ries from the east mostly rise in the Medicine
Bow Range, and flow westward. They are
principally Douglas Creek, Fresh Creek, Brush
Creek, Cedar Creek, Spring Creek, and Pass
Creek. They are beautiful streams with fine
grass valleys and partially wooded banks. Its
tributaries from the west are Beaver Creek,
(Jrand Encampment Creek, Cow Creek. Hot
Spring Creek, Jack Creek, and Sage Creek.
Hot Spring Creek is so named from the hot sul-
phur springs which are found near its month.
All the streams which rise in the Medicine Bow
Range, and flow into the North Platte. show the
"color "of gold where they have been prospected,
and some rich digLnn^s are said to have been
discovered at the head of Douglas Creek. We
believe it will not lie ]ont, r before the Medicine
Bow Mountains will develop into a rich mining


country. The waters of the Hot Springs re-
ferred to are claimed to possess remarkable me-
dicinal virtues, and are fioin 40 to 45 miles from
Foit Steele, up the right bank of the river.
The wondeis of even these desolate plains do
not begin to be known, and when they are fully
realized, the world will be astonished at the
results. About three miles west of Fort Steele
is the site of Benton the town that was now
wholly abandoned. For a short time it was the
business terminus of the road, while its construc-
tion was going on. and possessed all the charac-
teristics of the railroad towns in those days. At
one time it had a population estimated as high
as five thousand souls. Old iron barrel hoops,
rusty tin cans, a few holes in the ground, a few
posts and stumps, and nearly or quite a hundred
nameless graves in close proximity, are all that

perior satisfaction it would give. The railroad
reached and passed Benton in July, 1868. The
valley of the N. Matte River begins to be occu-
pied by cattle men, as stock can be carried
through the severest winters, thus far experienced,
without hay. Jt has superior advantages, not
only lor grazing, but its numerous "diaws"
or ravines afford friendly shelter in case of storms.

View on the North Matte, near Fort
Fred Steele. The Matte River here is over
700 miles from its mouth near Omaha, and has an
elevation of 6,845 feet. Upon the plains it was
a wide, shallow stream, with sand-bars and shift-
ing currents. Here it is a deep, clear, cold stream,
and but little distant from its source among the
perpetual snow banks of the Rocky Mountains.

Grennvitte\& the next station, 703.7 miles
from Omaha with an elevation of 6,560 feet


now remain to mark the place where Benton
was. It grew in a day, and faded out of sight as
quickly. But it was a red-hot town while it
lasted. A death, sometimes two or three of
them, with corresponding burials, was the morn-
ing custom. Whisky was preferred to water be-
cause it was much easier to obtain, and unre-
strained by civilized society or wholesome laws,
the devil in men and women had full sway, and
made free exhibitions of his nature. The town
was three miles from the North Matte River,
where all the water was obtained and hauled
in, price ten cents per bucket, or one dollar
per barrel. In that town, a drink of regular old
" tangle-foot " whisky, at " two bits " ( twenty-
five cents) would last a good deal longer than
a bucket of water, to say nothing of the su-


above the sea. It is simply a side track for the
meeting and passing of trains. Passenger trains
seldom stop. The next station and the end of
a subdivision of the road is

Rawlins, named in honor of Gen. John A.
Rawlins, General Grant's chief of staff and his
first secretary of war. The springs near here
bear the same name, but it has been incorrectly
spelled, heretofore. This station is 137.9 miles
from Laramie, and 710.7 miles from Omaha. Jt
has an elevation of 6,732 feet. AVe are going up
hill again. The town has a population of over
700 souls, a large majority of whom are railroad
employes. The company has erected a hotel for
the use of its employes and the traveling public,
and has a roundhouse and machine-shops which
are kept pretty busy in the repair of engines.


irmm &[email protected] %*&&&i$%.

The water used by engines on this division is
strongly impregnated with .ilkitli and other sub-
stances, which form scales on the inside of the
boiler and adhere to the flues. The engines are,
therefore, carefully watched and every precaution
taken to guard against accidents. Xorth of the
town, is what might be called in some countries,
a mountain. Xear the east end of this mount-
ain valuable beds of red hematite iron ore
have been found. This ore is very pure, and,
when ground, makes a very hard and durable
paint, it is said to be water and fire-proof when
used in sufficient quantities. The dark red
freight and flat cars which you see on the line of
the road belonging to the company, have been
painted with this material, and it is rapidly
growing into public favor as its merits become
known. There are two mills here for the manu-
facture of this paint, and a large quantity is
always on hand. Forty mfles due north from
Rawlins are the Ferris and Seminole mining dis-^
tricts. These mines were visited, in 1875, b
Professor Hayden and Professor Thompson:
Ths lodes operated by the Vulcan Mining Com-
pany, indicated gold, silver and copper, mixed
with iron. This company is composed mostly of
machanics and employes of the Union Pacific.
They first sunk a shaft on the vein and
obtained ore at about 60 feet from the surface
that assayed well and gave indications o." ?, rich
mine. They then commenced a tunnel, and from
thair monthly wages, during nearly two years or
more, contributed and expended about $24,000.
At a distance of about 365 feet, they struck the
vein, and have a large body of rich ore in sight
and on the dump. A mill will soon be put in,
when the company will begin to realize some-
thing for their outlay. The Elgin Mining Com-
pany have also put in a tunnel, and are reported
to have struck a rich vein. The developments,
thus far made, indicate that the copper and silver
will soon run out, and that the mines will be
essentially gold-bearing. South of Rawlins about
60 miles, in the Snake River Region, are fine
grazing fields, already occupied, to a certain ex-
tent, by cattle imn, and mining country yet
undeveloped. Placer diggings have been found
and worked to some extent, and indications of
rich quartz lodes are prevalent, some having
already been discovered. A colony of farmers
and miners from the vicinity of Denver, Col.,
have settled in that region, and more are con-
stantly going in. About a mile and a half from
Rawlins, east, is a large sulphur spring. It is
untaken. as yet. We could not ascertain
whether the waters had been analyzed or not,
though they are claimed to possess the usual
medicinal qualities of water from similar springs.
The springs frequently alluded to as Rawlins
Springs, are on the left of the track, and a little
west of the town. The small creek which passes
through the place, is known as Separation Creek,

and empties into the Xorth Platte River north
of Fort Steele. There are, also, immense beds
or lakes of soda, tributary to this station, some
of which is nearly pure. When they are utilized,
as they doubtless soon will be, and the industry
is developed, employment will be given to many
laborers now idle, together with fortunes to those
who have the nerve and capacity to successfully
carry it on. We are informed that from twelve
to fourteen millions of dollars are annually paid
in customs duties on the article of imported soda,
alone. Rawlins is in the midst of a broken, des-
olate country, and depends upon railroad impor-
tations for nearly everything upon winch its
people live, though there is a fine country re-
ported both north and south. In addition to the
other buildings named, it has the usual quantity
of saloons, together with several stores, at which
a thriving trade is done. The future of the
town will depend largely upon the developments
in the mining districts spoken of.

iSummit. A side track, nearly seven miles
rom Rawlins, and 717.4 miles from Omaha;
elevation, 6,821 feet. Heavy grades now for
quite a distance.

Separation. One would naturally suppose
from the name, that the waters flowing east and
west, divided or separated here, but such is not
the fact. It is reported that a party of engineers
who were surveying and locating the road,
separated here to run different lines hence the
name. It is a telegraph station, 724.1 miles from
Omaha, and 6,900 feet above the level of the
sea. The artesian well at this station, which
supplies the water tank is 860 feet deep. The
water from these wells is not always pure fre-
quently having a brackish or alkali taste.

Fillmore, named in honor of a former di-
vision superintendent of the road, now in the
stock business, with ranche at Wyoming. It is
731.6 miles from Omaha; elevation, 6,885 feet.
Simply a side track in the midst of a barren,
broken country.

Creston, 738.6 miles from the eastern ter-
minus of the road, and 7,030 feet above the sea.
It is a telegraph station, with the usual side
tracks and section-house. Three miles farther
west, and we reach the summit of the divide
which separates the waters of the two oceans.
This is the crowning ridge in the backbone of the
Continent, and a desolate place it is. It is the
summit of the Rocky Mountains. "What was
this country made for ? " We asked a fellow-
traveler. "To hold the rest of it together "-
was the ready reply. That is good; the best
reason for its existence we've had. It is of some
use after all. Allowing 60 feet grade for the
three miles west of Creston, to the actual summit
of the divide, and we are then 1,122 feet lower
than at Sherman. It is true there are no lofty
peaks here, with snowy crests the year round,
but an immense roll, over which we glide and


never think that we are crossing the summit of
the rock-ribbed Rockies. At this divide a short
distance north of the track, a pole was once
erected with a flag to mark the spot, but it has
fallen before the fierce gales which sweep over
this elevated ridge, and which seem to have with-
ered everything they touched. Standing on the
rear platform of the train, looking east you notice
the undulations of the road as it passes beneath
you ; Elk Mountain of the Medicine Bow Range,
and the far distant Black Hills rise grandly in
view as you approach the crest, but suddenly you
have passed to the other side, and a stretch of
country two hundred miles long drops from your
view in an instant. On this part of the road the
most difficulty with snow is usually experienced
in the winter. There is a constant breeze here,
and frequent storms, though a few miles farther
it may be clear and pleasant. In the great snow
blockade of the winter of 1871-2, the telegraph
poles were frequently buried in the drifts. The
Western Union Company had their wires ele-
vated on poles planted in the snow in several
places, to keep them above the drifts. In that
blockade, the worst ever known since the road
was built, there were seventeen days without
trains. Since then the ^f^c^nasDeenraiseaV
snow fences planted, sheds erected and eveiy pos-
sible appliance used to insure the safe and
speedy passage of trains. Looking again to the
north you can see the snowy heads of the Wind
River Mountains, with the peak named after
Fremont, the gallant Path-finder of the Wes
towering against the sky. Notice the dark"
shades of the timber lines as they press against
the eternal snows with which they are covered.
Looking forward to the west, if you have a
chance, Pilot Butte, north of Rock Springs, one
of the great landmarks of the plains, is clearly
visible. To the south you behold the mountains
where the tributaries of the Snake River rise,
and whence they flow into the Pacific Ocean. No-
tice on north sign-bonrd, "CONTINENTAL DIVIDE."
Latham, 746.1 miles from Omaha, and
6,900 feet above the sea. Passenger trains do
not stop as it is only a side track. On we go to
Washakie, so called after a Shoshone chief,
j^eputed to be friendly to the whites, whose tribe
fights the Sioux when there is opportunity.
Here is an artesian well, 638 feet deep, flowing
800 gallons per hour.

Reel Desert. The country near is reddish
in appearance, but the place is named alter the
Red Desert, near which is an immense basin of
its own, similar to the Salt Lake basin. It lies
500 feet below the level of the country, lias no
outlet, and extends from the South Pass on the
north, to Bridger's Pass on the south, and east
from summit of the divide to Tipton on the west,
a very singular depression right on the divide of
the Continent. The little stream just seen before
reaching this place, flows south and is lost in this

basin. The country near is alkali, and subject
to high water and h^avy rains, giving great diffi-
culty to preserve the- security of road-bed and
track. Station is 763 miles "from Omaha ; ele-
vation 6,710 feet.

Tipton , a side track for meeting and pass-
ing trains. It is 769.6 miles from the " Big
Muddy," with an elevation of 6,800 feet. AVe
have been going up hill again leaving the val-
ley of the Snake River. The snows of winter
leave heavy drifts along here, but the railroad
men have learned by experience how to manage
them quite successfully. When the drifts have
reached the top of the fences in height, they go
along and raise the fences to the top of the drifts,
fastening them as best they can in the snow.
This they repeat as often as necessary, and thus,
the snow, in many instances, is kept away from
the track, but the drifts become pretty high.

Table Rock, named from a rock resembling
a table south of, and about six miles from the
station. It is 776.3 miles from Omaha, and
6.890 feet above the sea is a telegraph station.
There is a \>ng, evenly cut bluff south of the
track, estimated to be 600 feet in height. On
what appears to be the north-west corner of this
bluff a square, table-like, projection rises the
table and presents a very odd appearance. It
can be seen for quite a distance, as you look to
the left from the cars. The table projects about
60 feet above the bluffs adjoining, though it does
nojvseem half that distance. Next we come to
(/ate, 781.3 miles from Omaha, and 6,785
above the sea. South of this station and to
a certain extent, in its immediate vicinity, moss
agates are found. The stones, however, are not
clear and well-defined. They are smoky and
dark, rendering them nearly valueless. Agate is
only a side track where trains seldom stop.
Down the grade we pass to

Bitter Creek, a telegraph station. 786.3
miles from Omaha, with an elevation of 6,685
feet. At this station, we first strike the well-
known Bitter Creek Valley, through which we
shall pass to Green River. About four miles
below this station, on the south side of the track,
the old overland stage and emigrant road struck
the valley, as it came in from Bridger's Pass, and
across the Snake River Valley. The railroad
reaches Bitter Creek through a " draw " or dry
ravine which unites with the valley proper, at the
station. The old stage-road struck the creek
farther south, and before it reaches the railroad.
This was formerly quite a station, and the end
of a passenger division. It has a small round-
house, with ten stalls and turn-table, upon which
the engines and snow-plows are turned. Between
this station and Rawlins, as has been observed,
are very heavy grades, requiring two engines to
pull a train. These extra engines come with
trains as far as this station, and then assist east-
ward bound trains back again. A large quan-

1. Flaming Gorge. 2. Brown's Hole, a. Looking up tlie Valley of Green Hiver.


tity of bridge timber is also kept here, ready
for any emergency. In the great washout at
the foot of this valley, in the spring of 1875,
large quantities were used. Bitter Creek is
rightly named. Its waters are so strongly
impregnated with alkali that they are almost
useless. Nevertheless, at the head of this
creek, where it is fed by cold, clear springs,
for more than ten miles from the station,
trout have been caught, though they are
small. The rugged scenery along this valley
will interest the traveler, as the views are
constantly changing. There are no machine-
shops for repairs here, only the five-stall
roundhouse. The creek has been dammed
for the purpose of supplying the water tank,
though the water is not the best for boil-
ers. The whole region of country, from a
point east, as far as Rock Creek to Green
Hirer, is underlaid with coaL It frequently
crops out in this valley. The coal is lignite
and will not " coke " like the bituminous
coal. There are also indications of iron
and other minerals, in the immediate vicin-
ity of the valley. Occasionally, you will
see little shrub pines on the bluffs but no
timber. These pines have tried to grow,
but the sterility of the soil is against them.
They find it almost impossible to " take
root." Sometimes it seems, as you pass
down the valley and look ahead, as though
the train was going square against the
rocks, and would be dashed in pieces ; but
a sudden curve, and you have rounded the
projecting bluffs, and are safely pursuing
your journey. Again, it seems as though
th.3 bluffs were trying to shake hands across
the chasm, or making an effort to become
dovetailed together. They assume all sorts
of shapes, washed out in places by the
storms of ages smoothly carved as if by
the hand of the sculptor and again, ragged
and grotesque. The geology of the Bitter
Creek and Green River Valleys, will afford
a chapter of curious interest, and will amply
reward him who searches thoroughly after
the knowledge. Professor Haydeu and Major
Powell have the best reports on the forma-
tion and geology of this region.

Black Bnties is the next station, 795.4
miles from Omaha, and 6,600 feet above
the sea. It is a telegraph station with
accompanying side tracks. Formerly there
was a coal mine worked here, said to be-
long to Jack Morrow, now of Omaha, and
quite a noted frontier character in his
day. It furnishes excellent coal, easily ac-
cessible, the vein being from six to eight
feet thick. As you approach the station,
notice the balanced rock north of the
road and within 50 feet of the side
track. The buttes from which the station

is named are south of the creek, and plainly

Hallvitte, named after a noted contractor
who graded the road through this part of
the valley. A few posts and adobe walls are
all that remain of the camp. It is simply
a side track, 800.9 miles from Omaha, with
an elevation of 6,590 feet.

Point of Hocks is a station with a his-
tory. It was formerly quite a town, but its
glory has departed with the causes which
brought it into existence. It was formerly
the point of departure and the outfitting
place for the Sweetwater Gold District, South
Pass City, Atlantic City, Camp Stambaugh,
and other places in the region of the Great
South Pass at the foot of Wind River
Mountains, and is the nearest railroad point
to those places, to-day, with a good wagon
road not much traveled. Distance to South
Pass City, 65 miles. The rocks from which
this place is named are on a high point

Online LibraryHenry T WilliamsPacific tourist : Adams and Bishop's illustrated trans-continental guide of travel, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean : a complete traveler's guide of the Union and Central Pacific railroads → online text (page 17 of 62)