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

. (page 37 of 62)
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 37 of 62)
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at the lake and sees snow come down the mount-
ains and accumulate around his buildings. Of all
places on the lake, none is more truly beautiful
for situation, than Yank's and it is a favorite

Leaving Yank's, the steamer heads north and
proceeds four miles to Emerald Bay, passing two
well-rounded peaks at the foot of which is a
beautiful valley, in which lies Cascade Lake.
This, too. is accessible from Yank's and is one of
its attractions. The point just north of the en-
trance to Emerald Bay was long the home of
America's pride among the birds, and is named
Eagle Point.

Emerald Bay is a gem of beauty entered
on the south side of a narrow strait, as shown on
our title-page. It is two miles long by about
three-fourths of a mile wide. The entrance is
shoal, but the bay deep. Near the head of the
bay is a little granite island, with a few small
trees and shrubs, and the unfilled tomb of an


eccentric tar Captain Dick who prepared the
island for his own mausoleum, in which he in-
tended to place himself on the approach of death,
but his drowned body became food for the fishes,
and the lonely cross marked an empty tomb.

This charming bay is owned by Ben Holladay,
Jr. His summer residence is surrounded by a
grove of willows and a stream fed by eternal
snows, pouring down in three successive lofty
waterfalls, which rival in grace and beauty
some of the smaller in Yosemite, keeps the
grassy sward always green, and plays in a
fountain before the door.

The surrounding hills are so steep that they
can be climbed only with great difficulty. Just
opposite the island, on the north side, there is
the mark of an avalanche of snow, that carried
the tall pines before it like shrubs, and has left
the mountain side completely bare.

Rubicon Point and Bay, and Sugar Pine Point
are next passed, going north on the way to
McKinney's, ten miles from Emerald Bay.

At McKinney's, there is no large house, but
13 cottages and pleasant surroundings. The
road to Tahoe City, gives this the advantage of a
pleasant drive. Board may be had at $20 a

Continuing north, the steamer passes Black-
wood Creek, where some towering rocks are seen
whose height is scarcely comprehended, because
the trees and mountains beyond are on so great
a scale. Small as they seem, they are two hun-
dred and fifty feet high, and the trees at their
base not less than 200 feet.

Ward's Bay lies north of the Creek, and
Bawker's Peak, a sharp, high point, is back in
the mountains.

Tahoe City is eight miles from McKinney's,
and one of the loveliest spots on the lake. It is
at the source of the Truckee River, the only outlet
of the lake, and has the " Grand Central," the
largest hotel on the Sierras, with accommodations
for 160 guests, and kept by those excellent hosts,
Bayley & Moody. This is the most con-
venient point of access for tourists from Califor-
nia. The road to Truckee is down the beautiful
canon of the Truckee River, through a noble
forest of pines, invigorating and delightful at
every step. Sail and row-boats of all kinds may
be had at this point, and also carriages ; but the
prices should be agreed upon beforehand. No
boats are kept for the use of the hotel.

Board at the Grand Central may be had, vary-
ing from $3.00 to $4.00 per day, according to
rooms. The view of the lake from Tahoe City
is not excelled, and equalled only at Yank's
and the Hot Springs.

The hotel and other accommodations are supe-
rior to all others on the lake. Besides the Grand
Central, there is the Tahoe House, kept by Cap-
tain Pomin.

Tourists who desire to spend only one day in

visiting the lake, take stages at this point to
Truckee, 12 miles down the river.

Trout. At Tahoe City there is a trout estab-
lishment of much interest; and another, on a
larger scale, on the river half way to Truckee
Station. The water is admitted to a series of
ponds, each pond being appropriated to trout of
a different size. The eggs are taken during April,
May and June, when the fish ascend the river
and the creeks, to spawn. The eggs are stripped
from the female and impregnated by stripping
the male fish into the same vessel in which the
eggs are contained, and then placed on inclined
shelves or tables where about half an inch of
water runs gently, but steadily over them. The
temperature of the water affects the time of hatch-
ing, and the desire is to have the water as cold as
possible at the expense of time to produce the
hardier fish. One trout contains about 7,000
spawn. Twenty-five cents is charged for admis-
sion to the fishery, and the privilege of fishing in
the ponds granted for twenty-five or fifty cents a
fish, according to the size.

The fishing in the lake is done by trolling.
Spoon-hooks are sometimes used, but early in the
season it is necessary to have some shining de-
vice to attract attention besides a minnow on
the hook. The fisheries have been quite success-
ful in hatching fish, but not profitable. At first
nearly all died ; now nearly all are raised. The
young fish are nourished for several days after
birth by a portion of the egg from which they
are hatched remaining attached to them till it is
absorbed, and then are fed on mashed fish, the
yolks of eggs and liver, and the large trout are
fed on suckers and white fish caught in the lakes
with seines. Of course no trout are caught in
seines, for this is contrary to law.

After they have grown to weigli several pounds,
they will increase at the rate of a pound a year.
The quantity caught in a year can not be esti-
mated. Many are never sent to market, and
they are caught in both the lake and the river
as well as in Donner Lake.

From the Truckee River alone, 170,000 pounds
were caught last season, half of which were ship-
ped to Virginia City.

In the lake there are at least four kinds, two
of which are most commonly known. These are
the silver trout and the black trout. The silver
trout are most highly esteemed, are always taken
in deep water, and attain a size of thirty-two
pounds. The silver trout of Donner Lake grow
from eight to ten pounds, and those in the river
are not so large. The black trout run up the
creeks sooner in the spring than the silver, but
the latter can pass over greater obstacles than
the former.

The white fish found in the lake are quite un-
like those of the Great North American Lakes.

While the tourist who merely crosses the lake
from Glenbrook to Tahoe or vice versa, or who


desires to reach the Central Pacific Railroad,
with the loss of one day only will not make the
entire circuit of the lake ; others will visit the
north end, and some may prefer this alone.
Continuing around from Tahoe City, Burton's
or Island Farm is two miles from Tahoe City.
It is a lovely spot, with summer green meadows
and pebbly beach, and accommodates at reason-
able cost, 25 or 30 people. It is a favorite resort
for California clergymen needing rest.

Burton's is connected with Tahoe City by a
carriage road, and is not too far to exercise at
the oars of a small boat.

Passing around the north end of the lake,
there is next, Observatory Point, where the great
telescope of James Lick was expected to be
erected, and beyond this is Cornelian Bay, and
Carnelian Beach, so called from fine specimens
of chalcedony here found. Here is Doctor
Bournes' hygienic establishment.

Beyond this, are Agate bay and then Camp-
bell's Hot Springs, ten miles from Glenbrook.
and on Boundary Point, because it marks the
dividing line between California and Nevada.

The water boils out in several places in great
volume. The hotel is comfortable; the charge
$3 a day ; the entire lake is seen from the house,
and the baths are an advantage to be had no-
where else on the lake. There is a stage from this
point to Truckee, and the stages from Tahoe City
will also carry passengers thence to the springs.

Fishing and boating and driving can be en-
joyed at pleasure, and in the hills there are a few
grouse, quail, deer, and bear, but game is not

The Lumber and Trees of the Lake
lieyion. The logs which are brought down to
the lake at various points are towed to Glenbrook
in V-shaped booms, from 50 to 70 feet wide at
one end, and about 150 feet long, averaging
200,000 feet of lumber.

The sugar pine is the most valuable, then the
yellow pine. The black, or " bull " pine was
long despised, but is now highly prized for its
strength. It reaches, in California, a diameter
of 15, and height of 200 feet ; about the lake, a
diameter of 10 feet. The leaves are of a dark
green color, but the cones are enormous some-
times 18 inches long. The wood is fine grained
and solid, soft and clear.

The yellow pine is not quite so large, seldom
exceeding 10 feet in diameter, and has bark fur-
rowed into plate-like sections, six or eight inches
wide, and from 12 to 20 inches long.

The " bull " pine is a favorite with the wood-
pecker for storing his acorns, not in the hollow
trees, but by drilling holes in the bark, and fit-
ting an acorn into each. Old woodmen say the
bird never makes a misfit, and selects, the first
time, a nut which will exactly fill the hole he
has drilled. In the valleys of California, nearly
all large trees are utilized in this way.

There are two kinds of fir, the white and the
red. The latter called also the Douglass fir, is a
good strong timber ; the former is the least
esteemed in the market.

Other pines of the Sierras are interesting, but
notice of all must be omitted except the Nut or
" Digger " pine, so called from a sweet or oily
seed forming a staple article of food for the
Indians, but it does not grow in the high
Sierras. It is dwarfish and scraggy, without
one main trunk, but dividing up into several.
It is said that this is so liable to " draw " while
seasoning, that miners who were compelled to
use it for building their cabins, were not sur-
prised to see them turn over two or three times
in the course of the summer.

As two daily passenger trains leave Reno for
San Francisco, one arriving via Vallejo in
eleven and a quarter hours, and the other via
Stockton in seventeen and a half hours, from
the time of leaving Truckee, the tourist econo-
mizing time, will take the former, leaving
Truckee at midnight.

By leaving at 3 A. M., daylight will soon fol-
low in the summer months, and the fine scenery
of the Sierras be more enjoyed.

To see the mountains, the best plan is to stop
at the summit, where there is another of the
first-class hotels of James Cardwell, and gain the
views from the peaks near by, and then descend
the mountain by a freight train, leaving the
summit at 5.30 A. M., and reaching Sacramento
the same evening, at 7.45. For this, one must
be willing to exchange the Palace car for the
caboose, and accept delay in exchange for the
leisurely enjoyment of the most wonderful rail
road scenery in the world.

The Great Nevada Flume.

By H. J. Ramsdell, of The N. Y. Tribune.

A 15 mile ride in a flume down the Sierra
Nevada Mountains in 35 minutes, was not one of
the things contemplated on my visit to Virginia
City, and it is entirely within reason to say that
I shall never make the trip again.

The flume cost, with its appurtenances, between.
$200,000 and $300,000. It was built by a com-
pany interested in the mines here, principally
owners of the Consolidated Virginia, California,
Hale & Norcross, Gould & Curry, Best & Belcher,
and Utah Mines. The largest stockholders are J.
C. Flood, James G. Fair, John Mackey, and W. S.
O'Brien, who compose, without doubt, the wealth-
iest firm in the United States.

The mines named use 1,000,000 feet of lumber
per month underground, and burn 40,000 cords
of wood per year. Wood here is worth from $10
to $12 a cord, and at market prices, Messrs.


Flood & Co., would have to pay for wood alone,
nearly $500,000 per year.

Virginia City is not built in a forest. From
the top of Mount Davidson, which is half a mile
back from the city, there is not a tree in sight,
except a few shade-trees in the city.

Going into the mines the other day, and see-
ing the immense amount of timber used, I asked
Mr. Mackey where all the wood and timber came
from. " It comes," said he, " from our lands in
the Sierras, 40 or 50 miles from here. We own
over 12,000 acres in the vicinity of Washoe Lake,
all of which is heavily timbered."

" How do you get it here?" I asked.

" It comes," said he, " in our flums down the
mountain, 15 miles, and from our dumping
grounds is brought by the Virginia & Truckee
Railroad to this city, 16 miles. You ought to see
this flum3 before you go back. It is really a
wonderful thing."

The Journey. When, therefore, two days
afterward, I was invited to accompany Mr. Flood
and Mr. Fair to the head of the flume, I did not
hesitate to accept their kind offer. We started
at four o'clock in the morning, in two buggies,
the two gentlemen named in one buggy, and Mr.
Hereford, the President and Superintendent of the
company (which is known as the Pacific Wood,
Lumber and Flume Company) and myself in the

The drive through Washoe Valley, and along
the mountains, up and down for 16 miles over a
road which, for picturesqueness, is without an
equal in memory, can not be described. Not a
tree, nor bush, nor any green vegetation was in
sight. Hills and mountains, well defined and
separate in character, were in every direction.
Sage brush and jack rabbits were the only living
things in sight. That beautiful purple atmos-
phere or mist, which has a dreamy, sleepy effect
in the landscape, overspread the mountains and
extended through the valley.

The road we traversed swung round and round
the mountains, now going nearly to the summit,
and now descending to their base.

Both teams employed were of the best, and in
less than an hour and a half we had accom-
plished the first part of our journey, 16 miles.
Here we breakfasted and went to the end of the
flums, a quarter of a mile distant. Th men
were running timber 16 inches square and 10
feet long through it. The trestle-work upon
which the flume rested was about 20 feet from
the ground. The velocity of the movement of
the timber could scarcely be credited, for it re-
quires from only twenty-five minutes to half an
hour for it to float the entire length of the flume,
15 miles.

The flume is shaped like the letter V, and is
made of two-inch plank nailed together in the
above shape. Across the top it is about two and
one-half feet in width. The ends are very care-

fully fitted, so that where the planks go together
there may be no unevenness ; for timbers going at
the rate of 15 to 60 miles per hour must have a
clear coast.

In this trough the water runs from Hunter's
Creek, which is situated about 20 miles from the
terminus of the flume.

Some idea of the swiftness with which the
timber runs through the flume, may be had
when it is stated that in the flume there floats
500,000 feet of lumber every day (about ten
hours), or 500 cords of wood.

Near the terminus an iron break is placed in
the trough, slanting toward one side, so that
when the timber comes rushing down, 50 or 100
pieces, one after the other, each piece is turned
toward the side, and the men at the break, with
a dexterous use of the crowbar, send them
bounding to the ground.

I climbed to the top of the trestle-work, be-
fore the timber began to come. It was like the
rushing of a herd of buffalo on a party of hunt-
ers, and I preferred to view the flume, in active
working, from a distance.

We changed teams upon resuming our journey,
taking fresh horses for the mountain ascent.
Horsemen in the East who have never seen the
mountains of Nevada, Colorado and California,
can have no idea of the amount of work a horse
can do, and of the difficult places through which
he will go, and of the load he will carry or draw.

How a pair of horses can pull a buggy and
two men up a grade that seems half-way be-
tween the horizontal and the perpendicular, over
stones and fallen trees, and through underbrush
six feet high and very thick, is^a question I can
never hope to solve ; at any rate, we reached the
lower mill of the company, about 18 or 20 miles.
This was several hours before noon.

The mill is situated in the lower belt of tim-
ber, and there are between 400 and 500 men at
work. This number includes those engaged in
cutting trees, hauling logs, and sawing the lum-
ber. How the heavy machinery of the mills,
and the engines which, work them were brought
from the city up the mountains and placed in
position, is another mystery which I have not
tried to investigate.

The amount of lumber turned out by the
owner of these mills, the upper and the lower, the
former being two and one-half miles farther up
the mountain, is marvellous.

In five minutes' time, a log from two to four
feet in diameter is reduced to lumber, planks,
scantling, boards, and square timber, perhaps all
from the same log, for it is cut in the most ad-
vantageous manner. Sometimes one log will
give three or four different kinds of lumber.
The lower mill is kept running night and day, and
has a capacity of 50,000 feet" per day cf small
stuff, and of 70,000 feet when working on large






The upper mill has less than half the capacity,
being smaller, and being worked only 12 hours
a day.

The Flume. The flume is a wonderful
piece of engineering work. It is built wholly
upon trestle-work, and stringers ; there is not a
cut in the whole distance, and the grade is so
heavy that there is little danger of a jam.

The trestle-work is very substantial, and is un-
doubtedly strong enough to support a narrow
gauge railway. It runs over foot hills, through
valleys, around mountains, and across canons.

In one place it is 70 feet high. The highest
point of the flume from the plain, is 3,700 feet,
and on an air line, from beginning to end, the
distance is eight miles, the course thus taking
up seven miles in twists and turns. The trestle-
work is thoroughly braced, longitudinally and
across, so that no break can extend farther than a
single box, which is 16 feet ; all the main sup-
ports, which are five feet apart, are firmly set in
mud-sills, and the boxes or troughs rest in brackets
four feet apart. These again rest upon sub-
stantial stringers. The grade of the flume is
between 1,600 and 2,000 feet from the top to
lower end, a distance of 15 miles.

The sharpest fall is three feet in six. There
are two reservoirs from which the flume is fed.
One is 1,100 feet long, and the other 600 feet. A
ditch, nearly two miles long, takes the water to the
first reservoir, whence it is conveyed 3 1-4 miles to
the flume through a feeder capable of carrying
450 inches of water.

The whole flume was built in 10 weeks. In
that time all the trestle-work, stringers and boxes
were put in place. About 200 men were employed
on it at one time, being divided into four gangs.
It required 2,000,000 feet of lumber, but the item
which astonished me most was that there were
28 tons, or 56,000 pounds of nails, used in the
construction of this flume.

To the lower mill, as the road goes, it is about
40 miles from Virginia City. Although I had
already ridden this distance, yet I mounted a
horse and rode two or three miles to the top of
the mountain, where I had one of the finest
valley views that come to the lot of man. Miles
and miles below, the valley was spread out with
spots and squares of green crops growing, and
barren wastes of sand and sage brush reach-
ing in a long stretch to the base of another
spur of the Sierras. The City of Reno occupied
a little spot on the plain from my mountain it
seemed like a city of toy houses built on Nature's

A Ride in the Flume. Upon my return I
found that Mr. Flood and Mr. Fair had arranged
for a ride in the flume, and I was challenged to
go with them. Indeed, the proposition was put
in the form of a challenge they dared me to go.

I thought that if men worth $25,000,000 or
f 30,000,000 apiece, could afford to risk their lives,

I could afford to risk mine, which was not worth
half as much.

So I accepted the challenge, and two boats
were ordered. These were nothing more than
pig-troughs, with one end knocked out. The
" boat " is built, like the flume, V shaped, and
fits into the flume. It is composed of three
pieces of wood two two-inch planks, 16 feet
long, and an end board which is nailed about
two and one-half feet across the top.

The forward end of the boat was left open,
the rear end closed with a board against which
was to come the current of water to propel us.
Two narrow boards were placed in the boat for
seats, and everything was made ready. Mr.
Fair and myself were to go in the first boat, and
Mr. Flood and Mr. Hereford in the other.

Mr. Fair thought that we had better take a
third man with us who knew something about
the flume. There were probably 50 men from
the mill standing in the vicinity waiting to see
us off, and when it was proposed to take a third
man, the question was asked of them if anybody
was willing to go.

Only one man, a red-faced carpenter, who takes
more kindly to whisky than his bench, volun-
teered to go. Finally, everything was arranged.
Two or three stout men held the boat over the
flume, and told us to jump into it the minute it
touched the water, and to " hang on to our hats"

The signal of " nil rend;) " was given, the boat
was launched, and we jumped into it as best we
could, which was not very well, and away we
went like the wind.

One man who helped to launch the boat, fell
into it just as the water struck it, but he scam-
pered out on the trestle, and whether he was
hurt or not, we could not wait to see.

The grade of the flume at the mill is very
heavy, and the water rushes through it at rail-
road speed. The terrors of that ride can never
be blotted from the memory of one of that party.
To ride upon the cow-catcher of an engine down
a steep grade is simply exhilarating, for you
know there is a wide track, regularly laid upon
a firm foundation, that there are wheels grooved
and fitted to the track, that there are trusty men
at the brakes, and better than all, you know that
the power that impels the train can be rendered
powerless in an instant by the driver's light
touch upon his lever. But a flume has no ele-
ment of safety. In the first place the grade can
not be regulated as it can on a railroad ; you can
not go fast or slow at pleasure ; you are wholly at
the mercy of the water. You can not stop ; you
can not lessen your speed ; yoii have nothing to
hold to; you have only to sit still, shut your
eyes, say your prayers, take all the water that
comes filling your boat, wetting your feet,
drenching you like a plunge through the surf.
and wait for eternity. It is all there is to hope
for after you are launched in a flume-boat. I


can not give the reader a better idea of a flume
ride than to compare it to riding down an old
fashioned eave-trough at an angle of 45, hang-
ing in midair without support of roof or house,
and thus shot a distance of 15 miles.

At the start, we went at the rate of about 23
miles an hour, which is a little less than the av-
erage speed of a railroad train. The reader can
have no idea of the speed we made, until he
compares it to a railroad. The average time we
made was 30 miles per hour a mile in two min-
utes for the entii-e distance. This is greater
than the average running time of railroads.

Incidents of the Hide. The red-faced car-
penter sat in front of our boat on the bottom, as
best he could. Mr. Fair sat on a seat behind
him, and I sat behind Mr. Fair in the stern, and
was of great service to him in keeping the water,
which broke over the end-board, from his back.

There was a great deal of water also shipped
in the bows of the hog-trough, and I know Mr.
Fair's broad shoulders kept m^ from many a
wetting in that memorable trip.

At the heaviest grade the water came in so
furiously in front, that it was impossible to see
where we were going, or what was ahead of us ;
but, when the grade was light, and we were go-
ing at a three or four-minute pace, the vision was
very delightful, although it was terrible.

In this rids, which fails me to describe, I was
perched up in a boat no wider than a chair, some-
times 20 feet high in the air, and with the
ever varying altitude of the flume, often 70
feet high. When the water would enable me to

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 37 of 62)