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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feet. The prairie or blue-joint grass sti,! con-
tinues along the side of the track, and the bluffs on
the south side of the river seem more abrupt. They
are full of ravines or draws," and these some-
times have timber in them. At this station a large
quantity of cedar piles and telegraph poles are
delivered. They are hauled some forty miles
from the canons in the South Loup Valley.
There is a store at this station and a corral near
by where stock is kept; with a few old log and
mud buildings, rapidly j oing to decay in the
vicinity. The glory of this place, if it ever had
any, has long since departed, but it may, never-
theless, yet become the pride of stock-men, who
shall count their lowing herds by the thousand.

Grand Du7ce Alexis' First Buffalo Hunt.

During the visit of the Grand Duke Alexis of
Russia, to the United States, the imperial party
were escorted to the plains, and enjoyed the excite-
ment of aibuffalo hunt, over the western prairies.
Connected with the chase were some incidents of
rare curiosity and pleasure. As the only repre-
sentative of the great Russian nation, he has seen
the novelty of military life on the frontier; shak-
en hands with partially tamed Indian warriors,
and smoked the pipe of peace in ancient style.
Among the company were Buffalo Bill, a noble
son of the wild West, and Generals Sheridan
and C uster. The red men appeared in a grand
pow-wow and war-dance, and indulged in arrow
practice for his particular benefit.

The party started from camp Alexis, Willow
Creek, Nebraska, in January, 1 872. For the hunt
the Duke's dress consisted of jacket and trowsers
of heavy gray cloth, trimmed with green, the
buttons bearing the Imperial Russian coat-of-
arms ; he wore his boots outside his trowsers, his
cap was an Australian turban, with cloth top;
he carried a Russian hunting knife, and an
American revolver recently presented to him,
and bearing the coat-of-arms of the United Slates
and of Russia on the handle.

General C uster appeared in his well-known
frontier buckskin hunting costume, and if, in-
stead of the comical sealskin cap he wore, he had
only had feathers fastened in his flowing hair, he
would have passed at a distance for a great In-
dian chief.

Buffalo Bill. the famous scout, was dressed in
a buckskin suit trimmed with fur, and wore a
black slouch hat, his long hair hanging in ring-
lets down his shoulders.

Game was sighted in a longcanon with broken
sides and high hills on either side, forming a
magnificent arena.

The Grand Duke and Custer started off, and
as they went Custer pulled out his revolver, and


said, " Are you ready, Duke ? " Alexis drew off
his glove, grasped his pistol, and with a wave of
his hand replied, " All ready now, General." Buf-
falo Bill had been selected to show the Grand
Duke how the buffaloes would stand at bay wh/n
suddenly attacked. A cow was singled out to
show him how fleet of foot the females are, and
the speed and skill essential to overtake and kill
them. As soon aa she espied them she started
off at full speed, the Duke and Custer after her.
Finding herself hard pressed, she ran up a steep
declivity on the right side of the canon, and gain-
ing a footing on the slope, kept along the narrow
ledge, while the Duke and Custer followed in a
line along the bottom of the canon. The chase
was most exciting, and the Grand Duke, exhib-
iting an enthusiasm and daring which the most

elevation of 2,637 feet, and 268.4 miles from the
eastern terminus of the road. The island in the
river, from which the station is named, is quite
large, and formerly had considerable timber for
this country. An occasional tree may yet be seon.
McJP/ierson is 277.5 miles from Omaha,
and 2,695 feet above the sea. It is the station
named after the fort which is located south of the
Platte River, on a military reservation, and
nearly opposite the station. There is a wagon
bridge across the river connecting the two places.
The fort is about seven miles from the station,
and is located near some springs formerly called
"Cotton-wood Springs." It bears the name of
the gallant general who fell before Atlanta, in
1864, in the war for the preservation of the
Union. But few soldiers are now kept at this


experienced western hunter could not have sur-
passed, pressed his gam'} until she turned upon
him. Describing a semi-circle with his horse,
he dashed to the other side of her, and taking
deliberate aim, discharged the contents of his
revolver into her fore shoulder, as quick as a
flash of lightning. The buffalo fell dead upon
the instant. Thus, as he telegraphed to his fa-
ther, the Czar of Russia, he killed the first wild
horned monster that had met his eye in America.
The sport continued for two days, and ended
with a series of Indian festivities.

tf'nr rf n is a side track 260.4 miles from
Omaha, and 2,570 feet above the sea. A section-
house stands near by- The valley here narrows,
and the bluffs on both sides come near the river.

Brady Island is the next station, with an

fort, though at the time the war was in progress,
and afterwards during the building of the road,
and in the years of Indian conflict that raged on
the frontier, it was a post of considerable iinj>oi t-
ance. Immense quantities of hay arc annually
cut near this place, with which government and
private contracts are filled. A part of the Sev-
enth Iowa Cavalry, under Major O'Brien, camped
on the site of the fort in 1866. and afterwards
troops from the regular army were stationed

(ImiiH'tt named after J. W. Gannett. Esq.,
of Boston, and present auditor of the Tnion Pacific
Railroad is a side track with adjacent sect ion-
house ; is 285.2 miles from Omaha, and 2.75'J
feet above the sea. All the stations for from fifty
to a hundred miles east of this, are located in an


excellent grazing country, and cattle and sheep
are coming in to occupy it.

Five miles from Gannett, the railroad crosses
the North Platte River on a pile bridge. There
is a side track and two section-houses just east
of the river, the side track for hay cars, and one
of the section-houses near the bridge for the
watchman, who walks its entire length after the
passage of every train. The bridge is planked
by the railroad company, and rented by Lincoln
County, so that wagons, teams and stock have
free passage. After leaving Cozad, the number
of settlers' cabins and houses diminishes till you
come to the North Platte Valley. South of the
river between Fort McPherson and North Platte,
there are quite a numbar of homesteaders, who
have farmed it for a few years, with indif-
ferent success, having to contend with drought
and grasshoppers. The soil has been proven to
be prolific, but som3 plan of irrigation will have
to be adopted, before agriculture can be made a
paying investment. In choice locations, how-
ever, such as pieces of low bottom land near the
river, crops of potatoes and " garden truck " have
been successfully raised for several years.

We have now entered upon the great stock-
growing region of the continent, where cattle and
horses can be grown and kept th.3 year round
without hay, and where the buffalo grass, except-
ing along the streams, affords the rich nutriment
that produces fat, and renders cattle ready for
market without grain.

The North Platte River will be crossed again
at Fort Steele. It has its source in northern
Colorado, west of the Medicine Bow Mountains.
The Laramie River, which you cross just beyond
Laramie City, and the Sweetwater, which rises
in the Wind River Mountains north of Point of
Rocks, and runs through the great South Pass,
are two of its principal tributaries. It drains an
immense region of country, and is fed by innu-
merable streams and springs from the Black Hills
of Wyoming, the Wind River Mountains, the
Medicine Bow Mountains, the Sweetwater Moun-
tains, the Big Horn Mountains, Rattlesnake Hills
and other elevations. The traveler must not be
confused by the term " Black Hills." The Black
Hills of Wyoming are those which you cross be-
tween Cheyenne and Laramie City, the summit
of which you reach at Sherman. These are not
the Black Hills of which so much has been said
of late, in connection with the discovery of gold
and the Sioux Indians. They are called the
Black Hills of Dakota, and the nearest point to
them on the railroad is Sidney. From the im-
mense amount of water which runs into the
North Platte River, it is a mystery what becomes
of it all, as the river is shallow and sluggish
where it is crossed near its mouth. Its treach-
erous bottom of ever varying and shifting
quicksands, like that of the 'South Platte, does
not make it a good fording stream for wagons,

though the water, except in certain seasons of
of the year, is the smallest obstacle. Up to the
spring of 1875, this river was the southern bound-
ary of what the Sioux Indians claimed as their
reservation, and it was only by the payment of a
special appropriation of $25,000, that they re-
linquished the right to hunt as far south as
this river. The principal military posts on the
stream, are Forts Fetterman, usually occupied by
but few troops, and Laramie. The latter is at
present the principal military depot for both
troops and supplies off the line of the railroad,
in this part of the West. It is 90 miles from
Cheyenne, its nearest railroad station, and the
point from whence nearly all the frontier expe-
ditions into northern Wyoming, western Dakota,
and the Big Horn and Powder River countries,
stall. The Laramie River and the North Platte
form a junction near the fort.

The South Platte, which the railroad still fol-
lows for about eighty-five miles, is similar to the
North Platte, so far as external observations
go. It rises in the mountains south and west of
Denver, receives a large number of tributaries ;
the chief of which is the Cache La Poudre, which
forms a junction with it at Greeley, and then
pursues a due east course to the Missouri River.
The junction with the North Platte is formed a
few miles below 7 the bridge just spoken of. On
neither of these streams, nor on any of their
tributaries can agricultural pursuits be carried
on without irrigation, and not always with success
with irrigation. The hand of the Almighty lias
placed its ineffaceable maik upon all this vast
region of country that, it is His pasture ground
and adapted, so far as is known, to no other pur-
pose. Millions of buffaloes have ranged over
these bleak and desolate-looking plains for ages
past, and from the short grass which grows in
abundance thereon, have derived a rich suste-
nance. They have gone or are fast going, and the
necessities of the civilization which follows, calls
for beef and mutton. These plains must become
the great beef-producing region of the continent.
They are the Almighty's pasture grounds, and if
there are not a thousand cattle upon a hill, there
will surely be " cattle upon a thousand hills."
The numerous tributaries to these two rivers
are from ten to fifteen miles apart, with high roll-
ing prairies between affording abundance of
water with adjacent pasture, and this pasture is
the home of the richest natural grasses.

Before you reach the North Platte River, you
will see conclusive evidence of the adaptability
of these plains to stock-raising, and from this
time on to where the river is again crossed, you
will see numerous herds of cattle and flocks of
sheep. The snows of winter in these elevated
regions are dry, and not frequent. Driven by
fierce winds, they will fill the hollows and small
ravines, while the hills are always left bare, so
that cattle and sheep can always obtain access to


the ground, and the buffalo and bunch grasses
with whicli it is covered. While hay must be
cut for the sustenance of sheep during the few
days storms may last, and for the horses and
cattl ; that may be kept up ; the vast herds,
whether of cattle or horses, will go through the
most severe winter that has ever been known in
this region without hay or shelter, except that
afforded by the ravines. The experiment has
been repeatedly tried, and the vast heids that
are now kept in this region, attest the success of
that experiment. In Lincoln County, of which
the town of North Platte is the county-seat,
there are probably 60,000 head of cattle alone.
Eastern farmers and stock-raisers will see that
the attempt to provide hay for this vast number
would be useless, and if required would render
the keeping of so many in a single county un-
profitable. The expense of providing hay would
in the first place be great, and the expense of
confining the cattle and feeding it out would be
still greater. And if the buffaloes have lived in
this country year after year, during the flight of
the centuries without hay, why may not cattle and
horses do likewise ? The stock-grazing region
to which allusion is here made, comprises in fact
all the country west of the 100th meridian of
longitude, to the base of the Rocky Mountains,
and the elevated plateaus or great parks lying
between the eastern and western ranges of the
same mountains; while the extent north and
south reaches from the Gulf of Mexico to the
northern boundary line of the United States.
Three great railroad lines already penetrate this
vast stock range, and a decade will hardly pass
away before other lines will follow. A ready
outlet to the best stock markets in the country
is therefore always accessible and always open.
Hut with all the natural advantages of this
region, not eveiy one who may be captivated with
the idea of a stuck ranche and lowing herds, can
make it a success. The business requires capital
and care just the same attention that is given
to any other successful business. Xor can it be
safely entered upon und u r the impression that a
fortune can be made in a day or in a year. Jt is
a business liable to losses, to severe winters, un-
favorable seasons and a glutted market. It does
not run itself. By reason of a single hard win-
ter, one man in the stock business has been
known to lose a hundred thousand dollars, and
the losses that same winter were proportionally-
severe upon those who were not as able to suffer
them. It is a business which, if closely attended
to, promises large returns upon the capital in-
vested, and which, at the same time, is liable to
heavy losses. It is more sure than mining and
more profitable than agricultural or dairy-farm-
ing. But we shall have more to say of this
hereafter, with specific illustrations as to what
can be done in both sheep husbandry and cattle
raising. Returning to the two rivers, one of

which we crossed near their junction the vast
area of bottom lands continue to widen, and for
a long distance each has its broad valley. Leav-
ing the North Platte here we shall ascend the
South Platte to Julesburg. About one mile west
of the bridge, we arrive at

North Platte the end of another division
of the Union Pacific Railroad. Jt is 291 miles
from Omaha, and 2,78!) feet above the sea. It
is a thriving city, and outside of Omaha has
the most extensive machine and repair shops
on the line of the road. The roundhouse has
twenty stalls, and it, together with the machine
and repair shops, are substantially built of brick.
In these shops engines and cars are either repaired
or entirely built over, a process which cannot
haidly* be called repairing, but which neverthe-
less renders them as good as new. The engine-
room for the machine-shops, is a model of
neatness; everything in and around it being
kept in perfect ord< r.

The town has about 2,000 inhabitants, two
wide-awake newspapers ; the Republican being
a weekly, and the Western Ncbraskinn being a
semi-weekly, together with several wholesale and
retail stores and shops of various kinds. The
Railroad House is the largest and leading hotel.
About 150 men are given constant employment
in the shops. There are also one or two com-
panies of troops stationed here, not to protect
the raihoad from the savages, for that necessity
lias passed, but for economy in keeping and
convenience for frontier duty. The town also
has two or three church edifices, a brick couit-
house and brick school-house, both new, and both
presenting a fine appearance. There are als-o
several elegant private residences. It is beauti-
fully located, and has excellent drainage. 1 he
bluffs or hills are in near view, both iioith and
south, and give quite a picturesque appearance
to the country in the immediate vicinity. 1 he
Black Hills excitement, in regard to the discovery
of gold, lias had some effect upon the town, and
a railroad off to the noith-west is talked. It
is the horn" of some of the leading stock-men of
this section of country. Near this city, in 1875,
Col. E. D. Webster and Mrs. A. W. Randall,
wife of the late ex-postmaster-general Randall,
formed a copartnership to engage in the dairying
business, and erected a cheese factory. During
the year they manufactured about 30 tons of
cheese, which brought them a fair return. Col-
onel Webster claims that the experiment has
demonstrated that the business can be canied
on with profit, and he believes it will eventually
become th leading feature of this pail of the
country. He further says that the only draw-
back at present is the scarcity and unreliability
of help, it being difficult to obtain a sufficient
number of "milkers" at a reasonable price to
milk a large number of cows. In 1876 t)ip fiiin
proposes to make cheese from the milk of from


one to two hundred cows, and the balance of
their herd some five hundred will be devoted
to stock-raising. This dairy establishment is
one of the new enterprises of North Platte, and,
if successful in the future, will make it the
prominent cheese-market of the West.

The town has abundant attractions for invalids
needing rest there being antelope and deer in
the hills, fish in the streams, and an abundance
of pure air to invigorate the body. It has a
bright future and is destined to become one of
the leading towns on the line of the railroad.
Formerly it was an eating-station, but as now
run, trains pass it in the night. The road was
finished to this town in the fall of 1866, from
which time until the following June it was the
point where all overland freight was sifipped.
Jt was a rough town then, but this state of
affairs did not last long, and the character of
the place rapidly improved with the arrival of
permanent set-
tlers. There
were a few In-
dian scares, but
no serious at-
tack was made
by the savages
upon the town.
Two or three
trains were
ditched and
wrecked, both
east and west,
but this was the
extent of the
damage done
by them. Of
this, however,
we shall have
more to say in
another place.


C/tirnnei/ Rock. Near North Platte is the
far-famed Chimney Rock, two and a half miles
from the* south bank of the Platte River. It is
composed of a friable yellowish marl, which can
be cut readily with the knife. It rises in the
form of a thin, perpendicular shaft above a coni-
cal mound, whose base slopes gradually out
toward the plains. It appears to be the re-
newal of the old chain of hills and rocks which
bounded the valley, but which, from their soft-
ness of material, have been disintegrated by
wind and weather. This possessing harder ma-
terial has withstood these effects, although it is
steadily yielding. In the days of Fremont's ex-
pedition, it was estimated that it was over 200
feet in height, but other travelers and explorers
who had seen it years before, stated that' its
height had been as great as 500 feet. In those
days it was a landmark visible for forty or fifty
miles; now it is hardly 35 feet in height.
Around the waist of the base runs a white baud

which sets off its height, and relieves the uni-
form yellow tint. It has often been struck by

TJie Overland Pony Express.

The Pony Express (of which few now remem-
ber those days of excitement and interest) was
started in 1860, and the 3d of April, that year, is
the memorable date of the starting of that first
trip. In those days, the achievements of the
Pony Express were attended with an eager excite-
ment hardly less interesting than the building of
the Pacific Railroad itself. " Overland to Califor-
nia in thirteen tlay*," was repeated everywhere as
a remarkable achievement. The first company
organized was formed in California in 1858 or
1859, under the name of the Central Overland
California and Pike's Peak Express. At that
time, with no telegraph or even stage line across
the continent, this attempt was considered extra-
ordinarily au-
dacious. The
services p 1 a n-
n e d and exe-
cuted by the
company were
a pony express,
with stations
sixty miles
apart, the en-
tire distance
from St.Joseph,
Mo., to Sacra-
mento. The
time occupied
between ocean
and ocean was
fourteen days,
and from St.
Joseph to San
Francisco, ten

days. And the schedule of the company re-
quired the pony express to make trips in the
following time :

From St. Joseph to Marysville,
From St. Joseph to Fort Kearny,
From M. Jos-eph to Laramie.
From St. Joseph to Fort Britlger,
From St. Joseph to Salt Luke,


St. Joseph to Camp Floyd,
St. Joseph to Carson City,
St. Joseph to Hlacerville,
St Joseph to Sacramento,
St. Joseph to Sfcn Francisco,

12 hours.

34 hum's.

W> homs.
108 hours.
iL'l hour*.
12S hours.
118 hours.
220 hours.
232 hours.
240 hours.

An express messenger left once a week from each
side with not more than ten pounds of matter.
The best of riders were chosen from among trajv
pers, scouts and plains men, familiar with all the
life of the route, fearless, and capable of great
physical power, endurance and bravery. The
ponies were very swift and strong, a cross be-
tween the American horse and Indian pony, and
after each run of sixty miles, waited till the ar-
rival of the messenger from the opi*>site direc-



tion, when each returned. The riders were con-
stancly exposed to dangers from Indian attacks
and pursued by highwaymen ; and to compen-
sate them for this risk they received the large
salary of $1,200 a month each ; and the modest
price charged for the conveyance of business
letters was $5.00, gold, per quarter ounce. At
the tims of the departure of the first messenger
from St. Joseph, a special train was run over the
Hannibal and St Joseph Railroad to bring the
through messenger from New York, and a " Pony
Express Extra " was issued of two pages, by the
St. Joseph Daily Gazette, containing telegraphic
news from all
p a r t s o f the
world, with a
heavily leaded
account of the
new enterprise,
and sending
greetings to the
press of Califor-

The route
from St Joseph,
after reaching
the Platte Val-
ley, followed
just north of the
present track of
the Pacific Rail-
road to Lara-
mie. then up the O LD P NY EXPRESS STATION

Sweet Water to Salt Lake, and down the Hum-
boldt to Sacramento. Night and day the messen-

gers spurred their ponies with the greatest speed
each could endure. Often on arriving at an
express station the messenger, without waiting
to dismount, tossed his bag to another already
waiting, and each were off at once, back again,
and thus for eight days the little express bag
traveled, arriving at the rail terminus, rarely a
minute behind the prescribed time, a total dis-
tance of 2,000 miles.

For two years this system was kept up, until
the telegraph line was finished in 18G2, when the
company dissolved with a loss of $200,000. As an
instance of rapid speed, once, very important dis-
patches e 1 e c -
tion news were
carried from !St.
Joseph, Mo., to
Denver City,
Col., 625 miles,
in sixty- nine
hours, the last
ten miles being
made in thirty-
one minutes.
On this and next
page, we give
two illustrations
characteristic of
these times.
One engraving
is taken from a
painting of G.


of Salt Lake City, which represents the express
rider dashing along and cheering the telegraph


men who were erecting the poles. This is an
actual scene, as, in the summer of 1862, while the
telegraph was under construction, the flitting by
of the Pony Express was an almost daily occur-
rence. An illustration is also given of one of
these express stations at Cheese Creek, Neb.,
which was soon afterwards abandoned as a thing

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 8 of 62)