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and two of the citizens lay dead on the snow. There has been
no general killing since, and Coolidge is at peace with " all the
world and the rest of mankind." On the beautiful moonlight



OUT ON THE ATLANTIC & PACIFIC. 123

night of my stay, the crowd that gathered in at "Hall's," (Hall
being the alcalde and "Bascom" of the place,) though "bearded
like the pard" and profusely ornamented with cartridge belts and
"guns" of various calibers, were on peaceful thoughts intent.
The talk was of home, of the long-gone hours we once enjoyed
with the brethren in the grand lodge of the Sons of Malta, and
other edifying subjects. The town presented a perfect picture of
quiet and repose. The burghers lay on the counter and sat on the
mackerel kits in Hall's store; the gamblers listlessly regarded
very small piles of chips, and the female terror of the Far West,
the "Apache Sal" or "Broncho Kate," of the place, sauntered
about in slatternly ease with her cigar, but seemed thoughtful,
pensive, almost sad, and failed to bestow on her gentleman ac-
quaintances the usual quantity of deteriorated language. A few
Indians, poor Navajoes whose untutored minds were intent on
stealing something, flitted about in the moonlight wrapped in
their blankets. A few revolver shots were heard occasionally,
but they were fired at random and not on business. It was evi-
dent that over Coolidge hung the shadow of impending reform.
The Eastern novelist in search of material for a gory and ghastly
tale of the bloody caiion or the ghost-haunted gulch, will no longer
find material at Coolidge or "Crane's ranche." So runs the
world away.

Through the kindness of Superintendent Angell, the rest of
the return trip over the first division to Albuquerque was made
by daylight, and the journey was made pleasant by the society
of himself, Chief Engineer Kingman and Assistant Engineer
Billings. The great attractions to a stranger and curiosity-
seeker are the lava-beds, of which there are two. The volcano
from which one of these rivers flowed is plainly visible near
Blue Water station. The lava-bed itself has been partially cov-
ered by sand and debris and vegetation, its course being traced
by huge black and ragged masses here and there, but at Grant
station the lava may be seen as perfect as on the slopes of Vesu-
vius. It runs, or did run, a huge stream, twenty-five miles long,
and from three to five miles wide. The railroad runs along the
verge, where its course was finally stayed. It is as if from its



124 SOUTHWESTERN LETTERS.

boiling reservoir a tide of melted asphalt, ten feet high, had
swept down the valley, spreading out in fan shape as it came,
As it flowed it cooled and cracked, and tossed and surged, like
the waves of the sea. The burning foam hardened ; the furrows
and crests of the waves took solid shape, and now it is a black,
petrified river. Bottomless fissures cross it in every direction ;
ragged points, as hard as iron and sharp as glass, cover the sur-
face. For the most part it is impassable by man or beast.
Occasionally, however, there is a long wave, smooth, rounded,
and black, looking for all the world like a whale. Along the
edges of the bed grew shrubs and bushes, which looked brighter
than vegetation elsewhere. I have been told that the lava yields
in time to the action of the elements, and that green grass grows
where once the molten lava hissed and flamed, but of this I can-
not speak from observation. There is nothing else in nature
like a lava-bed, and the traveler over the Atlantic & Pacific can
see this evidence of earth's mighty convulsions without getting
out of the car. In fact, the lava is only a few feet distant.

Another sight on the first division of the Atlantic & Pacific
is the Indian village of Laguna. The pueblo is like all others a
series of "dobes," running tier upon tier on the slope of a bare
rock. Many of the houses were in ruins. In former days, when
the Pueblos were harassed by the Navajos an'd other wild tribes,
they kept within their works, but now that the pressure is re-
moved, they distribute themselves along the banks of the river
that irrigates their little fields, and build separate habitations.

Of course the conversation turned to a considerable extent on
the resources of the country and the future of the road. The
region, sterile as it looks, is yet a stock country of considerable
value.

The mineral resorces of Arizona are undoubtedly great; but it
seems to me that the great value of the Atlantic & Pacific lies in
its possession of the wonderful pass through or over the Conti-
nental Divide and its consequently easy grades. It will be the
through freight line, if my judgment in such matters is worth
anything.

The tourist will travel this road in after years because it does



OUT ON THE ATLANTIC & PACIFIC. 125

traverse in its course a desert. The desert has its attractiveness;
it exercises an indescribable but powerful charm. Thousands
have felt it, and the desolate waste will forever woo men to its
burning breast. In a short time the road will be within easy
staging or horseback distance of the Grand Canon of Colorado,
a wonder in its way, like Niagara. Men tired of trim parks and
placid lakes, and vapid watering-places, will find in these un-
tamable wilds something to stir the blood and linger in the heart



HOMEWARD BOUND.



No MATTER how carefully we plan a journey beforehand, or
how methodically we measure in advance its days, there comes a
time when it may be said to end itself; when we cease to look
forward and begin to look back over the route we have come;
when we think not of the land whither we are going, but of the
land from whence we came. The traveler, when this period
comes, in spite of himself, had better, if he can, go home. Fur-
ther journeying is a weariness, a twice-told tale.

After returning from the visit to the Canon Diablo, and the
confines of Arizona, the writer felt that he was "homeward
bound," and the little that remains to be told is the hurried rec-
ord of a journey often filled, it must be confessed, with thoughts
that had nothing to do with present surroundings, and oft-times
completely obliterating them.

From Albuquerque to Santa Fe is, to the readers of these
letters, old ground. The return journey was performed entirely
by daylight. It was breakfast instead of supper at Wallace; it
was noon instead of evening at Santa Fe, but nothing of inci-
dent befel. Santa Fe was found even quieter than it had been
left, for Governor Sheldon had gone to the southern part of the
Territory and taken his good stories with him. The stage for
Espanola did not start till next morning, and there was a long
half-day to lounge about the plaza and sit under the portal of
the Governor's palace, and talk to the old man Ellison and Mr.
O'Neil, of the old Santa Fe. The ghost of what the "regulars"
call the "Old Army" walked in the talk of these elderly gen-
tlemen. It was curious to hear them speak of captains and
lieutenants of whom I had never heard, except as generals.
One of these vanished martial figures was Bernard E. Bee. He
was killed, a Confederate general, at the first Bull Run. He

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HOMEWARD BOUND. 127

was the greatest military dandy, they said, that Santa Fe had
ever known ; more precise even than Sykes, our General Sykes,
who died in harness in 1881. j8JQFl 1IOJOU8CJ

The Espanola stage drove around to the Exchange at 7 o'clock
in the morning. It was full of men, young fellows who had
been mining and prospecting in various regions, and were going
over to the San Juan country to try their luck. They carried
guns and wore miners' garments ; hence it was, it is presumed,
that a drummer with plaid clothes, and a big stomach like a
sample trunk, surveying the party from the steps of the Palace
Hotel (terms $4 a day, charged to the "house,") said he
" wouldn't ride with that crowd," and remained over to the next
stage. Nevertheless I found the men very fair company; close
observers of all they had seen, and acute in their judgments of
men and events. One of the men gave the most graphic ac-
count I ever heard of the great railroad riot at Pittsburgh.

The twenty-two miles of stage-road between Santa Fe and
Espanola is what John Bunyan would have called "doleful." It
is sand and rock, piled up in ridges, endwise, crosswise, perpen-
dicularly, every way a rolling, pitching desert. There were
water and trees at a few places where they change horses, but it
is desolation for the most part The consolation of the traveler
is "looking to the mountains from whence cometh help." The
great range which runs from Santa Fe to Taos looks down on it
all, and gives a sense of protection.

But one town is passed on this road, the village of Santa Cruz,
on a little river of the name, which rushes cold and swift from
the mountains to join the Eio Grande. The largest building is
the old church; the largest residence is that of the priest; and
the only people at work in Santa Cruz were some men engaged
in building an adobe wall around the priest's garden.

At last we reached the Rio Grande, yellow and swift; crossed
it on a low wooden bridge, and so came to Espanola, the southern
terminus of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad.

I doubt if there is in the confines of New Mexico a more se-
cluded spot than Espanola, even though it has a railroad. The
narrow-gauge appears to have kept along down the Rio Grande



128 SOUTHWESTERN LETTERS.

till it reached this lonely spot, and then said " There is no more.
Here we stop." Had it gone on to Santa Fe, a real goal would
have been reached. As it is, the southern division of the Kio
Grande, from Antonita down, reminds one of a fishing-line with-
out any hook.

The banks of the Rio Grande above and below Espanola are
occupied by Indian villages, and the Indians who lounged about
the depot were the most cleanly and refined-looking Pueblos I
had seen/ They wore bright scarlet blankets, marked "U. S.,"
the first evidence I had noticed of any beneficence of the Govern-
ment. On the train, which stole quietly out of Espanola, after din-
ner, was the first comely Indian woman I had ever seen during an
acquaintance by sight with Indians, beginning with the Sacs
and Foxes when they lived in Iowa. While her features were
purely Indian, there was that expression which, wherever we see
it, we call womanly, and which it is difficult to further define.
She was neatly dressed in the same masculine fashion peculiar to
the women of the Pueblos, and was modest and quiet in her de-
meanor, without the sullen, stupid look common to the features
of semi-civilized people when in repose. Her appearance sug-
gested a train of thought in conversation with an intelligent gen-
tleman of Taos, who for the time was my fellow-traveler. He
had seen much of Indians during his long residence in New Mex-
ico; had served against the Navajos in the New-Mexican regi-
ments raised by Gen. Carleton, and had original views respecting
Indians, as indeed he seemed to have on all subjects.

Taking the Pueblo woman as a text, he said that the position
of women among Indians is not generally understood. The In-
dian woman among the wild people is in appearance a slave, per-
forming all sorts of drudgery. In reality she has a better brain
than the male Indian, who is a weak animal. The squaws
must bear the brunt of the campaigns, and Indians rarely go to
war against their counsel. It is the women who invent and fre-
quently execute the hellish cruelties inflicted upon captives, in
revenge for the killing of some relative of an influential squaw.
Neither are Indians incapable of the " tender passion." Indian
songs, like the songs of civilized people, are not only of war,



HOMEWARD BOUND. 129

but of love. The Apache "buck" constructs himself a sort of
flute out of a gun- barrel, and by a series of diabolical noises
on this instrument he strives to express the sentiments which agi-
tate his copper-colored bosom. Could some agency, my inform-
ant thought, be brought to bear upon the Indian women, they
could persuade the men to live in peace. But under the Indian
rule wives are a matter of purchase, and most horse-stealing and
plundering raids are undertaken by young men to supply them-
selves with the wherewithal to set up house-keeping. Thus it is
seen that love not only rules "the camp, the court, the field, the
grove," but also the desert and the lava-bed, the canon and the
mesquite thicket.

My Taos philosopher left the train at Embudo. The car seemed
empty without him ; in fact there was but a handful of passengers.
When the narrow-gauge is extended to Santa Fe a work now
in progress a circuit will be established and a route will be
open for tourists. A run over the A. T. & S. F. from Atchison
to Santa Fe, and then back to the northward over the Kio Grande,
will be full of variety and interest. But to return to the present
journey.

The Rio Grande began to look like a brawling mountain creek,
and finally was lost to sight, and we commenced the ascent of the
Comanche Pass. It is up, up, I do not know how many miles,
clinging and climbing along the side of the mountain. A goat-
path could hardly be steeper or more devious. We wound in
and out, crossing deep ravines on high bridges, passing through
cuts so narrow that you could touch the sides with your hands;
then holding on by the mountain's side along a straight shelf for
some distance, affording a chance to look back upon the long in-
cline we had ascended. All around were mountains. From one
side of the cars we looked up the straight mountain-side; from the
other down into the perpendicular depths; before was still the
steep path. At every turn it seemed as if we would reach the
place where the mesa met the sky, but there were other windings,
and it was up and upward still. At last we grew tired ceased
to be expectant; the road might climb to the stars for all we
knew or cared. But at last the hoarse breathing of the engine



130 SOUTHWESTERN LETTERS.

ceased. We were on the high, level mountain-top, and looking
to the eastward we saw a great plain. Beyond rose a heavy
range of snow-capped mountains. It was the plain of Taos, and
the few reddish dots near the mountain's foot were the town of
Taos. Then we lost sight of it, and were in the pine woods of a
country that reminded me somewhat of the "glades" of the Al-
leghanies. There is not a town on the line between Espanola and
Antonita, only the railroad houses, the section houses being of
hewed pine logs, painted red, reminding one somewhat of Norway.

At Barranca we had supper, an excellent meal. It is wonder-
ful how well travelers are fed in the most out-of-the-way places.
The railroad is, to use an expression not altogether unknown to
reporters, " the prince of caterers."

Night found us on the high plains, with mountains in a con-
tinuous chain on our right. At Antonita there was a street
the first we had seen since leaving Santa Fe. It was like coming
out of a wilderness. At Autonita the road turns off to Durango
and the San Juan country, and the Toltec gorge, and the cliff
houses, and a world of wonders, but we had ceased looking for
these.

A change of cars, and we sped along under the moon. The
conductor was obliging and instructive, and pointed out every-
thing. Those peaks were the Costillas, and up the stream a few
miles once stood old Fort Massachusetts, and here was the later
Fort Garland. This high mountain, its top showing broad sheets
of snow that glittered in the light of the white moon, was the
Sierra BJanca, and this and that peak had never been climbed ;
and then I wondered why we did not have an "Alpine Club" like
the English, to do that sort of thing, and get their necks broken
for the benefit of the newspapers.

At two o'clock in the morning we reached Placer, where I had
determined to stop over and cross the mountain and see the Veta
Pass by daylight.

The morning broke clear, and it still seemed like New Mexico,
but by the time we had reached the summit the sky was overcast.
It seemed as if that mountain was the dividing line between two
climates. There were occasional bursts of sunshine as we



HOMEWARD BOUND. 131

climbed down the pass, but masses of fog hung on the slopes
of the mountains like smoke from a battle-field. The pass was
not as rugged as I had first expected, the slopes being actually
like New England pastures. The engineering is wonderful, but
the originality of the thing was detracted from by noting the old
wagon-road to Fort Garland winding along-side. We have
reached the point that we naturally expect the locomotive to go
wherever a mule can climb. The " mule-shoe curve " is a striking
piece of work. At the time of its construction there was noth-
ing like it in the country. I do not know that it has ever been
surpassed. So down and down we went, without jar or slip, or
more untoward motion than would occur on level ground, and
here we were at La Veta ; henceforth we were to cross no more
mountains.

This road on from La Veta to Pueblo takes the mountains in
reverse that I had seen going southwest, and I had hoped to see
the Spanish peaks again, but a dull bank of clouds settled half-
way down the mountain-slope and hid all from view; there was
nothing except the green plains and streams running bank-full
from recent rains; all was cool and green and damp. One might
as well have been in Liverpool.

The next day was passed in Pueblo; full of new brick blocks
and bustle and Kansas fellows, and not only white Kansans but
black ones. In every town in my travels I was accosted by some
colored brother whom I had known in Kansas; and they were
among the most active and wide-awake of the population.

The "Old Mortality" of Pueblo is our old friend "Bona"
Hensel, who erstwhile made the sparks fly " like chaff* from a
threshing-floor," in the blacksmith shop at Seneca, but who for
many years has beaten the newspaper drum in Kansas and Col-
orado. "Bona" and Mrs. Bona, who, by the way, has studied
hard under a good master and has become an artist of celebrity*
are living in Pueblo, having built half a dozen towns, and risen
and fallen with as many mining booms in Colorado. Although
it rained miserably all day, mine ancient philosopher and friend
went the rounds and explained how Pueblo had everything and
more, too, and was bound to be the great city of the mountains,



132 SOUTHWESTERN LETTERS.

before which Denver would "pale her ineffectual fires." The
most impressive sight in Pueblo is the steel works. Iron ore,
coal and limestone are collected at Pueblo, and the result is first
iron, then steel, then steel rails, If you have never seen steel
made you should see the process at Pueblo or elsewhere. The
molten iron is subjected to a blast in an immense holder, hung on
bearings. If I supposed the readers of the Champion would
understand me, I would say it was shaped like a keno urn but
to make the matter clear we will call it the nest of the oriole.
From 'the mouth, under the strong blast, flash and fly such
fireworks as never human pyrotechnist made. It is as if every
wheat-head and straw from a threshing-machine was turned sep-
erately into golden fire, yet burning so as to preserve their in-
dividual form. When this fiery broth is cooked, the great
converter is tipped easily on its side, the purified metal flows into
great caldrons which run around a circular railway, and the metal
is drawn off into moulds, whence come the blocks of steel known
as "blooms," which are rolled into rails. There are twelve hun-
dred swarthy men employed in these works, and their capacity is
being doubled. -

In the wet evening as the sun was sinking, the famous " Santa
Fe" fast train, the "Cannon Ball," drew up at the Pueblo depot,
a crowd having gathered to see the start. In a moment we were
off, to make the journey from the mountains to the Missouri in
less than twenty-four hours. Half of Colorado and the length
of Kansas to be traversed between sunsets. At the great speed
one would expect some jar, but so smooth is the track that none
is perceptible, and you can only realize how fast you are going
by seeing the telegraph poles whisk past. All night while we
slept, the train was tearing across the plains; first one conductor
and then another walked his rounds; the engineer and fireman
gave place to others, and still we rushed on; over high embank-
ments and through cuts and across bridges, and, always in peril,
yet always safe because of watchful eyes and skillful hands and
hearts of oak and nerves of iron. So the train kept on its swift
and tireless way, and not a sleeping child or timid woman woke.
The sun set, the stars rose from and sank into the plain, and the



HOMEWARD BOUND. 133

day came again. With its coming I woke and looked out on a
green prairie that stretched to the brightening sky. I did not
know what stations we had passed, nor just where we were, but
I saw a white school house facing the rising sun, and I knew it
was Kansas.

It was hundreds of miles yet to Atchison, but what of it? it
was Kansas all the way. Villages and towns grew more fre-
quent ; wheat, oceans of it, showed dappled in the sun. The
cars took on passengers at every stop ; names and faces grew fa-
miliar; here was Lamed, Hutchinson, Newton, and all. Three
hundred miles of it, and all good. No more volcanic mountains,
wrecked and splintered by fire; no more deserts, no more dark
people speaking an unfamiliar tongue; no more cactus; no
more yucca, with its fierce and bayonet-like leaves; no more
goats, with their ragged and swarthy herdsman; no more sun-
baked adobes ; no more mournful old churches, with their harsh
and jangling bells; but the newest country and the best our
own Kansas. And so, after three thousand miles of it, this
wandering north and south, and east and west, seeing much that
was interesting and strange, and new and instructive to the
writer and it is to be hoped not wholly without interest to the
reader there is nothing like that place of which some old dead-
and-gone schoolman has written in a forgotten book :

"It is not doubted that men have a home, in that place where
each one has established his hearth and the sum of his posses-
sions and fortunes; whence he will not depart if nothing calls
him away ; whence, if he has departed, he seems to be a wan-
derer, and if he returns he ceases to wander."



CAUTION.



THE undersigned wishes to caution all who may be tempted to purchase
and peruse a copy of this book against doing so for the following reasons :

1. You may be amused.

2. You may be interested.

3. You may be instructed.

4. You may be moved to move to Mexico New or Old.

5. You may be discouraged from staying at home all your life.

6. You may find out where to go to get richer than anybody else.

7. You may be induced to take a ride over the Atchison, Topeka & Santa
Fe Railroad, which equals a journey one-eighth of the distance around the
world.

Any one of these catastrophes would be very bad, and so the advice is
given not to buy this book. W. F. WHITE,

Gen. Passenger and Ticket Agent, 7 opeka, Kas.





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Online LibraryNoble L. (Noble Lovely) PrentisSouth-western letters → online text (page 11 of 11)