Samuel Manning.

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without seeing a landscape which greatly impresses itself on his memory.

This general unimpressiveness of American scenery is, no doubt, greatly


increased by the almost total absence of historical associations. Everything
is spic-and-span new. No halo of romance, no glamour of ancient legend,
invests the landscape with a mysterious charm. The venerable edifices or
ivied ruins which dignify many a mean, poor village in England are
wanting. A building which dates from the time when " George the Third
was king," is the extreme limit of antiquity which we can reach, and even
these are rare.

But in the enormously rapid development of the country we find a new
element of interest. If there is nothing to remind us of the past, the
present is full of intense energy, and the future opens before us with
possibilities which overwhelm the imagination. In our boyhood we were
thrilled by tales of perils and adventures in the Alleghany Mountains. Lonely
trappers and backwoodsmen led lonely lives amongst these primeval forests
and impenetrable fastnesses. Now the Alleghanies are pleasure resorts for
the citizens of the coast towns. In the year 1832, Chicago had no exist
ence ; Fort Dearborn, a trading post in the Indian country, marked the
spot where a city of half a million inhabitants now stands. Twenty years
ago Chicago was the great city of the west. It is now to all intents and
purposes an eastern city.

In subsequent pages of this volume, the marvellous growth of the cities
of the Western States will be traced. Districts which thirty years ago were
only kno\vn by the reports of adventurous travellers or fur traders have been
organised into States, with hundreds of thousands of inhabitants. In 1849,
San Francisco was only a mission station, occupied by the Jesuit fathers. In
1855, Omaha was an Indian trading post on the frontier. In 1859, Denver
was but a cluster of tents and wigwams. These are at the present day large
and wealthy cities, carrying on commercial transactions with every part of the
civilised world. Not many years ago the United States mail was carried
across the prairies by stage-coach, guarded by troops to protect it against
the attack of Indians, in districts which are now traversed by railroads, and
are the centre of peaceful and prosperous industry.

Noting everywhere this rapid progress, it was impossible not to remember
the prophetic lines of Bishop Berkeley, written a century and a half ago,
when the settled population of America formed but a narrow fringe upon the

eastern coast :

" Westward the course of empire takes its way ;

The four first acts already past,
A fifth shall end the drama with the day;
Time's noblest offspring is the last."

It does not enter the plan of this volume to discuss the moral and
religious condition of the American people. A traveller passing hastily
through the country has not the means of forming an accurate and well-
considered judgment upon questions which require a patient investigation


and a wide induction of facts. But in quoting the hopeful augury of the
good bishop, it is scarcely possible to avoid asking whether it has been
fulfilled, or is in process of fulfilment ? In other words, Do we find in
America the noblest product of the ages, or what is likely to become
so ? If the question refer to material prosperity, the answer must, I think,
be, Yes. But I am only repeating the opinion of the wisest and best men
whom I met, when I express a doubt whether this is true of the highest
interests of humanity. To the intense energy thrown into religious move
ments, and the liberal, almost lavish, expenditure incurred for their promotion,
I must bear admiring testimony. The efforts made by all sections of the
Church to overtake the spiritual wants of the rapidly increasing population
are worthy of all praise. But the keen pursuit of wealth, the tendency
to estimate everything by its marketable value, the restless and feverish
activity which prevail on every side, are unfavourable to the higher life
of the intellect and the spirit. Even the rural and agricultural districts are
not free from this evil. One longed to repeat the words of the Divine
Teacher, as quoted by St. Mark, " Come ye yourselves apart . . . and rest
awhile : for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so
much as to eat." Only thus can the inner life of the soul be maintained.
Only as we withdraw somewhat from the excitement of the things which
are "seen and temporal," is it possible for us to realise the things which are
"unseen and eternal." There are, indeed, multitudes in America whose
" fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ," to whom the
cross of Christ is the supreme object of delighted contemplation, and in
whose tranquil spirits the Spirit of God finds His fitting abode. But I only
echo the feeling which I often heard expressed, when I say that if America
is to be " Time's noblest offspring," the graces of character which flourish in
quietness and retirement must be cultivated far more extensively than
they are at present.


OT. Louis, my starting-point for
^ Denver, a distance of upwards of
nine hundred miles, is a city which
can boast of the venerable antiquity of
a century. In the year 1764, it was a
village of one hundred and twenty
inhabitants. "In 1790, a St. Louis
merchant was a man who, in the corner
of his cabin, had a large chest which
contained a few pounds of powder and
shot, a few knives and hatchets, a
little red paint, two or three rifles, some

hunting shirts of buckskin, a few tin cups and iron pots, and, perhaps, a little
tea, coffee, sugar and spice." In 1811, the population had risen to one
thousand four hundred ; a market house was built, and two schools were
etablished, one French, the other English. Two years later, the first brick
house was erected. The city now covers an area of twenty square miles, with
a population which falls little short of half a million. A great steel bridge has
been flung across the Mississippi, at a cost of ten million dollars. A line of


steamers a mile and a half in length may be seen lying at the wharves. " St.
Louis, sitting like a queen on the banks of the great Father of Waters, will
be the central city of this people, the tidal waves of whose civilisation will
roll to China and Japan on the west, and to the Bosphorus on the east ;
and with her continental railroad system, her telegraphs over mountains and
under oceans, her vast water communication, will radiate law and order,
and become the leading national, mining, and commercial metropolis of the
Western hemisphere."

These statistics of the past and prophecies for the future, I take from a
document published by " Order of the St. Louis County Court." They have
therefore official sanction and authority. It seems strange that a city which can
boast of an antiquity so remote, a progress so vast, and a future so astounding
should be sneered at by its younger rival Chicago as slow and stupid and


conservative. Yet so it is and Chicago, in this respect, only echoes the
general sentiment of the continent. St. Louis, however, retorts that she
trades on realised capital, whilst Chicago depends on mortgages and ac
commodation bills, and that wealth is cautious, whilst credit is reckless.
" Chicago," says the document from which I have already quoted, "is a depot
for speculators in grain, and Cincinnati abounds in hogs ; but this is the end
of their glory. . . . St. Louis is destined at no distant day to be the great
vitalising heart of the world's civilisation ! "

Crossing the Mississippi by the great bridge, which, with its approaches,
is a mile and a quarter in length, and traversing the State of Missouri, we
enter Kansas. This state was formerly known as Bleeding Kansas, gaining
the soubriquet from the fact that for some years it formed the battle-field

* From the Rocky Mountains Guide, issued by the St. Louis and Kansas City Railway Company.




on which the struggle between freedom and slavery was fought out. The
Missourians resolved that the new State should be organised with a slave-
holding constitution. For this purpose they occupied large tracts of territory,
and issued a declaration stating that " We will continue to lynch and
hang, tar and feather any white-livered abolitionist who dares to pollute


our soil." Undeterred by these threats, a number of free-soilers from the
New England States established themselves under a semi-military organisation
on the banks of the Kansas River. Bloody battles were fought between
the Northern immigrants and the Missourian fire-eaters. But the stern
determination and fearless courage of the Massachusetts farmers triumphed,
and Kansas entered the Federal Union as a free State. It was in these
feuds that John Brown, then known as Ossawatomie Brown, rose into notice,
and gave proof of that reckless daring which prompted his famous raid on
Harper's Ferry.

When I passed through the territory it was being devastated by a
scourge of locusts, or grasshoppers, as they are here called. In many places
they covered the soil with a moving mass, and filled the air like snow-flakes

on a snowy day.
At a roadside
station, the train
was not able to start
till they had been
swept from the
track. The grow
ing crops were cut
off, the trees strip
ped of their leaves,
and the cattle were
starving for want
of food. The
alarming extension
of this insect pest,
which has ravaged
Kansas, Nebraska,
and the neighbour
ing States for the last two or three years, is plausibly explained by the
destruction of winged game on the prairies. The nidus of the grasshoppers
is the sage-brush desert, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Their flight
westward was checked by myriads of prairie-fowl, which devoured them
greedily. The opening up of rapid railway communication between the
western country and the eastern sea-board has led to these birds being killed
in countless numbers for sale in the New England States, and for exportation
to Europe. The barrier which previously existed to the spread of the locusts
was thus removed. It affords a curious illustration of the intimate relation
ships which now unite distant nations, to find that an addition to our supply
of food in England should bring disasters to cultivators of the soil at a
distance of five thousand miles.

The journey across the prairies, though monotonous, is by no means




devoid of interest. The vast herds of buffalo which used to roam over the
expanse have indeed almost disappeared. In the Great Plains between
St. Louis and Denver the trains were sometimes compelled to stop for
an hour or more, whilst they crossed the track in one unbroken mass.
Now it is a rare thing to see a large herd at all. The Indians are likewise
rapidly disappearing. But antelope and elk abound. Villages of prairie dogs
are frequent. These amusing little creatures resemble the marmots of
Switzerland. They may be seen by thousands frisking and gambolling at the
entrance of their burrows, till at the first alarm they vanish into their holes,


which they are said to share with the prairie owls and rattlesnakes. That
they live in the same burrows and on friendly terms with the owls is certain ;
but I suspect that the snakes are unwelcome intruders, and that they live
upon their hosts rather than with them. The absence of trees on the prairies
is compensated by the profusion and beauty of the flowers. A broad expanse
stretches to the verge of the horizon, tinged with red, or blue, or yellow,
from the predominant flora of the spot. The atmosphere is of such exquisite
purity, that Buffalo meat laid out upon the grass does not putrefy, but dries
up into charqm, in which condition it keeps good for months. The sunsets
are of marvellous splendour, and, except in Egypt and Arabia, I have never


seen anything to compare with the glories of the night. When the veil of
light has been withdrawn, the firmament is disclosed to view a lustrous
depth of azure, studded with innumerable stars, shining with a liquid radiance
compared with which the skies of Italy are opaque and dim.

When I crossed the prairies, trouble with the Indians was apprehended.
Their reserves in the Black Hills had been encroached upon by groups of
miners, attracted by alleged discoveries of gold. There were rumours that
the Arapahoes and Sioux were on the war-path. Spotted Dog and White
Cloud were mustering their braves for a desperate resistance to the whites.


A band of emigrants, whom we had seen the night before toiling across the
plain, were said to have been scalped, and their cattle driven off. Even the
friendly Utes were reported to be making common cause with their brother
redskins. These flying rumours were repeated or listened to with various feelings.
The frontier men rejoiced that a favourable opportunity had now arrived for
"clearing out the Injuns;" and it was hoped that not one of the "varmint"
would be left alive. The more serious and thoughtful among the passengers
lamented the doom impending over the aborigines, but they believed it to
be inevitable. The extermination of the red man from the American con
tinent seems to be only a question of time. They melt away and disappear


before the advance of the whites like the buffalo on which they subsist. An
outbreak like that apprehended can only accelerate the process which is
going on day by day.

Early on the second morning after leaving St. Louis, our train came to a
sudden standstill, and a loud noise of escaping steam was heard from the
engine. " Guess our bulgine's busted up," said my neighbour, a miner from


New Mexico. So it proved, and the damage was so great that it could not
be repaired. We were out in the open prairie. No house was in sight.
It was some distance to the next station, and probably no engine could be
found nearer than Denver, a hundred and seventy miles away. As hours
must elapse before we could move, I started with a companion for a ramble
over the prairie. We had not proceeded very far when we discovered a
rude shanty. It proved to be the hut of a hunter, who only the day before


had killed a young buffalo. In a few minutes an abundant supply of steaks,
cut from the hump-ribs, were frying for our breakfast. Our appetites,"
sharpened by the keen morning air, prepared us to do full justice to the
extemporised meal ; but even an epicure would have pronounced the meat
delicious. Strolling along to pass away the time, we reached the summit of
one of those long undulations, like the rollers of the ocean in a calm, which
give rise to the name of a rolling prairie. From this point we caught sight
of a pinnacle of rock, glittering like a huge diamond on the horizon. It was
our first view of the snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains, at least a hundred
and fifty miles distant. Seen through the clear bright atmosphere, and


radiant in the light of the morning sun, it looked too beautiful to belong to
earth ; and when, a mile or two farther on, we saw the whole sky-line cut
by a serrated ridge of mountain-tops, their snow-crowned summits glistening
in the sunshine, it was as though we, like the Seer of Patmos, had beheld
the New Jerusalem descend out of heaven.

A portable battery having been connected with the wires, telegraphic
communication was established, and in two hours an engine arrived to
take the place of our disabled locomotive. Nearer and nearer we drew to
the grand mountain chain, the first view of which had filled us with such
admiring wonder ; higher and higher the peaks rose into the sky, and before
nightfall we found ourselves at the city of Denver.


Amongst my fellow-travellers was one of the first settlers in Colorado,
locally known as "a fifty-niner." It was in the year 1859, only sixteen
years before that he had constructed the first loghouse on the spot, which up


to that time had been merely an Indian trading post. He had been absent
for some years, and it was with profound astonishment that he found a
large railway station, with a line of half-a-dozen omnibuses at the door
waiting to convey us to as many hotels. In what^ is now the main street of


a city of thirty thousand inhabitants, he pointed out the site of the first
house, and the spot where stood the now historical tree, on which he had
helped to hang seven horse thieves in a single night, sentenced to death by
lynch-law. I extracted from the Denver Directory the following particulars,

which may serve to
illustrate the wonderful
growth of the city in six
teen years :

Five daily papers,
Six weekly papers,
Twenty churches,
Five fire-engine sta

Ten banks, eight rail
ways in connection, amint,
a board of trade, and
street railways running
along every street.

The rise and early pro
gress of the city were due
to the fact that it formed
the great centre for the
mining operations of
Colorado. But it is now
visited by large numbers
of tourists in search of
beauty, and sportsmen
in search of game. The
Canons of Colorado, a few
years ago only known
from the enthusiastic de
scriptions of a few daring
explorers, are now easily
reached, and they well
deserve their fame. It
would be difficult to
exaggerate the beauty of


The eye ranges over a

broad sweep of level prairie, intersected by one or two rivers, and then
is arrested by the chain of the Rocky Mountains, which stretch along the
whole horizon from north to south, as far as the eye can reach. The forms
are less massive than those of the Alps ; there is less snow, and no glaciers,



But, as seen from Denver, they rise more directly from the plain, and
the view of the distant peaks is not obstructed by intervening heights, as is
the case in Switzerland. The perfect clearness of the atmosphere is the cause
of a curious optical delusion to strangers. Objects a hundred miles away seem
to be close at hand. A favourite story in Denver is that of an English
tourist, who proposed a stroll to Long's Peak. His hosts, to humour the
joke, assented. They started after an early breakfast, and having walked for


some hours, he inquired how much farther they must go. " About seventy
miles," was the reply. At this point an irrigation ditch crossed the road.
He sat down and began to undress. "What are you doing?" they asked.
" I'm going to swim across this river," said he. They explained that it was
not a river, but a gutter which he could step over. " I am bound to believe
you," was his rejoinder; "but my senses tell me that if it is seventy miles
to yonder peak, it cannot be less than seventy feet to the opposite bank."
A brief reference to the geology of the district is an almost necessary


introduction to a description of the scenery of Colorado and the Rocky
Mountains. The thousand miles of prairie, over which we have passed since
leaving the Mississippi Valley at St. Louis, seem to the traveller to be a
dead level, except for those long undulations to which reference has been
made. But in fact we have risen five thousand feet. The elevation, how
ever, is so gradual and constant as to be imperceptible. But we now reach
a line of violent disturbance. The mass of the Rocky Mountains has been


thrust up to a height of from ten to fourteen thousand feet above the level
of the sea. This mighty upheaval has lifted and burst through the stratified
rocks which lay above the granite, tilting them up, so as to form a continuous
line of foot-hills along the base of the central chain. These foot-hills are
now intersected by magnificent gorges and ravines locally known as Canons
which are sometimes clothed with the richest verdure, but more often are
bleak and bare. In the glacial period the torrents which rushed down the

mountain sides formed vast lakes in the hollows and depressions of the plateaux.



These have since dried up, and their beds, here called parks, covered with
rich alluvial soil, are of extraordinary fertility.

The old Spanish name of this district, adopted as that of the State,
Colorado, is taken from the extraordinary colours of the upturned rocks.
The prevailing tint
is red, varying from
a deep crimson to
a delicate pink.
But there are
masses of black
porphyry, magne-
sian limestone
purely white, and
serpentine in all its
mult i tu d i n ou s
shades of green.
These, especially
as seen by the light
of the rising or
setting sun, have a |
weird and fairy-
like effect, unlike 5
anything of earth ;
and the shapes are ?
as strange as the
colours. The fri
able rocks, worn
away by aqueous
and atmospheric
action, assume the
most grotesque
forms. Here are
battlements which
seem to have been
reared by the
Titans of old.
There we pass
through a narrow
portal where only

two or three persons can walk abreast between mighty masses which rise
perpendicularly to a height of many hundred feet. Elsewhere, as in Monument
Park, Glen Eyrie, and the Garden of the Gods, are detached pyramids,
obelisks and shafts, which it seems scarcely possible to regard as mere freaks


of nature, so much do they resemble the products of barbaric art. Some have
the form of inverted pyramids, resting on a base so slender, with the upper
part overhanging so perilously, that one almost fears to walk under them,
lest a gust of wind should overthrow the ill-balanced mass. It is at Glen

Eyrie, the residence
of General Palmer,
that this extra
ordinary effect is
seen most finely.
______ Here, at the point

where some of the
wildest and most
savage canons in
Colorado converge,

O '

there is a glen of
exquisite beauty, irri
gated by perennial
streams from the
surrounding moun
tains. The bed of
the valley is laid out
as a garden, and
abounds in choice
plants and flowers.
The rocks on either
side are of fantastic
shapes, and range in
colour from brilliant
red, through orange
and yellow, to a
dazzling white.
Slender shafts and
pinnacles rise from
the valley to a height
of two hundred feet,
some of these rest
ing upon bases so
worn by torrents that
they are only a few

yards in circumference. The wonder is that the overhanging mass has not

long ago toppled over.

Amongst the innumerable canons within easy reach of Denver or

Colorado Springs, each of which deserves a visit and will well repay the



tourist who can devote some weeks to explore their beauties, there is one
which claims special mention Clear Creek Canon. The gorge is so narrow
that in many places the torrent which roars along the bottom fills up the
whole space. Often the mountains seem to close in upon its tortuous
windings, so as to leave no more possibility of entrance or exit than if we
were in the crater of a vast volcano, till, by some sudden turn, a passage is
discovered. Far overhead are peaks covered with perpetual snow, standing
out in strong relief against the clear blue sky beyond. Yet along the bottom
of this ravine, Yankee ingenuity has constructed a railroad. It is of the
narrowest possible gauge, so that the cars look like a toy train, never intended
for actual work. The track doubles backwards and forwards, following the
windings of the ravine, with curves so sharp that it is a pardonable exaggera
tion when we are told that the driver on the engine can shake hands with the
guard at the other end _^______

of the train. Only when

we reach the terminus

at Black Hawk and

Central City do we

discover the reason for

this extraordinary

engineering feat. At

the head of the canon

are some of the richest

mines of Colorado.

The hills are honey

combed with mines,

the annual product of

which is over two

million dollars. The

streets of Central City

are said to be paved with gold, being macadamised with the refuse from the

mines, from which the ore has been but imperfectly extracted. A school-house,

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Online LibrarySamuel ManningAmerican pictures drawn with pen and pencil → online text (page 2 of 12)