W. G. (Walter Gore) Marshall.

Through America, or, Nine months in the United States online

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throughout the entire length of North and South America,
from the Arctic region to the south of Patagonia, a distance
of 8200 miles ! The Andes in South America are but a con-
tinuation of the " Rockies " in Colorado. Mount Acon-
gagua in Chili, with a height of 23,910 feet, and Mount
Hooker in British North America, with a height of 16,730
feet, may be said to form the culminating points of one and
the same range, in South and North America respectively.

It is a long blue line of mountains that we see, distant
far away in Colorado to the south, and there is Long's
Peak, snow-capped, towering above all to a height of 14,270
feet. No need of field-glasses in this part of the world. If
the day were clearer we should see Pike's Peak, said to be
140 miles distant, "as the crow flies." But though it is
glorious weather to-day, the sky a deep, cloudless blue,
and the sun scorching hot, Pike's Peak and Long's do
not come into view together. The Black Hills now appear
to the north, and soon we are approaching Cheyenne (pro-
nounced Shienne), the " Magic City of the Plains," 1 and the
blue distant lines far away to the north and south become
more and more distinct.

Approaching the Magic City by a couple of snow-sheds,
which are rendered necessary owing to the violence of the
storms in winter, we reach it at 1.40 pjn., and stop half an
hour to get dinner in the station-house. We have now
reached an elevation of 6041 feet, and are distant 516 miles

K 2

132 Through America.

from Omaha. We have also quitted the State of Nebraska,
and entered the Territory of Wyoming.

Cheyenne can boast of being the largest town between
Omaha and Salt Lake City. It is the capital of Wyoming,
and has seen a fluctuating population, which can now (1880),
at all events, be estimated to be about 4000. Gold was dis-
covered in the Black Hills a few years ago, and then up
sprang the city almost magically ; hence the popular name by
which it is designated. Like many of these " magic " cities
it has had its day of lawlessness and vice. But the construc-
tion of the Pacific Railroad has brought within the last few
years a certain amount of civilization and enlightenment to
this once barbarous community, and churches and schools
have taken the place of drinking taverns and gambling dens.
Not that the present condition of the Magic City is irre-
proachable or blameless. It can scarcely yet be recommended
as a haven for a peaceable and law-abiding citizen who is
endowed with a liberal supply of this world's goods, to come
and end his days in. There can sometimes be obtained a
man for breakfast here, as well as at Julesburg.

From Cheyenne a line branches south for 106 miles to
Denver, the capital of Colorado. Another line branches off
to the same destination from Hazard, or Colorado Junction,
the next station we come to after Cheyenne. The former is
the Denver Pacific Railroad, the latter the Colorado Central.
Both form a junction at Denver with the Kansas Pacific,
which connects the Coloradan capital with St. Louis in Mis-
souri and the East, running parallel with the Union Pacific
across the Plains about 200 miles south. Connexions
are also made at Denver with various other lines, which lead
to some of the most important mining " camps " in the State.

A few miles beyond Hazard we pull up on a side track at
a shanty named Otto, to allow the eastern overland train to
pass us. The two trains pull up close by the side of each
other, and greetings are exchanged between the respective
conductors and baggage- masters. Our newspaper man hands
over to the newspaper man of the eastward-bound train a
bundle of the latest issues of the principal Chicago and
Omaha papers, and in return we are presented with the latest

Over Prairie and Mountain. 133

issues of the principal San Francisco and Salt Lake journals.
One is as anxious to get hold of a paper out here, to ascer-
tain the latest news, as one is at the end of that long week
at sea, upon the anxiously looked-for arrival at New York,
or Queenstown Harbour, when you make a dash for the
first paper available, to see what has been happening in the
world you have been out of for so long a time, and on these
occasions you do not mind paying double the proper price
of the first paper that comes to hand. And so it is on a
railway journey like the present. Anything to break the
monotony of the long ride over the Plains. At length, the
conductors and baggage- masters having engaged in ten
minutes' conversation, someone cries " All aboard, all aboard"
we jump up on to the cars, the engine bells commence
ringing and once more we proceed. The eastern overland
train is passed every twenty- four hours between Omaha and
San Francisco.

We now rise rapidly and perceptibly, and in four miles,
between Otto and Granite Canon, we ascend 574 feet.
Six miles more, a further ascent of 482 feet, and we have
reached an altitude of 7780 feet. Snow galleries are now
frequent, and the line is cut through heavy masses of red
granite. Ravines open out beneath, and you feel you are
ascending the Rocky Mountains. Low stunted firs sparsely
clothe the heights around, and you begin to associate the
"Rockies" with bears, elks, and wild cats. Big game, in
truth, abound in the vicinity, and the mountain streams
literally swarm with trout.

A further ascent of 464 feet in seven miles, and we reach
Sherman, the highest elevation which the Pacific Railroad
attains. It has an altitude of 8242 feet. We are 2192 feet
higher than the Rigi near Lucerne, 3836 feet higher than
Ben Nevis in Scotland, as high, indeed, as some of the loftiest
passes in Switzerland and this in a railway train ! If the eye
could see so far we should have an uninterrupted view back
to Omaha, a distance of 550 miles. As it is we have (a little
beyond Sherman station, for there is no view from the station
premises) a noble panorama southward of the " Rockies " in
Colorado, of a fine snow-capped belt of dark-blue heights


Through America.

containing some of the highest elevations of these North
American Andes.

Just before reaching Sherman, we pass a notice board on
our right which informs us that this is the " Summit of the
Rocky Mountains ! "

We pull up at the station, and the train is to wait ten
minutes. It is rather cold up here to-day, so I turn into a little
j nn the Sherman House near the track, expecting to find a
fire ; but instead of this I find some cider real, good, excel-



lent cider, to which I in company with others commence
helping myself. While thus engaged, the engine bell is rung
and the conductor shouts " All aboard," the signals that it is
time to be moving away. Now it happened that I was en-
gaged at this moment in a lively debate on polygamy with
the man at the bar, who was himself half a Mormon, and,
it seemed to me, thought somewhat favourably of the institu-
tion. But it all of a sudden flashed upon me that I was
being left behind. So, tossing the man a dollar greenback,
with a bottle of cider in one hand and a cup to drink out of in

Over Prairie and Mountain. 1 35

the other, I dashed out of the building, and there was the
train steaming away quite fifty yards ahead of me ! I think I
never put on the pace with greater alacrity than I did to catch
that train. I raced as for my very existence, and fortunately
succeeded in reaching the hindmost car, for the engine had
not yet got up sufficient steam so as to proceed very fast.

Descending gradually for about three miles, suddenly,
without any warning, we emerge from a deep cutting in the
red granite cliff on to the Dale Creek Bridge a wooden
trestle-work structure 650 feet long, thrown 127 feet across
the creek or ravine which so unexpectedly opens out beneath.
We go over it at a snail's pace, and so fragile and thin does
the bridge appear to be that it seems almost a wonder it is
able to support the heavy weight of the train. When you
reach the middle and look down below, you experience a kind
of " creeping " sensation, which causes you to very much wish
you were safely arrived on the opposite bank.

We now quicken pace. - Then we shut off steam, apply the
brakes, and descend rapidly into the Laramie Plains. What
a glorious panorama is now before us ! What intensity of
colour ! How clear is the atmosphere, how blue the moun-
tains, how diversified the landscape ! All around and about
us the colour of rock and soil is a crimson red, and dark green
fir-trees starting up here and there afford an agreeable con-
trast to the general aspect of the picture. The Medicine Bow
Mountains shut in the view to the west, rising dark and blue
into the region of perpetual snow. The Black Hills we have
just crossed are seen looming in the far north, and then
spreading out before us, in one grand sweep of a hundred
miles or more, are the Laramie Plains, a very paradise for
sheep, for the grass is of the richest 160,000 to 170,000 head
of stock revel here in one of the finest grazing-lands in North

Descending through a series of snow- sheds into the plains,
many curiously-formed rocks of red sandstone, called the
Red Buttes, are seen on the right, about ten miles before we
come to the settlement of Laramie. They present a most
peculiar and fantastic appearance. Some of them are
100 feet in height.

1 36 Through America.

Soon we reach Laramie, called the " Gem City of the
Mountains," for reasons which need not here be enumerated,
and we turn out into the station-house and have supper. On
the platform is a collection of fossils and minerals, heads of
animals shot in the vicinity, and other interesting curiosities.
Collections such as this are to be found at all the eating-
stations on this part of the overland route. Elk, deer, and
cinnamon bears abound on the mountains in the neighbour-
hood of Laramie, and hunters bring their heads and place
them in these museums for sale. Moss-agates, variegated
opals, amethysts, and mountain rubies, are not to be picked
up every day cheaply ; but here were heaped together
these precious stones, and others, in great variety, collected
like the animals' heads from the adjacent mountains, and cer-
tainly the prices asked for the several specimens could not be
called excessive.

At Laramie we are 7123 feet above the sea-level, having
descended 1119 feet from Sherman in twenty-four miles.
We resume our journey after supper and proceed for fifty
miles to Rock Creek, where we have another supper. Time
allowed for second supper, half an hour. Resuming our
journey once more, night overtakes us, and we go to bed,
the reader will say. No, not just yet ; for we have an
eight-stop little organ in our sleeping car, the " Palmyra,'*
and this evening we bring out its tone, and our companions
in the car contribute a few songs. The instrument has two
manuals, - but will only sound in one, and the upper part is
devoted to pillow-cases and blankets. So for two hours we
amuse ourselves with singing and playing, our conductor
who was a bit of a musician in his way coming and helping
us and treating us to a few songs. I believe if we had only
had room enough we should have got up a little dance ; but,
as it was, this was entirely out of the question. In this way
we spent a very pleasant evening.

June gth.

When we rose this morning (at seven) we found ourselves
near Green River station, 846 miles from Omaha, and at an
altitude of about 6000 feet. During the night we passed
over that high table-land or dividing ridge of the Rocky

Over Prairie and Mountain. 137

Mountains which constitutes the continental watershed, from
which the waters of this portion of North America flow
eastward into the Atlantic and westward info the Pacific.
At Creston, the highest altitude we attained, - we halted there
at 1.45 a.m., we were 7030 feet above the sea.

The settlement of Green River is so called from a stream of
the same name in the vicinity, and the stream is so named from
the greenish hue of its water. Not that the actual water is
green, but, flowing through a slaty, clayish soil of that colour,
it has the appearance, until examined, of being the same
colour also. At Green River the peculiar scenery of the
Rocky Mountains commences not scenery in the character
of grand and beautiful views, for it is a woe begone, desolate
region we are passing through ; not a tree is visible, nor, I
believe, have we passed one for the last 300 miles. But the
bluffs in the neighbourhood of the river, and solitary rocks
starting up here and there, assume every variety of fantastic
shape, and, further on, as Ogden is approached, the railway
is laid through a remarkable gorge, called Echo Canon, where
Nature is strange and weird in the extreme. The variety of
colour in many of these rocks, and the regularity with which
the layers of each are arranged, is most extraordinary. Red
and grayish-buff are the predominating colours ; but there
are also yellow and green layers layers of arenaceous clay
alternating with layers of calcareous sandstone, and here and
there a layer of white sand, so that such a variety of forma-
tion appearing in so many colours, when found in a single
rock, presents it immediately as an object requiring more
than a passing glance. The sight that we witnessed early
this morning of a valley enclosed by such rocks, lit up by the
light of the morning sun, bathed in an inexpressible glow
rendering their colours all the more brilliant and glorious,
is one not likely ever to be forgotten.

There is evidence enough to show that the whole of this
region was once covered with water, for upon the face of
many of these " buttes " are to be seen clear and beautiful
impressions of fish, and not only one or two here and there,
but sometimes hundreds together on one and the same rock.
Thus during a prolonged course of corrosion caused by the

Through America.

action of climate and damp, or water, affecting the soil around,
have these rocks come to assume such remarkable shapes,
tire soil composed of a softer and less durable substance
having sunk by degrees, leaving these evidences of the former
level of -the valley. In 1870 an exploring party sent out
under the auspices of Yale College, New Haven (Conn.),
discovered near Green River many specimens of fossil grass-
hoppers, beetles, dragon-flies, and other insects ; also, near
Antelope, not far from Cheyenne, a petrified three-toed
horse, a rhinoceros, besides turtles, birds, and other fossil
specimens in the same locality. There is no finer field for
the geologist and fossilist than this section of the Rocky
Mountains ; and the mineralogist, too, will find ample scope
for the further development of his particular branch of
natural science.

The names which have been given to some of the rocks
that are passed between Green River and Ogden, according to
their more or less curious formation, will help to convey some
idea of their general form and appearance. Thus we have
(at Green River) a Giant's Club, a Giant's Thumb, and a Giant's
Teapot, and further on we pass a Pulpit Rock, a Sentinel Rock,
a Castle Rock, and within perceptible distance of some Twin
Sisters, Egyptian Tombs, Church Buttes, Monument Rocks,
and a few Witches' Bottles. I cannot take these in detail,
for a rush past them in the train, though it be only at an
eighteen-mile-an-hour pace, does not allow one to do more
than gain a very superficial impression of their characteristic
features. But suffice it to say that the proportions of a
number of them are truly gigantic, and that while some are
seemingly detached from the cliffs behind, others stand up
out of the earth by themselves without prop or support,
looking indeed as if Nature had placed them in their positions
in order to puzzle everybody.

We breakfasted at Green River, and a very good breakfast
it was, too. considering the distance some of the things must
have been brought. Besides the usual supply, we had a
quantity of fruit, which had probably been brought all the
way from Salt Lake City or California, for none can be got
to grow up in this desert region.

Over Prairie and Mountain.


The station inn, the only hotel in the place, is called the
Desert House. A more appropriate name could not have
been chosen. The following notice I found framed and hung
about the breakfast-room :



This hotel has been built and arranged for
the special comfort and convenience of summer
boarders. On arrival, each guest will be asked
how he likes the situation ; and if he says the
hotel ought to have been placed up upon the
knoll or further down towards the village, the
location of the house will be immediately
changed. Corner front rooms, up only one
flight, for every guest.

Baths, gas, water-closets, hot and cold water,
laundry, telegraph, restaurant, fire alarm, bar-
room, billiard-table, daily papers, coupe, sew-
ing machine, grand piano, a clergyman, and
all other modern conveniences in every room.
Meals every minute, if desired, and conse-
quently no second table. English, French,
and German dictionaries furnished every guest,
to make up such a bill-of-fare as he may
desire, without regard to the bill-affair after-
wards at the office. Waiters of any nationality
and colour desired. Every waiter furnished
with a libretto, button-hole bouquet, full-dress
suits, ball-tablets, and his hair parted in the
middle. Every guest will have the best seat
in the dming-hall, and the best waiter in the

Any guest not getting his breakfast red-hot,
or experiencing a delay of sixteen seconds after
giving his order for dinner, will please men-
tion the fact at the office, and the cooks and
waiters will be blown from the mcuth of the
cannon in front of the hotel at once. Children
will be welcomed with delight, and are re-
quested to bring hoop-sticks and hawkeys to
bang the carved rosewood furniture especially
provided for that purpose, and peg-tops to
spin on the velvet carpets ; they will be
allowed to bang on the piano at all hours,
yell in the halls, slide down the bannisters, fall
down stairs, carry away dessert enough for a
small family in their pockets at dinner, and
make themselves as disagreeable as the fondest j
mother can desire.

Washing allowed in rooms, and ladies giving j
an order to " put me on a flat-iron " will be put [
on one at any hour of the day or night. A |
discreet waiter, who belongs to the Masons,
Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, and who
was never known to even tell the time of day,

has been employed to carry milk punches and
hot toddies to ladies' rooms in the evening.

Every lady will be considered the belle of
the house, and row-boys will answer the bell
promptly. Should any row-boy fail to appear
at a guest's door with a pitcher of ice-water,
more towels, a gin-cocktail, and pen, ink, and
paper, before the guest's hand has left the bell-
knob, he will be branded " Front " on his
forehead, and be imprisoned for life.

The office clerk has been carefully selected
to please everybody, and can lead in prayer,
play draw-poker, match worsted at the village
store, shake for the drinks at any hour, day or
night, play billiards, is a good waltzer and
can dance the German, can make a fourth at
euchre, amuse children, repeat the Beecher
trial from memory, is a good judge of horses,
as a railway and steamboat reference is far
superior to Appleton's or anybody else's guide,
will flirt with any young lady and not mind
being cut dead when "pa comes down." Don't
mind being damned any more than a Con-
necticut river. Can room forty people in the
best room in the house when the hotel is full,
attend to the annunciator, and answer ques-
tions in Hebrew, Greek, Choctaw, Irish, or
any other polite language at the same moment,
without turning a hair.

Dogs allowed in any room in the house, in-
cluding the w(h)ine room. Gentlemen can
drink, smoke, swear, chew, gamble, tell shady,
stories, stare at the new arrivals, and indulge
in any other innocent amusements common to
watering-places, in any part of the hotel. The
proprietor will always be happy to hear that
some other hotel is the best house in the
country. Special attention given to parties
who can give information as to how these
things are done in " Yewrup."

The proprietor will take it as a personal
affront if any guest on leaving should fail to
dispute the bill, tell him he is a swindler, the
house a barn, the table wretched, the wines
vile, and that he, the guest, "was never so
imposed upon in his life, will never stop there
again, and means to warn his friends."


Continuing our journey through a waste, monotonous
region, in 1 1 1 miles we come to Evanston, half-way house
between' Omaha and San Francisco. From Omaha the dis-
tance is 957 miles, from San Francisco, 959 miles. During the
preceding 1 1 1 miles we ascended a little over 700 feet. At
Green River our elevation was 6140 feet ; here it is 6870 feet.


Through America.

At Evanston we had dinner, and a novelty in the form of
Chinamen to serve us. There were several, and they one
and all wore an amazing lot of hair, the black flowing locks
of some twisted and allowed to trail down the back and legs,
in one grand, magnificent pigtail. One fellow's hair reached


down to his ankles ; others had theirs curled up round
the back of the head, like a young lady's used to be alas,
that plain and simple style ! before chignons became the
fashion. These Celestials are extraordinarily like one another
in their countenances. Men or women, it's all the same
they're all alike. For all the world it is hard to tell John
Chinaman when you see him whether he is a man or a woman.

Over Prairie and Mountain. 1 4 1

There were also, at Evanston, several Indians (Shoshones)
squatting on the platform, begging. They had dogs as usual
ill-fed, half-starved curs ; and I noticed that one animal was
sharing his dinner with his master, both Indian and hound
tugging away together at a piece of meat. Filthy and dirty-
looking in the extreme, their faces were thickly besmeared
with red and blue paint, and their clothing, as with those at
Omaha, was suitable to the oppressive heat of the weather.


The paint was so thickly laid on that it had become like a hard
cake, and cracked by the heat of the sun.

From Evanston, or rather from Wahsatch, nine miles
further, the line rapidly descends, and in the succeeding nine
miles, between the stations Wahsatch and Castle Rock, we
descend 580 feet. We are now approaching the well-known
Echo Canon, where we expect to revel in scenery remarkable
and strange. We pass Castle Rock station, and find the rocks
around us worn into many queer shapes, and the cliffs on our
right assuming larger and loftier proportions as we descend
beneath them from a higher level. The old emigrant road is
beside us that old, beaten track so often traversed before the
iron road was laid across the prairie and mountain, and which
is still used by those who cannot afford the luxury of the
railway train. We have been running close beside it for some

142 Through America.

distance, and have passed many oxen-drawn, canvas-covered
waggons loaded with whole families on their way to seek new
homes in the still far-off West. Now the road crosses the
line, and there is a cartful of emigrants drawn up at the side,
waiting till we have passed so that they may cross in safety.
As we pass them they give us a cheer, and we of course cheer
them back, and wave our pocket-handkerchiefs.

But the increasing grandeur of the scene, which every mile
becomes more and more impressive, requires all our attention
now. Standing on the steps of the last car we have a fine
view of Echo Canon as we descend into it gradually, and
slowly, with plenty of time to look about us and take in every


point of interest that is passed. The characteristic feature ot
this gorge is that while on the right or northern side of the
line, during the descent towards Ogden, the cliffs, of dark red
sandstone, are bold and massive, abrupt and bare, castellated
and turreted, of all shapes and sizes, almost overhanging the
rails in some places, on the left side the hills are perfectly
smooth and rounded, and thinly clothed with grass. A curious
formation close to the railway in this canon is the Pulpit
Rock a gigantic " three-decker," about seventy feet in
height, towering straight up above you as you pass only a few
yards from it. There is a tale told by some clever people that
Brigham Young preached from this " pulpit " to his Mormon

Online LibraryW. G. (Walter Gore) MarshallThrough America, or, Nine months in the United States → online text (page 13 of 41)