BY LIEUT. E. G. BECKWITH, THIRD ARTILLERY. 1854.
REPORT. CHAPTER I.
SIR: Explorations were resumed on the 4th of April, 1854, for a route for the Pacific railroad under my direction, by the surviving portion of Captain Gunnison's party, (which had wintered at Great Salt Lake City,) under the original instructions given to that officer to explore the most available passes and canones of the Wahsatch range, and cross the Weber and Bear rivers to the coal basin of Green river, and thence proceed to Fort Laramie. Leaving the city, we proceeded north along the shore of the lake, passing through the Mormon settlements and farms, which occupy the most fertile and best watered sections of the narrow belt of land lying between the shore and the base of the mountains. Spring was already considerably advanced in the valley; fresh grass and plants were springing up on its sunny slopes; farmers were busy in ploughing and sowing their fields, and the snow had disappeared to such an extent on the sides of the mountains, that it was deemed practicable for our animals to subsist upon the dry grass of the previous year's growth. The winter of 1853-'54 at Great Salt lake, from the middle of November to the 20th of January, was delightfully mild and open, and the fall of snow, which was light in the mountains, seldom extended into the valleys; but after the latter date the climate became much more severe, the temperature falling during the colder part of the day, for several successive days, below zero of Fahrenheit's thermometer, and storms became more frequent-snow falling in the plain to the depth of six or eight inches without drifts, while in the mountain plains and passes it exceeded a foot, and accumulated to great depths in the narrow ravines, and on the high slopes of the mountains, least exposed to the winds. In the vicinity of the city of the Great Salt Lake timber is confined almost exclusively to these ravines, which are difficult of
FROM GREAT SALT LAKE TO GREEN RIVER.
access at all times, and become entirely inaccessible during the prevalence of deep snows, producing at once great scarcity of fuel in that city. The passage of the uninhabited mountain to the east, at such times, by the ordinary road leading over it, which, of course, is not kept open, is entirely impracticable; and the mail which passes monthly to and from Independence, Mo., is carried on pack-mules, which subsist themselves almost entirely on the grass along the route, by way of the Weber river canon-the object in part of our present explorations, which will, however, be continued eastward to the valley of Green river.* April 5.-On the afternoon of the fifth of April we reached the mouth of this canon at the immediate base of the Wahsatch mountains, where it opens into the valley of Great Salt lake, thirty miles north of the city, and about seventeen from the mouth of the river, which we immediately crossed to its right bank. This river at this season of the year (not yet swollen by the melting snows of the mountains) is thirty yards wide, by from one to three feet in depth, flowing with a rapid, powerful current over a bed of water-worn stones and fallen rocks of all sizes, from pebbles to immense blocks of the adjacent mountain. Our altitude at this point was 73 feet above the city of Great Salt Lake, and 4,424 feet above the sea. Entering the pass, we at once left the usual low-water trail, which frequently crosses the river, and followed a precipitous and rocky path leading over the retreating craggy sides of the canon, so steep that a single mis-step would have precipitated both mule and rider into the foaming torrent, hundreds of feet below us. At some points the precipitous sides of this passage become almost vertical. The mountains rise, we judged, from 1,500 to 2,500 feet above the river, and are separated at the base by a passage averaging 175 yards in width, in which the river winds from side to side, frequently impinging against the bases of the mountains. At one point only, near the upper end of the gorge, which is four miles in length, the river is narrowed to one half its usual width, having cut a passage 20 or 30 feet ill depth through the solid rock, which on the north side overhangs the stream, which, by a low projecting mass, is deflected from its course for a few yards at nearly a right angle, but again almost immediately resumes its direction; the canon, as it is called-and at some points it well deserves the name-being remarkably direct in its general course. Above this gorge the mountain opens rapidly to the right and left,
* One of the most striking features to the traveller in our extensive and inhospitable interior country, after reaching the Rocky mountains from the east, in whatever direction he may travel in it, is the vast field of mountains which everywhere meets the eye. These mountains are sometimes formidable and united, their summits perpetually enveloped in snow, but more generally broken and disconnected, or partially united by projecting spurs or low connecting ridges, retaining snow but a portion of the year. They conform, with considerable exceptions, but not sufficient to impair its generality, in their greatest length to a general northern and southern direction, but frequently varying many degrees from the meridian. The great Rocky mountain range, by the line of our last and present years' explorations, consists, towards the east, of the Sierra Blanca range, in which are the passes of the Sangre de Cristo, and of Roubideau and Williams, united at the head of the San Luis valley with the Sierra San Juan; or at this point the range may be said to divide the two branches, under different names, extending far to the southward, enclosing the valley of the Rio Grande del Norte; the western or San Juan range eventually becoming the Sierra Madre of Mexico. Northward from the Sierra Blanca, the range is more or less broken by the valley of the Arkansas river, but preserves its general course, surmounted by Pike's and Janes' peaks, to the Cheyenne and Bridger's passes, and thence to the South Pass, where, notwithstanding the great elevation of the country, its mountainous appearance is in a great measure lost, although the country is still very hilly and rolling, and in the distance high mountain peaks are ever visible. North of the South Pass, for some distance, the Rocky mountains again become lofty and again branch, sending out to the south a formidable range, known in various portions under different names, but generally as the Bear river and W'ahsatch range, broken by the passage of Bear, Weber, Timpanogos, and Sevier river in their western course, but enclosing to the west the valley of Green river. Thus these three ranges, with their spurs and connecting ridges, form, on the line of our explorations the main features of the Rocky mountains. But the country to the west is scarcely less mountainous; and as we become familiar with it in pursuing our explorations in various directions, it presents to our minds one vast field of mountains, interspersed with arid valleys from the Rocky mountains to the Sierra Nevada, and from the British possessions far southward into Mexico. The most extensive valley susceptible of cultivation in this whole extent of territory is that occupied by the Mormons, which is supplied with water for irrigation by the extensive fields of perpetual snow which are found on the mountain summits in their vicinity. And I may observe, generally, that fields of perpetual snow, affording an unfailing supply of water for irrigation, are an indispensable prerequisite for their cultivation, and hence for their occupation, whatever may be the character of the sol of the valleys, in every portion of this territory in which I have travelled–a district extending from the northern boundary of Mexico to the waters of the Columbia river, and. by different routes, from New Mexico and the Arkansas river to the Sierra Nevada.
WEBER RIVER CANONES.
forming an immense oblong amphitheatre, the summits of the mountain peaks on opposite sides being separated by from 10 to 15 miles, while the river bottom, which is a plain, varies in width from half a mile to three miles. This is the finest grazing district we have seen in Utah, the bottom being covered with luxuriant grass which extends well up the mountain sides, to where they are at present covered with snow. The stream is skirted with poplar or cotton-wood trees and willow-bushes, and limited amounts of cedar, fir, and pine adorn the ravines and mountain sides, but are difficult of access. We encamped, after a march of 27 miles, at the junction of Ben Simons' creek with the Weber, where we found our Delaware guide, (after whom the creek is named,) with his brother and their respective squaws and little Indians encamped, with a small band of horses and herd of cows grazing near their lodges. These cattle appear in fine condition, having subsisted here through the entire winter by grazing alone. A much larger herd of cattle, on their way to the California market, which had been grazed in the vicinity of Fort Bridger during the early part of the winter, were subsequently driven here, where they remained for several weeks, having left but a day or two previous to our arrival. A considerable trade is carried on in cattle in and near the valley of Great Salt lake; its main profit arising from the exchange of cattle in good condition for those of emigrants broken down on their arrival here, compelling an exchange or a ruinous delay in their journey to California. The stock obtained by this traffic is turned out to graze during the winter; and although a few of the weakest and most emaciated die of cold, the great body of them come out in fine condition in the spring, and are sent forward to the California market, or form a new stock in trade for the ensuing season. Our average ascent from the mouth of the canon to camp, 7.80 miles, has been 53.50 feet per mile. The rocks in the gorge partake largely of the character of gneiss; but in descending the river with a railroad, no unusual difficulty would be encountered at this point, as the walls of the pass are sufficiently retreating to admit of its being carried at a suitable height above the stream to escape the danger of floods, and extensive blasting of rocks would be required only at a few points. Snows have formed no obstruction to its passage at any time during the past winter, nor, so far as I have been able to learn after much inquiry, do they at any time. In the valley, at our guide's camp, its greatest depth during the last winter was twelve inches, but seldom exceeded four, and for much of the winter was quite as free of it as the main valley of Salt lake. Our guide thinks a much more favorable emigrant road could be opened through this pass, ascending Ben Simons' creek to the vicinity of Green river, than that now followed over the mountains, which is still impassable from snow. April 6.-We traversed the amphitheatre described yesterday, following the bottom lands along the Weber river to the foot of the second mountain and gorge of this stream, our ascent being 28.50 feet per mile for 12.20 miles, to Sheep Rock. The sides of this gorge are less precipitous than those of the lower, and the bottom or passage in which the river winds is frequently much wider, while the mountains are of nearly the same altitudes with those, but much more broken by ravines. The bottom, too, is less firm, being frequently miry, and numerous small channels into which the river is divided are dammed by beaver-green trees of six inches in diameter having just been cut down by these animals for their dammning purposes–making part of it a swamp, miles of which are covered with thick willows, where the soil is too soft for a good wagon road without carrying it on an artificial bed, which can be easily made along the base of the mountains. The river winds so much that we were forced to cross it sixteen times, the water being icy cold. We encamped on Dry creek, which enters the river at the head of the gorge, eight and a half miles from Sheep Rock, from which we ascended 27 feet to the mile. In constructing a railroad through this defile, it will be necessary to bridge the stream several times, which can be readily done; but for the most part the road would be carried immediately at the base of the mountains, where it can be constructed with facility by cutting along their sides and filling in at their bases. These bases are formed of earth and loose stones overlying strata of shale, limestone, conglomerate, and argillaceous sandstone, dipping at every
FROM GREAT SALT LAKE TO GREEN RIVER.
angle, and in almost all eastern directions from south to north; and in a few instances strata bent (before induration) were seen; and in one, vertical, parallel, walled dikes intersect the northern slope of a mountain near the head of the passage, extending from the water's edge to near the summit of the mountain, only separated by about ten feet, and rising thirty feet above the mountain slope. April 7.–A cold rain, which continued to fall throughout the night, poured down upon us as we wrapped ourselves in our blankets last evening; and as we were without tents or other protection from the weather, but little sleep refreshed the party; and at 9 o'clock this morning the rain changed to snow, (which had been falling all night on the high peaks in the mountains,) and continued to fall heavily throughout the day, melting as it reached the ground. Above the junction of Dry creek with the Weber river, the latter comes from the south, cutting through a red conglomerate sandstone mountain six or eight hundred feet high, which is rapidly disintegrating, the talus at some points being entirely swept away by the river, and at all others it stands at too steep an angle towards the water to be easily climbed over. The Indian trail, however, passes through this canon at low water, a part of the way in the stream. It is five hundred yards long. We rode to its upper end and clambered in to examine it. The trail by which we passed ascends Dry creek half a mile, and then passes without difficulty to its head, by a low pass in the ridge through which the canon itself is cut. This is the proper site, also, for a railroad. Above this. canon a considerable valley extends south to the Kamas prairie. This valley varies in width from three or four miles to a few hundred yards, and is drained by the Weber river, having on its margins considerable bottom lands, which at this season of the year are quite wet, and in many parts are covered by cotton-wood trees and willow-bushes. Ascending this valley we came to the emigrant road leading from the South Pass to Great Salt lake, which we followed to the mouth of Echo canon, where we left it and continued up the river to the mouth of White Clay creek (Moran's fork.) The mountains on the left of the valley, as we ascended it, are conglomerate sandstone, full of cavities numerously inhabited by ravens. The snow was falling so fast that we were unable to see a hundred yards, and were obliged to dismount and wait for it to diminish; when we again remounted, and, turning east, left the Weber river to ascend White Clay creek and pass over to Bear and Green rivers. The valley of our path after leaving the Weber was from one-half to three-fourths of a mile in width, finely covered with dry and green grass, the hills being covered with a stunted growth of cedar, and cotton-wood and willows line the stream, which has upon it little or no bottom land. The storm ceased as we encamped, having travelled but 10.50 miles, with an average ascent of 16.50 feet per mile. April 8.-A piercing cold wind sprang up during last night, the thermometer falling to 270, and continued all day blowing from E.N.E. directly in our faces as we ascended White Clay creek, which is one foot in depth and five in width, with a free rapid current. Its narrow bottom is from one to two hundred yards in width, with low spurs of hills occasionally extending to the stream. It is lined with cotton-wood and willows in the lower part of its course, but is quite destitute of timber higher up, while scattered cedars are seen on the nearest hills, and pine, fir, and aspen fill the ravines of the mountains, the highest peaks of which are 14 miles south of us on the northern bank of Weber river, whence it descends from the east to Kamas prairie. Numerous tracks of grizzly bears and porcupines were seen in the snow, beaver dams and lodges in the creek bottoms, and a fine silver-gray fox watched our progress for some time from a high hill, safely beyond gun-shot. Fourteen miles out we came into continuous fields of snow, six inches ill depth, except on the southern exposures, where it had almost entirely disappeared. Its surface was hard and stiff, though not strong enough to bear either men or animals, and as we broke through at every step, our progress was tedious and fatiguing; and these were greatly increased whenever we had to pass slight inequalities in the ground filled with snow, and the narrow drifts always accumulated on the northeastern declivities of the hills – our mules literally rolling, pitching, tumbling, and floundering through. Thermometer at
WHITE CLAY CREEK.-BEAR RIVER.-SNOW-BLINDNESS.
noon 38°. For the benefit of our animals, we ascended the side of a hill, where the snow had disappeared, on a branch of White Clay creek coming in from the southeast, and encamped just before sundown on a soft, muddy soil, sprinkled with dry grass. The Uinta mountains, whose general course is apparently nearly due east and west, have been plainly in sight for the last two days, some 25 miles south of our path, with numerous high peaks covered with vast fields of snow from the lowest points visible on them to their summits, the sources of tbe Uinta, Timpanogos, Weber, and Bear rivers, and of Black's fork, and numerous smaller streams. From the northern foot of this range to our path, a level, timbered terrace country extends, called, in the Sho-sho-nee or Snake language, Yaw-ning-got-it, or Porcupine terrace; from the west it extends from the sources of the White Clay creek, (To-sho-sho-coop, in the Snake tongue,) across Bear river, the Muddy and Black's fork, broken only by a few low detached hills and the ravines of the water-courses. Its timber, pine and fir, is abundant, and of a suitable size for bridges and building purposes. For the first ten miles this morning our ascent averaged 84.20 feet per mile, and 54.20 feet per mile for the following 8.75 miles, to the junction of the branch on which we encamped, with White Clay creek. April 9. A bright clear morning; thermometer at daylight 21° below the freezing-point. We returned to White Clay creek, striking it near its head, by passing over the hill on which we had encamped, a distance of 11.50 miles, by the windings of that stream, from the junction of the branch where we left it to encamp, which we examined in repassing this point on our return trip on the 18th instant. This creek preserves its open character, with easy, gentle curves, to its' source, the grade averaging 41.80 feet per mile, and the country becoming more level and open as we ascend. We were here upon the divide between the waters of Weber and Bear rivers, immediately overlooking the latter stream a mile and a half distant and but a few feet below us, our altitude being 7,491 feet above the sea. We immediately descended to the first channel of Bear river, which is forty feet wide and one deep, with a firm bed, crossed without difficulty to a large level plain, four or five miles wide by ten or twelve in length, extending southward to the foot of Porcupine terrace, through which the river winds in a narrow ravine. The snow upon this plain was from six to ten inches in depth-hard and stiff, but not sufficiently so to bear our animals-with pools of water and soft ground beneath it, affording no firm footing, and our progress was consequently very laborious. The sun was very bright, and its powerful reflection from the snow very severe upon our eyes. Three miles from the first we crossed the second channel of Bear river, a small stream four feet wide, beyond which we rose a bluff 12 or 15 feet high, to a second plain extending to our camp on Sulphur creek, which descends in a small ravine from the terrace above. Altitude, 7,494 feet. /April 10.-A light snow begun to fall during last night, and continued all day, with a high, driving wind, which rendered our progress very disagreeable; and nearly one half the officers and men of the party were so snow-blind as to be unable to see beyond a few feet, and suffered intense pain from their inflamed eyes, the lids of which were swollen to a dropsical appearance, while their faces were quite as badly inflamed, skinned, and intensely sore. We' crossed a small stream running into Bear river, four miles from our morning camp, and afterwards three small branches, which unite and form the Little Muddy, and encamped on the main: creek of that name, after a march of only 11.20 miles. Our altitude on the divide, between Bear river and the Muddy, an affluent of Black's fork, which flows into Green river, and consequently upon what is called the eastern rim of the Great Basin, was 8,133 feet, and at our camp this evening 7,779 feet above the sea. We encountered but little snow on the high surfaces and western slopes of the hills to-day, but invariably found large drifts just below the crests of the northeastern slopes, occasionally so compact as to bear our animals, but generally giving way under their-feet. April 11.-Thermometer at 5 a. m., 26°. Soon after leaving camp we crossed a small branch
FROM GREAT SALT LAKE TO GREEN RIVER.
of the Muddy, and then ascended the ridge setting down from the Porcupine terrace, and nearly on a level with it, between the Muddy and Black's fork. This ridge preserves its elevation for several miles to the north, and then subsides abruptly into the valley of the fork. Upon this divide we encountered much more snow than upon any other part of the route, for the warmth of the season was not yet sufficient to affect it at all; and its average depth was from twelve to sixteen inches, while the drifts were broader and deeper than we had before encountered, varying from fifty and a hundred yards to a fourth of a mile in width. These banks, as before stated, are always found just below the northeastern crests of hills and ridges, and can only be avoided by passing either above or below them. The view from this position is very extensive. Overlooking the immense valley of Green river, which sweeps off to the east, apparently in an almost uninterrupted plain, the Sweet Water mountains near the South Pass, with the positions of the Muddy and Bitter creeks descending from them, are plainly in sight; and to the south the sources of Black's, Smith's, and Henry's forks, in the Uinta mountains. From the head of White Clay creek, eastward for 19 miles, a railroad should be carried on a gentle curve to the southward, (as indicated on the accompanying map) along the Porcupine terrace before described, crossing Bear river and the main branches of Muddy and Sulphur creeks, where they are narrow ravines, offering no serious obstacles in themselves to its easy construction; thus avoiding any but a local descent in the passage of these streams, and turning all the smaller ravines and branches which must otherwise be crossed below. The ascending grade upon this line will be 49.8 feet per mile for 12.90 miles, and 39.50 feet per mile for 6.10 miles; and the altitude of the point thus gained-the highest upon the hue 8,373 feet above the sea. And in descending from this point, the road should follow the ridge or divide west of the main branch of Black's fork by a uniform grade, to which there is no obstruction, of 40.30 feet per mile for 12.25 miles, to the main open valley of the fork, to which we descended at 10'clock a. m. The level valley of this stream is here three miles in width, with pine, white cedar, and aspen growing upon the stream, and extending to and uniting with that on the base of the Uinta mountains. We found considerable grass in this valley, and mud in place of snow. The stream in the present low stage of the water, the snow not having commenced to melt in the high mountains, is but 12 feet wide and eight inches deep, flowing rapidly over a bed of stones. In crossing its bottom we rode for some distance on the remains of a beaver dam, precisely resembling a small embankment 18 inches high, thrown up in making a common ditch. It is several hundred yards long. Travelling partly parallel to the stream, we crossed over to Smith's fork, which is separated from Black's only by a plain common to them both, passing near a settlement called Fort Supply, commenced on Smith's fork last autumn. It consists of only a half dozen log-houses, and although the margins of the stream are finely grassed-upon which considerable herds of cattle have been successfully grazed during the past winter, with no other food or shelter than they could themselves procure-it must be regarded as a doubtful experiment, until experience shall have established the practicability, in this latitude upon our continent, of producing crops during the cold summers, and grazing cattle during the severe winters, incident to so great an elevation-7,254 feet, that of our camp on the stream, two or three miles below the fort. Our descent from where we came upon Black's fork to camp, nine miles, was 69.50 feet per mile. We were here in the immediate vicinity of Fort Bridger, the position of which a few miles to the north, on Black's fork of Green river, was plainly in sight across the open plain. In descending from the head of the Muddy I have given the preference to the line indicated, over that which follows that stream, as it is entirely free from short curves; and the valley of Black's fork, above the junction of the Muddoy, is much more broad, open and direct than that of the latter stream. The line eastward from our present camp should be continued directly to where it should cross Green river, near the mouth of Black's fork, and be continued thence eastward by the line followed by Captain Stausbury from Green river, by way of Bridger's Pass, to the
RAILROAD LINE EAST FROM WHITE CLAY CREEK.
Great Plains, in 1850, as reported by him in his expedition to the Great Salt lake, and thence descend by the South fork and main Platte, or pass over to the Republican fork of the Kansas, and descend it to connect at a suitable point with eastern lines of commerce. April 12.-It began to snow at dark last evening, and continued without intermission until late this afternoon. Several of the party were still suffering severely from snow-blindness, and many of our animals were becoming weak and exhausted for want of sufficient nourishment. I determined, therefore, to leave a portion of the party i camp on Smith's fork with the weakest animals, and to proceed with the balance to Henry's fork of Green river, a route represented to possess superior advantages to that before indicated for a railroad, to the east from Smith's fork. With Captain Morris, Mr. Egloffstein, and Mr. Snyder, and a small escort, and with our Delaware guide, I started -the snow being four inches deep as awe left camp, and falling so fast that we could not see beyond a few hundred yards, but fortunately the storm was in our backsbearing a little to the southeast to avoid the mud of the plains, which were very slippery and soft. We travelled over a succession of low hills, and crossed two or three small branches of Smith's fork, coming to Cottonwood creek at 1 o'clock, p. m., where our altitude varied but nine feet from our morning camp. We here came upon a wagon road leading from Fort Bridger to Henry's fork by a low pass in the small mountain spur dividing the waters of that stream and of Cottonwood creek. It is six miles from the creek to the summit of the pass, and the difference of level 266 feet. Entered from the north it is narrow and direct, and is formed of horizontal strata of clay, from six to fifty feet thick, often separated by thin strata of sandstone; and the clay itself in some parts is indurated to an a rillaceous stone containing considerable sand. It is washed into a thousand gullies and ravines, and its slopes are barren. The spur itself is level upon its summit, and preserved from washing by a capping of stone. Notwithstanding the storm, our guide related an incident which occurred to him a few years since in this pass, characteristic of the adventuresomeness of his own tribe, and of the war habits of his race. He was travelling this pass at midnight, accompanied by his squaw only, both mounted upon the same horse, and the night so dark that he could neither see the outlines of the hills nor the ground at his horse's feet, when he heard a sound, (which he imitated) so slight as scarcely to be perceptible to an Indian's ear, of an arrow carried in the hand striking once only with a slight tick against a bow. Stopping, he could hear nothing, but instantly dismounted, his squaw leaning down upon the horse that she might by no possibility be seen, and placed his ear to the ground, when he heard the same sound repeated, but a few feet distant, and was therefore satisfied that, however imminent the danger, he had not yet been heard or seen, for no Indian would make such a noise at night in approaching his foe; he therefore instantly arose and took his horse by the bridle close to his mouth, to lessen the chances of his moving or whinnying, and one hundred and seventy of his deadly enemies, the Sioux, on a war party, filed past him within arm's reach, while he remained unobserved. We encamped on Henry's fork after a ride of 23.50 miles, descending for 3.20 miles, from the summit of the pass, 122 feet to the mile. The valley of this stream is of the park-form, ten miles in diameter at our camp, with bottom lands from one to three miles in width, narrowing rapidly as it descends. The bottom is finely grassed, while the hills about it are barren or covered with artemisia; but the mountains to the south are quite covered with pine. The water of the stream flows in several channels through the meadow, which might be easily irrigated, and support a small settlement, if not too cold for cereals. April 13.-Leaving half of our omen in camp, we descended the valley, crossing several little streams, the largest of which is called Dry Timber creek, and seven miles below camp bore off to the right, and ascended a high point of the adjacent mountain to obtain an extensive view of Green river and of the surrounding country. The snow, scarcely two inches deep in the valley, soon increased to a foot and more, and our animals waded heavily through the deep
SIOUX WAR PARTY.-SMITH'S TO HENRY'S FORK.
drifts and gullies. We were rewarded, however, for the labor of the ascent by the excellent view obtained. The valley of Henry's fork continues its uniform descent to its junction with Green river, fifteen miles distant, and immediately to the south of it two other small streams enter Green river from the west, separated by a pile of rocks called the Beaver Lodge, which is also the name of the northern stream; the southern being known as Medicine Spring creek by the Indians, and Blue by the trappers, from a fine spring somewhere near its source. Fifty miles distant the Uinta mountains were seen, terminated to the east by the passage of Green river, and through a large gap in an intervening range the pine-covered sides of Brown's Hole were distinctly visible. Above the mouth of Henry's fork stand two isolated buttes of the same altitude as the low range, to the' north of this stream, which we crossed yesterday, and of which they once formed a part. Green river descends from the north just to the east of these buttes. Beyond this river, to the north and east of Brown's Hole, high ranges of mountains, covered with snow, extend far to the east and to the south of the line indicated for the railroad from our camp on Smith's fork. So far as this proposed line can be seen from this point-which it can be far east of Green river-it appears very level. But the wind whistled cold and piercing about our heads, and, standing knee-deep in snow, we were soon chilled through, and, hastening our notes and observations to a close, descended in an hour and a half to Henry's fork, to a comparative summer climate –a change from 34° to 50°-the snow having entirely disappeared from the valley during our short absence. Notwithstanding the severe snow-storm yesterday, the party suffered quite as much from blindness as during a bright sunny day, my own face becoming somewhat inflamed for the first time, and'" Ring," a bulldog which accompanied us, became so much affected that he could not be induced, in camp, to open his eyes, from which tears were constantly falling. We returned at evening to our morning camp. April 14.-We repassed the divide by which we entered the valley of Henry's fork. From Cottonwood creek, we followed a line across the artemisia plains or mesas, a little to the north of that followed in our outward journey. The light and friable soil of these plains is now saturated with water, from melting snow, and is miry and slippery. They are terminated to the west by abrupt bluffs of clay, so steep and slippery, that, in descending them, we were obliged to dismount, and let our mules slide down as they best could-ten and twenty feet at a time. They decline rapidly to the north, and, apparently, soon entirely disappear in that direction. Grass is confined to the borders of the water-courses, the intermediate spurs being occupied by fields of artemisia. We encamped at evening on Smith's fork, a short distance below our camp of the 11th instant, and on the following morning (April 15) continued our western course, recrossing Black's fork and the ridge separating it from the Muddy, on which we encamped a little above the emigrant road to Great Salt lake. Although the valley of this stream is not so ward line at its crossing; but, as before stated, the line then indicated would probably be preferable. April 16.-The country over which we passed to-day is very elevated and dry, and the vegetation principally confined to artemisia. It overlooks our outward path to the south, which preserves its superior appearance even from this distance. We encamped on Bear river, about which the snow had nearly disappeared. The grass has not yet sprouted, however, for a new growth, and our animals fare badly on that which has been buried under the snow from last year, and is now soaked from its melting. April 17. -We returned to the head of White Clay creek this morning, and descended it, encamping two miles below its Beaver branch junction, when we again returned to fields of fresh grass. High up on the sheltered faces of a few bluff rocks, cropping out on the southern bank of the creek, as we descended it, large numbers of nests of clay, in clusters of pine-apple size and form, were seen, which our Delaware guide says are built by a dark-colored bug, which
ATTEMPT TO CROSS FROM WHITE CLAY CREEK TO KAMAS PRAIRIE.
is good to eat when boiled. I could obtain no specimens of them. The guide killed a fine elk near camp. April 18.-We attempted to-day to find a more direct route to the Kamas prairie and Timpanogos river than that by the mouth of White Clay creek and Weber river. In leaving camp, we ascended a narrow ridge, and again almost immediately descended its opposite slope, and crossed a small creek, beyond which, in ascending the succeeding hill, we entered upon a field of snow, two feet in depth, which was too soft to bear our animals, and was filled with brush and concealed fallen-timber, rendering its passage for a mile a severe labor; and several smaller fields were passed in crossing a broken country, until 11 o'clock, when we were rising a high ridge, and expected, at its summit, to find an end to our snowy labors, and to descend with comparative comfort to the prairie; but the snow had driven us off the summer trail, and, as we rose to the summit, we were greeted by the sight of another formidable ridge, everywhere presenting one immense field of snow apparently impassable, and the guide came to a stand-his last horse had failed. I however examined the country attentively, mounted the guide on a mule, and determined to go on, and in two hours, by severe labor, reached the succeeding summit; but, instead of seeing an end to our labors, and refreshing fields of grass 'at our feet for our exhausted stock, we saw before us only a precipitous descent of half a mile, followed by an ascent still steeper and higher than the former, which we accomplished, with increased labor, however, only to find before us an impassable field of snow, extending down the face of the mountain for several miles to Weber river. Our altitude was here 8,619 feet above the sea, and a magnificent view of the country in some degree rewarded the labor of the ascent. North, south, east, and west, the country presented only one extensive field of broken mountains. The opening made in the Wahsatch mountains by the Timpanogos canon, with a high intervening peak or two between us and Kamas prairie, looked favorable for our passage; the high, snowy range between us and Great Salt lake, as far north as Weber canon and Ogden Hole, was also before us, with those to the east crossed by the emigrant road. Above us, the Weber descends through an extensive mountain district, at present covered with impassable snows, and surmounted to the south by the higher and still more snowy peaks of the Uinta range. Pine covers the steep mountain sides south of the Weber. We encamped on this summit, and sent out the guide with a party on foot to find, if possible, a practicable descent; he returned at dark with an unfavorable report, however, unless the snow should freeze during the night strong enough to bear our animals, of which there is no prospect April 19.-It began to rain during the latter part of last night, and the mountain sides at daylight were sending down rivulets of snow-water from every point. We were, therefore, reluctantly obliged to turn back, following, through banks of snow for two miles, the course of a small branch of White Clay creek, lying between high, steep hills and spurs of mountains. Clay creek. At every step, after leaving the snow, in this rapid descent, we were passing fine fields of grass, extending from the ravines to the mountain tops. We had certainly been driven higher up the mountains in our attempt to esect this passage than would have been necessary but for the snow; but it is not too much to say that there is no practicable route for a wagonroad, and much less for a railroad, by this Indian trail from White Clay creek to Kamnas prairie, although it is the best in the vicinity, except that to which we returned. Soon after reaching White Clay creek, we passed our camp of the 7th instant, and again entered the valley of Weber river, in which we encamped, in the midst of luxuriant fields of fresh grass, 5.25 miles from the camp of the 7th. In descending the mountain to-day, we passed a few out-cropping ledges of conglomerate rocks and sandstone, but soil and earth covered almost the entire surface of the mountains
KAMAS PRAIRIE.-TIMPANOGOS RIVER AND CANON.
and ravines. The sun shone bright and clear during the afternoon, and dried our drenched clothes. The accompanying sections of the routes explored by the Weber and Timpanogos caniones, branch at our camp of the 7th instant on White Clay creek, the former descending the Weber, and the latter ascending it. April 20.-The wind, which had changed to northwest during the afternoon yesterday, returned to southwest last night, and the morning came in with a gentle cold rain, which increased during the day to heavy showers at short intervals. The width of the Weber valley, within the low hills, between our morning camp and Kamas prairie, varies from two or three miles to a few hundred yards; but we soon passed above the altitude of green grass, although the whole face of the country was covered with the growth of last year. It was 12 miles to Kamas prairie, which is five or six miles wide by eight and seven-tenths miles in length, and, to the eye, is as level as a sheet of water. The Weber river descends to it from the east, flows across its northern end, and thence descends to Great Salt lake, by our ascending path. A stream, ten or 12 feet wide, winds through the prairie, entering Weber river at the northwest angle of the meadow. It is seen descending from a mountain ravine on the east side of the plain, six miles distant. A mile to the south of this ravine is the divide between the Weber and Timpanogos rivers-if so slight a change of level deserves the name of divide-the latter flowing at the base of a snowy range of mountains terminating the prairie to the south. We attempted to ride directly across the prairie, but found it so miry that we were obliged to turn back and keep along the base of the hills to the west, reaching the Timpanogos where it leaves the prairie. The average grade from our camp of April 7, on White Clay creek, to our morning's camp, 5.25 miles, was 3.80 feet per mile; and 53.90 feet per mile for 12 miles thence to Kamas prairie; and across the prairie to Timpanogos river, 8.70 miles, 8.80 feet per mile the altitude of the prairie at Weber river being 6,319 feet above the sea. Below the prairie the Timpanogos river descends in a bottom varying from 100 to 250 yards in width, covered by cotton-wood. It is enclosed on the south by mountains, and on the north by high walls of a coarse feldspathic granite, from one to two hundred feet high. The stream is twenty-five feet wide, with a rapid current. This bottom is entirely free from snow, and sufficiently wide and elevated above the river to admit of an easy construction of a railroad. We encamped some two miles from the prairie and river, on its right bank, among the hills. April 21.-It continued to rain during the whole of last night, and this morning snow was mixed with the falling rain; but after being two or three hours on the road, we passed below the storm, which continued about the higher mountain peaks throughout the day. We returned to the Timpanogos river at the lowest point on it visible to us from Kamas prairie last evening, its valley being here half a mile wide, and, for three miles, very miry from the great amount of rain recently fallen upon it, and covered with willows. We therefore kept along the base of the hills, and occasionally passed over considerable spurs extending into the valley. Below this the stream enters a broad open valley, several miles in diameter, called Round prairie, in which it receives small tributaries from the east and south. In this prairie the grazing is very fine; and the valleys and mountain sides along our path, throughout the day, were covered with the finest fresh grass from an inch in height at our morning camp, to eight inches at that of this evening. In the prairie the stream bends more to the west, and preserves this course, as the valley narrows to a few hundred yards in width as we approached the eastern base of the narrow Wahsatch chain. Entering the mountain, the valley becomes still more narrow, and in a short distance quite disappears, and the passage becomes a formidable canon, in which the general course of the. river is very direct; but the hills. or mountain spurs, which extend down to it, slightly overlap each other, giving it a zigzag line upon a small scale, the projecting points overlapping but a few feet, and are generally not high. The southern bank is much the most abrupt, the wall becoming so nearly vertical as to be inaccessible. The rock at the base is chiefly a hard blue limestone, capped towards the summit of the mountain, with a stratum of argillaceous sandstone of great thickness. On the north side of the river, the
FROM TIMPANOGOS CANON TO GREAT SALT LAKE.
mountain is terminated more in stages; yet it is very abrupt, and we had some difficulty at times in following the Indian trail along its face, in its natural state. These rocky precipices, rising one above the other, soon gain an elevation of two and three thousand feet, and the highest points finally attain an altitude of 4,000 feet above the river. The dip of the stratified rocks, wherever they are exposed, is from the river, and consequently there is little danger of landslides in this gorge. The river as it enters the canon is thirty yards wide, flowing with a strong current; but towards the foot it becomes still more rapid, breaking with considerable noise over the rocks in its bed. The pass, which is ten miles in length, varies in width from one hundred to three hundred yards; and in constructing a railroad through it would be necessary to cross the stream several times, to avoid short curves, which could be done as easily as bridges are usually built; and considerable blasting of rocks would be requisite at various points, but amounting to no large aggregate. A little pine grows on the mountain sides quite down to the river, but it seldom exceeds 8 or 10 inches in diameter. The descent per mile for the first 5.70 miles from Kamas prairie, is 32.90 feet, and 60.90 feet to the mile for the next 5.20 miles; for the succeeding five miles it is 44.40 feet per mile, and six feet to the mile for the succeeding 5.40 miles; and for three miles from the head of the canon the average descent is 30.10 feet per mile; and for the succeeding eight miles, to our camp below the canon, 39.60 feet per mile. Our altitude at this camp was 5,0.77 feet above the sea, and 150 feet above the river. April 22.-We descended the river a short distance this morning, and then turned around the base of the mountain northward into the valley of Utah lake, which lay beautifully bright below us. A railroad from the Timpanogos canon should follow the same line, gradually descending into the valley and passing through its numerous Mormon settlements to the foot of Utah lake, where it should cross the Jordan, and, if practicable, cross the Oquirrh mountain through Cedar valley to the west of Lake Utah-the appearance of this part of the mountain, seen at considerable distances both from the east and the west, rendering it worthy of examination, if at any time a railway shall be constructed west from Timpanogos river; but if this route should be impracticable, then it should descend the valley of Great Salt lake to the north end of Oquirrh mountain. The descending grades by the latter line will be 33.80 feet per mile for 14.20 miles, from the foot of the canon to the American fork; and 3.50 feet per mile for 39.60 miles thence to our camp of the 6th of May, at the northwestern angle of the valley of the Jordan. This unobstructed valley, of 20 miles in width by 30 in length, is largely susceptible of irrigation and cultivation, and already contains many Mormon settlements, of which Great Salt Lake City is the principal. It began to rain violently at 2 o'clock p. m., and continued until dark, soon after which I arrived at Great Salt Lake City after a ride of fifty miles. Latitude 40° 45' 37".
I received on the first of May, at Great Salt Lake City, your orders of the 21st of February preceding, directing me to make the explorations and surveys of the passes eastward from the Great Basin embraced in the preceding part of this report-these surveys having been made in anticipation of the receipt of the instructions referred to, or, in case of their nonarrival, to facilitate the completion of the explorations already ordered-and then to retrace my steps and survey the route which I had proposed, "passing to the south of Great Salt lake in the direction of the 'Sink' of Humboldt or Mary's river, thence towards Mud lake and across to the tributaries of Feather river, and thence by the most practicable route to the valley of the Sacramento river." May 5.-Leaving Great Salt Lake City, we encamped on the west side of the Jordan, which is now flowing with a muddy, turbid current, considerably swelled by melting snow. Nay 6.-The wind blew heavily during the latter part of last night, and a slight fall of rain renewed with vigorous freshness our previous realizations of camp life; and slight showers rapidly succeeded each other, crossing the valley of the Jordan from southwest to northeast during the day. At this season this valley is supplied with a growth of green grass which occasionally forms a sward, but is generally thinly scattered over the surface among the varieties of artemisia known as sage and greasewood. In crossing the level valley from the Jordan, the road is now very good; but during the rainy seasons there are a few miry alkaline beds, which are for the most part, however, easily avoided by making a short circuit to the right or left. We ascended slightly the base of the Oquirrh mountain, and encamped in abundant fields of grass. Large springs burst out along the northern base of this mountain near the Great Salt lake, but are generally more or less brackish; yet the water is used by the few Mormon families settled about them. Day's-.march, 12.98 miles; altitude, 306 feet above Great Salt Lake City. In constructing a railroad, however, this altitude is entirely unnecessary, as the road can be carried nearly on a level with the water of the lake, without a material change of grade while in its vicinity. It is at this point that a road descending the Timpanogos river, and passing by the north end of Lake Utah, should intersect one descending by the Weber, and passing to the south of Great Salt lake, unless it shall be found practicable by the former line to pass the Oquirrh mountain through Cedar valley.
TUILLA VALLEY INDIAN GUIDES.
May 7.-A disagreeable night was followed by a high wind and a heavy snow-storm from the northwest, which drove in our faces for two hours while we were passing around the north end of Oquirrh mountain to Tuilla valley. The scenery in turning this point, in the storm, where we came directly upon the shore of the lake, with several islands rising abruptly from its waters, with high mountain shores and extensive mountain ranges in every direction, was very beautiful, and caused regret at the taste displayed in the selection of the site for the neighboring city, from which this beautiful sheet of water is seldom visible, and never appears picturesque. But as it is a city of farms, necessity doubtless dictated its own terms. The Mormons have several small settlements in Tuilla valley, which is ten or twelve miles in width, and extends south from the lake for some twenty miles, where it is crossed by a cross-range with low depressions at either end; the eastern leading into Cedar valley, and the western along the eastern base of the high range forming the western limit of this valley. The eastern side of this valley is finely grassed, but in crossing it the road lies through a continuous- artemisia field, more or less interspersed with grass. For five or six miles in crossing, our road lay along an old shore-line of the lake, elevated some twenty feet above the general level of the valley, into which it gently subsides near a fine spring of water, flowing off in a bold little stream towards the lake. We encamped, after a march of 20.59 miles, on Willow creek, three and a half miles -above or south of the most western Mormon settlement upon this line, and directly at the foot of what had been favorably represented to us as a pass by which to cross the mountain. But its appearance as we approached it was too formidable to require further examination; and the Indians who came to our camp informed us, that it is with the greatest difficulty that a horse when led can ascend by this trail when free from snow-which it is not now-and that with a rider it is impassable. Altitude of camp, 4,487 feet above the sea, and 170 feet less than at our morning camp. Sho-ish, a Utah chief, had sent a runner to his neighboring band, the Goshoots, upon whose territory we were just entering, to say that I was his friend and made very fine presents to his Indian brethren, who accordingly presented themselves at our camp, and were delighted with the trinkets which they received; and I employed two or three of them to accompany me across their own deserts and mountains, no reward being large enough to tempt them to introduce us to their western neighbors, of whom they stand in great fear. Snow-squalls continued during the day, whitening the valleys to the water-level of the lake, and ice formed during the night. May 8.-After some slight examinations of the mountains to the south, we turned down Willow creek and passed north along the base of the mountain towards Great Salt lake, passing several saltish springs and one warm spring, and encamped opposite Stansbury's island, 13.70 miles from our morning camp, and 4,238 feet above the sea. The rocks of the Oquirrh mountain, near Black Rock, and those near our present camp, are conglomerate and sandstone, with others changed (metamorphic) by igneous action, standing in nearly vertical planes. Ducks, gulls, and snipe of a large species, were killed in considerable numbers about our camp, and mosquitoes and gnats were very troublesome. The driving of the water, by the wind, upon the nearly level marshes which border Great Salt lake, presents a marked resemblance to a flowing tide, which has its counterpart in the ebb at the falling wind. May 9.-Before passing around the north point of the mountain, three miles from camp, into Spring or Lone Rock valley, we passed several salt springs, one of which was blood-warm, sending. out a fine stream of water beautifully clear at its source, at which gas was constantly bubbling out; and, as we entered the valley, these springs became more numerous-the finest of which sent out a volume of water two feet in width by three inches in depth. This spring issues through a mass of conglomerate rock, and is inhabited by a multitude of small fish two or three inches in length, which retreated' into the spring under the rocks at my approach. Several other springs, as we passed on, were far less salt, but our horses drank of them
SPRING VALLEY.-RAILROAD VIA PILOT PEAK.
reluctantly. Our path led all day through fine fields of grass, which sometimes occupied the surface unopposed by more hardy plants, but at others was thickly interspersed with artemisia, of the greasewood and rabbit-bush varieties. The large central portion of this valley towards the lake, is an alkaline plain, too soft and miry to be conveniently crossed. It is terminated to the west by Cedar mountains, a range parallel with, but not so elevated -as that to the east of the valley, which is twenty miles wide. We encamped, after a match of 21.45 miles, on a fine little creek a foot in width, descending clear and cold from the highest snow-peaks of the range to the east. It would serve to irrigate a few farms before reaching the alkaline bed just mentioned, in which it sinks. High up the mountain peaks above our camp a few dark masses of pine are seen, and cedar extends nearly down to the valley. Our camp is a short distance south of the line by which Colonel Fremont crossed this valley in 1845, and Captain Stansbury in 1849, and by which it should be crossed by a railway to Cedar mountain, which should be crossed by the route followed by Fremont, where the altitude of its summit is given on the map " drawn by Mr. Charles Preuss from the surveys of Colonel Fremont and other authorities, under an order of the Senate, in 1848," at 5,009 feet above the sea, or about 800 feet above Great Salt lake, or by lower depressions still further to the north, if it should be found desirable. In its course west from this mountain, it should be carried as far as practicable to the south, without unduly increasing its length, to avoid the miry plains nearer the lake-these plains becoming firm in proportion to their distance from it-passing by one of the open spaces to the south of Pilot Peak, by which the succeeding chain of mountains to the west is terminated to the south, and thence be continued by the north end of the succeeding western range towards the head of Humboldt river. For a faithful and lucid description of this part of the line, I beg to refer you to Captain Stansbury's report of his expedition to the Great Salt lake, chapter vi, pages 111 to 116; and for its delineations, to the map before referred to, made by Mr. Preuss. The passes and the country delineated by him in that vicinity were observed with much attention by us from the line which we explored a little to the south of it, our observations confirming the general character of the country as represented on this map, but materially adding to the positive knowledge of it, as will be seen by reference to the accompanying map. We crossed this desert on the 12th and 13th instant, under which dates its description will be found. May 10.-By the advice of our Indian guides, we crossed Lone Rock valley by a very direct course to the pass in Cedar mountains, which they represent as leading to the best route by which the desert west of it can be crossed-the pass itself, in their estimation, being superior. The rise from the centre of the valley to the foot of the pass is very gradual, and its whole surface is covered with small varieties of artemisia, neither grass nor water being found near the road. The valley southward trends considerably to the east, and is uninterrupted as far as our vision could reach, although a low mountain extends into it for a considerable distance from the west, but eventually terminates in the plain. A small growth of cedar is scattered uniformly over the mountain in the vicinity of the pass, in which we encamped at a small spring of very bitter water, after a march of 15.18 miles, grass being abundant on the mountain sides. We met three Goshoot Indians during the morning, who accompanied us to camp. They were armed with flint-lock rifles and powerful elastic bows, made from the horns of the mountain sheep. Our most intelligent guide, Shippah, pointed out to me a small variety of ground-rat or gopher, and a black beetle-like cricket, which furnish a very large proportion of the food of his people. The grass also, on the seed of which they feed, he thinks of interest, and points out every tuft which we pass. May 11.-The ascent became more steep as we approached the summit of the pass; the ravine narrow, and covered with a thick growth of stunted cedar, through which we were obliged to cut a road; and the descent still more abrupt and narrow, forced us to cut a road along its sides for a hundred yards-a considerable labor, as the ground was hard and rocky. Fortunately, just below the summit, we came to a small rivulet of running water, which leaks
CEDAR MOUNTAIN.-TITHE DESERT.
from the indurated shale and dark-blue limestone, overlaid by igneous rocks, of which the mountain is composed, and is much purer than that at our morning canmp, which did not afford a supply at all adequate to our wants. The Indians say, however, that when the sun is hot, (mid-summer,) there is no water in this pass. It is not suitable for a railway. Like many of the mountain ranges in the Basin, this terminates in the plain to the south, and can be passed around by a long circuit. It was late when we extricated ourselves from this pass and encamped, having accomplished the short march of only 3.68 miles. The day throughout was dark and cloudy, and at night camp-fires were necessary to comfort, fuel being abundantly supplied by sage. May 12.-We mounted our Indian guides on mules to-day, and furnished them with scarlet cloth for blankets, greatly to their delight-a merrier set of thieves seldom being. seen. The morning was dark and cloudy, and a slight rain which fell during last night had moistened the light friable soil of the hills, making our early ride cool and pleasant. Leaving the base of the mountain, (2.43 miles from camp,) we crossed a field of heavy sand, and a few spaes of hard, barren white clay, succeeded by another field of sand, and then entered upon a soft, moist bed of clay or stiff mud, more or less miry at short intervals for nine miles, in which our riding-animals sank to the top of their hoofs, and occasionally to their fetlocks, and over which our loaded wagons dragged heavily. Eleven miles from the base of the mountain, however, brought us to an extensive field of small artemisia, extending far to the right and left, and sweeping quite up to the base of Granite mountain, which we were approaching at its northern termination. In this field the soil was light but dry, and the travelling fine; and we encamped at the point just spoken of, where we found a fine permanent spring of pure cold water issuing in abundance from the granite rocks in the bed of the ravine three-fourths of a mile above our path; but we were not so fortunate in regard to grass, only a few scattered bunches being found on this part of the mountain, which is a large isolated mass of granitic rocks, rising from the desert in which it stands, like an island from the ocean, to an elevation of 2,000 feet. Its general appearance is that of whitish naked rock, with a few small cedar-bushes in its narrow ravines. It disintegrates considerably, and forms the surrounding soil, which is filled with quartz and mica. Day's march, 19.7 6 miles; altitude of camp, (considerably above the plain) 4,666 feet above the sea. .May 13.-We resumed our journey at 5 o'clock a. m., directly across the desert, (which is that crossed by Stansbury, further to the north, where it is 70 miles wide, to which I have before referred,) south 450 west, (magnetic,) to the nearest point of the Goshoot mountains, which derive their name from the Indian band inhabiting them, although the name might better have been applied to the desert, which is characteristic of their utter wretchedness. Five miles from Granite mountain, we left the dry soil on which we terminated our march last evening, and passing over a narrow ridge of sand, entered upon a desert of stiff mud, as level as a sheet of water, which we found great difficulty in crossing with our wagons for 17.66 miles. For this entire distance there is not a sign of green vegetation, and only here and there a dry stalk of artemisia, where it has been transported by the wind. The lightest sheet of effloresced salt covered the moist earth at intervals, and the track of a single antelope or wolf could be seen crossing the desert for miles, by the line of dark mud thrown up by its feet, so level, white and soft was the plain; and the whole scene was as barren, desolate, and dreary as can be imagined. Fortunately the sun was partially obscured during most of the day; but even with the obscurity its reflection was very painful to the eyes, which were materially relieved, however, by one or two light passing showers, which dissolved the salt upon the plain, but greatly enhanced the fatigue and labor of crossing it. These storms, however, which had been hanging about the high peaks of the mountains all day, accompanied by thunder, increased ill number and violence in the plain as we approached camp, and were accompanied by heavy squalls of wind from the southwest, and we were brought to a stand by a hail-storm, to which 'our animals turned their backs and- obstinately refused to move until it- had passed. Every
FROM GREAT SALT LAKE TO HUMBOLDT RIVER.
object, when it was not storming, was distorted by mirage, rendering it impossible to form correct estimates of objects seen at a little distance-trees dwindling to mere twigs, and extensive lakes to glistening surfaces of mud, as they were approached. Very irregular detached mountain masses lay a few miles to the south, and a single one to the north, conforming in their course to no general theory of parallel lines of crests. The passage to the south of Pilot Peak, and another south of it, looked open and level, and it is by one of -these that a railroad should pass west from this desert; the plain of which sweeps entirely around Goshoot mountains, preserving the same level, or nearly so, of our path and of the Great Salt Lake shore, where a road is already graded, or nearly so, but upon which it will be expensive, however, to construct a firm foundation for the road; for which extensive piling will be necessary in crossing all the miry beds. Approaching the Goshoot mountains, we came to a more firm and dry soil, covered with artemisia, for 2.34 miles to the foot of the outlying hills, where we found fine large springs of fresh water, sending out considerable streams to the plain. They were surrounded by large meadows of excellent grass. These springs are filled with small fish, and the Indians, therefore, give them the name of Pangwich or Fish springs. In anticipation of meeting their friends there, our guides dismounted before leaving the desert and prepared their toilet, for which they removed the dark surface-muld of the desert for two or three inches in depth, when they came to a white-clay mud stratum, with which they painted (bedaubed) themselves, in stripes, to hideous ugliness, remounted their mules, and appeared before their friends in holyday costume. We were soon visited by a number of the expected guests, extremely filthy and very naked, and emaciated by starvation during the long winter, during which their supply of rats and bugs fail, and they are reduced to the greatest extreme of want, if their appearance truly indicates it; and they are doubtless among the lowest of the human race in intelligence and humanity. We fed them and made them happy with small presents. There is a little scattered salt grass without the oasis spoken of; but it only extends a short distance, and is succeeded in the hills by artemisia, and in the desert by utter, desolate barrenness. The teams arrived at camp between 6 o'clock and dark, very much exhausted by a march of 25.32 miles, in thirteen hours of incessant labor after a night of fasting. This desert, by the line by which we have crossed it, is forty miles wide, but less than thirty miles of it particularly deserves the description given of it where it is 70 miles in width further to the north, and the fine water in Granite mountain greatly relieves the hardship of crossing it by the southern line. Altitude of camp, 4,659 feet. May 14.-It rained heavily during last night, and showers continued to fall in the mountains throughout the day, during which Captain Morris and Mr. Egloffstein made a reconnoissance of the mountains, and found them very practical for the passage of wagons. Camp was not moved. May 15.-A heavy fall of rain at camp during last night, covered the mountains well down towards the desert with snow. Accompanied by Lieutenant Baker, Messrs. Egloffstein and Snyder, and a few men, I ascended to the summit of the mountain, and proceeded northeast along it, seeking for the best pass, and to determine with more certainty the practicability of turning its northern base. It is covered with fine grass and a low growth of cedar. The rocks were metamorphic, shale, and limestone. At 3 o'clock p. m. we descended to a fine creek six feet in width, descending from high snow-peaks to the south, and running along the western base of the first range of the Goshoot mountains, and breaking through it by a broad passage into the desert, where it disappears. The accompanying profile of the country explored crosses the desert from Granite mountain to the mouth of this creek, which it ascends to our evening camp. But it is still to the north of this line that the railroad should be carried by the line already indicated, and to which I should have immediately proceeded, had I not been led to suppose, by the Senate map of 1848, that the material from which it was constructed was in the possession of the government, and that the re-examination of the country
FISH CREEK VALLEY.
was therefore entirely unnecessary. But, as I have already stated, our observation of that line was quite sufficient to determine its entire practicability and excellence as a railroad line. We now turned south, following Fish Creek valley, which is from 250 to 300 yards wide where we entered it, but soon opens to a much greater width, and sweeps off to the south and southwest. Ten miles brought us to camp, the main body of the party having crossed the mountains, under Captain Morris' direction, by a superior wagon-road measuring 18.63 miles. The valley is here several miles wide, and the stream lined with grass, which is not all, however, of a superior quality. Many of the small settlements of Utah are not so well supplied with the requisites for successful cultivation as those found on this stream, on which we found a band of twenty Shoshonee Indians encamped, besides women and children. They are mounted, and contrast strikingly with their Goshoot neighbors (Diggers) in the plump condition of their persons, although they complain of hunger; and in clothing, blankets and buffalo robes being common among them. Our Indian guides left us here, as we were approaching the western line of their territory, and we endeavored, unsuccessfully to obtain one from the Shoshonees to accompany us-their perfect knowledge of the country being of great service in designating the points at which water and grass can be found. May 16.-Leaving camp, we took a nearly west course by the shortest route we could discover, leading to a favorable passage of the low mountains in that direction. The country was at first gently rolling, but soon became more broken and hilly, and covered with an unusual growth of cedar-arteminisia covering the whole face of the country, and the soil light and dusty. The rocks of the lower hills were an indurated clay, and a sandstone, easily crumbled; but the higher hills were metamorphic, surmounted by granite. I rode to the summit of several high peaks to the north of our path, to obtain a better view of the country, and, if possible to discover more favorable passes in this range, but without success. We therefore descended to the west to a valley but three or four miles in width-which extends northwest to the proposed railroad line, as we subsequently ascertained, and southeast to the head of Fish Creek valley, by which this mountain range can, therefore, be turned to the south, fifteen miles above our morning camp-and crossed to a pass marked by a high peak,. at the southern base of which it ascends. The opening or gate to this pass, towards the valley, does not exceed 50 feet in width, the hills of metaphoric rocks being 200 feet high. The dry bed of the pass furnishes a fine road. It rained almost constantly on the mountains during the day, and a hail-storm and one or two showers swept over our path. We encamped a mile above the foot of the pass, and an equal distance below a small spring of fresh water, to which we did not proceed, as the fine grass of the mountain was saturated with rain, and we had provided ourselves with a supply in the morning, not knowing that it could be found at camp. Just before encamping, two or three Goshoots, who had declined to accompany us in the morning, came up with us, and others arrived during the night. May 17.-We followed up the ravine, in which we hadl encamped, for three miles, to where a more broad and open passage to the north extends into the valley we crossed just below that camp, and, as we entered it, changed our course more to the south, and in three miles reached the divide, from which I rode two miles to the west to the summit of a high ridge, from which I obtained an extensive view of the valley to the west and of a large mountain-range beyond, extending considerably to the north and south, upon which there were still large fields of snow, and lying directly in the line I wished to explore. The intermediate valley was destitute of grass, and the distance too great, with an unfavorable light, to allow me to see any evidences of water on its western border. I returned, therefore, to the pass, and encamped a mile and a half to the west of its summit, at a fine spring, which sends out a fine stream watering a small field of grass, and again disappearing as suddenly as it rose. I made presents to the miserable, emaciated Indians who visited our last and present camps, and they were made happy not alone with cloths and knives, but pails-full of soup, on which I feed all who call on us. The morning was pleasant, turning cool towards noon, with light showers of rain in the evening. Near
sundown, I again ascended the high western-ridge to examine the country ahead with a more favorable light, by which I discovered a narrow lake, to which I gave the name of Goshoot, extending along the base of the succeeding mountain-range for several miles, and indications, by the vegetation, of fine springs at the foot of the same mountain. May 18.-Last night was cold, freezing the surface of the ground to the depth of a quarter of an inch. Altitude, 6,550 feet. Leaving camp at sunrise, we continued down the dry bed of the creek for a short distance, but leaving it as we entered the valley, in which our course changed more to the north, for the purpose of passing around the north end of the succeeding mountain. The road was dry and hard, and the artemisia, which covered the whole face of the country, small. The water of Goshoot lake is shallow and bitter, and its banks miry. Crossing below its foot, which sometimes overflows, and sends out a small stream to the north, we encamped among numerous fine springs of fresh water, around which the fresh grass is just springing up, and the willows are just beginning to show their leaves. The day has been the finest we have enjoyed, and as yet (3 o'clock p.m.) we have seen no rain falling in the mountains. Day's march, 18.40 miles. May 19.-We continued our northwest course this morning around the mountain, but, to avoid a long circuit in the plain, passed over the foot-hills of the range through a large growth of the cedar of the country. The range itself is terminated by a high round butte just north of the line of our trail. The valley of our last camp was seen to extend well to the north, and to connect to the east by other plains with the valley above Fish creek, just below our camp of the 16th, which would give an important line for a railroad from Great Salt lake, by a very uniform grade, but by a very circuitous route, were not the line by Pilot Peak, which was in sight, and with which this valley also connects, more direct, with equally favorable grade. To the north of the open passage, beyond the terminating butte above described, there is a remarkable peak, very broad at its base and sloping gradually up to its summit, upon which snow is still seen. This peak apparently terminates a short, isolated north and south range, of which it is the conspicuous feature, and a conspicuous land-mark. To the west of this peak we entered upon an extensive plain extending uninterruptedly so far to the north, that only the highest peaks of very distant mountains were visible above it. It also extends far to the south, but is much more broken by mountains. Turning a little south, we encamped, still on the mountain base, at fine springs, which send out small streams to the plain, watering small meadows of grass before they disappear in the absorbing soil. Day's march, 16.11 miles. As we approached camp we discovered near the springs the smoke of a Digger wick-ey-up, or lodge-that is, a smoke curling upwards from the sunny side of a cedar bush. Its inmates, or more properly occupants, were an old man and a young woman, the lowest beings in the scale of humanity I have any desire to see. They were greatly frightened when they discovered us, and the, man escaped to the mountains; but the woman did not see us until too late to escape; and as she experienced no incivility, her companion afterwards returned, informing us, as he best could, that he fled taking us for Shoshonees. But he was still greatly in fear, and trembled from head to foot, and, with his companion, returned to the hills as often as curiosity or hunger induced them to come forth. They were filthy beyond description, and as ugly in features as in dirt. They had no shelter, no blankets-nothing but a deer-skin or two, a few ground-rats, a little grass-seed in grass baskets, food for themselves, and a variety of artemisia-seed, which the squaw ground between stones for food for two of the most emaciated and mean-looking dogs I ever saw. We could not discover the use they put these animals to in this condition, for they could barely stand, and the woman was constantly beating them with clubs to keep them from lapping the stones upon which their food was ground; but they were very anxious to obtain the fat dogs in our train for food. I made them presents of knives and calico, which astonished them not less than our arrival, by which they were made as happy as they were miserable an hour before. We fed them also, but they were, although half-starved, afraid to eat until they saw us partake of the same dish, so little are they accustomed
to kindness from strangers. Their dialect was a gibberish which none of us could in the least understand, except when they introduced a word or two of some adjacent tribe. The language of the Diggers, in general, is a corruption and intermingling of a few words from those of each of the surrounding tribes, from whom, in part, they come themselves, it is said, being the Botany Bay fellows of all the Indian tribes in the great mountain world around them. They live a family or two in a mountain, and know nothing beyond the rat-holes of' their own hills, being afraid even of their next range neighbors. May 20.-I despatched my assistant, Mr. Egloffstein, with a party this morning to the northeast, and to the east of the high peaks described yesterday, to make topographical sketches of the route, and determine with accuracy the continuousness and practicability of the railroad line by Pilot Peak, to which we were about to return, while with the main party I crossed the plain west of our morning camp, and passing between low hills on the right, which are easily passed around by the north by the line for the railroad, and a considerable mountain to the left, entered the large valley, twenty miles in width in its broadest part, by sixty in length, lying at the eastern base of Humboldt mountains. It connects directly with that seen to extend so far to the north yesterday-indeed it is here the main part of that valley, which could be followed by a railroad, passing by the north end of Great Salt lake, and crossing the HIumboldt mountains by this line. - It is the most fertile valley known to exist in the centre ot the Basin. Numerous streams descend into it from the elevated range of the Humboldt mountains, all the crest of which for a thousand feet below its summit is still buried in snow. To the largest of these streams I gave the name of Franklin river. It rises, by the union of several small streams, in the pass by which it is proposed to cross the mountain with the railroad, descends to the east to the base of the mountain, and thence flows south for many miles, forming the most considerable lake in the valley, of which there are several, but none of great extent. The lakes are surrounded, and all the streams are lined, with extensive meadows of coarse, tall, luxuriant grass; and the water, so far as we could ascertain, at least at this season of the year, is fresh, but near the lakes has a strong taste of decaying vegetation. The richest of the lands are, unfortunately, too low and wet for cultivation to their full extent; otherwise it would furnish lands for a respectable settlement. We passed directly along the shore of one of the numerous ponds soon after entering the plain. It is shallow and its water colored by the clay of the soil, and not more than a mile in length. The day was bright and clear, and we rode for several miles in a due west course from this pond, although this course would bring us directly to the base of the mountains, where there is no possibility of crossing them; but the width of the plain is such-as we travel without any knowledge of the country in advance, not having been able to find a single person who had any knowledge of it by the line I wished to follow-that it is necessary to be sure of finding water and grass for our animals at night, which we could not fail to do at the foot of the snowy range we were approaching, although it increased the distance to travel beyond what it would otherwise have been. But in the middle of the plain we came upon Franklin river, the channel of which is thirty feet wide at present, and it has everywhere overflowed its banks; but in mid-summer it is doubtless a small stream. Turning north, towards the pass in the mountains, we encamped after a march of 21.52 miles, on the banks of the river, which are destitute of timber, but sage furnishes abundant fuel. I observed in the plain a curved line crossing it in a general northeast and southwest direction, and elevated perhaps 20 feet above its general level, evidently the shore of a lake which has existed here within a modern geological period. Acay 21.-To avoid ponds and miry places, we were obliged to change our course more to the north, and in six miles crossed the wagon-road opened by Hudspeth and Hastings in 1846, in conducting a party of emigrants to California. It has been frequently followed since, but cattle are seldom in a suitable condition to cross the desert from Great Salt lake to Pilot Peak the same season that they leave Missouri. But it can be safely crossed- by the line which
RAILROAD OF THE HUMBOLDT MOUNTAINS.
we followed; but on arriving in this. valley travellers should bear to the south, and intersect the line one day's journey to the north of the pass to which it leads in the Humboldt mountains. Packing parties can easily cross by the northern pass; however, to the valley of Humboldt river. Antelope, sage-cocks, and ducks were quite numerous in the plain and on the ponds. Mr. Egloffstein and party rejoined us at noon. His observations and topographical sketches conclusively establish the practicability of the railroad line crossing from Cedar mountain to the south of Pilot Peak, and thence to our present camp-and its consequent superiority to all others in this vicinity. The general grades upon it will be readily determined by a reference to the level of our camps of the twelfth and thirteenth of May, and those of yesterday and to-day. The same references will also exhibit a singular feature in the formation of what is called the Great Basin, analogous to that observed in approaching the Rocky mountains from the east, where the gradual and uniformly increasing ascent from the Mississippi or Missouri rivers forms an immense trunk of table-land upon which these mountains are elevated. The altitudes referred to in the Desert are 4,666 and 4,659 feet, respectively, above the sea; and of our last and present camps, on quite as extensive a plain, north and south, as the former, 6,004 and 6,061 feet above the sea.. And upon this elevated plateau, as in the case of the Rocky mountains, the most extensive and remarkable range of mountains we have seen in the Basin, the Humboldt, is elevated its altitude being at least nine or ten thousand feet above the sea; and from the western base, as will be seen hereafter, a corresponding subsidence of plains takes place, extending quite to the foot of the Sierra Nevada, where we again return to nearly the altitude of the Great Salt lake. Latitude of camp, 40° 41' 50". May 22.-To avoid the miry banks of numerous small creeks in the plain, we continued our course of yesterday until reaching the foot-hills of a mountain spur extending from the Humboldt mountains, from just north of the pass we were approaching, several miles into the plain, where it terminates, when we wound gently along its base, and crossed the main branch of Franklin river, (which descends from a high peak to tbe north of the pass,) a few yards above the plain. Though but twelve feet wide and three deep, we were obliged to bridge this stream on account of the miry character of the soil when moist, even on the mountain sides. From this creek, descending slightly, we passed over spurs of hills descending from the pass, and in 2.05 miles came upon a small hill descending from the lowest point in its summit, which was but 0.84 mile distant, 1.15 miles below which we encamped in a side ravine, finding it impracticable to descend with our wagons, on account of the miry character of the soil and of a rocky ravine commencing 1.33 miles below camp, to the valley of Humboldt river, which lies directly west of this pass. Numerous small creeks descending from various parts of the pass unite, forming a stream five feet in depth, at present, above the head of the ravine, through which it descends with a rapid current to the valley below. Its banks in the ravine are lined with willows and a small growth of cotton-wood, and large fallen rocks obstruct its easy passage, did not the soft soil forbid it. The narrow part of the ravine is three miles in length, and its rocky sides very abrupt; and some parts, particularly near its head, rise vertically to the height of 40 and 60 feet. On the north side, immediately above these rocky walls, the mountain spurs are rolling, or intersected by ravines, and rise rapidly to a much greater height than they attain directly above the summit of the pass. They are easily ridden over, however, in any direction near the stream. On the south side these hills are more abrupt, both towards the stream and the east, and are more rocky and broken, the narrow ravines partaking slightly of the character of caniones. Below this the ravine opens and is easily accessible on horseback, although the mountains are still high above it for three miles, whence they subside gradually into the Humboldt valley on the south side of the stream; but on the north side, are terminated quite abruptly by a remarkable round bald butte, standing directly in front of the pass in looking eastward from the Humboldt river. From the summit of this butte the country to the west is seen to great advantage. The Humboldt valley is broad and open for 30 miles between its main branches, which are seen descending from the north and south of this position; beyond which
HUMBOLDT RIVER VALLEY.
the mountain chains, which rapidly succeed each. other, apparently rising from a common plain, overlap, and it is impossible to trace the course of the river without reference to maps. A few streams are seen descending towards it from the mountains in the immediate vicinity, but few of them, however, reach it, their waters being absorbed by the light soil of its valley. The whole landscape, except just above us, presents a sombre and even barren aspect, sage being the prevailing plant. The main mountain depression of this pass exceeds two miles in width to the east, but at the head of the ravine, to the west, it does not exceed a half mile in its narrowest part, including the ravine which is only 100 or 150 feet wide. Snow covers the high peaks above it, and a few drifts extend in the ravines down to the level of its summit. The rocks are granite, quartz in masses, blue limestone, and slate, altered by igneous action. In approaching the pass from the east, advantage can be taken of the mountain spur which extends into the plain from its northern edge to the right of our path, to enter it and pass its summit by a longer and easier grade even than that given in the accompanying profile, which indicates the natural grade by which we ascended it; and in descending to the west, its width and the character of the mountain sides are such that some advantage can be taken of them to effect the descent by a line following the hills on the north side of the pass, but this advantage will be confined chiefly to that portion below the rocky ravine. The ascending grades from our morning camp, as indicated by our barometers, are, for 7.65 miles, to. the crossing of Franklin river, 58.10 feet per mile, and thence to the summit of the pass, 2.89 miles, 25.10 feet per mile, the altitude of the summit being 6,579 feet above the sea; and the descending grade to the west, for the first 0.80 of a mile, 78.30 to the mile; and thence to the base of the bald butte, 8.36 miles, 96.70 feet to the mile. Below this point we enter the valley of the Humboldt river between its north and south forks, their junction being, by the course of the creek descending from this pass and the north branch of the river, thirty-five miles distant, with an average descent of 28.50 feet per mile.* The valley of the Humboldt river having been explored by Colonel Fremont, and so favorably represented for the line of a railroad, no further examination of it was deemed necessary and being obliged to proceed sixty miles south to cross the Humboldt mountains with our wagons, I determined to proceed west from that pass across the Basin by a route not before explored, returning to the valley of the Humboldt near the point at which it is proposed for the railroad to leave it in its western course. The 23d of May having been spent in examining the pass described, we resumed our journey on the following morning. *The Humboldt river "rises in two streams in mountains west of the Great Salt lake, which unite, after some fifty miles, and bears westwardly along the northern side of the basin. -- t- * The mountains in which it rises are round and handsome in their outline, capped with snow the greater part of the year, well clothed with grass and wood, and abundant in water. The stream is a narrow line, without affluents, losing by absorption and evaporation as it goes, and terminating in a marshy lake, with low shores, fiinged with bulrushes, and whitened with saline incrustations. It has a moderate current, is from two to six feet deep in the dry season, and probably not fordable anywhere below the junction of the forks during the time of melting snows, when both lake and river are considerably enlarged. The country through which it passes (except its immediate valley) is a dry sandy plain, without grass, wood, or arable soil; from about 4,700 feet (at the forks) to 4,200 feet (at the lake) above the level of the sea, winding among broken ranges of mountains, and varying from a few miles to twenty in width. Its own immediate valley is a rich alluvion, beautifully covered with blue-grass, herd-grass, clover, and other nutritious grasses, and its course is marked through the plain by a line of willow, * i - serving for fuel. "This river possesses qualities which, in the progress of events, may give it both value and fame. It lies on the line of travel to California and Oregon, and is the best route now known through the Great Basin, and the one travelled by emigrants. Its direction, mostly east and west, is the right course for that travel. It furnishes a level, unobstructed way for nearly three hundred miles, and a continuous supply of the indispensable articles of wood, water, and grass."-Geographical Memoir addressed to the Senate of the United States in 1848, by Colonel Fremont-June, 1848.
May 24.-We travelled south along the eastern base of the Humboldt mountains, crossing numerous small creeks, and at our camp a mountain torrent which we were obliged to bridge, although it did not exceed twelve feet in width by two in depth, but it poured by with great fury; yet we were but a few hundred feet above the plain, which we were obliged to avoid on account of the miry banks of its numerous creeks. The base of the mountain is finely covered with grass, but we occasionally passed fields of sage and thorny bushes, the latter covered with myriads of nesting caterpillars. Before leaving camp this morning, a few miserable Indians came in, but they were very wild and timid; and we met a naked, stalwart fellow during the day, whom I adorned with rings. In the plain at the foot of the hills near our camp this evening there are some forty hot springs. Their orifices are in granite-the water boiling up as from a well into funnel-shaped basins, and a small pond is formed by their united waters, with vertical granite walls even with the surface of the plain. There is a slight odor of sulphuretted hydrogen about them, but the water, when cooled, tastes pure and fresh, and is limpid. They are more or less intermittent in their action, and the temperatures of the different springs vary from 120° to 170°, and the total amount of water which they discharge is small. The mountain above us and along our path to-day is almost entirely granitic-sometimes very fine, at others feldspathic and crumbling, or micaceous and disintegrating. The morning was very beautiful and pleasantly cool, and mid-day warm; but we were thoroughly drenched by rain before encamping. Day's march, 19.17 miles. May 25.-It commenced raining soon after daylight this morning, and continued until night, making the soil very soft for travelling, and swelling every rivulet to a mountain torrent; so that, although we started at the usual hour, and did not encamp until late, we made but 7.99 miles; and, although we built several bridges in this short distance, several of the gentlemen were thrown into the swollen streams, their riding-animals being thrown down by the force of the water; but this bathing was of little consequence, as we were all thoroughly drenched from early morning until sundown. We remained in camp on the 26th, for the purpose of observing the eclipse of the sun, for longitude, for which we were very anxious, all our previous efforts having proved so abortive. But the morning was unfortunately very cloudy, and we failed in seeing its commencement, and were no more fortunate at its termination, the sun only occasionally breaking through the clouds during the day, and being too much clouded for the exact observation of its termination. The day was considerably darkened and chilled by the obscuration. Our camp is magnetic west from the point where we entered this valley, near a small Take, six days since.
May 27.-We continued along the base of the mountains, crossing several small streams, and emcamping, after a march of 13.93 miles, at the mouth of a narrow ravine by which an Indian trail passes over the mountains. I ascended it quite to the summit, overlooking again the valley of the Humboldt river, towards which several small streams were seen flowing from mountains west of that on which I stood. On the peaks of two or three of these mountains, only, could I see snow, and on these in but small quantities. The country, except by the course of the Humboldt river, looked very broken and difficult to cross. This pass is only fit for a mule-path, as the ascent by the most advantageous line is 1,200 feet in the first three miles. The lake spoken of before, several miles in extent at high water, we passed to the east to-day. It is lined with-grassy marshes on the west, and apparently by sage-plains on the east, and is very shallow, the shoals appearing here and there above its surface. From my position on the summit of the mountain I could see a high shore-line across its southern end, dry and easily crossed; but it is immediately succeeded to the south by ponds and marshes of considerable extent. Several Indians-Diggers-whom we met, collected a score of their friends, and accompanied us to camp. They are better clothed (in skins) and less afraid of us than those we have before seen. They are accompanied by but one squaw, who has a child a year old, of which she is very fond, and its father plays with it in its new finery-a sight I have never before seen among wild Indians. An equally strange sight was that of the only horse possessed by the party, packed with their effects, surmounted by the chi]d, while the father walked and the mother carried no burden. Several of our' men are quite ill with fevers. May 28.-I engaged an Indian to accompany me to-day in order to gain from him such information of the country as he possessed; but he soon deserted and returned, with two companions who accompanied him, to his people. From the base of the Humboldt mountains a very large number of fine springs burst out and flow into the ponds and marshes to the left of our trail: all the water indeed-and it is a large amount-with the exception of one or two small creeks of this portion of these mountains, bursts in springs from their base. In a single mile I counted fifteen, any one of which would have been a remarkable spring in another locality; but one of them was, even here, remarkable, both in volume and beauty. It bursts from the base of a vertical rock of blue limestone, nearly 50 feet in height, in the face of the mountain in a single stream like the escape of a subterranean river, and pours down in a foaming white sheet over detached rocks for 40 or 50 yards; and thence continues on in a rapid limpid stream, 15 feet in width, and one in depth. The streams from several of the other springs were nearly as large, but none compared with this in beauty. The numerous ponds and marshes formed by them seem to have no outlets; at least we could discover no stream flowing from this valley, which receives a very large amount of water, all of which must be carried away by evaporation. Twenty miles from our morning camp we turned west, and began the ascent of a pass which an Indian described to us by placing his open hands side by side, and gently separating and elevating them, indicating a broad open depression in the hill or ridge rising to high summits on either side. Its width is six or eight miles, and it is a very superior natural wagon-road, for which it has been used considerably in the early days of emigration to California, the Hastings road passing over it. It is 5.18 miles from the eastern plain to its summit, which is covered by a fine growth of cedar, and an equally fine growth of grass. The descent is also broad, and ten miles in length to the western base of Humboldt mountains to where the southern branch of Humboldt river flows past, which is followed by Hastings' road to the junction of the north fork. We encamped, after a march of 35.11 miles, at a late hour, our dinner not being served until 10 o'clock at night. The valley of this creek is uninterrupted to the eye from Humboldt river far to the south. .May 29.-We travelled four miles over a field of rank sage, and entered a dry, grassy ravine from fifty to one hundred and fifty yards wide, leading to the succeeding summit, 6.83 miles from our morning camp, whence we descended by the same canon ravine to the succeeding plain, some fifteen miles in extent, enclosed by mountains to the east, south, and west, and by considerable
hills to the north, and is therefore a "basin," in the centre of which, at times, if not permanently, there is a respectable-sized lake. We crossed the northern end of this plain, where it is covered with rank sage from three to five feet high, and proportionably large, our course being directed to the most favorable western depression in the succeeding range, which we ascended slightly, and encamped, after a march of but 16. 02 miles, in fine fields of grass upon the banks of a small rivulet. Last night was quite cold, snow falling on the mountains, and a few flakes in the valleys, and ice forming on the water; and at sunrise, the thermometer stood at 26°. The party were wrapped in their overcoats during the whole day, and fires are pleasant this evening. But, notwithstanding this indication of the climate, the blades of grass are eighteen inches long. May 30.-We passed the low summit at the depression near which we had encamped, finding a small creek flowing west, which we followed towards the next valley until the hills confined it within too narrow limits to admit of our passing in its ravine; at the same time, the mountain rose high and abrupt to the west, covered with a thick growth of cedar, interspersed with a few small pines, through which we were obliged to cut a road to its summit. The western descent, for a thousand feet, was very steep, and intersected by vertical ledges of metamorphic rocks, broken and fallen at intervals, enabling us to descend with our wagons, when we again returned to the creek, on which we encamped at the termination of the mountains, surrounded by an immense growth of sage interspersed with grass. Day's march, 10.44 miles. The night was cold, ice forming in our tents. M!ay 31.-We entered a large valley, extending north to Humboldt river and far to the south, and covered with sage, except in a few spots white with incrustations of salt. The chain of mountains to the west is not so elevated as those passed heretofore; but a high, snowy peak, and the sharp crest of a considerable range, are seen far to the south, dividing the valley. Several small creeks were crossed flowing into one main one, which descends towards the valley of the Humboldt. Reaching the western mountains, we came to a small stream of excellent water descending from the pass we were approaching, and ascended two miles, when we encamped, having travelled 21.94 miles. We saw but little grass during the day, but it is abundant among the sage on the-hills about our camp. A single Indian visited us this morning, and two or three were seen during the day industriously employed in catching small ground-squirrels or gophers, upon which they subsist to so large an extent. They are very numerous, and in fine condition at this season of the year. The Indians shoot them with blunt arrows, catch them in ingeniously contrived "figure-four traps" set at the mouth of their burrows, and dig them out of the earth with their hands; and it is not unusual to see them carrying forty or fifty, the reward of a single day's hunt. Forty Indians (Diggers) were gathered at our camp at sundown this evening-all males, and generally unarmed. I ordered camp-kettles of soup for their supper, and made them presents of a few knives and other articles, which put them in such good humor with themselves and our party that they spent the entire night at the fire assigned them, under the eye of the guard, singing and rejoicing, and annoying us by their grunts and nasal sounds, of which all Indian singing is made up-sounds anything but agreeable to civilized ears. At daylight their number was increased to fifty; and as I arose, the arrival of a chief was announced by the oldest acquaintance we had in the band, and he was soon paraded before me to receive the lion's share of the bounty in which he had not participated the previous evening. I covered him and his son, a small boy, who stood by his father's side, in scarlet, greatly to their delight. The claims of those who had arrived during the night were next urged; but I had no time to attend to their wants, and informed them that they would receive no more-' Kay-wit," in their miserable language-when their importunities ceased. Their wigwams –wick-ey-ups, as they call them –are superior to those we have recently seen. They are bee-hive shaped, four feet high, and partially covered with grass. The opening of every one that I have seen in the Basin is towards the northeast, an indication of the prevalent direction of the storms.
FEATURES OF WESTERN SLOPES OF MOUNTAINS.
June 1.-Two miles and a half, by an easy ascent for wagons, brought us to the proper summit of this pass, to conduct us to which, one of the Indians constituted himself guide, running before my horse and pointing out every stone and bush that he was to avoid, while several others were occupied in catching rats along our path; but the main body preceded us a short distance, and appeared in great haste, which excited my curiosity, and I rode forward to discover the cause of it, from which it appeared that, as a matter of policy, or a precaution to prevent being despoiled by robbery of their wardrobes, in visiting us the previous evening, they had, each for himself, made a cache of his effects under separate bushes, and for the same reasons they were now hastening to remove them from where we were about to pass. It was indeed a novel and ludicrous sight of wretchedness to see them approach their bush and attempt, slily, (for they still tried to conceal from me what they were about,) to repossess themselves of their treasures, one bringing out a piece of an old buckskin a couple of feet square, smoked, greasy, and torn; another a half dozen rabbit-skins in an equally filthy condition, sewed together, which he would swing over his shoulders by a string-his only blanket or clothing; while a third brought out a blue string, which he girded about him and walked away in full dress –one of the lords of the soil. With these simple wardrobes they were all soon reclothed, and we arrived at the same time at their lodges, deserted by their women, and upon the top of the pass-that is, to where a respectable stream rose and flowed to the west. But owing to the formation peculiar to so many of the mountains in the Basin, and upon our continent generally, we had but just commenced the ascent necessary to its passage in its natural state. For, though the streams continue to flow to the succeeding valleys, which are open and easily descended, frequently for miles, the mountains still continue to rise to the west, and the valleys are again closed up by their close proximity, and the streams break through the last and highest ridges in deep, narrow, rocky ravines and caniones, which terminate abruptly to the west. This was the case in this instance, and we were obliged to ascend a thousand feet higher before commencing the descent, and were then obliged to encamp, and put all our well men-for we had several sick with rheumatic fevers-to work to level down a roadway on the side of the ravine we were descending. From the top of the valley the view was extensive. - To the west a small valley, containing small ponds of water, sweeps off to Humboldt river, and is succeeded by numerous mountain ranges of limited extent, and by two large ranges upon which there are still large banks of snow. This mountain is characterized by large masses of beautifully colored quartz, and we therefore gave it the name of Quartz mountain, although it is chiefly composed of dark metamorphic rocks. To the pass, Dr. Shiel, geologist, gave the name of Agate, that stone being profusely scattered about in large blocks. Day's march, 6.83 miles. June 2. -Owing to sickness among the men, with new cases of rheumatic fever daily occurring, it was necessary to remain in camp to-day, during a heavy fall of snow, from 6 a.m. until noon, when we proceeded to the foot of the pass, 2.65 miles, and encamped; but during this short march we were thoroughly wet by a shower of rain, and a second swept over us after we had encamped. This pass, though easily ridden up, would be in some parts very difficult to ascend with wagons. The valley in which we encamped does not exceed nine miles in width where we entered it, but a little to the north the mountains trend to the east and west, and it becomes broader, but again becomes narrow before joining the main Humboldt valley. Several small streams descend into it, forming the grassy ponds already described. Two or three varieties of artemisia constitute its chief vegetation. Its soil is very light and friable; the track of a single Indian crossing it being plain and distinct. June 3. –A cool and pleasant morning. Crossing the valley of our morning camp, we ascended a range of low hills of altered rocks, which could be easily passed around to the south, and then crossed another small valley, from which a creek flows into the one first crossed, and passed over a scond range of hills, as easily turned, and encamped on a creek which descends to a small pond two miles distant. Scattered over the hills there are a few bunches of wheat
COUNTRY SOUTH OF HUMBOLDT RIVER.
grass, and on the stream a narrow margin of the broad-bladed grass of the country, and sage supplies us with fuel. We see daily a few varieties of wild flowers scattered along our path. The rocks in the vicinity of our present camp are a coarse, crumbling granite. June 4.-It was again impossible to cross the mountain, (at the foot of which we had encamped,) by the lowest depression in it, on account of a narrow ravine with steep sides and rocky projections at short intervals, and large stones in the bed of the creek which trickles down it. We therefore turned north, following for some distance the ravine of a large stream coming from high peaks in that direction; but it became narrow and miry, obliging us to leave it and wind round from hill to hill until we reached the summit of the mountain, which was itself very springy and miry, and we passed a small pond on its narrow summit. There are no trees upon it, but a few scattered cedar-bushes and a luxuriant growth of bunch-grass. From 'the high peaks near the pass the valley of the Humboldt was seen, 25 or 30 miles distant, to which the valley to the west extends. The descent was more steep, springy, and miry, than the ascent, and filled with out-cropping strata of altered rocks, in the passage of which two or three of our wagons were broken. By the wagon path it was 8.44 miles from our morning camp to the' top of this pass, with a difference of level of 2,019 feet, the altitude of the summit being 7,315 feet. We encamped near the succeeding valley, 3.04 miles from the summit, and 1,667 feet below it. June 5.-In the valley which we crossed this morning there were numerous ranges of hills, and twelve miles to the west a low, bluff mountain, around the north end of which we passed, coming upon a small lake of brackish water surrounded by mniry, desert plains, in all respects like those immediately west of Great Salt lake. Crossing the foot of these miry plains, from which the sun was reflected with great power, we encamped at the mouth of a ravine in the succeeding mountain, from which a fine stream of cold water descends. In the first valley crossed, no vegetation was seen except artemisia, and the soil was alternately light and dusty, and smooth hard clay. The mountain at camp is formed of altered rocks and of a hard, blue limestone. Day's march, 30.10 miles. June 6.-We passed around the north end of the mountain of our last camp, through a broad depression two or three miles in width, in which there were fine springs of water and a respectable growth of cedar. The ascent of our road was inconsiderable. On the north of the passage stands a small mountain, which sends out a high spur to the southwest, which I ascended, and from which the view was extensive. Mountains succeed mountains rapidly, and the valleys become small and irregular. The one which we were entering sends out a small stream to Humboldt valley, and is bounded by a high, snowy range to the northwest, which gradually subsides towards the south, where it trends to the eastward and unites with the one we were passing-the rocky strata of which dip from each side towards its centre. We encamped in fine fields of grass, with sage for fuel, at the foot of the mountain which trends eastward. Two or three Indians were seen during the day, which was fine with a pleasant breeze, with thunder-showers in the mountains. Day's march, 14.12 miles. June 7.-Guided by the Digger Indians, who call themselves Pah-Utahs, however, we passed easily over the mountain at our last camp through luxuriant fields of grass and sage. The ascent from camp was narrow only for a hundred yards, the hills sloping easily upwards; and in the mountain there was a broad depression, followed by a descending plain 75 yards in width, at the foot of which there are fine springs of water which we passed as we entered the succeeding valley, which is ten miles broad, and extends to the north to Humboldt river, but is shut in to the south by mountains. The soil of the valley is friable and dry, supporting only a small variety of artemisia. Leaving the valley, we encamped well up a ravine in the succeeding mountain. This pass is grassy, well watered, and easy to ascend to the summit. There are a few small cedar-bushes only in the mountain, but sage covers all the hills. Indians were digging roots about us, which were of the size of ground-nuts, with a pleasant taste. A few presents made them happy. Distance, 20.57 miles.
HUMBOLDT RIVER AND VALLEY.
June 8.-Leaving camp at 6 o'clock this morning, we passed the summit of the mountain, and descended the opposite slope on the banks of a fine creek which flows into a desert plain in the southern part of the succeeding valley. This valley is ten miles wide where we entered it, and extends to the south and west entirely around the next western mountain-range, which is elevated and quite snowy towards the north, where it is terminated by a high peak marking the southern border of Humboldt valley. The soil is light and covered with artemnisia. In entering it we changed our course considerably northward, and passed over a low spur of the western mountain, where it descends to the valley of the Humboldt river. In entering this plain, we returned to the proposed line for the railroad. The valley of the Humboldt, as seen here, is from eighteen to twenty miles wide, its soil very light and friable, with extensive districts of sand, more or less covered with the several varieties of artemisia, which occupy so large a proportion-at least nine-tenths of the plains-of our territory between the Rocky and Sierra Nevada mountains, and characterize its vegetation. To the south of the river, and for a short distance to the north, the mountains are generally similar to those we have so recently crossed, which run out as they approach the valley. Many of them do not exceed twenty or thirty miles in length, and are easily passed around upon the general level of the plain. They are generally very narrow, and, in their elevation, seem nowhere to have disturbed the strata of the plain above which they rise; or, more properly, the earth of the plains-for they are without rocks-seems to have been deposited since their elevation. Four miles from the mountain we reached the river, and encamped. The river-bottom is a mile wide, the stream, just level with its banks, winding, from side to side, to where the second banks or bluffs, twenty feet high, rise to the level of the main plain of the valley. Willows line the stream in many parts, but trees are nowhere seen on the Humboldt. Its water, even at this season, is not superior, and becomes less so as you descend it, and as it subsides after the spring rise. It is now 40 yards wide when all collected in one channel, and eight feet deep, flowing with a moderate current. There are no fish in this part of it larger than minnows. The width and character of the valley as here given extends as far as we can see, many miles above and below, and is precisely like the portion we entered at the foot of the Humboldt mountains, and such is its general character. It is infested with mosquitoes and sand-flies. The day has been very pleasant. March, 30.26 miles. The altitude of camp above the sea, 4,141 feet. June 9.-We moved camp but 6.80 miles down the river to a point selected for crossing it, where it has no bottom-land upon it. These low lands being very much overflowed at this season, and miry, are entirely impassable for horses or cattle; and many arriving here in a weak condition, are annually lost by emigrants from becoming mired. But one of the chief causes of the loss of cattle by emigrants upon this stream, is allowing them to eat the grass in the river-bottom, which is extremely unwholesome. The more experienced stock-drovers to California, send their cattle back from the river to feed on the nutritious grass of the hills but, as these are frequently distant from the road and from water, it is only by experience that men learn its importance.
June 10.-We crossed the river by a small wagon-boat brought with us for the purpose, and descended the stream 3.51 miles to camp. Fine droves of cattle, which had been wintered near Great Salt lake, passed to-day on their way to California, and one or two large flocks of sheep are but a few miles behind them. Latitude of camp, 40° 42' 03". June 11.-Our last camp was in a large bottom of coarse grass-the last found on this river above its sink-known to emigrants as Lassen's Meadows, in which the river terminates its general western course, and turns south for 40 miles, where it reaches the marshy lake in which it disappears. Immediately north of the meadows there is a detached mountain range, a few miles in length, behind which there is said to be a favorable passage to the west, leaving the river, of course, a few miles above where we returned to it, but in sight. The same passage is entered by the west end of the mountain by a northwest course from yesterday's camp. It is by this line that Noble's route to California, followed to some extent by emigrants, leads to Mud Iake, and it is believed to be the most favorable route for reaching that lake from the river; but its eastern portion did not appear so favorable to us as one further to the south, which we followed after ascending the highest mountain in the vicinity, and examining the connections of the respective passes westward. By the one we followed We descended the course of the river for 9.64 miles, and then bore off to the southwest over the foot-hills of a mountain just west of this part of the river. Still further to the south, the country becomes more open, and no obstacle could be seen to approaching Pyramid lake on the general level of the Basin; but this would have taken us too far to the south for our present purposes, if it could be avoided, and we therefore followed what appeared the best route. The soil of the valley and foot-hills was of ash-heap friability; but as we ascended the broad, open mountain depression it became firm, being formed from the disintegrations of granite rocks. The ascending grades to the summit of this pass are, for the first 9.64 miles from our morning camp, 16.20 feet per mile; but, from the formation of the hills, the distance can be increased to diminish the succeeding grades, which average 23.20 feet per mile for 7.86 miles; 64.30 feet per
APPROACH TO THE MUD LAKES.
mile for 6.93 miles; and 97 feet per mile thence to the summit, 5.50 miles distant. The width of this depression, in its narrowest part, exceeds one and a half miles. We were obliged to leave it, however, to find water and grass, encamping on a granite peak to the south, and several hundred feet above it, where the grass was abundant, and a small spring furnished a sufficient supply of water. June 12.-The pass to the west is equally as broad and open as to the east, with a descending grade of 87.20 feet per mile for 10.55 miles, and of 30.50 feet to the mile for the next 4.68 miles; and thence to the succeeding valley, 1.85 miles, 73.50 feet per mile. This valley extends far to the south, and doubtless to the east to Humboldt river, passing to the south of this mountain, and west to Pyramid lake. It extends, however, only 12 or 15 miles to the west, opposite the point where we entered it. The western portion of it is entirely barren, and in the spring is doubtless covered with water. To the north the plain of the valley ascends considerably, and becomes narrow, not exceeding two miles in the narrowest portion. It was late in the afternoon when we entered it, and we could nowhere see any indications of water. We therefore turned northward, and were gradually approaching the west side of the valley when we discovered a bunch of willow-bushes on its east side-an unfailing sign of water in this country-where we found a small spring, and scattered grass in the plain two miles below. The plain was level for 2.55 miles by the path we followed, and ascended 21 feet per mile for 8 miles to where we left it to encamp. The mountains about us are not elevated enough to retain snow at this season, and are very dry and destitute of timber. The rocks in the higher parts are coarse granite, but lower down are shale, and hard dark-red trachytic strata. The day has been cool, with a high southwest wind and slight showers. Day's march, 28.75 miles. June 13.-From our morning camp our path lay west to a depression, two or three miles wide, in the succeeding ridge, from which we descended northward over the base of hills extending towards the western valley, directing our course to an open passage in the next western range, at the foot of Mud lake, or rather through which that lake extends, to the foot of the Sierra Nevada. Finding, however, that we should not be able to reach it before night, it was necessary to leave the barren sage plain, and ascend the mountain to the west, to find a camp. But although the grass was abundant, we were unable to find water. Several slight showers during the day, however, prevented great thirst, and one at evening moistened the grass for our animals. The most eastern of the miry plains, called Mud lakes, lies 11.75 miles directly north of the camp. Its southern border is followed by Noble's road, which follows one of the most favorable lines by which the passes we are approaching in the Sierra Nevada can be reached from the east, and in the event of future surveys being conducted in this part of the basin, it is worthy of examination. In crossing the valley which extends to this lake, in approaching camp, we passed over a high mass of rolling hills, which should have been avoided by extending our course to the west in the earlier part of the day; or in leaving the preceding pass, we should have maintained our level by travelling on the east side of the valley, and thus have avoided the descent and rise indicated by the profile, for though the grades are not heavy, they are to some extent unnecessary. As before stated, the depression crossed in the ridge this morning is broad, and can be ascended by a line at least twice as long as the direct one followed by us, which would make it entirely a practicable grade in its unimproved condition for a railroad. From the centre of the valley east of that pass, we ascended 69.80 feet to the mile; and thence to the summit, 1.37 miles, the ascent was 207 feet to the mile. For 2.55 miles west of the summit, the descent was 40.30 feet per mile; and the average ascent for the next 7.04 miles, 44.40 feet per mile; while the change of level indicated by the barometers in the succeeding 2.54 miles was but 43 feet. Day's march, 24.12 miles. June 14.-We crossed the mountain on which we had encamped, immediately to the west, and descended to a branch of Mud lake. The soil of these plains is very light, and our animals sink quite as deep in many of the parts, dry upon the surface, as in the wet and miry portions. The maze of lakes is liable to mislead you in regard to the character of these mud
PASSES OF THE SIERRA NEVADA.
flats. It is true, there is a small sheet of water upon the surface of a small portion of the most eastern of them, and upon the most southwestern also; but their general character is precisely that of the Desert west of Great Salt lake-a plain of mud, more or less miry at intervals, destitute of vegetation, with a surface, especially when recently moistened by rain, presenting at a little distance a perfect resemblance to a sheet of water. It is here and there incrusted with salt, but not to the extent of the desert referred to. The first branch of these plains which we crossed was 6.90 miles in width. At this point we crossed Fremont's trail of 1844, leading from the Boiling springs to Pyramid lake. We then travelled along the north end of one of the ranges or spurs of mountains terminating in these plains. I experienced great difficulty in ascending it a few hundred feet on horseback, its composition being in many parts precisely that of the plain, into which, of course, it is washed by every shower. Granite is, however, found in the same mountain, and vegetation in some parts, but there is none upon the friable surface. It was late in the day when we arrived on the eastern border of the second branch of the plain, and it was very doubtful whether we could cross it. There was no alternative but to try it, however, and sleep in the mud if we failed; for, although on a lake, we were without water, nor could any sign of it be discovered, nor of grass. Taking a few men with me, therefore, I at once set off, leaving the party to follow with Captain Morris, if I should not turn back in a short time. But although the road was heavy, we experienced no difficulty in crossing this branch of the lake for ten miles to the foot of the Sierra Nevada. The sun was bright, although the day was very smoky, and the reflection severe upon our faces and eyes. When in the centre of the plain, we were gratified by the sight of bushes and of green vegetation in the mountain we were approaching, indicating the position of springs and of small streams; but the streams did not reach the lake, and we experienced much difficulty in ascending to them, as they were upon a terrace, in front of which the ascent was very steep, and so covered with blocks of trachytic rocks, that it was only after great exertion that our animals were driven over them to water and grass. We were here upon the Noble road, which follows the north shore of the lake by the Boiling springs. In descending to Mud lake north, from the valley east of our morning camp, the grade is 76.60 feet per mile for 11.75 miles, and thence to our present camp, or indeed to any point upon the borders of these plains, the change of level is merely nominal. Day's march, 25.27 miles; altitude above the sea, 4,118 feet. June 15.-I remained in camp to-day to refresh our animals and give the party rest, its severe labors from sunrise until sunset every day, and frequently until midnight, with the men on guard every third or fourth night, requiring relaxation. June 16.-In order to discover a practicable railroad pass, if possible, in the Sierra Nevada this portion of which had never been explored I determined to examine every opening and depression which could be seen to the east, commencing with the northern, and proceeding towards the south-determining not only the merits of each, but establishing their' comparative value. The first of these openings we reached by turning gradually westward three miles soth of our last camp, and crossing a branch of Mud Lake valley, 8.85 miles to its foot. I there entered a level, narrow ravine, varying from 50 to 200 yards in width, and more or less winding for six miles. Its walls are precipitous, and at a few points vertical. Large rocks lay scattered about its bed, preventing its use by wagons, and ours were sent furtherto the north over the hills, but descended to the creek to encamp, having marched but 15.20 miles; our ascent by the course of the stream being but about 200 feet above Mud lake. The mountains here are thoroughly traehytic, and many of the rocks partake of a volcanic character-black, red, and white in color, and porous in their formation. June 17.-Fallen rocks, thick willows, and a miry soil prevented us from following the ravine, the sides of which were also difficult to follow, being constantly broken by side ravines, as deep and nearly as large as the main branch-the rocky sides of which vary from 50 to 200 feet in height, and are too steep to be ascended on horseback. But as its course was sufficiently
direct and its ascent gradual, it was necessary to examine it still further; but it began to rain at an early hour of the day, and we encamped, having advanced but 3.78 miles. June 18.-From our last camp we left the ravine with the train, and, by a rapid ascent and winding course on its southern side, in two miles reached one of the broad terraces which characterize the formation of this portion of the Sierra Nevada. Crossing this terrace for 1.50 miles, we again rose to a terrace elevated considerably above the first, and then continued to the summit of this part of the mountain by ascending to successive terraces, approached by steep ascents of but a few yards in length. These terraces are more or less broken by deep rocky ravines. To the north of the one we were examining, the terraces rise still higher and more broken. The character of the summit of the mountain is, however, broad and massive, and, when once gained, easily traversed in any desired direction. The ravine itself above our last camp soon became divided into several branches, and the ascent towards its termination, for considerable distances, exceeded 190 feet to the mile-a grade that could not be diminished by any line that we could discover, to which the labor of several days was devoted. We encamped six miles west of the point at which we reached the broad summit of the mountain, and a short distance west of the termination of the ravine examined, on the borders of a marshy, grassy pond, into which a few springs and small rills are discharged from neighboring hills. This grassy marsh-and the Sierra Nevada is covered with similar ponds-is a mile in width by two or three in length, from which we could nowhere discover water discharging. The whole mountain surface is covered with small angular stones, which in some places are packed in drifts and heaps, over which it is difficult to ride; and the steep edges of the terraces are formed by the outcropping strata which underlie the plains above. Bunch-grass is abundantly scattered over the hills, and a few branching cedar-bushes are seen. There is in no direction more than a handful of snow visible. Several Indians, calling themselves Pah-Utahs, visited us and received small presents. June 19.-The examination of the country already described was continued to-day, while the train and main party, under Captain Morris, moved south and west, crossing the marsh spoken of yesterday, and passing over a ridge of low rocky hills, entered Madelin Pass, the broad valley of which sweeps off to the east, encamping after a march of 9.30 miles. Smoky creek, a small stream, descends to Mud lake through the valley, which is covered with sage, grass, and stones-the soil being as light as upon the miry portions of the Basin. Latitude of camp, 40° 44' 12". June 20.- We descended 7.25 miles towards Mud lake and encamped where the valley, which is ten miles wide in its broadest part above, becomes narrowed again to a mile in width whence it continues to the eastward between hills rising and sloping back to the height of a few hundred feet. Our camp is upon one of the great terraces of the mountain. This terrace is broken in the centre to the east by deep ravines, with steep rocky walls. It is only with the greatest difficulty that our animals can travel over the light soil and rocky surface of the valley. The day has been delightful. Altitude above the sea, 4,914 feet. Juvne 21. -Captain Morris, Mr. Egloffstein, Mr. Snyder and myself examined the lower portion of this pass to-day. It was 13 miles to the eastern base of the Sierra Nevada, in the plain of Mud lake, to which we approached within six miles-obtaining an unobstructed view back to the point at which we turned west to leave its shore on the 16th instant. Immediately above the plain Smoky creek breaks through a mountain ridge, three miles in width at the base, in a pass varying in width from 100 to ISO5 yards, and at one or two narrow points not exceeding 50 yards. Its walls are of coarse, crumbling, metamorphic rocks, greatly cut and broken by small rents and side ravines. They rise, not vertically, but at points very steep, from 50 to 200 feet on the south side, and still higher on the north, swelling up, two miles back, into an elevated mountain ridge. Thick willows are in the way of passing easily up the stream, which is followed, however, by a wagon-road for a mile, which then leaves it and passes over the hills on the south side to the head of the gorge. For two miles above this point the wagon-road
ascends a gently opening valley. It then leaves it, ascending a branch of Smoky creek to the southwest. The valley of the Madelin Pass at this point is half a mile in width; and a short distance above, it is a mile, but afterwards becomes a narrow ravine, with rocky walls, often vertical. On the south side the wall at once rises to the level of the terrace extending to our camp, and a railroad could only ascend that side of the pass by being cut along it; but on the north side, for seven miles above the gorge, there are no terrace walls, but the hills which set down into the valley afford a favorable site for ascending the pass. Above this point the terrace wall is found on the north side of the little valley also, but can easily be avoided in the construction of a road for which nature has already done much of the grading. June 22.-A cool, bright day, with a gentle breeze from the southwest. The general width of the pass above our morning camp varies from four to six miles, but becomes more narrow as we approach its summit, where it does not exceed two hundred yards in width. But the hills and mountains rise gently and gradually in all parts above it, and advantage can be taken of them to increase the distance and diminish the grade of a road to a very considerable extent. It was 9.89 miles to the summit by the direct route we followed. It is broad and rocky at the summit for three-fourths of a mile, and then gradually descends for three or four miles to a broad open plain, too level for the eye to detect its inclination. Large mountain ridges and peaks rise above this plain in all directions, but are nowhere snowy. A single snowy peak and a snowy ridge, however, are seen to the northwest, considerably elevated above the intermediate range. The extensive level plain (at the head of this pass) is ten or twelve miles wide, north and south, by forty in length, east and west. The most remarkable feature in this part of the Sierra Nevada, and a conspicuous landmark, is an elevated conical peak, standing immediately on the eastern limit of this plain, and directly in the line of the Madelin Pass in ascending it from the east. The pass winds immediately around its northern base. Some of the gentlemen of the party ascended it, and were gratified with the magnificent view it afforded; of which the snowy Mount Shasta, to the west of the Sacramento, was the striking feature. Its elevation is from 2,500 to 3,000 feet above that of the summit of the pass. We encamped at the western base of this peak, at springs and meadows of grass. The grades indicated by our barometers for the ascent of this pass from the valley of Mud lake are as follows: To the head of the gorge, 3 miles, 41.60 feet per mile; and for the succeeding 3 miles, 61.30 feet per mile; and 59.20 feet per mile for the next 2.50 miles, followed for an equal distance by a grade of 74.80 feet to the mile. The ascent for 3.56 miles above this point is but 31 feet, followed by a grade averaging 76.10 feet to the mile for 1.55 miles, and of 78.20 feet per mile for 1.56'miles; and for the succeeding 1.55 miles, 94.80 feet per mile; then for 1.56 miles, the grade is 50.60 feet per mile, followed by one of 100 feet to the mile for 1.32 miles, and of 30.30 feet per mile for 0.79 mile to the summit of the pass, the altitude of which above the sea is 5,667 feet, and the entire length of the ascent 22.89 miles; and the total difference of level between the extreme points, 1,172 feet. From the summit of the pass westward, the descent in the first two miles averages 23.50 feet per mile, and 31.80 feet per mile for the next 1.98 miles; and for 1.94 miles, 67 feet to the mile; and thence to camp, 3.85 miles, the descent averages 46 feet per mile. Day's march, 19.66 miles. Latitude of camp, 40° 48' 46" north. June 23.-The train proceeded a little south of west, skirting the base of the mountains to avoid the miry banks of creeks descending into the plain, forming small grass-fields and miry marshes. Passing an isolated butte to the right, it crossed a small plain extending to the southeast and encamped, having travelled but 10.37 miles. I proceeded, at the same time, with Lieutenant Baker, Messrs. Egloffstein and Snyder, to the southeast from our morning camp to the plain just mentioned, which appeared to lead to a favorable descent to the valley of Mud lake, near its connection with Pyramid lake. Our altitude on the summit of the Sierra was 100 feet less than at the top of Mladelin Pass; and for several miles below, the descent was broad and unobstructed, except by surface-rocks and stones; but the labor of riding 40
PLAINS OF MADELIN PASS.
over the miry (dry) soil so often mentioned, was severe, not only for our animals, but for ourselves. Five miles below the crest, the country became much cut up by ravines, and was falling off so rapidly, 250 feet to the mile, that we did not deem it necessary to proceed further, but ascended a rocky mass and obtained a favorable view of a route leading from the south end of Mud lake to the west, which had attracted attention when we were approaching the Sierra from the east. Descending from the mountain near us were several small streams, forming a grassy pond at the foot of the descent; and beyond this a broken ridge was followed by the pass just mentioned; still to the south of this, a high range was seen, upon which there was considerable snow. In our outward trip we surprised several Indian families. They were much frightened at our appearance, especially the women. I invited the men to accompany us, and made then presents. On our return the women had all disappeared, but the men accompanied us to camp, where we arrived at sundown, after a ride of thirteen hours. South from our camp the mountains rise gradually, but to no considerable height. Cedar was scattered along our path to-day, rising to the height of only 40 or 50 feet, but the largest of the trees were two feet in diameter. June 24.-I determined to cross to the west the broad plain upon which we caie at the head of the Madelin Pass, and which would be followed by a railroad crossing this part of the Sierra Nevada. As before stated, this plain to the eye is entirely level, and although several small creeks flow into it and sink, no water is or can be discharged from it without (first forming a lake) overflowing at one of the numerous low gaps in the surrounding ridges. At the time of melting snows, there are many little sheets of water standing upon it for a short time, and even now it is not free from them towards the west. Its vegetation is generally sage, but a few limited meadows of grass exist on its borders. A variety of large snipe and sage-cocks are common, but- we saw no evidences of larger game. On the best authenticated maps in our possession, Feather river is laid down as rising far to the north of our present position, and, in its southern course, draining the country which we are passing; and, however well we were satisfied from the formation of the country that this could not be the case, it still indicated the probability of finding a practicable descent, in the direction we were travelling, to the waters of the Sacramento; which is laid down on the maps referred to as having one of its chief sources in a snowy range of no great extent, which has be(en several days in sight to the northwest. The day was bright and clear-after the passage of a storm at a distance in the morning-with the usual very high wind from the southwest. The entire march was upon the plain, passing occasionally between low hills; and we encamped near the base of more connected low ranges near the mountains surmounting the plain to the west, which are low and beautifully dark with forests of timber-the first we have seen in twelve months really worthy of the name Day's march, 19.53 miles. The line of profile is direct from our camp of the 22d instant to this point; the distance (across the plain) being 21.9 miles, with but a nominal grade. June 25.-Taking the most favorable course we could discover, we were forced still to the northwest, passing (upon the plain of yesterday) between two low spurs at first, and afterwards leaving a small lake to the left. We then entered a pass, or ravine valley, a quarter of a mile wide, smooth and gradually ascending for a mile. It then expanded to the width of a mile, and was grassy and smooth, and still rising easily; but it heca me narrowed to a quarter of a mile in width, and rose more considerably for the last half mile as we approached the summit. The hills or mountain ridges rise gently on either side of the ascent, and are finely rounded and grassy; and that to the left, and the whole mountain at the top of the pass, is beautifully wooded with pine, two, three, and four feet in diameter, rising in fine trunks to great heights. By winding on the hills it would be easy to increase the length of the approach somewhat, and to transfer the grade towards the lower part of the ascent, and equalise it; and the summit can easily be cut to the depth of 100 or 120 feet, diminishing the altitude to; be overcome. The descent to the west is at first rapid, and the ravine narrow; but it soon opens to a much greater width, through which a creek descends, at first lazily, but afterwards, as the, water
increases, with a free but not rapid current. We passed with our wagons without difficulty down the slopes of spurs of the mountains projecting into the pass, having to ascend and descend these spurs in passing side ravines. The last of these spurs only deserves a remark, as it brought us nearly to the level of the top of the pass, and narrowed the valley of the creek to the width of fifty or sixty yards; but, as it was filled with bushes, it was preferable to avoid it by passing over the hill. Opposite this hill, a deep canon from the southwest enters, with steep rocky walls. As we descended from it, we entered a valley of a mile in width, still descending considerably as we progressed. From the summit of the pass it would be easy, for some miles, to carry a railway on the hillsides, descending at pleasure; but further down, this would become more difficult, on account of the curves which the hill ravines would require, but it is still practicable. For this purpose the northeast side is the most favorable; for, although containing the largest number of ravines, they are the smallest, and it is unbroken by canones. The western descent of the pass is heavily timbered to near our present camp, and there is a fine warm spring, in a basin of rocks, just where we ascended the high spur to avoid the creek. We encamped before leaving the pass, after a march of 21.67 miles. June 26.-Last night was clear and beautiful, but cool, making overcoats and fires comfortable in the evening. The morning was also bright and clear, with the thermometer at sunrise at 19° Fahrenhleit-ice having formed an eighth of an inch thick. The pass again became narrow below camp, and heavily wooded for five miles, to where it opens into a broad plain called Round valley. This valley is twenty miles or more in length, and ten or twelve in width; and several creeks flow into it, and overflowing form marshy lands of large extent. It is everywhere luxuriant in grass, and the mountains around it are heavily timbered. They are not high, but gradually swelling and rolling. High mountains are seen, however, far to the north, upon which there is some snow. In the west, Mount Shasta is a beautiful feature in the landscape; and to the southwest, other beautiful snow-peaks mark the western line of the Sierra Nevada. As we entered the valley, unusually large Indian smokes curled gracefully upwards here and there, announcing the' arrival of strangers. Turning southward, we followed the base of the hills to our evening camp. Indians were seen at some distance as we were encamping, and Captain Morris rode to them and invited them to accompany him to camp. They are short, but muscular and well-made men, calling themselves Pah-Utahs. They were naked and wild, and we could comprehend but few of their signs. Their noses were bored and ornamented with a horizontal bar of shell or bone. Just above our camp was a newly-made grave, from which the earth had been removed, and the clothes stripped from the body of a young man, doubtless by the Indians, who told us that he had died but two days previously and was buried by his friends; which we subsequently learned was true, the party having been here in search of gold. June 27.-It was 4.76 miles to the south end of Round valley, where we came upon an old emigrant road, (Lassen's) which is said to leave the Humboldt river above the point at which we crossed it, and to cross the Sierra Nevada near the southern line of Oregon, in the vicinity of Goose lake. This part of the road has also been used in travelling from Oregon to California. Its trail is well worn, but at present seldom used. One of the main sources of the Sacramento river is in the snowy range referred to in crossing the Sierra Nevada, to the north of our path, whence it descends and enters the northeastern part of Round valley, and leaves it at our present station, where it enters a rocky canon 100. yards wide. The river is from 30 to 40 feet wide as it enters the canon, flowing with a free current over a bed of rocks. The walls of the canon at its head are 80 feet high, vertical trachytic rocks at top, with a large talus at the foot. -From our camp of the 24th instant, the ascending grades upon the line explored average, for the first 10.57 miles leaving that camp, 32.70 feet per mile; and for 1.63 miles thence to the western summit of the Sierra Nevada, 92.60 feet per mile, or 26.30 feet if the deep-cut of
PITT RIVER INDIANS.
120 feet be deducted from the altitude of the pass, which is 5,736 feet above the sea. With the same deduction for a deep cut, the descending grades will average, for the first 2.42 miles, 124.30 feet to the mile by the fall of the stream, or 173.4 feet per mile for the same distance to the west, if the summit be passed without any cut or tunnel; succeeded, for 4.93 miles, by 55.90 feet per mile, and 125.30 feet to the mile for the next 3.67 miles, and 25.30 feet per mile for the following 2.25 miles; while the-descent is but 25 feet in the succeeding 2.08 miles, but averages, for the next 1..25 miles, 76 feet per mile, and 19.70 feet per mile thence to our last camp, 8.81 miles; and from that camp to the head of the canon, 4.76 miles, there is an ascent, by the foot-hills which we followed, to avoid soft grounds, of 27 feet. In this valley our altitude has returned very nearly to that of Great Salt lake, of the lower part of Humboldt river, and of Mud lake; being 4,154 feet above the sea at the head of the canon. Rising the table in which the canon is formed, we came upon an open plain, without timber, six miles in length, by a variable width of from one to three miles, so covered with stones on the east side of the canon that we passed over considerable mountain spurs to avoid them, and again returned to the plain near our camp. On the west side of the canon the ground of the plain is wet, and a sheet of water stands upon it, beyond which the mountains rise a few hundred feet; while above our camp, to the east, they rise much higher, and are everywhere fertile and timbered. A single Indian, only, ventured to come to camp; but as I was anxious to learn something of the water-courses of the country from them, I made him presents, and sent him to invite others in, for the hills and plains on the opposite side of the canon were covered by them. The women were engaged in digging roots, of which they brought us large numbers on the return of the messenger with a dozen of his comrades, who were entirely destitute of clothing, and armed with superior bows of cedar-and long reed arrows, strengthened by inserting strong pieces of wood in their centres. They were short, muscular, and well-formed men, but were seriously afflicted with trembling, which they were unable to overcome entirely for several hours. This part of the Sacramento river has been heretofore termed Pitt river; and these Indians, and the bands lower down on it, are called, in California, Pitt River Indians, although they claim to be Pah-Utahs. One of them seated himself near me, and made from a fragment of quartz, with a simple piece of round bone, one end of which was semi-spherical, with a small crease in it (as if worn by a thread) the sixteenth of an inch in depth, an arrowhead, which was very sharp and piercing, and such as they use on all their arrows. The skill and rapidity with which it was made, without a blow, but by simply breaking the sharp edges with the creased bone by the strength of his hands-for the crease merely served to prevent the instrument from slipping, affording no leverage-was remarkable. After completing his work, he performed a pantomime, to inform me of the cause of his cheeks and forehead being covered with tar. Hie represented a man falling, and, despite his efforts to save him, trembling, growing pale, (pointing from his face to mine,) and sinking to sleep, his spirit winging its way to the skies, which he indicated by imitating with his hands the flight of a bird upwards, his body sleeping still upon the river bank, to which he pointed. The tar upon his face was his dress of mourning. It is not practicable to descend the Sacramento river with wagons, owing to the mountainous and rocky character of its banks. I determined, therefore, to proceed with a portion of my party to the mouth of Fall river, leaving the remainder in camp until our return, and to ascend the Sacramento from its main valley to that point, after having completed our survey of the Sierra Nevada. June 28.-We could not travel in the canon of the river with our animals, and, to avoid a large, rocky ravine entering it from the southeast, we were obliged to leave it for some distance; and to make our day's ride shorter, attempted to cross the country directly to the mouth of Fall river, intending to return by the Sacramento. But almost immediately after leaving camp, the hills, which were high, and all the small ravines, became so rocky and covered with loose surface-stones, that it was difficult to ride over them; and our progress was effectually
CANONES OF THE SACRAMENTO.
arrested by coming upon extensive fields of volcanic rocks, so rough and full of holes that no horseman can cross them. The Indians clamber over small portions of them, but usually avoid them even on foot. We therefore turned in towards the river, and followed its valley to the mouth of Fall river, encamping just above it. Many Indians were seen during the day at considerable distances, but fled to their hiding-places to observe our movements, leaving their flag-roots where they were digging them. The Sacramento canon preserves the character with which it begins (at Round valley) for six miles, its walls preserving nearly a uniform height above the river. The plain is then surmounted by high, sloping hills, rising five or six hundred feet above it, and the canon becomes broader, and its walls also more elevated for two miles, to where the river makes a large bend to the north; below this the walls gradually decrease in height, and in two miles the canon opens to half a mile in width, which it preserves for three miles to the open valley. This open part of the canon is timbered with oak and pine, through which the river winds, and we rode several times down its rocky banks, from the hills two hundred feet above. Below, or north of the main bend in the canon, there are two or three angles in it, but it is generally very direct in its course. The highest parts of the canon walls are two hundred feet above the stream, with large masses of fallen rock sloping from the stream half way to the top. The passage of this canon by a railroad, carried generally on the terrace on the north side of the river, and descending the side of the rocky hills which surmount it, which is the most favorable line,.will be both expensive and difficult; for it will be necessary to blast and remove rocks to a very considerable extent, the amount of which can only be determined by accurate surveys. The average descent of the stream per mile, for 13.74 miles, from the head of the canion to the open valley, is 39.30 feet; but by following the north side of the river, the descent can be made much longer and easier by descending to the valley several miles further down the river, which follows the base of the mountains until it turns west, when it is overlooked by a plain, elevated 30 or 40 feet above it, extending several miles to the north. A lake of several miles in extent is seen on this plain, from the hills near our morning camp, and Fall river descends. it at the base of the mountains surmounting it to the west. Below the first canion the valley of the Sacramento is three or four miles wide, easily traversed in any direction, and as easily followed by a railroad with a descent of 27.70 feet to the mile. Just at our camp the Sacramento is twenty yards wide, and so deep that it can only be crossed by swimming; but its current is very sluggish. Fall river descends by a short rapid of foaming white water, from the plain north of the Sacramento, and discharges more water than the latter stream. At the junction, the Sacramento immediately enters a second canon, very much resembling the first, but of less extent. The mountains rise above it also, as they do above the former canon, and extend back on the north side to high mountains; but on the south side, after extending some distance into the plain, they diminish in height and sink away into broken rocky hills, and are followed by an extensive field of volcanic rocks, extending through the valley of Canoe creek, or Poinsett river, to Mount Saint Joseph. The approximate length of this canon is 8.95 miles, with an average descent of 34.80 feet per mile. Though not so long, it is as difficult and rocky as the former to pass with a railway, and the most favorable line by which to descend it can only be determined by minute surveys. But it is probable that by leaving the river a few miles above the head of the canon, and crossing the rocky hills south of it, and returning to the river in the vicinity of the mouth of Canoe creek, (although the grades would not be as easy and uniform,) the least labor would be required in removing rocks for its construction, and the short curves avoided, which will be encountered in descending the canon itself, and that this will consequently be found the most favorable site for the road. June 29.-Large numbers of Indians were gathered on the opposite bank of the river this morning, but they were evidently afraid to approach us, unless they could take us at a disadvantage, for which they have a noted reputation. At sunrise the thermometer stood at 32°, and at 11 o'clock in the morning in the shade at 80° F. The day was pleasant, but the
RE-CROSSING THE SIERRA NEVADA.
atmosphere too smoky to afford distinct views even at short distances. Completing our observations in the vicinity of Fall river, we retraced our steps, and rejoined our companions at a late hour of the day. By referring to my journal from July 15th to July 21st, during which we ascended the Sacramento, from Fort Reading to the second canon, the line just traced to the latter point will be found continued to the open valley of the Sacramento, and my northern line of survey complete. June 30.-I had been so favorably impressed with the appearance of the broad opening in the Sierra Nevada, at the south end of Mud lake, as seen from several points, that I had determined, on leaving them, to return to the eastern base of the mountains and examine it. With this object, we therefore followed the old wagon road, near which we had encamped, in a general direction for several miles to the south. It led from camp immediately over a high ridge, affording an extensive view of the mountain country around us, and of a few peaks of the Coast range, seen through low openings in the western ridge of the Sierra Nevada. But the smoky state of the atmosphere was such that no distinctive features or outlines could be traced in the distant scenery. Seven miles from camp, we entered a forest of majestic pines and cedars, through which we travelled for the remainder of the day, but with occasional open, grassy spots, on one of which we encamped after a march of 15 miles. After the high ridge noticed in the morning, the country was still hilly but easily traversed. July 1.-Following the road again, we ascended gradually for fifteen miles over broad plains, the pine and cedar forests receiving the addition of the majestic redwood. Many of these trees were five feet in diameter, and rising to the height of 125 and 140 feet. Before encamping, we descended for three miles by a steep, rough road, to a broad, grassy plain five miles in diameter, into which several small creeks were flowing, but we could nowhere discover a certain outlet. The hills and mountains, ten or fifteen hundred feet high, surrounding this plain, with open spaces between them, are heavily timbered, with the exception of one, which is so covered with stones that no space is left for trees. Several graves near camp marked the resting place of unfortunate emigrants. Day's march, 18.84 miles. July 2.-We passed out by the south side of the plain to a succeeding one of less size. It was here, as before, impossible to determine which way the water flows, if, indeed, it flows at all from these plains. We have crossed them in every direction, and as yet have not seen an outlet from one of them, and some of them we have been entirely around. From the second we passed to a third of these plains, of the size of the first, in which Pine creek, a fine little stream, flows towards its northeastern part, forming a marshy pond, which can only have an outlet to Eagle lake, if at all. In this plain we also came upon a wagon-road which had been recently used, and which we subsequently learned was the Noble's Pass road, which descends to the east by the same line we were about to explore. We followed it, therefore, and leaving the plain without ascending more than a few feet, continued our course through a dense forest of pine and redwood, passing several grassy ponds, the largest of which we judged to be a mile in length. Many of the largest trees were eight feet in diameter and of great height. We descended a little before encamping, coming upon a small creek, to which emigrants have given the name of Summit, although there are points in the pass several hundred feet higher than this. In approaching camp through the woods, the road was very much obstructed by surface stones, which would have been avoided by following an open, level, grassy space leading directly from Pine to Summit creeks, a mile north of the general line of the road, which enters it, however, at our camp. It was 10.57 miles from our morning camp to Pine creek, and 9.61 thence to Summit creek. July 3.-The nights are cold in the mountains, but during the day the sun is hot, making the shade agreeable. Our path continued to-day through the same dense forest so oftened mentioned. In leaving camp we began almost immediately to descend, and continued to do so until encamping at the eastern base of the Sierra Nevada, after a march of 19.71 miles, in 45
ENTERING HONEY LAKE VALLEY.
Honey Lake valley, which extends forty miles to the east. The descending road was very stony, but we nowhere saw ledges or steep escarpments of rocks, until just as we were descending to encamp, when we passed over heaps of stones forming the edge or termination of a rising plain, upon which the higher masses and peaks of the mountain are elevated. This wall is vertical in many parts, to the height of thirty feet, but broken and fallen at others. The small stream known as Susan river follows the course of a low depression seen a short distance to the south of our path throughout the day. It breaks through the rocky wall described in a broken canon, and flows gently through the valley to Honey lake, receiving two or three small tributaries in its course. Soon after leaving our morning camp, the road led over a high rocky butte, (which it could more easily pass around,) from which we had a fine view of the lake, a few miles to the northeast. It is several miles in extent, and is set beautifully blue in the mountains, which rise from 500 to 1,000 feet above it, covered with majestic pines. It has no outlet. We gave it the name of Eagle lake. From the foot of the butte a fine spring issues and sends out a creek towards Susan river. As we entered Honey Lake valley, we found two brothers by the name of Roop, busily engaged in erecting a log-house and planting a small field. They had been here but a month. The lands around them at the head of the valley are very susceptible of cultivation, and are luxuriantly covered with grass and abundantly supplied with water by Susan river -and other small streams. Continuing our journey still to the eastward, we encamped on the evening of the 4th of July, after a march of 23 miles, on the shore of Honey lake.
July 5.-Messrs. Egloffstein and Snyder, escorted by Lieut. Baker and a detachment of riflemen, continued the exploration eastward to-day, to connect the survey from our camp of last night with the line previously explored to the entrance of Smoky creek in the valley of Mud lake. From a mile east of camp, Honey lake trends to the southeast for ten miles, to its most eastern point, and four miles from camp the party came to the foot of a spur setting down from the northern chain of mountains, affording them a view of the country eastward. From the vicinity of this spur in the open valley of the lake, there is, extending for several miles, an old shore-line raised a few feet above the present level of the lake, but to which it occasionally rises, perhaps, at stages of high water. To the eastward of this line the valley of Honey lake extends for 14 miles, and is generally of a dry, barren character. During rains and at the season of melting snows, small sheets of water stand at short intervals here and there upon it, and at present one is seen near the lowest passage to Pyramid lake. Beyond this plain, and forming its northeastern boundary, separating it from Mud lake, is a low mountain range, varying in height from 300 to 800 feet, with a general breadth of about nine miles. In this range several indications of favorable passages exist; but upon examination they proved to be worthless, and the party proceeded southward towards the main passage around this spur to Mud lake, at a point where Pyramid lake is also separated but slightly from the former, the three being united. at very high stages of water, by a small stream flowing into Pyramid lake. This passage is open and level, and in its narrowest part about a mile in width; and from the valley of Honey lake to that of Mud lake, from eight to nine miles in length, the passage to Pyramid lake branching to the south from it. From the position from which it was seen, the passage to Pyramid lake appears to cut through an elevated rocky range, with high peaks rising on either side above the vertical canon walls. There was a line of green verdure in the canon, but no indications could be seen of a permanent stream flowing through it. Three small islands in Pyramid lake stand opposite the mouth of the canon, with Pyramid island in the distance. The water of this lake is remarkable for its deep-blue color, and contrasts strikingly with its yellow rocky islands. From our camp of June 14, on the west side of Mud lake, our present camp is approached by travelling south, and crossing Smoky creek four miles below its gorge, at the entrance of the Madelin Pass, and thence continuing to the southwest end of Mud lake, and following the open passage, already described, to Honey Lake valley, and thence by the north shore of that lake by a direct line. In the accompanying profile of this pass of the Sierra Nevada, which is known as Noble's Pass, the line just indicated is followed. For three miles from the first
HONEY LAKE VALLEY.
point the descent is 13 feet to the mile; then ascends 3.60 feet to the mile for 42 miles, and 7.20 feet to the mile for the next 7.50 miles; with a descending grade thence to our present camp on Honey Lake shore, 8.50 miles, of 22.40 feet per mile-where our altitude is 4,094 feet above the sea. In returning from their successful trip, Lieut. Baker and party halted a short time at warm springs, sixteen miles from camp; and at 10 o'clock at night, after a ride of 44 miles, encamped at a small spring of cold water, around which they found a little scattered grass. At 4 o'clock on the following morning they resumed their journey, and arrived at camp at 8 a. m. Honey Lake valley is forty miles in length, east and west, and twenty in width. The extent of the lake itself we could not well determine, from its low shores; but it is about fifteen miles long, by eight or ten broad. It is shallow, and surrounded by low, marshy meadows, and extensive fields of tulare flags; but, outside of these marshes, the plain is firm and the travelling excellent. Its water has a disagreeable, alkaline taste. Towards the head of the valley a bold ridge rises from the plain, and extends back to a high, timbered range, rising 3,000 feet above the lake, and entirely enclosing the valley on the south. Its altitude, for many miles, is very uniform, not having a conspicuous peak upon it, nor a single break for a water-course. A few banks of snow still remain upon its summit. It extends to the east, falling off gradually to the canon leading to Pyramid lake, and to the west of the summit of the Sierra Nevada, forming the southern chain overlooking the broad depression of Noble's Pass. To the north of Honey lake the mountains are broken, and destitute of timber; and, although connected in the eastern part, by ridges or spurs, with the Sierra Nevada, there are large depressions behind them; and the Noble's Pass road, which ascends Smoky creek for a short distance above Mud lake, passes behind them for a few miles to obtain water and grass, entering this valley over a low, broad ridge, near our camp. But the valley on the north side, towards the west, is enclosed by the main trunk of the Sierra Nevada, which rises into high peaks on the prolongation of the northern line of the valley, leaving a gradually ascending and very broad depression at its head-the line of the pass for many miles-with a few peaks rising above the general elevation, and the high, snowy peak of Mount Saint Joseph standing a conspicuous landmark on the western line of the Sierra Nevada, and overlooking the valley of the Sacramento. Near our present camp there are fine boiling springs, in one of which a column of water, twenty inches in diameter, boils up a foot or more, at a temperature of 205° Fahrenheit; and, in the large stream which flows from it, the temperature is 170° fifty yards from the spring. Besides this, there are numerous hot springs, varying in temperature from 170° to 190°, from which gas escapes freely with the water. The rocks in the springs have a dark, volcanic character, but the surrounding masses are gray. We had now examined every favorable indication for a pass which we could discover on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada in the vicinity of Mud lake; and I determined to turn my course westward again, and extend my examination of this pass to the valley of the Sacramento. It was supposed before commencing this survey, that any pass in this vicinity, leading to the summit of the Sierra Nevada, would necessarily bring us upon the waters of Feather river; but, in our several passages across these mountains, it was conclusively established that no water does, or can, enter that stream from north of the fortieth degree of north latitude, and that no pass north of Pyramid lake approaches it. July 6.-Turning westward, we followed the valley of Honey lake, which was swarming with ducks and pelicans, and crossed Willow creek after travelling 11.36 miles-our barometers indicating, in this distance, a change of level of but fourteen feet-with an ascending grade of 11.70 feet per mile, for 8.64 miles, thence to the foot of the pass at Roop's farm, where we encamped, after a short march, on the seventh of July. July 8.-In reascending the Sierra Nevada to-day, I followed the course of Susan river,
which descends in a broken, rocky ravine; and in its lower portion its walls frequently become vertical for considerable distances, partaking exclusively of the canon character. Seven miles above the valley it is entered by a large ravine from the southeast, but it still preserves its general course, and eventually runs out. It is frequently broken throughout its entire length by small side ravines, and is generally narrow at the bottom and broad at the top; but, for short distances, it is alternately broad and narrow at the top and bottom. For the first three or four miles above the valley, the ravine is from two hundred to two hundred and fifty feet deep, but above that it seldom exceeds forty feet, except where small ridges, or spurs, approach it, when its walls become much higher, but are less vertical. After ascending. it for eight miles, we crossed it, and ascended an elevated peak near it. The position of this peak was favorable for observation; but we could nowhere discover a route superior, or at all equal, to the one we were following, for a railroad to ascend this pass. Continuing our examination, therefore, we ascended the stream for four miles on its southern bank, to where it again receives a considerable branch from the southwest, and two small ones from the opposite side. But it was here rapidly running out; and a short distance above, the main stream descends in a channel but slightly depressed below the surface of the broad mountain plain which we were approaching. Passing again to the north side of the stream, we ascended it a short distance, and then crossed over and encamped with the main party, which had followed the road, on Summit creek, at our former camp of July 2. July 9.-In leaving camp this morning, I followed the open, grassy plain, lying between Summit and Pine creeks, while Mr. Egloffstein proceeded with a party down the former stream until it disappeared in the plain; and then crossed over, without any material change of level, to the head of Susan river; and thence continued our line of yesterday, from Susan river by the ascending plain to Pine creek This portion of the mountain is unobstructed by any sudden rise or fall, and can be traversed for several miles in any desired direction without obstruction. It will require a minute survey of the lower portion of this pass, to determine the best line by which to effect its ascent by a railroad; whether by ascending the ravine of the river, by which the grade is comparatively small, or by rising as soon as possible to the top of the ravine, with a heavier grade, thereby avoiding, to a considerable extent, the expensive labor of removing rocks for its passage. It is believed to be practicable to accomplish either. The ascending grades by the river, from Roop's farm, are, for the first four miles, an average of 10.10 feet to the mile; and for the next four miles, 105.50 feet to the mile; then 59.10 feet to the mile for 4.50 miles; and for the next 7.25 miles, after leaving Susan river, 75.10 feet to the mile; followed by 31.10 feet to the mile for 7.25 miles, and 54.30 feet per mile for 2.25 miles; with a descending grade of 27.70 feet per mile for five miles, to the west side of Pine creek. From Pine creek we passed through the open pine woods, and, bearing to the left, followed a grassy plain, gradually descending for 4.73 miles, with a high ridge on our left, which we continued to pass around, changing our course more to the south as we progressed. This prairie was from one to three miles wide, and was marshy in the southwestern part, where it terminates. Leaving it, we again entered a heavily timbered district, descending considerably for 3.75 miles, when we came again into an open prairie, and encamped on Black Butte creek-a small stream, three feet wide, flowing a little to the west of north, and eventually disappearing in the plain. The characteristic feature of the country traversed to-day is the broad trunk of the mountain-the plains which we are following-surmounted by elevated peaks and ridges, having no uniform direction, and with elevations varying from five hundred to three thousand feet above the plains, with drifts of snow only upon the most elevated peaks. From west of Pine creek to this camp the average natural grades, given by our barometers, are, for the first 2.89 miles, a descent of 63.20 feet to the mile; and 19.50 feet per mile for the following 1.84 miles; and 71.90 feet per mile for the next 1.70 miles; and 64.90 feet per mile for 2.05 miles; and 113 feet per mile for 1.55 miles thence to camp, where our altitude is 5,084 feet above the sea.
July 10.-From our last camp the road ascends Black Butte creel;, which, for several miles, descends a broad valley, enclosed by high, rolling mountains to the northwest, and a more abrupt, but less elevated ridge, to the southeast. But to the west of that camp, passing north of the first-mentioned mountains, the view is unobstructed, except by timber. I therefore divided my party, examining the more southern route by the creek myself, and directing Mr. Egloffstein to pursue a general western course, by the most favorable route he could discover, to the most western ridge of the mountains. He proceeded through the dense pine forest, gradually ascending, but without obstruction, for five miles, but immediately afterwards came upon a precipitous rocky descent, increasing in height to the south, where it unites with the elevated mountain in that direction, and extending to the north far into the valley of the Sacramento towards Fall river, and nowhere presenting a practicable point for the descent of a wagon-road even, and much less of a railroad; and it was only after the most persevering efforts, and repeated failures, that he succeeded in effecting the descent with his party-descending 967 feet at an angle of nearly forty-five degrees, into the large, rocky valley of Canoe creek. This valley extends north to the Sacramento, and in some parts is several miles broad, but in others narrow; and is occupied, at intervals, by extensive beds of volcanic rocks, with intervening grassy spaces and pine forests, in which game is very abundant. Two considerable creeks enter it at its bead, from the vicinity of Mount Saint Joseph, and unite to form Canoe creek; but it is probable that this stream sinks and reappears several times in its rocky course before reaching the Sacramento. For three miles up Black Butte creek our route followed immediately upon the banks of the stream, and thence followed the open, rolling pine woods for 5.90 miles, to where the creek descends from high hills to the south. For several miles of this ascent the ground was covered with black, cindery sand, thin at first, but becoming very heavy as we progressed. After leaving the creek we passed two or three small ponds, and entered one of the most recently formed and strongly marked volcanic fields we have seen in these mountains. It occupies a valley of three or four miles in length, by one or one and a half in width. The lava rocks are black, and about 100 feet high, occupying the valley in a confused mass, which it would be difficult to cross on foot. On the north side of this field stands the Black Butte, some 800 or 1,000 feet high. It is conical from its base upwards for several hundred feet, and is terminated in a peak with a semi-spherical outline; and its whole surface, as black as the darkest iron ore, is covered with a coarse, pebbly sand, formed from its crumbling mass, which has so smoothed its surface that a pebble would roll from its summit uninterruptedly to its base. The sand over which we approached this butte is uniformly distributed around it, as from a central crater, becoming thin towards the edges, and then disappearing. The width of the valley of Black Butte creek, and the broad, ascending base of the range enclosing it to the northwest, are such, that, in the construction of a railway, they will admit of a uniform grade, which will necessarily be heavy until passing the Black Butte, or for twelve miles. The road ward, pass a short distance to the west of Black Butte. This line will increase the distance and improve the grade given in the profile. The distance from our morning camp to this point, by the road, is 11.69 miles, and the average grade 101.80 feet to the mile; and the greatest distance which could be gained, would not probably diminish it below S0 feet to the mile. From the point thus gained, in a broad depression, west for 1.87 miles, the descent is 25.10 feet per mile; and 19 feet per Nile thence for 1.53 miles to the west, to a small spring; with an ascent of 5,80 feet per mile for 3.75 miles, to where the road should cross Hat creek. This point is reached by following the present emigrant road, west of the little springs just mentioned, until it reaches the head of Canoe Creek valley, where, instead of descending into that valley, following the wagon road,ia railroad n o be tiueto the west by bearing a little to the south and ascending the stream, to which there is no obstruction, for a mile, and crossing it at
WESTERN SLOPE OF THE SIERRA NEVADA.
the point already designated, where the valley of the stream is on a level with the approach to it. Immediately west of this creek a spur from Mount Saint Joseph-which stands but a few miles to the south of this pass-extends a short distance into Canoe Creek valley; and is followed to the west by the narrow valley of Wolf creek, immediately beyond which the most western ridge of the Sierra Nevada rises. The spur between the streams is heavily timbered, but more or less rocky, and falls off rapidly to the north, affording the means of passing it by almost any desired line. It is, however, more or less broken by small ravines of an ordinary character. The valley, or ravine, of Wolf creek is narrow and deep, but can be readily passed by ascending its eastern side nearly to its head, and crossing a deep, dry ravine on the spur, and following it until reaching the creek, whence the road should be carried immediately along the side of the rocky, timbered ridge to the west, to the western crest of the Sierra Nevada. The average grades by this line from Hat creek, are, for 2.75 miles, 45.10 feet per mile; and 154.4 feet per mile for 0.50 mile; and 21.30 feet per mile for 1.50 miles, to Wolf creek; with an ascending grade of 45.50 feet per mile for two miles thence to the western summit of the pass. The side of the mountain, from Wolf creek to this summit, is broken by two or three large ravines, and, besides being covered with surface-rocks, large ledges crop out at various points upon it. The summit depression of the pass itself is three-fourths of a mile broad towards the east, and very soon expands to two miles-a high, round peak, destitute of timber, rising to the north to the height of 300 feet; and, to the south and east, steep, rocky peaks and masses rise towards Mount Saint Joseph, (sometimes called Lassen's Peak,) which is three or four miles distant, and covered with snow from its summit downwards for a thousand feet. We encamped on Wolf creek, two miles east of the summit. Day's march, 20.34 miles. July 11.-We returned to the summit of the pass, which is covered with immense heaps of broken stones, covering miles of surface, like rubbish from a quarry, but so level that water stands upon it in various places for half a mile, and it is lightly timbered. Its approximate altitude is 6,074 feet above the sea. The descent from it to the valley of the Sacramento is unobstructed, and, unfortunately, very direct. For five miles from the summit about half of the descending plain or broad ridge is timbered, and the open portion covered with a dense thicket of mansanita bushes. Unfortunately for us, on both occasions on which we passed this summit, (we repassed here on the 25th of July,) the view of the mountains for any considerable distance below us was obscured by a smoky atmosphere, and the valley of the Sacramento entirely invisible from the dark cloud of smoke which hung over it, over which, however, as over a blue sea, peaks of the Coast range were occasionally visible. The plain of descent widened rapidly at first, as we descended, and four miles from the summit we judged it to be four miles in width. limited on the south by the deep ravine of Battle creek, (descending fro Mount Saint Joseph,) which, however, soon runs out into the general level of the descent, and broken on the north by a formidable dry ravine commencing near the foot of the rubbish heaps at the suimit, and extending several miles, and numerously intersected by ordinary ravines. Coming upon Battle creek, the road descends it for a short distance, and crosses it where it bends to the northwest, the road continuing its direct course, and entering a dense forest of pine, cedar and redwood. The mountain continued to fall off rapidly, and we made short, steep descents for a few hundred yards at a time, as from successive terraces. But after crossing the creek there is a deep ravine seen 3.50 miles to the southwest of the road, and nearly parallel with it, marking the southern slopes of the level intervening space between Battle creek and one of its tributaries, which descends from the south side of Mount Saint Joseph. This space is embraced in the general plain of descent, and considerably increases its width, affording the means, by its uniform character, for continuing the curves of a railway in any desired direction to the south of Deer Flat, nine miles from the summit, where a small farm is established on a few acres of open prairie, and thence to Hill's rancho, 3.69 miles below, on Battle creek, where the descent for much of the distance is imperceptible. Crossing the creek, we continued on through the same dense forest, interspersed with large branching oaks, across the most favorable
and perfectly practicable section of the pass, and encamped near MeCumber's mill, 8.72 miles below. In the early part of the day the road was very much obstructed by loose stones, but for the last fifteen miles it was very fine. Many of the pines were from four to six feet in diameter, and from one hundred to one hundred and fifty feet high. Several mills are in successful operation in the vicinity, and others are being built. Day's march, 23 miles. July 12.-For two and a quarter miles this morning-passing through Shingletown-the descent was scarcely perceptible; but the country there becomes more broken, and formidable hollows and ravines extend from the road north to Bear creek-which before lay considerably to the north of the line of descent-rendering the winding of a road in that direction quite impossible. The country also became more broken to the south, towards Battle creek, leaving comparatively a narrow ridge upon which to effect a descent to the foot of the mountains. The distance between the streams themselves is about 4.25 miles at this point, and is not only broken by the large hollows referred to, but the remaining portion of it, 1.25 miles wide, the most favorable line and greatest width which we could discover for the construction of a railway on this part of the descent, falls off rapidly and is very broken, and intersected by broad and deep ravines, especially outside of the narrow ridge followed by the present wagon road. This narrow ridge continues for four miles, but the descent is still rapid for seven miles further, and the country broken into narrow ridges descending to the west, yet there is much greater room for increasing the distance and overcoming the descent. The country is here no longer a forest, but a broken and open oak prairie, dry and parched at this season of the year, but very soft and miry during the rainy season. Forty miles below the summit we were passing the lowest foot-hills of the mountains, and were fairly in the open valley of the Sacramento river. The heat increased with our descent, the thermometer standing, in the shade at 3 o'clock p.m., at 106° Fahrenheit. We continued on, however, and encamped, after a march of 23.72 miles, at Fort Reading, on the west side of Cow creek, a mile and a half above its junction with the Sacramento. Table of approximate average grades, in descending by a very direct line from the western summit of Noble's Pass of the Sierra nevada to the Sacramento river. Average descent per mile in feet. Summit-. –..... Battle creek......... .......... 5. 00 7.50 9.62 1]. 76 13.45 ]5.45 19.59 23. 17 24.17 26.55 29. 60 31.79 35.57 38. 50 40.04 45. 41 47.66 Total descent 5, 400 feet. In the preceding table and the profile of Noble's Pass, accompanying this report, for thefirst five miles from the summit I have given the longest line of descent which can be obtained (the 52 StationF3. ntermediat distances. Total distances. Altitudes above the se in feet. 6,074 5, 825 Remarks. .......... 5. 00 2.50 2.12 2.14 1.69 2.00 4.14 3. 58 1. 00 2. 38 3. 05 2.19 . 3.78 2.93 !2. 54 4. 37 2.25 ------ ------ 49. 80 212. 60 284. 00 - 174. 50 101. 70 7. 35 47. 60 136. 60 - 54. 60 2. 80 230.10 235. 50 186. 20 166. 90 78.80 41. 40 14. 10 Deer Flat........... 4, 318 4,131 Illill's rancho......... McCumber's mill - - - - - 3,491: Camp, Fort Reading........ 674
WESTERN SLOPE OF THE SIERRA NEVADA.
direct line being but three miles) by winding from the summit of the pass south along the foot of the nearest peaks, and touching Battle creek. Below this, the distances and line of profile are those of the direct line of descent; for the total descent, 5,400 feet-5,000 being confined to the first forty miles of the direct line-is so much more unequally distributed than was anticipated when making the survey, that, at two points it is not practicable, without a minute survey and actual location of the road, to indicate a continuous line upon which a railway can be successfully constructed to descend this pass; and I have, therefore, not deviated from the direct line. But it can only be carried below the point indicated on Battle creek by continuing the curve and crossing to the north the deep ravine before referred to, and again re-crossing it on a curve to the south, returning to and across Battle creek, and thence, by a continued series of similar curves, effecting the descent. The width of the descending ridge is so great, and its general character such, however, as to establish the strongest probability of the practicability of effecting the descent on large and practicable curves to Hill's rancho; and there is no difficulty in continuing it thence to McCumber's mill-24 miles (including the curve for the first five miles) from the summit. From this point the road should follow, for some distance, a branch of Battle creek to the south relieving, as far as practicable, the difficult section below Shingletown; for the broken narrow ridge by which the descent must be continued for four miles below this point is such, and the descent so great, as to render it doubtful whether it can be successfully descended without stationary power. A further survey and actual location of the road, as before indicated, is, however, necessary to determine this point. And if the general character and location of the route connecting with this pass is such as to render the determination of this point desirable, the resurvey should be continued to the summit of the pass. The section immediately succeeding the one just indicated is that of the foot-hills of the mountains; and is rough, descending in narrow ridges, but a railway can readily be carried over it. We were courteously received at Fort Reading by the commanding officer, Colonel Wright, and the other officers of the post, and hospitably entertained by them during the two days which we were detained in getting our animals shod and procuring necessary supplies for our trip up the Sacramento to the mouth of Fall river, to complete the line of exploration by the Madelin Pass.
July 15.-Leaving Fort Reading, we ascended the valley of the Sacramento, by a general course a little west of north, passing over a hilly country of open oak prairie for sixteen miles, and encamped without reaching the river, which is a few miles to the west of our path. For several miles above the Fort the valley of the river is an open, rolling prairie, more or less timbered with oak and a small growth of pine. The general level of the country is, however, elevated above the immediate plain of the river banks, and is broken by dry ravines and hills, which continue to rise as they recede from the stream, and are eventually united to the great mountain masses which entirely enclose the head of the valley, and shut in the river from immediately west of our present camp upwards to the mouth of Fall river. July 16.-Five miles from camp, this morning, we came to a small mining village called Churntown. It consists merely of a dozen miserable log-huts, and being badly supplied with water at this season of the year, is in a thriftless condition. The day, too, was intensely hot, and the men had everywhere thrown by their tools-not a man being seen at work. It was four miles from this village to the Sacramento river, directly north, and its mountainous position cannot better be illustrated, perhaps, than by the fact, that the stream or rivulet which supplies Churntown with water rises but a mile from the river, but instead of flowing north towards it, it descends in the opposite direction, and enters it below our last night's camp. From the head of this creek we descended by a very steep Indian trail directly to the river, where it is two hundred feet wide, flowing with a very rapid, powerful current, and, with the exception of short distances here and there, breaking over a rocky bed. In seasons of high water it sends down immense volumes, the drift being ten and fifteen feet above the present stream. The mountains rise abruptly from the river banks to the height of eight and ten hundred feet. They are timbered with pine and oak near the river, but rocky ledges slope down to the water's edge; and it is, at intervals, impossible to ride along the Indian trails which lead over the water-washed drifts and heaps of rocks lying on the banks. At points where rocky strata crop out on the river banks, the Indians themselves are forced more or less to ascend the side of the mountain in travelling up and down the river, and in many instances, to avoid long bends of the stream, pass over the projecting spurs. In its mountain course the river is winding; but in its general direction in this part, it descends from a little east of north, and continues it a short distance below our present position, when it changes more to the south and eventually a little to the east, as it enters the open valley below. We began its ascent by riding, when we could, on the trails, but were frequently forced to leave them and pass over spurs, up which our animals could not carry us, and we suffered greatly from the intense heat of the day.
The river is followed on the opposite bank by a heavy pack-trail leading to Yrela; but it soon leaves the main river, and follows the course of an affluent from the north, which has been generally mistaken for the Sacramento itself. It is, however, but a small stream compared with the main river, to which the name of Pitt has been given. Six miles above the mouth of this stream we came to the mouth of McCloud's fork, a larger stream than the former, also entering the Sacramento from the north. Salmon abound in this stream, and in the Sacramento, but far more abundantly below this junction than above it. The stream was lined with Indians, many of whom were entirely naked, while others were provided with a single garment, or had their faces blackened with tar in mourning for their friends-the tribe having been recently severely punished by the neighboring miners and settlers, whose friends had been killed by them. From McCloud's fork, two of them accompanied us to our evening camp, 5.25 miles above, which we reached at dark, drenched with perspiration, our animals trembling with heat and fatigue. At this point there is, on the south side of the river, a small grassy prairie a few hundred yards wide, and a ferry is established by a Mr. Dribbles by for the use of a mining town, three miles to the north, called Pittsburg. The river, for a mile opposite this prairie, flows with a gentle, unbroken current; but at its foot makes a short bend, and desends rapidly over its rocky bed. I purchased from one of the Indian women, to-day, a girdle of the size of an ordinary rope, made entirely of human hair. Day's march, 24 miles. July 17.-We rode on the bank of the river, this morning, for two miles to Silverthorn's ferry, and were then driven high up the mountain to avoid deep ravines, and to pass around ledges and masses of fallen rocks found at a few points-the mountains dividing the valley of Cow creek, which we occasionally overlooked at a distance, from the river immediately below us. The character of the river was the same to-day as yesterday, curving among the high hills and mountains. The timber of the forests was also the same, and the character of the hard, dark, trachytic rocks unchanged. Indian smokes curled upwards from every part of the mountains where they were engaged in burning the grass to catch grasshoppers, upon which they feed, regarding them as a great delicacy. We encamped on a small flat, 200 yards wide and a mile long, on the river bank, 10.50 miles above our morning camp. From the most reliable information we could gain from persons who have lived on the river for two or three years past, the amount of snow which falls upon the higher parts of the mountains is large; but upon the river itself it is small, never exceeding four or five inches in depth. They also state, that upon the river banks, which are completely sheltered froni the winds, it never accumulates in drifts, being deposited on the sheltered sides of the mountains long before reaching the stream. They state, also, that the river is never choked up with ice, but that it rises ten feet above its general level in times of great freshets. July18.-Clambering along the mountain sides, we again returned to the river 4.70 miles above our morning camp; and in passing a rocky point several mules were crowded into it, and swam with their packs to the opposite bank. And in addition to previous difficulties encountered in following the river banks, it was obstructed by dense thickets of bushes and fallen trees lying at right angles to our path. But to ascend the mountain sides, and pass along where we could observe the character of the river, was also very difficult, and several of our animals repeatedly lost their footing and rolled back hundreds of feet, in passing the steepest points. We were constantly in positions to overlook the river, but did not again descend to it during the day, its character remaining entirely the same. The mountains, however, became higher, and the ravines longer. We encamped, after a march of but 11 miles, at the head of a ravine, where we found a small spring and a little grass in the open pine and oak forest. July 19.-We returned again to the edge of the mountains overlooking the river, and at 9 o'clock a. m. again descended to it, hoping to be able to follow it; but we here found it more confined by rocky ledges than in any other part of its course, the ledges being, at some points, quite vertical on alternate sides of the river. The ravines, too, were more rocky and precipitous than before, and we were forced, after examining it, to retrace our steps for nearly a mile, when
THE SACRAMENTO IMBEDDED IN MOUNTAINS.
we again turned up the river, and crossed two or three small streams, gaining a position from which we overlooked it for several miles, both above and below, but we could discover no improvement in its character: our course, however, changed to nearly due north, parallel with the river, and but a short distance from it. The summit of the mountain was broad and level, and the timber unusually heavy, and a fine growth of raspberries reminded us of our boyish days. At the end of this direct course, we again descended to the river, and found it a foaming rapid for several miles above its change of course. Its fall here is twice as great as in its general descent. Just above its change of course there is a small boiling spring, the stream from which immediately falls into the river. Above this spring there is a rocky valley, half a mile wide, timbered with oak, in which we encamped after a march of 23.50 miles. The mountains passed to-day were more elevated than those crossed yesterday, but were not so difficult to traverse. July 20.-We followed the rough bank of the river, this morning, for 7.50 miles. On the side of the trail there was something like a valley, uneven and rocky, but it soon became rough and broken; and the mountains, eventually shutting in close to the stream, were too steep, and too much obstructed by fallen timber and dense thickets of bushes, to admit of further progress along its shores. The opposite bank was, at the same time, more than usually steep and rocky, and at some points almost vertical. There was no alternative, therefore, for us but to re-ascend the mountains; for, with our force, we could not have progressed three miles a day by cutting a road along the mountain base. The ascent was very steep and difficult, and we were occupied four hours and a half in effecting it. And when we had gained the summit, which we followed for some miles high above the stream, which could be traced by its foaming current, not only where we were passing to-day, but at the foot of the long line of the heavily timbered summit followed yesterday, we encountered such a dense growth of mansanita and laurel bushes that it was only by the most persevering efforts that we could effect a passage through them. Steep ravines extend from the river quite to the summit of the mountains, and we were always forced to pass around them. Coming eventually, however, to an open woods, we pushed rapidly forward, and at sundown came upon an open, grassy prairie, abundantly supplied with water. This was the first grass we had seen during the day's march of 18.50 miles, and was a most welcome sight. July 21.-We passed directly over the crest of the mountains towards the river, to points where we could overlook it immediately at our feet. For several miles below us its banks were as high and rocky as at any point below; but immediately in front of us, and for a short distance above, with one exception, the projecting ridges or angles were low, and for short distances one could ride comfortably along the base of the mountains. The river was, however, still shut in by mountains, and its current was as rapid as ever. But the mountains were so broken by ravines that we could not pass along them, and were obliged to recross the summit, where we at once came upon a more level country, but very rocky and dry. The mountains river. This valley is a mile wide only, but the mountains above are low and retreating. Canoe creek is sixty feet wide at its mouth, with a current as rapid as that of the Sacramento. The Indians have large fish-traps arranged in it, but the salmon season has not yet arrived. Crossing the creek we ascended to the head of this valley, passing several holes dug by parties searching for gold; and at the head of the valley reached the foot of the canjon, before described as the second canon of the Sacramento, immediately below the mouth of Fall river. The walls at the lower end are higher, but much less vertical than at the upper end of this canon; and the accumulated mass of fallen rocks extends from the water nearly to the top. It is much wider also at the lower than at the upper end; and the peaks rising on the terrace above, sloping gently back, are less elevated. It is, however, a formidable canion, cut deep through strata of trachytic rocks; and in descending the Sacramento with a railway, as before stated, it will be
GRADES ON THE SACRAMENTO. CANOE CREEK VALLEY.
a point, which can only be determined by a minute survey, whether it will be easier to pass around it to the south, over the lava fields at the foot of the ridge or butte which rises on that side of the canon, and return to the river at the mouth of Canoe creek, than to descend by the canon itself. Table of approximate average grades in descending the Sacramento river, from the mouth of Fall river to the head of steamboat naviga tion at Fort Reading, Calfornia. Stations. Intermediate Total dis- Average de- Altitude Remarks. distances. tances. scent permile above the sea in feet. in feet. Mbuth of Fall river............................ 3,249 Head of see Foot of second canion. 8.95 8.95 35.00 ond canion Mouth of Canoe creek. 4.70 13.65 14.00 Sacramento river..... 22.50 36.15 30.70 Sacramento rapids. 7 50 43.65 59.60 1,730 Sacramento river...... 26.50 70.15 21.70 1,156 4.70 74.85 16.60 1,078 10.50 85.30 11.80 954 McCloud's Fork...... 5.25 90.55 6. l10 922 Sacramento river...-. 11.75 102.30 7.20 837 Fort Reading.....-. 22.90 125.20 7.10 674 Having completed, by this connection, my exploration of the line of the Madelin Pass entirely through to the head of steamboat navigation on the Sacramento, we turned our course towards the south to explore the country drained by Canoe creek, and, if possible, discover a route connecting the Sacramento, at the mouth of that creek, with Noble's Pass at Black Butte creek, where the emigrant road first strikes it in crossing the mountains from the east, by which, if no better route could be found, the steep descent from that pass to the west would be avoided. The ascent of this creek for the first mile led us over thorny bushes and rocky bluffs; and in their passage we were greatly aided by a heavy Indian trail, always serviceable when available and here doubly acceptable, for our animals were both jaded and sore-footed from constantly travelling on the sharp angular fragments of rocks. For the first mile, also, the stream was full of foaming rapids at short intervals; but above that point we came to an open grassy prairie of small extent, through which the stream flows gently, and in its passage receives two or three respectable tributaries, one of which, from the southwest, falls with considerable noise into the main stream. We encamped under a wide branching pine in the centre of this prairie. July 22.-Just above our morning camp we ascended a terrace wall, fifty or sixty feet high, to a nearly level plain, upon which we followed an Indian trail for two miles. This plain was covered in various parts with grassy ponds, but it was obstructed to the southeast and east by large fields and hills of volcanic rocks, with dark ledges and masses here and there, and it was apparently impassable. To the west there was an open pine woods and a low range of hills, apparently succeeded by another plain, upon which there is a lake called Freaner, the name of an unfortunate gentleman who is supposed to have been killed by the Indians in its vicinity Many Indians were daily seen in every part of the mountains, but they invariably fled upon seeing us. Dismounting from our animals, we determined to attempt the passage of the field of lava (pedrigal) to a high bluff beyond; but the path was so bad that many of them could not be led, and we were obliged to remount, and in two miles succeeded in extricating ourselves from it by the most difficult path I have ever seen. Ascending the bluff, the red soil of which was friable and dusty, we still found a stony path, but it afforded us an extensive view of the country for many miles, overlooking the Sacramento and Fall rivers, and the valley of Canoe creek. Here, as above, the valley of Canoe creek is but a few miles wide, and is almost entirely occupied by fields of volcanic rocks-the part we had crossed being but a small angle
THE SACRAMENTO VALLEY.-PARTY DISBANDED.
of it. The curse of Hat creek, which enters it at its head, could nowhere be traced, and it is probable that it occasionally disappears among the open rocks of the valley, and again reappears when no longer finding a subterranean passage. Our course continued along the bluff, which is broken by deep ravines, and is the same that Mr. Egloffstein encountered in crossing to the west from Black Butte creek on the 10th instant, and by which we hoped to reach that stream, as it was supposed to be an affluent of Canoe creek, and it was near night when we reached the base of the mountains south and west of our former camp on that stream without finding it, or, indeed, any but the most trifling amounts of water in springy places; and as the country to the north, to the line we followed in our trip to the mouth of Fall river, was overlooked by us all day, and we could nowhere discover any indication of a stream, we came to the conclusion that, like most of the streams we have seen in these mountains, Black Butte creek sinks in some of the grassy plains before reaching the river. We were therefore obliged to turn eastward to find a suitable camp, and were soon overtaken by night in a dense forest, obstructed by a thick undergrowth, ledges of rocks, and fallen timber. But I determined, notwithstanding these difficulties, and that there was no trail-the stars being visible, however, through the pines-to proceed to our former camp on Black Butte creek. But as I could not see the ground, even when on foot, I owed my determination entirely to the confidence I had in my mule to conduct the party safely through. I gave her a loose rein, only occasionally bringing her back to the proper course when forced from it by insurmountable obstacles, and the men set up a merry song to enable them to follow each other; but it was not until 11 o'clock at night that we emerged safely from the forest at our former camp, after a most laborious ride of 35 miles upon which we were engaged for fifteen hours. We had failed, however, in finding a route by which to descend with a railroad from this point to the mouth of Canoe creek, having traversed a rough, broken country, and encountered abrupt descents, which we could discover no means of avoiding. From this point we returned to Fort Reading, re-examining the most difficult parts of Noble's Pass to the west, the result of which is embraced in the report already given of that pass, where we arrived on the 26th of July, and were kindly received by our friends. Fort Reading is in latitude 40° 30' 02", and by the course of the river about 300 miles from the sea, but only 200 or 220 by the direct course of the valley, and, as indicated by our barometers, 674 feet above it. The valley of the Sacramento is here from ten to fifteen miles wide, but is more or less occupied by the foot-hills of the Sierra Nevada on the east, and of the Coast range on the west, and these hills occasionally extend in bluffs, of sixty and a hundred feet in height, quite to the river banks; but they become much less frequent as we descend, and eventually entirely disappear near the river, and the valley becomes wider, more open, and level. It is occupied in various parts, throughout its whole extent, by extensive farms and flourishing settlements, and is well known to be finely adapted to the construction of a railway. Having thus connected my line of survey with this valley by the most practicable route, as required by your instructions, 1 at once disbanded my party, and reported to you in person, in this city, on the 12th of September.
Having concluded the journal report of my explorations for the Pacific railroad, of what may, very properly, be designated the route of the forty-first parallel of north latitude, which is both central, as regards its geographical position and its connection with the general lines of commerce of all parts of our country, the general features of the route explored, and its adaptation to the particular object of its examination, will be succinctly presented. This route is intended to connect, in the vicinity of Fort Bridger, in the valley of Green river, Utah, with that explored thence eastward by Bridger's Pass to the Plains, by Captain Stansbury, in returning from his survey of Great Salt lake, in 1850; and it is only necessary that I should refer you to his report of that part of the route for its clear understanding, and connections thence eastward with the general lines of commerce of the country, either by descending Lodge Pole creek, the South fork, and main Platte, to the Missouri, or by keeping to the east of Crow creek and passing over to the Republican fork of the Kansas, and descending the former stream to its junction with the latter, and thence pursuing any desired route to the Missouri. That part of the valley of Green river in which Fort Bridger is situated, and which is overlooked from the foot of the Uinta mountains by the line which we followed in our explorations eastward from Bear river, constitutes a remarkable feature upon this line. It has been variously designated as the valley of Green river, the Green River Basin, and the Coal Basin of Green river, from being abundantly supplied with that important article. It is more than two hundred miles in extent from east to west, and has a variable width, north and south, from twenty to over a hundred miles. It is enclosed on the east by the Rocky mountains, and on the northeast by the Sweet Water and Wind River mountains-Green river entering it from the north-and on the northwest and west by the Bear River mountains; and on the south by the Uinta mountains, broken by the deep canion by which Green river continues its course to the south. Its borders are occupied by spurs from the surrounding mountains, and a few detached buttes are seen east of Green river; but its general character is that of an elevated rolling plain or valley, easily traversed in any direction. It is drained by Green river, which passes southward through its centre, and by its tributaries. Its soil is light and dry, with a small
GREEN RIVER VALLEY. –BEAR RIVER AND UINTA MOUNTAINS.
scattered growth of cedar upon the mountains, and borders of grass are found upon its water courses; but artemisia, with a little scattered grass, occupies the valley in every direction, and characterizes its vegetation. The trading post at Fort Bridger has been occupied constantly for the last ten years; but the district was much frequented before by traders and trappers, whose effects are always transported by cattle, which subsist themselves throughout the year by grazing-a fact remarkably significant of the winter climate, and depth of -snow which falls in the district, the general elevation of which may be safely taken at 7,000 feet above the sea. And it is said, by these people, to be a well-established fact, that horned cattle, of which their stock largely consists, cannot so subsist where the snow is deep enough to bury their eyes and enter their ears as they feed. I have already stated, in this report, that the Mormons have commenced a settlement near Fort Bridger, and that large herds of cattle were grazed near it during the early part of the winter, and were subsequently driven over the mountains, and remained in the valley of the Weber river until spring. Two ranges of mountains, more or less united, intervene between this valley and that of Great Salt lake. The first, or more eastern, is the Bear River range, which is broken and surmounted by elevated peaks towards the north, but is more broad and open towards the south, where it unites with spurs of the Uinta and Wahsatch ranges. It is drained on the east by Black's fork and its tributaries, an affluent of Green river, and on the west by Bear river itself, which rises in the Uinta mountains and flows northward, breaking through the Wahsatch range and emptying into Great Salt lake. The second, or western range, which stands immediately on the eastern border of the Basin, is the Wahsatch, extending from Little Salt lake, in a very direct line northward for 300 miles to Bear river. It is broken, towards the south, only by the passage of the Sevier river; but on our present line by the narrow passages of the Timpanogos and Weber rivers, by either of which, after crossing the first range, by ascending the divide between Black's fork and the Muddy, and crossing the heads of the latter stream and Bear river to the head of White Clay creek, (an affluent of the Weber) it is very practicable to descend to the valley of the Great Salt lake with a railroad. Looking westward, from the divide just indicated, the country presents a broad, level appearance, and it is difficult to realize its great elevation. It is, however, intersected by the valleys and ravines of the various water-courses by which it is drained, and which extend into the Porcupine terrace, lying at the northern foot of the Uinta mountains. The greatest elevation upon the line occurs upon this terrace, between the sources of Black's fork and the Muddy, and, as indicated by our barometers, is 8,373 feet above the sea. By ascending the Muddy, two hundred feet of this elevation would be avoided; but the line would require more and smaller curves. It is here, also, that the greatest depth Of snow is encountered, and it increases in depth as we approach the snowy Uinta range. When we crossed it, in April, the streams were not swollen, and we could not discover that it had diminished by the warmth of the season from its usual winter depth. On the northeast slopes of the hills and ravines it had accumulated in deep drifts, but its general depth varied, for a few miles, from twelve to sixteen inches; and in crossing Bear river, and on the head of White Clay creek, it was from eight to twelve inches; but below this we encountered no snow. The timber of this section is limited in quantity, the ridges being dotted with a scattered growth of small cedar, and the Porcupine terrace dark with a respectable growth of spruce, pine, and fir. The soil of the mountains is superior, and covered with a luxuriant growth of grass. The distance from Smith's fork, on which we encamped, near Fort Bridger, by the line of the Timpanogos river, to the northern point of Oquirrh mountains, at the south end of the Great Salt lake, and on the western side of the valley of the Jordan, is 182.55 miles; and the same point would be reached by descending the Weber from the mouth of White Clay creek and following the eastern and southern shore of the lake, by a line of equal length. The respective average grades and altitudes upon these lines, and throughout the lines of the survey, will be found in the ac'companying table and upon the profiles submitted with this report. There are large 60
TIMPANOGOS AND WEBER CANONES. –VALLEY OF GREAT SALT LAKE.
canones on both of these streams-one upon the Timpanogos, and two upon the Weber. The former is ten miles in length. It is from 100 to 300 yards wide, and very direct in its general course; but projecting masses or spurs on either side of the river overlap partially giving it a slightly sinuous course at the bottom. The great mass of the rock of which it is formed is blue limestone, on the south side often nearly vertical, but more inclined and open and covered with small stones and a luxuriant growth of vegetation on the north side, along which we rode. It will be necessary, in passing it with a railway, to bridge the river at several points to avoid curves, and to blast the rocks to a considerable extent at some points, amounting, however, to no large aggregate. The river is thirty yards wide, descending with a powerful current. The upper canon on the Weber deserves the name only of a gorge or defile. It is eight and a half miles in length. The passage is more broad and open, and not so direct as that of the canon twelve miles below, on the border of the valley of Great Salt lake. The mountains rise to a great height above it, and are rocky and precipitous, and much broken by ravines The river winds from side to side, frequently striking against the base of the mountains and the path crosses it frequently; and in constructing a railroad it will be necessary to bridge it several times. But it can be built by cutting and filling at the base of the mountains with the same facility that roads are carried elsewhere at mountain bases, where the formidable name of canon is not encountered. The lower canon, which is four miles long, in some parts well deserves the name. It is, however, very direct, with an average width of 175 yards, the stream being 30 yards wide, and frequently impinging with great force against the base of the mountains. At a single point only, near the head of the canon, the river is narrowed to one half its usual width, 30 yards, and has cut a passage 20 or 30 feet deep through the solid rock, which on the north side, at this point, overhangs the stream, which i's deflected from its course by a low projecting mass, for a few yards, but again immediately resumes it. The rocks are principally gneiss. The mountains are sufficiently retreating to admit of a practicable passage of the gorge by a railway, and it will require an amount of blasting no greater than is required in constructing a road on a rocky mountain side of similar extent elsewhere. Entering the valley of Great Salt lake from either this or the Timpanogos canon, a railway meets with no obstruction in passing by the south end of the lake and crossing the Jordan, Tuilla valley, and Spring or Lone Rock valley, to its west side, the grades being merely nominal. The settlement and cultivation of this valley by the twenty-seven thousand industrious people who inhabit it-the number at which the church authorities estimated their population when I was among them, and it did not seem to be an exaggeration-is so obviously a matter of great importance in connection with the construction of a continental railway, that only the simple statement of its being embraced in this line is necessary, and that its construction is an object which the Mormons are anxious to assist in accomplishing. From the western shore of Great Salt lake to the valley of Humboldt river, the country consists alternately of mountains, feet above the sea. Cedar mountain lies immediately on the southwestern shore of the lake, and gradually subsides towards the north, terminating in Strong's Knob. But to pass entirely around it would unnecessarily increase the length of the line, for it can be crossed, not only by the line followed by Fremont in 1845, at an elevation of 800 feet above the lake, but apparently at a much lower elevation, a few miles north of this point. Immediately west of this range there occurs a desert plain of mud, about seventy miles in width from east to west, by its longest line, which becomes narrowed to forty, and eventually entirely disappears as it extends southward –less than thirty of which is miry by this line-and it is firm in proportion to the distance from the lake. Two or three small isolated rocky ranges stand in it, but it appears otherwise to the eye, as level as a sheet of water. To the west this desert is succeeded by broken mountakin an e osinatd towardst t the soumthne Pilt ain: the feans ofe reaching and passing to the succeeding plain. -To-the south of this passage, however, an equally
HUMBOLDT MOUNTAIN PASS.-CHARACTER OF THE BASIN.
favorable passage exists to the north of Fish creek, connecting directly with passages to the west quite to the base of the Humboldt mountains; and this will doubtless be the preferable line, as it will enable us to cross the desert by a shorter line and a more firm path. The ascending grades upon this section will be merely those of the ascent of the successive plains. The Humboldt mountains are a narrow but elevated ridge, containing much snow during most of the year. The length of the pass by which they will be crossed is nine miles, about three of which are occupied by a narrow rocky ravine, above which the road should be carried on the sloping spurs of the mountains, on the western descent. The summit of the pass is five hundred feet above the extensive plain east of it, but considerably more above the valley of Humboldt river, which succeeds it to the west. This pass offers no serious obstacle to the passage of a railroad. Cedar only is found in these mountains, and in those to the east of it, sufficiently large for railroad ties; and although it will require transporting for long distances, it is believed to be sufficiently abundant for the construction of the road. The open valley of Humboldt river immediately succeeds this section, and should be followed for about 180 miles. No other description is necessary of this direct and valuable passage across the Basin than that given in an extract from Colonel Fremont's Geographical Memoir addressed to the Senate, appended to the journal of the 22d of May, in the preceding part of this report. The country to the south of this valley consists of an alternation of narrow mountains and valleys rapidly succeeding each other. The mountains have a general north and south course, but not unfrequently vary many degrees from that general direction, and, occasionally, cross chains are seen, closing the valleys to the north and south; but large spurs more frequently extend out from succeeding chains, and unite to form cross ranges, or overlap and obstruct the view. They are sharp, rocky, and inaccessible in many parts, but are low and easily passed in others. Their general elevation varies from 1,500 to 3,000 feet above the valleys, and but few of them retain snow upon their highest peaks during the summer. They are liberally supplied with springs and small streams, but the latter seldom extend far into the plains. At the time of melting snows they form many small ponds and lakes, but at others are absorbed by the soil near the bases of the mountains. Grass is found in abundance upon nearly every range, but timber is very scarce, a small scattered growth of cedar only being seen upon a few ranges. The valleys rarely extend uninterruptedly east and west, to a greater width than five or ten miles, but often have a large extent north and south. They are very irregular in form, frequently extending around the ends of mountains, or are united to succeeding valleys by level passages. They are much less fertile than the mountains, but generally support several varieties of artemisia, relieving them from the character of barrenness or desert. There are, however, many barren spots in each of these valleys, and the soil is seldom one half covered with vegetation, even for a few acres, while the great mass of it is- merely sprinkled by the sombre artemisia foliage, presenting the aspect of a dreary waste, unrelieved by inviting shades, grassy plats, and floral beauties, and is nowhere suitable for settlements and cultivation. The accompanying profile of the line which we traversed in this part of the Basin, will serve to convey a general idea of its formation. From Humboldt river, there are three lines which may be followed to the foot of the Sierra Nevada. That by the Noble's Pass road, leaving the river a few miles to the east of where we returned to it, is the most direct, and is believed to be the best, as it avoids the principal range of mountains which we crossed on the line followed a few miles to the south of this, the two lines uniting on the shore of Mud lake. By the line followed, it is necessary to cross two ranges of the general character of the Basin mountains. The third line leads from the sink of the Humboldt to Pyramid lake without obstruction; but of the line passing thence by its shores to Honey Lake valley, little is known. It is 119 miles by the line followed from Humboldt river to the west shore of Mud lake, at the foot of Madelin Pass; but the northern line will diminish this distance at least one-fifth. The fertility of this section corresponds with that of the line south of Humboldt river. The northern route
MADELIN PASS. explored across the Sierra Nevada, to which I have given the name of Madelin Pass, ascends the eastern slope of the mountains from Mud lake through the valley of Smoky creek. In leaving the lake valley, the pass leads for three miles through a narrow gorge in an outlying range of the Sierra Nevada. The sides of this gorge are formed of coarse, crumbling metamorphic rocks, much broken by side ravines. They rise very abruptly to the height of from 50 to 200 feet above the stream on the south side, and to a much greater elevation on the north side, swelling up two miles back into the high mountain ridge. The course of the gorge is direct, and varies in width from 100 to 150 yards, and can be followed without difficulty by a railroad. Above the gorge the valley of the creek expands to the width of half a mile at first, and afterwards of a mile; but again becomes narrowed to a ravine seven miles from the This valley is enclosed on the south side, except at a single point broken by a creek followed by Noble's road, by a precipitous rocky wall, rising at once to the level of the terrace above, which extends back to the foot of a high peak standing immediately at the summit of the pass. On the north side the valley is enclosed for seven miles by retreating mountain spurs, upon which a road can easily ascend to the terrace, which, in its eastern portion, is but a mile in width, with sloping ridges rising above it. Above this, however, it expands to the width of ten or twelve miles, but again becomes narrow as it approaches the summit of the mountain, where the grassy ascent is but 200 yards wide, with rocky hills rising gently two or three hundred feet above it. The soil of the pass is light, and the surface thickly covered with stones. Its width, and the character of the hills gradually rising above it in all parts, afford the means of ascending it by a very uniform grade. The length of the ascent is 22.89 miles by the direct line which we followed, and the difference of elevation of the extreme points 1,172 feet-the altitude of the summit being 5,667 feet above the sea. The latitude of our camp at the western base of the high peak was 40- 48' 46". The pass leads around this elevated peak, and by a gentle descent for five miles enters upon the broad, level plain of the summit of the mountains, extending for forty miles to the west; its width, north and south, varying from ten miles to mere open passages of a few hundred yards. No water is discharged from this plain, which receives the waters of a few small streams and springs forming grassy ponds. The irregular spurs, ridges, and isolated buttes rise but a few hundred feet above it, and are sparsely covered with a growth of cedar to the east, but with heavy pine forests to the west. In leaving this plain to cross the low ridge enclosing it to the west, the line enters a ravine valley a quarter of a mile wide, smooth and gradually ascending for a mile. It then expands to the width of a mile, and is grassy and smooth, and still ascends gently; but it again becomes narrowed to a -quarter of a mile' and rises more considerably for the last half mile to the summit. The ridges rise gently on either side of the ascent, and are finely rounded and grassy, and it will be easy, by winding on these spurs, to increase the length of the approach somewhat, and to equalize the ascent; and the summit can readily be cut so as to diminish the altitude to be overcome 100 or 120 feet. The elevation of this point is 500 feet above that Of the preceding plain, and 5,36 feet above the sea, and is the highest point in the pass, from which the descent is directly upon the waters of the Sacramento river. This descent is at first rapid and the ravine narrow; but it soon widens, and a creek descends from it with a free current. Spurs of the mountains, separated by ravines, project into the valley of this creek, leaving a direct and free passage, however, of fifty or sixty yards in width in the narrowest parts, and frequently expanding to half a mile. The descent is grassy and heavily timbered. For some miles from the summit, it will be easy to carry a road on the hillsides, descending at pleasure; but lower down it will become more difficult on account of the curves required for passing the side ravines, but it is still practicable. For this purpose the northeast side is the most favorable;* for, although it contains the largest number of ravines, it is free from canones, while the opposite side is obstructed by a formidable one five miles below the summit, and a second three miles below this. The length of the descent to the broad open plain of Round valley, to
SACRAMENTO CARONEF AND RIVER.
which it -leads, (on the Sacramento,) is fifteen miles, one half of which must be effected by following the mountain side. The total descent is 1,300 feet. Round valley, through which the Sacramento river descends from the northeast, and through which a road can be carried at pleasure, extends for 15 miles below this point to the head of the first canon of the Sacramento. This canon is a formidable obstacle to be overcome. Its entire length is 13.74 miles, succeeded by an open valley of similar extent, which is followed by another canon 8.95 miles in length, of the same character as the first. The river, as it enters -the first canon, is from 30 to 40 feet wide, flowing with a rapid current over a bed of rocks; and it is 60 feet wide as it enters the second canon, just below the junction of Fall river, and flows over a similar bed with an equally swift current. At their heads these canones are vertical trachytic rocks, 80 feet high, with large masses of fallen rocks accumulated at the bases of the walls. The first is cut through a high plain for six miles; the plain then rises somewhat, and is surmounted by high sloping ridges rising five or six hundred feet above it, and the canion becomes much broader, and its walls more elevated for two miles, to where it makes a large bend to the north; below this the walls gradually decrease, and in two miles the canon opens to the width of half a mile, which it preserves for three miles to the succeeding valley. The highest portions otwl i2 feav hse,i aauliof the walls risen rocks extending half way to the top. For eight miles the course of the canon is direct. It then makes a long bend to the north, and is followed by two or three short curves, but with a generally direct course. Its open part is timbered, and its walls less abrupt; and on the right bank of the stream, the mountains, followed by the river, extend considerably into the plain of Fall river. The most favorable line for the passage of a railway leads along the plain on the north side of the river, and descends the sides of the rocky hills which surmount it, and continues on the side of the mountain until it enters the plain of Fall river. The second canon is only less formidable than the first because of its less extent. Its character is entirely the same, except that it is surmounted near its head by sloping mountain ridges of a similar altitude to the former. But on the south side a few miles distant, the ridge subsides into rocky volcanic hills and plains. It will require a minute survey to determine the most practicable line by which to pass it; but it is probable that the best line will be found to leave the river a few miles above Fall river, and to pass around the ridge extending southward, and again return :to the Sacramento at the mouth of Canoe creek, four miles below the fopt of the canon, avoiding short curves, which must be encountered in it, and diminishing the amount of rocky cutting; :for in the passage of each of these canones, the expense will be very heavy from this cause, and can only be estimated after an extensive and complete survey. For 96 miles below the mouth of Canoe creek, to 17 miles above Fort Reading, the course of the Sacramento lies entirely through heavily timbered mountains, which rise precipitously from the river banks to the height of from 1,5.00 to 2,000 feet above the stream. Its course is winding, with all varieties of curves greater than a right angle, and it is seldom entirely straight for two miles consecutively, but its general courses are more uniform. The foot of the mountains along the stream is often obstructed by fallen rocks to such an extent as to prevent its passage on horseback, and it is also obstructed by fallen timber and dense thickets of bushes; but the obstructions from fallen rocks are favorable rather than otherwise, for the construction of a railroad, as they will serve to form its sub-structure. At many points, but for short distances only, the way is obstructed by rocks in place. The road will require to be carried on the side of the mountains, a few feet above the stream at high water, 'throughout this entire section to the open valley of the Sacramento, whence it can be continued on the open plain. The latitude of our camp, near the northwest angle of the river, was 41° 03'. The southern or Noble's pass of the Sierra Nevada (which I explored) branches from Madelin Pass, and the general line followed, on the western shore of Mud lake, which it follows to its southwestern termination, where it approaches nearest to Pyramid lake. It then turns more
to the west, and follows, for nine miles, an open passage of a mile in width, leading from Mud Lake valley to that of Honey lake. This valley extends 40 miles to the west, and is 20 miles wide in its broadest part, north and south. On the south it is enclosed by a high unbroken mountain range, and on the north by the outlying ranges, more or less broken, of the Sierra Nevada. The lake is about 15 miles in length and 8 or 10 in width. Its water is bitter. The head of the valley to the west is very fertile, and a settlement has been commenced in it, and will doubtless be continued. It is situated upon Susan river, which descends through the broad mountain depression followed by Noble's road to the summit of the Sierra Nevada. For seven miles above the valley this stream descends through a deep rocky canon, frequently with vertical walls towards its lower portion, but more or less fallen and open above. It is also much broken by side ravines, and spurs of mountain ridges occasionally extend to it. In leaving the valley, outside of this canon, there is, at first, an abrupt terrace rise, followed by the road, which continues along the sides of the ridges to the right of the ascent by a much less gradual and uniform ascent than that of the stream. Seven miles above the valley the canon becomes an ordinary ravine, and disappears about five miles higher up, where the mountain becomes broad and undulating, with irregular ridges rising above the general level, but still continues to rise to the vicinity of Pine creek5 whence it continues its rolling character to Black Butte creek. It is doubtless practicable to accomplish the ascent of the first section of this pass, either by following the river or by rising as soon as practicable above its rocky walls, and following its general course above its canon. By following the river, it will be necessary to carry the road on a rocky ledge, but the grades will be comparatively easy. The-ascent by the terrace line will require an approach commencing on the foot of the mountain north of the pass, and rising gradually to the top of the canon walls; and above this will encounter broad ravines for 12 miles. From this point to Black Butte creek; 31 miles, the construction of the road will be easy. From Black Butte creek, there is still a heavy rise for 12 miles to the west side of Black Butte. For the first eight miles the line follows the valley of the creek, and the foot of the mountain enclosing it to the west, (for the course is southward.) It then passes to the south around a large field of lava rocks, and, on a return curve to the north, passes to the west of Black Butte, and is continued thence to the west side of Hat creek without a material change of level, and is continued thence on the side of the mountain spur, extending into Canoe creek valley, and separating Hat from Wolf creek, and crosses the latter nearly on a level with the former, and is continued, two miles, to the western summit of the range on the side of the range itself. The length of this section from Black Butte creek is 35 miles, and the highest point upon the pass is found on it a short distance west of the Black Butte, and is 6,275 feet above the sea. The descent from the western summit is by a broad, heavily timbered ridge, lying between Bear Creek valley on the north and deep rocky chasms on the south. Its length is forty miles, with a variable width of from one and a quarter to six miles. Its altitude at the summit is 6,074 feet above the sea, and more than 5,000 feet above the foot of the ridge. Its character and the difficulties of its descent will be best understood by a reference to the preceding journal for the 12th of July, and the table accompanying it. By the residents in the lumber district of the descent, we were informed that in the vicinity of their mills they had never seen the snow more than four or six inches deep at any time during the winter, and that it never remained upon the ground for more than a week at a time in sufficient quantities to enable them to use sleds in their vocation. About the 10th of last January, Dr. Wozencraft, of California, with a small party, ascended this pass to its summit on a tour of exploration. They found the snow on the entire route, as they certify in a note placed in my hands by Dr. Wozencraft, "to average six inches in depth, and nowhere reaching eight or ten inches in its average fall. But," they say, " we encountered one drift of snow on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada, in a ravine extending a mile, averaging two feet or two feet and a half in depth." The entire length of the pass from Roop's farm, at the head of Honey Lake valley on the east, to the foot-hills of the Sierra Nevada on
STONE.-WATER.-CHARACTER AND LENGTH OF THE LINE.
the west, is 110 miles, and its termination is at the head of steamboat navigation, in a fertile and cultivated portion of the Sacramento valley, which extends unobstructed to the tide-waters of the Pacific. Further surveys upon this route would doubtless develop important improvements at various points; and at two, at least-one from the shore of the lake near Stansbury's island, by Pilot Peak, to the pass in the Humboldt mountains; and the other in crossing from Humboldt river to Mud lake-would probably diminish the length of the line by 106 miles. The grades, also, are doubtless susceptible of material improvement by minute surveys with the spirit-level, by which the irregular atmospheric variations, which more or less affect barometric observations, will be entirely avoided. This method of determining levels with limited means, on so extensive a line, infested throughout by hostile savages, in the brief time allowed for these explorations, was not practicable, nor was it necessary; for the accuracy of the method employed is quite sufficient for the determination of the general profile of the route. There is an abundance of good stone for bridges and building purposes at short intervals upon all parts of this line. Water is also found in abundance for railroad purposes throughout those portions of the Sierra Nevada, Wahsatch and Rocky mountains explored, and also at a few miles intervals in the Basin, where it usually occurs in springs at the bases of the mountains, and in small streams descending from the higher peaks and ridges to the adjacent plains. And a simple reference to the map of the route will exhibit an important feature in the fact, that in its remarkably direct course, for its great length, from the Missouri west to the Pacific, it follows the ascending and descending valleys of permanent rivers and their tributaries for more than two-thirds of its entire length, and that water is abundant on all the intermediate spaces-affording the means of irrigation to a large extent wherever the lands are suitable for it; and that they will doubtless be found so wherever the sage plains are luxuriant, may be inferred from the rich aromatic odor and resinous properties of that plant, and from the exceedingly nutritious character of the grass scattered through it. And it is a well known fact, that the Mormons produce some of their finest crops from reclaimed sage plains. By, reference to the map and accompanying table of latitudes, it will be seen that the route explored conforms throughout to a remarkably straight line, deviating, west from Fort Bridger, only at the Timpanogos canon, if that line be preferred to the Weber, and on the northern portion of the Sacramento river; and then only by 3 minutes and 4 minutes, respectively, from the line of the 41st parallel of north latitude. The length of this route from the Missouri to the Black Hills may be safely estimated not to exceed 647 miles, the distance given by Captain Stansbury from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Laramie, (outward journey); and his distance from the Black Hills to Fort Bridger, 347 miles, is given from actual measurement. From Fort Bridger to Fort Reading, by the line of the accompanying profile, the distance is 1,011.71 miles, (which may hereafter be diminished by at least 106 miles, as before pointed out,) giving a total length for this line of 1,899.71 miles. With much respect, I am, sir, your very obedient servant, E. G. BECKWITH, First Lieutenant, 3d Artillery.
From the "Reports of explorations and surveys, to ascertain the most practicable
and economical route for a railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific
United States. War Dept.
12 v. in 13. plates (part col., part fold.) maps (part fold.) 30 x 24 cm.
Washington, A. O. P. Nicholson, printer [etc.], 1855-60.
University of Michigan Digital Library