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Title: John L. Stoddard's Lectures, Vol. 10 (of 10) - Southern California; Grand Canon of the Colorado River; Yellowstone National Park
Author: Stoddard, John L. (John Lawson), 1850-1931
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "John L. Stoddard's Lectures, Vol. 10 (of 10) - Southern California; Grand Canon of the Colorado River; Yellowstone National Park" ***

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10 (OF 10)***


   Southern California
   Grand Cañon of the Colorado River
   Yellowstone National Park

Illustrated and Embellished with Views of the
  World's Famous Places and People, Being
    the Identical Discourses Delivered
        during the Past Eighteen
          Years under the Title
             of the Stoddard

Balch Brothers Co.
Norwood Press
J. S. Gushing & Co.--Berwick & Smith
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.
Macdonald & Sons, Bookbinders, Boston




Nature has carefully guarded Southern California. Ten thousand miles
of ocean roll between her western boundary and the nearest continent;
while eastward, her divinity is hedged by dreary deserts that forbid
approach. Although the arid plains of eastern Arizona are frequently
called deserts, it is not till the west-bound tourist has passed
Flagstaff that the word acquires a real and terrible significance.
Then, during almost an entire day he journeys through a region which,
while it fascinates, inspires him with dread. Occasionally a flock of
goats suggests the possibility of sustaining life here, but sometimes
for a distance of fifty miles he may see neither man nor beast. The
villages, if such they can be called, are merely clusters of rude
huts dotting an area of rocky desolation. No trees are visible. No
grazing-ground relieves the dismal monochrome of sand. The mountains
stand forth dreary, gaunt, and naked. In one locality the train runs
through a series of gorges the sides of which are covered with
disintegrated rock, heaped up in infinite confusion, as if an awful
ague-fit had seized the hills, and shaken them until their ledges had
been broken into a million boulders. At another point, emerging from
a maze of mountains, the locomotive shoots into a plain, forty or
fifty miles square, and sentineled on every side by savage peaks.
Once, doubtless, an enormous lake was held encompassed by these
giants; but, taking advantage of some seismic agitation, it finally
slipped through their fingers to the sea, and now men travel over its
deserted bed. Sometimes these monsters seemed to be closing in upon
us, as if to thwart our exit and crush us in their stony arms; but
the resistless steed that bore us onward, though quivering and
panting with the effort, always contrived to find the narrow opening
toward liberty. Occasionally our route lay through enormous fields of
cactus and yucca trees, twelve feet in height, and, usually, so
hideous from their distorted shapes and prickly spikes, that I could
understand the proverb, "Even the Devil cannot eat a cactus."

[Illustration: LIFE ON THE DESERT.]


[Illustration: DESERT VEGETATION.]

As the day wore on, and we were drawn from one scene of desolation to
another, I almost doubted, like Bunyan's Pilgrim, whether we should
ever reach the promised land alive; but, finally, through a last
upheaval of defiant hills which were, if possible, more desolate and
weird than any we had seen, we gained the boundary of California and
gazed upon the Colorado River. It is a stream whose history thrilled
me as I remembered how in its long and tortuous course of more than a
thousand miles to this point it had laboriously cut its way through
countless desert cañons, and I felt glad to see it here at last,
sweeping along in tranquil majesty as if aware that all its struggles
were now ended, and peace and victory had been secured.

It was sunset when our train, having crossed this river, ran along
its western bank to our first stopping-place in California,--the
Needles. Never shall I forget the impression made upon me as I looked
back toward the wilderness from which we had emerged. What! was that
it--that vision of transfiguration--that illumined Zion radiant with
splendor? Across the river, lighted by the evening's after-glow of
fire, rose a celestial city, with towers, spires, and battlements
glittering as if sheathed in burnished gold. Sunshine and distance
had dispelled all traces of the region's barrenness, and for a few
memorable moments, while we watched it breathlessly, its sparkling
bastions seemed to beckon us alluringly to its magnificence; then,
fading like an exquisite mirage created by the genii of the desert,
it swiftly sank into the desolation from which the sun had summoned
it, to crown it briefly with supernal glory. Turning at last from its
cold immobility to the activity around us, I saw some representatives
of the fallen race of California, as Indian bucks and squaws came
from their squalid hovels to sell the trifling products of their
industry, and stare at what to them is a perpetual miracle,--the
passing train. Five races met upon that railroad platform, and
together illustrated the history of the country. First, in respect to
time, was the poor Indian, slovenly, painted and degraded, yet
characterized by a kind of bovine melancholy on the faces of the men,
and a trace of animal beauty in the forms of the young squaws.
Teasing and jesting with the latter were the negro porters of the
train, who, though their ancestors were as little civilized as those
of the Indians, have risen to a level only to be appreciated by
comparing the African and the Indian side by side. There, also, was
the Mexican, the lord of all this region in his earlier and better
days, but now a penniless degenerate of Old Castile. Among them stood
the masterful Anglo-Saxon, whose energy has pushed aside the
Spaniard, civilized the Negro, developed half a continent, built this
amazing path of steel through fifteen hundred miles of desert, and
who is king where-ever he goes. While I surveyed these specimens of
humanity and compared them, one with another, there suddenly appeared
among them a fifth figure,--that of Sing Lee, formerly a subject of
the oldest government on earth, and still a representative of the
four hundred millions swarming in the Flowery Kingdom. Strangely
enough, of all these different racial types, the Mongol seemed the
most self-satisfied. The Yankee was continually bustling about,
feeding passengers, transporting trunks, or hammering car-wheels; the
Negroes were joking with the Indians, who appeared stolidly apathetic
or resigned; the Mexicans stood apart in sullen gloom, as if
secretly mourning their lost estate; but Sing Lee looked about him
with a cheerful calmness which seemed indicative of absolute
contentment and his face wore, continually, a complacent smile. What
strange varieties of human destiny these men present, I thought as I
surveyed them: the Indian and the Mexican stand for the hopeless
Past; the Anglo-Saxon and the Negro for the active Present; while
Sing Lee is a specimen of that yellow race which is embalmed in its
own conservatism, like a fly in amber.



[Illustration: INDIAN HUTS.]

[Illustration: "A FALLEN RACE."]





The unsuspecting traveler who has crossed the Colorado River and
entered Southern California, naturally looks around him for the
orange groves of which he has so often heard, and is astonished not
to find himself surrounded by them; but, gradually, the truth is
forced upon his mind that, in this section of our country, he must
not base his calculations upon eastern distances, or eastern areas.
For, even after he has passed the wilderness of Arizona and the
California frontier, he discovers that the Eldorado of his dreams
lies on the other side of a desert, two hundred miles in breadth,
beyond whose desolate expanse the siren of the Sunset Sea still
beckons him and whispers: "This is the final barrier; cross it, and I
am yours." The transit is not difficult, however, in days like these;
for the whole distance from Chicago to the coast can be accomplished
in seventy-two hours, and where the transcontinental traveler of less
than half a century ago was threatened day and night with attacks
from murderous Apaches, and ran the risk of perishing of thirst in
many a waterless "Valley of Death," the modern tourist sleeps
securely in a Pullman car, is waited on by a colored servant, and
dines in railway restaurants the management of which, both in the
quality and quantity of the food supplied, even in the heart of the
Great American Desert, is justly famous for its excellence.

At San Bernardino, we enter what is called the Garden of Southern
California; but even here it is possible to be disappointed, if we
expect to find the entire country an unbroken paradise of orange
trees and roses. Thousands of oranges and lemons, it is true, suspend
their miniature globes of gold against the sky; but interspersed
between their groves are wastes of sand, reminding us that all the
fertile portion of this region has been as truly wrested from the
wilderness, as Holland from the sea. Accordingly, since San
Bernardino County alone is twice as large as Massachusetts, and the
County of Los Angeles nearly the size of Connecticut, it is not
difficult to understand why a continuous expanse of verdure is not
seen. The truth is, Southern California, with a few exceptions, is
cultivated only where man has brought to it vivifying water. When
that appears, life springs up from sterility, as water gushed forth
from the rock in the Arabian desert when the great leader of the
Israelites smote it in obedience to Divine command. Hence, there is
always present here the fascination of the unattained, which yet is
readily attainable, patiently waiting for the master-hand that shall
unlock the sand-roofed treasure-houses of fertility with a crystal
key. It can be easily imagined, therefore, that this is a land of
striking contrasts. Pass, for example, through the suburbs of Los
Angeles, and you will find that, while one yard is dry and bare, the
next may be embellished with a palm tree twenty feet in height, with
roses clambering over the portico of the house, and lilies blooming
in the garden. Of the three things essential to vegetation--soil,
sun, and water--man must contribute (and it is all he can contribute)


[Illustration: WRESTED FROM THE SAND.]


Once let the tourist here appreciate the fact that almost all the
verdure which delights his eyes is the gift of water at the hand of
man, and any disappointment he may have at first experienced will be
changed to admiration. Moreover, with the least encouragement this
country bursts forth into verdure, crowns its responsive soil with
fertility, and smiles with bloom. Even the slightest tract of
herbage, however brown it may be in the dry season, will in the
springtime clothe itself with green, and decorate its emerald robe
with spangled flowers. In fact, the wonderful profusion of wild
flowers, which, when the winter rains have saturated the ground,
transform these hillsides into floral terraces, can never be too
highly praised. Happy is he who visits either Palestine or Southern
California when they are bright with blossoms and redolent of
fragrance. The climax of this renaissance of Nature is, usually,
reached about the middle of April, but in proportion as the rain
comes earlier or later, the season varies slightly. At a time when
many cities of the North and East are held in the tenacious grip of
winter, their gray skies thick with soot, their pavements deep in
slush, and their inhabitants clad in furs, the cities of Southern
California celebrate their floral carnival, which is a time of great
rejoicing, attended with an almost fabulous display of flowers. Los
Angeles, for example, has expended as much as twenty-five thousand
dollars on the details of one such festival. The entire city is then
gay with flags and banners, and in the long procession horses,
carriages, and riders are so profusely decked with flowers, that they
resemble a slowly moving throng of animated bouquets. Ten thousand
choice roses have been at such times fastened to the wheels, body,
pole, and harness of a single equipage. Sometimes the individual
exhibitions in these floral pageants take the form of floats, which
represent all sorts of myths and allegories, portrayed elaborately
by means of statues, as well as living beings, lavishly adorned with
ornamental grasses, and wild and cultivated flowers.

Southern California is not only a locality, it is a type. It cannot
be defined by merely mentioning parallels of latitude. We think of it
and love it as the dreamland of the Spanish Missions, and as a region
rescued from aridity, and made a home for the invalid and the winter
tourist. Los Angeles is really its metropolis, but San Diego,
Pasadena, and Santa Barbara are prosperous and progressive cities
whose population increases only less rapidly than their ambition.

[Illustration: AN ARBOR IN WINTER.]


One of the first things for an eastern visitor to do, on arriving at
Los Angeles, is to take the soft sound of _g_ out of the city's name,
and to remember that the Spaniards and Mexicans pronounce _e_ like
the English _a_ in fate. This is not absolutely necessary for
entrance into good society, but the pronunciation "Angeelees" is
tabooed. The first Anglo-Saxon to arrive here was brought by the
Mexicans, in 1822, as a prisoner. Soon after, however, Americans
appeared in constantly increasing numbers, and, on August 13, 1846,
Major Fremont raised at Los Angeles the Stars and Stripes, and the
house that he occupied may still be seen. Nevertheless, the
importance of Los Angeles is of recent date. In 1885 it was an adobe
village, dedicated to the Queen of the Angels; to-day, a city of
brick and stone, with more than fifty thousand inhabitants, it calls
itself the Queen of the State. Its streets are broad, many of its
buildings are massive and imposing, and its fine residences
beautiful. It is the capital of Southern California, and the
headquarters of its fruit-culture. The plains and valleys surrounding
it are one mass of vineyards, orange groves and orchards, and, in
1891, the value of oranges alone exported from this city amounted to
one and a quarter millions of dollars. It must be said, however, that
there is less verdure here than in well-cared-for eastern towns of
corresponding size, and that Los Angeles, and even Pasadena,
notwithstanding their many palm trees, have on the whole a bare
appearance, compared with a city like New Haven, with its majestic
elms and robe of vivid green, which even in autumn seems to dream of
summer bloom. Nevertheless, Los Angeles is clean, and poverty and
squalor rarely show themselves; while, in the suburbs of the city,
even the humblest dwellings are frequently surrounded by palm trees,
and made beautiful by flowers.



[Illustration: LOS ANGELES.]

Another charm of Los Angeles is the sudden contrasts it presents.
Thus, a ride of three minutes from his hotel will bring the tourist
to the remains of the humble Mexican village which was the forerunner
of the present city. There he will find the inevitable Plaza with its
little park and fountain, without which no Mexican town is complete.
There, too, is the characteristic adobe church, the quaint interior
of which presents a curious medley of old weather-beaten statues and
modern furniture, and is always pervaded by that smell peculiar to
long-inhabited adobe buildings, and which is called by Steele, in his
charming "Old California Days," the national odor of Mexico.

Los Angeles, also, has its Chinatown, which in its manners and
customs is, fortunately, as distinct from the American portion of the
city as if it were an island in the Pacific; but it gave me an odd
sensation to be able to pass at once from the handsome, active
settlement of the Anglo-Saxon into the stupidity of Mexico, or the
heathenism of China.


[Illustration: BROADWAY, LOS ANGELES.]

"How can I distinguish here a native Californian from an eastern
man?" I asked a resident.

"There are no native Californians," was the somewhat exaggerated
reply; "this is not only a modern, but an eastern city. Nine-tenths
of our inhabitants came here from the East less than fifteen years
ago, many of them less than five. We are an old people with a new

Ostrich rearing is now a profitable industry of California, and farms
have been established for this purpose at half a dozen points in the
southern section of the State. Two of them are in the vicinity of Los
Angeles, and well repay a visit; for, if one is unacquainted with the
habits of these graceful birds, there is instruction as well as
amusement in studying their appearance, character, and mode of life.
My first view of the feathered bipeds was strikingly spectacular. As
every one knows, the ostrich is decidedly _décolleté_ as well as
utterly indifferent to the covering of its legs. Accordingly a troop
of them, as they came balancing and tiptoeing toward me, reminded me
of a company of ballet dancers tripping down the stage. While the
head of the ostrich is unusually small, its eyes are large and have
an expression of mischief which gives warning of danger. During a
visit to one of the farms, I saw a male bird pluck two hats from
unwary men, and it looked wicked enough to have taken their heads as
well, had they not been more securely fastened. It is sometimes
sarcastically asserted that the ostrich digests with satisfaction to
itself such articles as gimlets, nails, and penknives; but this is a
slander. It needs gravel, like all creatures of its class which have
to grind their food in an interior grist-mill; but though it will
usually bite at any bright object, it will not always swallow it. I
saw one peck at a ribbon on a lady's hat, and, also, at a pair of
shears in its keeper's hands, but this was no proof that it intended
to devour either. On another occasion, an ostrich snatched a purse
from a lady's hand and instantly dropped it; but when a gold piece
fell from it, the bird immediately swallowed that, showing how easily
even animals fall under the influence of Californian lust for gold.

[Illustration: AN OSTRICH FARM.]


Sixteen miles from Los Angeles, yet owing to the clear atmosphere,
apparently, rising almost at the terminus of the city's streets,
stand the Sierra Madre Mountains, whose copious reservoirs furnish
this entire region with water. An excursion toward this noble range
brought me one day to Pasadena, the pride of all the towns which,
relatively to Los Angeles, resemble the satellites of a central sun.
Pasadena seems a garden without a weed; a city without a hovel; a
laughing, happy, prosperous, charming town, basking forever in the
sunshine, and lying at the feet of still, white mountain peaks, whose
cool breath moderates the semi-tropical heat of one of the most
exquisitely beautiful valleys in the world. These mountains, although
sombre and severe, are not so awful and forbidding as those of the
Arizona desert, but they are notched and jagged, as their name
_Sierra_ indicates, and scars and gashes on their surfaces give proof
of the terrific battles which they have waged for ages with the
elements. A striking feature of their scenery is that they rise so
abruptly from the San Gabriel Valley, that from Pasadena one can look
directly to their bases, and even ride to them in a trolley car; and
the peculiar situation of the city is evidenced by the fact that, in
midwinter, its residents, while picking oranges and roses in their
gardens, often see snow-squalls raging on the neighboring peaks of
the Sierra.


It would be difficult to overpraise the charm of Pasadena and its
environs. Twenty-five years ago the site of the present city was a
sheep-pasture. To-day it boasts of a population of ten thousand
souls, seventy-five miles of well-paved streets, numerous handsome
public buildings, and hundreds of attractive homes embellished by
well-kept grounds. One of its streets is lined for a mile with
specimens of the fan palm, fifteen feet in height; and I realized the
prodigality of Nature here when my guide pointed out a heliotrope
sixteen feet in height, covering the whole porch of a house; while,
in driving through a private estate, I saw, in close proximity, sago
and date palms, and lemon, orange, camphor, pepper, pomegranate, fig,
quince, and walnut trees.

[Illustration: A PASADENA HOTEL.]


[Illustration: PASADENA.]

As we stood spellbound on the summit of Pasadena's famous Raymond
Hill, below us lay the charming town, wrapped in the calm repose that
distance always gives even to scenes of great activity; beyond this
stretched away along the valley such an enchanting vista of green
fields and golden flowers, and pretty houses nestling in foliage, and
orchards bending 'neath their luscious fruits, that it appeared a
veritable paradise; and the effect of light and color, the
combination of perfect sunshine and well-tempered heat, the view in
one direction of the ocean twenty miles away, and, in the other, of
the range of the Sierra Madre only seven miles distant, with the
San Gabriel Valley sleeping at its base, produced a picture so
divinely beautiful, that we were moved to smiles or tears with the
unreasoning rapture of a child over these lavish gifts of Nature. Yet
this same Nature has imposed an inexorable condition on the
recipients of her bounty; for most of this luxuriance is dependent
upon irrigation. "The palm," said my informant, "will grow with
little moisture here, and so will barley and the grape-vine; but
everything else needs water, which must be artificially supplied."

"How do you obtain it?" I asked.

"We buy the requisite amount of water with our land," was the reply.
"Do you see that little pipe," he added, pointing to an orange grove,
"and do you notice the furrows between the trees? Once in so often
the water must be turned on there; and, as the land is sloping, the
precious liquid gradually fills the trenches and finds its way to the
roots of the trees."

[Illustration: A RAISIN RANCH.]

Dealers in California wines declare that people ought to use them in
preference to the imported vintage of Europe, and the warehouses they
have built prove the sincerity of their conviction. One storehouse in
the San Gabriel Valley is as large as the City Hall of New York, and
contains wooden receptacles for wine rivaling in size the great tun
of Heidelberg. We walked between its endless rows of hogsheads,
filled with wine; and, finally, in the sample-room were invited to
try in turn the claret, burgundy, sherry, port, and brandy.



"How much wine do you make?" I asked the gentleman in charge.

"In one year," was the reply, "we made a million gallons."

I thought of the Los Angeles River which I had crossed that morning,
and of its sandy bed one hundred feet in width, with a current in
the centre hardly larger than the stream from a hose-pipe, and
remarked, "Surely, in some portions of this land there is more wine
than water." "Where do you sell it?" I presently inquired.

"Everywhere," was the answer, "even in France; and what goes over
there you subsequently buy, at double the price, for real French


It was the old story, and I doubt not there is truth in it; but the
products of California vineyards, owing, possibly, to the very
richness of the soil, do not seem to me to possess a flavor equal in
delicacy to that of the best imported wines. This will, however, be
remedied in time, and in the comparatively near future this may
become the great wine-market of the world. Certainly no State in the
Union has a climate better adapted to vine-growing, and there are now
within its borders no less than sixty million vines, which yield
grapes and raisins of the finest quality.

No visit to Pasadena would be complete without an excursion to the
neighboring mountains, which not only furnish the inhabitants with
water, but, also, contribute greatly to their happiness and
recreation. For, having at last awakened to the fact that comfort and
delight awaited them in the recesses and upon the summits of their
giant hills, the Californians have built fine roads along the
mountain sides, established camping-grounds and hostelries at several
attractive points, and, finally, constructed a remarkable elevated
railroad, by which the people of Los Angeles can, in three hours,
reach the crest of the Sierra Madre, six thousand feet above the sea.
Soon after leaving Pasadena, a trolley takes the tourist with great
rapidity straight toward the mountain wall, which, though presenting
at a distance the appearance of an unbroken rampart, disintegrates as
he approaches it into separate peaks; so that the crevices, which
look from Pasadena like mere wrinkles on the faces of these granite
giants, prove upon close inspection to be cañons of considerable
depth. I was surprised and charmed to see the amount of cultivation
which is carried to the very bases of these cliffs. Orchards and
orange groves approach the monsters fearlessly, and shyly drop golden
fruit, or fragrant blossoms at their feet; while lovely homes are
situated where the traveler would expect to find nothing but desolate
crags and savage wildness. The truth is, the inhabitants have come to
trust these mountains, as gentle animals sometimes learn by
experience to approach man fearlessly; and, seeing what the
snow-capped peaks can do for them in tempering the summer heat and
furnishing them water from unfailing reservoirs, men have discerned
behind their stern severity the smile of friendship and benevolence,
and have perceived that these sublime dispensers of the gifts of
Nature are in reality beneficent deities,--their feet upon the land
which they make fertile, their hands uplifted to receive from the
celestial treasure-house the blessings they in turn give freely to
the grateful earth.


[Illustration: THE ALPINE TAVERN.]

[Illustration: THE GREAT INCLINE.]

To reach their serrated crests the trolley car, already mentioned,
conveys us through a wild gorge known as Rubio Cañon, and leaves us
at the foot of an elevated cable-road to ascend Mount Lowe. Even
those familiar with the Mount Washington and Catskill railways, or
who have ascended in a similar manner to Mürren from the Vale of
Lauterbrunnen, or to the summit of Mount Pilate from Lucerne, look
with some trepidation at this incline, the steepest part of which has
a slope of sixty-two degrees, and, audaciously, stretches into the
air to a point three thousand feet above our heads. Once safely out
of the cable car, however, at the upper terminus, we smile, and think
the worst is over. It is true, we see awaiting us another innocent
looking electric car by which we are to go still higher; but we are
confident that nothing very terrible can be experienced in a trolley.
This confidence is quickly shattered. I doubt if there is anything in
the world more "hair lifting" than the road over which that car
conveys its startled occupants. Its very simplicity makes it the more
horrifying; for, since the vehicle is light, no massive supports are
deemed essential; and, as the car is open, the passengers seem to be
traveling in a flying machine. I never realized what it was to be a
bird, till I was lightly swung around a curve beneath which yawned a
precipice twenty-five hundred feet in depth, or crossed a chasm by a
bridge which looked in the distance like a thread of gossamer, or saw
that I was riding on a scaffolding, built out from the mountain into
space. For five appalling miles of alternating happiness and horror,
ecstasy and dread, we twisted round the well-nigh perpendicular
cliffs, until, at last the agony over, we walked into the mountain
tavern near the summit, and, seating ourselves before an open fire
blazing in the hall, requested some restorative nerve-food. Yet this
aërial inn is only one hundred and eighty minutes from Los Angeles;
and it is said that men have snow-balled one another at this tavern,
picked oranges at the base of the mountain, and bathed in the bay of
Santa Monica, thirty miles distant, all in a single afternoon. It
certainly is possible to do this, but it should be remembered that
stories are almost the only things in California which do not need
irrigation to grow luxuriantly. I was told that although this
mountain railway earns its running expenses it pays no interest on
its enormous cost. This can readily be believed; and one marvels, not
only that it was ever built, but that it was not necessary to go to a
lunatic asylum for the first passenger. Nevertheless, it is a
wonderfully daring experiment, and accomplishes perfectly what it was
designed to do; while in proportion as one's nervousness wears away,
the experience is delightful.

[Illustration: THE CIRCULAR BRIDGE.]

[Illustration: IMITATING A BIRD.]



Living proofs of the progress made in California are the patient
burros, which, previous to the construction of this railroad, formed
the principal means of transportation up Mount Lowe. Why has the
donkey never found a eulogist? The horse is universally admired. The
Arab poet sings of the beauties of his camel. The bull, the cow, the
dog, and even the cat have all been praised in prose or verse; but
the poor donkey still remains an ass, the butt of ridicule, the
symbol of stupidity, the object of abuse. Yet if there be another and
a better world for animals, and if in that sphere patience ranks as a
cardinal virtue, the ass will have a better pasture-ground than
many of its rivals. The donkey's small size is against it. Most
people are cruel toward dumb beasts, and only when animals have power
to defend themselves, does caution make man kinder. He hesitates to
hurt an elephant, and even respects, to some extent, the rear
extremities of a mule; but the donkey corresponds to the small boy in
a crowd of brutal playmates. It is difficult to see how these useful
animals could be replaced in certain countries of the world.
Purchased cheaply, reared inexpensively, living on thistles if they
get nothing better, and bearing heavy burdens till they drop from
exhaustion, these little beasts are of incalculable value to the
laboring classes of southern Europe, Egypt, Mexico, and similar
lands. If they have failed to win affection, it is, perhaps, because
of their one infirmity,--their fearful vocal tones, which in America
have won for them the sarcastic title of "Rocky Mountain Canaries."


[Illustration: A CALIFORNIAN BURRO.]

[Illustration: ROMEO AND JULIET.]

Westward from Los Angeles stretches the famous "kite-shaped" track
which takes the traveler through the most celebrated orange and lemon
districts of the State. Starting upon this memorable excursion, our
route lay through the world-renowned San Gabriel Valley, a glorious
expanse ten miles in width and seventy in length, steeped in
sunshine, brilliant with every shade of yellow, emerald, and brown,
and here and there enriched by spots of brighter color where beds of
wild flowers swung their sweet bells noiselessly, or the light green
of orange trees, with mounds of golden fruit heaped in profusion on
the ground, relieved the sombre groves of eucalyptus whose foliage
was so dark as to be nearly black. Occasionally, however, our train
traversed a parched area which illustrated how the cloven-foot of the
adversary always shows itself in spots unhallowed by the benison of
water. In winter and spring, these sterile points would not be so
conspicuous, but on that summer day, in spite of the closed windows,
dust sometimes filled the cars, and for a little while San Gabriel
Valley was a paradise lost. For seventy miles contrasts of hot sand
and verdant orchards, arid wastes and smiling valley, followed one
another in quick succession,--and down upon it all frowned the long
wall of the Sierra Madre.

[Illustration: SAN GABRIEL VALLEY.]


It is a wonderful experience to ride for such a distance in a
perfectly level valley, and see an uninterrupted range of mountains,
eight thousand feet in height, rising abruptly from the plain like
the long battle-line of an invading army. What adds to its
impressiveness is the fact that these peaks are, for the entire
country which they dominate, the arbiters of life and death. Beyond
them, on one side, the desert stretches eastward for a thousand
miles; upon the other, toward the ocean, whose moisture they receive
and faithfully distribute, extends this valley of delight. The height
of the huge granite wall is generally uniform, save where, like
towers on the mighty rampart, old San Antonio and the San Bernardino
Brothers lift their hoary heads two miles above the sea,--their
silvery crowns and dazzling features standing out in the crystalline
clearness of the atmosphere as if they had been carved in high

[Illustration: AN ADOBE HOUSE.]

[Illustration: A PASADENA LEMON TREE.]

We sped along, with feelings alternating between elation and
dejection, as the scenery was beautiful or barren, till, suddenly,
some sixty miles from Los Angeles, our train drew up before a city,
containing asphalt pavements, buildings made of brick, and streets
embowered in palms. This city which, in 1872, was a sheep-ranch, yet
whose assessed valuation, in 1892, was more than four million
dollars, is called Riverside; but, save in the rainy season, one
looks in vain for the stream from which it takes its name. The
river has retired, as so many western rivers do, to wander in
obscurity six feet below the sand. "A providential thing," said a wag
to me, "for, in such heat as this, if the water rose to the surface
it would all evaporate." The sun was, indeed, ardent as we walked
through the town, and we were impressed by the fact that the
dwellings most appropriate for this region are those which its first
settlers seem to have instinctively adopted; for the white,
one-storied adobe house, refreshing to the eye, cool in the heat,
warm in the cold, caressed by clinging vines and overhung with trees,
is surely the ideal residence for Southern California. Such buildings
can, of course, be greatly varied and embellished by wealthy owners;
but modern houses of red brick, fanciful "Queen Annes," and
imitations of castles, seem less suited to this land of sun and sand,
where nothing is so much to be desired as repose in form and color. I
always welcomed, therefore, genuine southern dwellings and, in the
place of asphalt pavements, natural roadways domed by arching trees.


[Illustration: THE IDEAL HOME.]

The pride of Riverside is its far-famed Magnolia Avenue, fifteen
miles in length, with two broad driveways lined with pepper and
eucalyptus trees. Beyond these also are palm-girt sidewalks twenty
feet in breadth; while, here and there, reflecting California's
golden sunshine from their glistening leaves, stand groups of the
magnificent magnolias which give the avenue its name.

"Why did you make this splendid promenade?" I asked in mingled
curiosity and admiration.

"It is one of our ways of booming things," was the reply; "out of the
hundreds of people who come to see it, some stay, build houses, and
go into business. Without it they might never have come at all."

"Was not the cost of laying it out enormous?" I inquired.

"Not so great as you would naturally suppose," was the answer, "for
after this country has once been irrigated, whatever is planted on
watered land will grow like interest, day and night, summer and


[Illustration: A MAGNOLIA BLOSSOM.]

Riverside's fortunes were made in orange culture, and there was a
time when every one who planted orange trees was prosperous; but now,
under inevitable competition, this enterprise is rivaled in value by
other large industries, particularly the cultivation of lemons and
olives. Thousands of acres of olive orchards are now flourishing in
Southern California, and are considered a sure and profitable

Another celebrated "orange city" is Redlands, where the visitor
ceases to wonder at nature, and devotes himself to marveling at man.
How can he do otherwise when, in a place that was a wilderness ten
years ago, he drives for twenty miles over well-curbed roads, sixty
feet wide and as hard as asphalt, or strolls through handsome streets
adorned with palms and orange trees, and frequently embellished with
residences worthy of Newport? No doubt it is a surprise to many
tourists to find such elegant homes in these cities which were born
but yesterday; for Americans in the East, though far from
conservative themselves, do not, as a rule, appreciate the wonderful
growth of these towns which but a few years since had no existence.
Occasionally some neighbor goes out to the Pacific coast, and tells
his friends on his return what he has seen; but it makes little
impression until they go themselves. They think he is exaggerating.

"Would you like to see a converted mountain?" inquired my guide.

"What do you mean?" I asked incredulously.

"You will see," he replied, "and in ten minutes we shall be there."


Accordingly, up we drove over magnificent, finely graded roads, till
we arrived at what appeared to be a gentleman's private park. The
park, however, seemed to have no limit, and we rode on through a
bewildering extent of cemented stone walls, umbrageous trees,
luxuriant flowers, trailing vines, and waving palms. At last we
reached the summit, and what a view unrolled itself before us!
Directly opposite, the awful wall of the Sierra swept up to meet our
vision in all its majesty of granite glory, like an immense,
white-crested wave, one hundred miles in length, which had by some
mysterious force been instantaneously curbed and petrified, just as
it was about to break and overwhelm the valley with destruction.
Beneath it, for seventy miles in exquisitely blended hues, stretched
the wonderful San Gabriel intervale, ideal in its tranquil
loveliness. Oh, the splendor, opulence, and sweetness of its
countless flowers, whose scarlet, gold, and crimson glowed and melted
into the richest sheen of velvet, and rendered miles of pure air
redolent with perfume, as grapes impart their flavor to good wine!

In gazing on this valley from a distance one would fain believe it to
be in reality, as in appearance, an idyllic garden of Arcadian
innocence and happiness, and, forgetting the disillusions of maturer
years, dream that all human hearts are as transparent as its
atmosphere, and that all life is no less sweet and pure.


But, presently, I asked again, "What do you mean by a _converted_

"Eight years ago," was the reply, "this elevation on which we stand
was a heap of yellow sand, like many unconverted mountains that we
see about us; now it has been transformed into a dozen miles of
finished roads and extensive gardens enclosing two fine residences."

"Pardon me," I exclaimed, "here are trees thirty feet high."

"All grown in eight years," he answered.

"Still," I again protested, "here are stone walls, and curbed and
graded roads."

"All made in eight years," he reiterated.

"But, in addition to this mountain, how about the twenty miles of
orange groves surrounding it, the thirty thousand dollar public
library of Redlands, and its miles of asphalt streets?"

"All in eight years," he said again, as if, like Poe's raven, he had
been taught one refrain.



In fact, it should be said that this entire mountain was purchased by
two wealthy brothers who now come every winter from the East to this
incomparable hill, the whole of which has been, as if by magic,
metamorphosed into an estate, where visitors are allowed to find
instruction and delight upon its lofty terraces of forest and of
flowers. Is it strange, then, that such sudden transformations of
sterile plains and mountains into bits of paradise make tourists in
Southern California wildly enthusiastic? They actually see fulfilled
before their eyes the prophecy of Isaiah, "The desert shall rejoice,
and blossom as the rose." The explanation is, however, simple. The
land is really rich. The ingredients are already here. Instead of
being worthless, as was once supposed, this is a precious soil. The
Aladdin's wand that unlocks all its treasures is the irrigating
ditch; its "open sesame" is water; and the divinity who, at the call
of man, bestows the priceless gift, is the Madre of the Sierras. A
Roman conqueror once said that he had but to stamp upon the earth and
legions would spring up to do his bidding. So Capital has stamped
upon this sandy wilderness, and in a single generation a civilized
community has leaped into astonished life. Yet do we realize the
immense amount of labor necessitated by such irrigation? This
mountain, for example, is covered with water pipes, as electric wires
are carried through our houses. Every few rods a pipe with a faucet
rises from the ground; and as there are miles of roads and hundreds
of cultivated acres, it can with difficulty be imagined how many of
these pipes have been laid, and how innumerable are the little
ditches, through which the water is made to flow. Should man relax
his diligence for a single year, the region would relapse into
sterility; but, on the other hand, what a land is this for those who
have the skill and industry to call forth all its capabilities! What
powers of productiveness may still be sleeping underneath its soil,
awaiting but the kiss of water and the touch of man to waken them to
life! Beside its hidden rivers what future cities may spring forth
to joyous being; and what new, undiscovered chemistry may not this
mingling of mountain, sun, and ocean yet evolve to prove a permanent
blessing to mankind!



One hundred and twenty-six miles southwest of Los Angeles, one could
imagine that he had reached the limit of the civilized world:
eastward, the desert stretches far away to the bases of the San
Jacinto Mountains; westward, thousands of miles of ocean billows
shoulder one another toward the setting sun; southward, extends that
barren, almost unknown strip of earth, the peninsula of Lower
California; yet in this _cul-de-sac_, this corner between mountain,
desert, and sea, rises a charming and inspiring picture,--San Diego.

[Illustration: SAN DIEGO.]

The beautiful harbor of this city is almost closed, on one side, by a
bold majestic promontory called Point Loma; and on the other, by a
natural breakwater, in the form of a crescent, twelve miles long,
upon the outer rim of which the ocean beats a ceaseless monody. At
one extremity of this silver strand, directly opposite Point Loma and
close to the rhythmic surf, stands the Hotel Coronado; its west front
facing the Pacific, its east side looking on the azure of the
peaceful bay, beyond which rises San Diego with a population of
twenty thousand souls. To reach this hotel, the tourist crosses the
harbor from the city by a ferry, and then in an electric car is
whirled for a mile along an avenue which he might well suppose was
leading him to some magnificent family estate. The pavement is
delightfully smooth and hard; on either side are waving palms and
beds of radiant flowers; two charming parks, with rare botanical
shrubs and trees, are, also, visible and hold invitingly before him
the prospect of delightful hours in their fragrant labyrinths; and,
finally, out of a semi-tropical garden, the vast extent of which he
does not comprehend at first, rises the far-famed hostelry which,
itself, covers about four and a half acres of ground, at the extreme
southwestern corner of the Union, and on a spot which yesterday was a
mere tongue of sand. In the tourist season this palatial place of
entertainment presents a brilliant throng of joyous guests who have,
apparently, subscribed to the motto: "All care abandon ye, who enter
here." It is one of the few spots on this continent where the great
faults of our American civilization--worry and incessant work--are
not conspicuous. Men of the North too frequently forget that the
object of life is not work, but that the object of work is life. In
lands like Southern California, however, where flowers fill the air
with fragrance, where fruits are so abundant that starvation is
impossible, and where the nerves are not continually whipped by
atmospheric changes into restless energy, men live more calmly,
probably more rationally. Sunshine, roses, and the throbbing tones of
the guitar would seem to be the most appropriate sources of amusement
here. Meanwhile the northern millionaire breaks down from overwork
and leaves his money to be squandered by his relatives. Yet he also,
till the last gasp, claims that he is happy. What is happiness?
_Quien sabe_?

[Illustration: POINT LOMA.]

[Illustration: HOTEL CORONADO.]


The country about San Diego is a miniature reproduction of the plains
of Arizona and New Mexico, and just above the city rises a genuine
_mesa_, which, though comparatively small, resembles the large
table-lands of the interior, and was formed in the same way. Cutting
it, here and there, are little cañons, like that through which the
Colorado rolls, not a mile deep, but still illustrative of the
erosion made here by the rivers of a distant age; for these gashes
are the result of rushing water, and every stone upon this small
plateau has been worn round and smooth by friction with its fellows,
tossed, whirled, and beaten by the waves of centuries. Strange, is
it not, that though, like many other areas of our continent, this
region was once fashioned and completely ruled by water, at present
it has practically none; and men must often bring the precious liquid
fifty miles to crown the soil with beauty and fertility.




[Illustration: THE MISSION BELLS.]

The old town of San Diego, four miles north of the present city, is
now almost abandoned. Only a dozen adobe buildings kept in fair
repair, and as many more in ruins, mark the site. The little chapel
is still used for worship, and from an uncouth wooden frame outside
its walls hang two of the old Mission bells which formerly rang out
the Angelus over the sunset waves. My guide carelessly struck them
with the butt of his whip, and called forth from their consecrated
lips of bronze a sound which, in that scene of loneliness, at first
seemed like a wail of protest at the sacrilege, and finally died away
into a muffled intonation resembling a stifled sob. Roused by the
unexpected call, there presently appeared an Indian who looked as if
he might have been contemporary with Methuselah. No wrinkled leaf
that had been blown about the earth for centuries could have appeared
more dry and withered than this centenarian, whose hair drooped from
his skull like Spanish moss, and whose brown hands resembled lumps of

[Illustration: AN AGED SQUAW.]

"I am glad to have you see this man," said the guide, "for he has
rung these bells for seventy years, and is said to be more than a
hundred years old."

I could not obtain a portrait of this decrepit bell-ringer, for many
Indians are superstitiously opposed to being photographed; but I
procured the picture of an equally shriveled female aged one hundred
and thirty who might have been his sister.


[Illustration: "ECSTATIC BATHERS."]

"This," remarked my guide with a smile, "is what the climate of San
Diego does for the natives."

"The glorious climate of California" has been for years a theme of
song and story, and a discussion of its merits forms one of the
principal occupations of the dwellers on the Pacific coast. It is
indeed difficult to see how tourists could pass their time here
without this topic of conversation, so infinite is its variety and so
debatable are many of the conclusions drawn from it. It is the Sphinx
of California; differing, however, from the Sphinx of Egypt in that
it offers a new problem every day. The literature that treats of the
Pacific coast fairly bristles with statistics on this subject, and
many writers have found it impossible to resist the temptation of
adorning their pages with tables of humidity, temperature, and
rainfall. Some hotels even print in red letters at the top of the
stationery furnished to their guests:

          "The temperature to-day is ----."

Among the photographs of San Diego are several which represent groups
of ecstatic bathers, ranging from small boys to elderly bald-headed
gentlemen, apparently ready to take a plunge into the Pacific; while
beneath them is displayed the legend, "January 1, 18--." Candor
compels me, however, to state that, as far as I was able to
ascertain, these pictured bathers rarely pay a New Year's call to
Neptune in his mighty palace, but content themselves in winter with
going no further than his ante-chambers,--the sheltered, sun-warmed
areas of public bath-houses.


"I believe this to be the best climate in the world," said a
gentleman to me in San Diego, "but I confess that, when strangers are
visiting me, it occasionally does something it ought not to do."

The truth is, there are several climates in Southern California, some
of which are forced upon the resident, while others can be secured by
going in search of them in a trolley car or a railway carriage. The
three determining factors in the problem of temperature are the
desert, the ocean, and the mountains. Thus, in midsummer, although
it may be fiercely hot in the inland valleys, it is invariably cool
in the mountains on account of their altitude, and near the shore
because the hot air rising from the desert invites a daily ocean
breeze. Even at a distance from the comfortable coast, humanity never
passes into that abject, panting, and perspiring condition in which
the inhabitants of the Eastern States are usually seen when the
mercury goes to ninety. The nights are always cool; although not
quite as much so in July as the enthusiasts tell us who have never
seen the country later in the season than the month of May, and who
weary us with the threadbare tale of never sleeping without a

"Is it true, madam," I said to a lady of San Diego, "that here one
must always take a blanket to bed with him?"

"Hush," she replied, "never ask that question unless you are sure
that there are no tourists within hearing."

[Illustration: PIER AT SANTA MONICA.]


Three statements are, I think, unquestionably accurate: first, that
for many months of the year the residents need not take into
consideration for a moment the possibility of rain; second, that on
account of this drought there must inevitably be during that period a
superfluity of dust; and, third, that every day there will be felt "a
cool refreshing breeze," which frequently increases to a strong wind.
My memory of California will always retain a vivid impression of this
wind, and the effect of it upon the trees is evident from the fact
that it has compelled most of them to lean toward the east, while one
of the last sights I beheld in San Diego was a man chasing his hat.
Nevertheless, acclimated Californians would no more complain of their
daily breeze, however vigorous, than a man would speak disrespectfully
of his mother.

As in most semi-tropical countries, there is a noticeable difference
in temperature between sun and shade. In the sun one feels a genial
glow, or even a decided heat; but let him step into the shade, or
stand on a street-corner waiting for a car, and the cool wind from
the mountains or the ocean will be felt immediately. People
accustomed to these changes pay little heed to them; but to
new-comers the temperature of the shade, and even that of the
interiors of the hotels and houses, appears decidedly cool.

[Illustration: NOT AFRAID OF THE SUN.]

One day, in June, I was invited to dine at a fruit-ranch a few miles
from Pasadena. The heat in the sun was intense, and I noticed that
the mercury indicated ninety-five degrees; but, unlike the atmosphere
of New York in a heated term, the air did not remind me of a Turkish
bath. The heat of Southern California is dry, and it is absolutely
true that the highest temperature of an arid region rarely entails as
much physical discomfort as a temperature fifteen or twenty degrees
lower in the Eastern States, when accompanied by humidity. The
moisture in a torrid atmosphere is what occasions most of the
distress and danger, the best proof of which is the fact that while,
every summer, hundreds of people are prostrated by sunstroke near the
Atlantic coast, such a calamity has never occurred in New Mexico,
Arizona, or California. Moreover, when the mercury in Los Angeles
rises, as it occasionally does, to one hundred degrees, the
inhabitants of that city have a choice of several places of refuge:
in two or three hours they can reach the mountains; or in an hour
they can enjoy themselves upon Redondo Beach; or they may take a
trolley car and, sixty minutes later, stroll along the sands of Santa
Monica, inhaling a refreshing breeze, blowing practically straight
from Japan; or, if none of these resorts is sufficiently attractive,
three hours after leaving Los Angeles they can fish on Santa Catalina
Island, a little off the coast; or linger in the groves of Santa
Barbara; or, perhaps, best of all can be invigorated by the saline
breath of the Pacific sweeping through the corridors of the Coronado.
Santa Catalina Island is, in particular, a delightful pleasure-resort,
whose beautiful, transparent waters, remarkable fishing-grounds, and
soft, though tonic-giving air, which comes to it from every point of
the compass over a semi-tropic sea, are so alluring that thousands of
contented people often overflow its hotels and camp in tents along
the beach.




That the winter climate of Southern California, not only on the
coast, but in the interior, is delightful, is beyond question. What
was healthful a hundred years ago to the Spanish monks who settled
here, proved equally so to those adventurous "Forty-niners" who
entered California seeking gold, and is still more beneficial to
those who now come to enjoy its luxuries and comforts. Flowers and
fruit are found here throughout the entire year. The rainy days are
few, and frosts are as ephemeral as the dew; and to the aged, the
invalids, the fugitives from frost, and the "fallen soldiers of
civilization," who are no longer able to make a courageous fight
with eastern storms and northern cold, San Diego is a climatic
paradise. Accordingly, from early October until April the overland
trains roll westward from a land of snow and frost to one of sun and
flowers, bearing an annually increasing multitude of invalids and
pleasure-seekers, some of whom have expensive permanent homes and
costly ranches here--like that of Mr. Andrew McNally, at
Altadena--while others find abundant comfort in the fine hotels.



Perhaps the principal secret of the charm of the winter climate of
Southern California, as well as that of its wonderfulhealth-restoring
properties, lies in the fact that its dry, pure air and even
temperature make it possible for one to live continuously out of
doors. Yet, though not cold, it is a temperature cool enough to be
free from summer languor.

[Illustration: CALIFORNIAN PALMS.]

Especially attractive to the visitors from the North are the palms of
Southern California. Many of these resemble monstrous pineapples
terminating in gigantic ferns. What infinite variety the palm tree
has, now dwarfed in height, yet sending out on every side a mass of
thick green leaves; now rising straight as an obelisk from the desert
sand, and etching its fine feathery tufts against the sky; now
bearing luscious fruit of different kinds; now furnishing material
for clothing, fishing-nets, and matting; or putting forth those
slender fronds, frequently twenty feet in length, which are sent
North by florists to decorate dwellings and churches for festivals
and weddings! The palm is typical of the South, as the pine is of the
North. One hints to us of brilliant skies, a tropic sun, and an easy,
indolent existence; the other suggests bleak mountains and the
forests of northern hills, and symbolizes the conflict there between
man and nature, in which both fortitude and daring have been needful
to make man the conqueror. One finds a fascination in contrasting
these two children of old Mother Earth, and thinks of Heine's lines:

  "A pine tree standeth lonely
    On a northern mountain's height;
  It sleeps, while around it is folded
    A mantle of snowy white.

  "It is dreaming of a palm tree
    In a far-off Orient land,
  Which lonely and silent waiteth
    In the desert's burning sand."


On my last day at San Diego, I walked in the morning sunshine on
Coronado Beach. The beauty of the sea and shore was almost
indescribable: on one side rose Point Loma, grim and gloomy as a
fortress wall; before me stretched away to the horizon the ocean
with its miles of breakers curling into foam; between the surf and
the city, wrapped in its dark blue mantle, lay the sleeping bay;
eastward, the mingled yellow, red, and white of San Diego's buildings
glistened in the sunlight like a bed of coleus; beyond the city
heaved the rolling plains, rich in their garb of golden brown, from
which rose distant mountains, tier on tier, wearing the purple veil
which Nature here loves oftenest to weave for them; while, in the
foreground, like a jewel in a brilliant setting, stood the Coronado.

[Illustration: THE PACIFIC.]

The fascination of Southern California had at last completely
captured me. Its combination of ocean, desert, and mountain, its
pageantry of color, and its composite life of city, ranch, and beach
had cast over me a magic spell. It was, however, a lonely sea that
spread its net of foam before my feet. During my stay I had not seen
a single steamer on its surface, and only rarely had a few swift
sea-birds, fashioned by man's hand, dotted the azure for a little
with their white wings, ere they dipped below the horizon's rim.
Hence, though the old, exhilarating, briny odor was the same, I felt
that, as an ocean, this was unfamiliar. The Atlantic's waves are
haunted by historic memories, but few reminders of antiquity rise
ghostlike from the dreary waste of the Pacific. Few battles have been
fought, few conquests made upon these shores. On the Atlantic coast
one feels that he is looking off toward civilized and friendly lands,
across a sea which ocean greyhounds have made narrow; but here three
purple islands, floating on the limitless expanse, suggest mysterious
archipelagoes scattered starlike on its area, thousands of miles
away, before a continent is reached; and one vaguely imagines
unknown races, coral reefs, and shores of fronded palms, where
Nature smiles indulgently upon a pagan paradise. Nevertheless its
very mystery and vastness give to the Pacific a peculiar charm, which
changeful Orient seas, and even the turbulent Atlantic, never can
impart. Instinctively we stand uncovered in the presence of the
mightiest ocean on our planet. It is at once the symbol and the fact
of majesty; and the appalling sense of trackless space which it
inspires, the rhythm of unmeasured and immeasureable waves, together
with the moaning of the surf upon the sand, at times completely
overwhelm us with suggestions of the Infinite, until no language
seems appropriate, unless it shapes itself in prayer.


[Illustration: A LONELY OCEAN.]

In Helen Hunt Jackson's novel, "Ramona," the romance of this region
has found immortality. What "Romola" is to mediaeval Florence,
"Ramona" is to Southern California. It has embalmed in the memory of
the nation a lost cause and a vanished race. Less than one hundred
years ago, where the Anglo-Saxon has since built railroads, erected
manufactories, and created cities, a life was lived, so different in
its character from all that followed or preceded it, that only a
story like "Ramona" could make it appear real. At that time about
twenty "Missions"--which were in reality immense ecclesiastical
farms--bordered the coast for seven hundred miles. For when the New
World had been suddenly revealed to the astonished gaze of Europe, it
was not merely the adventurous conqueror who hastened to these
shores. The priest accompanied him, and many enthusiastic soldiers of
the Cross embarked to bear to the benighted souls beyond the sea the
tidings of salvation. Missionary enterprises were not then what they
are to-day. Nothing was known with certainty of the strange tribes on
this side of the globe, and there was often a heroism in the labors
of self-sacrificing missionaries to America, which far surpassed the
courage of the buccaneer. Many exploring expeditions to this western
land received the blessing of the Church, and were conducted, not
alone for obtaining territory and gold, but for the conversion of
the inhabitants. In Mexico and Peru the priests had followed, rather
than led the way; but in California, under the lead of Father
Junipero, they took the initiative, and the salvation of souls was
one of the principal purposes of the invaders. This did not, however,
prevent the Franciscans, who took possession of the land, from
selecting with great wisdom its very best locations; but, having done
so, they soon brought tens of thousands of Indians under spiritual
and temporal control. These natives were, for the most part, as
gentle and teachable as the Fathers were patient and wise; and, in
1834, a line of Missions stretched from San Diego to Monterey, and
the converted Indians numbered about twenty thousand, many of whom
had been trained to be carpenters, masons, blacksmiths, saddlers,
tailors, millers, and farmers. Three-quarters of a million cattle
grazed upon the Mission pastures, as well as sixty thousand horses;
fruits, grain, and flowers grew in their well-cultivated valleys
until the country blossomed like the Garden of the Lord; and in the
midst of all this industry and agricultural prosperity the native
converts obeyed their Christian masters peacefully and happily, and
came as near to a state of civilization as Indians have ever come.

[Illustration: RAMONA'S HOME.]

[Illustration: THE CHAPEL, RAMONA'S HOME.]



Presently the Mexicans made their appearance here; but, though they
held and managed enormous ranches, the situation was comparatively
unchanged; for they maintained harmonious relations with the
Missions, and had no serious difficulties with the Indians. Thus life
went on for nearly half a century, and seemed to the good Fathers
likely to go on forever; for who, they thought, would ever cross the
awful eastern plains to interfere with their Arcadian existence, or
what invading force would ever approach them over the lonely sea? But
history repeats itself. The Missions soon became too rich not to
excite cupidity; and those who coveted their lands and herds
declared, as an excuse for violence, that the poor Indians were held
in a state of slavery, and should be made to depend upon themselves.
At length, in 1833, the Mexican Government by a decree of
secularization ruined the Missions; but the Indians, although not so
prosperous and well treated as under the Fathers, still kept, through
Mexican protection, most of their privileges and the lands they
owned. Finally came the Anglo-Saxon, and, under the imperious
civilization that poured into California from 1840 to 1860, the
pastoral age soon disappeared. The Missions, which had already lost
much of their property and power under the Mexican Government,
quickly shrank after this new invasion into decrepitude. The
practical Anglo-Saxon introduced railroads, electricity, commerce,
mammoth hotels, and scientific irrigation, all of which the Fathers,
Mexicans, and Indians never would have cared for. Nevertheless, with
his arrival, the curtain fell upon as peaceful a life-drama as the
world had seen.

[Illustration: SANTA BARBARA.]

[Illustration: SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO.]


To the reader, thinker, and poet the memories and associations of
these Missions form, next to the gifts of Nature, the greatest charm
of Southern California; and, happily, although that semi-patriarchal
life has passed away, its influence still lingers; for, scattered
along the coast--some struggling in poverty, some lying in
neglect--are the adobe churches, cloisters, and fertile
Mission-fields of San Juan Capistrano, San Fernando Rey, Santa
Monica, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz, all of which still preserve
the soft and gracious names, so generously given in those early days,
and fill us with a genuine reverence for the sandaled monks, who by
incessant toil transformed this barren region into a garden, covered
these boundless plains with flocks and herds, and dealt so wisely
with the Indians that even their poor descendants, to-day, reverence
their memory.


The Saxon has done vastly more, it is true; but, in some ways, he has
done much less. The very names which he bequeathed to places not
previously christened by the Spaniards, such as Gold Gulch, Hell's
Bottom, and Copperopolis, tell a more forcible, though not as
beautiful a tale, as the melodious titles, San Buenaventura, San
Francisco Dolores, Santa Clara, San Gabriel, and La Purissima.

[Illustration: INDIAN WOMEN.]

It is not, therefore, the busy streets and handsome dwellings of Los
Angeles and Pasadena, but the adobe ruins, the battered statues, the
cracked and voiceless bells, the poor remnants of the Indian tribes,
and even the old Spanish names, behind which lies a century of
sanctity and romance, which give to Southern California an atmosphere
of the Old World and harmonize most perfectly with its history.

[Illustration: SAN DIEGO MISSION.]

Most of the Mission buildings are in a sad condition. Earthquakes
have shattered some; neglect and malice have disfigured others; but a
society, composed alike of Catholics and Protestants, is now, in the
interest of the past, endeavoring to rescue them from utter ruin. It
is a worthy task. What subjects for a painter most of them present!
How picturesque are their old cloisters, looming up dark, grand, and
desolate against the sky! How worn and battered are they by the
storms of years! How tremblingly stands the Cross upon their ancient
towers, as if its sacred form had become feeble like the fraternity
that once flourished here! What witnesses they are of an irrevocable
past! Their crumbling walls, if they could speak, might grow
sublimely eloquent, and thrill us with inspiring tales of heroism,
patience, tact, and fortitude exhibited when these Missions bloomed
like flowery oases on the arid areas of the South and West, and
taught a faith of which their melancholy cloisters are the sad

Ten miles from Los Angeles, the Southern Pacific railroad passes a
long edifice, the massive walls of which might lead us to suppose it
was a fortress, but for its cross and a few antiquated bells. It is
the church of the San Gabriel Mission. All other buildings of the
institution have disappeared; but this old edifice remains, and,
unless purposely destroyed by man, may stand here for five centuries
more, since its enormous walls are five feet thick, and the mortar
used in their construction has rendered them almost as solid as if
hewn from rock. As I descended, at the station a quarter of a mile
away, a little barefooted Mexican boy approached and shyly offered me
his hand. "Are you the Father," he asked?

"No," I said, "I am not the Father, but I have come to see the
church; can you show it to me?"

"But Padre Joaquin said I was to meet a Father."

"Well," I answered, "I am the only passenger who has come by this
train, so you had better walk back with me."


The Mexican boys seem to be the best part of what Mexico has left in
California. This lad, for example, was attending an American school,
and appeared bright and ambitious, though so extremely courteous and
respectful that he seemed almost timid. The little hut in which he
lived was opposite the church, and he seemed perfectly familiar with
the sacred structure. "See," he said, pointing to some mutilated
wooden statues in the poor, scantily furnished sacristy, "here are
some images which cannot be used, they are so broken, and here are
more," he added, opening some drawers and displaying four or five
smaller figures in various stages of dilapidation. Thus, for some
time he continued to call my attention to different curious relics
with such interest and reverence that I was almost sorry when Father
Joaquin appeared. It was sad to see the altar of the church defaced
and cracked, and its statues, brought a hundred years ago from
Spain, scarcely less battered than those which the boy had shown me
in the sacristy. Yet it was plain that worshipers as well as vandals
had been here. The basins for holy water, cut in the solid wall, were
worn, like the steps of an ancient building, with countless fingers,
long since turned to dust. There, also, were two old confessionals,
one of which was so hopelessly infirm that it had been set aside at
last, to listen to no more whispered tales of sin and sorrow. The
doors of the church at first looked ancient, but wore a really modern
air, when compared with the original portals, which, no longer able
to stand upright, had been laid against the wall, to show to
tourists. Yet, eighty years ago, this church stood proudly at the
head of all the Missions, and reared its cross above the richest of
their valleys. According to Father Joaquin's estimate, the Fathers of
San Gabriel must have had twenty thousand acres under cultivation,
and, in 1820, this Mission alone possessed one hundred and sixty
thousand vines, two thousand three hundred trees, twenty-five
thousand head of cattle, and fifteen thousand sheep. "It was all
ours," he said, with a sweep of his hand, "we had reclaimed it from
the desert, and, by the treaty between the United States and Mexico,
we were allowed to retain all lands that we had cultivated. Yet of
those twenty thousand acres, one hundred and fifty are all that are
left us!"

The Padre accompanied me to the station. "How large is your parish,
Father?" I asked.

"It is thirteen miles long," was his reply, "and I have in it eight
hundred souls, but most of them live too far away to walk to church,
and are too poor to ride."

"And how many Indians have you?"

"Perhaps a hundred," he answered, "and even they are dying off."

"What of their character?" I asked.

"They have sadly fallen away," was the response. "True, they are
Christians as far as they are anything, but they are hopelessly
degraded, yet they respect the Church, and are obedient and
reverential when under its influence."


[Illustration: MUTILATED STATUES.]

[Illustration: THE BAPTISMAL FONT.]


Most of the Californian Missions are really dead, and near that of La
Purissima may still be seen the rent in the ground made by the
earthquake which destroyed it. Others, like San Gabriel and San Juan
Capistrano, are dragging out a moribund existence, under the care of
only one or two priests, who move like melancholy phantoms through
the lonely cloisters, and pray among the ruins of a noble past. The
Mission of Santa Barbara, however, is in fairly good repair, and a
few Franciscan Fathers still reside there and carry on a feeble
imitation of their former life.

[Illustration: A DEGENERATE.]

It is on his way to this Mission that the traveler passes the reputed
residence of Ramona. There is, it is true, another structure near San
Diego which, also, claims this distinction; but the ranch on the
route from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara perfectly corresponds to
"H.H.'s" descriptions of her heroine's home, with its adjoining brook
and willows, and hills surmounted by the cross. The house is almost
hidden by the trees with which a Mexican ordinarily surrounds his
dwelling, and is, as usual, only one story high, with a projecting
roof, forming a porch along the entire front. As we learn in
"Ramona," much of the family life in those old days--sewing,
visiting, and siesta-taking--went on in the open air, under the shade
of the porticos which were wide and low. Here it was that Alessandro
brought Felipe back to health, watching and nursing him as he slept
outdoors on his rawhide bed; and we may see the arbor where the
lovers met, the willows where they were surprised by Señora Moreno,
and the hills on which the pious lady caused wooden crosses to be
reared, that passers-by might know that some good Catholics were
still left in California.

[Illustration: THE CROSS ON THE HILL.]


The Mission of Santa Barbara is of solid brick and stone, with walls
six feet in thickness. Its cloisters look sufficiently massive to
defy an earthquake, and are paved with enormous bricks each twelve
inches square. The huge red tiles of the roof, also, tell of a
workmanship which, although rude, was honest and enduring. The
interior, however, is of little interest, for the poor relics which
the Fathers keep are even less attractive than those displayed at the
Mission of San Gabriel; yet there are shown at least two enormous
missals which are no less than four feet long by two feet wide,
and beautifully inscribed on parchment.



"What is the Mission's income?" I asked the gentle monk who acted as
my guide.

"Alas!" he answered, "we have very little. You know our lands are
gone. We have barely twenty-five acres now. Moreover, we are outside
the village; and, as there is another church, most Catholics go
there. We receive, indeed, occasional offerings from travelers; but
we are very poor."

"Who cultivates your twenty-five acres?" I inquired.

"According to our ability, we are all busy," was the answer, "some
till the garden; others train young men for the priesthood; one of
our number is a carpenter; and another," he added, evidently laughing
at his own expense, "knows just enough about machinery to make a bad
break worse."

"And the Indians?" I said.

"Not one is left," was the reply. "Though once the Mission counted
them by thousands, they are all dead and gone. There are their
monuments," he added, pointing to the fragments of a mill and one or
two industrial shops.


I looked and saw the remnants of a giant wheel which formerly had
been turned by water, brought from the hills to feed the Fathers'
lands. The water was still flowing, but the wheel lay, broken,--symbolic
of the link which bound the Mission to the vanished past.

The first Roman Catholic Bishop of California and some of the early
Fathers are buried in the chapel of the monastery, but interments are
now made in a neighboring cemetery, strictly reserved for members of
the Mission, each of whom has there his predestined place. Yet even
in this humble Campo Santo life will not yield entirely to death. The
hum of droning insects breaks the stillness of the empty cloisters;
occasionally a lizard darts like a tongue of flame along the walls;
grasses and trailing plants adorn impartially the ground containing
human dust, and that which still awaits an occupant; while round a
stately crucifix, which casts its shadow like a benediction on the
sleeping dead, sweet wild flowers bloom throughout the year, and from
their swinging censers offer incense to the figure of the Saviour
with each passing breeze. The hush of melancholy broods over the
entire place. The mountains, gazing down upon it in stony silence,
are haggard and forbidding; below it lies the modern town; while from
a neighboring hillside the inmates of a villa look directly into the
monastery garden, on which the earlier Fathers little dreamed a
female eye would ever rest. A little life, however, was still visible
about this Santa Barbara Mission. Two brown-robed monks were hoeing
in the field; occasionally, visitors came and went; and, just as I
was leaving, one of the priests, in obedience to a summons, hurried
away to minister to the sick; yet over all there hung an atmosphere
of unreality and sadness. I felt myself the guest of an anachronism.


A fashionable city has risen at the feet of these old monks, but they
regard it not. A trolley car brings curious tourists to their doors;
but the ways of the Santa Barbara Fathers are those of long ago. Like
agèd pilgrims, dreaming by their firesides, they seem to be living in
the past; they certainly have no present worthy of the name; and when
I sought to draw forth from my priestly guide some idea of their
future, he answered me by pointing to a grave.




While the Old World is better able than the New to satisfy the
craving of the mind for art and history, no portion of our globe can
equal the North American continent in certain forms of natural
scenery which reach the acme of sublimity. Niagara, the Yosemite, the
Yellowstone National Park, and the Grand Cañon of the Colorado in
Arizona are the four great natural wonders of America. Niagara is
Nature in the majesty of liquid motion, where, as the outlet of vast
inland seas, a mighty river leaps in wild delirium into a gorge two
hundred feet below, and boils and seethes tumultuously till its
heart is set at rest and its fever cooled by the embrace of Lake
Ontario. The Yosemite is Nature pictured, in a frame of granite
precipices, as reclining on a carpet woven with a million flowers,
above which rise huge trees three centuries old, which, nevertheless,
to the spectator, gazing from the towering cliffs, appear like waving
ferns. The Yellowstone Park is the arena of an amphitheatre in which
fire and water, the two great forces which have made our planet what
it is, still languidly contend where formerly they struggled
desperately for supremacy. But the Grand Cañon of Arizona is Nature
wounded unto death, and lying stiff and ghastly with a gash, two
hundred miles in length and a mile in depth, in her bared breast,
from which is flowing fast a stream of life-blood called the




[Illustration: THE NAVAJO CHURCH.]

[Illustration: FANTASTIC FORMS.]

The section of country through which one travels to behold this
last-named marvel is full of mystery and fascination. It is a land
where rivers frequently run underground or cut their way through
gorges of such depth that the bewildered tourist, peering over their
precipitous cliffs, can hardly gain a glimpse of the streams flowing
half a mile below; a land of colored landscapes such as elsewhere
would be deemed impossible, with "painted deserts," red and yellow
rocks, petrified forests, brown grass and purple grazing grounds; a
land where from a sea of tawny sand, flecked here and there with
bleached bones, like whitecaps on the ocean, one gazes upon mountains
glistening with snow; and where at times the intervals are so brief
between aridity and flood, that one might choose, like Alaric, a
river-bed for his sepulchre, yet see a host like that of Pharaoh
drowned in it before the dawn. In almost every other portion of the
world Nature reveals her finished work; but here she partially
discloses the secrets of her skill, and shows to us her modes of
earth-building. Thus, the entire country is dotted with _mesas_, or
table-lands of sandstone, furrowed and fashioned in a tremendous
process of erosion, caused by the draining through this area of a
prehistoric ocean, whose rushing, whirling, and receding waters
molded the mountains, carved the cañons, and etched innumerable
grotesque figures and fantastic forms. A feeling of solemnity steals
over us, as we reflect upon the lapse of geologic time which such a
record covers, unnumbered ages before man's advent on this planet;
and these deep cañons and eroded valleys, whose present streams are
only miniature representatives of those which formerly wrought havoc
here, teach lessons of patience to the restless mortals who behold
them; while some of the singular formations on the cliffs present
perplexing problems which Nature, as it were in mocking humor, bids
us solve.


Was Nature ever really sportive? In the old days, when she produced
her uncouth monsters of the deep, was she in manner, as in age, a
child? Did she then play with her continents, and smile to see them
struggle up from the sea only to sink again? Was it caprice that made
her wrap her vast dominions in the icy bands of glaciers, or pour
upon them lava torrents, and frequently convulse them with a mighty
earthquake? If so, New Mexico and Arizona must have been her favorite
playgrounds. At many points her rock formations look like whimsical
imitations of man's handicraft, or specimens of the colossal
vegetation of an earlier age. Some are gigantic, while others bear a
ludicrous resemblance to misshapen dwarfs, suggesting, as they stand
like pygmies round their mightier brethren, a group of mediaeval
jesters in a court of kings. In the faint dusk of evening, as one
flits by them in the moving train, their weird, uncanny forms appear
to writhe in pain, and he is tempted to regard them as the material
shapes of tortured souls.

[Illustration: A MESA.]

The _mesas_ of New Mexico and Arizona are, usually, regular in
outline, sometimes resembling in the distance cloud-banks on the edge
of the horizon, but oftener suggesting mighty fortresses, or ramparts
to resist invasion, like the wall of China. These are not only
beautiful in form and color, but from the fact that they recall the
works of man, we gaze at them with wonder, and find in them a
fascinating interest. They prove that Nature needs some human
association to appeal strongly to us, and how man's history of smiles
and tears gives pathos, mystery, and romance to scenes which
otherwise would be merely coldly beautiful or terribly sublime. It is
for this reason, doubtless, that we are always endeavoring to
personify Nature. We think of solitary trees as lonely, of
storm-tossed waves as angry, and of a group of mountains as members
of one family. Thus some of the Arizona mountains are called
brothers. No doubt their birth was attended by the same throes of
Mother Earth, and they possess certain family resemblances in their
level summits, huge square shoulders, and the deep furrows in their
rugged cheeks; while all of them evince the same disdain for
decoration, scorning alike the soft rich robes of verdure and the
rough storm-coats of the pines.

[Illustration: A GROUP OF MESAS.]

[Illustration: ON THE OLD SANTA FÉ TRAIL.]

The idea of companionship in Nature is not wholly fanciful. Is not
the fundamental law of the universe the attraction which one mass of
matter has for another? Even the awful distances in interstellar
space form no exception to this rule; for telescopic scrutiny reveals
the fact that planets, suns, and systems move in harmony, on paths
which indicate that they are all associated in the stupendous drama
of the skies. The human interest connected with the mountains and the
_mesas_ of New Mexico and Arizona is not very great. No mediaeval
mystery haunts these castles sculptured by the hand of Nature. No
famous romancer has lighted on their cliffs the torch of his poetic
fancy. No poet has yet peopled them with creatures of his
imagination. We can, unfortunately, conjure up from their majestic
background no more romantic picture than that of some Pueblo Indian
wooing his dusky bride. Yet they are not without some reminiscences
of heroism; for valiant men, a half century ago, following the
westward moving star of empire, braved almost inconceivable hardships
in their shadow, when, after four thousand years, American pioneers
repeated the old, old story, begun upon the plains of Shinar, as the
"Sons of the East" went westward in their quest of fortune. How few
of us think of those unrecorded heroes now, as we cross this region
in luxurious cars! To most of us the dead, whose bones once whitened
many of these lonely plains, are nothing more than the last winter's
snowdrifts melted by the sun; yet how effectively the Saxon has
succeeded in his conquest of the continent we have continual evidence
as we glide swiftly, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, through
glowing grain fields, prosperous cities, and states that rival
empires in size. Where formerly the Spanish conquerors, in their
fruitless search for the reputed Seven Cities glittering with gold,
endured privations and exhibited bravery which have hardly been
surpassed in the entire history of the world; and where, too, as if
it were but yesterday, the American Argonauts toiled painfully for
months through tribes of hostile Indians, across desert wastes and
over cloud-encompassed mountains, we find ourselves the inmates of a
rolling palace, propelled by one of Nature's tireless forces, and
feel at times in our swift flight as if we were the occupants of a
cushioned cannon-ball of glass. Even the crossing of one of the many
viaducts along our route is a reminder of how science has been
summoned to assist the invader in his audacious enterprise of
girdling a continent with steel.


[Illustration: OLD HOME OF KIT CARSON, TAOS, N.M.]

[Illustration: GRAVE OF KIT CARSON, TAOS, N.M.]


The art of bridge-building in some form or other is one of the
earliest necessities of civilization. Even the apes in equatorial
regions will link themselves together, and swing their living line
across a stream to trees on the opposite bank, thus forming a
connected path of bodies along which other monkeys pass in safety.
Bridges of ropes or reeds are, also, made by the most primitive of
men; while viaducts of stone rose gradually in perfection, from the
rude blocks heaped up by savages to the magnificent structures
fashioned by the Romans. But with the introduction of iron and steel
into their composition, bridges are now constructed quickly, with
consummate skill, and in a multitude of different forms assist in
making possible the safe and rapid transit of our great Republic.



In addition to all the wonderful natural features of Arizona and New
Mexico, the insight into ancient and modern Indian life which they
afford is of extraordinary interest, particularly as aboriginal
civilization, evidently, reached a higher level here than was
attained by any of the tribes which roamed throughout the regions now
known as the Middle and Eastern States. The natives of the arid
regions of the great Southwest, though subdivided into numerous
tribes, are usually known under the general title of Pueblos. The
name itself, bestowed upon them by the Spaniards, is significant;
since _pueblo_ is the Spanish word for village, and this would seem
to prove that the race thus designated three hundred and fifty years
ago was not nomadic, but had been settled here for many years.

[Illustration: LAGUNA.]

[Illustration: CLIFF PALACES.]

Antiquity and mystery impart a charm to these Pueblo Indians. They
are foundlings of history. We see their immemorial settlements, and
know that, centuries before Columbus landed on San Salvador, a number
of advantageously situated places in the western portion of this
continent served as the homes of powerful tribes, whose towns and
villages formed the scenes of warfare and barbaric splendor. But of
the men who built those villages we know comparatively nothing. Their
origin is almost as trackless as the sand which hides so many of
their relics in a tawny sepulchre. We may be certain, however, that
the remnants who survive are the representatives of myriads who once
made most of the American valleys palpitant with life, but over whom
oblivion has swept like a huge tidal wave, leaving the scattered
fragments of their history like peaks rising from a submerged world.


The best conclusions of scientists in regard to the geological
periods of our planet consider that the Glacial Epoch began about two
hundred and forty thousand, and ended about eighty thousand, years
ago. Traces of the existence of men in North America during that
glacial period have been found in abundance, and make it probable
that a human population existed, toward the close of that era, all
the way from the Atlantic Coast to the Upper Mississippi Valley.
Where these men of the Ice Age originally came from is a matter of
conjecture; but it seems probable that they migrated hither from the
Old World, since it is certain that during the various elevations and
depressions of the two continents, it was possible, several times,
for men to go from Europe or from Asia into America without crossing
any ocean, either by the northwestern corner of Alaska, which has
been repeatedly joined to Siberia through the elevation of the
shallow Bering Sea, or by the great Atlantic ridge which more than
once has risen above the ocean between Great Britain and Greenland.
Yet, though the first inhabitants of America, in all probability,
came thus from the Old World at a very distant period of antiquity,
it is believed by the best students of the subject that, until within
the last few centuries, there had been no intercourse between America
and either Europe or Asia, for at least twenty thousand years. Hence
the Aborigines of this continent developed in the course of ages
peculiarities which distinguish them from other races, and justify
their being regarded as, practically, native to the soil.


The Indians of New Mexico and Arizona were, probably, fugitives from
more fertile lands, whence they had been expelled by the ancestors of
the bloodthirsty and cruel Apaches. The country to which they came,
and where they made a final stand against their predatory foes, was
well adapted to defense. For hundreds of square miles the land is
cleft with chasms, and dotted with peculiar, isolated table-lands
hundreds of feet in height, with almost perfectly level surfaces and
precipitous sides. The origin and formation of these _mesas_, due to
erosion through unnumbered centuries, by water draining from an
inland sea, has been already referred to, and it can be readily seen
that they originally formed ideal residences for the peace-loving
Pueblos, who either made their homes as Cliff Dwellers in the
crevices of cañon walls, or took advantage of these lofty rocks,
already shaped and fortified by Nature, and built on them their
dwellings. These in themselves were no mean strongholds. Their thick
walls, made of rock fragments cemented with adobe, constituted a
natural fortress, against which weapons such as savages used before
they acquired fire-arms could do little harm; and even these houses
the Indians constructed like the cliffs themselves, lofty and
perpendicular, tier above tier, and, save for ladders, almost as
inaccessible as eagles' nests. Again, since these _pueblos_ stood on
table-lands, the approach to which could be easily defended, they
were almost impregnable; while their isolation and elevation, in the
treeless regions of New Mexico, enabled watchmen to discover the
approach of an enemy at a considerable distance and to give warning
for the women, children, and cattle roaming on the plain to be
brought to a place of safety. The instinct of self-preservation and
even the methods of defense are, after all, almost identical in every
age and clime; and the motive which led the Indians to the summits of
these _mesas_ was, no doubt, the same that prompted the Athenians to
make a citadel of their Acropolis, and mediaeval knights to build
their castles on the isolated crags of Italy, or on the mountain
peaks along the Rhine.

[Illustration: "CREVICES OF CAÑON WALLS."]

[Illustration: THE SUMMIT OF A MESA.]

[Illustration: THE MESA ENCANTADA.]

As times became more peaceful, the Pueblos located their villages
upon the plains, and one of these, called Laguna, is now a station
of the Santa Fé railway. But a mere glance at this, in passing, was
far too brief and unsatisfactory for our purpose, aside from the fact
that its proximity to the railroad had, naturally, robbed the
settlement of much of its distinctive character. We therefore
resolved to leave our train, and go directly into the interior, to
visit a most interesting and typical _pueblo,_ known as Ácoma.
Arriving at the station nearest to it, early in the morning, we found
a wagon and four horses waiting to receive us, and quickly started
for our destination over a natural road across the almost level
prairie. At the expiration of about two hours we saw before us, at a
distance of three miles, a _mesa_ of such perfect symmetry and
brilliant pinkish color, that it called forth a unanimous expression
of enthusiasm. Although the form of this "noblest single rock in
America" changes as one beholds it from different points of view, the
shape which it presented, as we approached it, was circular; and
this, together with its uniform height and perpendicular walls,
reminded me of the tomb of Cæcilia Metella on the Appian Way,
magnified into majesty, as in a mirage. It was with added interest,
therefore, that we learned that this was the Enchanted Mesa, about
which there had been recently considerable scientific controversy.
Enchanting, if not enchanted, it certainly appeared that morning,
and, as we drew nearer, its imposing mass continued to suggest old
Roman architecture, from Hadrian's Mausoleum by the Tiber to the huge
circle of the Colosseum.

[Illustration: HOUSES AT LAGUNA.]

[Illustration: THE MESA FROM THE EAST.]

The Indian name of this remarkable cliff is _Katzímo_, and the title
_Haunted Mesa_ would be a more appropriate translation of the Spanish
name, _Mesa Encantada_, than _Enchanted;_ for the people of Ácoma
believe its summit to be haunted by the spirits of their ancestors. A
sinister tradition exists among them that one day, many centuries
ago, when all the men of the village were at work upon the plain, a
mass of rock, detached by the slow action of the elements, or else
precipitated by an earthquake shock, fell into the narrow cleft by
which alone an ascent or descent of the _mesa_ was made, and
rendered it impassable. The women and children, left thus on the
summit of a cliff four hundred and thirty feet in height, and cut off
from communication with their relatives and friends, who were unable
to rejoin and rescue them, are said to have slowly perished by
starvation, and their bones, pulverized in the course of centuries,
are believed to have been, finally, blown or washed away. To test the
truth of this tradition, at least so far as traces of a previous
inhabitancy of the _mesa_ could confirm it, Mr. Frederick W. Hodge,
in 1895, made an attempt to reach the summit; but, though he climbed
to within sixty feet of the top, he could on that occasion go no
higher. He found, however, along the sides of the cliffs enormous
masses of _débris_, washed down by the streams of water which, after
a tempest, drain off from the summit in a thousand little cataracts.
Not only did Mr. Hodge discover in this rubbish several fragments of
Indian pottery, but he, also, observed certain holes in the cliff
which seemed to him to have been cut there specially for hands and
feet. These he believed to be traces of an ancient trail. Stimulated
by the announcement of this discovery, Professor William Libbey, of
Princeton College, in July, 1896, made the ascent of the Enchanted
Mesa by means of a life line fired over the mound from a Lyle gun.
Stout ropes having then been drawn over the cliffs and made secure,
the adventurous aëronaut was actually hauled up to the summit in a
boatswain's chair, as sailors are sometimes pulled ashore from a
sinking ship. On his descent, however, he declared that he had found
nothing to indicate that the crest had ever been inhabited, or even
previously visited. Nothing daunted by this statement, a few weeks
later Mr. Hodge again attempted the ascent in which he had failed the
year before. This time he was successful, and scaled the cliff by
means of an extension ladder and several hundred feet of rope. But
very different were the conclusions reached by him as to the probable
authenticity of the tradition; for after having been on the _mesa_
only a short time, he found a piece of ancient pottery, and, during a
search of twenty hours, not only were several more fragments of
earthenware discovered, but also two stone ax-heads, an arrow-point
of flint, and part of a shell bracelet. Moreover, a little monument
of stone, arranged with evident design, was found on the edge of the
cliff. Mr. Hodge and his party concluded, therefore, that beyond a
doubt the Mesa Encantada had once been inhabited, and that the legend
of the destruction of its last occupants may be true.


[Illustration: THE LYLE GUN AND ROPES.]


[Illustration: THE HODGE PARTY.]

[Illustration: INDIAN RELICS.]

The discovery of pieces of pottery here does not of itself prove
great advancement in the race that made them; for, curiously enough,
the manufacture of rude pottery is one of the first steps taken by
man from a savage to a semi-civilized state. The various races of
mankind have usually reached this art soon after their discovery of
fire. In fact, such an invention is almost inevitable. Thus, an early
method of cooking food has always been to put it into a basket
smeared with clay, which is supported over a fire. The clay served
the double purpose of preventing liquids from escaping and protecting
the basket from the flame. Now, even the dullest savage could not
have failed to notice, after a time, that the clay became hardened by
the fire, and in that state was sufficient for his purpose without
the basket. Simple as it seems, the discovery of this fact marks an
important epoch in the progress of every primitive race, and some
authorities on ethnology distinguish the two great divisions of
Savagery and Barbarism by placing in the lower grade those who have
not arrived at the knowledge of making pottery.


[Illustration: THE APPROACH TO ÁCOMA.]

Soon after passing this haunted rock, and driving further over the
_mesa_-dotted plain, we came in sight of the weird city of the sky
called Ácoma. It occupies the summit of a table-land, the ascent to
which is now a winding defile, flanked by frowning cliffs. Even this
path, though readily ascended on horseback, is too precipitous and
sandy for a wagon. Accordingly, as none of our party that day enjoyed
the privilege of being an equestrian, we left our vehicle at the foot
of the _mesa,_ and completed the journey on foot. Some adventurous
spirits, however, chose a short cut up the precipice along a natural
fissure in the rocks, which, having been transformed with loose
stones into a kind of ladder, was formerly, before these peaceful
times, the only means of access to the summit. A steeper scramble
would be hard to find. I must confess, however, that before taking
either of these routes, we halted to enjoy a lunch for which the
drive had given us the keenest appetite, and which we ate _al fresco_
in the shadow of a cliff, surrounded by a dozen curious natives.
Then, the imperious demands of hunger satisfied, we climbed three
hundred and fifty feet above the surrounding plain, and stood in what
is, with perhaps the exception of Zuñi, the oldest inhabited town in
North America. Before us, on what seemed to be an island of the air,
was a perfect specimen of the aboriginal civilization found here by
the Spanish conqueror, Coronado, and his eager gold-seekers, in 1540.
For now, as then, the members of the tribe reside together in one
immense community building. It is rather droll to find among these
natives of the desert the idea of the modern apartment house; but, in
this place, as in all the settlements of the Pueblo Indians, communal
dwellings were in existence long before the discovery of America, and
the _mesa_ of Ácoma was inhabited as it now is, when the Pilgrims
landed upon Plymouth Rock.

[Illustration: RAIN WATER BASIN, ÁCOMA.]


An Indian _pueblo_ is really a honeycomb of adobe cells, built up in
terraces. The outer walls, being the most exposed, are the highest,
and from them toward the centre of the village, projecting stories
descend in such a way that the balcony of one series of rooms forms a
roof for the next below it. Finally, in the heart of the _pueblo_ is
an open area where horses are corralled. When the space on the summit
of the _mesa_ is sufficient, these apartment dwellings may be
increased indefinitely by adding cells to the original mass, till it
is six or seven stories high, and may contain one hundred, five
hundred, or even a thousand persons, according to the size of the
tribe. Formerly there were no doorways in the lowest stories; but in
these peaceful days they are now introduced occasionally by Indian
architects. Where they do not exist, the only means of entering the
ground-floor rooms is by climbing a ladder from the courtyard to the
first terrace, and thence descending by another ladder through a hole
in the roof. The upper stories, being safer from attack, are more
liberally supplied with doors and windows, the latter being
sometimes glazed with plates of mica. At present, panes of glass are
also used, though they were pointed out to us as special luxuries. At
night, and in times of danger, the ladders in these _pueblos_ used
always to be drawn up after the last climbers had used them; since
these industrious and sedentary Indians were ever liable to raids
from their nomadic enemies, who coveted their stores of food and the
few treasures they had gradually accumulated. This precaution on the
part of the Pueblos again reminds us that human nature, in its
primitive devices for self-protection, is everywhere very much the
same. Thus, there is no connection between the Swiss Lake Dwellers
and the Indians of New Mexico; yet as the latter, on retiring to
their houses, draw up their ladders after them, so the old occupants
of the villages built on piles in the Swiss lakes pulled after them
at night the bridges which connected them with the land.

[Illustration: HOUSE OF A PUEBLO CHIEF.]


[Illustration: A PUEBLO TOWN.]

One can well imagine that the people of Ácoma do not spend many of
their waking hours in their apartments. In this warm climate, with
its superb air and almost rainless sky, every one lives as much as
possible out of doors, and a true child of the sun always prefers the
canopy of heaven to any other covering, and would rather eat on his
doorstep and sleep on his flat roof, than to dine at a sumptuous
table or recline on a comfortable bed. Nature seems to be peculiarly
kind and indulgent to the people of warm climates. They need not only
less clothing but less food, and it is only when we travel in the
tropics that we realize on how little sustenance man can exist. A few
dates, a cup of coffee, and a bit of bread appear to satisfy the
appetites of most Aridians, whether they are Indians or Arabs. In
the North, food, clothing, and fire are necessities of life; but to
the people of the South the sun suffices for a furnace, fruits give
sufficient nourishment, and clothing is a chance acquaintance. Yet
life is full of compensation. Where Nature is too indulgent, her
favorites grow shiftless; and the greatest amount of indoor luxury
and comfort is always found where Nature seems so hostile that man is
forced to fight with her for life.


[Illustration: IN THE PUEBLO.]

Most of the cells which we examined in the many-chambered honeycomb
of Ácoma had very little furniture except a primitive table and a few
stools, made out of blocks of wood or trunks of trees. Across one
corner of each room was, usually, stretched a cord on which the
articles of the family wardrobe had been thrown promiscuously. The
ornaments visible were usually bows and arrows, rifles, Navajo
blankets, and leather pouches, hung on wooden pegs. Of beds I could
find none; for Indians sleep by preference on blankets, skins, or
coarse-wool mattresses spread every night upon the floor. When we
consider that the forty millions of Japan, even in their
comparatively high degree of civilization, still sleep in much the
same way, we realize how unnecessary bedsteads are to the majority
of the human race. In a few rooms I discovered wooden statuettes of
saints, one or two crucifixes, and some cheap prints, which were
evidently regarded with great veneration. The floors, which were not
of wood, but of smooth adobe nearly as hard as asphalt, were in every
instance remarkably clean.


It is an interesting fact, in the domestic economy of the Indian life
led in these aërial villages, that the woman is always the complete
owner of her apartment and its contents; for it is the women of the
tribe who build the dwellings. Accordingly, the position of a Pueblo
woman is extraordinary; and should her husband ill-treat her, she has
the right and power to evict him, and to send him back to his
original home. On the other hand, the man is sole possessor of the
live stock of the family and of the property in the field; but when
the crops are housed, the wife is at once invested with an equal
share in their ownership. Pueblo children, too, always trace their
descent through the mother and take her clan name instead of the
father's. I noticed that at Ácoma the children seemed to be obedient
to their parents and respectful to age, as I have invariably found
them to be in all partially civilized countries of the world; for,
paradoxical as it may seem, it is only in highly civilized
communities, where individualism is cultivated at the expense of
strict discipline and parental control, that children become
indifferent to their fathers and mothers, and insolent to their
superiors in age and wisdom.


We lingered for some time upon this citadel of Ácoma, profoundly
interested in the life and customs of a people that asks no aid of
the United States, but is, to-day, as self-supporting as it has
always been. The number of Pueblo Indians was never very large. It is
probable that there were in all about thirty thousand of them at the
time of the Spanish conquest, in 1540, and there are now about
one-third that number scattered through more than twenty settlements.
In an arid land where the greatest need is water, it is not strange
that the dwellers on these rocky eyries should be called in the
Indian dialect "Drinkers of the dew," for it would seem as if the dew
must be their only beverage. But there are springs upon the
neighboring plains whose precious liquid is brought up the steep
trail daily on the heads of women, in three or five gallon jars, the
carrying of which gives to the poise of the head and neck a native
grace and elegance, as characteristic of Pueblo women as of the girls
of Capri. Moreover, on the summit of the _mesa_ there are, usually,
hollows in the rock, partly natural, partly artificial, which serve
as reservoirs to retain rain water and keep it fresh and cool.

[Illustration: AN ESTUFA.]

Besides the communal apartment-house, every _pueblo_ contains two
characteristic edifices. One is as ancient as the tribe itself and
thoroughly aboriginal, the other is comparatively modern and bears
the imprint of the Spaniard; they are the _estufa_ and the Roman
Catholic church. The _estufa_ has always played a prominent part in
the history of these Indians. It is a semi-subterranean council hall,
where matters of public business are discussed by the chiefs. The
government of the Pueblos is practically the same as when the Spanish
found them. Each village seems to be completely independent of its
neighbors, and no member of one tribe is allowed to sell real estate
to members of another, or to marry into another clan without
permission from his own. Each settlement is governed by a council,
the members of which, including its chief, are chosen annually.
Heredity counts for nothing among them, and official positions are
conferred only by popular vote. Even their war-chieftains are elected
and are under the control of the council. All matters of public
importance are discussed by this body in the _estufa_, the walls of
which are usually whitewashed; but a more dismal place can hardly be
imagined, not only from the dubious light which there prevails, but
from the fact that it contains no furniture whatever, and no
decoration. Sometimes a village will have several _estufas_, each
being reserved for a separate clan of the tribe. In any case, whether
many or few, they are used exclusively by men, women never being
allowed to enter them except to bring food to their male relatives.
As we approached the Ácoma _estufa_, it presented the appearance of a
monstrous bean pot, from the opening of which a ladder rose to a
height of twenty feet. This proved to be the only means of descending
into an enclosure, to which we were politely but firmly denied
admission. Peering into the aperture, however, and noting the warm,
close air which came from it, I understood why the Spanish word
_estufa_, or oven, was applied to these underground cells by their
European discoverers; for neither light nor ventilation is obtainable
except through the one opening, and in summer the temperature of the
shallow cavern must be warm indeed.


[Illustration: MEXICAN OVENS.]

[Illustration: THE OLD CHURCH AT ÁCOMA.]

The only other notable structure in Ácoma is the Roman Catholic
church, the walls of which are sixty feet in height and ten feet
thick. One can realize the enormous amount of labor involved in its
construction, when he reflects that every stone and every piece of
timber used in building it had to be brought hither on the backs of
Indians, over the plains, from a considerable distance, and up the
desperately difficult and narrow trail. Even the graveyard, which
occupies a space in front of the church, about two hundred feet
square, is said to have required a labor of forty years, since the
cemetery had to be enclosed with stone walls, forty feet deep at one
edge and filled with earth brought in small basket-loads up the steep
ascent from the plain below. The church itself is regarded by the
Indians with the utmost reverence, although it must be said that
their religion is still almost as much Pagan as Christian. Thus,
while they respect the priests who come to minister to them, they
also have a lurking reverence for the medicine man, who is known as
the _cacique_. He is really the religious head of the community, a
kind of augur and prophet, who consults the gods and communicates to
the people the answers he claims to have received. This dignitary is
exempt from all work of a manual kind, such as farming, digging
irrigation-ditches, and even hunting, and receives compensation for
his services in the form of a tract of land which the community
cultivates for him with more care than is bestowed on any other
portion of their territory, while his crops are the first harvested
in the autumn. He also derives an income in the form of grain,
buckskin, shells, or turquoises, from those who beg him to fast for
them, and to intercede with the gods in case of sickness. On the
other hand, the _cacique_ must lodge and feed all the strangers who
come to the village, as long as they stay, and he is, also, the
surgeon and the nurse of the community.

[Illustration: THE ALTAR.]

[Illustration: DANCE IN THE PUEBLO.]

While, therefore, the Pueblos go to church and repeat prayers in
accordance with Christian teaching, they also use the prayer-sticks
of their ancestors, and still place great reliance on their dances,
most of which are of a strictly religious character, and are not only
dedicated to the sun, moon, rainbow, deer, elk, and sheep, but are
usually performed for the specific purpose of obtaining rain.
Formerly, too, when their lives were far less peaceful than they are
to-day, the Pueblos indulged in war and scalp dances; but these are
now falling into disuse. The most remarkable exhibition of dancing,
still in vogue, is the repulsive Snake Dance of the Moquis of
Arizona, which takes place every year alternately in four villages
between the 10th and the 30th of August according to the phase of the
moon. The origin of this extraordinary custom is not intelligible now
even to the Indians themselves, but the object in performing it is to
obtain rain, and the dance, itself, is the culmination of a religious
ceremonial which continues for nine days and nights. During that time
only those who have been initiated into the Sacred Fraternities of
the tribe may enter the _estufa_, on the floor of which weird
pictures have been made with colored sand.

[Illustration: PUEBLO GIRLS.]

[Illustration: THREE SNAKE PRIESTS.]

In the tribe of Moquis there are two fraternities known as the
Antelopes and the Snakes, Each has from twenty to thirty members,
some of whom are boys who serve as acolytes. When the open air
ceremony of the Snake Dance begins, the members of these brotherhoods
appear scantily clothed, with their faces painted red and white, and
with tortoise-shell rattles tied to their legs. The Antelope
fraternity first enters the square, preceded by a venerable priest
carrying two bags filled with snakes. These serpents, which have been
previously washed and covered with sacred meal, are deposited by the
priest in a small leaf-embowered enclosure called the _kisi_. Around
this the Antelopes now march, stamping with the right foot violently,
to notify the spirits of their ancestors (presumably in the lower
world) that the ceremony has begun. After making the circuit of the
enclosure four times, they halt, and stand in line with their backs
turned toward it. Then the Snake fraternity appears, headed by its
priest, and performs the same ceremony. Then they too form a line,
facing the Antelopes, and all of them, for about five minutes, wave
their wands and chant some unintelligible words. Suddenly one
Antelope and one Snake man rush to the _kisi_, and the priest who is
presiding over the serpents presents them with a snake. The Snake man
immediately places the wriggling reptile in his mouth, and holds it
by the centre of its body between his teeth, as he marches around the
little plaza, taking high steps. Meantime the, Antelope man
accompanies him, stroking the snake continually with a wand tipped
with feathers. Then all the members of the two fraternities follow in
couples and do the same thing. Finally, each Snake man carries at
least two snakes in his mouth and several in his hands; and even
little boys, five years old, dressed like the adults, also hold
snakes in their hands, fearlessly. Once in a while a snake is
purposely dropped, and a man whose special duty it is to prevent its
escape rushes after it and catches it up.

[Illustration: THE SNAKE DANCE.]

All the time that this hideous ceremony is going on, a weird chant is
sung by the men and women of the tribe; and, at last, the chief
priest draws on the ground a mystic circle with a line of sacred
meal, and into this the men unload their snakes until the whole space
becomes a writhing mass of serpents. Suddenly the members rush into
this throng of squirming reptiles, most of which are rattlesnakes,
and each, grabbing up a handful of them, runs at full speed down the
_mesa_ and sets them at liberty, to act as messengers to carry to the
gods their prayers for rain. This ends the ceremony for the snakes,
but not for the men; for after they have liberated the reptiles, the
members of the brotherhoods return and bathe themselves in a kind of
green decoction, called Frog-water. Then they drink a powerful
emetic, and having lined up on the edge of the _mesa_, vomit in
unison! This is to purge them from the evil effects of snake-handling;
and lest it should not be sufficiently effectual, the dose is
repeated. Then they sit down, and eat bread, given them by the women
as a kind of communion or religious rite.

[Illustration: AFTER THE EMETIC.]

[Illustration: CHIEF SNAKE PRIEST.]

The seventy or eighty snakes used in this dance are treated from
first to last with the utmost kindness and respect, especially the
rattlesnakes, a dozen of which will frequently be squirming on the
ground at once. It is noticeable that the Indians never pick up a
rattlesnake when coiled, but always wait until it straightens itself
out under the feather stroking, for it is claimed that the
rattlesnake cannot strike uncoiled. At all events, when one is at its
full length, the Indians not only catch it up fearlessly, but carry
it with impunity in their mouths and hands. As might be supposed,
however, the Moquis are said to possess an antidote against the
poison of a rattlesnake, which, if a man is bitten, is given to him
at once; and it is said that none of them ever dies from the effects
of a snake-bite.


The religious element in all these ceremonies should not be lost
sight of, for the life of the Pueblo Indians is permeated with
religion, or superstition, to the minutest details. Thus, it is an
interesting fact that vicarious atonement has been a custom among
them from time immemorial, and their _cacique_ is compelled to fast
and do penance in many ways for the sins of his people. In some of
the villages, also, certain men and women are chosen to expiate the
wrongdoings of the tribe; and for more than a century there has been
in New Mexico an order of Penitents, who torture themselves by
beating their bodies with sharp cactus thorns, by carrying heavy
crosses for great distances, and even by actual crucifixion. The
severest of these cruel rites have, finally, been suppressed by the
Roman Catholic church, but it encountered great difficulty in so
doing, and the last crucifixion took place in 1891.


[Illustration: SUMMIT OF A MOQUI MESA.]

Such, then, are the Pueblos of New Mexico and Arizona; a race uniting
aboriginal Pagan rites with Christian ceremonies: cherishing at the
same time their idols and their churches; using to-day their rifles,
and to-morrow their bows and arrows; pounding occasionally with a
hammer, but preferably with a stone; and handling American money for
certain purchases, while trading beads, shells, and turquoises for
others. Sometimes we wonder that they have not made more progress
during the centuries in which they have been associated with
Europeans; but it is hard to realize the difficulties which they have
encountered in trying to comprehend our civilization, and in grasping
its improvements. Even the adoption of the antique Spanish plow, the
clumsy two-wheeled cart, the heavy ax and the rude saw, which are
still found among them, caused them to pass at one stride from the
Stone to the Iron Age, which, but for the intervention of the
Spaniards, they would not naturally have reached without centuries of
patient plodding. Moreover, before the arrival of the Europeans, the
Aborigines of America had never seen horses, cows, sheep, or dogs,
and the turkey was the only domestic animal known to them. Hence, in
ancient American society there was no such thing as a pastoral stage
of development; and the absence of domestic animals from the western
hemisphere is a very important reason why the progress of mankind in
this part of the world was not more rapid. Still it is a remarkable
fact that the most ancient race, of which we have any actual
knowledge on this continent, is, also, the most peaceful,
self-supporting, and industrious, subsisting principally on the sale
of their curiously decorated pottery, and the products of their arid
soil. We saw here a young man who had been educated in the Government
School at Carlisle; but, like most of his race, after returning to
his village he had reverted to the ways of his ancestors,
disqualified by his birth and instincts of heredity from doing
anything else successfully.

[Illustration: MOQUI CART AND PLOW.]

[Illustration: MOQUI CHILDREN.]

It was late on the night succeeding our visit to Ácoma that we
arrived at Flagstaff, and our entire party was asleep. Suddenly we
were aroused by a prolonged shout and the discharge of half a dozen
revolvers. Five minutes later there came a general fusillade of
pistol shots, and near and distant cries were heard, in which our
half-awakened faculties could distinguish only the words: "Hurry up!"
"Call the crowd!" "Down the alley!" Then a gruff voice yelled just
beneath my window: "Let her go," and instantly our locomotive gave a
whistle so piercing and continuous that all the occupants of our car
sprang from their couches, and met in a demoralized group of
multicolored pajamas in the corridor. What was it? Had the train been
held up? Were we attacked? No; both the whistle and the pistol shots
were merely Flagstaff's mode of giving an alarm of fire. We hastily
dressed and stepped out upon the platform. A block of buildings just
opposite the station was on fire, and was evidently doomed; yet
Flagstaff's citizens, whose forms, relieved against the lurid glow,
looked like Comanche Indians in a war dance, fought the flames with
stubborn fury. The sight of a successful conflagration always thrills
me, partly with horror, partly with delight. Three hundred feet away,
two buildings formed an ever-increasing pyramid of golden light. We
could distinguish the thin streams of water thrown by two puny
engines; but, in comparison with the great tongues of fire which they
strove to conquer, they appeared like silver straws. Nothing could
check the mad carousal of the sparks and flames, which danced,
leaped, whirled, reversed, and intertwined, like demons waltzing with
a company of witches on Walpurgis Night. A few adventurous men
climbed to the roofs of the adjoining structures, and thence poured
buckets of water on the angry holocaust; but, for all the good they
thus accomplished, they might as well have spat upon the surging,
writhing fire, which flashed up in their faces like exploding bombs,
whenever portions of the buildings fell. Meantime huge clouds of
dense smoke, scintillant with sparks, rolled heavenward from this
miniature Vesuvius; the neighboring windows, as they caught the
light, sparkled like monster jewels; two telegraph poles caught fire,
and cut their slender forms and outstretched arms against the jet
black sky, like gibbets made of gold. How fire and water serve us,
when subdued as slaves; but, oh, how terribly they scourge us, if
ever for a moment they can gain the mastery! Too interested to
exchange a word, we watched the struggle and awaited the result. The
fury of the fire seemed like the wild attack of Indians, inflamed
with frenzy and fanaticism, sure to exhaust itself at last, but for
the moment riotously triumphant. Gradually, however, through want of
material on which to feed itself, the fiery demon drooped its shining
crest, brandished its arms with lessening vigor, and seemed to writhe
convulsively, as thrust after thrust from the silver spears of its
assailants reached a vital spot. Finally, after hurling one last
shower of firebrands, it sank back into darkness, and its hereditary
enemy rushed in to drown each lingering spark of its reduced

[Illustration: FLAGSTAFF STATION.]

[Illustration: PACKING WOOD.]

[Illustration: A MEXICAN HOME.]

[Illustration: OUR CAR AT FLAGSTAFF.]


[Illustration: TWILIGHT.]

Upon a hill near Flagstaff stands an astronomical observatory from
which distinguished students of the midnight skies search for the
secrets of the moon and stars. Few better sites on earth could have
been chosen for this purpose, since Arizona's atmosphere is so
transparent that the extent of celestial scenery here disclosed is
extraordinary. We visited the structure at the solemn hour that marks
the hush between two days, when the last sound of one has died away,
and before the first stir of the other thrills the morning air. Then,
gazing through the lenses of its noble telescope, we welcomed the
swift waves of light pulsating toward us from the shoreless ocean we
call space. There is a mysterious beauty about the radiance of a star
that far surpasses that of the moon. The latter glitters only with
reflected light; but a star (that is to say a distant sun), when seen
through a telescope, frequently scintillates with different colors
like a diamond, and quivers like a thing of life. Moreover, the moon,
forever waxing, waning, or presenting almost stupidly its great flat
face, is continually changing; but the fixed star is always there. It
fills the thoughtful soul with awe to look upon the starry heavens
through such an instrument as that at Flagstaff. Space for the moment
seems annihilated. We are apparently transported, as observers, from
our tiny planet to the confines of our solar system, and, gazing
thence still farther toward infinity, we watch with bated breath the
birth, the progress, and the death of worlds. To one of the most
distant objects in the depths of space, known as the Ring Nebula, the
author addressed the following lines:


  O, pallid spectre of the midnight skies!
    Whose phantom features in the dome of Night
  Elude the keenest gaze of wistful eyes
    Till amplest lenses aid the failing sight,
  On heaven's blue sea the farthest isle of fire.
  From thee, whose glories it would fain admire,
  Must vision, baffled, in despair retire!

  What art thou, ghostly visitant of flame?
    Wouldst thou 'neath closer scrutiny dissolve
  In myriad suns that constellations frame,
    Round which life-freighted satellites revolve,
  Like those unnumbered orbs which nightly creep
  In dim procession o'er the azure steep,
  As white-wing'd caravans the desert sweep?

  Or, art thou still an incandescent mass,
    Acquiring form as hostile forces urge,
  Through whose vast length a million lightnings pass
    As to and fro its fiery billows surge,
  Whose glowing atoms, whirled in ceaseless strife
  Where now chaotic anarchy is rife.
  Shall yet become the fair abodes of life?

  We know not; for the faint, exhausted rays
    Which hither on Light's wingèd coursers come
  From fires which ages since first lit their blaze,
    One instant gleam, then perish, spent and dumb!
  How strange the thought that, whatsoe'er we learn,
  Our tiny globe no answer can return,
  Since with but dull, reflected beams we burn!

  Yet this we know; yon ring of spectral light,
    Whose distance thrills the soul with solemn awe,
  Can ne'er escape in its majestic might
    The firm control of omnipresent law.
  This mote descending to its bounden place.
  Those suns whose radiance we can scarcely trace,
  Alike obey the Power pervading space.

[Illustration: NIGHT.]



One glorious September morning, leaving our train at Flagstaff, we
started in stage-coaches for a drive of sixty-five miles to the Grand
Cañon. I had looked forward to this drive with some misgiving,
dreading the heat of the sun, and the dust and sand which I had
supposed we should encounter; but to my astonishment and delight it
was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. It was only eleven hours in
duration, and not only was most of the route level, but two-thirds of
it lay through a section of beautifully rolling land, diversified
with open glades and thousands upon thousands of tall pines and
cedars entirely free from undergrowth. It is no exaggeration to say
that we drove that day for miles at a time over a road carpeted with
pine needles. The truth is, Arizona, though usually considered a
treeless and rainless country, possesses some remarkable exceptions;
and the region near Flagstaff not only abounds in stately pines, but
is at certain seasons visited by rainstorms which keep it fresh and
beautiful. During our stay at the Grand Cañon we had a shower every
night; the atmosphere was marvelously pure, and aromatic with the
odors of a million pines; and so exhilarating was exercise in the
open air, that however arduous it might be, we never felt
inconvenienced by fatigue, and mere existence gave us joy. Decidedly,
then, it will not do to condemn the whole of Arizona because of the
heat of its arid, southern plains; for the northern portion of the
state is a plateau, with an elevation of from five thousand to seven
thousand feet. Hence, as it is not latitude, so much as altitude,
that gives us healthful, pleasing temperature, in parts of Arizona
the climate is delightful during the entire year.



A portion of this stage-coach journey led us over the flank of the
great San Francisco Mountain. The isolated position, striking
similarity, and almost uniform altitude of its four peaks, rising
nearly thirteen thousand feet above the sea, have long made them
famous. Moreover, they are memorable for having cast a lurid light
upon the development of this portion of our planet. Cold, calm, and
harmless though they now appear, the time has been when they
contained a molten mass which needed but a throb of Earth's uneasy
heart to light the heavens with an angry glare, and cover the
adjoining plains with floods of fire. Lava has often poured from
their destructive cones, and can be traced thence over a distance of
thirty miles; proving that they once served as vents for the volcanic
force which the thin crust of earth was vainly striving to confine.
But their activity is apparently ended. The voices with which they
formerly shouted to one another in the joy of devastation have been
silenced. Conquered at last, their fires smolder now beneath a
barrier too firm to yield, and their huge forms appear like funeral
monuments reared to the memory of the power buried at their base.
Another fascinating sight upon this drive was that of the Painted
Desert whose variously colored streaks of sand, succeeding one
another to the rim of the horizon, made the vast area seem paved with
bands of onyx, agate, and carnelian.

[Illustration: THE LUNCH STATION.]

About the hour of noon we reached a lunch-station at which the
stages, going to and from the Cañon, meet and pass. The structure
itself is rather primitive; but a good meal is served to tourists at
this wayside halting-place, and since our appetites had been
sharpened by the long ride and tonic-giving air, it seemed to us the
most delicious of repasts. The principal object of one of the members
of our party, in making the journey described in these pages, was to
determine the advisability of building a railroad from Flagstaff to
the Cañon. Whether this will be done eventually is not, however, a
matter of vital interest to travelers, since the country traversed
can easily be made an almost ideal coaching-route; and with good
stages, frequent relays of horses, and a well-appointed
lunch-station, a journey thus accomplished would be preferable to a
trip by rail.

[Illustration: HANCE'S CAMP.]

[Illustration: OUR TENT AT HANCE'S CAMP.]

Night had already come when we arrived at our destination, known as
Hance's Camp, near the border of the Cañon. As we drove up to it, the
situation seemed enchanting in its peace and beauty; for it is
located in a grove of noble pines, through which the moon that night
looked down in full-orbed splendor, paving the turf with inlaid ebony
and silver, and laying a mantle of white velvet on the tents in which
we were to sleep. Hance's log cabin serves as a kitchen and
dining-room for travelers, and a few guests can even find lodging
there; but, until a hotel is built, the principal dormitories must be
the tents, which are provided with wooden floors and furnished with
tables, chairs, and comfortable beds. This kind of accommodation,
however, although excellent for travelers in robust health, is not
sufficiently luxurious to attract many tourists. The evident
necessity of the place is a commodious, well-kept inn, situated a few
hundred feet to the rear of Hance's Camp, on the very edge of the
Cañon. If such a hotel, built on a spot commanding the incomparable
view, were properly advertised and well-managed, I firmly believe
that thousands of people would come here every year, on their way to
or from the Pacific coast--not wishing or expecting it to be a place
of fashion, but seeking it as a point where, close beside a park of
pines, seven thousand feet above the level of the sea, one of the
greatest marvels of the world can be enjoyed, in all the different
phases it presents at morning, noon, and night, in sunshine,
moonlight, and in storm.

[Illustration: OLD HANCE.]

[Illustration: THE FIRST VIEW.]

Early the next morning I eagerly climbed the little knoll at the foot
of which our tents were located, for I well knew that from its summit
I should see the Cañon. Many grand objects in the world are heralded
by sound: the solemn music of Niagara, the roar of active geysers in
the Yellowstone, the intermittent thunder of the sea upon a rocky
coast, are all distinguishable at some distance; but over the Grand
Cañon of the Colorado broods a solemn silence. No warning voice
proclaims its close proximity; no partial view prepares us for its
awful presence. We walk a few steps through the pine trees from the
camp and suddenly find ourselves upon the Cañon's edge. Just before
reaching it, I halted for a moment, as has always been my wont when
approaching for the first time any natural or historic object that I
have longed for years to look upon. Around me rose the stately pines;
behind me was a simple stretch of rolling woodland; nothing betrayed
the nearness of one of the greatest wonders of the world. Could it
be possible that I was to be disappointed? At last I hurried
through the intervening space, gave a quick look, and almost reeled.
The globe itself seemed to have suddenly yawned asunder, leaving me
trembling on the hither brink of two dissevered hemispheres. Vast as
the bed of a vanished ocean, deep as Mount Washington, riven from its
apex to its base, the grandest cañon on our planet lay glittering
below me in the sunlight like a submerged continent, drowned by an
ocean that had ebbed away. At my very feet, so near that I could have
leaped at once into eternity, the earth was cleft to a depth of six
thousand six hundred feet--not by a narrow gorge, like other cañons,
but by an awful gulf within whose cavernous immensity the forests of
the Adirondacks would appear like jackstraws, the Hudson Palisades
would be an insignificant stratum, Niagara would be indiscernible,
and cities could be tossed like pebbles.


[Illustration: A PORTION OF THE GULF.]

[Illustration: "A VAST, INCOMPARABLE VOID."]

As brain grew steadier and vision clearer, I saw, directly opposite,
the other side of the Cañon thirteen miles away. It was a mountain
wall, a mile in height, extending to the right and left as far as the
eye could reach; and since the cliff upon which I was standing was
its counterpart, it seemed to me as if these parallel banks were once
the shore-lines of a vanished sea. Between them lay a vast,
incomparable void, two hundred miles in length, presenting an
unbroken panorama to the east and west until the gaze could follow it
no farther. Try to conceive what these dimensions mean by realizing
that a strip of the State of Massachusetts, thirteen miles in width,
and reaching from Boston to Albany, could be laid as a covering over
this Cañon, from one end to the other; and that if the entire range
of the White Mountains were flung into it, the monstrous pit would
still remain comparatively empty! Even now it is by no means without
contents; for, as I gazed with awe and wonder into its colossal area,
I seemed to be looking down upon a colored relief-map of the mountain
systems of the continent. It is not strictly one cañon, but a
labyrinth of cañons, in many of which the whole Yosemite could be
packed away and lost. Thus one of them, the Marble Cañon, is of
itself more than three thousand feet deep and sixty-six miles long.
In every direction I beheld below me a tangled skein of mountain
ranges, thousands of feet in height, which the Grand Cañon's walls
enclosed, as if it were a huge sarcophagus, holding the skeleton of
an infant world. It is evident, therefore, that all the other cañons
of our globe are, in comparison with this, what pygmies are to a
giant, and that the name Grand Cañon, which is often used to
designate some relatively insignificant ravine, should be in truth
applied only to the stupendous earth-gulf of Arizona.


[Illustration: MOUNT AYER.]

At length, I began to try to separate and identify some of these
formations. Directly in the foreground, a savage looking mountain
reared its splintered head from the abyss, and stood defiantly
confronting me, six thousand feet above the Cañon's floor. Though
practically inaccessible to the average tourist, this has been
climbed, and is named Mount Ayer, after Mrs. Edward Ayer, the first
woman who ever descended into the Cañon to the river's edge. Beyond
this, other mountains rise from the gulf, many of which resemble the
Step Pyramid at Sakhara, one of the oldest of the royal sepulchres
beside the Nile. But so immeasurably vaster are the pyramids of this
Cañon than any work of man, that had the tombs of the Pharaohs been
placed beside them, I could not have discovered them without a
field-glass. Some of these grand constructions stand alone, while
others are in pairs; and many of them resemble Oriental temples,
buttressed with terraces a mile or two in length, and approached by
steps a hundred feet in height. Around these, too, are many smaller
mountainous formations, crude and unfinished in appearance, like
shrines commenced and then abandoned by the Cañon's Architect. Most
of us are but children of a larger growth, and love to interpret
Nature, as if she reared her mountains, painted her sunsets, cut her
cañons, and poured forth her cataracts solely for our instruction and
enjoyment. So, when we gaze on forms like these, shaped like gigantic
temples, obelisks, and altars fashioned by man's hands, we try to see
behind them something personal, and even name them after Hindu,
Grecian, and Egyptian gods, as if those deities made them their
abodes. Thus, one of these shrines was called by the artist, Thomas
Moran, the Temple of Set; three others are dedicated respectively to
Siva, Vishnu, and Vulcan; while on the apex of a mighty altar, still
unnamed, a twisted rock-formation, several hundred feet in height,
suggests a flame, eternally preserved by unseen hands, ascending to
an unknown god.


[Illustration: SIVA'S TEMPLE.]

It is difficult to realize the magnitude of these objects, so
deceptive are distances and dimensions in the transparent atmosphere
of Arizona. Siva's Temple, for example, stands upon a platform four
or five miles square, from which rise domes and pinnacles a thousand
feet in height. Some of their summits call to mind immense sarcophagi
of jasper or of porphyry, as if they were the burial-places of dead
deities, and the Grand Cañon a Necropolis for pagan gods. Yet, though
the greater part of the population of the world could be assembled
here, one sees no worshipers, save an occasional devotee of Nature,
standing on the Cañon's rim, lost in astonishment and hushed in awe.
These temples were, however, never intended for a human priesthood. A
man beside them is a pygmy. His voice here would be little more
effective than the chirping of an insect. The God-appointed
celebrant, in the cathedrals of this Cañon, must be Nature. Her voice
alone can rouse the echoes of these mountains into deafening peals of
thunder. Her metaphors are drawn from an experience of ages. Her
prayers are silent, rapturous communings with the Infinite. Her hymns
of praise are the glad songs of birds; her requiems are the meanings
of the pines; her symphonies the solemn roaring of the winds.
"Sermons in stone" abound at every turn; and if, as the poet has
affirmed, "An undevout astronomer is mad," with still more truth can
it be said that those are blind who in this wonderful environment
look not "through Nature up to Nature's God." These wrecks of Tempest
and of Time are finger-posts that point the thoughts of mortals to
eternal heights; and we find cause for hope in the fact that, even in
a place like this, Man is superior to Nature; for he interprets it,
he finds in it the thoughts of God, and reads them after Him.

[Illustration: NEAR THE TEMPLE OF SET.]

[Illustration: HANCE'S TRAIL, LOOKING UP.]

The coloring of the Grand Cañon is no less extraordinary than its
forms. Nature has saved this chasm from being a terrific scene of
desolation by glorifying all that it contains. Wall after wall,
turret after turret, and mountain range after mountain range belted
with tinted strata, succeed one another here like billows petrified
in glowing colors. These hues are not as brilliant and astonishing in
their variety as are the colors of the Yellowstone Cañon, but their
subdued and sombre tones are perfectly suited to the awe-inspiring
place which they adorn. The prominent tints are yellow, red, maroon,
and a dull purple, as if the glory of unnumbered sunsets, fading from
these rugged cliffs, had been in part imprisoned here. Yet, somehow,
specimens of these colored rocks lose all their brilliancy and beauty
when removed from their environment, like sea-shells from the beach;
a verification of the sentiment so beautifully expressed in the lines
of Emerson:

  "I wiped away the weeds and foam,
  I fetched my sea-born treasures home;
  But the poor, unsightly, noisome things
  Had left their beauty on the shore,
  With the sun and the sand and the wild uproar."

[Illustration: MIST IN THE CAÑON.]

To stand upon the edge of this stupendous gorge, as it receives its
earliest greeting from the god of day, is to enjoy in a moment
compensation for long years of ordinary uneventful life. When I
beheld the scene, a little before daybreak, a lake of soft, white
clouds was floating round the summits of the Cañon mountains, hiding
the huge crevasse beneath, as a light coverlet of snow conceals a
chasm in an Alpine glacier. I looked with awe upon this misty curtain
of the morn, for it appeared to me symbolic of the grander curtain of
the past which shuts out from our view the awful struggles of the
elements enacted here when the grand gulf was being formed. At
length, however, as the light increased, this thin, diaphanous
covering was mysteriously withdrawn, and when the sun's disk rose
above the horizon, the huge facades of the temples which looked
eastward grew immediately rosy with the dawn; westward, projecting
cliffs sketched on the opposite sides of the ravines, in dark blue
silhouettes, the evanescent forms of castles, battlements, and
turrets from which some shreds of white mist waved like banners of
capitulation; stupendous moats beneath them were still black with
shadow; while clouds filled many of the minor cañons, like vapors
rising from enormous cauldrons. Gradually, as the solar couriers
forced a passage into the narrow gullies, and drove the remnant of
night's army from its hiding-places, innumerable shades of purple,
yellow, red, and brown appeared, varying according to the composition
of the mountains, and the enormous void was gradually filled to the
brim with a luminous haze, which one could fancy was the smoke of
incense from its countless altars. A similar, and even more
impressive, scene is visible here in the late afternoon, when all
the western battlements in their turn grow resplendent, while the
eastern walls submit to an eclipse; till, finally, a gray pall drops
upon the lingering bloom of day, the pageant fades, the huge
sarcophagi are mantled in their shrouds, the gorgeous colors which
have blazed so sumptuously through the day grow pale and vanish, the
altar fires turn to ashes, the mighty temples draw their veils and
seem deserted by both gods and men, and the stupendous panorama
awaits, beneath the canopy of night, the glory of another dawn.



It was my memorable privilege to see, one afternoon, a thunder storm
below me here. A monstrous cloud-wall, like a huge gray veil, came
traveling up the Cañon, and we could watch the lightning strike the
buttes and domes ten or twelve miles away, while the loud peals of
thunder, broken by crags and multiplied by echoes, rolled toward us
through the darkening gulf at steadily decreasing intervals.
Sometimes two flashes at a time ran quivering through the air and
launched their bolts upon the mountain shrines, as though their
altars, having been erected for idolatrous worship, were doomed to be
annihilated. Occasionally, through an opening in the clouds, the sun
would suddenly light up the summit of a mountain, or flash a path of
gold through a ravine; and I shall never forget the curious sensation
of seeing far beneath me bright sunshine in one cañon and a violent
storm in another. At last, a rainbow cast its radiant bridge across
the entire space, and we beheld the tempest disappear like a troop of
cavalry in a cloud of dust beneath that iridescent arch, beyond whose
curving spectrum all the temples stood forth, still intact in their

[Illustration: ON THE BRINK.]

At certain points along the Cañon, promontories jut out into the
abyss, like headlands which in former times projected into an ocean
that has disappeared. Hence, riding along the brink, as one may do
for miles, we looked repeatedly into many lateral fissures, from
fifteen hundred to three thousand feet in depth. All these, however,
like gigantic fingers, pointed downward to the centre of the Cañon,
where, five miles away, and at a level more than six thousand feet
below the brink on which we stood, extended a long, glittering trail.
This, where the sunlight struck it, gleamed like an outstretched band
of gold. It was the sinuous Colorado, yellow as the Tiber.

[Illustration: RIPLEY'S BUTTE.]

[Illustration: A BIT OF THE RIVER.]

[Illustration: ON HANCE'S TRAIL.]

One day of our stay here was devoted to making the descent to this
river. It is an undertaking compared with which the crossing of the
Gemmi on a mule is child's play. Fortunately, however, the arduous
trip is not absolutely necessary for an appreciation of the immensity
and grandeur of the scenery. On the contrary, one gains a really
better idea of these by riding along the brink, and looking down at
various points on the sublime expanse. Nevertheless, a descent into
the Cañon is essential for a proper estimate of its details, and one
can never realize the enormity of certain cliffs and the extent of
certain valleys, till he has crawled like a maimed insect at their
base and looked thence upward to the narrowed sky. Yet such an
investigation of the Cañon is, after all, merely like going down from
a balloon into a great city to examine one of its myriad streets,
since any gorge we may select for our descending path is but a tiny
section of a labyrinth. That which is unique and incomparable here
is the view from the brink; and when the promised hotel is built upon
the border of the Cañon, visitors will be content to remain for days
at their windows or on the piazzas, feasting their souls upon a scene
always sublime and sometimes terrible.

[Illustration: A VISION OF SUBLIMITY.]

Nevertheless, desirous of exploring a specimen of these chasms (as we
often select for minute examination a single painting out of an
entire picture gallery) we made the descent to the Colorado by means
of a crooked scratch upon a mountain side, which one might fancy had
been blazed by a zigzag flash of lightning. As it requires four hours
to wriggle down this path, and an equal amount of time to wriggle up,
I spent the greater part of a day on what a comrade humorously styled
the "quarter-deck of a mule." A square, legitimate seat in the
saddle was usually impossible, so steep was the incline; and hence,
when going down, I braced my feet and lay back on the haunches of the
beast, and, in coming up, had to lean forward and clutch the pommel,
to keep from sliding off, as a human avalanche, on the head of the
next in line. In many places, however, riding was impossible, and we
were compelled to scramble over the rocks on foot. The effect of
hours of this exercise on muscles unaccustomed to such surprises may
be imagined; yet, owing to the wonderfully restorative air of
Arizona, the next day after this, the severest physical exertion I
had ever known, I did not feel the slightest bad result, and was as
fresh as ever. That there is an element of danger in this trip cannot
be doubted. At times the little trail, on which two mules could not
possibly have passed each other, skirts a precipice where the least
misstep would hurl the traveler to destruction; and every turn of
the zigzag path is so sharp that first the head and then the tail of
the mule inevitably projects above the abyss, and wig-wags to the
mule below. Moreover, though not a vestige of a parapet consoles the
dizzy rider, in several places the animal simply puts its feet
together and toboggans down the smooth face of a slanting rock,
bringing up at the bottom with a jerk that makes the tourist see a
large variety of constellations, and even causes his beast to belch
forth an involuntary roar of disenchantment, or else to try to
pulverize his immediate successor. In such a place as this Nature
seems pitiless and cruel; and one is impressed with the reflection
that a million lives might be crushed out in any section of this maze
of gorges and not a feature of it would be changed. There is,
however, a fascination in gambling with danger, when a desirable
prize is to be gained. The stake we risk may be our lives, yet, when
the chances are in our favor, we often love to match excitement
against the possibility of death; and even at the end, when we are
safe, a sigh sometimes escapes us, as when the curtain falls on an
absorbing play.


[Illustration: A YAWNING CHASM.]

[Illustration: OBLIGED TO WALK.]

As we descended, it grew warmer, not only from the greater elevation
of the sun at noon, but from the fact that in this sudden drop of six
thousand feet we had passed through several zones of temperature.
Snow, for example, may be covering the summits of the mountains in
midwinter, while at the bottom of the Cañon are summer warmth and
vernal flowers. When, after two or three hours of continuous descent,
we looked back at our starting-point, it seemed incredible that we
had ever stood upon the pinnacles that towered so far above us, and
were apparently piercing the slowly moving clouds. The effect was
that of looking up from the bottom of a gigantic well. Instinctively
I asked myself if I should ever return to that distant upper world,
and it gave me a memorable realization of my individual
insignificance to stand in such a sunken solitude, and realize that
the fissure I was exploring was only a single loop in a vast network
of ravines, which, if extended in a straight line, would make a
cañon seven hundred miles in length. It was with relief that we
reached, at last, the terminus of the lateral ravine we had been
following and at the very bottom of the Cañon rested on the bank of
the Colorado. The river is a little freer here than elsewhere in its
tortuous course, and for some hundred feet is less compressed by the
grim granite cliffs which, usually, rise in smooth black walls
hundreds of feet in almost vertical height, and for two hundred miles
retain in their embrace the restless, foaming flood that has no other
avenue of escape.

The navigation of this river by Major J.W. Powell, in 1869, was one
of the most daring deeds of exploration ever achieved by man, and the
thrilling story of his journey down the Colorado, for more than a
thousand miles, and through the entire length of the Grand Cañon, is
as exciting as the most sensational romance. Despite the
remonstrances of friends and the warnings of friendly Indians, Major
Powell, with a flotilla of four boats and nine men, started down the
river, on May 24th, from Green River City, in Utah, and, on the 30th
of August, had completed his stupendous task, with the loss of two
boats and four men. Of the latter, one had deserted at an early date
and escaped; but the remaining three, unwilling to brave any longer
the terrors of the unknown Cañon, abandoned the expedition and tried
to return through the desert, but were massacred by Indians. It is
only when one stands beside a portion of this lonely river, and sees
it shooting stealthily and swiftly from a rift in the Titanic cliffs
and disappearing mysteriously between dark gates of granite, that he
realizes what a heroic exploit the first navigation of this river
was; for nothing had been known of its imprisoned course through this
entanglement of chasms, or could be known, save by exploring it in
boats, so difficult of access were, and are, the two or three points
where it is possible for a human being to reach its perpendicular
banks. Accordingly, when the valiant navigators sailed into these
mysterious waters, they knew that there was almost every chance
against the possibility of a boat's living in such a seething
current, which is, at intervals, punctured with a multitude of
tusk-like rocks, tortured into rapids, twisted into whirlpools, or
broken by falls; while in the event of shipwreck they could hope for
little save naked precipices to cling to for support. Moreover, after
a heavy rain the Colorado often rises here fifty or sixty feet under
the veritable cataracts of water which, for miles, stream directly
down the perpendicular walls, and make of it a maddened torrent
wilder than the rapids of Niagara. All honor, then, to Powell and his
comrades who braved not alone the actual dangers thus described, but
stood continually alert for unknown perils, which any bend in the
swift, snake-like river might disclose, and which would make the
gloomy groove through which they slipped a black-walled _oubliette_,
or gate to Acheron.

[Illustration: A CABIN ON THE TRAIL.]

[Illustration: A HALT.]

[Illustration: AT THE BOTTOM.]


[Illustration: BESIDE THE COLORADO.]

If any river in the world should be regarded with superstitious
reverence, it is the Colorado, for it represents to us, albeit in a
diminished form, the element that has produced the miracle of the
Arizona Cañon,--water. Far back in the distant Eocene Epoch of our
planet's history, the Colorado was the outlet of an inland sea which
drained off toward the Pacific, as the country of northwestern
Arizona rose; and the Grand Cañon illustrates, on a stupendous scale,
the system of erosion which, in a lesser degree, has deeply furrowed
the entire region. At first one likes to think of the excavation of
this awful chasm as the result of some tremendous cataclysm of
Nature; but, in reality, it has all been done by water, assisted, no
doubt, by the subtler action of the winds and storms in the
disintegration of the monster cliffs, which, as they slowly crumbled
into dust, were carried downward by the rains, and, finally, were
borne off by the omnivorous river to the sea.


[Illustration: MILES OF INTRA-CAÑONS.]

But though, at first, these agents do not seem as forceful and
extraordinary as a single terrible catastrophe, the slow results thus
gained are even more impressive. For what an appalling lapse of time
must have been necessary to cut down and remove layers of sandstone,
marble, and granite, thousands of feet in thickness; to carve the
mighty shrines of Siva and of Vishnu, and to etch out these scores of
interlacing cañons! To calculate it one must reckon a century for
every turn of the hourglass. It is the story of a struggle maintained
for ages between the solid and the fluid elements, in which at last
the yielding water won a victory over adamant. It is an evidence,
too, of Nature's patient methods; a triumph of the delicate over the
strong, the liquid over the solid, the transitory over the enduring.
At present, the softer material has been exhausted, and the rapacious
river, shrunken in size, must satisfy itself by gnawing only the
archaic granite which still curbs its course. Yet if this
calculation overpowers us, what shall we say of the reflections
awakened by the fact that all the limestone cliffs along the lofty
edges of the Cañon are composed of fossils,--the skeletons of
creatures that once lived here covered by an ocean, and that ten
thousand feet of strata, which formerly towered above the present
summits of the Cañon walls, have been eroded and swept downward to
the sea! Hence, were the missing strata (all of which are found in
regular sequence in the high plateaus of Utah) restored, this Cañon
would be sixteen thousand feet in depth, and from its borders one
could look down upon a mountain higher than Mont Blanc! To calculate
the æons implied in the repeated elevations and subsidences which
made this region what it is would be almost to comprehend eternity.
In such a retrospect centuries crumble and disappear into the gulf of
Time as pebbles into the Cañon of the Colorado.

On my last evening in the pine tree camp I left my tent and walked
alone to the edge of the Grand Cañon. The night was white with the
splendor of the moon. A shimmering lake of silvery vapor rolled its
noiseless tide against the mountains, and laved the terraces of the
Hindu shrines. The lunar radiance, falling into such profundity, was
powerless to reveal the plexus of subordinate cañons, and even the
temples glimmered through the upper air like wraiths of the huge
forms which they reveal by day. Advancing cautiously to an isolated
point upon the brink, I lay upon my face, and peered down into the
spectral void. No voice of man, nor cry of bird, nor roar of beast
resounded through those awful corridors of silence. Even thought had
no existence in that sunken realm of chaos. I felt as if I were the
sole survivor of the deluge. Only the melancholy murmur of the wind
ascended from that sepulchre of centuries. It seemed the requiem for
a vanished world.




On certain portions of our globe Almighty God has set a special
imprint of divinity. The Alps, the Pyrénées, the Mexican volcanoes,
the solemn grandeur of Norwegian fjords, the sacred Mountain of
Japan, and the sublimity of India's Himalayas--at different epochs in
a life of travel--had filled my soul with awe and admiration. But,
since the summer of 1896, there has been ranked with these in my
remembrance the country of the Yellowstone. Two-thirds across this
continent, hidden away in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, eight
thousand feet above the level of the sea, there lies a marvelous
section of our earth, about one-half as large as the State of
Connecticut. On three sides this is guarded by lofty, well-nigh
inaccessible mountains, as though the Infinite Himself would not
allow mankind to rashly enter its sublime enclosure. In this respect
our Government has wisely imitated the Creator. It has proclaimed to
all the world the sanctity of this peculiar area. It has received it
as a gift from God and, as His trustee, holds it for the welfare of
humanity. We, then, as citizens of the United States, are its
possessors and its guardians. It is our National Park. Yet, although
easy of access, most of us let the years go by without exploring it!
How little we realize what a treasure we possess is proven by the
fact that, until recently, the majority of tourists here were
foreigners! I thought my previous store of memories was rich, but to
have added to it the recollections of the Yellowstone will give a
greater happiness to life while life shall last. Day after day, yes,
hour after hour, within the girdle of its snow-capped peaks I looked
upon a constant series of stupendous sights--a blending of the
beautiful and terrible, the strange and the sublime--which were,
moreover, so peculiar that they stand out distinct and different from
those of every other portion of our earth.

[Illustration: LONE STAR GEYSER.]

[Illustration: THE GROTTO, GEYSER'S CONE.]

[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO THE PARK.]

To call our National Park the "Switzerland of America" would be
absurd. It is not Switzerland; it is not Iceland; it is not Norway;
it is unique; and the unique cannot be compared. If I were asked to
describe it in a dozen lines, I should call it the arena of an
enormous amphitheatre. Its architect was Nature; the gladiators that
contended in it were volcanoes. During unnumbered ages those
gladiators struggled to surpass one another in destruction by pouring
forth great floods of molten lava. Even now the force which animated
them still shows itself in other forms, but harmlessly, much as a
captive serpent hisses though its fangs are drawn. But the volcanoes
give no sign of life. They are dead actors in a fearful tragedy
performed here countless centuries before the advent of mankind, with
this entire region for a stage, and for their only audience the sun
and stars.

I shall never forget our entrance into this theatre of sublime
phenomena. The Pullman car, in which we had taken our places at St.
Paul, had carried us in safety more than a thousand miles and had
left us at the gateway of the park. Before us was a portion of the
road, eight miles in length, which leads the tourist to the Mammoth
Springs Hotel. On one side an impetuous river shouted a welcome as we
rode along. Above us rose gray, desolate cliffs. They are volcanic in
their origin. The brand of fire is on them all. They are symbolic,
therefore, of the entire park; for fire and water are the two great
forces here which have, for ages, struggled for supremacy.



No human being dwells upon those dreary crags, but at one point, as I
looked up at them, I saw--poised statue-like above a mighty pinnacle
of rock--a solitary eagle. Pausing, with outstretched wings above its
nest, it seemed to look disdainfully upon us human pygmies crawling
far below. Living at such a height, in voluntary isolation, that king
of birds appeared the very embodiment of strength and majesty. Call
it a touch of superstition, if you will, yet I confess it thrilled me
to the heart to find that here, above the very entrance to the
Wonderland of our Republic, there should be stationed midway between
earth and heaven, like a watchful sentinel, our national bird,--the
bird of freedom!

At length a sudden turn revealed to us our first halting-place within
the Park,--the Mammoth Springs Hotel. The structure in itself looked
mammoth as we approached it, for its portico exceeds four hundred
feet in length. Our first impressions were agreeable. Porters rushed
forth and helped us to alight, and on the broad piazza the manager
received us cordially. Everything had the air of an established
summer resort. This, I confess, surprised me greatly, as I had
expected primitive accommodations, and supposed that, though the days
of camping-out had largely passed away, the resting-places in the
Park were still so crude that one would be glad to leave them. But I
lingered here with pleasure long after all the wonders of the Park
had been beheld. The furniture, though simple, is sufficient; to
satisfy our national nervousness, the halls are so well-stocked with
rocking-chairs that European visitors look about them with alarm,
and try to find some seats that promise a more stable equilibrium;
the sleeping-rooms are scrupulously clean; soft blankets, snow-white
sheets, and comfortable beds assure a good night's rest; and the
staff of colored waiters in the dining-room, steam-heat, a bell-boy
service, and electric lights made us forget our distance from great
cities and the haunts of men. Moreover, what is true of this is true,
as well, of the other hotels within the Park; and when I add that
well-cooked food is served in all of them, it will be seen that
tourists need not fear a lengthy sojourn in these hostelries.



[Illustration: MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS.]

[Illustration: FORT YELLOWSTONE.]

Standing on the veranda of the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, I saw
between me and the range of mountains opposite a broad plateau, on
which were grouped a dozen neat and tasteful structures. With the
exception of the photographer's house in the foreground, these
constitute Fort Yellowstone. "A fort!" the visitor exclaims,
"impossible! These buildings are of wood, not stone. Where are its
turrets, battlements, and guns?" Nevertheless, this is a station for
two companies of United States Cavalry; most of the houses being
residences for the officers, while in the rear are barracks for the

[Illustration: A FOREST IN THE PARK.]

No one who has visited the National Park ever doubts the necessity of
having soldiers there. Thus, one of the most important duties of the
United States troops, stationed within its area, is to save its
splendid forests from destruction. To do this calls for constant
vigilance. A fire started in the resinous pines, which cover many of
the mountain sides, leaps forward with such fury that it would
overtake a horseman fleeing for his life. To guard against so serious
a calamity, soldiers patrol the Park continually to see that all the
camp-fires have been extinguished. Thanks to their watchful care,
only one notable conflagration has occurred here in the last eight
years, and that the soldiers fought with energy for twenty days, till
the last vestige of it was subdued.

The tourist comprehends the great importance of this work when he
beholds the rivers of the Park threading, like avenues of silver, the
sombre frame-work of the trees, and recollects that just such forests
as adjoin these streams cover no less than eighty-four per cent. of
its entire area. In a treeless country like Wyoming these forests are
of priceless value, because of their utility in holding back, in
spring, the melting snow. Some of the largest rivers of our continent
are fed from the well-timbered area of the Yellowstone; and if the
trees were destroyed, the enormous snowfall in the Park, unsheltered
from the sun, would melt so rapidly that the swollen torrents would
quickly wash away roads, bridges, and productive farms, even, far out
in the adjacent country, and, subsequently, cause a serious drought
for many months.

[Illustration: FIRE-HOLE RIVER.]

Another very important labor of the United States soldiers here is to
preserve the game within the Park. It is the purpose of our
Government to make this area a place of refuge for those animals
which man's insatiate greed has now almost destroyed. The remoteness
of this lofty region, together with its mountain fastnesses, deep
forests, and sequestered glens, makes it an almost perfect
game-preserve. There are at present thirty thousand elk within the
Park; its deer and antelopes are steadily increasing; and bears,
foxes, and small game roam unmolested here. Buffaloes, however, are
still few in number. They have become too valuable. A buffalo head,
which formerly could be bought for a mere trifle, commands, to-day,
a price of five hundred dollars. Hence, daring poachers sometimes run
the risk of entering the Park in winter and destroying them.

[Illustration: MOUNTAIN SHEEP.]

It is sad to reflect how the buffaloes of this continent have been
almost exterminated. As late as thirty years ago, trains often had to
halt upon the prairies; and even steamboats were, occasionally,
obliged to wait an hour or two in the Missouri River until enormous
herds of buffalo had crossed their path. Now only about two hundred
of these animals are in existence,--the sole survivors of the
millions that once thundered over the western plains, and disputed
with the Indians the ownership of this great continent.

[Illustration: YELLOWSTONE ELK.]

Until very recently, travelers on our prairies frequently beheld the
melancholy sight of laborers gathering up the buffalo bones which
lay upon the plains, like wreckage floating on the sea. Hundreds of
carloads of these skeletons were shipped to factories in the east.
Now, to protect the few remaining buffaloes, as well as other
animals, our troops patrol the Park even in winter. The principal
stations are connected by telephone, and information given thus is
promptly acted on. No traveler is allowed to carry fire-arms; and any
one who attempts to destroy animal life is liable to a fine of one
thousand dollars, or imprisonment for two years, or both.

[Illustration: BUFFALOES IN THE SNOW.]


Still another task, devolving upon the Military Governor of the Park,
is the building and repairing of its roads. No doubt the
Superintendent is doing all he can with the amount of money that the
Government allows him; but there is room for great improvement in
these thoroughfares, if Congress will but make a suitable
appropriation for the purpose. At present, a part of the
coaching-route is of necessity traveled over twice. This should be
obviated by constructing one more road, by which the tourist could be
brought to several interesting features of the Park that are now
rarely seen.

Every one knows how roads in Europe climb the steepest grades in easy
curves, and are usually as smooth as a marble table, free from
obstacles, and carefully walled-in by parapets of stone. Why should
not we possess such roads, especially in our National Park? Dust is
at present a great drawback to the traveler's pleasure here; but this
could be prevented if the roads were thoroughly macadamized. Surely,
the honor of our Government demands that this unique museum of
marvels should be the pride and glory of the nation, with highways
equal to any in the world.

[Illustration: A YELLOWSTONE ROAD.]

[Illustration: LIBERTY CAP.]

Only a few hundred feet distant from the Mammoth Springs Hotel
stands a strange, naturally molded shaft of stone, fifty-two feet in
height. From certain points its summit calls to mind the head-dress
of the Revolution, and hence its name is Liberty Cap. It is a fitting
monument to mark the entrance into Wonderland, for it is the cone of
an old geyser long since dead. Within it is a tube of unknown depth.
Through that, ages since, was hurled at intervals a stream of boiling
water, precisely as it comes from active geysers in the Park to-day.
But now the hand of Time has stilled its passionate pulsations, and
laid upon its stony lips the seal of silence. At only a little
distance from this eloquent reminder of the past I peered into a
cavern hundreds of feet deep. It was once the reservoir of a geyser.
An atmosphere of sulphur haunts it still. No doubt this whole plateau
is but the cover of extinguished fires, for other similar caves
pierce the locality on which the hotel stands. A feeling of solemnity
stole over me as I surveyed these dead or dying agents of volcanic
power. In the great battle of the elements, which has been going on
here for unnumbered centuries, they doubtless took an active part.
But Time has given them a mortal wound; and now they are waiting
patiently until their younger comrades, farther up the Park, shall,
one by one, like them grow cold and motionless.


Not more than fifty feet from Liberty Cap rise the famous Hot Spring
Terraces. They constitute a veritable mountain, covering at least two
hundred acres, the whole of which has been, for centuries, growing
slowly through the agency of hot water issuing from the boiling
springs. This, as it cools, leaves a mineral deposit, spread out in
delicate, thin layers by the soft ripples of the heated flood.
Strange, is it not? Everywhere else the flow of water wears away the
substance that it touches; but here, by its peculiar sediment, it
builds as surely as the coral insect. Moreover, the coloring of these
terraces is, if possible, even more marvelous than their creation;
for, as the mineral water pulsates over them, it forms a great
variety of brilliant hues. Hot water, therefore, is to this material
what blood is to the body. With it the features glow with warmth and
color; without it they are cold and ghostlike. Accordingly, where
water ripples over these gigantic steps, towering one above another
toward the sky, they look like beautiful cascades of color; and when
the liquid has deserted them, they stand out like a staircase of
Carrara marble. Hence, through the changing centuries, they pass in
slow succession, from light to shade, from brilliancy to pallor, and
from life to death. This mineral water is not only a mysterious
architect; it is, also, an artist that no man can equal. Its magic
touch has intermingled the finest shades of orange, yellow, purple,
red, and brown; sometimes in solid masses, at other places
diversified by slender threads, like skeins of multicolored silk. Yet
in producing all these wonderful effects, there is no violence, no
uproar. The boiling water passes over the mounds it has produced with
the low murmur of a sweet cascade. Its tiny wavelets touch the stone
work like a sculptor's fingers, molding the yielding mass into
exquisitely graceful forms.

[Illustration: MINERVA TERRACE.]

The top of each of these colored steps is a pool of boiling water.
Each of these tiny lakes is radiant with lovely hues, and is bordered
by a colored coping, resembling a curb of jasper or of porphyry. Yet
the thinnest knife-blade can be placed here on the dividing line
between vitality and death. The contrast is as sudden and complete as
that between the desert and the valley of the Nile. Where Egypt's
river ends its overflow the desert sands begin; and on these terraces
it is the same. Where the life-giving water fails, the golden colors
become ashen. This terraced mountain, therefore, seemed to me like a
colossal checker-board, upon whose colored squares, the two great
forces, Life and Death, were playing their eternal game. There is a
pathos in this evanescent beauty. What lies about us in one place so
gray and ghostly was once as bright and beautiful as that which we
perceive a hundred feet away. But nothing here retains supremacy.
The glory of this century will be the gravestone of the next. Around
our feet are sepulchres of vanished splendor. It seems as if the
architect were constantly dissatisfied. No sooner has he finished one
magnificent structure than he impatiently begins another, leaving the
first to crumble and decay. Each new production seems to him the
finest; but never reaching his ideal, he speedily abandons it to
perish from neglect.

[Illustration: JUPITER TERRACE.]

[Illustration: "VITALITY AND DEATH."]

It cannot be said of these terraces that "distance lends enchantment
to the view." The nearer you come to them the more beautiful they
appear. They even bear the inspection of a magnifying glass, for they
are covered with a bead-like ornamentation worthy of the goldsmith's
art. In one place, for example, rise pulpits finer than those of Pisa
or Siena. Their edges seem to be of purest jasper. They are upheld by
tapering shafts resembling richly decorated organ-pipes. From
parapets of porphyry hang gold stalactites, side by side with
icicles of silver. Moreover, all its marvelous fretwork is
distinctly visible, for the light film of water pulsates over it so
delicately that it can no more hide the filigree beneath than a thin
veil conceals a face.

It is a melancholy fact that were it not for United States troops,
these beautiful objects would be mutilated by relic-hunters. Hence,
another duty of our soldiers is to watch the formations constantly,
lest tourists should break off specimens, and ruin them forever, and
lest still more ignoble vandals, whose fingers itch for notoriety,
should write upon these glorious works of nature their worthless
names, and those of the towns unfortunate enough to have produced
them. All possible measures are taken to prevent this vandalism.
Thus, every tourist entering the Park must register his name. Most
travelers do so, as a matter of course, at the hotels, but even the
arrivals of those who come here to camp must be duly recorded at
the Superintendent's office, If a soldier sees a name, or even
initials, written on the stone, he telephones the fact to the
Military Governor. At once the lists are scanned for such a name. If
found, the Superintendent wires an order to have the man arrested,
and so careful is the search for all defacers, that the offending
party is, usually, found before he leaves the Park. Then the
Superintendent, like the Mikado, makes the punishment fit the crime.
A scrubbing brush and laundry soap are given to the desecrator, and
he is made to go back, perhaps forty miles or more, and with his own
hands wash away the proofs of his disgraceful vanity. Not long ago a
young man was arrested at six o'clock in the morning, made to leave
his bed, and march without his breakfast several miles, to prove that
he could be as skillful with a brush as with a pencil.


[Illustration: MAN AND NATURE.]

[Illustration: THE PULPIT TERRACE.]

[Illustration: A CAMPING-PARTY.]

After spending several days at the Mammoth Hot Springs, we started
out to explore the greater marvels that awaited us in the interior.
The mode of travel through the Park is a succession of coaching-parties
over a distance of one hundred and eighty miles. The larger vehicles
are drawn by six, the smaller ones by four, strong horses, well fed,
well groomed, high spirited, yet safe. This feature of our National
Park astonished me. I had formed no idea of its perfection or its
magnitude. Here, for example, are vehicles enough to accommodate
seven hundred tourists for a continuous journey of five days! Here,
too, are five hundred horses, all of which can be harnessed at
twenty-four hours' notice; and, since the Park is so remote, here
also are the company's blacksmith and repair shops. Within the
stables, also, are the beautifully varnished coaches, varying in
cost from one to two thousand dollars, and made in Concord, New
Hampshire, twenty-five hundred miles away. On one of these I read
the number, "13-1/2." "Why did you add the fraction?" I inquired of
the Manager of Transportation. "Because," he replied, "some
travelers would not take a number thirteen coach. They feared a
breakdown or a tumble into the river; so I put on the half to take
ill-luck away." I dwell at length upon these practical details,
because I have found that people, in general, do not know them. Most
Americans have little idea whether the driving distance in the Park
is ten miles, or a hundred. Especially are they ignorant of the fact
that they may leave the coaches at any point, remain at a hotel as
long as they desire, and then resume their journey in other
vehicles, without the least additional expense for transportation,
precisely as one uses a stop-over ticket on a railroad.

[Illustration: A COACHING-PARTY.]

[Illustration: NO. 13-1/2.]


The fact that it is possible to go through the Park in four or five
days is not a reason why it is best to do so. Hundreds of tourists
make the trip three times as rapidly as they would were they aware
that they could remain comfortably for months. When this is better
known, people will travel here more leisurely. Even now, parents
with little children sometimes leave them at the Mammoth Springs
Hotel in charge of nurses, and receive messages by telephone every
day to inform them how they are. An important consideration, also,
for invalids is the fact that two skilled surgeons, attendant on the
army, are always easily accessible. Moreover, the climate of the Park
in summer is delightful. It is true, the sun beats down at noonday
fiercely, the thin air offering scant resistance to its rays, but in
the shade one feels no heat at all. Light overcoats are needed when
the sun goes down. There is scarcely a night here, through the year,
which passes without frost. To me the pure dry air of that great
height was more invigorating than any I had ever breathed, save,
possibly, that of Norway, and it is, probably, the tonic of the
atmosphere that renders even the invalid and aged able to support
long journeys in the Park without exhaustion. In all these years no
tourist has been made ill here by fatigue.

[Illustration: THE GOLDEN GATE.]


A few miles after leaving the Hot Springs, we reached the entrance to
a picturesque ravine, the tawny color of whose rocks has given it the
name of Golden Gate. This is, alike, the entrance to, and exit from,
the inner sanctuary of this land of marvels. Accordingly a solitary
boulder, detached from its companions on the cliff, seems to be
stationed at this portal like a sentinel to watch all tourists who
come and go. At all events it echoes to the voices of those who enter
almost as eager as seekers after gold; and, a week later, sees them
return, browned by the sun, invigorated by the air, and joyful in the
acquisition of incomparable memories.

Emerging from this Golden Gate, I looked about me with surprise, as
the narrow walls of the ravine gave place to a plateau surrounded
everywhere by snow-capped mountains, from which the Indians believed
one could obtain a view of Paradise. Across this area, like a
railroad traversing a prairie, stretched the driveway for our

"Do tourists usually seem delighted with the park?" I asked our

"Invariably," he replied. "Of course I cannot understand the words of
the foreigners, but their excited exclamations show their great
enthusiasm. I like the tourists," he continued, "they are so grateful
for any little favor! One of them said to me the other day, 'Is the
water here good to drink?' 'Not always,' I replied, 'you must be
careful.' At once he pressed my hand, pulled out a flask, and said,
'I thank you!"

[Illustration: THE PLATEAU.]

While crossing the plateau we enjoyed an admirable view of the
loftiest of the mountains which form, around the Park, a rampart of
protection. Its sharply pointed summit pierces the transparent air
more than eleven thousand feet above the sea, and it is well named
Electric Peak, since it appears to be a storage battery for all of
the Rocky Mountains. Such are the mineral deposits on its sides, that
the best instruments of engineers are thrown into confusion, and
rendered useless, while the lightning on this favorite home of
electricity is said to be unparalleled.

[Illustration: ELECTRIC PEAK.]

[Illustration: THE GLASS MOUNTAIN.]

Presently a turn in the road revealed to us a dark-hued mountain
rising almost perpendicularly from a lake. Marvelous to relate, the
material of which this mountain is composed is jet-black glass,
produced by volcanic fires. The very road on which we drove between
this and the lake also consists of glass too hard to break beneath
the wheels. The first explorers found this obsidian cliff almost
impassable; but when they ascertained of what it was composed, they
piled up timber at its base, and set it on fire. When the glass was
hot, they dashed upon the heated mass cold water, which broke it into
fragments. Then with huge levers, picks, and shovels, they pushed
and pried the shining pieces down into the lake, and opened thus a
wagon-road a thousand feet in length.

[Illustration: AN INDIAN CHIEF.]

The region of the Yellowstone was to most Indian tribes a place of
horror. They trembled at the awful sights they here beheld. But the
obsidian cliff was precious to them all. Its substance was as hard as
flint, and hence well suited for their arrow-heads. This mountain of
volcanic glass was, therefore, the great Indian armory; and as such
it was neutral ground. Hither all hostile tribes might come for
implements of war and then depart unharmed. While they were here a
sacred, inter-tribal oath protected them. An hour later, those very
warriors might meet in deadly combat, and turn against each other's
breasts the weapons taken from that laboratory of an unknown power.

[Illustration: A TRAPPER.]

Can we wonder that, in former times, when all this region was still
unexplored, and its majestic streams rolled nameless through a
trackless wilderness, the statements of the few brave men who
ventured into this enclosure were disbelieved by all who heard them?
One old trapper became so angry when his stories of the place were
doubted, that he deliberately revenged himself by inventing tales of
which Münchhausen would have been proud. Thus, he declared, that one
day when he was hunting here he saw a bear. He fired at it, but
without result. The animal did not even notice him. He fired again,
yet the big bear kept on grazing. The hunter in astonishment then
ran forward, but suddenly dashed against a solid mountain made of
glass. Through that, he said, he had been looking at the animal.
Unspeakably amazed, he finally walked around the mountain, and was
just taking aim again, when he discovered that the glass had acted
like a telescope, and that the bear was twenty-five miles away! Not
far from the volcanic cliff which gave the trapper inspiration for
his story, we reached one of the most famous basins of the Park. In
briefest terms, these basins are the spots in the arena where the
crust is thinnest. They are the trap-doors in a volcanic stage
through which the fiery actors in the tragedy of Nature, which is
here enacted, come upon the scene. Literally, they are the vents
through which the steam and boiling water can escape. In doing so,
however, the water, as at the Mammoth Springs, leaves a sediment of
pure white lime or silica. Hence, from a distance, these basins look
like desolate expanses of white sand. Beside them always flows a
river which carries off the boiling water to the outer world.

[Illustration: THE NORRIS BASIN.]

[Illustration: A PLACE OF DANGER.]

No illustration can do justice to what is called the Norris Basin,
but it is horrible enough to test the strongest nerves. Having full
confidence in our guide (the Park photographer) we ventured with him,
outside the usual track of tourists, and went where all the money of
the Rothschilds would not have tempted us to go alone. The crust
beneath our feet was hot, and often quivered as we walked. A single
misstep to the right or left would have been followed by appalling
consequences. Thus, a careless soldier, only a few days before, had
broken through, and was then lying in the hospital with both legs
badly scalded. Around us were a hundred vats of water, boiling
furiously; the air was heavy with the fumes of sulphur; and the whole
expanse was seamed with cracks and honeycombed with holes from which
a noxious vapor crept out to pollute the air. I thought of Dante's
walk through hell, and called to mind the burning lake, which he
describes, from which the wretched sufferers vainly sought to free

[Illustration: A CAMPING-STATION.]

Leaving, at last, this roof of the infernal regions, just as we again
stood apparently on solid ground, a fierce explosion close beside
us caused us to start and run for twenty feet. Our guide laughed
heartily. "Come back," he said, "don't be afraid. It is only a baby
geyser, five years old." In fact, in 1891, a sudden outburst of
volcanic fury made an opening here, through which, at intervals of
thirty minutes, day and night, hot water now leaps forth in wild

"This, then, is a geyser!" I exclaimed.

"Bah!" said the guide, contemptuously, "if you had seen the real
geysers in the Upper Basin, you would not look at this."

[Illustration: A BABY GEYSER.]

Meantime, for half an hour we had been hearing, more and more
distinctly, a dull, persistent roar, like the escape of steam from a
transatlantic liner. At last we reached the cause. It is a mass of
steam which rushes from an opening in the ground, summer and winter,
year by year, in one unbroken volume. The rock around it is as black
as jet; hence it is called the Black Growler. Think of the awful
power confined beneath the surface here, when this one angry voice
can be distinctly heard four miles away. Choke up that aperture, and
what a terrible convulsion would ensue, as the accumulated steam
burst its prison walls! It is a sight which makes one long to lift
the cover from this monstrous caldron, learn the cause of its
stupendous heat, and trace the complicated and mysterious aqueducts
through which the steam and water make their way.

[Illustration: THE BLACK GROWLER.]

Returning from the Black Growler, we halted at a lunch-station, the
manager of which is Larry. All visitors to the Park remember Larry.
He has a different welcome for each guest: "Good-day, Professor. Come
in, my Lord. The top of the morning to you, Doctor." These phrases
flow as lightly from his tongue as water from a geyser. His station
is a mere tent; but he will say, with most amusing seriousness:
"Gintlemen, walk one flight up and turn to the right, Ladies, come
this way and take the elevator. Now thin, luncheon is ready. Each
guest take one seat, and as much food as he can get."

"Where did you come from, Larry?" I asked.

[Illustration: LARRY.]

"From Brooklyn, Sor," was his reply, "but I'll niver go back there,
for all my friends have been killed by the trolley cars."

Larry is very democratic. The other day a guest, on sitting down to
lunch, took too much room upon the bench.

"Plaze move along, Sor," said Larry.

The stranger glared at him. "I am a Count," he remarked at last.

"Well, Sor," said Larry, "here you only count wun!"

"Hush!" exclaimed a member of the gentleman's suite, "that is Count

"I'll forgive him that," said Larry, "if he won't shuffle off this
seat," Pointing to my companion. Larry asked me: "What is that
gintleman's business?"

"He is a teacher of singing," I answered.

[Illustration: LARRY'S LUNCH-STATION.]

"Faith," said Larry, "I'd like to have him try my voice. There is
something very strange about my vocal chords. Whenever I sing, the
Black Growler stops. One tourist told me it was a case of
professional jealousy, and said the Black Growler was envious of my
_forte_ tones. 'I have not forty tones,' I said, 'I've only one
tone,' 'Well,' says he, 'make a note of it!'"

[Illustration: THE BISCUIT BASIN.]

Only once in his life has Larry been put to silence. Two years ago, a
gentleman remarked to him: "Well, Larry, good-by; come and visit me
next winter in the East. In my house you shall have a nice room, and,
if you are ill, shall enjoy a doctor's services free of all expense."

"Thank you," said Larry, "plaze give me your card."

The tourist handed it to him; and Larry, with astonishment and
horror, read beneath the gentleman's name these words:
"Superintendent of the Insane Asylum, Utica, New York."

Some hours after leaving Larry's lunch-station, we reached another
area of volcanic action. Our nerves were steadier now. The close
proximity to Hades was less evident; yet here hot mineral water had
spread broadcast innumerable little mounds of silica, which look so
much like biscuits grouped in a colossal pan that this is called the
Biscuit Basin; but they are not the kind that "mother used to make."
If a tourist asked for bread here, he would receive a stone; since
all these so-called biscuits are as hard as flint. We walked upon
their crusts with perfect safety; yet, in so doing, our boots grew
warm beneath our feet, for the water in this miniature archipelago is
heated to the boiling point.

[Illustration: A GEYSER POOL.]

"Show me a geyser!" I at last exclaimed impatiently, "I want to see a
genuine geyser." Accordingly our guide conducted us to what he
announced as "The Fountain." I looked around me with surprise. I saw
no fountain, but merely a pool of boiling water, from which the light
breeze bore away a thin, transparent cloud of steam. It is true,
around this was a pavement as delicately fashioned as any piece of
coral ever taken from the sea. Nevertheless, while I admired that, I
could not understand why this comparatively tranquil pool was called
a geyser, and frankly said I was disappointed. But, even as I spoke,
I saw to my astonishment the boiling water in this reservoir sink and
disappear from view.

"Where has it gone?" I eagerly inquired.

"Stand back!" shouted the guide, "she's coming."

[Illustration: "A CLOUD-BURST OF JEWELS."]

I ran back a few steps, then turned and caught my breath; for at that
very instant, up from the pool which I had just beheld so beautiful
and tranquil, there rose in one great outburst of sublimity such a
stupendous mass of water as I had never imagined possible in a
vertical form. I knew that it was boiling, and that a deluge of those
scalding drops would probably mean death, but I was powerless to
move. Amazement and delight enchained me spellbound. Talk of a
fountain! This was a cloud-burst of the rarest jewels which, till
that moment, had been held in solution in a subterranean cavern, but
which had suddenly crystallized into a million radiant forms on thus
emerging into light and air. The sun was shining through the
glittering mass; and myriads of diamonds, moonstones, pearls, and
opals mingled in splendid rivalry two hundred feet above our heads.

[Illustration: THE OBLONG GEYSER.]

We soon approached another of the many geysers in the basin. They are
all different. Around one, a number of colored blocks, exquisitely
decorated by the geyser's waves, appeared to have been placed
artistically in an oblong frame. When I first beheld them, they
looked like huge sea-monsters which, startled by our footsteps, were
about to plunge into the depths.

What is there in the natural world so fascinating and mysterious as a
geyser? What, for example, is the depth of its intensely-colored pool
of boiling water? No one can tell. One thing, however, is certain;
the surface of the pool is but the summit of a liquid column. Its
base is in a subterranean reservoir. Into that reservoir there flows
a volume of cold water, furnished by the rain or snow, or by
infiltration from some lake, or river. Meantime, the walls of the
deep reservoir are heated by volcanic fire. Accordingly the water, in
contact with these walls, soon begins to boil, and a great mass of
steam collects above it. There must, of course, be some escape for
this, and, finally, it makes its exit, hurling the boiling water to a
height of one or two hundred feet, according to the force of the
explosion. Imagine, then, the amount of water that even one such
reservoir contains; for some of these volcanic fountains play for
more than half an hour before their contents are discharged! Think,
also, that in this basin there are no less than thirty geysers,
seventeen of which have been observed in action simultaneously.

[Illustration: THE GIANT GEYSER.]

[Illustration: THE CASTLE GEYSER.]

Thus far we had seen merely geysers which arise from pools; but,
presently, we approached one which in the course of ages has built up
for itself a cone, or funnel, for its scalding waves.

"That," said our guide, "is the Castle Geyser."

"That rock a geyser!" I exclaimed incredulously, "it looks like an
old ruin, without a single indication of activity; save, possibly,
the little cloud of steam that hangs above it, as if it were the
breath of some mysterious monster sleeping far below."

"If you doubt it," he replied, "go nearer and examine it."

[Illustration: ON "ITS FLINTY SIDES."]

We did so. I scrambled up its flinty sides, and found an opening in
the summit three feet wide. I touched the rock. It was still warm,
and yet no water was discernible. No sound was audible within its


"If this be really a geyser," I remarked, "it is no doubt a lifeless
one like Liberty Cap."

My comrade smiled, looked at his watch, then at his notebook, and
finally replied: "Wait half an hour and see."

Accordingly, we lingered on the massive ledges of the Castle Geyser,
and learned that it is the largest, probably the oldest, of all the
active geyser cones within the Park. Once its eruptions were no doubt
stupendous; but now its power is waning. The gradual closing up of
its huge throat, and the increasing substitution of steam for water,
prove that the monster has now entered on the final stage of its
career; for here, as on the terraces, we are surrounded by specimens
of life, decay, and death. The young, the middle-aged, the old, the
dead,--they are all here!

The fiery agitation of the pool and the impulsive spurts of water are
indicative of youth. A steady, splendid outburst proves maturity. The
feebler action of the Castle shows the waning powers of old age. Last
of all comes the closed cone, like a sealed sarcophagus, and that is


Meantime, the thirty minutes of expectancy had passed; and, suddenly,
with a tremendous rush of steam, the Castle proved that its resources
were by no means exhausted. At the same instant, half a mile away,
the Beehive Geyser threw into the air a shaft of dazzling spray fully
two hundred feet in height. I realized then, as never before, the
noble action of our Government in giving this incomparable region to
the people. If this had not been done, the selfishness and greed of
man would have made a tour here almost unbearable. A fence would,
doubtless, have been built around every geyser, and fees would have
been charged to witness each wonderful phenomenon; whereas, to-day,
thanks to the generosity of Congress, the Park itself, and everything
that it contains, are absolutely free to all, rich and poor, native
and foreigner,--forever consecrated to the education and delight of


But no enumeration of the geysers would be complete without a mention
of the special favorite of tourists, Old Faithful. The opening
through which this miracle of Nature springs is at the summit of a
beautifully ornamented mound, which is itself a page in Nature's
wonder-book. The lines upon its wrinkled face tell of a past whose
secrets still remain a mystery. It hints of an antiquity so vast that
one contemplates it with bated breath; for this entire slope has been
built up, atom after atom, through unnumbered ages; during which
time, no doubt, the geyser hour by hour has faithfully performed its
part, without an eye to note its splendor, or a voice to tell its
glory to the world. Old Faithful does not owe its popularity entirely
to height or beauty, though it possesses both. It is beloved for its
fidelity. Whatever irregularities other geysers show, Old Faithful
never fails. Year in, year out, winter and summer, day and night, in
cold and heat, in sunshine and in storm, Old Faithful every
seventy minutes sends up its silvery cascade to the height of about
one hundred and eighty feet. Of all the geysers known to man this is
the most reliable and perfect. Station yourself before it watch in
hand and, punctual to the moment, it will never disappoint you. Few
realize on how large a scale the forces of Nature work here. At each
eruption, Old Faithful pours forth about one million five hundred
thousand gallons, or more than thirty-three million gallons in one
day! This geyser alone, therefore, could easily supply with water a
city of the size of Boston.



Within this area of the active geysers is a place called Hell's Half
Acre. It is rightly named. Rough, perpendicular ledges project over a
monstrous gulf of unknown depth, from which great clouds of steam are
constantly emerging. When the wind draws back for a moment a portion
of this sulphur-laden curtain, the visitor perceives a lake below,
seething and boiling from internal heat. For years no one suspected
this to be a geyser; but suddenly, in 1881, the underlying force
hurled the entire lake up bodily to the height of two hundred and
fifty feet, and even repeated frequently. After some months the
exhibition ceased, and all was calm again for seven years. In 1888,
however, it once more burst forth with prodigious energy, ejecting at
each explosion more boiling water than all the other geysers in the
Park combined. Even the surrounding ledges could not withstand this
terrible upheaval, and tons of rock were sometimes thrown up, with
the water, more than two hundred feet. It is not strange, therefore,
that this is called Excelsior, the King of Geysers. It is the most
tremendous, awe-inspiring fountain in the world. When it will be
again aroused, no one can tell. Its interval would seem to be from
seven to ten years. Said an enthusiastic traveler to me: "If the
Excelsior ever plays again, I will gladly travel three thousand miles
to see it."

[Illustration: HELL'S HALF ACRE.]

[Illustration: THE EXCELSIOR, IN 1888.]


I have a vivid remembrance of my last night at the Upper Basin. The
hush of evening hallowed it. Alone and undisturbed we looked upon a
scene unequaled in the world. Around us liquid columns rose and fell
with ceaseless regularity. The cooler air of evening made many shafts
of vapor visible which in the glare of day had vanished unperceived.
So perfect were their images in the adjoining stream, that it was
easy to believe the veil had been at last withdrawn, and that the
hidden source of all this wonderful display had been revealed. No
sound from them was audible; no breeze disturbed their steadfast
flight toward heaven; and in the deepening twilight, the slender,
white-robed columns seemed like the ghosts of geysers, long since
dead, revisiting the scenes of their activity.


[Illustration: PRISMATIC LAKE.]

But geysers do not constitute the only marvels of these volcanic
basins. The beauty of their pools of boiling water is almost
inconceivable to those who have not seen them. No illustration can do
them justice; for no photographer can adequately reproduce their
clear, transparent depths, nor can an artist's brush ever quite
portray their peculiar coloring, due to the minerals held in
solution, or else deposited upon their sides. I can deliberately say,
however, that some of the most exquisitely beautiful objects I
have ever seen in any portion of the world are the superbly tinted
caldrons of the Yellowstone.

Their hues are infinitely varied. Many are blue, some green, some
golden, and some wine-colored, in all gradations of tone; and could
we soar aloft and take of them a bird's-eye view, the glittering
basin might seem to us a silver shield, studded with rubies,
emeralds, turquoises, and sapphires. Moreover, these miniature lakes
are lined with exquisite ornamentation. One sees in them, with
absolute distinctness, a reproduction of the loveliest forms that he
has ever found in floral or in vegetable life. Gardens of mushrooms,
banks of goldenrod, or clusters of asparagus, appear to be growing
here, created by the Architect and colored by the Artist of these
mineral springs.


[Illustration: THE EMERALD POOL.]

The most renowned of all these reservoirs of color is called the
Emerald Pool. Painters from this and other lands have tried
repeatedly to depict this faithfully upon canvas, but, finally, have
left it in despair. In fact, its coloring is so intense, that as the
bubbles, rising to its surface, lift from this bowl their rounded
forms, and pause a second in the air before they break, they are
still just as richly tinted as the flood beneath. Accordingly this
pool appeared to me like a colossal casket, filled with emeralds,
which spirit hands from time to time drew gently upward from its
jeweled depths.

[Illustration: SUNLIGHT LAKE.]

Close by this is another boiling pool called the Sunlight Lake. On
this I saw one of the most marvelous phenomena I have ever looked
upon. The colors of this tiny sheet of water appeared not only in
concentric circles, like the rings of a tree, but also in the order
of the spectrum. The outer band was crimson, and then the unbroken
sequence came: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet in the
centre! Moreover, the very steam arising from it (reflecting as it
did the varied tints beneath) was exquisitely colored, and vanished
into air like a dissolving rainbow. All these prismatic pools are
clasped by beautifully decorated curbs of silica, and seem to be set
in rings of gold, with mineral colors running through them like
enamel. So delicate are the touches of the magic water, as the
persistent heart-beats of old Mother Earth propel it over their
ornamental rims, that every ripple leaves its tiny mark. Hence it is
no exaggeration, but literal truth, to say that beautiful mosaic work
is being formed each time the films of boiling water are dimpled by
the passing breeze.

[Illustration: THE DEVIL'S PUNCH-BOWL.]

[Illustration: THE MAMMOTH PAINT POT.]

The great variety of wonders in our National Park was a continual
source of pleasure and surprise to me. Thus, in the midst of all the
pools and geysers in the Upper Basin is one known as the Mammoth
Paint Pot. The earth surrounding it is cracked and blistered by heat,
and from this rises a parapet five feet high, enclosing a space
resembling a circus ring. Within this area is a mixture of soft clay
and boiling water, suggesting an enormous caldron of hot mush. This
bubbling slime is almost as diversely tinted as the pools themselves.
It seemed to me that I was looking into a huge vat, where unseen
painters were engaged in mixing colors. The fact is easily explained.
The mineral ingredients of the volcanic soil produce these different
hues. In a new form, it is the same old story of the Mammoth
Terraces. Fire supplies the pigments, and hot water uses them. All
other features of the Park are solemn and impressive; but the Mammoth
Paint Pot provokes a smile. There is no grandeur here. It seems a
burlesque on volcanic power. The steam which oozes through the
plastic mass tosses its substance into curious Liliputian shapes,
which rise and break like bubbles. A mirthful demon seems to be
engaged in molding grotesque images in clay, which turn a somersault,
and then fall back to vanish in the seething depths. Now it will be a
flower, then a face, then, possibly, a manikin resembling toys for
children. Meanwhile one hears constantly a low accompaniment of
groanings, hiccoughs, and expectorations, as if the aforesaid demon
found this pudding difficult to digest.




Soon after leaving the Upper Geyser Basin, we approached a tiny lake
which has, in some respects, no equal in the world. With the
exception of some isolated mountain peaks, it marks the highest
portion of our country. In winter, therefore, when encircled by
mounds of snow, it rests upon the summit of our continent like a
crown of sapphire set with pearls. So evenly is it balanced, that
when it overflows, one part of it descends to the Atlantic, another
part to the Pacific. This little streamlet, therefore, is a silver
thread connecting two great oceans three thousand miles apart.
Accordingly, one might easily fancy that every drop in this pure
mountain reservoir possessed a separate individuality, and that a
passing breeze or falling leaf might decide its destiny, propelling
it with gentle force into a current which should lead it eastward to
be silvered by the dawn, or westward to be gilded by the setting sun.


On either side of this elevation, known as the Continental Divide,
the view was glorious. In one direction, an ocean of dark pines
rolled westward in enormous billows. The silver surfaces of several
lakes gleamed here and there like whitecaps on the rolling waves. Far
off upon the verge of the horizon, fifty miles away, three
snow-capped, sharply pointed mountains looked like a group of
icebergs drifting from the Polar Sea. They did not move, however, nor
will they move while this old earth shall last. They antedate by ages
the Pyramids which they resemble. They will be standing thus, in
majesty, when Egypt's royal sepulchres shall have returned to dust.
Forever anchored there, those three resplendent peaks rise fourteen
thousand feet above the sea, and form the grand tiara of our
continent, the loftiest summits of the Rocky Mountains.

[Illustration: THE THREE TETONS.]

As we began the descent from this great elevation, another splendid
vision greeted us. We gazed upon it with delight. Beyond a vast
expanse of dark green pines we saw, three hundred feet below us, Lake
Yellowstone. It stirred my heart to look at last upon this famous
inland sea, nearly eight thousand feet above the ocean level, and to
realize that if the White Mountain monarch, Washington, were planted
in its depths (its base line on a level with the sea), there would
remain two thousand feet of space between its' summit and the surface
of this lake! In this respect it has but one real rival, Lake
Titicaca, in the Andes of Peru.


Descending to the shore, however, we found that even here, so far
from shipyards and the sea, a steamboat was awaiting us. Imagine the
labor of conveying such a vessel sixty-five miles, from the
railroad to this lake, up an ascent of more than three thousand feet.
Of course, it was brought in several sections; but even then, in one
or two mountain gorges, the cliffs had to be blasted away to make
room for it to pass. It is needless to add that this steamer has no
rivals. It was with the greatest interest that I sailed at such a
height on this adventurous craft; and the next time that I stand upon
the summit of Mount Washington, and see the fleecy clouds float in
the empyrean, one-third of a mile above me, I shall remember that the
steamer on Lake Yellowstone sails at precisely the same altitude as
that enjoyed by those sun-tinted galleons of the sky.



[Illustration: ON LAKE YELLOWSTONE.]

To appreciate the beauty of Lake Yellowstone, one should behold it
when its waves are radiant with the sunset glow. It is, however, not
only beautiful; it is mysterious. Around it, in the distance, rise
silver crested peaks whose melting snow descends to it in ice-cold
streams. Still nearer, we behold a girdle of gigantic forests,
rarely, if ever, trodden by the foot of man. Oh, the loneliness of
this great lake! For eight long months scarcely a human eye beholds
it. The wintry storms that sweep its surface find no boats on which
to vent their fury. Lake Yellowstone has never mirrored in itself
even the frail canoes of painted savages. The only keels that ever
furrow it are those of its solitary steamer and some little
fishing-boats engaged by tourists. Even these lead a very brief
existence. Like summer insects, they float here a few weeks, and
disappear, leaving the winds and waves to do their will.

[Illustration: THE SLEEPING GIANT.]

In sailing on this lake, I observed a distant mountain whose summit
bore a strange resemblance to an upturned human face, sculptured in
bold relief against the sky. It is appropriately called the Sleeping
Giant; for it has slept on, undisturbed, while countless centuries
have dropped into the gulf of Time, like leaves in the adjoining
forest. How many nights have cast their shadows like a veil upon that
giant's silhouette! How many dawns have flooded it with light, and
found those changeless features still confronting them! We call it
human in appearance, and yet that profile was the same before the
first man ever trod this planet. Grim, awful model of the coming
race, did not its stern lips smile disdainfully at the first human
pygmy fashioned in its likeness?

[Illustration: ALONG THE SHORE.]

This lake has one peculiarity which, in the minds of certain
tourists, eclipses all the rest. I mean its possibilities for
fishing. We know that sad experience has taught mankind to invent the
proverb: "Once a fisherman, always a liar." I wish, then, at the
start, to say I am no fisherman; but what I saw here would
inevitably make me one if I should remain a month or two upon these
shores. Lake Yellowstone is the fisherman's paradise. Said one of
Izaak Walton's followers to me: "I would rather be an angler here
than an angel." Nor is this strange. I saw two men catch from this
lake in one hour more than a hundred splendid trout, weighing from
one to three pounds apiece! They worked with incredible rapidity.
Scarcely did the fly touch the water when the line was drawn, the
light rod dipped with graceful curve, and the revolving reel drew in
the speckled beauty to the shore. Each of these anglers had two hooks
upon his line, and both of them once had two trout hooked at the same
time, and landed them; while we poor eastern visitors at first looked
on in dumb amazement, and then enthusiastically cheered.

[Illustration: GREAT FISHING.]

Can the reader bear something still more trying to his faith?
Emerging from the lake is a little cone containing a boiling pool,
entirely distinct from the surrounding water. I saw a fisherman stand
on this and catch a trout, which, without moving from his place, or
even unhooking the fish, he dropped into the boiling pool, and
cooked! When the first scientific explorers of this region were
urging upon Congress the necessity of making it a National Park,
their statements in regard to fishing were usually received with
courteous incredulity. But when one of their number gravely declared
that trout could there be caught and boiled in the same lake, within
a radius of fifteen feet, the House of Representatives broke forth
into roars of laughter, and thought the man a monumental liar. We
cannot be surprised, therefore, that enthusiastic fishermen almost go
crazy here. I have seen men, after a ride of forty miles, rush off to
fish without a moment's rest as if their lives depended on it. Some
years ago, General Wade Hampton visited the Park and came as far as
Lake Yellowstone. On his return, some one inquired what he thought of
Nature's masterpiece, the cañon of the Yellowstone.


"The cañon!" cried the general, "no matter about the cañon; but I had
the most magnificent fishing I ever saw in my life."

One day, while walking along the shore, my comrade suddenly pressed
my arm and pointed toward the lake. "An Indian!" I cried in great
astonishment, "I thought no Indians ever came here." Our guide
laughed heartily; and, as he did so, I perceived my error. What I had
thought to be an Indian was but a portion of a tree, which had been
placed upright against a log. The only artificial thing about it was
a bunch of feathers. Everything else was absolutely natural. No knife
had sculptured it. No hand had given a support to its uplifted arm.
Even the dog which followed us appeared deceived, for he barked
furiously at the strange intruder. There was to me a singular
fascination in this solitary freak of nature; and, surrounded though
I was by immeasurably greater wonders, I turned again and again to
take a farewell look at this dark, slender figure, raising its hand,
as if in threatening gesture to some unseen foe.

[Illustration: A FALSE ALARM.]

Leaving the lake, we presently entered the loveliest portion of the
Park,--a level, sheltered area of some fifty square miles, to which
has been given the appropriate name of Hayden Valley, in
commemoration of the distinguished geologist, Doctor Ferdinand V.
Hayden, who did so much to explore this region and to impress upon
the Government the necessity of preserving its incomparable natural
features. Even this tranquil portion of the Park is undermined by
just such fiery forces as are elsewhere visible, but which here
manifest themselves in different ways. Thus, in the midst of this
natural beauty is a horrible object, known as the Mud Geyser. We
crawled up a steep bank, and shudderingly gazed over it into the
crater. Forty feet below us, the earth yawned open like a cavernous
mouth, from which a long black throat, some six feet in diameter,
extended to an unknown depth. This throat was filled with boiling
mud, which rose and fell in nauseating gulps, as if some monster were
strangling from a slimy paste which all its efforts could not
possibly dislodge. Occasionally the sickening mixture would sink from
view, as if the tortured wretch had swallowed it. Then we could hear,
hundreds of feet below, unearthly retching; and, in a moment, it
would all come up again, belched out with an explosive force that
hurled a boiling spray of mud so high that we rushed down the slope.
A single drop of it would have burned like molten lead. Five minutes
of this was enough; and even now, when I reflect that every moment,
day and night, the same regurgitation of black slime is going on, I
feel as I have often felt, when, on a stormy night at sea, I have
tried to sit through a course-dinner on an ocean steamer.

[Illustration: HAYDEN VALLEY.]



Not far from this perpetually active object is one that has been
motionless for ages,--a granite boulder enclosed by trees as by the
bars of a gigantic cage. It is a proof that glaciers once plowed
through this region, and it was, no doubt, brought hither in the
glacial period on a flood of ice, which, melting in this heated
basin, left its burden, a grim reminder of how worlds are made. Think
what a combination of terrific forces must have been at work here,
when the volcanoes were in full activity, and when the mass of ice
which then encased our northern world strove to enclose this
prison-house of fire within its glacial arms! One of our party
remarked that the covering of this seething, boiling area with ice
must have been the nearest approach to "hell's freezing over" that
our earth has ever seen.

Another striking feature of our National Park is its Petrified
Forest, where, scattered over a large area, are solitary columns,
which once were trunks of trees, but now are solid shafts of agate.
The substance of the wood, however, is still apparent, the bark, the
worm-holes, and even the rings of growth being distinctly visible;
but every fibre has been petrified by the mysterious substitution of
a mineral deposit. No doubt these trees were once submerged in a
strong mineral solution, tinted with every color of the rainbow.
Still, more marvelous to relate, an excavation on the hillside proves
that there are eleven layers of such forests, one above another,
divided by as many cushions of lava. Think of the ages represented
here, during which all these different forests grew, and were
successively turned to stone! This, therefore, is another
illustration of the conflict between Life and Death. Each was in turn
a victor, and rested on his laurels for unnumbered centuries. Life is
triumphant now; but who shall say that Death may not again prove
conqueror? If not immediately, Death may well be patient. He will
rule all this planet in the end.

[Illustration: A NATURAL BRIDGE.]

[Illustration: A PETRIFIED FOREST.]

No one can travel through the Yellowstone Park without imagining how
it looks in winter. The snowfall is enormous, some drifts in the
ravines being hundreds of feet deep, and, owing to the increased
supply of water, the geysers throw higher streams. No traveling is
possible then except on snowshoes; and it is with difficulty that
some of the Park hotels are reached as late as the middle of May. Of
course, in such a frigid atmosphere, the steam arising from the
geysers is almost instantly congealed; and eye-witnesses affirm that,
in a temperature of forty degrees below zero, the clouds of vapor
sent up by Old Faithful rose fully two thousand feet, and were seen
ten miles away.

[Illustration: THE PARK IN WINTER.]

It can be well imagined that to do much exploration here, in winter,
is not alone immensely difficult, but dangerous. In 1887 an
expedition was formed, headed by Lieutenant Frederick Schwatka; but,
though he was experienced as an Arctic traveler, in three days he
advanced only twenty miles, and finally gave out completely. Most of
the exploring party turned back with him; but four kept heroically
on, one of whom was the photographer, Mr. F.J. Haynes, of St. Paul.
Undismayed by Schwatka's failure, he and his comrades bravely
persisted in their undertaking. For thirty days the mercury never
rose higher than ten degrees below zero. Once it marked fifty-two
degrees below! Yet these men were obliged to camp out every night,
and carry on their shoulders provisions, sleeping-bags, and
photographic instruments. But, finally, they triumphed over every
obstacle, having in midwinter made a tour of two hundred miles
through the Park. Nevertheless, they almost lost their lives in the
attempt. At one point, ten thousand feet above the sea, a fearful
blizzard overtook them. The cold and wind seemed unendurable, even
for an hour, but they endured them for three days. A sharp sleet cut
their faces like a rain of needles, and made it perilous to look
ahead. Almost dead from sheer exhaustion, they were unable to lie
down for fear of freezing; chilled to the bone, they could make no
fire; and, although fainting, they had not a mouthful for
seventy-two hours. What a terrific chapter for any man to add to the
mysterious volume we call life!

One might suppose by this time that all the marvels of our National
Park had been described; but, on the contrary, so far is it from
being true, that I have yet to mention the most stupendous of them
all,--the world-renowned cañon of the Yellowstone. The introduction
to this is sublime. It is a waterfall, the height of which is more
than twice as great as that of Niagara. To understand the reason for
the presence of such a cataract, we should remember that the entire
region for miles was once a geyser basin. The river was then near the
surface; and has been cutting down the walls of the cañon ever since.
The volcanic soil, decomposed by heat, could not resist the constant
action of the water. Only a granite bluff at the upper end of the
cañon has held firm; and over that the baffled stream now leaps to
wreak its vengeance on the weaker foe beneath.

[Illustration: THE EXPEDITION OF 1887.]

[Illustration: F.J. HAYNES.]


Through a colossal gateway of vast height, yet only seventy feet in
breadth, falls the entire volume of the Yellowstone River. It
seems enraged at being suddenly compressed into that narrow space;
for, with a roar of anger and defiance and without an instant's
hesitation, it leaps into the yawning gulf in one great flood of
dazzling foam. When looked upon from a little distance, a clasp of
emerald apparently surmounts it, from which descends a spotless robe
of ermine, nearly four hundred feet in length. The lower portion is
concealed by clouds of mist, which vainly try to climb the
surrounding cliffs, like ghosts of submerged mountains striving to
escape from their eternal prison. We ask ourselves instinctively:
What gives this river its tremendous impetus, and causes it to fill
the air with diamond-tinted spray, and send up to the cliffs a
ceaseless roar which echoes and reëchoes down the cañon? How
awe-inspiring seems the answer to this question, when we think upon
it seriously! The subtle force which draws this torrent down is the
same power that holds the planets in their courses, retains the
comets in their fearful paths, and guides the movements of the
stellar universe. What is this power? We call it gravitation; but why
does it invariably act thus with mathematical precision? Who knows?
Behind all such phenomena there is a mystery that none can solve.
This cataract has a voice. If we could understand it, perhaps we
should distinguish, after all, but one word,--_God_.





As for the gorge through which this river flows, imagine if you can
a yawning chasm ten miles long and fifteen hundred feet in depth.
Peer into it, and see if you can find the river. Yes, there it lies,
one thousand five hundred feet below, a winding path of emerald and
alabaster dividing the huge cañon walls. Seen from the summit, it
hardly seems to move; but, in reality, it rages like a captive lion
springing at its bars. Scarcely a sound of its fierce fury reaches
us; yet, could we stand beside it, a quarter of a mile below, its
voice would drown our loudest shouts to one another.


Attracted to this river innumerable little streams are trickling down
the colored cliffs. They are cascades of boiling water, emerging from
the awful reservoir of heat which underlies this laboratory of the
Infinite. One of them is a geyser, the liquid shaft of which is
scarcely visible, yet in reality is one hundred and fifty feet in
height. From all these hot additions to its waves the temperature of
the river, even a mile or two beyond the cañon, is twenty degrees
higher than at its entrance.

"Are there not other cañons in the world as large as this?" it may be


Yes, but none like this. For, see, instead of sullen granite walls,
these sides are radiant with color. Age after age, and aeon after
aeon, hot water has been spreading over these miles of masonry its
variegated sediment, like pigments on an artist's palette. Here, for
example, is an expanse of yellow one thousand feet in height. Mingled
with this are areas of red, resembling jasper. Beside these is a
field of lavender, five hundred feet in length, and soft in hue as
the down upon a pigeon's breast. No shade is wanting here except the
blue, and God replaces that. It is supplied by the o'erspreading
canopy of heaven.

Yet there is no monotony in these hues. Nature, apparently, has
passed along this cañon, touching the rocks capriciously; now
staining an entire cliff as red as blood, now tingeing a light
pinnacle with green, now spreading over the whole face of a mountain
a vast Persian rug. Hence both sides of the cañon present successive
miles of Oriental tapestry. Moreover, every passing cloud works
here almost a miracle; for all the lights and shades that follow one
another down this gorge vary its tints as if by magic, and make of it
one long kaleidoscope of changing colors.

[Illustration: BELOW THE UPPER FALLS.]


Nor are these cliffs less wonderful in form than color. The substance
of their tinted rocks is delicate. The rain has, therefore, plowed
their faces with a million furrows. The wind has carved them like a
sculptor's chisel. The lightning's bolts have splintered them, until,
mile after mile, they rise in a bewildering variety of architectural
forms. Old castles frown above the maddened stream, a thousand times
more grand than any ruins on the Rhine. Their towers are five hundred
feet in height. Turrets and battlements, portcullises and
draw-bridges, rise from the deep ravine, sublime and inaccessible;
yet they are still a thousand feet below us! What would be the effect
could we survey them from the stream itself, within the gloomy
crevice of the cañon? Only their size convinces us that they are
works of Nature, not of Art. Upon their spires we see a score of
eagles' nests. The splendid birds leave these at times, and swoop
down toward the stream; not in one mighty plunge, but gracefully, in
slow, majestic curves, lower and lower, till we can follow them only
through a field-glass, as they alight on trees which look to us like


But many of these forms are grander than any castles. In one place is
an amphitheatre. Within its curving arms a hundred thousand people
could be seated. Its foreground is the emerald river; its
drop-curtain the radiant cañon wall. Cathedrals, too, are here, with
spires twice as high as those which soar above the minster of
Cologne. Fantastic gargoyles stretch out from the parapets. A hundred
flying buttresses connect them with the mountain side. From any one
of them as many shafts shoot heavenward as statues rise from the
Duomo of Milan; and each of these great cañon shrines, instead of
stained glass windows, has walls, roof, dome, and pinnacles, one mass
of variegated color. The awful grandeur of these temples, sculptured
by the Deity, is overpowering. We feel that we must worship here. It
is a place where the Finite prays, the Infinite hears, and Immensity
looks on.


Two visions of this world stand out within my memory which, though
entirely different, I can place side by side in equal rank. They are
the Himalayas of India, and the Grand Cañon of the Yellowstone. On
neither of them is there any sign of human life. No voice disturbs
their solemn stillness. The only sound upon earth's loftiest
mountains is the thunder of the avalanche. The only voice within this
cañon is the roar of its magnificent cascade. It is well that man
must halt upon the borders of this awful chasm. It is no place for
man. The Infinite allows him to stand trembling on the brink, look
down, and listen spellbound to the anthem of its mighty cataract; but
beyond this he may not, cannot go. It is as if Almighty God had kept
for His own use one part of His creation, that man might merely gaze
upon it, worship, and retire.


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "John L. Stoddard's Lectures, Vol. 10 (of 10) - Southern California; Grand Canon of the Colorado River; Yellowstone National Park" ***

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