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´╗┐Title: Journal of a Trip to California - Across the Continent from Weston, Mo., to Weber Creek, Cal., in the Summer of 1850
Author: Smith, Charles W.
Language: English
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Across the Continent From Weston, Mo., to Weber Creek, Cal.,
in the Summer of 1850



Edited with an Introduction and Notes, by R. W. G. Vail

Librarian of The Minnesota Historical Society

The Cadmus Book Shop
New York

Standard Book Company
Manchester, N. H.


Several years ago I had the good fortune to find, in the lumber and
rubbish of a storeroom, this little journal. A small leather-backed
notebook, it had lain unnoticed and forgotten for more than half a
century in the author's old homestead.

The original manuscript is written in a 4 by 6-inch notebook, bound in
boards. It contains 180 pages of text, with pressed western flowers and
plants pasted on the five fly-leaves at the end.

Mr. William Smith, our author's father, came from Gloucestershire,
England, in 1831 and settled on a farm (now owned by his grandson,
George Smith) just west of the village of Victor, N. Y. For several
years Mr. Smith's sons, James and Charles W., both helped him on the
farm, but eventually the latter decided to become a printer and so
obtained a position in the neighboring village of Canandaigua.

At the time of the discovery of gold in California, Mr. C. W. Smith[1]
had been for several years on the staff of the _Ontario Messenger_,
which perhaps accounts for the interesting and newsy style in which his
journal is written. Certain it is that he showed more than usual ability
and training in narrating the experiences of the overland journey and
especially in painting a vivid picture of the prairies, the rivers and
mountains, the rocks and the flowers.

And so the Spring of 1850 found Mr. Smith leaving his place in the
composing room at Canandaigua and, after a brief farewell visit with his
family in Victor, he proceeded to Centreville, Indiana, from which town
he dated the first entry of his narrative. The journal itself tells the
rest of the story, and I am sure that the student of western history
will find it one of the most valuable of the contemporary journals of
the Forty-Niners and the Overland Trail.

 R. W. G. Vail.
 The Minnesota Historical Society, March 20, 1920.


[1] A portrait of the author, painted in East Bloomfield, N. Y., is
still owned by the family in Victor.--ED.


 April 10, 1853.


I have concluded to send you my journal, not because I think it contains
anything of great interest, but because I know you will take it as an
evidence that I have not forgotten my Mother.

Nancy and I have been married two years today, and through that time
have walked peacefully along the path of life together, a path on which
little Alice now presses her tiny feet and, holding a little hand in
each of ours, will make our union more complete. It is now nearly six
years since I left home, a home which I then expected to see again in a
few months, and _would_ have seen had I been able to return in a better
condition than when I left it, for it is always expected that when a
young man goes out upon the world, it is to rise and prosper, and not
return in rags. And if it was not for that ambitious feeling that
forbids there are now thousands in California and Oregon, who would
instantly start for those good old homes on the other side of the Rocky
Mountains. In all my wanderings I have been singularly fortunate, always
having my health, and never meeting with those accidents which are
common to persons in an unsettled condition. In regard to the good
things of this world, I have reason to be grateful, rather however for
what we expect, than what we now enjoy, for our 640 acres of land are
lying in an unproductive state, and Nancy's money is all in the States,
excepting $200, which were sent across the plains.

The spring here opens early this year, a full month in advance of last.
The hillsides are covered with good fresh grass and many places with a
variety of flowers, some of which would adorn a garden.

The pony that we called "Uncle Ned" is gone "where the good ponies
go"--to the mines. I got a mare and $15 for it, but after it had run out
a few weeks, and improved, it became so wild that I could not catch it,
and I gave a man $2.00 to catch her for me. But I have traded again, and
this time I have got one that Nancy can ride, and could be sold for

We have got but one cow at home, and one in the Willammette Valley, and
$75 there for the purpose of buying another cow.

Alice is growing fast, and can stand by holding to a chair. Nancy is
going to put a lock (a small lock I guess) of her hair in this book. She
has two teeth and Nancy says she can bite.

I understand that Jesse Dryer is here, with Rawson.[2] He sent word to
me that you had sent a box and that it was in his trunk at Marysville
and would be brought to this valley as soon as there was an opportunity.
Marysville is a place in the Willammette, about 100 miles from here. The
country is beginning to be pretty well settled up in this quarter, some
new neighbors having lately come in. Our claim is joined on three sides
by settlers.

There is a new post office nearer than Winchester, to which I would like
you to direct hereafter. Name, Deer Creek, Douglass County.

I have not received a letter from Sarah yet. I will still look for it. I
received a letter from John. I will send an answer in a short time.

April 17. I have just received a letter from Nancy's folks in relation
to her property, which we will probably get this fall. I start for the
Willammette next Wednesday, and will be gone about 15 days, I shall
bring a cow with me, perhaps two. I shall take this book with me and
mail it in the Willammette. While I am gone Nancy will have to stay
alone, excepting one of the neighbors little girls. Cattle have rose to
an enormous price lately, good oxen will sell for $300.00 per yoke.

I intend when I am able to buy a good horse team, and then I can go
somewhere in some reasonable time, and with pleasure. Nancy will send
some specimens of wild flowers between the leaves of this book.



[2] Norman Rawson of Victor, N. Y., uncle of Mrs. Herman Boughton, who
now owns the pistol that he carried across the plains. Dryer was also
from Victor.--EDITOR.


      "Ever changing from scene to scene, deriving new interest
      from them all, and learning each day something more of the
      many wonders of nature."--_The Author._

Journal of a Trip to California

In the Spring of 1850 the startling reports from California in relation
to the discoveries of gold had been generally confirmed and sustained by
such a vast number of letters that most men were satisfied of their

Strongly impressed with the general correctness of reports from the
modern El Dorado, I at length determined to wend my way in that
direction, and having made the necessary arrangements, I left
Centreville, Ind., on the second of April, 1850. On the same day a
company of about twelve men left the same place and about the same
number left Richmond, Ind., bound for the same destination.

The Spring of 1850 was unusually backward, in consequence of which many
were compelled to spend many days at the various starting places on the

APRIL 4, 1850.

I make my first note at Cincinnati, Ohio, on board the _Cambria_ April
4, 1850. Though the Spring is backward, the weather has been fine for a
few days past; some parts have begun to assume a green appearance, and
the roads from this place were quite good.

I have engaged passage on the _Cambria_ for St. Louis, and am now
impatient to be off. The boat was to start at 4 o'clock P. M.,
but we are yet here. It is a very common practice of deceiving travelers
as to the time of the departure of boats. It should be frowned down by
the traveling public, as it causes great perplexity and loss of time,
etc. Passengers are still coming on board. Most of them are bound for
California. A large number of mules and horses are on deck. Some of them
are inferior animals, especially the mules. The price of mules and
horses is represented as being quite high at St. Joseph and
Independence. Good wagons can be purchased here for $75.00, and many are
being taken for the emigrating service. A company has been organized
here, offering to carry passengers to the gold region for $160, each
passenger to do his equal share of the necessary labor upon the road.

APRIL 5, 1850.

Ohio River, April 5, 1850. We left Cincinnati yesterday afternoon about
5 o'clock, with a large number of passengers on board. Reached Madison
last night and laid to till morning. We are now riding along at a fine
rate. The clouds that hung above us all the morning are partly cleared
away, and the warm sun shining through at intervals, making it rather
pleasant and it would be really so, were it not for a cold breeze that
is now up. The trees upon the banks of the river begin to assume the
appearance of spring, putting forth their fresh buds and lending to the
prospect some degree of cheerfulness. The banks of the river are here
high and abrupt, and well timbered, though the general prospect is
rather monotonous.


I made no note of yesterday, having seen nothing of particular interest.
The river banks become lower as we descend. Today I have seen fruit
trees in blossom. Our passage is rather disagreeable--too cool to be
agreeable on deck, from which the passenger wishes to view the shores of
the river. I rose early this morning and went on deck, as usual. It was
early dawn, so early that I would not have thought it morning were it
not for a golden streak in the east, glowing beneath a heavy mass of
dark clouds. We were just then at an interesting point, passing round
the point from the Ohio into the mighty Mississippi, and had already
begun to stem its muddy current when I came on deck. I took a long look
down between her banks, for the purpose of impressing upon my memory a
picture which I might unveil in the future. The flush of crimson
dawn-light was reflected upon the ripples that came chasing in our wake.

Now and then upon the shore the dark outlines of a log cabin (the
wood-chopper's home) met the eye. The banks are low and marshy, and
mostly covered with underbrush, such as cottonwood, etc. The river is
some two miles wide here (fifteen miles above the mouth of the Ohio)
and divided by numerous islands of all sizes--from an acre to several
miles in length. To keep the channel, we have to shift constantly from
one side of the river to the other; sometimes I could throw a stone to
the shore. This is a quiet, calm Sabbath morning, the sun shining out
brightly, with a cool breeze floating in from the west. But the iron
giant beneath us knows no Sabbath, no more than those who direct her
powerful arms, and keeps working on, tireless and undismayed; but like a
war horse, champing the bit, he is a dangerous slave, breathing fire and
smoke and shaking his person by his gigantic struggles. To use a strong
poetical figure, he seems to say:

    "Bind me down with your iron bands,
    Make sure of your curb and rein,
    For I scorn the strength of your puny hands
    As the lion scorns a chain."

The California-bound passengers on board are a hardy-looking class of
men, say but little about the gold, and are probably prepared to meet
the dangers and hardships of the journey.


The banks of the Mississippi begin to assume a more cheerful aspect, the
banks are higher and are partly covered with cedar bushes and other
evergreen shrubbery. We arrived at St. Louis at about 9 o'clock this
morning, and immediately took passage upon "_The Pride of the West_"
for St. Joseph. We expect to be about a week in going there, longer than
it would take to travel the same distance on the Ohio, owing to the
numerous obstructions in the river. The signs of an immense emigration
become more apparent as we approach the starting points. Every boat is
crowded with passengers, horses, wagons and everything else necessary
for an outfit preparatory to crossing the continent.

At St. Louis business appears quite brisk at present. The levee is
crowded with articles of trade. But St. Louis, like Louisville, bears
the mark of slavery in their population and the appearance of local
business; their suburbs, instead of being occupied by the beautiful
little dwellings of artisans, look ruinous and uninteresting.

Well, we are under way again, St. Louis is fading away in the twilight
and blending with the distant hills. Tomorrow morning I expect to look
upon the waters of the Missouri.


We entered the Missouri this morning at sunrise and are now making but
slow progress in consequence of the numerous obstructions in the stream,
such as sawyers, sand bars, etc. We are compelled to lie up at shore at
night. The weather is decidedly cool today, and we have been favored with
a few flakes of snow. The soil some sixty miles above St. Louis looks
productive, is sufficiently high for agricultural purposes and is well
timbered. At St. Louis I saw a few Indians, belonging to some of the
western tribes. They were dressed in the highest style of their fashion,
their faces painted and highly colored with red powder. Their hair is
also dyed or powdered red after the same manner as their faces. They
were quite curious specimens of humanity to those unacquainted with
Indian fashions. We have but very few lady passengers.


Weather clear and cold. We have just passed Jefferson City, the capital
of Missouri. It is but a small place and unimportant, only as being the
capital. The state house is a respectable two-story stone building
situated upon a bluff near the river, fronting the east. There is also a
state prison here, inclosed by a high stone wall. We have seen some
specimens of wild game on the river, such as geese, ducks, turkeys, etc.
Speaking of game reminds me of gaming, a business that is very
extensively followed on the river steamers. About one third of the
passengers on board are at this moment engaged in that laudable
profession--many of them play for money. This class is bound for
California and pass the dimes freely.


I have neglected my journal a little on account of sickness. The boat is
anything but agreeable to a person in good health, but to a sick man it
is almost insupportable. When I awoke yesterday morning, I was very much
oppressed with heat, and supposed the weather had moderated in the
night. I got up and went on deck, and fancied that the weather was very
mild, but instead of this, I suppose the difference was in myself,
having contracted a slight fever in the night. In cooling myself I
caught a severe cold, and soon began to feel very chilly. I sat by a hot
stove, wrapped in my overcoat, but it was impossible to get warm, so I
sat shivering all day. Owing to the crowded state of the boat, I had not
got a berth when I took passage, but slept upon the cabin floor, with
about fifty others. I again attempted to get a berth, but could not, so
I was compelled to "chew the cud of sweet and bitter fancy" alone. Today
I succeeded in getting a berth of one of the passengers, in which I took
a refreshing sleep, took some quinine, and now begin to feel better. I
also had a very severe pain in my side, but I am getting better of that,
too. As I have been close by the stove for a day or two past, I can say
but little about the country through which I have passed. Yet I know we
have run upon numerous sand bars, backed out and found other channels;
stopped for wood and passengers, and I felt the jarring of the machinery
beneath me. A large number of the passengers on board are more or less
indisposed, so I have not suffered more than many others. We have passed
several respectable towns in coming up, the principal of which are
Boonville, Lexington and Independence. The latter is some four miles
from the river. We expect to reach St. Joseph tomorrow. There is a
report abroad that the cholera prevails at St. Joseph, and some of our
passengers are leaving the boat to avoid it. It is also said to prevail
at other towns on the river. I shall not deviate from my course on that
account. If it is my fate to be stricken down at this time, I shall try
to meet my fate like a Christian. But I have hope and a strong belief

    "There's a divinity that shapes our ends
    Rough hew them how we will."


Weston, Missouri, April 18. We arrived here last Sunday morning,
stopped, because our boat being a large one, we could not go up the
river in her further. We have since concluded that Weston is as good a
starting-place as any on the Missouri, and have determined to fit out
here for the journey, and we have already engaged partners in a wagon,
looked at cattle, provisions, etc.


Our arrangements are completed, and we intend to cross the river
tomorrow and join a company as soon as possible. The weather is becoming
a little more pleasant, as the Spring is late. We will take with us what
grain we can carry for our cattle. I am now enjoying good health and
feel myself hardening to our present rude mode of life. All that now
remains to be done is to put our cattle to the wagon and be off.


Weston Ferry, April 23. As we found several parties before us at the
ferry this morning, we are compelled to wait several hours till our
turn. All we expect today is to cross the river, and go out two or three
miles in the country, where we expect to join a company. Several hundred
wagons are already on the opposite shore, waiting for the season to
bring forth grass, etc. I can now see the smoke ascending from the camp
fires behind the bluff upon the other side. Everybody is impatient to be
on the trail, fearing that others will reach the diggings before him.
Two of our party are quite feverish just now, and I have consented to
start immediately, though I think it is too early.

The ferry boats here are very poor and make slow passages. Common flat
boats are used, propelled with oars; they have to tow them up the shore
a quarter of a mile before crossing, to prevent landing below their mark
on the other side. They carry about two wagons each time, beside several
head of cattle or horses. We are now to cross.


We started early this morning from our encampment one mile west of the
Missouri, and went to within about one mile of a stream called
Soldiers' Creek. We have not yet joined a company. Today we made some 18
miles. About noon we stopped at the cabin of an old Indian, of whom we
purchased an additional supply of corn at $1.00 per barrel. The country
through which we came today is a high, rolling prairie.


Left our encampment about 8 o'clock in the morning and went some fifteen
miles before stopping, where we encamped for the night. We stopped by a
fine little stream of excellent water. Today I had some extensive views
entirely different from any I ever before experienced. Everything here
seems created on a magnificent plan, the atmosphere clear, the landscape
just beginning to wear its earliest green, and the landscape stretched
far back against the sky. Today we fell in with some other Californians,
but, having mule teams, they soon left us in the rear. I have not yet
seen any game except a few prairie hens. I have seen but very few
Indians. Today we met one brawny fellow; he was quite sociable--wanted
whiskey and "tobac." We gave him a small piece of the latter. He was
very thankful for small favors, and as he left us, he took a trail and
was soon lost sight of among the hills. He wore buckskin leggings, a
blanket over his shoulders, and a sort of turban on his head. Last night
I stood on guard till 12 o'clock. Profound silence reigned, except the
croaking of a million frogs, and the distant rumbling of thunder in a
black cloud that hung in the west. In the latter part of the night it
rained a little. The grass is very poor here, but is said to be better
several miles in advance.


Was off early this morning, and traveled about thirty miles over a fine
prairie country. I saw a large train of wagons that came in on the St.
Joseph road. I have noticed a great many ox teams on the road. I believe
they make the surest team--will subsist on nearly anything and are not
so liable to become fractious and run away, if properly managed, as
horses or mules. The weather is still cold--it must be extremely cold
here in winter.


Set off about sunrise and drove about twenty miles and stopped. Owing to
our ignorance of the road, we had some trouble to find a convenient
place to encamp, the country getting a little more level.


This morning we joined a company of three wagons with which we intend to
travel. The men are mostly Germans and not of my selection. Went about
twenty miles by one o'clock and encamped; high winds prevail. We all
have good health and strong appetites. A sort of inefficient election
was held this morning at which one of our men was chosen captain--a man
in no way calculated to act in that capacity. Strong pledges of mutual
assistance were given, etc. In looking over these vast prairies, just
beginning to freshen beneath the smile of Spring, I can scarcely believe
that they are uninhabited. Not a tree is within reach of the eye.


Off again early this morning and went seven miles before breakfast.
After breakfast we pushed on twelve miles more by one o'clock, when we
stopped to dine, by a small brook. Two miles more brought us to another
stream, which we crossed, and traveled on. Yesterday afternoon a mild
south wind prevailed, but fell in the night, when it became quite cold.
Toward morning, a perfect gale sprung up in the north, and though I laid
in the wagon, wrapped in a blanket, in heavy overcoat, I suffered very
much by the cold. The wind poured through our covering like cold water.
Thirty wagons passed us today--they all had feed for their teams. The
wind still raged this morning till about noon, when the sun shone out
and it began to get pleasant.

The country here assumes a more even appearance, and resembles in some
degree what I had anticipated. We have seen a great number of little
animals called prairie squirrels, resembling the ground squirrel of the
northern states. The ground is literally filled with their holes. I
have seen also a great many elk horns by the way; they are huge
specimens and indicate that a superior quality of game abounds here at
certain seasons of the year. A few prairie hens come in sight
occasionally, but are rather wild. No timber except on the water
courses, and upon these it is so hedged in by the hills that it cannot
be seen till you get close to it. In consequence of their ignorance of
the road, the emigrants carry wood and water where it is unnecessary,
and again, neglect to take it when needed; but this is unavoidable. The
heavy west winds drive a blinding dust in our faces, and in a few hours
a person becomes as black as a negro. Yesterday we met two United States
dragoons. They report some Indian depredations in advance of us. One is
that a family has been massacred by the Indians, and that the troops
from the Fort Laramie had pursued the murderers and put one hundred to
death. Our road so far has been most excellent, better than a turnpike,
as it is not so hard for the feet of teams. Generally the road is not
worn through the heavy turf but just deep enough to expose the roots of
the grass, which are as large as a man's little finger. Yet, from the
appearance of the road, there are a great many emigrants before us. Five
four-horse wagons passed us yesterday; they traveled fast, intended to
go forty per day and had feed sufficient for fifteen days, thirty

MAY 1.

Started early and went to a tributary of Little Blue River, some four
miles, and took breakfast. The grass begins to look better. At noon we
found water close by the road. We are constantly passing and re-passing
wagons. I have noticed some few families on the road, including all ages
and sexes. Tonight we stop off the road to the right one hundred rods,
within four miles of Big Blue River. We cross it tomorrow. The country
tolerably level. The wolves make a great noise at night. A majority of
the emigrants now on the road are Missourians. Distance, twenty-four

MAY 2.

Left encampment at two o'clock this morning, for the purpose of giving
our cattle more time to feed in the middle of the day. Reached Blue
River at daylight; crossed over immediately; went two miles further and
stopped for breakfast. This plan of irregular driving I consider of no
advantage, yet we have practiced it because some of our men think it
excellent policy. Weather fine, with a shower in the afternoon. Today we
passed the place where the Weston road joins the Independence and St.
Joseph roads. Many come in from the Independence road, and the trail is
now alive with emigrants. At night we stopped twelve miles west of Big
Blue River, a short distance from the road, where we found wood, water
and some picking for our cattle. When I got up this morning I felt
quite unwell and soon commenced vomiting. Mr. Finch offered me his pony
to ride, which I accepted, but soon found it almost impossible to keep
my seat, so I got off and led the pony. Soon after, one of our company
solicited the use of the pony, and as I let him have it and he rode on,
I was compelled to walk till we stopped for breakfast. I felt so
exhausted that it was almost impossible to proceed, and at one time I
seriously thought of lying down by the road and resting myself, and run
the risk of losing the wagons. But I struggled on till breakfast time,
when I took medicine and soon became better. In many places in this
region we find water standing in holes upon the prairie, and as the
weather is cool it is tolerably good, though I suppose it stagnates
later in the season.

MAY 3.

Started early: soon crossed a little stream and went on in a northwest
direction till noon, when we came round to the southwest. Up to this
time our general course has been northwest, and this is the reason why
the season seems so backward here. The vegetation is no more advanced
here than at Weston ten days since. We were passed at noon by a company
of one hundred wagons from Wisconsin, and also one of thirty from
Illinois. Most of them had fine horse teams--generally four horses to
each wagon. The wind has been high and cold--cold as winter. Imagine a
man on the third of May walking in a heavy overcoat and blanket, and
shivering with cold. This was my condition. At sundown the wind subsided
and a rosy glow in the west promised a fair tomorrow. Went nineteen
miles today and stopped by a little stream called Rock Brook. I see but
very few Indians, perhaps one in a week. We have passed the Potawatimes
region, and are now in that of the Pawnees. I have seen none of the
latter tribe. Today we met a few troops from Fort Laramie. They say the
grass is good in the valley of the Platte, distant about one hundred
miles. Good health on the road generally, though we see a grave
occasionally, which reminds us of the admonition, "_memento mori_," and
beneath this inhospitable soil are hearts once virtuous ambition. The
angel of death follows the race of Adam to the uttermost parts of the

    "There is no flock however watched and tended,
    But one dead lamb is there;
    There is no fireside howso'er defended,
    But has one vacant chair."

MAY 4.

Today we made some eighteen miles--passed two or three little streams,
and encamped about one mile from the road, by a stream of good water.
Weather pleasant and warm in the afternoon. Met one team returning on
account of poor grass in advance. It is tolerable where we stop tonight
in a valley.

MAY 5.

Today we rested, partly to observe the Sabbath and partly to let our
teams rest. The day has been fair, with a cool breeze from the north.
Sun sets gloriously, with fair promise of tomorrow. About fifty wagons
went by us today, while others are stopping near us. Our men are now
engaged in the business of the closing day--feeding cattle, etc., and
others loitering about the wagon and thinking, perhaps, of Sabbath
evenings spent in a different manner.

MAY 6.

Off at sunrise. Reached Little Blue River in the evening. Day fine. We
crossed several valleys in which were channels filled with yellow sand.
It is probable that water courses through them during the wet seasons.
Grass poor. Emigrants pushing by us. The Little Blue River is a fine
stream about ten yards in width and deep.

MAY 7.

Went up by Little Blue River fifteen miles, and encamped about 4
o'clock, earlier than usual, for the purpose of repairing wagon wheels.
We are getting into the buffalo region; one was seen yesterday and one
killed today by a man in another company. I have seen none yet. Prairie
hens are abundant, and I have had the pleasure of partaking of one
myself. Day fine, excepting a cool breeze.

MAY 8.

Encamped again by Little Blue River, after a drive of fifteen miles.
This morning we met a young man in search of a pony, which had strayed
away from him in the night. He looked quite discouraged, and well he
might, as the lost nag was his only means of conveying his provisions
and clothes. They suspected the Indians. Presently we came up to his
comrades, where we found their things in great confusion, and the man
with them in a gloomy mood. But they were partially relieved by some
gentlemen who were there when we came up, who offered to buy their
things or carry them for them, as they might prefer. It looks hard to
meet misfortunes so soon, but many have had to submit to them, as is
apparent all along the route. Horses, mules and oxen have died, wagons
have broken down, and sickness fell to the lot of some. Some of the
teams have consumed all of their feed and begin to travel more
moderately. In this case they are compelled to go slow, as the grass is
very poor. Roads today good and scenery pleasant.

MAY 9.

Commenced our march at sunrise, and drove our cattle slowly on account
of the poor feed they had had. Went up the Little Blue twelve miles,
when we left it and entered a high prairie country. Distance, sixteen

MAY 10.

Went on as usual. Met some government wagons going to Fort Leavenworth.
Drove eighteen miles and encamped at the border of the Platte River
bottom. The river itself is some four miles distant, and there is no
water nearer, nor wood, so we are compelled to do without it and make
our supper of hard bread, etc. But little promise of grass. Day

MAY 11.

Went four miles to the Platte before breakfast. Just opposite where we
stopped is a large island and but a narrow stream on this side; the
water is very muddy. We reached Fort Kearney about 4 o'clock, ten miles
further, and stopped for the night one mile west of the fort. At Fort
Kearney there are several plain-looking buildings, mostly composed of
unburnt brick and turf, and some tents, though the best houses are wood.
One hundred fifty soldiers are stationed here. We hope to reach Fort
Laramie by the end of the month. Grass looks a little better in the
valley. Day warm. Distance, fifteen miles.

MAY 12.

This day being Sunday, we rest ourselves, and cattle are in need of it.
About one hundred wagons have passed us today; at times the road would
be crowded with them for a great distance.

MAY 13.

Having rested yesterday, we made an early start this morning, and went
five miles before stopping to take breakfast. Then went twelve miles
farther and encamped for the night near the river. The stream at this
point is from one to two miles wide, shallow, and divided by numerous
islands. Though there is plenty of timber up on the opposite shore, and
the islands, we have not yet been able to get a stick upon this
side--not enough for fuel. All day we have seen wagons winding along on
the opposite shore, on the road from Council Bluffs. The valley of the
river here is broad and beautiful, stretches away as far as the eye can
reach, and occasionally presenting upon its blue and white profile herds
of buffalo, deer, elk, antelope, etc. Distance, seventeen miles.

MAY 14.

Some of our cattle having strayed off, we were delayed a short time in
finding them. However, we were under way at seven o'clock. Having
encamped last night with three additional wagons, we all started
together this morning, and I hope we may continue so. Our new
associates appear like upright men--men who would respect justice where
there is no law. At night we stopped one mile west of Plum Creek in a
most delightful place, the beauty of which I am incapable of faithfully
delineating. Distance, seventeen miles.

MAY 15.

Off early, pursuing our course up the Platte; valley wide and bordered
by high bluffs; at places they are divided by deep ravines, giving us a
peep at the background. Today one of our party had the good luck to kill
an antelope, and we had the pleasure of partaking of it for supper. The
meat is very sweet and tender, and after living for nearly a month on
salt pork, it was decidedly relishable. The Indians visit the road but
very little, which is not much regretted by the emigrants. Last night a
man came to one of our wagons who was in search of horses, which had
become frightened and ran away from his company. They lost nine, which
were all they had. This is a great loss. The grass is but little better
here than it was at Weston; the season has been cold and dry. Distance,
twenty-two miles.

MAY 16.

Traveled over a level country; saw some antelope and was passed by a
train of wagons from Galena, Wis. Tonight we stopped near the river. I
never saw finer horses than are on this road, especially those from
Wisconsin and Illinois. Distance, fifteen miles.

MAY 17.

Continued our march over beautiful prairie country, and encamped in the
afternoon upon a green plain not far from the Platte. I forgot to
mention before that when we reached the fort but nine hundred wagons had
been reported as having passing this Spring, and about one hundred more
have gone ahead since then. From this we perceive that we are
comparatively among the first of the emigrants this season. A few pass
us every day, but as we are passing others, it is difficult to tell how
many really keep in advance of us. Distance, fifteen miles.

MAY 18.

In our course today we left the Platte several miles to the right and
entered on a high region. At noon we stopped by a small stream of good
water, which winds along in an easterly direction between the hills and
the river. In the evening we stopped on the same stream higher up. Grass
poor. Today we met a man who was in search of a horse which had run away
from him in a buffalo herd. He had himself become lost, a considerable
distance from the road, was without food or arms, except a single
pistol. Saw numerous herds of buffalo and represented the country as
barren and desolate. His horse had been taken up by another company,
and when we saw him, he was in search of his own. Day warm. Distance,
seventeen miles.

MAY 19.

In consequence of there being little grass where we stopped last night,
we were off early this morning, and intended to cross the south fork of
the Platte before we stopped, which we supposed was about ten miles
distant. Today I saw almost countless numbers of buffalo. I saw several
shot and a great many dead by the road. They are huge animals, some of
them larger than any I ever saw; ran in a clumsy sort of canter, yet
they are not slow, as it takes a good horse to overtake them. A man
stayed with us last night who had got lost while in pursuit of the game.
He and another man had killed three, and had some choice cuts with them.
In the morning I lent my rifle to one of our party who wished to go
hunting. In a couple of hours he came up with the gun broken; he said it
was done in a hand-to-hand encounter with a buffalo. But I shall not
state the particulars, as I have reason to discredit his story. About
noon we reached the south fork of the Platte and crossed it immediately.
This river where we cross it is about one mile wide, with an average
depth of about one foot. It is entirely different from any other river I
ever saw in the States. The bed of the river is a kind of quicksand,
into which a horse will sink several inches by standing still a few
moments. Another of our men has just returned from buffalo hunting. He
succeeded in killing one, but not till he had fired twelve bullets at
it. The balls at the head rebounded as from the solid rock. This evening
one of our men found a human skull near our wagons. It was perforated by
a ball just above the left eye and through the back of the head. We
examined it and conjectured how it came here--whether Indian or white,
male or female. But all our conjectures could not draw from its eyeless
hole one ray of its history, nor awake a slumbering echo in its hollow
ear. "Alas, poor Yorick! Is that a place where a god may dwell?" We have
passed more than fifty wagons today. In the afternoon a thunder shower
came up in the west, and for two or three hours threatened heavy rain;
and at length, after shedding a few drops, it passed round to the south.
We have been just one week in coming from Fort Kearney, a distance of
125 miles. At this rate we shall reach Fort Laramie by the first of
June. The grass is poor in this region, and is never so good here as in
the districts we have passed. I have not seen an Indian in two weeks,
but I presume they have seen us every day. Distance, fifteen miles.

MAY 20.

We continued our march up the south fork of the Platte some ten miles,
where we crossed over the bluffs which lie between the two streams, and
after going two miles we reached the north fork at about noon. In the
afternoon we continued up on the south side of the north flat. At this
point the river wears the same general characteristics as the lower
Platte. The banks are lower and the soil less productive, but the stream
is wide, shallow, and filled with islands or sand-bars. Tonight we feed
our cattle on two of these little islands, near the south shore. The
grass is very poor here. Two of our party who went out yesterday morning
to hunt have not yet returned. It is very easy to get lost on these vast
wilds, as the country is very much alike, and in pursuing game, the
uninitiated thinks of very little beside. Distance, twenty miles.

MAY 21.

This morning, after going some two miles up the banks of the river, we
turned off to the south and wound up over the bluffs, and traveled a
level, dry region, almost destitute of vegetation. After going over this
tableland for about twelve miles, we again came down to the river,
through a steep and sandy ravine. Our feet would sink into the sand some
six or eight inches in walking over it, and was thrown up in showers by
the wheels of our wagons. We stopped for the night some twelve miles
farther beyond where we reached the bottom. The day has been warm,
though cloudy. The earth is parched with drought, and if rain does not
fall soon, vegetation will be entirely checked. The flood of emigrants
is rushing past and behind us, all in haste to surpass each other in
reaching the land of gold. Some of the fastest travelers have already
gained much time upon us; a few have gone by us who started as late as
the fifth and sixth of May. But they are now compelled to go more slow,
as the feed with which they supplied themselves on the start is
exhausted, and their teams are becoming weak. One of our party waded
across the Platte today for the purpose of ascertaining the condition of
the grass on the other side, as from our side it looks quite forward.
The water was nowhere above his knees. Two of our men who left us on
Sunday for the purpose of hunting buffaloes have returned. They were
completely tired of their sport, having succeeded in capturing one of
those huge animals and wounding half a dozen more. Distance, nineteen

MAY 22.

After going up the Platte two miles from camp, we left the stream and
went over the bluffs, in consequence of the river banks being high and
broken. The road was not so good today, as we had to go through deep
sand most of the way. We stopped at night at the mouth of Ash Hollow, at
which place the road that goes up the South Platte came in. At the lower
end there are several springs and a little timber, such as ash and
cedar, and some shrubbery. We are now in the territory of the Sioux
Indians, a party of whom are now about our wagons. They are very
desirous to beg or buy provisions, particularly sugar, coffee, and
liquor. The chief was here and made himself known to us. Their dress is
very simple and confined to adults, the children going naked, except a
bit of cloth fastened about their loins. This tribe is quite friendly,
and the chief signified that anything that we might lay out of our
wagons would be perfectly safe. They look quite intelligent for Indians
and superior to what I had expected to see. Some of them are now
practicing with their bows and arrows for the amusement of the
emigrants. The wind has been very high all day and the dust troublesome.
The sun has just sunk down in the west, casting a crimson flush upon the
dark clouds that hang like a dark curtain drawn across the west.
Companies of emigrants have encamped all around us, and should the
Indians make an attack upon us, at least two hundred men could be
gathered in ten minutes. Distance, twenty-five miles.

MAY 23.

Today we continued our travel over a sandy soil, making slow progress in
consequence. We set out at daybreak, and after going a couple of miles,
came to an Indian village. They live in tents made of buffalo skins.
These skins they support on poles set round in a circle on the ground,
and fastened together at the top. In cold weather they make their fires
in the center of the tent and have an aperture in the top for the smoke
to escape. These Indians, like all others, are always ready to trade,
and will sometimes give enormous prices for articles they happen to
fancy. Sugar and coffee are prized very highly by them. I have known
them to give from $1 to $3 per pint for the first, and as they seem to
have plenty of money just now, it will be a profitable trade for those
who have a surplus of these articles. Before I left the United States I
was not aware that these articles could be sold at such prices among the
Indians. Distance, twenty miles.

MAY 24.

Traveling two miles this morning, we came to another Indian encampment
of some thirty-five tents. They were encamped upon a beautiful and
expansive plain. These Indians are of the same character of those we saw
yesterday. When we passed by, the sun was just rising and the scene was
quite picturesque. These Indians have a large number of ponies and
mules, which were scattered over the valley feeding, while several
Indians in their blue and white blankets and buffalo skins were watching
them. There were four or five dogs about each tent, and as we passed
they gave us a satisfactory display of vocal sounds. These dogs are an
inferior-looking brute and from imagination appear a little wolfish.
They howl rather than bark, and when a number of them are in concert, it
sounds singularly mournful and plaintive. The road becomes better as we
advance and the grass better than we have before seen. In fact, this is
the earliest period at which the grass can be considered fit for working
cattle. Distance, twenty miles.

MAY 25.

A short distance beyond our stopping place we crossed a small stream
called Small Creek. Soon after, we came in sight of those promised
curiosities, the Courthouse and Chimney Rock, the first appearing in the
distance like the dome of an immense building and the latter like a
tower or straight column. At noon, we came nearly opposite the Court
House, and as it appeared but a short distance from the road, some of
our men determined to go to it and satisfy their curiosity. They went,
and by fast walking, overtook us about four o'clock in the afternoon. It
is about seven miles from the trail, and appears very fine, being
discernable from all points. It is composed of an immense mass of rock,
raising from 300 to 500 feet above the level of the plain, and of a
conical shape at the summit, from which it derives its name. Chimney
Rock is about twelve miles further, and seven miles from where we stop
tonight. At noon we crossed another stream, the largest since we crossed
Little Blue River, and good water. It comes in from the south, a little
east of the Court House. This afternoon we had a fine specimen of a hail
storm in this region. A dark mass of clouds were gathering for several
hours in the west, till our path was overhung with an impenetrable
curtain of black, and at length the wind, which was blowing from the
east, turned back, and the storm rushed upon us. It was a real hail
storm. When it commenced beating upon our cattle, they became
intractable, but we succeeded in unfastening them from the wagons, and
having driven them behind the wagons, they bore it as well as might have
been expected. The hail stones were the largest I ever saw, some of them
being as large as hens' eggs, and striking with force sufficient to make
a man seek a shelter as soon as convenient. It continued some twenty
minutes, when it stopped and we commenced our march; but we had not gone
far when it recommenced, and we were compelled to turn around and wait
till it ceased. But we have reason to be thankful, as we did not feel
the worst of the storm. Two of our men who were in advance to find a
stopping-place for the night were less fortunate than ourselves. Where
they were, the hailstones were as large as lemons and with force enough
to bruise a man severely. Our party in advance were on horses, and as
they became fractious, they could not shelter themselves, and had to
take the full force of the storm. One of our men received a severe
bruise on his head, caused by a hailstone. But the storm soon blew over
and the sun set behind a crimson curtain of transparent clouds.
Distance, twenty miles.

MAY 26.

Today being Sunday, we determined to lay by till noon and let our cattle
rest, and go on in the afternoon to the vicinity of Chimney Rock, which
would afford better feed and give us an opportunity to examine this
great natural curiosity. A large number of teams passed us in the
forenoon, which made some of our party impatient to be going. I said we
stopped to let our cattle rest, for the men were nearly all engaged in
such matters as become necessary, such as washing their clothes, airing
their bedding, and such other things as could not be done on the way. By
four o'clock we were opposite Chimney Rock, and after going a short
distance further we stopped for the night. In company with some others
of our party, I started for the Rock, some two miles distant. The lower
portion of it is thrown up like a mound in a conical shape, to the
height of about two hundred feet, and upon this rests a perpendicular
column of some twenty feet in diameter, and about one hundred feet high.
By some, the height of the rock is computed at from five hundred to
eight hundred feet, but I have put it as it appeared to me. The lower
portion is composed of baked clay, and the upper part of a kind of soft
rock, darker in color than the base. I saw thousands of names which were
engraved upon the plaster material, and intended to carve my own, but
was prevented by a storm coming on. It continued to rain that evening,
and as there was a cold wind, and we had no fuel except a little we had
in our wagons, it was anything but pleasant; but as we went to bed
early, we soon forgot the rain beneath comfortable blankets. Though the
ground was wet, a good buffalo robe was sufficient to keep out dampness
all night. High bluffs are visible on each side of us, and in advance.
Distance, eight miles.

MAY 27.

For a few days past we have got up and started about two o'clock in the
morning, and so we did this morning. So after we set out, it recommenced
raining and continued till we stopped for breakfast. Some of our men
swore if they were at home they would not be caught here again, and it
was disagreeable, trying to kindle a fire of wet fuel, being wet
ourselves, and still getting more damp and chilly if possible. But at
length the clouds broke away, and having refreshed ourselves with some
warm breakfast, we went on our way rejoicing. We left the river in the
early part of the day, and traveled upon a high plain, with Scotts
Bluffs as the boundary. In the evening we reached the bluffs, where we
encamped. In this region wood and water is very scarce, and we were not
able to collect during the day so much as we needed; but this might be
remedied by taking them in previously if we had known what was in
advance. At the Bluffs we found several little springs, but they were
between such precipitous banks that it was almost impossible to get our
cattle to them, and some of them entirely beyond their reach. Here we
found a little wood, consisting of a few specimens of stunted cedar
scattered upon the bluffs and in the ravines, and a little dry wood in
the valley, having been washed down by the rain. This latter is most
excellent fuel, having been exposed to the sun for years, and as dry as
powder. Some of the best teams begin to go our pace and will be
thankful if they can maintain it. Distance, twenty-three miles.

MAY 28.

After proceeding a couple of miles, we came to an Indian encampment and
also a place where blacksmithing was done, and on a little further we
ascended the bluffs and traveled over a level, high country and came to
the Platte again in the afternoon and encamped at night in the valley of
that stream. This morning we had the first view of the Rocky Mountains,
150 miles distant. Laramie Peak looks like a vast sugar loaf. We see a
little timber today by the Platte, such as cedar, pine and poplar. Day
warm, and sand deep. Distance, twenty-five miles.

MAY 29.

After traveling five miles, we came to a trading place, which was
occupied by some half dozen men and some thirty or forty Sioux Indians.
They had clothing, but no provisions, which were most sought by the
emigrants. This place is within twenty miles of Fort Laramie, and we
have been so successful in getting over the ground that we feel no small
degree of gratification. At three o'clock we came to Laramie River and
forded it and encamped about one half mile beyond by the road opposite
the Fort, which is a mile or more to the south of it. In consequence of
the lateness of our arrival and the determination of our party to
proceed early in the morning, I could not find time to visit it, but
was compelled to satisfy my curiosity at a distance. From where I now am
I can see several respectable looking buildings, looking the most like
civilization of anything that I have seen since I left Weston. Laramie
River has the same characteristics as the Platte, only much smaller, and
about four feet deep where we forded it. A large number of emigrants
change their mode of travel at this place--from wagons to packing--for
the purpose of hastening their arrival in the gold regions. In doing
this, some of them abandon much property, such as guns, tools, bedding,
clothing, and more especially wagons and harness. I was told last
evening that two men had just thrown their rifles into the Platte,
having tried to sell them to no purpose, and being determined that no
one should profit by the loss. Good wagons can be bought for a mere
trifle, and many of them can be had for nothing. An excellent one was
sold here yesterday at $7 and with it a lot of other valuables thrown
into the bargain. Near us in this valley there is a very large number of
emigrants encamped, stopping for the purpose of some business and seeing
the Fort. I should think there were about 500 wagons and 2,000 men.
Provisions, biscuit and bacon can be obtained at the Fort in small
quantities by those who are in need of them, sufficient to last them to
Salt Lake. Biscuit, $14 per pound. Though we are on the first part of
our journey, we see many things left by the way, but everything of any
value is examined and perhaps taken a short distance by those who come
after, when they in turn cast them away; and others still encumber
themselves as before. I have seen men take hold of a log chain and drag
it for several rods, knowing at the same time that they could not take
it with them; but having large acquisitiveness, they would cling to it
from the force of habit, or in hopes that some lucky circumstance would
turn up that would enable them to sell it. A man was at our camp this
morning who had a rifle, a hatchet, and a shovel, which he offered to
sell for two dollars, but could not, so he gave the rifle to one of our
party and took the rest along. The soil is poor and sandy here and the
grass short and dry. Distance, twenty-five miles.

MAY 30.

At three o'clock this morning we were under way and continued up the
Platte, and having gone sixteen miles by two o'clock, we stopped for the
night, our cattle being much in need of feed and rest, having traveled
hard and found but little feed in the vicinity of the Fort. Some three
miles before we stopped we left the river and ascended the tableland,
passing over innumerable little knobs, upon which is scattered a little
cedar and pine. In a ravine near the camp is an excellent spring of
water and tolerably good grass. In the afternoon a dark cloud arose in
the west, and soon came thunder and lightning and rain; and now while I
am writing it is dancing upon our tent in a fine manner--a manner
peculiar to this country. At length the clouds cleared away and our
party concluded to proceed a few miles further. Accordingly, we
collected our cattle, yoked them, and drove about five miles further. In
the afternoon we passed some soldiers who were engaged in burning lime
for the Fort. One of them wanted to buy liquor; said he had that day
offered $16 per gallon for brandy to an emigrant but could not get it.
One of our company sold him a drink of whiskey for fifty cents.
Distance, twenty-one miles.

MAY 31.

Going two miles this morning, we came to a little stream called the
Little Cottonweed. Our trail led over a hilly country, presenting every
variety of scenery, from the level plain to the bold bluffs, with here a
few shrubs of pine and cedar. These evergreens are the only objects
generally which enliven the plains in which they are found, as they
usually grow in the moist barrens and indescribable places, deep ravines
and nearly naked rocks. At length we have come into the region of wild
sage so well known and so much hated by the emigrant, as it grows in the
most inhospitable regions. It is a low, bushy shrub, with thick and
light-colored leaves, resembling to some extent the leaf of the
cultivated sage and exhaling a similar scent. Our road is very
circuitous. We have, in a few hours, traveled toward every point of the
compass. Laramie Peak, which we first saw from Scotts Bluffs, is still
in sight, several miles to the south of us. Its snow-capped summit
presents a strong contrast to the green hill and prairie, which are just
putting on their summer apparel. Today we swapped our wagon for one we
found abandoned by the road. We made a good trade. Distance, twenty-one


Still among the hills. In the afternoon over a high, level plain.
Stopped at night by a little stream, a short distance from the Blue
Mountain. Day fine. Distance, twenty-five miles.


Today we moved on till we came to a little stream about four miles from
our last night's stopping-place. One mile from where we stopped, we
crossed a little stream called Mountain Blue. We have not found a more
beautiful place than where we stopped today--plenty of wood, water and
grass. Day fine; health good. There is a novel feature in this region in
the existence of a red sand which gives to the prospect a very
picturesque character. I suppose it was caused by volcanic fires, which
burned perhaps centuries ago. A soft quality of marble also abounds
here, and many of our party have smoothed pieces of it and written or
carved their names, dates, and other laconic bits of news upon them for
their friends behind them. I cut a level surface upon a piece and wrote
thus: "C. W. Smith, Centreville, Indiana. 'On the night's Plutonian
shore.' June 2, 1850." The country over which we are passing is becoming
very rocky and broken, and I am surprised that we can pass over it with
so little difficulty. Sometimes we pass along an extensive range of
hills, sometimes through a deep gorge or dry-bed of a stream, and then
again winding along a serpentine track, thus ever changing from scene to
scene, deriving new interest from them all and learning each day
something more of the many wonders of nature. Distance, four miles.


Having refreshed ourselves yesterday (Sunday) by the river La Bronte, we
proceeded this morning in good spirits; about ten o'clock we crossed the
river "_a la Psete_ (Prele?)" ten or twelve feet in width, and at night
encamped on La Boisce. Great variety of scenery. At noon we had a heavy
shower of rain, which increased the water in the creeks to an almost
impassable height. Tonight the sky is obscured by heavy masses of dark
clouds that sit with portentous aspect upon the brows of the mountains.
The valleys of the tributaries of the Platte through which we have
passed are narrow and winding, with little timber, such as willows,
lind, cottonwood and poplars, beside a little cedar and pine, in the
ravines and on the bluffs. Distance, twenty-three miles.


Going nine miles brought us to a stream called Deer Creek, about twenty
yards wide and with a strong current. Crossed one more stream during the
day. Muddy, crooked creek, and encamped in the valley of the Platte,
twelve miles from the stream. Country more level by the Platte. Weather
pleasant. Distance, eighteen miles.


Distances are very deceptive here. A range of mountains to our left
appeared about two miles off; became the object of curiosity to some of
our party from the fact that there was snow upon its summit, and so they
concluded to walk across the plain and ascend them and get some of the
snow, if such it was, which some of them doubted. They started about 2
P. M. and as we laid by this afternoon, they supposed it a good
opportunity. At sundown our explorers returned, much fatigued. They had
walked the entire afternoon after they had left us. The top of the
mountains was about twelve miles distant, and they had been there. They
brought a snowball and declared that what they saw was worth their
labor. Distance, twelve miles.


We started early this morning, in order to get ferried across the Platte
before those who stopped behind us over night. One mile's travel brought
us to the ferry, and our wagons were taken across without delay. There
are three boats running across abreast, though conducted by different
men. Price per wagon $4.00. They were not willing to ferry our cattle
over, so we drove them up a short distance, and made them swim the
stream. The boats are run on a very simple principal and a very good
one. A long line is stretched across the river, secured at each end. To
this are placed two pulley wheels, which are fastened to ropes attached
to the boat at each end, and the forward rope being the shortest, the
side of the boat is brought to the force of the current and forced
across. Two wagons are placed in a boat each trip, which is made in
about ten minutes. All being safely over, about 8 o'clock we resumed our
march, leaving the river and following the trail over a high range of
country, destitute of wood and water. At noon we stopped a short time at
Alkali Pond--very poor water and grass; and being none better within
fifteen miles, we pushed on in order to reach them by night. At sundown
we came from a stream which comes from what are called Willow Springs,
about two miles further on. Stopped here. This being a general stopping
place, the grass is poor. The stream is small and the valley narrow. On
the upland there is no vegetation worth mentioning, except wild sage,
which grows in stunted clumps all over the country. We see mountain
peaks to the left and in advance, the first being a range of the Black
Hills and the second the Rattlesnake Mountains, I suppose. Distance,
twenty-six miles.


After traveling over a rough country till noon, we came to Grease Creek
and encamped on it near Rattlesnake Rock. We stopped about two o'clock
for the purpose of resting and letting our cattle feed, as we had just
come over a portion of the route nearly destitute of grass and water. We
came by one little stream which is known to be poisonous, the water
being strongly impregnated with alkali. We learn by some emigrants since
we passed this stream that a company who were ignorant of the nature of
the water let their horses drink it, and many of them died in
consequence. Distance, fourteen miles.


Today at noon we reached the Sweetwater, much elated, as we had been on
the muddy Platte for more than twenty days. The river is here about six
rods wide, and deep; water tolerably good, not quite clear. Another mile
brought us to the far-famed Independence Rock. I climbed up its abrupt,
rocky sides, and spent a few minutes in walking about its summit, though
I had not time to examine it as I wished. It is composed of solid rock
of a light red clay color, about one eighth of a mile long and two
hundred feet high. There are huge masses of grotesque rocks lying upon
its sides and summit, some of which weighed hundreds of tons and appear
as if they could be shoved off by the hand. On the prominent points of
this rock are carved and painted thousands of names, in all styles and
sizes; some are put high up on the ledges, where it must have been
difficult to place them, and others nearer the ground. I looked for a
familiar name, but could find none, though I saw all the states
inscribed, as the former residences of these pilgrims. One half mile
further on we crossed the Sweet Water, and in the afternoon went by what
is called The Devil's Gate, a narrow channel of the stream, through a
pass of the Rattlesnake Mountains. Looking down into the stream from the
rocks hundreds of feet high, it is said that the Sweet Water appears as
a mere rivulet. Some of our party climbed to the top of the Gate and
boasted of having done some daring climbing. We are now surrounded by
mountains, entirely barren, except a few stunted cedars or other
evergreens. The range on the south is partly covered with snow.
Distance, twenty-two miles.


Started in the morning. A shower at noon. Distance, fourteen miles.

JUNE 10.

After proceeding up the river for fourteen miles, we left it for sixteen
miles. At night we stopped at the Ice Springs. The water is very bad
here, so much so that we dare not let our cattle drink it. We see many
evidences of its fatality in the many horses and cattle in the vicinity.
Distance, twenty miles.

JUNE 11.

Started early and reached the Sweet Water again about 10 o'clock, having
gone some ten miles. We were delayed an hour in the morning to find our
cattle that had strayed off. Many of our cattle show the effects of bad
water and today our best yoke gave out, having to take them from the
wagon and drive them slowly behind. Distance, ten miles.

JUNE 12.

Still by the Sweet Water. The valley is becoming more narrow and the
stream more rapid. In advance and a little to the north of our trail, we
can see the Wind River Mountains. Their lofty summits are covered with
snow, and in their dazzling whiteness appear truly sublime. From their
great height and the transparency of the air, they look not far off,
though they are probably not less than seventy-five miles. In the
afternoon I walked over a body of snow lying near the road, and as it
had retreated down the bank, it was interesting to notice how the grass
and flowers had followed, a barren space of not more than three yards
intervening winter's snow and summer's flowers. Pleasant day, just cool
enough to be agreeable. The grass is becoming better, as there are
numerous springs in this vicinity, by which it grows. Distance, nineteen

JUNE 13.

Started early this morning and went two and three quarters miles to the
North Sweet Water, where we took breakfast and stopped till noon. In the
afternoon we crossed Willow Creek, and at night encamped on a fine
little brook of crystal water about one mile from the main road. Today
we have felt that we are in a high region. We see snow in all
directions--on the mountains, on the hills and in the ravines--and here,
a few yards above me, an extensive bed reflects the rays of the setting
sun over a bed of sweet pink flowers which peep up through the fresh
grass. The grass is good here, though rather short. We are now within
about ten miles of the South Pass, which we will probably reach by
tomorrow noon. We see no longer any of the large companies which
overtook us on the outset of the journey. They have invariably broken up
into small companies of five or six wagons. This is the best plan,
especially when there is no danger to be apprehended from the Indians.
It is impossible for large companies to improve the time like small
companies. The great difficulty is there is too much hesitation on the
plains, which invariably results in disagreement. Distance, eleven

JUNE 14.

After going a little over a mile, we crossed the Sweet Water for the
last time, leaving it to our right. At noon we were at the South Pass,
where we stopped for a short time. In the afternoon we passed the
Pacific Springs and encamped within about two miles of Little Sandy. In
the afternoon it rained very hard, and now, at sundown, as heavy a cloud
as I ever saw is coming up in the west. Distance, seventeen miles.

JUNE 15.

Quite cool last night, so much so that we could not keep warm between a
buffalo robe and two good blankets. The night before last was cold also.
Water froze over near our camp. After three miles' travel this morning
we came to what is called Dry Sandy. In the valley there is no water at
this season of the year. We passed down the valley six miles, when we
came to the fork in the roads--the Salt Lake and Subletts (?)--cut off,
the former leading down by Sandy and the latter keeping to the right,
west. Five miles more brought us to the Little Sandy, where we stopped
for the night. Tomorrow we shall go but six miles to Big Sandy, where we
shall prepare to cross a desert, as it is called, stretching from that
stream to Green River, a distance of forty miles, which is generally
traveled in the night. Distance, six miles.

JUNE 16.

Today we laid by to prepare to cross the desert from Big Sandy to Green
River. This afternoon I went up this stream about three miles to cut
grass for our cattle while crossing the desert. I was engaged half a day
in cutting two small sacks full with a knife. Then I came back to the
wagons and started down the stream for more grass, but found it more
scarce than ever. There is but little grass in this region, excepting
the creek bottoms, and they are few and narrow.

JUNE 17.

As it was agreed to start early, I went in company with some others to
fetch our cattle from some three miles up the river, where they had been
feeding. A snowstorm came on about daybreak and I had the full benefit
of it. I walked several miles in search of a couple of ponies that
belonged to the company and was at last compelled to return without
them. The face of the country there is nearly destitute of vegetation,
wild sage, greasewood and an occasional bunch of grass being the entire
product of the soil. We left Big Sandy at about eleven and a half A.
M. with the intention of traveling all night and reaching Green
River the next morning. We pushed on as fast as we could against a
strong wind and a blinding dust. A little before sundown we stopped an
hour for supper and to feed our cattle, having gone fifteen miles. This
over, we entered the night, and the most tedious part of our journey.
With the sun went down the wind and we hoped that an agreeable night
would follow such a boisterous day. But we were disappointed. A dark
cloud overcast the sky and soon a snowstorm came drifting in our faces,
and continued all night. At twelve o'clock we stopped to rest and feed
our cattle, and then pushed on till eight o'clock in the morning, when
we reached the Green River. The country between these streams is not so
barren as I was led to suppose. It is but little more so than much of
the ground we had passed over before, west of Fort Laramie. Green River
is about 1,000 feet lower than Big Sandy. Upon this stretch of forty
miles there is not a drop of water, and this is the reason why it is so
barren. Our cattle stood the drive very well. In the morning the sun
shone out clear and warm and the thin mantle of snow soon disappeared
beneath his beams. Distance, forty-six miles.

JUNE 18.

About 7 o'clock this morning we came within sight of Green River,
apparently not far off, but several hundred feet below us. After the
most disagreeable night's travel I ever experienced, we were elated at
the prospect of being so near a stopping-place, but on following the
trail we had to go about three miles further before we got down to the
river. Green River is about twenty rods wide here and so deep that it
has to be ferried. In the Spring it is said it can be forded, but it is
swollen now in consequence of the snow melting at its sources. There are
two ferries, which charge $7 per wagon. We made arrangements to have
ours crossed this evening, and accordingly they were taken over without
accident. I am told that four men were drowned the other day in
attempting to cross on a raft. Some companies find it difficult to make
their horses and cattle swim the stream, but ours went over without
trouble. We found the grass rather scarce near the ferry, and drove our
cattle three miles up the river, where it was first-rate. In company
with three others of our party, I went up about sundown to watch the
cattle over night. Nowhere upon the way have I found a more beautiful
place than this. The valley of the river is broad and Spring's first
fresh carpet of grass adorned with fragrant flowers. The numerous
varieties of shrubs divided and subdivided the valley into picturesque
lawns, and gave more variety to the scenery. We built a good fire of dry
wood, and spreading our buffalo robes upon the grass, we laid down to
rest, one watching at a time and being relieved at intervals by the

JUNE 19.

This morning we drove the cattle back to the wagons and taking breakfast
while our company were preparing to start, we were on the march by 7
o'clock. Here we entered a decidedly mountainous country and our road is
very crooked. After winding over and around the mountains for about
eight miles, we came to a tributary of Green River, which we expect to
travel up for several miles. We went two miles up this stream and rested
for an hour or two. We found good grass by driving our cattle across the
stream, which is narrow and deep. Quite a ludicrous incident occurred
here. As I said, the stream is deep, though narrow, our cattle being
compelled to swim it when only eight or ten yards wide. Well, when we
were ready to start, somebody must cross over to bring the cattle back.
After some equivocations, two men were chosen, and having undressed and
went a little higher up the stream, they plunged in, but instead of
swimming, they struck their knees upon the bottom, and having raised
upright in two feet depth of water, walked the remainder of the way
across, amid the laughter of the whole company. We crossed to the south
side of the stream about two miles further on and left it. After going
seven miles further we came to another, and two miles more, another
still, by which we stopped for the night. We see snow all round us and
have very cool nights. Distance, nineteen miles.

JUNE 20.

Continued our march over a mountainous country, the most rough I ever
saw. From some of the elevations we could see the trail for miles,
dotted with men, horses and, more distinctly, the white-covered wagons.
We passed numerous small streams, flowing from the mountains. After
going about seventeen miles, we reached Ham's Fork of Green River, and
encamped four miles beyond it on the open prairie, where we found good
grass, and water we had in store. The day has been pleasant, more so
than any we have had since we left the Sweet Water. This morning I had a
fine view of the Bear River Mountains, about seventy-five miles
distance, stretching around the sky from the south to the southwest.
Their summits are covered with spotless snow. At Ham's Fork I saw
another party of the Snake River Indians. Most of them looked very
squalid and miserable, and beg provisions of all they can. They are less
prepossessing than the Sioux, though they are well supplied with guns
and horses. They are good horsemen and use their sharp-pointed arrows
with the certainty of a bullet. The mosquitoes began to trouble us today
for the first time. We expect they will lay a long siege to our blood.
Distance, twenty-one miles.

JUNE 21.

Country continues very mountainous. In the afternoon we passed over a
very high range, to descend which ropes had been used by former
emigrants on a trail near the one we took. We had two wheels of our
wagon locked for more than a mile, and then it was hard to keep it from
running over the cattle. The mosquitoes stick to us like genuine
friends, especially during the day; at night it is too cool for them.
At noon we stopped by a fine stream of water, in a deep gorge of the
mountains. In the afternoon we ascended another high range of mountains,
from the summits of which we could see far below us into Bear River
Valley. This stream is as large as the Sweet Water, and courses its way
through a rich and beautiful valley, from three to six miles in width.
We encamped in the valley at night by a large pond of very poor water,
but the grass was excellent. Distance, twenty-two miles.

JUNE 22.

Continued down the valley of Bear River. In the forenoon we passed four
branches of the stream, which came within a few yards of each other.
Some of them were deep and all difficult to cross, but we got over in
safety. There is good grass in this valley. Four miles after dinner
brought us to Smith's Fork, which we crossed in safety, though we had to
raise our wagon-beds in order to keep them dry. Day warm. Thunder and
lightning, but no rain. The river makes a sudden bend south, and the
trail leaves it and lies over a spur of the mountains, reaching it again
in about eight miles. After going about four miles, we came to a long
and difficult hill. In the valley east of it is a stream, which empties
into Bear River within sight. Some of our company thought we could reach
the river by sunset, but the first ascent being set at nought, their
calculations were wrong. It was nearly sunset by the time we reached
the summit, and here, without wood or water, our cattle being tired, and
one having fallen dead in coming up, we determined to stop for the
night. A party of us returned to the stream for water, to make coffee,
etc.--a distance of about two miles. As we descended the mountain the
mosquitoes commenced an assault upon us and General Taylor would have
been compelled to surrender upon this occasion. I never before saw them
half so numerous or so bloodthirsty. They stung my hands so much that
they were soon badly swollen. After fighting them about half an hour, we
were successful in getting back with a few quarts of water. Distance,
twenty miles.

JUNE 23.

This morning we drove four miles to Bear River and stopped for the day,
all needing rest. A family of the Snake Indians came to our camp and
asked for sugar and powder. They were dressed in dirty buckskin and
looked very wretched. We see already upon the road numerous stragglers,
men having lost their teams and provisions, and those who started
unprepared. Our speed on the road has been much better than we expected.
For more than a month we have seen the same companies, some of them
supplied with the best teams. Distance, four miles.

JUNE 24.

Started early this morning, all in good spirits. Continued down the
valley but were not within several miles of the river for most of the
day, and did not come close to it at all, though we crossed a great many
streams, which came down from the range of mountains on our right, and
emptied into Bear River. Though we had crossed many streams during the
day, at night we camped not less than three miles from it. A couple of
our men went to the river for some water, and when they returned they
declared that it was not less than four miles to it. It appears about
one mile and a half. Road today excellent. The wild sage which covered
most of the country from Fort Laramie to Green River is not so prolific
in this region, but a great many plants spring up among the grass, some
of which bear beautiful blossoms. Distance, twenty-six miles.

JUNE 25.

Went two miles to water and took breakfast; about eight miles farther we
came to Cold Springs. They spring up out of the plain near the trail and
make quite a respectable stream. The water is remarkably cold and good.
Opposite the Cold Springs, and about a half a mile to the right, is
another natural curiosity, called Beer Springs. These springs are so
called from the fact that these springs have a sour taste, somewhat
resembling beer. It springs out of an elevated, light-colored rock,
which I suppose was caused by the petrification of certain properties in
the water. Upon the center of the elevation are several sharp-pointed
rocks, from which the water rushes. Several of these conical rocks,
larger than the rest, are now exhausted. They must have been great
curiosities when in full play. Four miles further on, and within two
yards of Bear River, are Steamboat Springs. The water of these springs,
which gushes from the rocks is warm, which is the more remarkable from
the fact of its being so close to the river. Just beyond this place the
Bear River bends suddenly round the mountains, to the south, and here we
leave it. It is well known it rises in the great basin and empties into
Salt Lake. A little to the west of the bend is the old crater, so called
from the supposition that it was once a volcano, the base alone
remaining. The rocks in this ruinous-looking place bear the marks of
fire. Opposite to the old crater the road branches off to Fort Hall, the
one we are traveling (Hedspeths [?] Cutoff), continuing west. Distance,
twenty miles.

JUNE 26.

This afternoon we crossed the vide that divides the waters of the Great
Basin from those of the Pacific. This we know from the fact that we
crossed a branch of the Pont Neuf River. At night we encamped by the
Pont Neuf. It is from ten to fifteen yards wide, and deep. We saw some
Snake Indians today. They have plenty of horses, which they offer to
sell. The country before us appears very mountainous. I must cut today's
note short, as it takes both hands to keep off the mosquitoes. Confound
the mosquitoes! Distance, twenty miles.

JUNE 27.

Today our road led over very mountainous country. We crossed two high
mountain ranges, with a fine stream of water between them. In advance of
us our path was filled up with mountains, one upon another. Snow to be
seen. There are two classes of mountains in this region, the largest
covered with snow and the smaller one having vegetation and filling up
the space between the others. Upon the peaks of some of the highest
mountains is a stunted growth of cedar, which gives them rather a dark
appearance. I have often heard when at home that buffalo did not abound
west of the south pass, but I have seen numerous evidences in the shape
of skulls by the road; but it is said by the Indians that there are not
at this time any buffalo in this region, nor has there been for six
years past. A sufficient cause for their entire disappearance in this
region I cannot fully understand. Distance, sixteen miles.

JUNE 28.

Most excellent road today, and down hill all the way, except a
circuitous narrow gorge in the mountains of about four miles in length,
which we went through in the afternoon. In descending the western slope
of this range we found the road very steep, though we came down in
safety. At the soda springs we saw an old man who called himself Captain
Grant. He assured us that one half of our cattle would die on the
cut-off, for want of grass, and also that the road was almost impassible
and no nearer than that by Fort Hall. This statement in respect to grass
is utterly untrue, and we suspect the others are of like character.
Grass on the cut-off is first rate--better than we have before seen on
the road. Wild flax abounds in this region, though not in abundance. It
is now in full bloom and looks quite like a flower garden in some
places. We stopped by a little stream at noon, beyond which water is not
so plenty for about twenty miles. There are willows growing along this
stream. The road turns south after we cross it. We laid here until three
o'clock and then went on about eight miles, passing over a range of low
mountains, and encamped at night in the valley. A shower of rain in the
afternoon. Distance, twenty miles.

JUNE 29.

Went down the valley about four miles to where it turned west over the
mountains, when we unyoked the cattle and drove them in a southeast
direction to a spring of water. About eight miles more brought us to a
valley in which were several good springs. In the afternoon went eight
miles and found another spring of good water. Here we took in water for
the night and encamped just beyond, where we found good grass. A little
animal abounds in this region called the prairie squirrel. It is a
little smaller than the common black squirrel, and gray in color. We see
hundreds of them every day, and they are often killed with clubs and
whips. I first noticed them in the vicinity of Fort Laramie, and have
seen them every day since. The Indians, the Snakes principally, shoot
them and use them as an article of food. Road good, weather pleasant.
Distance, twenty miles.

JUNE 30.

This morning we continued through the range of mountains which we
entered yesterday. In the forenoon found plenty of water, passing
several springs, and at length came to a mountain stream, which we
followed down the valley. At noon we stopped opposite to a spur of rock.
In the afternoon we struck out across the valley in a western direction.
After crossing the stream which we followed in the morning, we went
about twelve miles before we reached water. This stream was but four or
five feet wide, but deep and difficult to cross. In this valley there is
an abundant growth of wild sage and grease wood, but not much grass.
Distance, twenty-seven miles.


Went four miles this morning and came to what we supposed to be Raft
River. It is about six yards wide and deep, like most of the other
rivers in the mountains. We forded it and went up its valley about one
mile and laid by till about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, when we
proceeded three miles further and stopped for the night, the grass in
which a heavy swath could be cut. Just after we crossed Raft River we
came to the junction of the cut-off with the Fort Hall road. Those with
whom we have spoken about the road represent it as being further and the
worst of the two. On that road there are one or two very bad streams to
cross, and also a mirey district. Distance, eight miles.


Went up Raft River a short distance, when we crossed it and struck out
in a southern direction. We went up a gentle slope for several miles and
then descended into a wide valley, in which we crossed several streams
and found plenty of grass. By one of these brooks we stopped at noon. In
the afternoon we proceeded, and after going three miles, we entered the
mountains again and went through a rugged region through the remainder
of the day, though the road was good and water plenty. Towards evening
we came to the junction of the Fort Hall and Salt Lake roads, about
nineteen miles from where it crossed Raft River. We fell in with some
emigrants direct from Salt Lake and got all the news we could.
Provisions are represented as being very high there--flour $1.00 per
pound and other things in proportion, except butter and milk, which are
comparatively cheap. Distance, twenty-one miles.


In the morning we went up Sleet (?) Creek, which we followed a mile or
so up a ravine, and after descending the other side of the mountain, we
reached what is called Goose Creek, a distance of about ten miles. This
part of the day's drive was bad. In the afternoon we proceeded up Goose
Creek about twelve miles. This stream is about six yards wide and the
valley is narrow; grass good. Weather hot. Distance, twenty-two miles.


The Fourth of July! What a glorious day, and how honored at home, but to
the travel-worn emigrant, in the eternal wilds, this day's remembrances
hardly stir the sluggish blood. All are rushing to the gold region, and
few stop to celebrate the Fourth of July. We drove as usual, wild sage
and dust being about the only thing in the eye. We followed up Goose
Creek and a tributary for about ten miles, when we struck out across a
high, dry country, destitute of vegetation, except wild sage, etc. After
going twelve miles, we came to Thousand Spring Valley, and going down
it a little more than a mile we found water and tolerable grass, where
we stopped for the night. Day hot! Distance, twenty-three miles.


Continued our march down the valley for ten miles, when we turned to the
right, and on going two miles, came to what is called Dry Creek. In the
afternoon we followed up this valley. In it there is the channel of a
creek in which there is a little indifferent water in holes. A little
farther on we noticed more water in the creek, and presently we saw it
had increased to a stream. About ten miles up we stopped for the night,
where we found a well of tolerable water. Grass first rate. Distance,
twenty-two miles.


We went up the valley this morning eight miles and crossed the stream
which I suppose is called Cold Creek. Five miles more brought us to the
end of the valley, where we found a good spring of water. In the
afternoon we went over a range of mountains, and after going eight
miles, came to another valley, in which we found a spring and good
grass. Weather warm. Distance, twenty-one miles.


Continued down the valley all day, except a few miles over a point of
land running into a bend of the river. We found water in sloughs along
the valley and at night came to a stream which is the head waters of
Mary's or Humboldt's River. The valley is here broad and the grass good,
though the soil is considerably impregnated with alkali. The weather
cool and cloudy, with heavy rain seen falling upon the mountains in the
afternoon. We begin to think that we have gained upon the great mass of
emigrants, as we have not seen so many in the last few days; but this is
owing to some extent by some having stopped at Salt Lake to recruit and
others having gone by Fort Hall to Oregon. We at present overtake more
than overtake us. Distance, twenty miles.


This morning we reached the main stream of the long looked for Humboldt.
The crossing was bad, the water being deep and the banks steep, though
the stream is but about eight yards wide. The valley opens broad and
affords a very extensive view of the country in advance of us. On our
right rise the Humboldt Mountains, whose summits are covered with snow.
The last rays of the setting sun are now lending to their spotless
mantle a warm, rosy glow. One by one the lofty peaks lose their
transient splendor, and outline after outline loses its distinctness in
the sombre hues of evening. No timber in sight, except a little
underbrush by the river. Today we passed a new-made grave, in which
sleeps the last sleep of an emigrant who was shot a few days ago by an
Indian, while on guard. Indians were about for the purpose of stealing
horses and really did succeed in capturing one while the mounted guard
was receiving the attention of the whole company. The fatal arrow was
poisoned. This murder will raise great animosity against the Indians and
the future emigrant, as he passes by the grave of his murdered
countryman, will feel a spirit of revenge. The Root Diggers infest this
region, a most savage and degraded tribe. Distance, twenty miles.


Continued down the valley this morning some seven miles, when we came to
a branch of the river and forded it. It is longer than the first we came
to, though better to ford. At noon we met five men who had their team of
six horses stolen last night by the Indians. There was but a single
horse left among the five, and being unable to proceed with their
effects, they were waiting for some fortunate opportunity. We put their
provisions in with ours, intending to assist them through the journey,
giving them equal advantages with ourselves. We take one of them in our
wagon. This afternoon they found a written notice put up by the way,
cautioning emigrants against the Indians, and stating that some
twenty-five horses had been stolen by the Indians in that quarter
within two or three days. They were taken in the night. A mule had been
shot and a man captured and robbed. This will arouse new vigilance. We
have not yet heard of any cattle being stolen. Distance, twenty-two

JULY 10.

Nothing of note today. Continued down the valley thirteen miles by noon,
then ascended a mountain and took a very circuitous course for the
remainder of the day, making nine miles by night. Distance, twenty-two

JULY 11.

Went down the Humboldt and crossed another stream, tributary to the
former. After crossing it we commenced ascending a range of mountains
and continued in this character of country for some fifteen or eighteen
miles; but little water, and that in springs in the mountains. At night
we reached the Humboldt again after having been from it some thirty-five
miles. This portion of the road is new. The usual road is near the
river, but could not be traveled now on account of high water. The face
of the country is very barren, always excepting wild sage. Our road is
very dusty. The dust is so light that the least wind raises it, though
it does not impede the wheels of the wagons but little. Sometimes the
dust is so heavy that we cannot see the wagon immediately ahead of us in
the train. Quite a number of packers pass us daily. Provisions begin to
get scarce. Constant applications are made. Distance, twenty-six miles.

JULY 12.

Having made a long drive yesterday, we rested today till noon. As we
started we turned off to the right and reached the river again at the
end of eight miles, continued along it a mile or two, crossed another
low range of hills about two miles across, and camped for the night by
the Humboldt, a short distance further on. Distance, twelve miles.

JULY 13.

Continued down the valley, which is very wide at this point. Toward
night we entered into another bend of the river, running across by north
and south. The general surface of the soil here is nearly bare, wild
sage, greasewood and a few stunted weeds being the only vegetation. The
soil is light in color and weight, and walking through it is like
walking through ashes or slacked lime. Most of the day we were several
miles from the river and came to it but twice during the day, I never
saw such dense clouds of dust as I saw here, and it is more disagreeable
on account of being impregnated with alkali, which abounds in this
valley. The sky is cloudless and the sun extremely warm. We have
traveled so long among the mountains, and all bearing the same general
appearance, that we seem to be stationary instead of changing our
position every day. In looking around me I seem to be in a deep blue
ocean of air, with the distant mountains around as the shore. Distance,
twenty-three miles.

JULY 14.

Went on this morning over a most desolate plain, with scarcely a vestige
of vegetation, except greasewood. We traveled fifteen miles before we
reached the river, and then found no grass on the east side; but as some
men were ferrying grass across in a wagon bed, we procured it and
brought over grass for our cattle. After going two miles further we came
to a fork in the road, one running down the river and the other passing
over a low range of bluffs. We followed the latter and came to the river
again in about two miles. Distance, twenty miles.

JULY 15.

This morning we went on eight miles, when we came to the river, where we
stopped to water. Here we found quite a number of wagons which were
stopped in consequence of a report that they were near the desert and at
the place where it was necessary to take in grass. We made inquiries and
examined our uncertain guides, which tended to corroborate the report.
The indications were all affirmative, but the distance was too short.
Several hundred wagons have gone directly off the road eight miles to
procure grass for their stock on the desert, and finally we concluded to
go also, and be on the safe side at any rate. In the afternoon we
traveled to the grass and found it tolerably good and was enabled in the
afternoon to cut as much as we could conveniently carry. Day hot.
Distance, eight miles.

JULY 16.

Up and off early. Came to the river again some three miles below where
we left it. A little lower down we stopped at noon. By the way, one of
our men went on twelve miles yesterday noon to see if we were as near
the sink as was supposed. We found the appearance of the river unchanged
and concluded that the sink was not near. However, we determined to take
on our grass and use it when necessary. In the afternoon we went over a
low range of hills some six miles in distance, then we came to the
river, and soon stopped for the night, and found good grass after a good
deal of trouble in getting our oxen over a bad slough. Distance, twelve

JULY 17.

In the forenoon we were thrown off our main course some three miles by
having to go round a slough. We met some packers from California, who
informed us that we were 140 miles from the sink. We discredited their
statement, but soon after came to some emigrants who were old neighbors
of these Californians and was told by them that confidence might be
placed in the report. This disappointment came extremely hard to those
who were nearly out of provisions. Some are already destitute of food
and have to depend on the liberality of others. Some are killing their
work cattle for beef. One man in our own company offered $10 for five
pounds of flour and could not get it. The grass and water in this region
are poor. Weather warm. Distance, eighteen miles.

JULY 18.

There being but little grass where we stopped last night, we went on
this morning before breakfast about five miles. Being weary of the
journey and wishing to proceed as fast as possible, I here sold out my
share in the team, and in company with another of our party who sold out
his team also, proceeded ahead of the wagons, carrying our provisions
upon a pony, going in company with six others from the same company, who
set out in consequence of being short of eatables. Most of the day we
kept by the river, but just at night happened to get upon a sand plain
of fifteen miles, without grass or water. We came upon this distance
unawares and suffered much for water. About 9 o'clock we reached the
river again, greatly fatigued. Distance, thirty-five miles.

JULY 19.

Proceeded down the river and went round a great bend to the north. Grass
very scarce. Hot weather. A breeze every noon; soil very light.
Distance, twenty-two miles.

JULY 20.

Light sand plain. River bottom narrow. No grass. Dead animals.
Destruction of property. Distance, twenty-two miles.

JULY 21.

Fourteen miles to good spring--two to river--three to grass for the
desert. Grass plenty. Beef twenty-five cents per pound. One hundred
wagons preparing. Weather hot. Destitution of food among the emigrants.
Distance, twenty-three miles.

JULY 22.

Started early for the sink. Country barren. Bad water. Distance, twelve

JULY 23 AND 24.

Crossed the desert forty miles. Eight miles to the sink. Went upon the
desert at 4 o'clock P. M. Saw many dead animals. First part
road level and good. Moonlight night. Wagons strewn along the road.
Latter part of the road deep sand. Reached Carson River at 11 o'clock
A. M. Saw timber for the first time in several hundred miles.

JULY 25.

Went up river twelve miles, then from it for fifteen miles over a high
desert country. Valley of river narrow and well timbered. Distance,
twenty-seven miles.

JULY 26.

Left the river and went twenty-six miles before we came near it again.
Country barren and broken.

JULY 27.

Went up river eight miles, then left it for twelve. Road mountainous,
with a little cedar. Distance, twenty miles.

JULY 28.

By river one mile, from it five, then up the valley remainder of the
day. Valley wide--numerous mountain streams, fine grass and fine
flowers. A high mountain on our right. Snow on some of the peaks. Nights
cool. Past trading post. Provisions from a dollar to two dollars per
pound. Packers and foot men rushing for the diggings. Distance,
twenty-one miles.

JULY 29.

Up the valley twelve miles, then through a canyon six, then in camp two
miles beyond; canyon rocky and ascending and full of timber. High
mountains all around us. Distance, twenty miles.

JULY 30.

To dividing range of mountains, with Red Lake at foot, five miles. Over
this range and down to another lake, six miles. Over Snow Mountain to
Rock Valley, ten miles. (Through snow two miles.) Road over continual
rocks; snow in places, and timber. Cool day and freezing at night. On
the mountain, amid the melting snows, were flowers of the most brilliant
colors, and the road passed for many miles among gigantic pines.
Distance, twenty-one miles.

JULY 31.

Went fifteen miles to Leak [Leap (?)] Spring Valley. Country mountainous
and well timbered.


Went seventeen miles to the junction of the Weaver and Hangtown roads.
No grass and but little water on the road in this distance. Road bad.


Went seventeen miles to Pleasant Valley, in the vicinity of Ringgold and
Weaver. Here the country begins to look like California--canvas houses,
hot weather, dry, reddish soil. This day's travel I consider the
conclusion of a journey, a longer or more tedious than which is not
often performed on this earth.

"The heart rebounds with long forgotten fleetness" at the thought of
having performed it. The interminable wastes are passed over, the
wilderness of wild sage and ashes is behind me, and climbing a hundred
mountains will no longer tire my feet. This act is ended, and now for a
struggle for gold and then

    "Oh! for a falcon's wing to bear,
    To bear me to my home."


      The distances in the foregoing journal are probably
      inaccurate, as we had no means to measure them, and depended
      entirely on our own judgment. In reading it over, I have
      noticed many typographical and grammatical errors, but these
      will be excused when it is recollected that it was written
      for the most part in haste and at different times.

 C. W. S.

    |             Transcriber's Note:               |
    |                                               |
    | Inconsistent hyphenation and spelling in the  |
    | original document have been preserved.        |
    |                                               |
    | Typographical errors corrected in the text:   |
    |                                               |
    | Page  5  wonderings changed to wanderings     |
    | Page  6  wil changed to will                  |
    | Page 13  nigh changed to night                |
    | Page 24  conditon changed to condition        |
    | Page 32  suceeded changed to succeeded        |

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