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Steep Trails, by John Muir

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bounding the sides of many of the valleys indicate that the valleys
were formed simply by the removal of the material between the ranges.
And again, the rim of the general basin, where it is elevated, as for
example on the southwestern portion, instead of being a ridge
sculptured on the sides like a mountain range, is found to be composed
of many short ranges, parallel to one another, and to the interior
ranges, and so modeled as to resemble a row of convex lenses set on
edge and half buried beneath a general surface, without manifesting
any dependence upon synclinal or anticlinal axes--a series of forms
and relations that could have resulted only from the outflow of vast
basin glaciers on their courses to the ocean.

I cannot, however, present all the evidence here bearing upon these
interesting questions, much less discuss it in all its relations. I
will, therefore, close this letter with a few of the more important
generalizations that have grown up out of the facts that I have
observed. First, at the beginning of the glacial period the region
now known as the Great Basin was an elevated tableland, not furrowed
as at present with mountains and valleys, but comparatively bald and

Second, this tableland, bounded on the east and west by lofty mountain
ranges, but comparatively open on the north and south, was loaded with
ice, which was discharged to the ocean northward and southward, and in
its flow brought most, if not all, the present interior ranges and
valleys into relief by erosion.

Third, as the glacial winter drew near its close the ice vanished from
the lower portions of the basin, which then became lakes, into which
separate glaciers descended from the mountains. Then these mountain
glaciers vanished in turn, after sculpturing the ranges into their
present condition.

Fourth, the few immense lakes extending over the lowlands, in the
midst of which many of the interior ranges stood as islands, became
shallow as the ice vanished from the mountains, and separated into
many distinct lakes, whose waters no longer reached the ocean. Most
of these have disappeared by the filling of their basins with detritus
from the mountains, and now form sage plains and "alkali flats."

The transition from one to the other of these various conditions was
gradual and orderly: first, a nearly simple tableland; then a grand
mer de glace shedding its crawling silver currents to the sea, and
becoming gradually more wrinkled as unequal erosion roughened its bed,
and brought the highest peaks and ridges above the surface; then a
land of lakes, an almost continuous sheet of water stretching from the
Sierra to the Wahsatch, adorned with innumerable island mountains;
then a slow desiccation and decay to present conditions of sage and


Nevada's Dead Towns[21]

Nevada is one of the very youngest and wildest of the States;
nevertheless it is already strewn with ruins that seem as gray and
silent and time-worn as if the civilization to which they belonged had
perished centuries ago. Yet, strange to say, all these ruins are
results of mining efforts made within the last few years. Wander
where you may throughout the length and breadth of this mountain-barred wilderness, you everywhere come upon these dead mining towns,
with their tall chimney stacks, standing forlorn amid broken walls and
furnaces, and machinery half buried in sand, the very names of many of
them already forgotten amid the excitements of later discoveries, and
now known only through tradition--tradition ten years old.

While exploring the mountain ranges of the State during a considerable
portion of three summers, I think that I have seen at least five of
these deserted towns and villages for every one in ordinary life.
Some of them were probably only camps built by bands of prospectors,
and inhabited for a few months or years, while some specially
interesting canyon was being explored, and then carelessly abandoned
for more promising fields. But many were real towns, regularly laid
out and incorporated, containing well-built hotels, churches,
schoolhouses, post offices, and jails, as well as the mills on which
they all depended; and whose well-graded streets were filled with
lawyers, doctors, brokers, hangmen, real estate agents, etc., the
whole population numbering several thousand.

A few years ago the population of Hamilton is said to have been nearly
eight thousand; that of Treasure Hill, six thousand; of Shermantown,
seven thousand; of Swansea, three thousand. All of these were
incorporated towns with mayors, councils, fire departments, and daily
newspapers. Hamilton has now about one hundred inhabitants, most of
whom are merely waiting in dreary inaction for something to turn up.
Treasure Hill has about half as many, Shermantown one family, and
Swansea none, while on the other hand the graveyards are far too full.

In one canyon of the Toyabe range, near Austin, I found no less than
five dead towns without a single inhabitant. The streets and blocks
of "real estate" graded on the hillsides are rapidly falling back into
the wilderness. Sagebrushes are growing up around the forges of the
blacksmith shops, and lizards bask on the crumbling walls.

While traveling southward from Austin down Big Smoky Valley, I noticed
a remarkably tall and imposing column, rising like a lone pine out of
the sagebrush on the edge of a dry gulch. This proved to be a
smokestack of solid masonry. It seemed strangely out of place in the
desert, as if it had been transported entire from the heart of some
noisy manufacturing town and left here by mistake. I learned
afterwards that it belonged to a set of furnaces that were build by a
New York company to smelt ore that never was found. The tools of the
workmen are still lying in place beside the furnaces, as if dropped in
some sudden Indian or earthquake panic and never afterwards handled.
These imposing ruins, together with the desolate town, lying a quarter
of a mile to the northward, present a most vivid picture of wasted
effort. Coyotes now wander unmolested through the brushy streets, and
of all the busy throng that so lavishly spent their time and money
here only one man remains--a lone bachelor with one suspender.

Mining discoveries and progress, retrogression and decay, seem to have
been crowded more closely against each other here than on any other
portion of the globe. Some one of the band of adventurous prospectors
who came from the exhausted placers of California would discover some
rich ore--how much or little mattered not at first. These specimens
fell among excited seekers after wealth like sparks in gunpowder, and
in a few days the wilderness was disturbed with the noisy clang of
miners and builders. A little town would then spring up, and before
anything like a careful survey of any particular lode would be made, a
company would be formed, and expensive mills built. Then, after all
the machinery was ready for the ore, perhaps little, or none at all,
was to be found. Meanwhile another discovery was reported, and the
young town was abandoned as completely as a camp made for a single
night; and so on, until some really valuable lode was found, such as
those of Eureka, Austin, Virginia, etc., which formed the substantial
groundwork for a thousand other excitements.

Passing through the dead town of Schellbourne last month, I asked one
of the few lingering inhabitants why the town was built. "For the
mines," he replied. "And where are the mines?" "On the mountains
back here." "And why were they abandoned?" I asked. "Are they
exhausted?" "Oh, no," he replied, "they are not exhausted; on the
contrary, they have never been worked at all, for unfortunately, just
as we were about ready to open them, the Cherry Creek mines were
discovered across the valley in the Egan range, and everybody rushed
off there, taking what they could with them--houses machinery, and
all. But we are hoping that somebody with money and speculation will
come and revive us yet."

The dead mining excitements of Nevada were far more intense and
destructive in their action than those of California, because the
prizes at stake were greater, while more skill was required to gain
them. The long trains of gold-seekers making their way to California
had ample time and means to recover from their first attacks of mining
fever while crawling laboriously across the plains, and on their
arrival on any portion of the Sierra gold belt, they at once began to
make money. No matter in what gulch or canyon they worked, some
measure of success was sure, however unskillful they might be. And
though while making ten dollars a day they might be agitated by hopes
of making twenty, or of striking their picks against hundred- or
thousand-dollar nuggets, men of ordinary nerve could still work on
with comparative steadiness, and remain rational.

But in the case of the Nevada miner, he too often spent himself in
years of weary search without gaining a dollar, traveling hundreds of
miles from mountain to mountain, burdened with wasting hopes of
discovering some hidden vein worth millions, enduring hardships of the
most destructive kind, driving innumerable tunnels into the hillsides,
while his assayed specimens again and again proved worthless. Perhaps
one in a hundred of these brave prospectors would "strike it rich,"
while ninety-nine died alone in the mountains or sank out of sight in
the corners of saloons, in a haze of whiskey and tobacco smoke.

The healthful ministry of wealth is blessed; and surely it is a fine
thing that so many are eager to find the gold and silver that lie hid
in the veins of the mountains. But in the search the seekers too
often become insane, and strike about blindly in the dark like raving
madmen. Seven hundred and fifty tons of ore from the original
Eberhardt mine on Treasure Hill yielded a million and a half dollars,
the whole of this immense sum having been obtained within two hundred
and fifty feet of the surface, the greater portion within one hundred
and forty feet. Other ore masses were scarcely less marvelously rich,
giving rise to one of the most violent excitements that ever occurred
in the history of mining. All kinds of people--shoemakers, tailors,
farmers, etc., as well as miners--left their own right work and fell
in a perfect storm of energy upon the White Pine Hills, covering the
ground like grasshoppers, and seeming determined by the very violence
of their efforts to turn every stone to silver. But with few
exceptions, these mining storms pass away about as suddenly as they
rise, leaving only ruins to tell of the tremendous energy expended, as
heaps of giant boulders in the valley tell of the spent power of the
mountain floods.

In marked contrast with this destructive unrest is the orderly
deliberation into which miners settle in developing a truly valuable
mine. At Eureka we were kindly led through the treasure chambers of
the Richmond and Eureka Consolidated, our guides leisurely leading the
way from level to level, calling attention to the precious ore masses
which the workmen were slowly breaking to pieces with their picks,
like navvies wearing away the day in a railroad cutting; while down at
the smelting works the bars of bullion were handled with less eager
haste than the farmer shows in gathering his sheaves.

The wealth Nevada has already given to the world is indeed wonderful,
but the only grand marvel is the energy expended in its development.
The amount of prospecting done in the face of so many dangers and
sacrifices, the innumerable tunnels and shafts bored into the
mountains, the mills that have been built--these would seem to require
a race of giants. But, in full view of the substantial results
achieved, the pure waste manifest in the ruins one meets never fails
to produce a saddening effect.

The dim old ruins of Europe, so eagerly sought after by travelers,
have something pleasing about them, whatever their historical
associations; for they at least lend some beauty to the landscape.
Their picturesque towers and arches seem to be kindly adopted by
nature, and planted with wild flowers and wreathed with ivy; while
their rugged angles are soothed and freshened and embossed with green
mosses, fresh life and decay mingling in pleasing measures, and the
whole vanishing softly like a ripe, tranquil day fading into night.
So, also, among the older ruins of the East there is a fitness felt.
They have served their time, and like the weather-beaten mountains are
wasting harmoniously. The same is in some degree true of the dead
mining towns of California.

But those lying to the eastward of the Sierra throughout the ranges of
the Great Basin waste in the dry wilderness like the bones of cattle
that have died of thirst. Many of them do not represent any good
accomplishment, and have no right to be. They are monuments of fraud
and ignorance--sins against science. The drifts and tunnels in the
rocks may perhaps be regarded as the prayers of the prospector,
offered for the wealth he so earnestly craves; but, like prayers of
any kind not in harmony with nature, they are unanswered. But, after
all, effort, however misapplied, is better than stagnation. Better
toil blindly, beating every stone in turn for grains of gold, whether
they contain any or not, than lie down in apathetic decay.

The fever period is fortunately passing away. The prospector is no
longer the raving, wandering ghoul of ten years ago, rushing in random
lawlessness among the hills, hungry and footsore; but cool and
skillful, well supplied with every necessary, and clad in his right
mind. Capitalists, too, and the public in general, have become wiser,
and do not take fire so readily from mining sparks; while at the same
time a vast amount of real work is being done, and the ratio between
growth and decay is constantly becoming better.


Puget Sound

Washington Territory, recently admitted[22] into the Union as a State,
lies between latitude 46 degrees and 49 degrees and longitude 117
degrees and 125 degrees, forming the northwest shoulder of the united
States. The majestic range of the Cascade Mountains naturally divides
the State into two distinct parts, called Eastern and Western
Washington, differing greatly from each other in almost every way, the
western section being less than half as large as the eastern, and,
with its copious rains and deep fertile soil, being clothed with
forests of evergreens, while the eastern section is dry and mostly
treeless, though fertile in many parts, and producing immense
quantities of wheat and hay. Few States are more fertile and
productive in one way or another than Washington, or more strikingly
varied in natural features or resources.

Within her borders every kind of soil and climate may be found--the
densest woods and dryest plains, the smoothest levels and roughest
mountains. She is rich in square miles (some seventy thousand of
them), in coal, timber, and iron, and in sheltered inland waters that
render these resources advantageously accessible. She also is already
rich in busy workers, who work hard, though not always wisely,
hacking, burning, blasting their way deeper into the wilderness,
beneath the sky, and beneath the ground. The wedges of development
are being driven hard, and none of the obstacles or defenses of nature
can long withstand the onset of this immeasurable industry.

Puget Sound, so justly famous the world over for the surpassing size
and excellence and abundance of its timber, is a long, many-fingered
arm of the sea reaching southward from the head of the Strait of Juan
de Fuca into the heart of the grand forests of the western portion of
Washington, between the Cascade Range and the mountains of the coast.
It is less than a hundred miles in length, but so numerous are the
branches into which it divides, and so many its bays, harbors, and
islands, that its entire shoreline is said to measure more than
eighteen hundred miles. Throughout its whole vast extent ships move
in safety, and find shelter from every wind that blows, the entire
mountain-girt sea forming one grand unrivaled harbor and center for

The forest trees press forward to the water around all the windings of
the shores in most imposing array, as if they were courting their
fate, coming down from the mountains far and near to offer themselves
to the axe, thus making the place a perfect paradise for the
lumberman. To the lover of nature the scene is enchanting. Water and
sky, mountain and forest, clad in sunshine and clouds, are composed in
landscapes sublime in magnitude, yet exquisitely fine and fresh, and
full of glad, rejoicing life. The shining waters stretch away into
the leafy wilderness, now like the reaches of some majestic river and
again expanding into broad roomy spaces like mountain lakes, their
farther edges fading gradually and blending with the pale blue of the
sky. The wooded shores with an outer fringe of flowering bushes sweep
onward in beautiful curves around bays, and capes, and jutting
promontories innumerable; while the islands, with soft, waving
outlines, lavishly adorned with spruces and cedars, thicken and enrich
the beauty of the waters; and the white spirit mountains looking down
from the sky keep watch and ward over all, faithful and changeless as
the stars.

All the way from the Strait of Juan de Fuca up to Olympia, a hopeful
town situated at the head of one of the farthest-reaching of the
fingers of the Sound, we are so completely inland and surrounded by
mountains that it is hard to realize that we are sailing on a branch
of the salt sea. We are constantly reminded of Lake Tahoe. There is
the same clearness of the water in calm weather without any trace of
the ocean swell, the same picturesque winding and sculpture of the
shoreline and flowery, leafy luxuriance; only here the trees are
taller and stand much closer together, and the backgrounds are higher
and far more extensive. Here, too, we find greater variety amid the
marvelous wealth of islands and inlets, and also in the changing views
dependent on the weather. As we double cape after cape and round the
uncounted islands, new combinations come to view in endless variety,
sufficient to fill and satisfy the lover of wild beauty through a
whole life.

Oftentimes in the stillest weather, when all the winds sleep and no
sign of storms is felt or seen, silky clouds form and settle over all
the land, leaving in sight only a circle of water with indefinite
bounds like views in mid-ocean; then, the clouds lifting, some islet
will be presented standing alone, with the topes of its trees dipping
out of sight in pearly gray fringes; or, lifting higher, and perhaps
letting in a ray of sunshine through some rift overhead, the whole
island will be set free and brought forward in vivid relief amid the
gloom, a girdle of silver light of dazzling brightness on the water
about its shores, then darkening again and vanishing back into the
general gloom. Thus island after island may be seen, singly or in
groups, coming and going from darkness to light like a scene of
enchantment, until at length the entire cloud ceiling is rolled away,
and the colossal cone of Mount Rainier is seen in spotless white
looking down over the forests from a distance of sixty miles, but so
lofty and so massive and clearly outlined as to impress itself upon us
as being just back of a strip of woods only a mile or two in breadth.

For the tourist sailing to Puget Sound from San Francisco there is but
little that is at all striking in the scenery within reach by the way
until the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca is reached. The voyage
is about four days in length and the steamers keep within sight of the
coast, but the hills fronting the sea up to Oregon are mostly bare and
uninviting, the magnificent redwood forests stretching along this
portion of the California coast seeming to keep well back, away from
the heavy winds, so that very little is seen of them; while there are
no deep inlets or lofty mountains visible to break the regular
monotony. Along the coast of Oregon the woods of spruce and fir come
down to the shore, kept fresh and vigorous by copious rains, and
become denser and taller to the northward until, rounding Cape
Flattery, we enter the Strait of Fuca, where, sheltered from the ocean
gales, the forests begin to hint the grandeur they attain in Puget
Sound. Here the scenery in general becomes exceedingly interesting;
for now we have arrived at the grand mountain-walled channel that
forms the entrance to that marvelous network of inland waters that
extends along the margin of the continent to the northward for a
thousand miles.

This magnificent inlet was named for Juan de Fuca, who discovered it
in 1592 while seeking a mythical strait, supposed to exist somewhere
in the north, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific. It is about
seventy miles long, ten or twelve miles wide, and extends to the
eastward in a nearly straight line between the south end of Vancouver
Island and the Olympic Range of mountains on the mainland.

Cape Flattery, the western termination of the Olympic Range, is
terribly rugged and jagged, and in stormy weather is utterly
inaccessible from the sea. Then the ponderous rollers of the deep
Pacific thunder amid its caverns and cliffs with the foam and uproar
of a thousand Yosemite waterfalls. The bones of many a noble ship lie
there, and many a sailor. It would seem unlikely that any living
thing should seek rest in such a place, or find it. Nevertheless,
frail and delicate flowers bloom there, flowers of both the land and
the sea; heavy, ungainly seals disport in the swelling waves, and find
grateful retreats back in the inmost bores of its storm-lashed
caverns; while in many a chink and hollow of the highest crags, not
visible from beneath, a great variety of waterfowl make homes and rear
their young.

But not always are the inhabitants safe, even in such wave-defended
castles as these, for the Indians of the neighboring shores venture
forth in the calmest summer weather in their frail canoes to spear the
seals in the narrow gorges amid the grinding, gurgling din of the
restless waters. At such times also the hunters make out to scale
many of the apparently inaccessible cliffs for the eggs and young of
the gulls and other water birds, occasionally losing their lives in
these perilous adventures, which give rise to many an exciting story
told around the campfires at night when the storms roar loudest.

Passing through the strait, we have the Olympic Mountains close at
hand on the right, Vancouver Island on the left, and the snowy peak of
Mount Baker straight ahead in the distance. During calm weather, or
when the clouds are lifting and rolling off the mountains after a
storm, all these views are truly magnificent. Mount Baker is one of
that wonderful series of old volcanoes that once flamed along the
summits of the Sierras and Cascades from Lassen to Mount St. Elias.
Its fires are sleeping now, and it is loaded with glaciers, streams of
ice having taken the place of streams of glowing lava. Vancouver
Island presents a charming variety of hill and dale, open sunny spaces
and sweeps of dark forest rising in swell beyond swell to the high
land in the distance.

But the Olympic Mountains most of all command attention, seen
tellingly near and clear in all their glory, rising from the water's
edge into the sky to a height of six or eight thousand feet. They
bound the strait on the south side throughout its whole extent,
forming a massive sustained wall, flowery and bushy at the base, a
zigzag of snowy peaks along the top, which have ragged-edged fields of
ice and snow beneath them, enclosed in wide amphitheaters opening to
the waters of the strait through spacious forest-filled valleys
enlivened with fine, dashing streams. These valleys mark the courses
of the Olympic glaciers at the period of their greatest extension,
when they poured their tribute into that portion of the great northern
ice sheet that overswept the south end of Vancouver Island and filled
the strait with flowing ice as it is now filled with ocean water.

The steamers of the Sound usually stop at Esquimalt on their way up,
thus affording tourists an opportunity to visit the interesting town
of Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. The Victoria harbor is
too narrow and difficult of access for the larger class of ships;
therefore a landing has to be made at Esquimalt. The distance,
however, is only about three miles, and the way is delightful, winding
on through a charming forest of Douglas spruce, with here and there
groves of oak and madrone, and a rich undergrowth of hazel, dogwood,
willow, alder, spiraea, rubus, huckleberry, and wild rose. Pretty
cottages occur at intervals along the road, covered with honeysuckle,
and many an upswelling rock, freshly glaciated and furred with yellow
mosses and lichen, telling interesting stories of the icy past.

Victoria is a quiet, handsome, breezy town, beautifully located on
finely modulated ground at the mouth of the Canal de Haro, with
charming views in front, of islands and mountains and far-reaching
waters, ever changing in the shifting lights and shades of the clouds
and sunshine. In the background there are a mile or two of field and
forest and sunny oak openings; then comes the forest primeval, dense
and shaggy and well-nigh impenetrable.

Notwithstanding the importance claimed for Victoria as a commercial
center and the capital of British Columbia, it has a rather young,
loose-jointed appearance. The government buildings and some of the
business blocks on the main streets are well built and imposing in
bulk and architecture. These are far less interesting and
characteristic, however, than the mansions set in the midst of
spacious pleasure grounds and the lovely home cottages embowered in
honeysuckle and climbing roses. One soon discovers that this is no
Yankee town. The English faces and the way that English is spoken
alone would tell that; while in business quarters there is a staid
dignity and moderation that is very noticeable, and a want of American
push and hurrah. Love of land and of privacy in homes is made manifest
in the residences, many of which are built in the middle of fields and
orchards or large city blocks, and in the loving care with which these
home grounds are planted. They are very beautiful. The fineness of
the climate, with its copious measure of warm moisture distilling in
dew and fog, and gentle, bathing, laving rain, give them a freshness
and floweriness that is worth going far to see.

Victoria is noted for its fine drives, and every one who can should
either walk or drive around the outskirts of the town, not only for
the fine views out over the water but to see the cascades of bloom
pouring over the gables of the cottages, and the fresh wild woods with
their flowery, fragrant underbrush. Wild roses abound almost
everywhere. One species, blooming freely along the woodland paths, is
from two to three inches in diameter, and more fragrant than any other
wild rose I ever saw excepting the sweetbriar. This rose and three
species of spiraea fairly fill the air with fragrance after a shower.
And how brightly then do the red berries of the dogwood shine out from
the warm yellow-green of leaves and mosses!

But still more interesting and significant are the glacial phenomena
displayed hereabouts. All this exuberant tree, bush, and herbaceous
vegetation, cultivated or wild, is growing upon moraine beds outspread
by waters that issued from the ancient glaciers at the time of their
recession, and scarcely at all moved or in any way modified by post-glacial agencies. The town streets and the roads are graded in
moraine material, among scratched and grooved rock bosses that are as
unweathered and telling as any to be found in the glacier channels of
Alaska. The harbor also is clearly of glacial origin. The rock
islets that rise here and there, forming so marked a feature of the
harbor, are unchanged roches moutonnees, and the shores are grooved,
scratched, and rounded, and in every way as glacial in all their
characteristics as those of a newborn glacial lake.

Most visitors to Victoria go to the stores of the Hudson's Bay
Company, presumably on account of the romantic associations, or to
purchase a bit of fur or some other wild-Indianish trinket as a
memento. At certain seasons of the year, when the hairy harvests are
gathered in, immense bales of skins may be seen in these unsavory
warehouses, the spoils of many thousand hunts over mountain and plain,
by lonely river and shore. The skins of bears, wolves, beavers,
otters, fishers, martens, lynxes, panthers, wolverine, reindeer,
moose, elk, wild goats, sheep, foxes, squirrels, and many others of
our "poor earth-born companions and fellow mortals" may here be found.

Vancouver is the southmost and the largest of the countless islands
forming the great archipelago that stretches a thousand miles to the
northward. Its shores have been known a long time, but little is
known of the lofty mountainous interior on account of the difficulties
in the way of explorations--lake, bogs, and shaggy tangled forests.
It is mostly a pure, savage wilderness, without roads or clearings,
and silent so far as man is concerned. Even the Indians keep close to
the shore, getting a living by fishing, dwelling together in villages,
and traveling almost wholly by canoes. White settlements are few and
far between. Good agricultural lands occur here and there on the edge
of the wilderness, but they are hard to clear, and have received but
little attention thus far. Gold, the grand attraction that lights the
way into all kinds of wildernesses and makes rough places smooth, has
been found, but only in small quantities, too small to make much
motion. Almost all the industry of the island is employed upon lumber
and coal, in which, so far as known, its chief wealth lies.

Leaving Victoria for Port Townsend, after we are fairly out on the
free open water, Mount Baker is seen rising solitary over a dark
breadth of forest, making a glorious show in its pure white raiment.
It is said to be about eleven thousand feet high, is loaded with
glaciers, some of which come well down into the woods, and never, so
far as I have heard, has been climbed, though in all probability it is
not inaccessible. The task of reaching its base through the dense
woods will be likely to prove of greater difficulty than the climb to
the summit.

In a direction a little to the left of Mount Baker and much nearer,
may be seen the island of San Juan, famous in the young history of the
country for the quarrels concerning its rightful ownership between the
Hudson's Bay Company and Washington Territory, quarrels which nearly
brought on war with Great Britain. Neither party showed any lack of
either pluck or gunpowder. General Scott was sent out by President
Buchanan to negotiate, which resulted in a joint occupancy of the
island. Small quarrels, however, continued to arise until the year
1874, when the peppery question was submitted to the Emperor of
Germany for arbitration. Then the whole island was given to the
United States.

San Juan is one of a thickset cluster of islands that fills the waters
between Vancouver and the mainland, a little to the north of Victoria.
In some of the intricate channels between these islands the tides run
at times like impetuous rushing rivers, rendering navigation rather
uncertain and dangerous for the small sailing vessels that ply between
Victoria and the settlements on the coast of British Columbia and the
larger islands. The water is generally deep enough everywhere, too
deep in most places for anchorage, and, the winds shifting hither and
thither or dying away altogether, the ships, getting no direction from
their helms, are carried back and forth or are caught in some eddy
where two currents meet and whirled round and round to the dismay of
the sailors, like a chip in a river whirlpool.

All the way over to Port Townsend the Olympic Mountains well maintain
their massive, imposing grandeur, and present their elaborately carved
summits in clear relief, many of which are out of sight in coming up
the strait on account of our being too near the base of the range.
Turn to them as often as we may, our admiration only grows the warmer
the longer we dwell upon them. The highest peaks are Mount Constance
and Mount Olympus, said to be about eight thousand feet high.

In two or three hours after leaving Victoria, we arrive at the
handsome little town of Port Townsend, situated at the mouth of Puget
Sound, on the west side. The residential portion of the town is set
on the level top of the bluff that bounds Port Townsend Bay, while
another nearly level space of moderate extent, reaching from the base
of the bluff to the shoreline, is occupied by the business portion,
thus making a town of two separate and distinct stories, which are
connected by long, ladder-like flights of stairs. In the streets of
the lower story, while there is no lack of animation, there is but
little business noise as compared with the amount of business
transacted. This in great part is due to the scarcity of horses and
wagons. Farms and roads back in the woods are few and far between.
Nearly all the tributary settlements are on the coast, and
communication is almost wholly by boats, canoes, and schooners. Hence
country stages and farmers' wagons and buggies, with the whir and din
that belong to them, are wanting.

This being the port of entry, all vessels have to stop here, and they
make a lively show about the wharves and in the bay. The winds stir
the flags of every civilized nation, while the Indians in their long-beaked canoes glide about from ship to ship, satisfying their
curiosity or trading with the crews. Keen traders these Indians are,
and few indeed of the sailors or merchants from any country ever get
the better of them in bargains. Curious groups of people may often be
seen in the streets and stores, made up of English, French, Spanish,
Portuguese, Scandinavians, Germans, Greeks, Moors, Japanese, and
Chinese, of every rank and station and style of dress and behavior;
settlers from many a nook and bay and island up and down the coast;
hunters from the wilderness; tourists on their way home by the Sound
and the Columbia River or to Alaska or California.

The upper story of Port Townsend is charmingly located, wide bright
waters on one side, flowing evergreen woods on the other. The streets
are well laid out and well tended, and the houses, with their
luxuriant gardens about them, have an air of taste and refinement
seldom found in towns set on the edge of a wild forest. The people
seem to have come here to make true homes, attracted by the beauty and
fresh breezy healthfulness of the place as well as by business
advantages, trusting to natural growth and advancement instead of
restless "booming" methods. They perhaps have caught some of the
spirit of calm moderation and enjoyment from their English neighbors
across the water. Of late, however, this sober tranquillity has begun
to give way, some whiffs from the whirlwind of real estate speculation
up the Sound having at length touched the town and ruffled the surface
of its calmness.

A few miles up the bay is Fort Townsend, which makes a pretty picture
with the green woods rising back of it and the calm water in front.
Across the mouth of the Sound lies the long, narrow Whidbey Island,
named by Vancouver for one of his lieutenants. It is about thirty
miles in length, and is remarkable in this region of crowded forests
and mountains as being comparatively open and low. The soil is good
and easily worked, and a considerable portion of the island has been
under cultivation for many years. Fertile fields, open, parklike
groves of oak, and thick masses of evergreens succeed one another in
charming combinations to make this "the garden spot of the Territory."

Leaving Port Townsend for Seattle and Tacoma, we enter the Sound and
sail down into the heart of the green, aspiring forests, and find,
look where we may, beauty ever changing, in lavish profusion. Puget
Sound, "the Mediterranean of America" as it is sometimes called, is in
many respects one of the most remarkable bodies of water in the world.
Vancouver, who came here nearly a hundred years ago and made a careful
survey of it, named the larger northern portion of it "Admiralty
Inlet" and one of the long, narrow branches "Hood's Canal'" applying
the name "Puget Sound" only to the comparatively small southern
portion. The latter name, however, is now applied generally to the
entire inlet, and is commonly shortened by the people hereabouts to
"The Sound." The natural wealth and commercial advantages of the
Sound region were quickly recognized, and the cause of the activity
prevailing here is not far to seek. Vancouver, long before
civilization touched these shores, spoke of it in terms of unstinted
praise. He was sent out by the British government with the principal
object in view of "acquiring accurate knowledge as to the nature and
extent of any water communication which may tend in any considerable
degree to facilitate an intercourse for the purposes of commerce
between the northwest coast and the country on the opposite side of
the continent," vague traditions having long been current concerning a
strait supposed to unite the two oceans. Vancouver reported that he
found the coast from San Francisco to Oregon and beyond to present a
nearly straight solid barrier to the sea, without openings, and we may
well guess the joy of the old navigator on the discovery of these
waters after so long and barren a search to the southward.

His descriptions of the scenery--Mounts Baker, Rainier, St. Helen's,
etc.--were as enthusiastic as those of the most eager landscape lover
of the present day, when scenery is in fashion. He says in one place:
"To describe the beauties of this region will, on some future
occasion, be a very grateful task for the pen of a skillful
panegyrist. The serenity of the climate, the immeasurable pleasing
landscapes, and the abundant fertility that unassisted nature puts
forth, require only to be enriched by the industry of man with
villages, mansions, cottages, and other buildings, to render it the
most lovely country that can be imagined. The labor of the inhabitants
would be amply rewarded in the bounties which nature seems ready to
bestow on cultivation." "A picture so pleasing could not fail to call
to our remembrance certain delightful and beloved situations in old
England." So warm, indeed, were the praises he sung that his
statements were received in England with a good deal of hesitation.
But they were amply corroborated by Wilkes and others who followed
many years later. "Nothing," says Wilkes, "can exceed the beauty of
these waters and their safety. Not a shoal exists in the Straits of
Juan de Fuca, Admiralty Inlet, Puget Sound or Hood's Canal, that can
in any way interrupt their navigation by a 74-gun ship. I venture
nothing in saying there is no country in the world that possesses
waters like these." And again, quoting from the United States Coast
Survey, "For depth of water, boldness of approaches, freedom from
hidden dangers, and the immeasurable sea of gigantic timber coming
down to the very shores, these waters are unsurpassed,

The Sound region has a fine, fresh, clean climate, well washed both
winter and summer with copious rains and swept with winds and clouds
that come from the mountains and the sea. Every hidden nook in the
depths of the woods is searched and refreshed, leaving no stagnant
air; beaver meadows and lake basin and low and willowy bogs, all are
kept wholesome and sweet the year round. Cloud and sunshine alternate
in bracing, cheering succession, and health and abundance follow the
storms. The outer sea margin is sublimely dashed and drenched with
ocean brine, the spicy scud sweeping at times far inland over the
bending woods, the giant trees waving and chanting in hearty accord as
if surely enjoying it all.

Heavy, long-continued rains occur in the winter months. Then every
leaf, bathed and brightened, rejoices. Filtering drops and currents
through all the shaggy undergrowth of the woods go with tribute to the
small streams, and these again to the larger. The rivers swell, but
there are no devastating floods; for the thick felt of roots and
mosses holds the abounding waters in check, stored in a thousand
thousand fountains. Neither are there any violent hurricanes here, At
least, I never have heard of any, nor have I come upon their tracks.
Most of the streams are clear and cool always, for their waters are
filtered through deep beds of mosses, and flow beneath shadows all the
way to the sea. Only the streams from the glaciers are turbid and
muddy. On the slopes of the mountains where they rush from their
crystal caves, they carry not only small particles of rock-mud, worn
off the sides and bottoms of the channels of the glaciers, but grains
of sand and pebbles and large boulders tons in weight, rolling them
forward on their way rumbling and bumping to their appointed places at
the foot of steep slopes, to be built into rough bars and beds, while
the smaller material is carried farther and outspread in flats,
perhaps for coming wheat fields and gardens, the finest of it going
out to sea, floating on the tides for weeks and months ere it finds
rest on the bottom.

Snow seldom falls to any great depth on the lowlands, though it comes
in glorious abundance on the mountains. And only on the mountains
does the temperature fall much below the freezing point. In the
warmest summer weather a temperature of eighty-five degrees or even
more occasionally is reached, but not for long at a time, as such heat
is speedily followed by a breeze from the sea. The most charming days
here are days of perfect calm, when all the winds are holding their
breath and not a leaf stirs. The surface of the Sound shines like a
silver mirror over all its vast extent, reflecting its lovely islands
and shores; and long sheets of spangles flash and dance in the wake of
every swimming seabird and boat. The sun, looking down on the
tranquil landscape, seems conscious of the presence of every living
thing on which he is pouring his blessings, while they in turn, with
perhaps the exception of man, seem conscious of the sun as a
benevolent father and stand hushed and waiting.


The Forests of Washington

When we force our way into the depths of the forests, following any of
the rivers back to their fountains, we find that the bulk of the woods
is made up of the Douglas spruce (Pseudotsuga Douglasii), named in
honor of David Douglas, an enthusiastic botanical explorer of early
Hudson's Bay times. It is not only a very large tree but a very
beautiful one, with lively bright-green drooping foliage, handsome
pendent cones, and a shaft exquisitely straight and regular. For so
large a tree it is astonishing how many find nourishment and space to
grow on any given area. The magnificent shafts push their spires into
the sky close together with as regular a growth as that of a well-tilled field of grain. And no ground has been better tilled for the
growth of trees than that on which these forests are growing. For it
has been thoroughly ploughed and rolled by the mighty glaciers from
the mountains, and sifted and mellowed and outspread in beds hundreds
of feet in depth by the broad streams that issued from their fronts at
the time of their recession, after they had long covered all the land.

The largest tree of this species that I have myself measured was
nearly twelve feet in diameter at a height of five feet from the
ground, and, as near as I could make out under the circumstances,
about three hundred feet in length. It stood near the head of the
Sound not far from Olympia. I have seen a few others, both near the
coast and thirty or forty miles back in the interior, that were from
eight to ten feet in diameter, measured above their bulging insteps;
and many from six to seven feet. I have heard of some that were said
to be three hundred and twenty-five feet in height and fifteen feet in
diameter, but none that I measured were so large, though it is not at
all unlikely that such colossal giants do exist where conditions of
soil and exposure are surpassingly favorable. The average size of all
the trees of this species found up to an elevation on the mountain
slopes of, say, two thousand feet above sea level, taking into account
only what may be called mature trees two hundred and fifty to five
hundred years of age, is perhaps, at a vague guess, not more than a
height of one hundred and seventy-five or two hundred feet and a
diameter of three feet; though, of course, throughout the richest
sections the size is much greater.

In proportion to its weight when dry, the timber from this tree is
perhaps stronger than that of any other conifer in the country. It is
tough and durable and admirably adapted in every way for shipbuilding,
piles, and heavy timbers in general. But its hardness and liability
to warp render it much inferior to white or sugar pine for fine work.
In the lumber markets of California it is known as "Oregon pine" and
is used almost exclusively for spars, bridge timbers, heavy planking,
and the framework of houses.

The same species extends northward in abundance through British
Columbia and southward through the coast and middle regions of Oregon
and California. It is also a common tree in the canyons and hollows
of the Wahsatch Mountains in Utah, where it is called "red pine" and
on portions of the Rocky Mountains and some of the short ranges of the
Great Basin. Along the coast of California it keeps company with the
redwood wherever it can find a favorable opening. On the western
slope of the Sierra, with the yellow pine and incense cedar, it forms
a pretty well-defined belt at a height of from three thousand to six
thousand feet above the sea, and extends into the San Gabriel and San
Bernardino Mountains in Southern California. But, though widely
distributed, it is only in these cool, moist northlands that it
reaches its finest development, tall, straight, elastic, and free from
limbs to an immense height, growing down to tide water, where ships of
the largest size may lie close alongside and load at the least
possible cost.

Growing with the Douglas we find the white spruce, or "Sitka pine," as
it is sometimes called. This also is a very beautiful and majestic
tree, frequently attaining a height of two hundred feet or more and a
diameter of five or six feet. It is very abundant in southeastern
Alaska, forming the greater part of the best forests there. Here it
is found mostly around the sides of beaver-dam and other meadows and
on the borders of the streams, especially where the ground is low.
One tree that I saw felled at the head of the Hop-Ranch meadows on the
upper Snoqualmie River, though far from being the largest I have seen,
measured a hundred and eighty feet in length and four and a half in
diameter, and was two hundred and fifty-seven years of age.

In habit and general appearance it resembles the Douglas spruce, but
it is somewhat less slender and the needles grow close together all
around the branchlets and are so stiff and sharp-pointed on the
younger branches that they cannot well be handled without gloves. The
timber is tough, close-grained, white, and looks more like pine than
any other of the spruces. It splits freely, makes excellent shingles
and in general use in house-building takes the place of pine. I have
seen logs of this species a hundred feet long and two feet in diameter
at the upper end. It was named in honor of the old Scotch botanist
Archibald Menzies, who came to this coast with Vancouver in 1792[23].

The beautiful hemlock spruce with its warm yellow-green foliage is
also common in some portions of these woods. It is tall and slender
and exceedingly graceful in habit before old age comes on, but the
timber is inferior and is seldom used for any other than the roughest
work, such as wharf-building.

The Western arbor-vitae[24] (Thuja gigantea) grows to a size truly
gigantic on low rich ground. Specimens ten feet in diameter and a
hundred and forty feet high are not at all rare. Some that I have
heard of are said to be fifteen and even eighteen feet thick. Clad in
rich, glossy plumes, with gray lichens covering their smooth, tapering
boles, perfect trees of this species are truly noble objects and well
worthy the place they hold in these glorious forests. It is of this
tree that the Indians make their fine canoes.

Of the other conifers that are so happy as to have place here, there
are three firs, three or four pines, two cypresses, a yew, and another
spruce, the Abies Pattoniana[25]. This last is perhaps the most
beautiful of all the spruces, but, being comparatively small and
growing only far back on the mountains, it receives but little
attention from most people. Nor is there room in a work like this for
anything like a complete description of it, or of the others I have
just mentioned. Of the three firs, one (Picea grandis)[26], grows
near the coast and is one of the largest trees in the forest,
sometimes attaining a height of two hundred and fifty feet. The
timber, however, is inferior in quality and not much sought after
while so much that is better is within reach. One of the others (P.
amabilis, var. nobilis) forms magnificent forests by itself at a
height of about three thousand to four thousand feet above the sea.
The rich plushy, plumelike branches grow in regular whorls around the
trunk, and on the topmost whorls, standing erect, are the large,
beautiful cones. This is far the most beautiful of all the firs. In
the Sierra Nevada it forms a considerable portion of the main forest
belt on the western slope, and it is there that it reaches its
greatest size and greatest beauty. The third species (P. subalpina)
forms, together with Abies Pattoniana, the upper edge of the
timberline on the portion of the Cascades opposite the Sound. A
thousand feet below the extreme limit of tree growth it occurs in
beautiful groups amid parklike openings where flowers grow in
extravagant profusion.

The pines are nowhere abundant in the State. The largest, the yellow
pine (Pinus ponderosa), occurs here and there on margins of dry
gravelly prairies, and only in such situations have I yet seen it in
this State. The others (P. monticola and P. contorta) are mostly
restricted to the upper slopes of the mountains, and though the former
of these two attains a good size and makes excellent lumber, it is
mostly beyond reach at present and is not abundant. One of the
cypresses (Cupressus Lawsoniana)[27] grows near the coast and is a
fine large tree, clothed like the arbor-vitae in a glorious wealth of
flat, feathery branches. The other is found here and there well up
toward the edge of the timberline. This is the fine Alaska cedar (C.
Nootkatensis), the lumber from which is noted for its durability,
fineness of grain, and beautiful yellow color, and for its fragrance,
which resembles that of sandalwood. The Alaska Indians make their
canoe paddles of it and weave matting and coarse cloth from the
fibrous brown bark.

Among the different kinds of hardwood trees are the oak, maple,
madrona, birch, alder, and wild apple, while large cottonwoods are
common along the rivers and shores of the numerous lakes.

The most striking of these to the traveler is the Menzies arbutus, or
madrona, as it is popularly called in California. Its curious red and
yellow bark, large thick glossy leaves, and panicles of waxy-looking
greenish-white urn-shaped flowers render it very conspicuous. On the
boles of the younger trees and on all the branches, the bark is so
smooth and seamless that it does not appear as bark at all, but rather
the naked wood. The whole tree, with the exception of the larger part
of the trunk, looks as though it had been thoroughly peeled. It is
found sparsely scattered along the shores of the Sound and back in the
forests also on open margins, where the soil is not too wet, and
extends up the coast on Vancouver Island beyond Nanaimo. But in no
part of the State does it reach anything like the size and beauty of
proportions that it attains in California, few trees here being more
than ten or twelve inches in diameter and thirty feet high. It is,
however, a very remarkable-looking object, standing there like some
lost or runaway native of the tropics, naked and painted, beside that
dark mossy ocean of northland conifers. Not even a palm tree would
seem more out of place here.

The oaks, so far as my observation has reached, seem to be most
abundant and to grow largest on the islands of the San Juan and
Whidbey Archipelago. One of the three species of maples that I have
seen is only a bush that makes tangles on the banks of the rivers. Of
the other two one is a small tree, crooked and moss-grown, holding out
its leaves to catch the light that filters down through the close-set
spires of the great spruces. It grows almost everywhere throughout
the entire extent of the forest until the higher slopes of the
mountains are reached, and produces a very picturesque and delightful
effect; relieving the bareness of the great shafts of the evergreens,
without being close enough in its growth to hide them wholly, or to
cover the bright mossy carpet that is spread beneath all the dense
parts of the woods.

The other species is also very picturesque and at the same time very
large, the largest tree of its kind that I have ever seen anywhere.
Not even in the great maple woods of Canada have I seen trees either
as large or with so much striking, picturesque character. It is
widely distributed throughout western Washington, but is never found
scattered among the conifers in the dense woods. It keeps together
mostly in magnificent groves by itself on the damp levels along the
banks of streams or lakes where the ground is subject to overflow. In
such situations it attains a height of seventy-five to a hundred feet
and a diameter of four to eight feet. The trunk sends out large limbs
toward its neighbors, laden with long drooping mosses beneath and rows
of ferns on their upper surfaces, thus making a grand series of richly
ornamented interlacing arches, with the leaves laid thick overhead,
rendering the underwood spaces delightfully cool and open. Never have
I seen a finer forest ceiling or a more picturesque one, while the
floor, covered with tall ferns and rubus and thrown into hillocks by
the bulging roots, matches it well. The largest of these maple groves
that I have yet found is on the right bank of the Snoqualmie River,
about a mile above the falls. The whole country hereabouts is
picturesque, and interesting in many ways, and well worthy a visit by
tourists passing through the Sound region, since it is now accessible
by rail from Seattle.

Looking now at the forests in a comprehensive way, we find in passing
through them again and again from the shores of the Sound to their
upper limits, that some portions are much older than others, the trees
much larger, and the ground beneath them strewn with immense trunks in
every stage of decay, representing several generations of growth,
everything about them giving the impression that these are indeed the
"forests primeval," while in the younger portions, where the elevation
of the ground is the same as to the sea level and the species of trees
are the same as well as the quality of the soil, apart from the
moisture which it holds, the trees seem to be and are mostly of the
same age, perhaps from one hundred to two or three hundred years, with
no gray-bearded, venerable patriarchs--forming tall, majestic woods
without any grandfathers.

When we examine the ground we find that it is as free from those
mounds of brown crumbling wood and mossy ancient fragments as are the
growing trees from very old ones. Then perchance, we come upon a
section farther up the slopes towards the mountains that has no trees
more than fifty years old, or even fifteen or twenty years old. These
last show plainly enough that they have been devastated by fire, as
the black, melancholy monuments rising here and there above the young
growth bear witness. Then, with this fiery, suggestive testimony, on
examining those section whose trees are a hundred years old or two
hundred, we find the same fire records, though heavily veiled with
mosses and lichens, showing that a century or two ago the forests that
stood there had been swept away in some tremendous fire at a time when
rare conditions of drouth made their burning possible. Then, the bare
ground sprinkled with the winged seed from the edges of the burned
district, a new forest sprang up, nearly every tree starting at the
same time or within a few years, thus producing the uniformity of size
we find in such places; while, on the other hand, in those sections of
ancient aspect containing very old trees both standing and fallen, we
find no traces of fire, nor from the extreme dampness of the ground
can we see any possibility of fire ever running there.

Fire, then, is the great governing agent in forest distribution and to
a great extent also in the conditions of forest growth. Where fertile
lands are very wet one half the year and very dry the other, there can
be no forests at all. Where the ground is damp, with drouth occurring
only at intervals of centuries, fine forests may be found, other
conditions being favorable. But it is only where fires never run that
truly ancient forests of pitchy coniferous trees may exist. When the
Washington forests are seen from the deck of a ship out in the middle
of the sound, or even from the top of some high, commanding mountain,
the woods seem everywhere perfectly solid. And so in fact they are in
general found to be. The largest openings are those of the lakes and
prairies, the smaller of beaver meadows, bogs, and the rivers; none of
them large enough to make a distinct mark in comprehensive views.

Of the lakes there are said to be some thirty in King's County alone;
the largest, Lake Washington, being twenty-six miles long and four
miles wide. Another, which enjoys the duckish name of Lake Squak, is
about ten miles long. Both are pure and beautiful, lying imbedded in
the green wilderness. The rivers are numerous and are but little
affected by the weather, flowing with deep, steady currents the year
round. They are short, however, none of them drawing their sources
from beyond the Cascade Range. Some are navigable for small steamers
on their lower courses, but the openings they make in the woods are
very narrow, the tall trees on their banks leaning over in some
places, making fine shady tunnels.

The largest of the prairies that I have seen lies to the south of
Tacoma on the line of the Portland and Tacoma Railroad. The ground is
dry and gravelly, a deposit of water-washed cobbles and pebbles
derived from moraines--conditions which readily explain the absence of
trees here and on other prairies adjacent to Yelm. Berries grow in
lavish abundance, enough for man and beast with thousands of tons to
spare. The woods are full of them, especially about the borders of
the waters and meadows where the sunshine may enter. Nowhere in the
north does Nature set a more bountiful table. There are huckleberries
of many species, red, blue, and black, some of them growing close to
the ground, others on bushes eight to ten feet high; also salal
berries, growing on a low, weak-stemmed bush, a species of gaultheria,
seldom more than a foot or two high. This has pale pea-green glossy
leaves two or three inches long and half an inch wide and beautiful
pink flowers, urn-shaped, that make a fine, rich show. The berries
are black when ripe, are extremely abundant, and, with the
huckleberries, form an important part of the food of the Indians, who
beat them into paste, dry them, and store them away for winter use, to
be eaten with their oily fish. The salmon-berry also is very
plentiful, growing in dense prickly tangles. The flowers are as large
as wild roses and of the same color, and the berries measure nearly an
inch in diameter. Besides these there are gooseberries, currants,
raspberries, blackberries, and, in some favored spots, strawberries.
The mass of the underbrush of the woods is made up in great part of
these berry-bearing bushes. Together with white-flowered spiraea
twenty feet high, hazel, dogwood, wild rose, honeysuckle,
symphoricarpus, etc. But in the depths of the woods, where little
sunshine can reach the ground, there is but little underbrush of any
kind, only a very light growth of huckleberry and rubus and young
maples in most places. The difficulties encountered by the explorer
in penetrating the wilderness are presented mostly by the streams and
bogs, with their tangled margins, and the fallen timber and thick
carpet of moss covering all the ground.

Notwithstanding the tremendous energy displayed in lumbering and the
grand scale on which it is being carried on, and the number of
settlers pushing into every opening in search of farmlands, the woods
of Washington are still almost entirely virgin and wild, without trace
of human touch, savage or civilized. Indians, no doubt, have ascended
most of the rivers on their way to the mountains to hunt the wild
sheep and goat to obtain wool for their clothing, but with food in
abundance on the coast they had little to tempt them into the
wilderness, and the monuments they have left in it are scarcely more
conspicuous than those of squirrels and bears; far less so than those
of the beavers, which in damming the streams have made clearings and
meadows which will continue to mark the landscape for centuries. Nor
is there much in these woods to tempt the farmer or cattle raiser. A
few settlers established homes on the prairies or open borders of the
woods and in the valleys of the Chehalis and Cowlitz before the gold
days of California. Most of the early immigrants from the Eastern
States, however, settled in the fertile and open Willamette Valley or
Oregon. Even now, when the search for land is so keen, with the
exception of the bottom lands around the Sound and on the lower
reaches of the rivers, there are comparatively few spots of
cultivation in western Washington. On every meadow or opening of any
kind some one will be found keeping cattle, planting hop vines, or
raising hay, vegetables, and patches of grain. All the large spaces
available, even back near the summits of the Cascade Mountains, were
occupied long ago. The newcomers, building their cabins where the
beavers once built theirs, keep a few cows and industriously seek to
enlarge their small meadow patches by chopping, girdling, and burning
the edge of the encircling forest, gnawing like beavers, and
scratching for a living among the blackened stumps and logs, regarding
the trees as their greatest enemies--a sort of larger pernicious weed
immensely difficult to get rid of.

But all these are as yet mere spots, making no visible scar in the
distance and leaving the grand stretches of the forest as wild as they
were before the discovery of the continent. For many years the axe
has been busy around the shores of the Sound and ships have been
falling in perpetual storm like flakes of snow. The best of the
timber has been cut for a distance of eight or ten miles from the
water and to a much greater distance along the streams deep enough to
float the logs. Railroads, too, have been built to fetch in the logs
from the best bodies of timber otherwise inaccessible except at great
cost. None of the ground, however, has been completely denuded. Most
of the young trees have been left, together with the hemlocks and
other trees undesirable in kind or in some way defective, so that the
neighboring trees appear to have closed over the gaps make by the
removal of the larger and better ones, maintaining the general
continuity of the forest and leaving no sign on the sylvan sea, at
least as seen from a distance.

In felling the trees they cut them off usually at a height of six to
twelve feet above the ground, so as to avoid cutting through the
swollen base, where the diameter is so much greater. In order to
reach this height the chopper cuts a notch about two inches wide and
three or four deep and drives a board into it, on which he stands
while at work. In case the first notch, cut as high as he can reach,
is not high enough, he stands on the board that has been driven into
the first notch and cuts another. Thus the axeman may often be seen
at work standing eight or ten feet above the ground. If the tree is
so large that with his long-handled axe the chopper is unable to reach
to the farther side of it, then a second chopper is set to work, each
cutting halfway across. And when the tree is about to fall, warned by
the faint crackling of the strained fibers, they jump to the ground,
and stand back out of danger from flying limbs, while the noble giant
that had stood erect in glorious strength and beauty century after
century, bows low at last and with gasp and groan and booming throb
falls to earth.

Then with long saws the trees are cut into logs of the required
length, peeled, loaded upon wagons capable of carrying a weight of
eight or ten tons, hauled by a long string of oxen to the nearest
available stream or railroad, and floated or carried to the Sound.
There the logs are gathered into booms and towed by steamers to the
mills, where workmen with steel spikes in their boots leap lightly
with easy poise from one to another and by means of long pike poles
push them apart and, selecting such as are at the time required, push
them to the foot of a chute and drive dogs into the ends, when they
are speedily hauled in by the mill machinery alongside the saw
carriage and placed and fixed in position. Then with sounds of greedy
hissing and growling they are rushed back and forth like enormous
shuttles, and in an incredibly short time they are lumber and are
aboard the ships lying at the mill wharves.

Many of the long, slender boles so abundant in these woods are saved
for spars, and so excellent is their quality that they are in demand
in almost every shipyard of the world. Thus these trees, felled and
stripped of their leaves and branches, are raised again, transplanted
and set firmly erect, given roots of iron and a new foliage of
flapping canvas, and sent to sea. On they speed in glad, free motion,
cheerily waving over the blue, heaving water, responsive to the same
winds that rocked them when they stood at home in the woods. After
standing in one place all their lives they now, like sight-seeing
tourists, go round the world, meeting many a relative from the old
home forest, some like themselves, wandering free, clad in broad
canvas foliage, others planted head downward in mud, holding wharf
platforms aloft to receive the wares of all nations.

The mills of Puget sound and those of the redwood region of California
are said to be the largest and most effective lumber-makers in the
world. Tacoma alone claims to have eleven sawmills, and Seattle about
as many; while at many other points on the Sound, where the conditions
are particularly favorable, there are immense lumbering
establishments, as at Ports Blakely, Madison, Discovery, Gamble,
Ludlow, etc., with a capacity all together of over three million feet
a day. Nevertheless, the observer coming up the Sound sees not nor
hears anything of this fierce storm of steel that is devouring the
forests, save perhaps the shriek of some whistle or the columns of
smoke that mark the position of the mills. All else seems as serene
and unscathed as the silent watching mountains.


People and Towns of Puget Sound

As one strolls in the woods about the logging camps, most of the
lumbermen are found to be interesting people to meet, kind and
obliging and sincere, full of knowledge concerning the bark and
sapwood and heartwood of the trees they cut, and how to fell them
without unnecessary breakage, on ground where they may be most
advantageously sawed into logs and loaded for removal. The work is
hard, and all of the older men have a tired, somewhat haggard
appearance. Their faces are doubtful in color, neither sickly nor
quite healthy-looking, and seamed with deep wrinkles like the bark of
the spruces, but with no trace of anxiety. Their clothing is full of
rosin and never wears out. A little of everything in the woods is
stuck fast to these loggers, and their trousers grow constantly
thicker with age. In all their movements and gestures they are heavy
and deliberate like the trees above them, and they walk with a
swaying, rocking gait altogether free from quick, jerky fussiness, for
chopping and log rolling have quenched all that. They are also slow
of speech, as if partly out of breath, and when one tries to draw them
out on some subject away from logs, all the fresh, leafy, outreaching
branches of the mind seem to have been withered and killed with
fatigue, leaving their lives little more than dry lumber. Many a tree
have these old axemen felled, but, round-shouldered and stooping, they
too are beginning to lean over. Many of their companions are already
beneath the moss, and among those that we see at work some are now
dead at the top (bald), leafless, so to speak, and tottering to their

A very different man, seen now and then at long intervals but usually
invisible, is the free roamer of the wilderness--hunter, prospector,
explorer, seeking he knows not what. Lithe and sinewy, he walks
erect, making his way with the skill of wild animals, all his senses
in action, watchful and alert, looking keenly at everything in sight,
his imagination well nourished in the wealth of the wilderness, coming
into contact with free nature in a thousand forms, drinking at the
fountains of things, responsive to wild influences, as trees to the
winds. Well he knows the wild animals his neighbors, what fishes are
in the streams, what birds in the forests, and where food may be
found. Hungry at times and weary, he has corresponding enjoyment in
eating and resting, and all the wilderness is home. Some of these
rare, happy rovers die alone among the leaves. Others half settle
down and change in part into farmers; each, making choice of some
fertile spot where the landscape attracts him, builds a small cabin,
where, with few wants to supply from garden or field, he hunts and
farms in turn, going perhaps once a year to the settlements, until
night begins to draw near, and, like forest shadows, thickens into
darkness and his day is done. In these Washington wilds, living
alone, all sorts of men may perchance be found--poets, philosophers,
and even full-blown transcendentalists, though you may go far to find

Indians are seldom to be met with away from the Sound, excepting about
the few outlying hop ranches, to which they resort in great numbers
during the picking season. Nor in your walks in the woods will you be
likely to see many of the wild animals, however far you may go, with
the exception of the Douglas squirrel and the mountain goat. The
squirrel is everywhere, and the goat you can hardly fail to find if
you climb any of the high mountains. The deer, once very abundant,
may still be found on the islands and along the shores of the Sound,
but the large gray wolves render their existence next to impossible at
any considerable distance back in the woods of the mainland, as they
can easily run them down unless they are near enough to the coast to
make their escape by plunging into the water and swimming to the
islands off shore. The elk and perhaps also the moose still exist in
the most remote and inaccessible solitudes of the forest, but their
numbers have been greatly reduced of late, and even the most
experienced hunters have difficulty in finding them. Of bears there
are two species, the black and the large brown, the former by far the
more common of the two. On the shaggy bottom-lands where berries are
plentiful, and along the rivers while salmon are going up to spawn,
the black bear may be found, fat and at home. Many are killed every
year, both for their flesh and skins. The large brown species likes
higher and opener ground. He is a dangerous animal, a near relative
of the famous grizzly, and wise hunters are very fond of letting him

The towns of Puget Sound are of a very lively, progressive, and
aspiring kind, fortunately with abundance of substance about them to
warrant their ambition and make them grow. Like young sapling
sequoias, they are sending out their roots far and near for
nourishment, counting confidently on longevity and grandeur of
stature. Seattle and Tacoma are at present far in the lead of all
others in the race for supremacy, and these two are keen, active
rivals, to all appearances well matched. Tacoma occupies near the
head of the Sound a site of great natural beauty. It is the terminus
of the Northern Pacific Railroad, and calls itself the "City of
Destiny." Seattle is also charmingly located about twenty miles down
the Sound from Tacoma, on Elliott Bay. It is the terminus of the
Seattle, Lake Shore, and Eastern Railroad, now in process of
construction, and calls itself the "Queen City of the Sound" and the
"Metropolis of Washington." What the populations of these towns
number I am not able to say with anything like exactness. They are
probably about the same size and they each claim to have about twenty
thousand people; but their figures are so rapidly changing, and so
often mixed up with counts that refer to the future that exact
measurements of either of these places are about as hard to obtain as
measurements of the clouds of a growing storm. Their edges run back
for miles into the woods among the trees and stumps and brush which
hide a good many of the houses and the stakes which mark the lots; so
that, without being as yet very large towns, they seem to fade away
into the distance.

But, though young and loose-jointed, they are fast taking on the forms
and manners of old cities, putting on airs, as some would say, like
boys in haste to be men. They are already towns "with all modern
improvements, first-class in every particular," as is said of hotels.
They have electric motors and lights, paved broadways and boulevards,
substantial business blocks, schools, churches, factories, and
foundries. The lusty, titanic clang of boiler making may be heard
there, and plenty of the languid music of pianos mingling with the
babel noises of commerce carried on in a hundred tongues. The main
streets are crowded with bright, wide-awake lawyers, ministers,
merchants, agents for everything under the sun; ox drivers and loggers
in stiff, gummy overalls; back-slanting dudes, well-tailored and
shiny; and fashions and bonnets of every feather and color bloom gayly
in the noisy throng and advertise London and Paris. Vigorous life and
strife are to be seen everywhere. The spirit of progress is in the
air. Still it is hard to realize how much good work is being done
here of a kind that makes for civilization--the enthusiastic, exulting
energy displayed in the building of new towns, railroads, and mills,
in the opening of mines of coal and iron and the development of
natural resources in general. To many, especially in the Atlantic
States, Washington is hardly known at all. It is regarded as being
yet a far wild west--a dim, nebulous expanse of woods--by those who do
not know that railroads and steamers have brought the country out of
the wilderness and abolished the old distances. It is now near to all
the world and is in possession of a share of the best of all that
civilization has to offer, while on some of the lines of advancement
it is at the front.

Notwithstanding the sharp rivalry between different sections and
towns, the leading men mostly pull together for the general good and
glory,--building, buying, borrowing, to push the country to its place;
keeping arithmetic busy in counting population present and to come,
ships, towns, factories, tons of coal and iron, feet of lumber, miles
of railroad,--Americans, Scandinavians, Irish, Scotch, and Germans
being joined together in the white heat of work like religious crowds
in time of revival who have forgotten sectarianism. It is a fine
thing to see people in hot earnest about anything; therefore, however
extravagant and high the brag ascending from Puget Sound, in most
cases it is likely to appear pardonable and more.

Seattle was named after an old Indian chief who lived in this part of
the Sound. He was very proud of the honor and lived long enough to
lead his grandchildren about the streets. The greater part of the
lower business portion of the town, including a long stretch of
wharves and warehouses built on piles, was destroyed by fire a few
months ago[28], with immense loss. The people, however, are in no
wise discouraged, and ere long the loss will be gain, inasmuch as a
better class of buildings, chiefly of brick, are being erected in
place of the inflammable wooden ones, which, with comparatively few
exceptions, were built of pitchy spruce.

With their own scenery so glorious ever on show, one would at first
thought suppose that these happy Puget Sound people would never go
sightseeing from home like less favored mortals. But they do all the
same. Some go boating on the Sound or on the lakes and rivers, or
with their families make excursions at small cost on the steamers.
Others will take the train to the Franklin and Newcastle or Carbon
River coal mines for the sake of the thirty- or forty-mile rides
through the woods, and a look into the black depths of the underworld.
Others again take the steamers for Victoria, Fraser River, or
Vancouver, the new ambitious town at the terminus of the Canadian
Railroad, thus getting views of the outer world in a near foreign
country. One of the regular summer resorts of this region where
people go for fishing, hunting, and the healing of diseases, is the
Green River Hot Springs, in the Cascade Mountains, sixty-one miles
east of Tacoma, on the line of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Green
River is a small rocky stream with picturesque banks, and derives its
name from the beautiful pale-green hue of its waters.

Among the most interesting of all the summer rest and pleasure places
is the famous "Hop Ranch" on the upper Snoqualmie River, thirty or
forty miles eastward from Seattle. Here the dense forest opens,
allowing fine free views of the adjacent mountains from a long stretch
of ground which is half meadow, half prairie, level and fertile, and
beautifully diversified with outstanding groves of spruces and alders
and rich flowery fringes of spiraea and wild roses, the river
meandering deep and tranquil through the midst of it. On the portions
most easily cleared some three hundred acres of hop vines have been
planted and are now in full bearing, yielding, it is said, at the rate
of about a ton of hops to the acre. They are a beautiful crop, these
vines of the north, pillars of verdure in regular rows, seven feet
apart and eight or ten feet in height; the long, vigorous shoots
sweeping round in fine, wild freedom, and the light, leafy cones
hanging in loose, handsome clusters.

Perhaps enough of hops might be raised in Washington for the wants of
all the world, but it would be impossible to find pickers to handle
the crop. Most of the picking is done by Indians, and to this fine,
clean, profitable work they come in great numbers in their canoes, old
and young, of many different tribes, bringing wives and children and
household goods, in some cases from a distance of five or six hundred
miles, even from far Alaska. Then they too grow rich and spend their
money on red cloth and trinkets. About a thousand Indians are
required as pickers at the Snoqualmie ranch alone, and a lively and
merry picture they make in the field, arrayed in bright, showy
calicoes, lowering the rustling vine pillars with incessant song-singing and fun. Still more striking are their queer camps on the
edges of the fields or over on the river bank, with the firelight
shining on their wild jolly faces. But woe to the ranch should fire-water get there!

But the chief attractions here are not found in the hops, but in
trout-fishing and bear-hunting, and in the two fine falls on the
river. Formerly the trip from Seattle was a hard one, over corduroy
roads; now it is reached in a few hours by rail along the shores of
Lake Washington and Lake Squak, through a fine sample section of the
forest and past the brow of the main Snoqualmie Fall. From the hotel
at the ranch village the road to the fall leads down the right bank of
the river through the magnificent maple woods I have mentioned
elsewhere, and fine views of the fall may be had on that side, both
from above and below. It is situated on the main river, where it
plunges over a sheer precipice, about two hundred and forty feet high,
in leaving the level meadows of the ancient lake basin. In a general
way it resembles the well-known Nevada Fall in Yosemite, having the
same twisted appearance at the top and the free plunge in numberless
comet-shaped masses into a deep pool seventy-five or eighty yards in
diameter. The pool is of considerable depth, as is shown by the
radiating well-beaten foam and mist, which is of a beautiful rose
color at times, of exquisite fineness of tone, and by the heavy waves
that lash the rocks in front of it.

Though to a Californian the height of this fall would not seem great,
the volume of water is heavy, and all the surroundings are delightful.
The maple forest, of itself worth a long journey, the beauty of the
river-reaches above and below, and the views down the valley afar over
the mighty forests, with all its lovely trimmings of ferns and
flowers, make this one of the most interesting falls I have ever seen.
The upper fall is about seventy-five feet high, with bouncing rapids
at head and foot, set in a romantic dell thatched with dripping mosses
and ferns and embowered in dense evergreens and blooming bushes, the
distance to it from the upper end of the meadows being about eight
miles. The road leads through majestic woods with ferns ten feet high
beneath some of the thickets, and across a gravelly plain deforested
by fire many years ago. Orange lilies are plentiful, and handsome
shining mats of the kinnikinic, sprinkled with bright scarlet berries.

From a place called "Hunt's," at the end of the wagon road, a trail
leads through lush, dripping woods (never dry) to Thuja and Mertens,
Menzies, and Douglas spruces. The ground is covered with the best
moss-work of the moist lands of the north, made up mostly of the
various species of hypnum, with some liverworts, marchantia,
jungermannia, etc., in broad sheets and bosses, where never a dust
particle floated, and where all the flowers, fresh with mist and
spray, are wetter than water lilies. The pool at the foot of the fall
is a place surpassingly lovely to look at, with the enthusiastic rush
and song of the falls, the majestic trees overhead leaning over the
brink like listeners eager to catch every word of the white refreshing
waters, the delicate maidenhairs and aspleniums with fronds outspread
gathering the rainbow sprays, and the myriads of hooded mosses, every
cup fresh and shining.


An Ascent of Mount Rainier

Ambitious climbers, seeking adventures and opportunities to test their
strength and skill, occasionally attempt to penetrate the wilderness
on the west side of the Sound, and push on to the summit of Mount
Olympus. But the grandest excursion of all to be make hereabouts is
to Mount Rainier, to climb to the top of its icy crown. The mountain
is very high[29], fourteen thousand four hundred feet, and laden with
glaciers that are terribly roughened and interrupted by crevasses and
ice cliffs. Only good climbers should attempt to gain the summit, led
by a guide of proved nerve and endurance. A good trail has been cut
through the woods to the base of the mountain on the north; but the
summit of the mountain never has been reached from this side, though
many brave attempts have been made upon it.

Last summer I gained the summit from the south side, in a day and a
half from the timberline, without encountering any desperate obstacles
that could not in some way be passed in good weather. I was
accompanied by Keith, the artist, Professor Ingraham, and five
ambitious young climbers from Seattle. We were led by the veteran
mountaineer and guide Van Trump, of Yelm, who many years before guided
General Stevens in his memorable ascent, and later Mr. Bailey, of
Oakland. With a cumbersome abundance of campstools and blankets we
set out from Seattle, traveling by rail as far as Yelm Prairie, on the
Tacoma and Oregon road. Here we made our first camp and arranged with
Mr. Longmire, a farmer in the neighborhood, for pack and saddle
animals. The noble King Mountain was in full view from here,
glorifying the bright, sunny day with his presence, rising in godlike
majesty over the woods, with the magnificent prairie as a foreground.
The distance to the mountain from Yelm in a straight line is perhaps
fifty miles; but by the mule and yellowjacket trail we had to follow
it is a hundred miles. For, notwithstanding a portion of this trail
runs in the air, where the wasps work hardest, it is far from being an
air line as commonly understood.

By night of the third day we reached the Soda Springs on the right
bank of the Nisqually, which goes roaring by, gray with mud, gravel,
and boulders from the caves of the glaciers of Rainier, now close at
hand. The distance from the Soda Springs to the Camp of the Clouds is
about ten miles. The first part of the way lies up the Nisqually
Canyon, the bottom of which is flat in some places and the walls very
high and precipitous, like those of the Yosemite Valley. The upper
part of the canyon is still occupied by one of the Nisqually glaciers,
from which this branch of the river draws its source, issuing from a
cave in the gray, rock-strewn snout. About a mile below the glacier
we had to ford the river, which caused some anxiety, for the current
is very rapid and carried forward large boulders as well as lighter
material, while its savage roar is bewildering.

At this point we left the canyon, climbing out of it by a steep zigzag
up the old lateral moraine of the glacier, which was deposited when
the present glacier flowed past at this height, and is about eight
hundred feet high. It is now covered with a superb growth of Picea
amabilis[30]; so also is the corresponding portion of the right
lateral. From the top of the moraine, still ascending, we passed for
a mile or two through a forest of mixed growth, mainly silver fir,
Patton spruce, and mountain pine, and then came to the charming park
region, at an elevation of about five thousand feet above sea level.
Here the vast continuous woods at length begin to give way under the
dominion of climate, though still at this height retaining their
beauty and giving no sign of stress of storm, sweeping upward in belts
of varying width, composed mainly of one species of fir, sharp and
spiry in form, leaving smooth, spacious parks, with here and there
separate groups of trees standing out in the midst of the openings
like islands in a lake. Every one of these parks, great and small, is
a garden filled knee-deep with fresh, lovely flowers of every hue, the
most luxuriant and the most extravagantly beautiful of all the alpine
gardens I ever beheld in all my mountain-top wanderings.

We arrived at the Cloud Camp at noon, but no clouds were in sight,
save a few gauzy ornamental wreaths adrift in the sunshine. Out of
the forest at last there stood the mountain, wholly unveiled, awful in
bulk and majesty, filling all the view like a separate, new-born
world, yet withal so fine and so beautiful it might well fire the
dullest observer to desperate enthusiasm. Long we gazed in silent
admiration, buried in tall daisies and anemones by the side of a
snowbank. Higher we could not go with the animals and find food for
them and wood for our own campfires, for just beyond this lies the
region of ice, with only here and there an open spot on the ridges in
the midst of the ice, with dwarf alpine plants, such as saxifrages and
drabas, which reach far up between the glaciers, and low mats of the
beautiful bryanthus, while back of us were the gardens and abundance
of everything that heart could wish. Here we lay all the afternoon,
considering the lilies and the lines of the mountains with reference
to a way to the summit.

At noon next day we left camp and began our long climb. We were in
light marching order, save one who pluckily determined to carry his
camera to the summit. At night, after a long easy climb over wide and
smooth fields of ice, we reached a narrow ridge, at an elevation of
about ten thousand feet above the sea, on the divide between the
glaciers of the Nisqually and the Cowlitz. Here we lay as best we
could, waiting for another day, without fire of course, as we were now
many miles beyond the timberline and without much to cover us. After
eating a little hardtack, each of us leveled a spot to lie on among
lava-blocks and cinders. The night was cold, and the wind coming down
upon us in stormy surges drove gritty ashes and fragments of pumice
about our ears while chilling to the bone. Very short and shallow was
our sleep that night; but day dawned at last, early rising was easy,
and there was nothing about breakfast to cause any delay. About four
o'clock we were off, and climbing began in earnest. We followed up
the ridge on which we had spent the night, now along its crest, now on
either side, or on the ice leaning against it, until we came to where
it becomes massive and precipitous. Then we were compelled to crawl
along a seam or narrow shelf, on its face, which we traced to its
termination in the base of the great ice cap. From this point all the
climbing was over ice, which was here desperately steep but
fortunately was at the same time carved into innumerable spikes and
pillars which afforded good footholds, and we crawled cautiously on,
warm with ambition and exercise.

At length, after gaining the upper extreme of our guiding ridge, we
found a good place to rest and prepare ourselves to scale the
dangerous upper curves of the dome. The surface almost everywhere was
bare, hard, snowless ice, extremely slippery; and, though smooth in
general, it was interrupted by a network of yawning crevasses,
outspread like lines of defense against any attempt to win the summit.
Here every one of the party took off his shoes and drove stout steel
caulks about half an inch long into them, having brought tools along
for the purpose, and not having made use of them until now so that the
points might not get dulled on the rocks ere the smooth, dangerous ice
was reached. Besides being well shod each carried an alpenstock, and
for special difficulties we had a hundred feet of rope and an axe,

Thus prepared, we stepped forth afresh, slowly groping our way through
tangled lines of crevasses, crossing on snow bridges here and there
after cautiously testing them, jumping at narrow places, or crawling
around the ends of the largest, bracing well at every point with our
alpenstocks and setting our spiked shoes squarely down on the
dangerous slopes. It was nerve-trying work, most of it, but we made
good speed nevertheless, and by noon all stood together on the utmost
summit, save one who, his strength failing for a time, came up later.

We remained on the summit nearly two hours, looking about us at the
vast maplike views, comprehending hundreds of miles of the Cascade
Range, with their black interminable forests and white volcanic cones
in glorious array reaching far into Oregon; the Sound region also, and
the great plains of eastern Washington, hazy and vague in the
distance. Clouds began to gather. Soon of all the land only the
summits of the mountains, St. Helen's, Adams, and Hood, were left in
sight, forming islands in the sky. We found two well-formed and well-preserved craters on the summit, lying close together like two plates
on a table with their rims touching. The highest point of the
mountain is located between the craters, where their edges come in
contact. Sulphurous fumes and steam issue from several vents, giving
out a sickening smell that can be detected at a considerable distance.
The unwasted condition of these craters, and, indeed, to a great
extent, of the entire mountain, would tend to show that Rainier is
still a comparatively young mountain. With the exception of the
projecting lips of the craters and the top of a subordinate summit a
short distance to the northward, the mountains is solidly capped with
ice all around; and it is this ice cap which forms the grand central
fountain whence all the twenty glaciers of Rainier flow, radiating in
every direction.

The descent was accomplished without disaster, though several of the
party had narrow escapes. One slipped and fell, and as he shot past
me seemed to be going to certain death. So steep was the ice slope no
one could move to help him, but fortunately, keeping his presence of
mine, he threw himself on his face and digging his alpenstock into the
ice, gradually retarded his motion until he came to rest. Another
broke through a slim bridge over a crevasse, but his momentum at the
time carried him against the lower edge and only his alpenstock was
lost in the abyss. Thus crippled by the loss of his staff, we had to
lower him the rest of the way down the dome by means of the rope we
carried. Falling rocks from the upper precipitous part of the ridge
were also a source of danger, as they came whizzing past in successive
volleys; but none told on us, and when we at length gained the gentle
slopes of the lower ice fields, we ran and slid at our ease, making
fast, glad time, all care and danger past, and arrived at our beloved
Cloud Camp before sundown.

We were rather weak from want of nourishment, and some suffered from
sunburn, notwithstanding the partial protection of glasses and veils;
otherwise, all were unscathed and well. The view we enjoyed from the
summit could hardly be surpassed in sublimity and grandeur; but one
feels far from home so high in the sky, so much so that one is
inclined to guess that, apart from the acquisition of knowledge and
the exhilaration of climbing, more pleasure is to be found at the foot
of the mountains than on their tops. Doubly happy, however, is the
man to whom lofty mountain tops are within reach, for the lights that
shine there illumine all that lies below.


The Physical and Climatic Characteristics of Oregon

Oregon is a large, rich, compact section of the west side of the
continent, containing nearly a hundred thousand square miles of deep,
wet evergreen woods, fertile valleys, icy mountains, and high, rolling
wind-swept plains, watered by the majestic Columbia River and its
countless branches. It is bounded on the north by Washington, on the
east by Idaho, on the south by California and Nevada, and on the west
by the Pacific Ocean. It is a grand, hearty, wholesome, foodful
wilderness and, like Washington, once a part of the Oregon Territory,
abounds in bold, far-reaching contrasts as to scenery, climate, soil,
and productions. Side by side there is drouth on a grand scale and
overflowing moisture; flinty, sharply cut lava beds, gloomy and
forbidding, and smooth, flowery lawns; cool bogs, exquisitely plushy
and soft, overshadowed by jagged crags barren as icebergs; forests
seemingly boundless and plains with no tree in sight; presenting a
wide range of conditions, but as a whole favorable to industry.
Natural wealth of an available kind abounds nearly everywhere,
inviting the farmer, the stock-raiser, the lumberman, the fisherman,
the manufacturer, and the miner, as well as the free walker in search
of knowledge and wildness. The scenery is mostly of a comfortable,
assuring kind, grand and inspiring without too much of that dreadful
overpowering sublimity and exuberance which tend to discourage effort
and cast people into inaction and superstition.

Ever since Oregon was first heard of in the romantic, adventurous,
hunting, trapping Wild West days, it seems to have been regarded as
the most attractive and promising of all the Pacific countries for
farmers. While yet the whole region as well as the way to it was
wild, ere a single road or bridge was built, undaunted by the
trackless thousand-mile distances and scalping, cattle-stealing
Indians, long trains of covered wagons began to crawl wearily
westward, crossing how many plains, rivers, ridges, and mountains,
fighting the painted savages and weariness and famine. Setting out
from the frontier of the old West in the spring as soon as the grass
would support their cattle, they pushed on up the Platte, making haste
slowly, however, that they might not be caught in the storms of winter
ere they reached the promised land. They crossed the Rocky Mountains
to Fort Hall; thence followed down the Snake River for three or four
hundred miles, their cattle limping and failing on the rough lava
plains; swimming the streams too deep to be forded, making boats out
of wagon-boxes for the women and children and goods, or where trees
could be had, lashing together logs for rafts. Thence, crossing the
Blue Mountains and the plains of the Columbia, they followed the river
to the Dalles. Here winter would be upon them, and before a wagon
road was built across the Cascade Mountains the toil-worn emigrants
would be compelled to leave their cattle and wagons until the
following summer, and, in the mean time, with the assistance of the
Hudson's Bay Company, make their way to the Willamette Valley on the
river with rafts and boats.

How strange and remote these trying times have already become! They
are now dim as if a thousand years had passed over them. Steamships
and locomotives with magical influence have well-nigh abolished the
old distances and dangers, and brought forward the New West into near
and familiar companionship with the rest of the world.

Purely wild for unnumbered centuries, a paradise of oily, salmon-fed
Indians, Oregon is now roughly settled in part and surveyed, its
rivers and mountain ranges, lakes, valleys, and plains have been
traced and mapped in a general way, civilization is beginning to take
root, towns are springing up and flourishing vigorously like a crop
adapted to the soil, and the whole kindly wilderness lies invitingly
near with all its wealth open and ripe for use.

In sailing along the Oregon coast one sees but few more signs of human
occupation than did Juan de Fuca three centuries ago. The shore
bluffs rise abruptly from the waves, forming a wall apparently
unbroken, though many short rivers from the coast range of mountains
and two from the interior have made narrow openings on their way to
the sea. At the mouths of these rivers good harbors have been
discovered for coasting vessels, which are of great importance to the
lumbermen, dairymen, and farmers of the coast region. But little or
nothing of these appear in general views, only a simple gray wall
nearly straight, green along the top, and the forest stretching back
into the mountains as far as the eye can reach.

Going ashore, we find few long reaches of sand where one may saunter,
or meadows, save the brown and purple meadows of the sea, overgrown
with slippery kelp, swashed and swirled in the restless breakers. The
abruptness of the shore allows the massive waves that have come from
far over the broad Pacific to get close to the bluffs ere they break,
and the thundering shock shakes the rocks to their foundations. No
calm comes to these shores. Even in the finest weather, when the
ships off shore are becalmed and their sails hang loose against the
mast, there is always a wreath of foam at the base of these bluffs.
The breakers are ever in bloom and crystal brine is ever in the air.

A scramble along the Oregon sea bluffs proves as richly exciting to
lovers of wild beauty as heart could wish. Here are three hundred
miles of pictures of rock and water in black and white, or gray and
white, with more or less of green and yellow, purple and blue. The
rocks, glistening in sunshine and foam, are never wholly dry--many of
them marvels of wave-sculpture and most imposing in bulk and bearing,
standing boldly forward, monuments of a thousand storms, types of
permanence, holding the homes and places of refuge of multitudes of
seafaring animals in their keeping, yet ever wasting away. How grand
the songs of the waves about them, every wave a fine, hearty storm in
itself, taking its rise on the breezy plains of the sea, perhaps
thousands of miles away, traveling with majestic, slow-heaving
deliberation, reaching the end of its journey, striking its blow,
bursting into a mass of white and pink bloom, then falling spent and
withered to give place to the next in the endless procession, thus
keeping up the glorious show and glorious song through all times and
seasons forever!

Terribly impressive as is this cliff and wave scenery when the skies
are bright and kindly sunshine makes rainbows in the spray, it is
doubly so in dark, stormy nights, when, crouching in some hollow on
the top of some jutting headland, we may gaze and listen undisturbed
in the heart of it. Perhaps now and then we may dimly see the tops of
the highest breakers, looking ghostly in the gloom; but when the water
happens to be phosphorescent, as it oftentimes is, then both the sea
and the rocks are visible, and the wild, exulting, up-dashing spray
burns, every particle of it, and is combined into one glowing mass of
white fire; while back in the woods and along the bluffs and crags of
the shore the storm wind roars, and the rain-floods, gathering
strength and coming from far and near, rush wildly down every gulch to
the sea, as if eager to join the waves in their grand, savage harmony;
deep calling unto deep in the heart of the great, dark night, making a
sight and a song unspeakable sublime and glorious.

In the pleasant weather of summer, after the rainy season is past and
only occasional refreshing showers fall, washing the sky and bringing
out the fragrance of the flowers and the evergreens, then one may
enjoy a fine, free walk all the way across the State from the sea to
the eastern boundary on the Snake River. Many a beautiful stream we
should cross in such a walk, singing through forest and meadow and
deep rocky gorge, and many a broad prairie and plain, mountain and
valley, wild garden and desert, presenting landscape beauty on a grand
scale and in a thousand forms, and new lessons without number,
delightful to learn. Oregon has three mountain ranges which run
nearly parallel with the coast, the most influential of which, in
every way, is the Cascade Range. It is about six thousand to seven
thousand feet in average height, and divides the State into two main
sections called Eastern and Western Oregon, corresponding with the
main divisions of Washington; while these are again divided, but less
perfectly, by the Blue Mountains and the Coast Range. The eastern
section is about two hundred and thirty miles wide, and is made up in
great part of the treeless plains of the Columbia, which are green and
flowery in spring, but gray, dusty, hot, and forbidding in summer.
Considerable areas, however, on these plains, as well as some of the
valleys countersunk below the general surface along the banks of the
streams, have proved fertile and produce large crops of wheat, barley,
hay, and other products.

In general views the western section seems to be covered with one
vast, evenly planted forest, with the exception of the few snow-clad
peaks of the Cascade Range, these peaks being the only points in the
landscape that rise above the timberline. Nevertheless, embosomed in
this forest and lying in the great trough between the Cascades and
coast mountains, there are some of the best bread-bearing valleys to
be found in the world. The largest of these are the Willamette,
Umpqua, and Rogue River Valleys. Inasmuch as a considerable portion
of these main valleys was treeless, or nearly so, as well as
surpassingly fertile, they were the first to attract settlers; and the
Willamette, being at once the largest and nearest to tide water, was
settled first of all, and now contains the greater portion of the
population and wealth of the State.

The climate of this section, like the corresponding portion of
Washington, is rather damp and sloppy throughout the winter months,
but the summers are bright, ripening the wheat and allowing it to be
garnered in good condition. Taken as a whole, the weather is bland
and kindly, and like the forest trees the crops and cattle grow plump
and sound in it. So also do the people; children ripen well and grow
up with limbs of good size and fiber and, unless overworked in the
woods, live to a good old age, hale and hearty.

But, like every other happy valley in the world, the sunshine of this
one is not without its shadows. Malarial fevers are not unknown in
some places, and untimely frosts and rains may at long intervals in
some measure disappoint the hopes of the husbandman. Many a tale,
good-natured or otherwise, is told concerning the overflowing
abundance of the Oregon rains. Once an English traveler, as the story
goes, went to a store to make some purchases and on leaving found that
rain was falling; therefore, not liking to get wet, he stepped back to
wait till the shower was over. Seeing no signs of clearing, he soon
became impatient and inquired of the storekeeper how long he thought
the shower would be likely to last. Going to the door and looking
wisely into the gray sky and noting the direction of the wind, the
latter replied that he thought the shower would probably last about
six months, an opinion that of course disgusted the fault-finding
Briton with the "blawsted country," though in fact it is but little if
at all wetter or cloudier than his own.

No climate seems the best for everybody. Many there be who waste
their lives in a vain search for weather with which no fault may be
found, keeping themselves and their families in constant motion, like
floating seaweeds that never strike root, yielding compliance to every
current of news concerning countries yet untried, believing that
everywhere, anywhere, the sky is fairer and the grass grows greener
than where they happen to be. Before the Oregon and California
railroad was built, the overland journey between these States across
the Siskiyou Mountains in the old-fashioned emigrant wagon was a long
and tedious one. Nevertheless, every season dissatisfied climate-seekers, too wet and too dry, might be seen plodding along through the
dust in the old " 49 style," making their way one half of them from
California to Oregon, the other half from Oregon to California. The
beautiful Sisson meadows at the base of Mount Shasta were a favorite
halfway resting place, where the weary cattle were turned out for a
few days to gather strength for better climates, and it was curious to
hear those perpetual pioneers comparing notes and seeking information
around the campfires.

"Where are you from?" some Oregonian would ask.

"The Joaquin."

"It's dry there, ain't it?"

"Well, I should say so. No rain at all in summer and none to speak of
in winter, and I'm dried out. I just told my wife I was on the move
again, and I'm going to keep moving till I come to a country where it
rains once in a while, like it does in every reg'lar white man's
country; and that, I guess, will be Oregon, if the news be true."

"Yes, neighbor, you's heading in the right direction for rain," the
Oregonian would say. "Keep right on to Yamhill and you'll soon be
damp enough. It rains there more than twelve months in the year; at
least, no saying but it will. I've just come from there, plumb
drownded out, and I told my wife to jump into the wagon and we should
start out and see if we couldn't find a dry day somewhere. Last fall
the hay was out and the wood was out, and the cabin leaked, and I made
up my mind to try California the first chance."

"Well, if you be a horned toad or coyote," the seeker of moisture
would reply, "then maybe you can stand it. Just keep right on by the
Alabama Settlement to Tulare and you can have my place on Big Dry
Creek and welcome. You'll be drowned there mighty seldom. The wagon
spokes and tires will rattle and tell you when you come to it."

"All right, partner, we'll swap square, you can have mine in Yamhill
and the rain thrown in. Last August a painter sharp came along one
day wanting to know the way to Willamette Falls, and I told him:
Young man, just wait a little and you'll find falls enough without
going to Oregon City after them. The whole dog-gone Noah's flood of a
country will be a fall and melt and float away some day.'" And more to
the same effect.

But no one need leave Oregon in search of fair weather. The wheat and
cattle region of eastern Oregon and Washington on the upper Columbia
plains is dry enough and dusty enough more than half the year. The
truth is, most of these wanderers enjoy the freedom of gypsy life and
seek not homes but camps. Having crossed the plains and reached the
ocean, they can find no farther west within reach of wagons, and are
therefore compelled now to go north and south between Mexico and
Alaska, always glad to find an excuse for moving, stopping a few
months or weeks here and there, the time being measured by the size of
the camp-meadow, conditions of the grass, game, and other indications.
Even their so-called settlements of a year or two, when they take up
land and build cabins, are only another kind of camp, in no common
sense homes. Never a tree is planted, nor do they plant themselves,
but like good soldiers in time of war are ever ready to march. Their
journey of life is indeed a journey with very matter-of-fact thorns in
the way, though not wholly wanting in compensation.

One of the most influential of the motives that brought the early
settlers to these shores, apart from that natural instinct to scatter
and multiply which urges even sober salmon to climb the Rocky
Mountains, was their desire to find a country at once fertile and
winterless, where their flocks and herds could find pasture all the
year, thus doing away with the long and tiresome period of haying and
feeding necessary in the eastern and old western States and
Territories. Cheap land and good land there was in abundance in
Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Iowa; but there the labor of
providing for animals of the farm was very great, and much of that
labor was crowded together into a few summer months, while to keep
cool in summers and warm in the icy winters was well-nigh impossible
to poor farmers.

Along the coast and throughout the greater part of western Oregon in
general, snow seldom falls on the lowlands to a greater depth than a
few inches, and never lies long. Grass is green all winter. The
average temperature for the year in the Willamette Valley is about 52
degrees, the highest and lowest being about 100 degrees and 20
degrees, though occasionally a much lower temperature is reached.

The average rainfall is about fifty or fifty-five inches in the
Willamette Valley, and along the coast seventy-five inches, or even
more at some points--figures that bring many a dreary night and day to
mind, however fine the effect on the great evergreen woods and the
fields of the farmers. The rainy season begins in September or
October and lasts until April or May. Then the whole country is
solemnly soaked and poulticed with the gray, streaming clouds and
fogs, night and day, with marvelous constancy. Towards the beginning
and end of the season a good many bright days occur to break the
pouring gloom, but whole months of rain, continuous, or nearly so, are
not at all rare. Astronomers beneath these Oregon skies would have a
dull time of it. Of all the year only about one fourth of the days
are clear, while three fourths have more or less of fogs, clouds, or

The fogs occur mostly in the fall and spring. They are grand, far-reaching affairs of two kinds, the black and the white, some of the
latter being very beautiful, and the infinite delicacy and tenderness
of their touch as they linger to caress the tall evergreens is most
exquisite. On farms and highways and in the streets of towns, where
work has to be done, there is nothing picturesque or attractive in any
obvious way about the gray, serious-faced rainstorms. Mud abounds.
The rain seems dismal and heedless and gets in everybody's way. Every
face is turned from it, and it has but few friends who recognize its
boundless beneficence. But back in the untrodden woods where no axe
has been lifted, where a deep, rich carpet of brown and golden mosses
covers all the ground like a garment, pressing warmly about the feet
of the trees and rising in thick folds softly and kindly over every
fallen trunk, leaving no spot naked or uncared-for, there the rain is
welcomed, and every drop that falls finds a place and use as sweet and
pure as itself. An excursion into the woods when the rain harvest is
at its height is a noble pleasure, and may be safely enjoyed at small
expense, though very few care to seek it. Shelter is easily found
beneath the great trees in some hollow out of the wind, and one need
carry but little provision, none at all of a kind that a wetting would
spoil. The colors of the woods are then at their best, and the mighty
hosts of the forest, every needle tingling in the blast, wave and sing
in glorious harmony.

" T were worth ten years of peaceful life,
one glance at this array."

The snow that falls in the lowland woods is usually soft, and makes a
fine show coming through the trees in large, feathery tufts, loading
the branches of the firs and spruces and cedars and weighing them down
against the trunks until they look slender and sharp as arrows, while
a strange, muffled silence prevails, giving a peculiar solemnity to
everything. But these lowland snowstorms and their effects quickly
vanish; every crystal melts in a day or two, the bent branches rise
again, and the rain resumes its sway.

While these gracious rains are searching the roots of the lowlands,
corresponding snows are busy along the heights of the Cascade
Mountains. Month after month, day and night the heavens shed their
icy bloom in stormy, measureless abundance, filling the grand upper
fountains of the rivers to last through the summer. Awful then is the
silence that presses down over the mountain forests. All the smaller
streams vanish from sight, hushed and obliterated. Young groves of
spruce and pine are bowed down as by a gentle hand and put to rest,
not again to see the light or move leaf or limb until the grand
awakening of the springtime, while the larger animals and most of the
birds seek food and shelter in the foothills on the borders of the
valleys and plains.

The lofty volcanic peaks are yet more heavily snow-laden. To their
upper zones no summer comes. They are white always. From the steep
slopes of the summit the new-fallen snow, while yet dry and loose,
descends in magnificent avalanches to feed the glaciers, making
meanwhile the most glorious manifestations of power. Happy is the man
who may get near them to see and hear. In some sheltered camp nest on
the edge of the timberline one may lie snug and warm, but after the
long shuffle on snowshoes we may have to wait more than a month ere
the heavens open and the grand show is unveiled. In the mean time,
bread may be scarce, unless with careful forecast a sufficient supply
has been provided and securely placed during the summer.
Nevertheless, to be thus deeply snowbound high in the sky is not
without generous compensation for all the cost. And when we at length
go down the long white slopes to the levels of civilization, the pains
vanish like snow in sunshine, while the noble and exalting pleasures
we have gained remain with us to enrich our lives forever.

The fate of the high-flying mountain snow-flowers is a fascinating
study, though little may we see of their works and ways while their
storms go on. The glinting, swirling swarms fairly thicken the blast,
and all the air, as well as the rocks and trees, is as one smothering
mass of bloom, through the midst of which at close intervals come the
low, intense thunder-tones of the avalanches as they speed on their
way to fill the vast fountain hollows. Here they seem at last to have
found rest. But this rest is only apparent. Gradually the loose
crystals by the pressure of their own weight are welded together into
clear ice, and, as glaciers, march steadily, silently on, with
invisible motion, in broad, deep currents, grinding their way with
irresistible energy to the warmer lowlands, where they vanish in glad,
rejoicing streams.

In the sober weather of Oregon lightning makes but little show. Those
magnificent thunderstorms that so frequently adorn and glorify the sky
of the Mississippi Valley are wanting here. Dull thunder and
lightning may occasionally be seen and heard, but the imposing
grandeur of great storms marching over the landscape with streaming
banners and a network of fire is almost wholly unknown.

Crossing the Cascade Range, we pass from a green to a gray country,
from a wilderness of trees to a wilderness of open plains, level or
rolling or rising here and there into hills and short mountain spurs.
Though well supplied with rivers in most of its main sections, it is
generally dry. The annual rainfall is only from about five to fifteen
inches, and the thin winter garment of snow seldom lasts more than a
month or two, though the temperature in many places falls from five to
twenty-five degrees below zero for a short time. That the snow is
light over eastern Oregon, and the average temperature not intolerably
severe, is shown by the fact that large droves of sheep, cattle, and
horses live there through the winter without other food or shelter
than they find for themselves on the open plains or down in the sunken
valleys and gorges along the streams.

When we read of the mountain ranges of Oregon and Washington with
detailed descriptions of their old volcanoes towering snow-laden and
glacier-laden above the clouds, one may be led to imagine that the
country is far icier and whiter and more mountainous than it is. Only
in winter are the Coast and Cascade Mountains covered with snow. Then
as seen from the main interior valleys they appear as comparatively
low, bossy walls stretching along the horizon and making a magnificent
display of their white wealth. The Coast Range in Oregon does not
perhaps average more than three thousand feet in height. Its snow
does not last long, most of its soil is fertile all the way to the
summits, and the greater part of the range may at some time be brought
under cultivation. The immense deposits on the great central uplift
of the Cascade Range are mostly melted off before the middle of summer
by the comparatively warm winds and rains from the coast, leaving only
a few white spots on the highest ridges, where the depth from drifting
has been greatest, or where the rate of waste has been diminished by
specially favorable conditions as to exposure. Only the great
volcanic cones are truly snow-clad all the year, and these are not
numerous and make but a small portion of the general landscape.

As we approach Oregon from the coast in summer, no hint of snowy
mountains can be seen, and it is only after we have sailed into the
country by the Columbia, or climbed some one of the commanding
summits, that the great white peaks send us greeting and make telling
advertisements of themselves and of the country over which they rule.
So, also, in coming to Oregon from the east the country by no means
impresses one as being surpassingly mountainous, the abode of peaks
and glaciers. Descending the spurs of the Rocky Mountains into the
basin of the Columbia, we see hot, hundred-mile plains, roughened here
the there by hills and ridges that look hazy and blue in the distance,
until we have pushed well to the westward. Then one white point after
another comes into sight to refresh the eye and the imagination; but
they are yet a long way off, and have much to say only to those who
know them or others of their kind. How grand they are, though
insignificant-looking on the edge of the vast landscape! What noble
woods they nourish, and emerald meadows and gardens! What springs and

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