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The Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, Oregon and California by Brevet Col. J.C. Fremont

Part 4 out of 9

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wreath of smoke, accompanied by a regular noise. This hole had been
noticed by Dr. Wislizenus, a gentleman who had several years since passed
by this place, and who remarked, with very nice observation, that smelling
the gas which issued from the orifice produced a sensation of giddiness
and nausea. Mr. Preuss and myself repeated the observation, and were so
well satisfied with its correctness, that we did not find it pleasant to
continue the experiment, as the sensation of giddiness which it produced
was certainly strong and decided. A huge emigrant wagon, with a large and
diversified family had overtaken us and halted to noon at our encampment;
and, while we were sitting at the spring, a band of boys and girls, with
two or three young men, came up, one of whom I asked to stoop down and
smell the gas, desirous to satisfy myself further of its effects. But his
natural caution had been awakened by the singular and suspicious features
of the place, and he declined my proposal decidedly, and with a few
indistinct remarks about the devil, whom he seemed to consider the
_genius loci_. The ceaseless motion and the play of the fountain, the
red rock and the green trees near, make this a picturesque spot.

A short distance above the spring, and near the foot of the same spur, is
a very remarkable, yellow-colored rock, soft and friable, consisting
principally of carbonate of lime and oxide of iron, of regular structure,
which is probably a fossil coral. The rocky bank along the shore between
the Steamboat spring and our encampment, along which is dispersed the
water from the hills, is composed entirely of strata of a calcareous
_tufa_, with the remains of moss and reed-like grasses, which is
probably the formation of springs. The _Beer_ or _Soda springs_,
which have given name to this locality, are agreeable, but less highly
flavored than the Boiling springs at the foot of Pike's peak, which are of
the same character. They are very numerous, and half hidden by tufts of
grass, which we amused ourselves in removing and searching about for more
highly impregnated springs. They are some of them deep, and of various
sizes--sometimes several yards in diameter, and kept in constant motion by
columns of escaping gas. By analysis, one quart of the water contains as


Sulphate of magnesia------------ 12.10
Sulphate of lime---------------- 2.12
Carbonate of lime--------------- 3.86
Carbonate of magnesia----------- 3.22
Chloride of calcium------------- 1.33
Chloride of magnesium----------- 1.12
Chloride of sodium-------------- 2.24
Vegetable extractive matter, &c-- 0.85

The carbonic acid, originally contained in the water, had mainly escaped
before it was subjected to analysis; and it was not, therefore, taken into

In the afternoon I wandered about among the cedars, which occupy the
greater part of the bottom towards the mountains. The soil here has a dry
and calcined appearance; in some places, the open grounds are covered with
saline efflorescences, and there are a number of regularly-shaped and very
remarkable hills, which are formed of a succession of convex strata that
have been deposited by the waters of extinct springs, the orifices of
which are found on their summits, some of them having the form of funnel-
shaped cones. Others of these remarkably-shaped hills are of a red-colored
earth, entirely bare, and composed principally of carbonate of lime, with
oxide of iron, formed in the same manner. Walking near one of them, on the
summit of which the springs were dry, my attention was attracted by an
underground noise, around which I circled repeatedly, until I found the
spot from beneath which it came; and, removing the red earth, discovered a
hidden spring, which was boiling up from below, with the same disagreeable
metallic taste as the Steamboat spring. Continuing up the bottom, and
crossing the little stream which has been already mentioned, I visited
several remarkable red and white hills, which had attracted my attention
from the road in the morning. These are immediately upon the stream, and,
like those already mentioned, are formed by the deposition of successive
strata from the springs. On their summits, the orifices through which the
waters had been discharged were so large, that they resembled miniature
craters, being some of them several feet in diameter, circular, and
regularly formed as if by art. At a former time, when these dried-up
fountains were all in motion, they must have made a beautiful display on a
grand scale; and nearly all this basin appears to me to have been formed
under their action, and should be called the _place of fountains_. At
the foot of one of these hills, or rather on its side near the base, are
several of these small limestone columns, about one foot in diameter at
the base, and tapering upwards to a height of three or four feet; and on
the summit the water is boiling up and bubbling over, constantly adding to
the height of the little obelisks. In some, the water only boils up, no
longer overflowing, and has here the same taste as at the Steamboat
spring. The observer will remark a gradual subsidence in the water, which
formerly supplied the fountains; as on all the summits of the hills the
springs are now dry, and are found only low down upon their sides, or on
the surrounding plain.

A little higher up the creek its banks are formed by strata of very heavy
and hard scoriaceous basalt, having a bright metallic lustre when broken.
The mountains overlooking the plain are of an entirely different
geological character. Continuing on, I walked to the summit of one of
them, where the principal rock was a granular quartz. Descending the
mountains, and returning towards the camp along the base of the ridge
which skirts the plain, I found, at the foot of a mountain spur, and
issuing from a compact rock of a dark blue color, a great number of
springs having the same pungent and disagreeably metallic taste already
mentioned, the water of which was collected into a very remarkable basin,
whose singularity, perhaps, made it appear to me very beautiful. It is
large--perhaps fifty yards in circumference; and in it the water is
contained, at an elevation of several feet above the surrounding ground,
by a wall of calcareous _tufa_, composed principally of the remains
of mosses, three or four, and sometimes ten feet high. The water within is
very clear and pure, and three or four feet deep, where it could be
measured, near the wall; and at a considerably low level, is another pond
or basin of very clear water, and apparently of considerable depth, from
the bottom of which the gas was escaping in bubbling columns at many
places. This water was collected into a small stream, which, in a few
hundred yards, sank under ground, reappearing among the rocks between the
two great springs near the river, which it entered by a little fall.

Late in the afternoon I set out on my return to the camp, and, crossing in
the way a large field of salt that was several inches deep, found on my
arrival that our emigrant friends, who had been encamped in company with
us, had resumed their journey, and the road had again assumed its solitary
character. The temperature of the largest of the _Beer_ springs at
our encampment was 65 deg. at sunset, that of the air being 62.5 deg.. Our
barometric observation gave 5,840 feet for the elevation above the gulf,
being about 500 feet lower than the Boiling springs, which are of a
similar nature, at the foot of Pike's peak. The astronomical observations
gave for our latitude 42 deg. 39' 57", and 111 deg. 46' 00" for the longitude.
The night was very still and cloudless, and I sat up for an observation of
the first satellite of Jupiter, the emersion of which took place about
midnight; but fell asleep at the telescope, awaking just a few minutes
after the appearance of the star.

The morning of the 26th was calm, and the sky without clouds, but smoky,
and the temperature at sunrise 28.5 deg.. At the same time, the temperature of
the large Beer spring, where we were encamped, was 56 deg.; that of the
Steamboat spring 87 deg., and that of the steam-hole, near it, 81.5 deg.. In the
course of the morning, the last wagons of the emigration passed by, and we
were again left in our place, in the rear.

Remaining in camp until nearly 11 o'clock, we traveled a short distance
down the river, and halted to noon on the bank, at a point where the road
quits the valley of Bear river, and, crossing a ridge which divides the
Great basin from the Pacific waters, reaches Fort Hall, by way of the
Portneuf river, in a distance of probably fifty miles, or two and a half
days' journey for wagons. An examination of the great lake which is the
outlet of this river, and the principal feature of geographical interest
in the basin, was one of the main objects contemplated in the general plan
of our survey, and I accordingly determined at this place to leave the
road, and, after having completed a reconnoissance of the lake, regain it
subsequently at Fort Hall. But our little stock of provisions had again
become extremely low; we had only dried meat sufficient for one meal, and
our supply of flour and other comforts was entirely exhausted. I therefore
immediately dispatched one of the party, Henry Lee, with a note to Carson,
at Fort Hall, directing him to load a pack-horse with whatever could be
obtained there in the way of provisions, and endeavor to overtake me on
the river. In the mean time, we had picked up along the road two tolerably
well-grown calves, which would have become food for wolves, and which had
probably been left by some of the earlier emigrants, none of those we had
met having made any claim to them; and on these I mainly relied for
support during our circuit to the lake.

In sweeping around the point of the mountain which runs down into the
bend, the river here passes between perpendicular walls of basalt, which
always fix the attention, from the regular form in which it occurs, and
its perfect distinctness from the surrounding rocks among which it had
been placed. The mountain, which is rugged and steep, and, by our
measurement, 1,400 feet above the river directly opposite the place of our
halt, is called the _Sheep-rock_--probably because a flock of the
mountain sheep (_ovis montana_) had been seen on the craggy point.

As we were about resuming our march in the afternoon, I was attracted by
the singular appearance of an isolated hill with a concave summit, in the
plain, about two miles from the river, and turned off towards it, while
the camp proceeded on its way southward in search of the lake. I found the
thin and stony soil of the plain entirely underlaid by the basalt which
forms the river walls; and when I reached the neighborhood of the hill,
the surface of the plain was rent into frequent fissures and chasms of the
same scoriated volcanic rock, from 40 to 60 feet deep, but which there was
not sufficient light to penetrate entirely, and which I had not time to
descend. Arrived at the summit of the hill, I found that it terminated in
a very perfect crater, of an oval, or nearly circular form, 360 paces in
circumference, and 60 feet at the greatest depth. The walls, which were
perfectly vertical, and disposed like masonry in a very regular manner,
were composed of a brown-colored scoriaceous lava, similar to the light
scoriaceous lava of Mt. Etna, Vesuvius, and other volcanoes. The faces of
the walls were reddened and glazed by the fire, in which they had been
melted, and which had left them contorted and twisted by its violent

Our route luring the afternoon was a little rough, being (in the direction
we had taken) over a volcanic plain, where our progress was sometimes
obstructed by fissures, and black beds, composed of fragments of the rock.
On both sides, the mountains appeared very broken, but tolerably well

Crossing a point of ridge which makes in to the river, we fell upon it
again before sunset, and encamped on the right bank, opposite to the
encampment of three lodges of Snake Indians. They visited us during the
evening, and we obtained from them a small quantity of roots of different
kinds, in exchange for goods. Among them was a sweet root of very pleasant
flavor, having somewhat the taste of preserved quince. My endeavors to
become acquainted with the plants which furnish to the Indians a portion
of their support, were only gradually successful, and after long and
persevering attention; and even after obtaining, I did not succeed in
preserving them until they could be satisfactorily determined. In this
portion of the journey, I found this particular root cut up into small
pieces, that it was only to be identified by its taste, when the bulb was
met with in perfect form among the Indians lower down on the Columbia,
among whom it is the highly celebrated kamas. It was long afterwards, on
our return through Upper California, that I found the plant itself in
bloom, which I supposed to furnish the kamas root, (_camassia
esculenta_.) The root diet had a rather mournful effect at the
commencement, and one of the calves was killed this evening for food. The
animals fared well on rushes.

27th.--The morning was cloudy, with appearance of rain, and the
thermometer at sunrise at 29 deg.. Making an unusually early start, we crossed
the river at a good ford; and, following for about three hours a trail
which led along the bottom, we entered a labyrinth of hills below the main
ridge, and halted to noon in the ravine of a pretty little stream,
timbered with cottonwood of a large size, ash-leaved maple, with cherry
and other shrubby trees. The hazy weather, which had prevented any very
extended views since entering the Green River valley, began now to
disappear. There was a slight rain in the earlier part of the day, and at
noon, when the thermometer had risen to 79.5 deg., we had a bright sun, with
blue sky and scattered _cumuli_. According to the barometer, our halt
there among the hills was at an elevation of 5,320 feet. Crossing a
dividing ridge in the afternoon, we followed down another little Bear
River tributary, to the point where it emerged on an open green flat among
the hills, timbered with groves, and bordered with cane thickets, but
without water. A pretty little rivulet coming out of the hillside, and
overhung by tall flowering plants of a species I had not hitherto seen,
furnished us with a good camping-place. The evening was cloudy, the
temperature at sunset 69 deg., and the elevation 5,140 feet. Among the plants
occurring along the road during the day, _epinettes des prairies_
(grindelia squarraso) was in considerable abundance, and is among the very
few plants remaining in bloom--the whole country having now an autumnal
appearance, in the crisp and yellow plants, and dried-up grasses. Many
cranes were seen during the day, with a few antelope, very shy and wild.

28th.--During the night we had a thunder-storm, with moderate rain, which
has made the air this morning very clear, the thermometer being at 55 deg..
Leaving our encampment at the _Cane spring_, and quitting the trail
on which we had been traveling, and which would probably have afforded us
a good road to the lake, we crossed some very deep ravines, and, in about
an hour's traveling, again reached the river. We were now in a valley five
or six miles wide, between mountain ranges, which, about thirty miles
below, appeared to close up and terminate the valley, leaving for the
river only a very narrow pass, or canon, behind which we imagined we would
find the broad waters of the lake. We made the usual halt at the mouth of
a small clear stream, having a slightly mineral taste, (perhaps of salt,)
4,760 feet above the gulf. In the afternoon we climbed a very steep sandy
hill; and after a slow and winding day's march of 27 miles, encamped at a
slough on the river. There were great quantities of geese and, ducks, of
which only a few were shot; the Indians having probably made them very
wild. The men employed themselves in fishing but caught nothing. A skunk,
(_mephitis Americana_,) which was killed in the afternoon, made a
supper for one of the messes. The river is bordered occasionally with
fields of cane, which we regarded as an indication of our approach to a
lake-country. We had frequent showers of rain during the night, with

29th.--The thermometer at sunrise was 54 deg., with air from the NW., and dark
rainy clouds moving on the horizon; rain squalls and bright sunshine by
intervals. I rode ahead with Basil to explore the country, and, continuing
about three miles along the river, turned directly off on a trail running
towards three marked gaps in the bordering range, where the mountains
appeared cut through their bases, towards which the river plain rose
gradually. Putting our horses into a gallop on some fresh tracks which
showed very plainly in the wet path, we came suddenly upon a small party
of Shoshonee Indians, who had fallen into the trail from the north. We
could only communicate by signs; but they made us understand that the road
through the chain was a very excellent one, leading into a broad valley
which ran to the southward. We halted to noon at what may be called the
gate of the pass; on either side of which were huge mountains of rock,
between which stole a little pure water stream, with a margin just
sufficiently large for our passage. From the river, the plain had
gradually risen to an altitude of 5,500 feet, and, by meridian
observation, the latitude of the entrance was 42 deg..

In the interval of our usual halt, several of us wandered along up the
stream to examine the pass more at leisure. Within the gate, the rocks
receded a little back, leaving a very narrow, but most beautiful valley,
through which the little stream wound its way, hidden by the different
kinds of trees and shrubs--aspen, maple, willow, cherry, and elder; a fine
verdure of smooth short grass spread over the remaining space to the bare
sides of the rocky walls. These were of a blue limestone, which
constitutes the mountain here; and opening directly on the grassy bottom
were several curious caves, which appeared to be inhabited by root-
diggers. On one side was gathered a heap of leaves for a bed, and they
were dry, open, and pleasant. On the roofs of the caves I remarked
bituminous exudations from the rock.

The trail was an excellent one for pack-horses; but as it sometimes
crossed a shelving point, to avoid the shrubbery we were obliged in
several places to open a road for the carriage through the wood. A squaw
on horseback, accompanied by five or six dogs, entered the pass in the
afternoon; but was too much terrified at finding herself in such
unexpected company to make any pause for conversation, and hurried off at
a good pace--being, of course, no further disturbed than by an
accelerating shout. She was well and showily dressed, and was probably
going to a village encamped somewhere near, and evidently did not belong
to the tribe of _root-diggers_. We now had entered a country
inhabited by these people; and as in the course of the voyage we shall
frequently meet with them in various stages of existence, it will be well
to inform you that, scattered over the great region west of the Rocky
mountains, and south of the Great Snake river, are numerous Indians whose
subsistence is almost solely derived from roots and seeds, and such small
animals as chance and great good fortune sometimes bring within their
reach. They are miserably poor, armed only with bows and arrows, or clubs;
and, as the country they inhabit is almost destitute of game, they have no
means of obtaining better arms. In the northern part of the region just
mentioned, they live generally in solitary families; and farther to the
south they are gathered together in villages. Those who live together in
villages, strengthened by association, are in exclusive possession of the
more genial and richer parts of the country; while the others are driven
to the ruder mountains, and to the more inhospitable parts of the country.
But by simply observing, in accompanying us along our road, you will
become better acquainted with these people than we could make you in any
other than a very long description, and you will find them worthy of your

Roots, seeds, and grass, every vegetable that affords any nourishment, and
every living animal thing, insect or worm, they eat. Nearly approaching to
the lower animal creation, their sole employment is to obtain food; and
they are constantly occupied in struggling to support existence.

The most remarkable feature of the pass is the _Standing rock_, which
has fallen from the cliffs above, and standing perpendicularly near the
middle of the valley, presents itself like a watch-tower in the pass. It
will give you a tolerably correct idea of the character of the scenery in
this country, where generally the mountains rise abruptly up from
comparatively unbroken plains and level valleys; but it will entirely fail
in representing the picturesque beauty of this delightful place, where a
green valley, full of foliage and a hundred yards wide, contrasts with
naked crags that spire up into a blue line of pinnacles 3,000 feet above,
sometimes crested with cedar and pine, and sometimes ragged and bare.

The detention that we met with in opening the road, and perhaps a
willingness to linger on the way, made the afternoon's travel short; and
about two miles from the entrance, we passed through another gate, and
encamped on the stream at the junction of a little fork from the
southward, around which the mountains stooped more gently down, forming a
small open cove.

As it was still early in the afternoon, Basil and myself in one direction,
and Mr. Preuss in another, set out to explore the country, and ascended
different neighboring peaks, in the hope of seeing some indications of the
lake; but though our elevation afforded magnificent views, the eye ranging
over a large extent of Bear river, with the broad and fertile _Cache
valley_ in the direction of our search, was only to be seen a bed of
apparently impracticable mountains. Among these, the trail we had been
following turned sharply to the northward, and it began to be doubtful if
it would not lead us away from the object of our destination; but I
nevertheless determined to keep it, in the belief that it would eventually
bring us right. A squall of rain drove us out of the mountain, and it was
late when we reached the camp. The evening closed in with frequent showers
of rain, with some lightning and thunder.

30th.--We had constant thunder-storms during the night, but in the morning
the clouds were sinking to the horizon, and the air was clear and cold,
with the thermometer at sunrise at 39 deg.. Elevation by barometer 5,580 feet.
We were in motion early, continuing up the little stream without
encountering any ascent where a horse would not easily gallop; and,
crossing a slight dividing ground at the summit, descended upon a small
stream, along which continued the same excellent road. In riding through
the pass, numerous cranes were seen; and prairie hens, or grouse,
(_bonasia umbellus_,) which lately had been rare, were very abundant.

This little affluent brought us to a larger stream, down which we traveled
through a more open bottom, on a level road, where heavily-laden wagons
could pass without obstacle. The hills on the right grew lower, and, on
entering a more open country, we discovered a Shoshonee village; and being
desirous to obtain information, and purchase from them some roots and
berries, we halted on the river, which was lightly wooded with cherry,
willow, maple, service-berry, and aspen. A meridian observation of the
sun, which I obtained here, gave 42 deg. 14' 22" for our latitude, and the
barometer indicated a height of 5,170 feet. A number of Indians came
immediately over to visit us, and several men were sent to the village
with goods, tobacco, knives, cloth, vermilion, and the usual trinkets, to
exchange for provisions. But they had no game of any kind; and it was
difficult to obtain any roots from them, as they were miserably poor, and
had but little to spare from their winter stock of provisions. Several of
the Indians drew aside their blankets, showing me their lean and bony
figures; and I would not any longer tempt them with a display of our
merchandise to part with their wretched subsistence, when they gave as a
reason that it would expose them to temporary starvation. A great portion
of the region inhabited by this nation, formerly abounded in game--the
buffalo ranging about in herds, as we had found them on the eastern
waters, and the plains dotted with scattered bands of antelope; but so
rapidly have they disappeared within a few years, that now, as we
journeyed along, an occasional buffalo skull and a few wild antelope were
all that remained of the abundance which had covered the country with
animal life.

The extraordinary rapidity with which the buffalo is disappearing from our
territories will not appear surprising when we remember the great scale on
which their destruction is yearly carried on. With inconsiderable
exceptions, the business of the American trading-posts is carried on in
their skins; every year the Indian villages make new lodges, for which the
skin of the buffalo furnishes the material; and in that portion of the
country where they are still found, the Indians derive their entire
support from them, and slaughter them with a thoughtless and abominable
extravagance. Like the Indians themselves, they have been a characteristic
of the Great West; and as, like them, they are visibly diminishing, it
will be interesting to throw a glance backward through the last twenty
years, and give some account of their former distribution through the
country, and the limit of their western range.

The information is derived principally from Mr. Fitzpatrick, supported by
my own personal knowledge and acquaintance with the country. Our knowledge
does not go farther back than the spring of 1824, at which time the
buffalo were spread in immense numbers over the Green River and Bear River
valleys, and through all the country lying between the Colorado, or Green
river of the Gulf of California, and Lewis's fork of the Columbia river;
the meridian of Fort Hall then forming the western limit of their range.
The buffalo then remained for many years in that country, and frequently
moved down the valley of the Columbia, on both sides of the river as far
as the _Fishing falls_. Below this point they never descended in any
numbers. About the year 1834 or 1835 they began to diminish very rapidly,
and continued to decrease until 1838 or 1840, when, with the country we
have just described, they entirely abandoned all the waters of the Pacific
north of Lewis's fork of the Columbia. At that time, the Flathead Indians
were in the habit of finding their buffalo on the heads of Salmon river,
and other streams of the Columbia; but now they never meet with them
farther west than the three forks of the Missouri, or the plains of the
Yellow-stone river.

In the course of our journey it will be remarked that the buffalo have not
so entirely abandoned the waters of the Pacific, in the Rocky-Mountain
region south of the Sweet Water, as in the country north of the Great
Pass. This partial distribution can only be accounted for in the great
pastoral beauty of that country, which bears marks of having been one of
their favorite haunts, and by the fact that the white hunters have more
frequented the northern than the southern region--it being north of the
South Pass that the hunters, trappers, and traders, have had their
rendezvous for many years past; and from that section also the greater
portion of the beaver and rich furs were taken, although always the most
dangerous as well as the most profitable hunting-ground.

In that region lying between the Green or Colorado river and the head-
waters of the Rio del Norte, over the _Yampah, Kooyah, White_, and
_Grand_ rivers--all of which are the waters of the Colorado--the
buffalo never extended so far to the westward as they did on the waters of
the Columbia; and only in one or two instances have they been known to
descend as far west as the mouth of White river. In traveling through the
country west of the Rocky mountains, observation readily led me to the
impression that the buffalo had, for the first time, crossed that range to
the waters of the Pacific only a few years prior to the period we are
considering; and in this opinion I am sustained by Mr. Fitzpatrick, and
the older trappers in that country. In the region west of the Rocky
mountains, we never meet with any of the ancient vestiges which,
throughout all the country lying upon their eastern waters, are found in
the _great highways_, continuous for hundreds of miles, always
several inches, and sometimes several feet in depth, which the buffalo
have made in crossing from one river to another, or in traversing the
mountain ranges. The Snake Indians, more particularly those low down upon
Lewis's fork, have always been very grateful to the American trappers, for
the great kindness (as they frequently expressed it) which they did to
them, in driving the buffalo so low down the Columbia river.

The extraordinary abundance of the buffalo on the east side of the Rocky
mountains, and their extraordinary diminution, will be made clearly
evident from the following statement: At any time between the years 1824
and 1836, a traveler might start from any given point south or north in
the Rocky Mountain range, journeying by the most direct route to the
Missouri river; and, during the whole distance, his road would always be
among large bands of buffalo, which would never be out of his view until
he arrived almost within sight of the abodes of civilization.

At this time, the buffalo occupy but a very limited space, principally
along the eastern base of the Rocky mountains, sometimes extending at
their southern extremity to a considerable distance into the plains
between the Platte and Arkansas rivers, and along the eastern frontier of
New Mexico as far south as Texas.

The following statement, which I owe to the kindness of Mr. Sanford, a
partner in the American Fur Company, will further illustrate this subject,
by extensive knowledge acquired during several years of travel through the
region inhabited by the buffalo:

"The total amount of robes annually traded by ourselves and others will
not be found to differ much from the following statement:


American Fur Company 70,000
Hudson's Bay Company 10,000
All other companies, probably 10,000
Making a total of 90,000
as an average annual return for the last eight or ten years.

"In the northwest, the Hudson's Bay Company purchase from the Indians but
a very small number--their only market being Canada, to which the cost of
transportation nearly equals the produce of the furs; and it is only
within a very recent period that they have received buffalo robes in
trade; and out of the great number of buffalo annually killed throughout
the extensive region inhabited by the Camanches and other kindred tribes,
no robes whatever are furnished for trade. During only four months of the
year, (from November until March,) the skins are good for dressing; those
obtained in the remaining eight months are valueless to traders; and the
hides of bulls are never taken off or dressed as robes at any season.
Probably not more than one-third of the skins are taken from the animals
killed, even when they are in good season, the labor of preparing and
dressing the robes being very great; and it is seldom that a lodge trades
more than twenty skins in a year. It is during the summer months, and in
the early part of autumn, that the greatest number of buffalo are killed,
and yet at this time a skin is never taken for the purpose of trade."

From these data, which are certainly limited, and decidedly within bounds,
the reader is left to draw his own inference of the immense number
annually killed.

In 1842, I found the Sioux Indians of the Upper Platte _demontes_, as
their French traders expressed it, with the failure of the buffalo; and in
the following year, large villages from the Upper Missouri came over to
the mountains at the heads of the Platte, in search of them. The rapidly
progressive failure of their principal, and almost their only means of
subsistence, has created great alarm among them; and at this time there
are only two modes presented to them, by which they see a good prospect
for escaping starvation: one of these is to rob the settlements along the
frontier of the States; and the other is to form a league between the
various tribes of the Sioux nation, the Cheyennes, and Arapahoes, and make
war against the Crow nation, in order to take from them their country,
which is now the best buffalo country in the west. This plan they now have
in consideration; and it would probably be a war of extermination, as the
Crows have long been advised of this state of affairs, and say that they
are perfectly prepared. These are the best warriors in the Rocky
mountains, and are now allied with the Snake Indians; and it is probable
that their combination would extend itself to the Utahs, who have long
been engaged in war against the Sioux. It is in this section of country
that my observation formerly led me to recommend the establishment of a
military post.

The farther course of our narrative will give fuller and more detailed
information of the present disposition of the buffalo in the country we

Among the roots we obtained here, I could distinguish only five or six
different kinds; and the supply of the Indians whom we met consisted
principally of yampah, (_anethum graveolens_,) tobacoo-root,
(_valeriana_,) and a large root of a species of thistle, (_circium
Virginianum_,) which now is occasionally abundant and is a very
agreeably flavored vegetable.

We had been detained so long at the village, that in the afternoon we made
only five miles, and encamped on the same river after a day's journey of
19 miles. The Indians informed us that we should reach the big salt water
after having slept twice and traveling in a south direction. The stream
had here entered nearly a level plain or valley, of good soil, eight or
ten miles broad, to which no termination was to be seen, and lying between
ranges of mountains which, on the right, were grassy and smooth, unbroken
by rock, and lower than on the left, where they were rocky and bald,
increasing in height to the southward. On the creek were fringes of young
willows, older trees being rarely found on the plains, where the Indians
burn the surface to produce better grass. Several magpies (_pica
Hudsopica_) were seen on the creek this afternoon; and a rattlesnake
was killed here, the first which had been seen since leaving the eastern
plains. Our camp to-night had such a hungry appearance that I suffered the
little cow to be killed, and divided the roots and berries among the
people. A number of Indians from the village encamped near.

The weather the next morning was clear, the thermometer at sunrise at
44.5 deg.; and, continuing down the valley, in about five miles we followed
the little creek of our encampment to its junction with a larger stream,
called _Roseaux_, or Reed river. Immediately opposite, on the right,
the range was gathered into its highest peak, sloping gradually low, and
running off to a point apparently some forty or fifty miles below. Between
this (now become the valley stream) and the foot of the mountains, we
journeyed along a handsome sloping level, which frequent springs from the
hills made occasionally miry, and halted to noon at a swampy spring, where
there were good grass and abundant rushes. Here the river was forty feet
wide, with a considerable current, and the valley a mile and a half in
breadth; the soil being generally good, of a dark color, and apparently
well adapted to cultivation. The day had become bright and pleasant, with
the thermometer at 71 deg.. By observation, our latitude was 41 deg. 59' 31", and
the elevation above the sea 4,670 feet. On our left, this afternoon, the
range at long intervals formed itself into peaks, appearing to terminate,
about forty miles below, in a rocky cape, beyond which several others were
faintly visible; and we were disappointed when, at every little rise, we
did not see the lake. Towards evening, our way was somewhat obstructed by
fields of _artemisia_, which began to make their appearance here, and
we encamped on the Roseaux, the water of which had acquired a decidedly
salt taste, nearly opposite to a canon gap in the mountains, through which
the Bear river enters this valley. As we encamped, the night set in dark
and cold, with heavy rain, and the artemisia, which was our only wood, was
so wet that it would not burn. A poor, nearly starved dog, with a wound in
his side from a ball, came to the camp, and remained with us until the
winter, when he met a very unexpected fate.


1st.--The morning was squally and cold; the sky scattered over with
clouds; and the night had been so uncomfortable, that we were not on the
road until eight o'clock. Traveling between Roseaux and Bear rivers, we
continued to descend the valley, which gradually expanded, as we advanced,
into a level plain, of good soil, about 25 miles in breadth, between
mountains 3,000 and 4,000 feet high, rising suddenly to the clouds, which
all day rested upon the peaks. These gleamed out in the occasional
sunlight, mantled with the snow, which had fallen upon them, while it
rained on us in the valley below, of which the elevation here was 4,500
feet above the sea. The country before us plainly indicated that we were
approaching the lake, though, as the ground we were traveling afforded no
elevated point, nothing of it as yet could be seen; and at a great
distance ahead were several isolated mountains resembling islands, which
they were afterwards found to be. On this upper plain, the grass was
everywhere dead; and among the shrubs with which it was almost exclusively
occupied, (artemisia being the most abundant,) frequently occurred
handsome clusters of several species of _dieteria_ in bloom.
_Purshia tridentata_ was among the frequent shrubs. Descending to the
bottoms of Bear river, we found good grass for the animals, and encamped
about 300 yards above the mouth of Roseaux, which here makes its junction,
without communicating any of its salty taste to the main stream, of which
the water remains perfectly pure. On the river are only willow thickets,
(_salix longifolia_,) and in the bottoms the abundant plants are
canes, soldiago, and helianthi, and along the banks of Roseaux are fields
of _malva rotundifolia_. At sunset the thermometer was at 54.5 deg., and
the evening clear and calm; but I deferred making any use of it until one
o'clock in the morning, when I endeavored to obtain an emersion of the
first satellite; but it was lost in a bank of clouds, which also rendered
our usual observations indifferent.

Among the useful things which formed a portion of our equipage, was an
India-rubber boat, 18 feet long, made somewhat in the form of a bark canoe
of the northern lakes. The sides were formed by two air-tight cylinders,
eighteen inches in diameter, connected with others forming the bow and
stern. To lessen the danger from accidents to the boat, these were divided
into four different compartments, and the interior space was sufficiently
large to contain five or six persons, and a considerable weight of
baggage. The Roseaux being too deep to be forded, our boat was filled with
air, and in about one hour all the equipage of the camp, carriage and gun
included, ferried across. Thinking that perhaps in the course of the day
we might reach the outlet of the lake, I got into the boat with Basil
Lajeunesse, and paddled down Bear river, intending at night to rejoin the
party, which in the mean time proceeded on its way. The river was from
sixty to one hundred yards broad, and the water so deep, that even on the
comparatively shallow points we could not reach the bottom with 15 feet.
On either side were alternately low bottoms and willow points, with an
occasional high prairie; and for five or six hours we followed slowly the
winding course of the river, which crept along with a sluggish current
among frequent _detours_ several miles around, sometimes running for
a considerable distance directly up the valley. As we were stealing
quietly down the stream, trying in vain to get a shot at a strange large
bird that was numerous among the willows, but very shy, we came
unexpectedly upon several families of _Root-Diggers_, who were
encamped among the rushes on the shore, and appeared very busy about
several weirs or nets which had been rudely made of canes and rushes for
the purpose of catching fish. They were very much startled at our
appearance, but we soon established an acquaintance; and finding that they
had some roots, I promised to send some men with goods to trade with them.
They had the usual very large heads, remarkable among the Digger tribe,
with matted hair, and were almost entirely naked: looking very poor and
miserable, as if their lives had been spent in the rushes where they were,
beyond which they seemed to have very little knowledge of any thing. From
the words we could comprehend, their language was that of the Snake

Our boat moved so heavily, that we had made very little progress; and,
finding that it would be impossible to overtake the camp, as soon as we
were sufficiently far below the Indians, we put to the shore near a high
prairie bank, hauled up the boat, and _cached_ our effects in the
willows. Ascending the bank, we found that our desultory labor had brought
us only a few miles in a direct line; and, going out into the prairie,
after a search we found the trail of the camp, which was nowhere in sight,
but had followed the general course of the river in a large circular sweep
which it makes at this place. The sun was about three hours high when we
found the trail; and as our people had passed early in the day, we had the
prospect of a vigorous walk before us. Immediately where we landed, the
high arable plain on which we had been traveling, for several days past,
terminated in extensive low flats, very generally occupied by salt
marshes, or beds of shallow lakes, whence the water had in most places
evaporated, leaving their hard surface incrusted with a shining white
residuum; and absolutely covered with very small _univalve_ shells.
As we advanced, the whole country around us assumed this appearance; and
there was no other vegetation than the shrubby chenopodiaceous and other
apparently saline plants, which were confined to the rising grounds. Here
and there, on the river bank, which was raised like a levee above the
flats through which it ran, was a narrow border of grass and short black-
burnt willows; the stream being very deep and sluggish, and sometimes six
hundred to eight hundred feet wide. After a rapid walk of about fifteen
miles, we caught sight of the camp-fires among clumps of willows, just as
the sun had sunk behind the mountains on the west side of the valley,
filling the clear sky with a golden yellow. These last rays, to us so
precious, could not have revealed a more welcome sight. To the traveler
and the hunter, a camp-fire in the lonely wilderness is always cheering;
and to ourselves, in our present situation, after a hard march in a region
of novelty, approaching the _debouches_ of a river, in a lake of
almost fabulous reputation, it was doubly so. A plentiful supper of
aquatic birds, and the interest of the scene, soon dissipated fatigue; and
I obtained during the night emersions of the second, third, and fourth
satellites of Jupiter, with observations for time and latitude.

3d.--The morning was clear, with a light air from the north, and the
thermometer at sunrise at 45.5 deg.. At three in the morning, Basil was sent
back with several men and horses for the boat, which, in a direct course
across the flats, was not ten miles distant; and in the mean time there
was a pretty spot of grass here for the animals. The ground was so low
that we could not get high enough to see across the river, on account of
the willows; but we were evidently in the vicinity of the lake, and the
water-fowl made this morning a noise like thunder. A pelican (_pelecanus
onocrotalus_) was killed as he passed by, and many geese and ducks flew
over the camp. On the dry salt marsh here is scarce any other plant than
_salicornia herbacea_.

In the afternoon the men returned with the boat, bringing with them a
small quantity of roots and some meat, which the Indians had told them was

Descending the river for about three miles, in the afternoon, we found a
bar to any further traveling in that direction--the stream being spread
out in several branches, and covering the low grounds with water, where
the miry nature of the bottom did not permit any further advance. We were
evidently on the border of the lake, although the rushes and canes which
covered the marshes prevented any view; and we accordingly encamped at the
little _delta_ which forms the mouth of Bear river--a long arm of the
lake stretching up to the north, between us and the opposite mountains.
The river was bordered with a fringe of willows and canes, among which
were interspersed a few plants; and scattered about on the marsh was a
species of _uniola_, closely allied to _U. spicata_ of our sea-
coast. The whole morass was animated with multitudes of water-fowl, which
appeared to be very wild--rising for the space of a mile round about at
the sound of a gun, with a noise like distant thunder. Several of the
people waded out into the marshes, and we had to-night a delicious supper
of ducks, geese, and plover.

Although the moon was bright, the night was otherwise favorable; and I
obtained this evening an emersion of the first satellite, with the usual
observations. A mean result, depending on various observations made during
our stay in the neighborhood, places the mouth of the river in longitude
112 deg. 19' 30" west from Greenwich; latitude 41 deg. 30' 22"; and, according to
the barometer, in elevation 4,200 feet above the Gulf of Mexico. The night
was clear, with considerable dew, which I had remarked every night since
the first of September. The next morning, while we were preparing to
start, Carson rode into the camp with flour and a few other articles of
light provision sufficient for two or three days--a scanty but very
acceptable supply. Mr. Fitzpatrick had not yet arrived, and provisions
were very scarce, and difficult to be had at Fort Hall, which had been
entirely exhausted by the necessities of the emigrants. He brought me also
a letter from Mr. Dwight, who, in company with several emigrants, had
reached that place in advance of Mr. Fitzpatrick, and was about continuing
his journey to Vancouver.

Returning about five miles up the river, we were occupied until nearly
sunset in crossing to the left bank--the stream, which in the last five or
six miles of its course is very much narrower than above, being very deep
immediately at the banks; and we had great difficulty in getting our
animals over. The people with the baggage were easily crossed in the boat,
and we encamped on the left bank where we crossed the river. At sunset the
thermometer was at 75 deg., and there was some rain during the night, with a
thunder-storm at a distance.

5th.--Before us was evidently the bed of the lake, being a great salt
marsh, perfectly level and bare, whitened in places by saline
efflorescences, with here and there a pool of water, and having the
appearance of a very level seashore at low tide. Immediately along the
river was a very narrow strip of vegetation, consisting of willows,
helianthi, roses, flowering vines, and grass; bordered on the verge of the
great marsh by a fringe of singular plants, which appear to be a shrubby
salicornia, or a genus allied to it.

About 12 miles to the southward was one of those isolated mountains, now
appearing to be a kind of peninsula; and towards this we accordingly
directed our course, as it probably afforded a good view of the lake; but
the deepening mud as we advanced forced us to return towards the river,
and gain the higher ground at the foot of the eastern mountains. Here we
halted for a few minutes at noon, on a beautiful little stream of pure and
remarkably clear water, with a bed of rock _in situ_, on which was an
abundant water-plant with a white blossom. There was good grass in the
bottoms; and, amidst a rather luxuriant growth, its banks were bordered
with a large showy plant, (_eupatorium purpureum_,) which I here saw
for the first time. We named the stream _Clear creek_.

We continued our way along the mountain, having found here a broad
plainly-beaten trail, over what was apparently the shore of the lake in
the spring; the ground being high and firm, and the soil excellent, and
covered with vegetation, among which a leguminous plant (_glycyrrhiza
lepidota_) was a characteristic plant. The ridge here rises abruptly to
the height of about 4,000 feet, its face being very prominently marked
with a massive stratum of rose-colored granular quartz, which is evidently
an altered sedimentary rock, the lines of deposition being very distinct.
It is rocky and steep--divided into several mountains--and the rain in the
valley appears to be always snow on their summits at this season. Near a
remarkably rocky point of the mountain, at a large spring of pure water,
were several hackberry-trees, (_celtis_,) probably a new species, the
berries still green; and a short distance farther, thickets of sumach,

On the plain here I noticed blackbirds and grouse. In about seven miles
from Clear creek, the trail brought us to a place at the foot of the
mountain where there issued, with considerable force, 10 or 12 hot
springs, highly impregnated with salt. In one of these the thermometer
stood at 136 deg., and in another at 132.5 deg., and the water, which was spread
in pools over the low ground, was colored red.

An analysis of the red earthy matter deposited in the bed of the stream
from the springs, gives the following result:

Peroxide of iron------- 33.50
Carbonate of magnesia-- 2.40
Carbonate of lime------ 50.43
Sulphate of lime------- 2.00
Chloride of sodium----- 3.45
Silica and alumina------ 3.00
Water and loss---------- 5.22
100.00 deg.

At this place the trail we had been following turned to the left,
apparently with a view of entering a gorge in the mountain, from which
issued the principal fork of a large and comparatively well-timbered
stream, called Weber's fork. We accordingly turned off towards the lake,
and encamped on this river, which was 100 to 150 feet wide, with high
banks, and very clear pure water, without the slightest indication of

6th.--Leaving the encampment early, we again directed our course for the
peninsular _butte_ across a low shrubby plain, crossing in the way a
slough-like creek with miry banks, and wooded with thickets of thorn,
(_crataegus_,) which were loaded with berries. This time we reached
the butte without any difficulty, and, ascending to the summit,
immediately at our feet beheld the object of our anxious search--the
waters of the Inland Sea, stretching in still and solitary grandeur far
beyond the limit of our vision. It was one of the great points of the
exploration; and as we looked eagerly over the lake in the first emotions
of excited pleasure, I am doubtful if the followers of Balboa felt more
enthusiasm when, from the heights of the Andes, they saw for the first
time the great Western ocean. It was certainly a magnificent object, and a
noble _terminus_ to this part of our expedition; and to travelers so
long shut up among mountain ranges, a sudden view over the expanse of
silent waters had in it something sublime. Several large islands raised
their high rocky heads out of the waves; but whether or not they were
timbered, was still left to our imagination, as the distance was too great
to determine if the dark hues upon them were woodland or naked rock.
During the day the clouds had been gathering black over the mountains to
the westward, and, while we were looking, a storm burst down with sudden
fury upon the lake, and entirely hid the inlands from our view. So far as
we could see, along the shores there was not a solitary tree, and but
little appearance of grass; and on Weber's fork, a few miles below our
last encampment, the timber was gathered into groves, and then disappeared
entirely. As this appeared to be the nearest point to the lake, where a
suitable camp could be found, we directed our course to one of the groves,
where we found a handsome encampment, with good grass and an abundance of
rushes, (_equisetum hyemale_.) At sunset the thermometer was at 55 deg.;
the evening clear and calm, with some cumuli.

7th.--The morning was calm and clear, with a temperature at sunrise of
39.5 deg.. The day was spent in active preparation for our intended voyage on
the lake. On the edge of the stream a favorable spot was selected in a
grove, and, felling the timber, we made a strong _coral_, or horse-
pen, for the animals, and a little fort for the people who were to remain.
We were now probably in the country of the Utah Indians, though none
reside on the lake. The India-rubber boat was repaired with prepared cloth
and gum, and filled with air, in readiness for the next day.

The provisions which Carson brought with him being now exhausted, and our
stock reduced to a small quantity of roots, I determined to retain with me
only a sufficient number of men for the execution of our design; and
accordingly seven were sent back to Fort Hall, under the guidance of
Francois Lajeunesse, who, having been for many years a trapper in the
country, was considered an experienced mountaineer. Though they were
provided with good horses, and the road was a remarkably plain one of only
four days' journey for a horse-man, they became bewildered, (as we
afterwards learned,) and, losing their way, wandered about the country in
parties of one or two, reaching the fort about a week afterwards. Some
straggled in of themselves, and the others were brought in by Indians who
had picked them up on Snake river, about sixty miles below the fort,
traveling along the emigrant road in full march for the Lower Columbia.
The leader of this adventurous party was Francois.

Hourly barometrical observations were made during the day, and, after the
departure of the party for Fort Hall, we occupied ourselves in continuing
our little preparations, and in becoming acquainted with the country in
the vicinity. The bottoms along the river were timbered with several kinds
of willow, hawthorn, and fine cottonwood-trees (_populus canadensis_)
with remarkably large leaves, and sixty feet in height by measurement.

We formed now but a small family. With Mr. Preuss and myself, Carson,
Bernier, and Basil Lajeunesse, had been selected for the boat expedition--
the first attempted on this interior sea; and Badeau, with Derosier, and
Jacob, (the colored man,) were to be left in charge of the camp. We were
favored with most delightful weather. To-night there was a brilliant
sunset of golden orange and green, which left the western sky clear and
beautifully pure; but clouds in the east made me lose an occultation. The
summer frogs were singing around us; and the evening was very pleasant,
with a temperature of 60 deg.--a night of a more southern autumn. For our
supper we had _yampah_, the most agreeably flavored of the roots,
seasoned by a small fat duck, which had come in the way of Jacob's rifle.
Around our fire to-night were many speculations on what to-morrow would
bring forth, and in our busy conjectures we fancied that we should find
every one of the large islands a tangled wilderness of trees and
shrubbery, teeming with game of every description that the neighboring
region afforded, and which the foot of a white man or Indian had never
violated. Frequently, during the day, clouds had rested on the summits of
their lofty mountains, and we believed that we should find clear streams
and springs of fresh water; and we indulged in anticipations of the
luxurious repasts with which we were to indemnify ourselves for past
privations. Neither, in our discussions, were the whirlpool and other
mysterious dangers forgotten, which Indian and hunters' stories attributed
to this unexplored lake. The men had found that, instead of being strongly
sewed, (like that of the preceding year, which had so triumphantly rode
the canons of the upper Great Platte,) our present boat was only pasted
together in a very insecure manner, the maker having been allowed so
little time in the construction, that he was obliged to crowd the labor of
two months into several days. The insecurity of the boat was sensibly felt
by us; and, mingled with the enthusiasm and excitement that we all felt at
the prospect of an undertaking which had never before been accomplished,
was a certain impression of danger, sufficient to give a serious character
to our conversation. The momentary view which had been had of the lake the
day before, its great extent and rugged islands, dimly seen amidst the
dark waters in the obscurity of the sudden storm, were calculated to
heighten the idea of undefined danger with which the lake was generally

8th.--A calm, clear day, with a sunrise temperature of 41 deg.. In view of our
present enterprise, a part of the equipment of the boat had been made to
consist in three air-tight bags, about three feet long, and capable each
of containing five gallons. These had been filled with water the night
before, and were now placed in the boat, with our blankets and
instruments, consisting of a sextant, telescope, spy-glass, thermometer,
and barometer.

We left the camp at sunrise, and had a very pleasant voyage down the
river, in which there was generally eight or ten feet of water, deepening
as we neared the mouth in the latter part of the day. In the course of the
morning we discovered that two of the cylinders leaked so much as to
require one man constantly at the bellows, to keep them sufficiently full
of air to support the boat. Although we had made a very early start, we
loitered so much on the way--stopping every now and then, and floating
silently along, to get a shot at a goose or duck--that it was late in the
day when we reached the outlet. The river here divided into several
branches, filled with fluvials, and so very shallow that it was with
difficulty we could get the boat along, being obliged to get out and wade.
We encamped on a low point among rushes and young willows, where was a
quantity of drift-wood, which served for our fires. The evening was mild
and clear; we made a pleasant bed of young willows; and geese and ducks
enough had been killed for an abundant supper at night, and for breakfast
the next morning. The stillness of the night was enlivened by millions of
water-fowl. Lat. (by observation) 41 deg. 11' 26"; and long. 112 deg. 11' 30".

9th.--The day was clear and calm; the thermometer at sunrise at 49 deg.. As is
usual with the trappers on the eve of any enterprise, our people had made
dreams, and theirs happened to be a bad one--one which always preceded
evil--and consequently they looked very gloomy this morning; but we
hurried through our breakfast, in order to made an early start, and have
all the day before us for our adventure. The channel in a short distance
became so shallow that our navigation was at an end, being merely a sheet
of soft mud, with a few inches of water, and sometimes none at all,
forming the low-water shore of the lake. All this place was absolutely
covered with flocks of screaming plover. We took off our clothes, and,
getting overboard, commenced dragging the boat--making, by this operation,
a very curious trail, and a very disagreeable smell in stirring up the
mud, as we sank above the knee at every step. The water here was still
fresh, with only an insipid and disagreeable taste, probably derived from
the bed of fetid mud. After proceeding in this way about a mile, we came
to a small black ridge on the bottom, beyond which the water became
suddenly salt, beginning gradually to deepen, and the bottom was sandy and
firm. It was a remarkable division, separating the fresh waters of the
rivers from the briny water of the lake, which was entirely
_saturated_ with common salt. Pushing our little vessel across the
narrow boundary, we sprang on board, and at length were afloat on the
waters of the unknown sea.

We did not steer for the mountainous islands, but directed our course
towards a lower one, which it had been decided we should first visit, the
summit of which was formed like the crater at the upper end of Bear River
valley. So long as we could touch the bottom with our paddles, we were
very gay; but gradually, as the water deepened, we became more still in
our frail batteau of gum-cloth distended with air, and with pasted seams.
Although the day was very calm, there was a considerable swell on the
lake; and there were white patches of foam on the surface, which were
slowly moving to the southward, indicating the set of a current in that
direction, and recalling the recollection of the whirlpool stories. The
water continued to deepen as we advanced--the lake becoming almost
transparently clear, of an extremely beautiful bright-green color; and the
spray, which was thrown into the boat and over our clothes, was directly
converted into a crust of common salt, which covered also our hands and
arms. "Captain," said Carson, who for some time had been looking
suspiciously at some whitening appearances outside the nearest islands,
"what are those yonder?--won't you just take a look with the glass?" We
ceased paddling for a moment, and found them to be the caps of the waves
that were beginning to break under the force of a strong breeze that was
coming up the lake.

The form of the boat seemed to be an admirable one, and it rode on the
waves like a water-bird; but, at the same time, it was extremely slow in
its progress. When we were a little more than half way across the reach,
two of the divisions between the cylinders gave way, and it required the
constant use of the bellows to keep in a sufficient quantity of air. For a
long time we scarcely seemed to approach our island, but gradually we
worked across the rougher sea of the open channel, into the smoother water
under the lee of the island, and began to discover that what we took for a
long row of pelicans, ranged on the beach, were only low cliffs whitened
with salt by the spray of the waves; and about noon we reached the shore,
the transparency of the water enabling us to see the bottom at a
considerable depth.

It was a handsome broad beach where we landed, behind which the hill, into
which the island was gathered, rose somewhat abruptly; and a point of rock
at one end enclosed it in a sheltering way; and as there was an abundance
of drift-wood along the shore, it offered us a pleasant encampment. We did
not suffer our frail boat to touch the sharp rocks, but, getting
overboard, discharged the baggage, and, lifting it gently out of the
water, carried it to the upper part of the beach, which was composed of
very small fragments of rock.

Among the successive banks of the beach, formed by the action of the
waves, our attention, as we approached the island, had been attracted by
one 10 to 20 feet in breadth, of a dark-brown color. Being more closely
examined, this was found to be composed, to the depth of seven or eight
and twelve inches, entirely of the _larvae_ of insects, or, in common
language; of the skins of worms, about the size of a grain of oats, which
had been washed up by the waters of the lake.

Alluding to this subject some months afterwards, when traveling through a
more southern portion of this region, in company with Mr. Joseph Walker,
an old hunter, I was informed by him, that, wandering with a party of men
in a mountain country east of the great California range, he surprised a
party of several Indian families encamped near a small salt lake, who
abandoned their lodges at his approach, leaving every thing behind them.
Being in a starving condition, they were delighted to find in the
abandoned lodges a number of skin bags, containing a quantity of what
appeared to be fish, dried and pounded. On this they made a hearty supper,
and were gathering around an abundant breakfast the next morning, when Mr.
Walker discovered that it was with these, or a similar worm, that the bags
had been filled. The stomachs of the stout trappers were not proof against
their prejudices, and the repulsive food was suddenly rejected. Mr. Walker
had further opportunities of seeing these worms used as an article of
food; and I am inclined to think they are the same as those we saw, and
appear to be a product of the salt lakes. It may be well to recall to your
mind that Mr. Walker was associated with Capt. Bonneville in his
expedition to the Rocky mountains, and has since that time remained in the
country, generally residing in some one of the Snake villages, when not
engaged in one of his numerous trapping expeditions, in which he is
celebrated as one of the best and bravest leaders who have ever been in
the country.

The cliffs and masses of rock along the shore were whitened by an
incrustation of salt where the waves dashed up against them; and the
evaporating water, which had been left in holes and hollows on the surface
of the rocks, was covered with a crust of salt about one-eighth of an inch
in thickness. It appeared strange that, in the midst of this grand
reservoir, one of our greatest wants lately had been salt. Exposed to be
more perfectly dried in the sun, this became very white and fine, having
the usual flavor of very excellent common salt, without any foreign taste;
but only a little was collected for present use, as there was in it a
number of small black insects.

Carrying with us the barometer and other instruments, in the afternoon we
ascended to the highest point of the island--a bare, rocky peak, eight
hundred feet above the lake. Standing on the summit, we enjoyed an
extended view of the lake, enclosed in a basin of rugged mountains, which
sometimes left marshy flats and extensive bottoms between them and the
shore, and in other places came directly down into the water with bold and
precipitous bluffs. Following with our glasses the irregular shores, we
searched for some indications of a communication with other bodies of
water, or the entrance of other rivers; but the distance was so great that
we could make out nothing with certainty. To the southward, several
peninsular mountains, 3,000 or 4,000 feet high, entered the lake,
appearing, so far as the distance and our position enabled us to
determine, to be connected by flats and low ridges with the mountains in
the rear. These are probably the islands usually indicated on maps of this
region as entirely detached from the shore. The season of our operations
was when the waters were at their lowest stage. At the season of high
waters in the spring, it is probable that the marshes and low grounds are
overflowed, and the surface of the lake considerably greater. In several
places the view was of unlimited extent--here and there a rocky islet
appearing above the waters, at a great distance; and beyond, every thing
was vague and undefined. As we looked over the vast expanse of water
spread out beneath us, and strained our eyes along the silent shores over
which hung so much doubt and uncertainty, and which were so full of
interest to us, I could hardly repress the almost irresistible desire to
continue our explorations; but the lengthening snow on the mountains was a
plain indication of the advancing season, and our frail linen boat
appeared so insecure that I was unwilling to trust our lives to the
uncertainties of the lake. I therefore unwillingly resolved to terminate
our survey here, and remain satisfied for the present with what we had
been able to add to the unknown geography of the region. We felt pleasure,
also, in remembering that we were the first who, in the traditionary
annals of the country, had visited the islands, and broken, with the
cheerful sound of human voices, the long solitude of the place. From the
point where we were standing, the ground fell off on every side to the
water, giving us a perfect view of the island, which is twelve or thirteen
miles in circumference, being simply a rocky hill, on which there is
neither water nor trees of any kind; although the _Fremontia
vermicularis_, which was in great abundance, might easily be taken for
timber at a distance. The plant seemed here to delight in a congenial air,
growing in extraordinary luxuriance seven to eight feet high, and was very
abundant on the upper parts of the island, where it was almost the only
plant. This is eminently a saline shrub; its leaves have a salt taste; and
it luxuriates in saline soils, where it is usually a characteristic. It is
widely diffused over all this country. A chenopodiaceous shrub, which is a
new species of OBIONE, (O. rigida, _Torr. and Frem_.,) was equally
characteristic of the lower parts of the island. These two are the
striking plants on the island, and belong to a class of plants which form
a prominent feature in the vegetation of this country. On the lower parts
of the island, also, a prickly pear of very large size was frequent. On
the shore, near the water, was a woolly species of _phaca_; and a new
species of umbelliferous plant (_leptotaemia_) was scattered about in
very considerable abundance. These constituted all the vegetation that now
appeared upon the island.

I accidentally left on the summit the brass cover to the object end of my
spy-glass: and as it will probably remain there undisturbed by Indians, it
will furnish matter of speculation to some future traveler. In our
excursions about the island, we did not meet with any kind of animal; a
magpie, and another larger bird, probably attracted by the smoke of our
fire, paid us a visit from the shore, and were the only living things seen
during our stay. The rock constituting the cliffs along the shore, where
we were encamped, is a talcous rock, or steatite, with brown spar.

At sunset, the temperature was 70 deg.. We had arrived just in time to obtain
a meridian altitude of the sun, and other observations were obtained this
evening, which placed our camp in latitude 41 deg. 10' 42", and longitude 112 deg.
21' 05" from Greenwich. From a discussion of the barometrical observations
made during our stay on the shores of the lake, we have adopted 4,200 feet
for its elevation above the Gulf of Mexico. In the first disappointment we
felt from the dissipation of our dream of the fertile islands, I called
this _Disappointment island_.

Out of the drift-wood, we made ourselves pleasant little lodges, open to
the water; and, after having kindled large fires to excite the wonder of
any straggling savage on the lake shores, lay down, for the first time in
a long journey, in perfect security; no one thinking about his arms. The
evening was extremely bright and pleasant; but the wind rose during the
night, and the waves began to break heavily on the shore, making our
island tremble. I had not expected in our inland journey to hear the roar
of an ocean surf; and the strangeness of our situation, and the excitement
we felt in the associated interest of the place, made this one of the most
interesting nights I made during our long expedition.

In the morning, the surf was breaking heavily on the shore, and we were up
early. The lake was dark and agitated, and we hurried through our scanty
breakfast, and embarked--having first filled one of the buckets with water
from the lake, of which it was intended to make salt. The sun had risen by
the time we were ready to start; and it was blowing a strong gale of wind,
almost directly off the shore, and raising a considerable sea, in which
our boat strained very much. It roughened as we got away from the island,
and it required all the efforts of the men to make any head against the
wind and sea, the gale rising with the sun; and there was danger of being
blown into one of the open reaches beyond the island. At the distance of
half a mile from the beach, the depth of the water was 16 feet, with a
clay bottom; but, as the working of the boat was very severe labor, and
during the operation of sounding it was necessary to cease paddling,
during which the boat lost considerable way, I was unwilling to discourage
the men, and reluctantly gave up my intention of ascertaining the depth
and the character of the bed. There was a general shout in the boat when
we found ourselves in one fathom, and we soon after landed on a low point
of mud, immediately under the butte of the peninsula, where we unloaded
the boat, and carried the baggage about a quarter of a mile to firmer
ground. We arrived just in time for meridian observation, and carried the
barometer to the summit of the butte, which is 500 feet above the lake.
Mr. Preuss set off on foot for the camp, which was about nine miles
distant; Basil accompanying him, to bring back horses for the boat and

The rude-looking shelter we raised on the shore, our scattered baggage and
boat lying on the beach, made quite a picture; and we called this the
_Fisherman's camp_. _Lynosiris graveolens_, and another new
species of OBIONE, (O. confertifolia--_Torr. & Frem_.,) were growing
on the low grounds, with interspersed spots of an unwholesome salt grass,
on a saline clay soil, with a few other plants.

The horses arrived late in the afternoon, by which time the gale had
increased to such a height that a man could scarcely stand before it; and
we were obliged to pack our baggage hastily, as the rising water of the
lake had already reached the point where we were halted. Looking back as
we rode off, we found the place of recent encampment entirely covered. The
low plain through which we rode to the camp was covered with a compact
growth of shrubs of extraordinary size and luxuriance. The soil was sandy
and saline; flat places, resembling the beds of ponds, that were bare of
vegetation, and covered with a powdery white salt, being interspersed
among the shrubs. Artemisia tridentata was very abundant, but the plants
were principally saline; a large and vigorous chenopodiaceous shrub, five
to eight feet high, being characteristic, with Fremontia vermicularis, and
a shrubby plant which seems to be a new _salicornia_. We reached the
camp in time to escape a thunder-storm which blackened the sky, and were
received with a discharge of the howitzer by the people, who, having been
unable to see any thing of us on the lake, had begun to feel some

11th.--To-day we remained at this camp, in order to obtain some further
observations, and to boil down the water which had been brought from the
lake, for a supply of salt. Roughly evaporated over the fire, the five
gallons of water yielded fourteen pints of very fine-grained and very
white salt, of which the whole lake may be regarded as a saturated
solution. A portion of the salt thus obtained has been subjected to
analysis, giving, in 100 parts, the following proportions.

Analysis of the salt.

Chloride of sodium, (common salt,) --- 97.80
Chloride of calcium, ----------------- 0.61
Chloride of magnesium, --------------- 0.24
Sulphate of soda, -------------------- 0.23
Sulphate of lime, -------------------- 1.12

Glancing your eye along the map, you will see a small stream entering
_Utah lake_, south of the Spanish fork, and the first waters of that
lake which our road of 1844 crosses in coming up from the southward. When
I was on this stream with Mr. Walker in that year, he informed me that on
the upper part of the river are immense beds of rock-salt of very great
thickness, which he had frequently visited. Farther to the southward, the
rivers which are affluent to the Colorado, such as the Rio Virgen, and
Gila river, near their mouths, are impregnated with salt by the cliffs of
rock-salt between which they pass. These mines occur in the same ridge in
which, about 120 miles to the northward, and subsequently in their more
immediate neighborhood, we discovered the fossils belonging to the oolitic
period, and they are probably connected with that formation, and are the
deposite from which the Great Lake obtains its salt. Had we remained
longer, we should have found them in its bed, and in the mountains around
its shores. By observation the latitude of this camp is 41 deg. 15' 50", and
longitude 112 deg. 06" 43".

The observations made during our stay give for the rate of the chronometer
31.72", corresponding almost exactly with the rate obtained at St. Vrain's
fort. Barometrical observations were made almost hourly during the day.
This morning we breakfasted on yampah, and had only kamas for supper; but
a cup of good coffee still distinguished us from our _Digger_

12th.--The morning was clear and calm, with a temperature at sunrise of
32 deg.. We resumed our journey late in the day, returning by nearly the same
route which we had traveled in coming to the lake; and, avoiding the
passage of Hawthorn creek, struck the hills a little below the hot salt-
springs. The flat plain we had here passed over consisted alternately of
tolerably good sandy soil and of saline plats. We encamped early on Clear
creek, at the foot of the high ridge; one of the peaks of which we
ascertained by measurement to be 4,210 feet above the lake, or about 8,400
feet above the sea. Behind these front peaks the ridge rises towards the
Bear River mountains, which are probably as high as the Wind River chain.
This creek is here unusually well timbered with a variety of trees. Among
them were birch, (_betula_,) the narrow-leaved poplar, (_populus
angustifolia_,) several kinds of willow, (_solix_,) hawthorn,
(_crataegus_,) alder, (_alnus viridis_,) and _cerasus_, with
an oak allied to _quercus alba_, but very distinct from that or any
other species in the United States.

We had to-night a supper of sea-gulls, which Carson killed near the lake.
Although cool, the thermometer standing at 47 deg., musquitoes were
sufficiently numerous to be troublesome this evening.

13th.--Continuing up the river valley, we crossed several small streams;
the mountains on the right appearing to consist of the blue limestone
which we had observed in the same ridge to the northward, alternating here
with a granular quartz already mentioned. One of these streams, which
forms a smaller lake near the river, was broken up into several channels;
and the irrigated bottom of fertile soil was covered with innumerable
flowers, among which were purple fields of _eupatorium purpureum_,
with helianthi, a handsome solidago, (_S. canadensis_,) and a variety
of other plants in bloom. Continuing along the foot of the hills, in the
afternoon we found five or six hot-springs gushing out together, beneath a
conglomerate, consisting principally of fragments of a grayish-blue
limestone, efflorescing a salt upon the surface. The temperature of these
springs was 134 deg., and the rocks in the bed were colored with a red
deposite, and there was common salt crystallized on the margin. There was
also a white incrustation upon leaves and roots, consisting principally of
carbonate of lime. There were rushes seen along the road this afternoon,
and the soil under the hills was very black, and apparently very good; but
at this time the grass is entirely dried up. We encamped on Bear river,
immediately below a cut-off, the canon by which the river enters this
valley bearing north by compass. The night was mild, with a very clear
sky; and I obtained a very excellent observation of an occultation of Tau.
Arietis, with other observations. Both immersion and emersion of the star
were observed; but, as our observations have shown, the phase at the
bright limb generally gives incorrect longitudes, and we have adopted the
result obtained from the emersion at the dark limb, without allowing any
weight to the immersion. According to these observations, the longitude is
112 deg. 05' 12", and the latitude 41 deg. 42' 43". All the longitudes on the line
of our outward journey, between St. Vrain's fort and the Dalles of the
Columbia, which were not directly determined by satellites, have been
chronometrically referred to this place.

The people to-day were rather low-spirited, hunger making them very quiet
and peaceable; and there was rarely an oath to be heard in the camp--not
even a solitary _enfant de garce_. It was time for the men with an
expected supply of provisions from Mr. Fitzpatrick to be in the
neighborhood; and the gun was fired at evening, to give notice of our
locality, but met with no response.

14th.--About four miles from this encampment, the trail led us down to the
river, where we unexpectedly found an excellent ford--the stream being
widened by an island, and not yet disengaged from the hills at the foot of
the range. We encamped on a little creek where we had made a noon halt in
descending the river. The night was very clear and pleasant, the sunset
temperature being 67 deg..

The people this evening looked so forlorn, that I gave them permission to
kill a fat young horse which I had purchased with goods from the Snake
Indians, and they were very soon restored to gayety and good humor. Mr.
Preuss and myself could not yet overcome some remains of civilized
prejudices, and preferred to starve a little longer; feeling as much
saddened as if a crime had been committed.

The next day we continued up the valley, the soil being sometimes very
black and good, occasionally gravelly, and occasionally a kind of naked
salt plains. We found on the way this morning a small encampment of two
families of Snake Indians, from whom we purchased a small quantity of
_kooyah_. They had piles of seeds, of three different kinds, spread
out upon pieces of buffalo robe; and the squaws had just gathered about a
bushel of the root of a thistle, (_circium Virginianum_.) They were
about the ordinary size of carrots, and, as I have previously mentioned,
are sweet and well flavored, requiring only a long preparation. They had a
band of twelve or fifteen horses, and appeared to be growing in the
sunshine with about as little labor as the plants they were eating.

Shortly afterwards we met an Indian on horseback who had killed an
antelope, which we purchased of him for a little powder and some balls. We
crossed the Roseaux, and encamped on the left bank; halting early for the
pleasure of enjoying a wholesome and abundant supper, and were pleasantly
engaged in protracting our unusual comfort, when Tabeau galloped into the
camp with news that Mr. Fitzpatrick was encamped close by us, with a good
supply of provisions--flour, rice, and dried meat, and even a little
butter. Excitement to-night made us all wakeful; and after a breakfast
before sunrise the next morning, we were again on the road, and,
continuing up the valley, crossed some high points of hills, and halted to
noon on the same stream, near several lodges of Snake Indians, from whom
we purchased about a bushel of service-berries, partially dried. By the
gift of a knife, I prevailed upon a little boy to show me the
_kooyah_ plant, which proved to be _valeriana edulis_. The root
which constitutes the _kooyah_, is large, of a very bright yellow
color, with the characteristic odor, but not so fully developed as in the
prepared substance. It loves the rich moist soil of river bottoms, which
was the locality in which I always afterwards found it. It was now
entirely out of bloom; according to my observation, flowering in the
months of May and June. In the afternoon we entered a long ravine leading
to a pass in the dividing ridge between the waters of Bear river and the
Snake river, or Lewis's fork of the Columbia; our way being very much
impeded, and almost entirely blocked up, by compact fields of luxuriant
artemisia. Taking leave at this point of the waters of Bear river, and of
the geographical basin which encloses the system of rivers and creeks
which belong to the Great Salt Lake, and which so richly deserves a future
detailed and ample exploration, I can say of it, in general terms, that
the bottoms of this river, (Bear,) and of some of the creeks which I saw,
form a natural resting and recruiting station for travelers, now, and in
all time to come. The bottoms are extensive; water excellent; timber
sufficient; the soil good, and well adapted to grains and grasses suited
to such an elevated region. A military post, and a civilized settlement,
would be of great value here; grass and salt so much abound. The lake will
furnish exhaustless supplies of salt. All the mountains here are covered
with a valuable nutritious grass, called bunch-grass, from the form in
which it grows, which has a second growth in the fall. The beasts of the
Indians were fat upon it; our own found it a good subsistence; and its
quantity will sustain any amount of cattle, and make this truly a bucolic

We met here an Indian family on horseback, which had been out to gather
service-berries, and were returning loaded. This tree was scattered about
on the hills; and the upper part of the pass was timbered with aspen,
(_populus trem._;) the common blue flowering-flax occurring among the
plants. The approach to the pass was very steep, and the summit about
6,300 feet above the sea--probably only an uncertain approximation, as at
the time of observation it was blowing a violent gale of wind from the
northwest, with _cumuli_ scattered in masses over the sky, the day
otherwise bright and clear. We descended, by a steep slope, into a broad
open valley--good soil--from four to five miles wide, coming down
immediately upon one of the head-waters of the Pannack river, which here
loses itself in swampy ground. The appearance of the country here is not
very interesting. On either side is a regular range of mountains of the
usual character, with a little timber, tolerably rocky on the right, and
higher and more smooth on the left, with still higher peaks looking out
above the range. The valley afforded a good level road, but it was late
when it brought us to water, and we encamped at dark. The north-west wind
had blown up very cold weather, and the artemisia, which was our firewood
to-night, did not happen to be very abundant. This plant loves a dry,
sandy soil, and cannot grow in the good bottoms where it is rich and
moist, but on every little eminence, where water does not rest long, it
maintains absolute possession. Elevation above the sea about 5,100 feet.

At night scattered fires glimmered along the mountains, pointing out camps
of the Indians; and we contrasted the comparative security in which we
traveled through this country with the guarded vigilance we were compelled
to exert among the Sioux and other Indians on the eastern side of the
Rocky mountains.

At sunset the thermometer was at 50 deg., and at midnight at 30 deg..

17th.--The morning sky was calm and clear, the temperature at daylight
being 25 deg., and at sunrise 20 deg.. There is throughout this country a
remarkable difference between the morning and mid-day temperatures, which
at this season was very generally 40 deg. or 50 deg., and occasionally greater;
and frequently, after a very frosty morning, the heat in a few hours would
render the thinnest clothing agreeable. About noon we reached the main
fork. The Pannack river was before us, the valley being here 11/2 miles
wide, fertile, and bordered by smooth hills, not over 500 feet high,
partly covered with cedar; a high ridge, in which there is a prominent
peak, rising behind those on the left. We continued to descend this
stream, and found on it at night a warm and comfortable camp. Flax
occurred so frequently during the day as to be almost a characteristic,
and the soil appeared excellent. The evening was gusty, with a temperature
at sunset of 59 deg.. I obtained, about midnight, an observation of an
emersion of the first satellite, the night being calm and very clear, the
stars remarkably bright, and the thermometer at 30 deg.. Longitude, from mean
of satellite and chronometer, 112 deg. 29' 52", and latitude, by observation,
42 deg. 44' 40".

18th.--The day clear and calm, with a temperature of 25 deg. at sunrise. After
traveling seven or eight miles, we emerged on the plains of the Columbia,
in sight of the famous "_Three Buttes_," a well-known landmark in the
country, distant about 45 miles. The French word _butte_, which so
often occurs in this narrative, is retained from the familiar language of
the country, and identifies the objects to which it refers. It is
naturalized in the region of the Rocky mountains, and, even if desirable
to render it in English, I know of no word which would be its precise
equivalent. It is applied to the detached hills and ridges which rise
rapidly, and reach too high to be called hills or ridges, and not high
enough to be called mountains. _Knob_, as applied in the western
states, is their descriptive term in English. _Cerro_ is the Spanish
term; but no translation, or periphrasis, would preserve the identity of
these picturesque landmarks, familiar to the traveler, and often seen at a
great distance. Covered as far as could be seen with artemisia, the dark
and ugly appearance of this plain obtained for it the name of _Sage
Desert_; and we were agreeably surprised, on reaching the Portneuf
river, to see a beautiful green valley with scattered timber spread out
beneath us, on which, about four miles distant, were glistening the white
walls of the fort. The Portneuf runs along the upland plain nearly to its
mouth, and an abrupt descent of perhaps two hundred feet brought us down
immediately upon the stream, which at the ford is one hundred yards wide,
and three feet deep, with clear water, a swift current, and gravelly bed;
but a little higher up the breadth was only about thirty-five yards, with
apparently deep water.

In the bottom I remarked a very great number of springs and sloughs, with
remarkably clear water and gravel beds. At sunset we encamped with Mr.
Talbot and our friends, who came on to Fort Hall when we went to the lake,
and whom we had the satisfaction to find all well, neither party having
met with any mischance in the interval of our separation. They, too, had
had their share of fatigue and scanty provisions, as there had been very
little game left on the trail of the populous emigration; and Mr.
Fitzpatrick had rigidly husbanded our stock of flour and light provisions,
in view of the approaching winter and the long journey before us.

19th.--This morning the sky was very dark and gloomy, and at daylight it
began snowing thickly, and continued all day, with cold, disagreeable
weather. At sunrise the temperature was 43 deg.. I rode up to the fort, and
purchased from Mr. Grant (the officer in charge of the post) several very
indifferent horses, and five oxen, in very fine order, which were received
at the camp with great satisfaction: and, one being killed at evening, the
usual gayety and good humor were at once restored. Night came in stormy.

20th.--We had a night of snow and rain, and the thermometer at sunrise was
at 34 deg.; the morning was dark, with a steady rain, and there was still an
inch of snow on the ground, with an abundance on the neighboring hills and
mountains. The sudden change in the weather was hard for our animals, who
trembled and shivered in the cold--sometimes taking refuge in the timber,
and now and then coming out and raking the snow off the ground for a
little grass, or eating the young willows.

21st.--Ice made tolerably thick during this night, and in the morning the
weather cleared up very bright, with a temperature at sunrise of 29 deg.; and
I obtained a meridian observation for latitude at the fort, with
observations for time. The sky was again covered in the afternoon, and the
thermometer at sunset 48 deg..

22d.--The morning was cloudy and unpleasant, and at sunrise a cold rain
commenced, with a temperature of 41 deg..

The early approach of winter, and the difficulty of supporting a large
party, determined me to send back a number of the men who had become
satisfied that they were not fitted for the laborious service and frequent
privation to which they were necessarily exposed, and which there was
reason to believe would become more severe in the further extension of the
voyage. I accordingly called them together, and, informing them of my
intention to continue our journey during the ensuing winter, in the course
of which they would probably be exposed to considerable hardship,
succeeded in prevailing on a number of them to return voluntarily. These
were: Charles de Forrest, Henry Lee, J. Campbell, Wm. Creuss, A. Vasquez;
A. Pera, Patrick White, B. Tesson, M. Creely, Francois Lajeunesse, Basil
Lajeunesse. Among these I regretted very much to lose Basil Lajeunesse,
one of the best men in my party, who was obliged, by the condition of his
family, to be at home in the coming winter. Our preparations having been
completed in the interval of our stay here, both parties were ready this
morning to resume their respective routes.

Except that there is a greater quantity of wood used in its construction,
Fort Hall very much resembles the other trading posts which have already
been described to you, and would be another excellent post of relief for
the emigration. It is in the low rich bottom of a valley, apparently 20
miles long, formed by the confluence of Portneuf river with Lewis's fork
of the Columbia, which it enters about nine miles below the fort, and
narrowing gradually to the mouth of the Pannack river, where it has a
breadth of only two or three miles. Allowing 50 miles for the road from
the _Beer springs_ of Bear river to Fort Hall, its distance along the
_traveled_ road from the town of Westport, on the frontier of
Missouri, by way of Fort Laramie and the great South Pass, is 1,323 miles.
Beyond this place, on the line of road along the _barren_ valley of
the Upper Columbia, there does not occur, for a distance of nearly 300
miles to the westward, a fertile spot of ground sufficiently large to
produce the necessary quantity of grain, or pasturage enough to allow even
a temporary repose to the emigrants. On their recent passage, they had
been able to obtain, at very high prices and in insufficient quantity,
only such assistance as could be afforded by a small and remote trading-
post--and that a foreign one--which, in the supply of its own wants, had
necessarily drawn around it some of the resources of civilization, but
which obtained nearly all its supplies from the distant depot of
Vancouver, by a difficult water-carriage of 250 miles up the Columbia
river, and a land-carriage by pack-horses of 600 miles. An American
military post, sufficiently strong to give to their road a perfect
security against the Indian tribes, who are unsettled in locality and very
_uncertain_ in their disposition, and which, with the necessary
facilities for the repair of their equipage, would be able to afford them
relief in stock and grain from the produce of the post, would be of
extraordinary value to the emigration. Such a post (and all others which
may be established on the line to Oregon) would naturally form the
_nucleus_ of a settlement, at which supplies and repose would be
obtained by the emigrant, or trading caravans, which may hereafter
traverse these elevated, and, in many places, desolate and inhospitable

I subjoin an analysis of the soil in the river bottom near Fort Hall,
which will be of assistance in enabling you to form some correct idea of
its general character in the neighboring country. I characterize it as
good land, but the analysis will show its precise properties.

_Analysis of the Soil_.

Silicina ----------------- 68.55
Alumina ------------------- 7.45
Carbonate of lime --------- 8.51
Carbonate of magnesia ----- 5.09
Oxide of iron ------------- 1.40
Organic vegetable matter -- 4.74
Water and loss ----------- 4.26


Our observations place this post in longitude 112 deg. 29' 54", latitude 43 deg.
01' 30", and the elevation above the sea, 4,500 feet.

Taking leave of the homeward party, we resumed our journey down the
valley, the weather being very cold, and the rain coming in hard gusts,
which the wind blew directly in our faces. We forded the Portneuf in a
storm of rain, the water in the river being frequently up to the axles,
and about 110 yards wide. After the gust, the weather improved a little,
and we encamped about three miles below, at the mouth of the Pannack
river, on Lewis's fork, which here has a breadth of about 120 yards. The
temperature at sunset was 42 deg.; the sky partially covered with dark, rainy

23d.--The temperature at sunrise was 32 deg.; the morning dark, and snow
falling steadily and thickly, with a light air from the southward.
Profited of being obliged to remain in camp, to take hourly barometrical
observations from sunrise to midnight. The wind at eleven o'clock set in
from the north-ward in heavy gusts, and the snow changed into rain. In the
afternoon, when the sky brightened, the rain had washed all the snow from
the bottoms; but the neighboring mountains, from summit to foot, were
luminously white--an inauspicious commencement of the autumn, of which
this was the first day.

24th.--The thermometer at sunrise was 35 deg., and a blue sky in the west
promised a fine day. The river bottoms here are narrow and swampy, with
frequent sloughs; and after crossing the Pannack, the road continued along
the uplands, rendered very slippery by the soil of wet clay, and entirely
covered with artemisia bushes, among which occur frequent fragments of
obsidian. At noon we encamped in a grove of willows, at the upper end of a
group of islands about half a mile above the _American falls_ of
Snake river. Among the willows here, were some bushes of Lewis and
Clarke's currant, (_ribes aureum_.) The river here enters between low
mural banks, which consist of a fine vesicular trap-rock, the intermediate
portions being compact and crystalline. Gradually becoming higher in its
downward course, these banks of scoriated volcanic rock form, with
occasional interruptions, its characteristic feature along the whole line
to the Dalles of the Lower Columbia, resembling a chasm which had been
rent through the country, and which the river had afterwards taken for its
bed. The immediate valley of the river is a high plain covered with black
rocks and artemisias. In the south is a bordering range of mountains,
which, although not very high, are broken and covered with snow; and at a
great distance to the north is seen the high, snowy line of the Salmon
river mountains, in front of which stand out prominently in the plain the
three isolated rugged-looking mountains commonly known as the _Three
Buttes_. Between the river and the distant Salmon river range, the
plain is represented by Mr. Fitzpatrick as so entirely broken up and rent
into chasms as to be impracticable for a man even on foot. In the sketch
annexed, the point of view is low, but it conveys very well some idea of
the open character of the country, with the buttes rising out above the
general line. By measurement, the river above is 870 feet wide,
immediately contracted at the fall in the form of a lock, by jutting piles
of scoriaceous basalt, over which the foaming river must present a grand
appearance at the time of high water. The evening was clear and pleasant,
with dew; and at sunset the temperature was 54 deg.. By observation, the
latitude is 42 deg. 47' 05", and the longitude 112 deg. 40' 13". A few hundred
yards below the falls, and on the left bank of the river is an escarpment
from which we obtained some specimens.

25th.--Thermometer at sunrise 47 deg.. The day came in clear, with a strong
gale from the south, which commenced at eleven of the last night. The road
to-day led along the river which is full of rapids and small falls. Grass
is very scanty and along the rugged banks are scattered cedars, with an
abundance of rocks and sage. We traveled fourteen miles, and encamped in
the afternoon near the river, on a rocky creek, the bed of which was
entirely occupied with boulders of a very large size. For the last three
or four miles the right bank of the river has a palisaded appearance. One
of the oxen was killed here for food. The thermometer at evening was at
55 deg., the sky almost overcast, and the barometer indicated an elevation of
4,400 feet.

26th.--Rain during the night, and the temperature at sunrise 42 deg..
Traveling along the river, in about four miles we reached a picturesque
stream, to which we gave the name of Fall creek. It is remarkable for the
many falls which occur in a short distance; and its bed is composed of a
calcareous tufa, or vegetable rock, composed principally of the remains of
reeds and mosses, resembling that at the _Basin spring_, on Bear

The road along the river bluffs had been occasionally very bad; and
imagining that some rough obstacles rendered such a detour necessary, we
followed for several miles a plain wagon-road leading up this stream,
until we reached a point whence it could be seen making directly towards a
low place in the range on the south side of the valley, and we became
immediately aware that we were on a trail formed by a party of wagons, in
company with whom we had encamped at Elm grove, near the frontier of
Missouri, and which you will remember were proceeding to Upper California
under the direction of Mr. Jos. Chiles. At the time of their departure, no
practicable passes were known in the southern Rocky mountains within the
territory of the United States; and the probable apprehension of
difficulty in attempting to pass near the settled frontier of New Mexico,
together with the desert character of the unexplored region beyond, had
induced them to take a more northern and circuitous route by way of the
Sweet Water pass and Fort Hall. They had still between them and the valley
of the Sacramento a great mass of mountains, forming the _Sierra
Nevada_, here commonly known as the _Great California mountain_,
and which were at this time considered as presenting an impracticable
barrier to wheeled-carriages. Various considerations had suggested to them
a division of the party; and a greater portion of the camp, including the
wagons, with the mail and other stores, were now proceeding under the
guidance of Mr. Joseph Walker, who had engaged to conduct them, by a long
sweep to the southward, around what is called the _point of the
mountain_; and, crossing through a pass known only to himself, gain the
banks of the Sacramento by the valley of the San Joaquin. It was a long
and a hazardous journey for a party in which there were women and
children. Sixty days was the shortest period of time in which they could
reach the point of the mountain, and their route lay through a country
inhabited by wild and badly-disposed Indians, and very poor in game; but
the leader was a man possessing great and intimate knowledge of the
Indians, with an extraordinary firmness and decision of character. In the
mean time, Mr. Chiles had passed down the Columbia with a party of ten or
twelve men, with the intention of reaching the settlements on the
Sacramento by a more direct course, which indefinite information from
hunters had indicated in the direction of the head-waters of the
_Riviere aux Malheurs_; and having obtained there a reinforcement of
animals, and a supply of provisions, meet the wagons before they should
have reached the point of the mountain, at a place which had been
previously agreed upon. In the course of our narrative, we shall be able
to give you some information of the fortunes which attended the movements
of these adventurous travelers.

Having discovered our error, we immediately regained the line along the
river, which the road quitted about noon, and encamped at five o'clock on
the stream called Raft river, (_Riviere aux Cajeux_,) having traveled
only 13 miles. In the north, the Salmon River mountains are visible at a
very far distance; and on the left, the ridge in which Raft river heads is
about 20 miles distant, rocky, and tolerably high. Thermometer at sunset
44 deg., with a partially clouded sky, and a sharp wind from the S.W.

27th.--It was now no longer possible, as in our previous journey, to
travel regularly every day, and find at any moment a convenient place for
repose at noon or a camp at night; but the halting-places were now
generally fixed along the road, by the nature of the country, at places
where, with water, there was a little scanty grass. Since leaving the
American falls, the road had frequently been very bad; the many short,
steep ascents, exhausting the strength of our worn-out animals, requiring
always at such places the assistance of the men to get up each cart, one
by one; and our progress with twelve or fourteen wheeled-carriages, though
light and made for the purpose, in such a rocky country, was extremely
slow; and I again determined to gain time by a division of the camp.
Accordingly, to-day, the parties again separated, constituted very much as
before--Mr. Fitzpatrick remaining in charge of the heavier baggage.

The morning was calm and clear, with a white frost, and the temperature at
sunrise 24 deg..

To-day the country had a very forbidding appearance; and, after traveling
20 miles over a slightly undulating plain, we encamped at a considerable
spring, called Swamp creek, rising in low grounds near the point of a spur
from the mountain. Returning with a small party in a starving condition
from the westward 12 or 14 years since, Carson had met here three or four
buffalo bulls, two of which were killed. They were among the pioneers
which had made the experiment of colonizing in the valley of the Columbia,
and which had failed, as heretofore stated. At sunset the thermometer was
at 46 deg., and the evening was overcast, with a cool wind from the S.E., and
to-night we had only sage for firewood. Mingled with the artemisia was a
shrubby and thorny chenopodiaceous plant.

28th.-Thermometer at sunrise 40 deg.. The wind rose early to a gale from the
west, with a very cold driving rain; and, after an uncomfortable day's
ride of 25 miles, we, were glad when at evening we found a sheltered camp,
where there was an abundance of wood, at some elevated rocky islands
covered with cedar, near the commencement of another long canon of the
river. With the exception of a short detention at a deep little stream
called Goose creek, and some occasional rocky places, we had to-day a very
good road; but the country has a barren appearance, sandy, and densely
covered with the artemisias from the banks of the river to the foot of the
mountains. Here I remarked, among the sage bushes, green bunches of what
is called the second growth of grass. The river to-day has had a smooth
appearance, free from rapids, with a low sandy hill-slope bordering the
bottoms, in which there is a little good soil. Thermometer at sunset 45 deg.,
blowing a gale, and disagreeably cold.

29th.--The thermometer at sunrise 36 deg., with a bright sun, and appearance
of finer weather. The road for several miles was _extremely_ rocky,
and consequently bad; but, entering after this a sandy country, it became
very good, with no other interruption than the sage bushes, which covered
the river plain as far as the eye could reach, and, with their uniform
tint of dark gray, gave to the country a gloomy and sombre appearance. All
the day the course of the river has been between walls of the black
volcanic rock, a dark line of the escarpment on the opposite side pointing
out its course, and sweeping along in foam at places where the mountains
which border the valley present always on the left two ranges, the lower
one a spur of the higher; and, on the opposite side, the Salmon River
mountains are visible at a great distance. Having made 24 miles, we
encamped about five o'clock on Rock creek--a stream having considerable
water, a swift current, and wooded with willow.

30th.--Thermometer at sunrise 28 deg.. In its progress towards the river, this
creek soon enters a chasm of the volcanic rock, which in places along the
wall presents a columnar appearance; and the road becomes extremely rocky
whenever it passes near its banks. It is only about twenty feet wide where
the road crosses it, with a deep bed, and steep banks, covered with rocky
fragments, with willows and a little grass on its narrow bottom. The soil
appears to be full of calcareous matter, with which the rocks are
incrusted. The fragments of rock which had been removed by the emigrants
in making a road, where we ascended from the bed of this creek, were
whitened with lime; and during the afternoon's march I remarked in the
soil a considerably quantity of calcareous concretions. Towards evening
the sages became more sparse, and the clear spaces were occupied by tufts
of green grass. The river still continued its course through a trough, or
open canon; and towards sunset we followed the trail of several wagons
which had turned in towards Snake river, and encamped, as they had done,
on the top of the escarpment. There was no grass here, the soil among the
sage being entirely naked; but there is occasionally a little bottom along
the river, which a short ravine of rocks, at rare intervals, leaves
accessible; and by one of these we drove our animals down, and found some
tolerably good grass bordering the water.

Immediately opposite to us, a subterranean river bursts out directly from
the face of the escarpment, and falls in white foam to the river below.
The main river is enclosed with mural precipices, which form its
characteristic feature along a great portion of its course. A melancholy
and strange-looking country--one of fracture, and violence, and fire.

We had brought with us, when we separated from the camp, a large gaunt ox,
in appearance very poor; but, being killed to-night, to the great joy of
the people, he was found to be remarkably fat. As usual at such
occurrences, the evening was devoted to gayety and feasting; abundant fare
now made an epoch among us; and in this laborious life, in such a country
as this, our men had but little else to enjoy. The temperature at sunset
was 65 deg., with a clear sky and a very high wind. By the observation of the
evening, the encampment was in longitude 114 deg. 25' 04", and in latitude
42 deg. 38' 44".


1st.--The morning clear, with wind from the west, and the thermometer at
55 deg.. We descended to the bottoms, taking with us the boat, for the purpose
of visiting the fall in the opposite cliffs; and while it was being filled
with air, we occupied ourselves in measuring the river, which is 1,786
feet in breadth, with banks 200 feet high. We were surprised, on our
arrival at the opposite side, to find a beautiful basin of clear water,
formed by the falling river, around which the rocks were whitened by some
saline incrustation. Here the Indians had constructed wicker dams,
although I was informed that the salmon do not ascend the river so far;
and its character below would apparently render it impracticable.

The ascent of the steep hill-side was rendered a little difficult by a
dense growth of shrubs and fields of cane; and there were frequent hidden
crevices among the rocks, where the water was heard rushing below; but we
succeeded in reaching the main stream, which, issuing from between strata
of the trap-rock in two principal branches, produced almost immediately a
torrent, 22 feet wide, and white with foam. It is a picturesque spot of
singular beauty, overshadowed by bushes, from under which the torrent
glances, tumbling into the white basin below, where the clear water
contrasted beautifully with the muddy stream of the river. Its outlet was
covered with a rank growth of canes, and a variety of unusual plants, and
nettles, (_urtica canabina_,) which, before they were noticed, had
set our hands and arms on fire. The temperature of the spring was 58 deg.,
while that of the river was 51 deg.. The perpendicular height of the place at
which this stream issues is 45 feet above the river, and 162 feet below
the summit of the precipice--making nearly 200 feet for the height of the
wall. On the hill-side here was obtained a specimen consisting principally
of fragments of the shells of small crustacea, and which was probably
formed by deposition from these springs, proceeding from some lake or
river in the highlands above.

We resumed our journey at noon, the day being hot and bright; and, after a
march of 17 miles, encamped at sunset on the river, near several lodges of
Snake Indians.

Our encampment was about one mile below the _Fishing falls_--a series
of cataracts with very inclined planes, which are probably so named
because they form a barrier to the ascent of the salmon; and the great
fisheries, from which the inhabitants of this barren region almost
entirely derive a subsistence, commence at this place. These appeared to
be unusually gay savages, fond of loud laughter; and, in their apparent
good nature and merry character, struck me as being entirely different
from the Indians we had been accustomed to see. From several who visited
our camp in the evening, we purchased, in exchange for goods, dried
salmon. At this season they are not very fat, but we were easily pleased.
The Indians made us comprehend, that when the salmon came up the river in
the spring, they are so abundant that they merely throw in their spears at
random, certain of bringing out a fish.

These poor people are but slightly provided with winter clothing; there is
but little game to furnish skins for the purpose; and of a little animal
which seemed to be the most numerous, it required 20 skins to make a
covering to the knees. But they are still a joyous, talkative race, who
grow fat and become poor with the salmon, which at least never fail them--
the dried being used in the absence of the fresh. We are encamped
immediately on the river bank, and with the salmon jumping up out of the
water, and Indians paddling about in boats made of rushes, or laughing
around the fires, the camp to-night has quite a lively appearance.

The river at this place is more open than for some distance above, and,
for the time, the black precipices have disappeared, and no calcareous
matter is visible in the soil. The thermometer at sunset 74 deg., clear and

2d.--The sunrise temperature was 48 deg.; the weather clear and calm. Shortly
after leaving the encampment, we crossed a stream of clear water, with a
variable breadth of 10 to 25 yards, broken by rapids, and lightly wooded
with willow, and having a little grass on its small bottom-land. The
barrenness of the country is in fine contrast to-day with the mingled
beauty and grandeur of the river, which is more open than hitherto, with a
constant succession of falls and rapids. Over the edge of the black
cliffs, and out from their faces, are falling numberless streams and
springs; and all the line of the river is in motion with the play of the
water. In about seven miles we reached the most beautiful and picturesque
fall I had seen on the river.

On the opposite side, the vertical fall is perhaps 18 feet high; and
nearer, the sheet of foaming water is divided and broken into cataracts,
where several little islands on the brink and in the river above, give it
much picturesque beauty, and make it one of those places the traveler
turns again and again to fix in his memory. There were several lodges of
Indians here, from whom we traded salmon. Below this place the river makes
a remarkable bend; and the road, ascending the ridge, gave us a fine view
of the river below, intersected at many places by numerous fish dams. In
the north, about 50 miles distant, were some high snowy peaks of the
Salmon River mountains; and in the northeast, the last peak of the range
was visible at the distance of perhaps 100 miles or more. The river hills
consist of very broken masses of sand, covered everywhere with the same
interminable fields of sage, and occasionally the road is very heavy. We
now frequently saw Indians, who were strung along the river at every
little rapid where fish are to be caught, and the cry _haggai,
haggai_, (fish,) was constantly heard whenever we passed near their
huts, or met them in the road. Very many of them were oddly and partially
dressed in overcoat, shirt, waistcoat, or pantaloons, or whatever article
of clothing they had been able to procure in trade from the emigrants; for
we had now entirely quitted the country where hawks' bells, beads, and
vermilion were the current coin, and found that here only useful articles,
and chiefly clothing, were in great request. These, however, are eagerly
sought after; and for a few trifling pieces of clothing, travelers may
procure food sufficient to carry them to the Columbia.

We made a long stretch across the upper plain, and encamped on the bluff,
where the grass was very green and good, the soil of the upper plains
containing a considerable proportion of calcareous matter. This green
freshness of the grass was very remarkable for the season of the year.
Again we heard the roar of the fall in the river below, where the water in
an unbroken volume goes over a descent of several feet. The night is
clear, and the weather continues very warm and pleasant, with a sunset
temperature of 70 deg..

3d.--The morning was pleasant, with a temperature at sunrise of 42 deg.. The
road was broken by ravines among the hills, and in one of these, which
made the bed of a dry creek, I found a fragmentary stratum, or brecciated
conglomerate, consisting of flinty slate pebbles, with fragments of
limestone containing fossil shells.

On the left, the mountains are visible at the distance of 20 or 30 miles,
appearing smooth and rather low; but at intervals higher peaks look out
from beyond, and indicate that the main ridge, which we are leaving with
the course of the river, and which forms the northern boundary of the
Great Basin, still maintains its elevation. About two o'clock we arrived
at the ford where the road crosses to the right bank of Snake river. An
Indian was hired to conduct us through the ford, which proved
impracticable for us, the water sweeping away the howitzer and nearly
drowning the mules, which we were obliged to extricate by cutting them out
of the harness. The river here is expanded into a little bay, in which
there are two islands, across which is the road of the ford; and the
emigrants had passed by placing two of their heavy wagons abreast of each
other, so as to oppose a considerable mass against the body of water. The
Indians informed us that one of the men, in attempting to turn some cattle
which had taken a wrong direction, was carried off by the current and
drowned. Since their passage, the water had risen considerably; but,
fortunately, we had a resource in a boat, which was filled with air and
launched; and at seven o'clock we were safely encamped on the opposite
bank, the animals swimming across, and the carriage, howitzer, and baggage
of the camp, being carried over in the boat. At the place where we
crossed, above the islands, the river had narrowed to a breadth of 1,049
feet by measurement, the greater portion of which was from six to eight
feet deep. We were obliged to make our camp where we landed, among the
Indian lodges, which are semicircular huts made of willow, thatched over
with straw, and open to the sunny south. By observation, the latitude of
our encampment on the right bank of the river was 42 deg. 55' 58";
chronometric longitude 115 deg. 04' 46", and the traveled distance from Fort
Hall 208 miles.

4th.--Calm, pleasant day, with the thermometer at sunrise at 47 deg.. Leaving
the river at a considerable distance to the left, and following up the bed
of a rocky creek, with occasional holes of water, in about six miles we
ascended, by a long and rather steep hill, to a plain 600 feet above the
river, over which we continued to travel during the day, having a broken
ridge 2,000 or 3,000 feet high on the right. The plain terminates, where
we ascended, in an escarpment of vesicular trap-rock, which supplies the
fragments of the creek below. The sky clouded over with a strong wind from
the northwest, with a few drops of rain and occasional sunlight,
threatening a change.

Artemisia still covers the plain, but _Purshia tridentata_ makes its
appearance here on the hill-sides and on bottoms of the creeks--quite a
tree in size, larger than the artemisia. We crossed several hollows with a
little water in them, and improved grass; and, turning off from the road
in the afternoon in search of water, traveled about three miles up the bed
of a willow creek, towards the mountain, and found a good encampment, with
wood and grass, and little ponds of water in the bed of the creek; which
must be of more importance at other seasons, as we found there several old
fixtures for fishing. There were many holes on the creek prairie, which
had been made by the Diggers in search of roots.

Wind increased to a violent gale from the N.W., with a temperature at
sunset of 57 deg..

5th..--The morning was calm and clear, and at sunrise the thermometer was
at 32 deg.. The road to-day was occasionally extremely rocky, with hard
volcanic fragments, and our traveling very slow. In about nine miles the
road brought us to a group of smoking hot springs, with a temperature of
164 deg.. There were a few helianthi in bloom, with some other low plants, and
the place was green round about; the ground warm and the air pleasant,
with a summer atmosphere that was very grateful in a day of high and cold,
searching wind. The rocks were covered with a white and red incrustation;
and the water has on the tongue the same unpleasant effect as that of the
Basin spring on Bear river. They form several branches, and bubble up with
force enough to raise the small pebbles several inches. The following is
an analysis of the deposite with which the rocks are incrusted:

Silica------------------------ 72.55
Carbonate of lime------------- 14.60
Carbonate of magnesia -------- 1.20
Oxide of iron----------------- 4.65
Alumina----------------------- 0.70

Chloride of sodium, &c.-- }
Sulphate of soda--------- }---- 1.10
Sulphate of lime, &c.---- }

Organic vegetable matter- }---- 5.20
Water and loss----------- }

These springs are near the foot of the ridge, (a dark and rugged-looking
mountain,) in which some of the nearer rocks have a reddish appearance,
and probably consist of a reddish-brown trap, fragments of which were
scattered along the road after leaving the spring. The road was now about
to cross the point of this mountain, which we judged to be a spur from the
Salmon River range. We crossed a small creek, and encamped about sunset on
a stream, which is probably Lake river. This is a small stream, some five
or six feet broad, with a swift current, timbered principally with willows
and some few cottonwoods. Along the banks were canes, rosebushes, and
clematis, with Purshia tridentata and artemisias on the upper bottom. The
sombre appearance of the country is somewhat relieved in coming
unexpectedly from the dark rocks upon these green and wooded water-
courses, sunk in chasms; and, in the spring, the contrasted effect must
make them beautiful.

The thermometer at sunset 47 deg., and the night threatening snow.

6th.--The morning warm, the thermometer 46 deg. at sunrise, and sky entirely
clouded. After traveling about three miles over an extremely rocky road,
the volcanic fragments began to disappear; and, entering among the hills
at the point of the mountain, we found ourselves suddenly in a granite
country. Here, the character of the vegetation was very much changed; the
artemisia disappeared almost entirely, showing only at intervals towards
the close of the day, and was replaced by Purshia tridentata, with
flowering shrubs, and small fields of _dieteria divaricata,_ which
gave bloom and gayety to the hills. These were everywhere covered with a
fresh and green short grass, like that of the early spring. This is the
fall or second growth, the dried grass having been burnt off by the
Indians; and wherever the fire has passed, the bright, green color is
universal. The soil among the hills is altogether different from that of
the river plain, being in many places black, in others sandy and gravelly,
but of a firm and good character, appearing to result from the
decomposition of the granite rocks, which is proceeding rapidly.

In quitting for a time the artemisia (sage) through which we had been so
long voyaging, and the sombre appearance of which is so discouraging, I
have to remark, that I have been informed that in Mexico wheat is grown
upon the ground which produces this shrub; which, if true, relieves the
soil from the character of sterility imputed to it. Be this as it may,
there is no dispute about the grass, which is almost universal on the
hills and mountains, and always nutritious, even in its dry state. We
passed on the way masses of granite on the slope of the spur, which was
very much weathered and abraded. This is a white feldspathic granite, with
small scales of black mica; smoky quartz and garnets appear to constitute
this portion of the mountain.

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