Part 9 out of 9
One morning the sentinel on the top of the mountain announced by
signals that the Indians were on the move; but the little fortification
was already completed, and the anxious trappers coolly awaited the
approach of the savages.
Slowly the redskins in full war-paint gathered around the sequestered
camp, and more than a thousand warriors had congregated within half
a mile of the trappers' breastwork in three days.
Dressed in their fancy bonnets, and hideously bedaubed with yellow and
vermilion streaks across their foreheads and on each cheek, armed with
bows, tomahawks, and long lances, they presented a formidable-looking
front to the small number of whites. The trappers kept cool, however;
every man clutched his rifle, determined to sell his life only at
fearful cost to the confident savages.
They commenced one of their horrible war-dances right in sight and
hearing of the trappers, and at dawn the following day they advanced
toward the little fortification, carefully prepared for a concerted
Carson cautioned his men to reserve their fire until the Indians were
near enough to make sure that every shot would count; but the savages,
seeing how effectively the trappers had intrenched themselves, retired
after firing a few harmless shots, and went into camp a mile distant.
Finally they separated into two bands, leaving the whites a
breathing-spell. The latter were well aware an encounter must
necessarily be of a most desperate character.
The Indians had evidently recognized Carson, who had so frequently
severely punished them, and they made no further attempt to molest
the trappers, much to the relief of the beleaguered men.
Jim Cockrell, as he was known in the mountains, was one of the
earliest of the old trappers. He left his home in Missouri in the
spring of 1822, and started for the heart of the Rocky Mountains,
with a single packhorse to carry his camp equipage, and a single
riding-horse. He trapped by himself for more than two years.
In a short time that terrible loneliness which comes to all men,
for man is a gregarious animal, was experienced in all its horrors by
this isolated trapper. Like all men of his class at that time, he was
exceedingly superstitious. He wanted somebody to talk to, and in the
absence of a possibility of finding one of his own kind, his greatest
desire was for a dog, a true friend under all circumstances. He says
that he prayed long and earnestly for the fulfilment of his wish.
To his surprise on awaking one morning from the night's sleep he saw
a dog lying on his robes alongside of him. Remote from all civilization
and far from any Indian camp, he never, to the day of his death,
had the slightest idea how the dog came to him; but no one could ever
disabuse his mind of his belief that Providence had answered his appeal.
The youthful trapper avoided the Indians as much as possible, for,
tenderfoot as he was at first, he knew well that they would harass him
in every possible way, in order to drive him from a region which was
their elysium. He found it an easy matter, after he became acquainted
with their habits, to keep out of their sight. In a short time, also,
he was under a sort of protection of Peg Leg Smith, who lived with his
Indian wife near Soda Springs, now in Idaho.
James Cockrell was over six feet high, very hospitable, generous and
kind to friends, but decidedly outspoken to his enemies. After having
accumulated some money by trapping, he returned to Missouri, lived
upon a fine farm, and died at a ripe old age.
Peg Leg Smith was a famous trapper, and after marrying a squaw of
the Shoshone tribe, who proved to be a very efficient partner in
preparing the pelts of the animals he had caught, he made a great
deal of money.
He was very fond of whiskey and generally full of it, particularly
while remaining in the settlements, and would have his fun if he had
to make it for himself. In the early '30's, Peg Leg Smith came down
from his mountain home, sold his season's trapping, then put up at
the Nolan House at Independence, Missouri, for a general good time.
In a very few hours he was drunk, and remained in that condition for
some time. After he had been at the hotel a week, the clerk put his
bill under the door of his room, simply to let him know the amount of
his account. When Smith saw it he determined to have some fun out
of it. He went down to the office apparently in a perfect rage, and
holding the account up to the clerk, said he was grossly insulted;
“here's this paper stuck under my door, and it's one of the greatest
insults that I have ever received.” Smith kept on talking in this
wild strain for a few moments, until he arrested the attention of
every one in the bar-room. The poor clerk tried to pacify him, but,
failing completely, sent for Mr. Nolan, the proprietor, who, coming in,
tried to reason with Smith, but all in vain. Finally, Smith in great
indignation called for his horse. It was a fine animal, as he always
rode the best that could be procured. Upon this demand the landlord
told him to pay his bill and he could have his horse. He went back
to his room, procured his gun, and started for the stable, which was
about fifty yards from the house. The hostler had already been ordered
not to let him have the animal and to lock the stable door. Peg Leg
on reaching the stable demanded his horse, but he was refused.
He raised his gun and shot the lock all to pieces. The fellows who
were looking on screamed with laughter and made fun, greatly to the
mortification of Nolan. Smith then told the hostler to take good care
of his horse, and, his apparent indignation changing to a smile,
he walked back to the house. Then he invited every one up to the bar
and spent twenty or thirty dollars before he left for his room.
BUILDING THE UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD.
In this story of the Salt Lake Trail, our account would not be
complete without including the history of the great “Iron Trail” that
now practically, for a long distance, follows the grassy path of the
lumbering stage-coach, the slowly moving freight caravans drawn by
patient oxen, or the dangerous route of the relatively rapid Pony
No better story of the construction of the Great Union Pacific Railroad
can be found than the address of its chief engineer, General G. M.
Dodge, before the Society of the Army of the Tennessee, at Toledo,
Ohio, on the 15th of September, 1888. He had been over the whole
region which extends from the Missouri River to Salt Lake in the early
'50's, and, as has been said of him by a distinguished jurist, now
He was an enthusiast who communicated enthusiasm to his
working forces, and he showed his skill in the management of
hostile Indians, and the ruffians and gamblers who followed
the camp. The close of the war, in which he distinguished
himself, left him at liberty to accept this position of chief
engineer, and his intimate relations with Grant and Sherman
put him on such terms with commanding officers of garrisons
and military posts along the route, that he was enabled to
avail himself of military aid against marauding Indians, and
also frequently in maintaining order when worthless
camp-followers become unruly.
The authors of this work have deemed it advisable to quote the greater
part of General Dodge's address, as a more complete account of the
construction of the road than anything to be found elsewhere on the
Turn with me to the first volume of General Sherman's memoirs,
page 79, where he says:—
“Shortly after returning from Monterey, I was sent to General
Smith up to Sacramento City to instruct Lieutenants Warner and
Williamson, of the engineers, to push their surveys of the
Sierra Nevada Mountains, for the purpose of ascertaining the
possibility of passing that range by a railroad, a subject
that then elicited universal interest. It was generally
assumed that such a road could not be made along any of the
immigrant roads then in use, and Warner's orders were to look
farther north up the Feather River, or some of its tributaries.
Warner was engaged in this survey during the summer and fall
of 1849, and had explored to the very end of Goose Lake,
the source of Feather River, when this officer's career was
terminated by death in battle with the Indians.”
He was too modest to add, as I have no doubt was the fact,
that those instructions were sent at his own suggestion;
that was the first exploring party ever sent into the field
for the special purpose of ascertaining the feasibility of
constructing a railway on a portion of the line of one of the
transcontinental routes, and that the exploration preceded
by at least four years the act of Congress making
appropriations “for explorations and surveys for a railroad
route from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean,”
the earlier fruits of which were embodied in thirteen
ponderous volumes, printed at the expense of the government.
And still further. The interest thus early manifested
continuing with unabated force was signalized in the closing
days of his official life by a summary of transcontinental
railroad construction up to that date, 1883, so exhaustive as
to the leading facts that I am at a loss touching the scope
he expects me to give to this paper. This summary may be
found in General Sherman's last report to the Secretary
of War, including the exhaustive statistics of Colonel Poe.
(Ex. Doc. 1, Part 2, Forty-eighth Congress, 1st Session,
pages 46, 47, and 253-317.
Under all circumstances, therefore, I must assume that he
expects me to confine my remarks to something of an elaboration
of the details of the construction of those lines with which
I was personally identified, more especially that which first
of all linked the two oceans together. . . .
When I first saw the country west of the Missouri River it was
without civil government, inhabited almost exclusively by
Indians. The few white men in it were voyageurs, or connected
in some way with the United States army. It was supposed to
be uninhabitable, without any natural resources or
productiveness, a vast expanse of arid plains, broken here
and there with barren, snow-capped mountains. Even Iowa was
unsettled west of the Des Moines River.
It cost the government in those days from one to two cents per
pound to haul freight one hundred miles to supply its posts;
and I was at one time in the country between the Humboldt and
the Platte nearly eight months without seeing a white man
other than my own employees.
Now, from the Missouri River to the Pacific, from the Red River
and the Rio Grande to the British possessions, the territory
is all under civil law.
The vast region is traversed its entire length by five great
transcontinental lines of railroad. There is hardly a county
in it not organized, and it is safe to say that there is not
a township that is without an occupant. Its plains teem with
all the products grown east of the Missouri River. It has
become the great corn and wheat producing belt of the United
States; its mountains are the producers of millions upon
millions of the precious ores, and from every range and valley
iron and coal in immense quantities are being mined.
It is said that a railroad enhances ten times the value of
the country through which it runs and which it controls, but
the value of this country has been enhanced hundreds of times.
The government has reaped from it a thousand-fold for every
dollar it has expended; and the Pacific roads have been the
one great cause that made this state of affairs possible.
The census of 1890 will place, in this territory, fifteen
million of people, and in twenty years it will support forty
It is difficult, I doubt not, for you to comprehend the fact
that the first time I crossed the Missouri River was on a raft,
and at the point where stands the city of Omaha to-day.
That night I slept in the teepee of an Omaha Indian.
When I crossed my party over to make the first explorations
not one of us had any knowledge of Indians, of the Indian
language, or of plains craft. The Indians surrounded our
wagons, took what they wanted, and dubbed us squaws. In my
exploring, ahead and alone, I struck the Elkhorn River about
noon. Being tired, I hid my rifle, saddle, and blanket,
sauntered out into a secluded place in the woods with my pony,
and lay down to sleep. I was awakened and found my pony gone.
I looked out upon the valley, and saw an Indian running off
with him. I was twenty-five miles from my party and was
terrified. It was my first experience, for I was very young.
What possessed me I do not know, but I grabbed my rifle and
started after the Indian hallooing at the top of my voice.
The pony held back, and the Indian, seeing me gaining upon him,
let the horse go, jumped into the Elkhorn, and put that river
The Indian was a Pawnee. He served me in 1865, and said to me
that I made so much noise he was a “heap scared.”
Within a radius of ten miles of that same ground to-day are
five distinct lines of railroad, coming from all parts of the
country, concentrating at Omaha for a connection with the
The first private survey and exploration of the Pacific
Railroad was caused by the failure of the Mississippi &
Missouri, now the Chicago, Rock Island, & Pacific, to complete
The men who put their money into that enterprise conceived
the idea of working up a scheme, west of Iowa, that would be
an inducement to capital to invest in carrying their project
across Iowa to the Missouri River. They also wished to
determine at what point on the Missouri the Pacific Railroad
would start, so as to terminate their road at that point.
The explorers adopted Council Bluffs, Iowa, as that point.
All roads crossing the state for years ended their surveys at
that point, and all roads now built connect with that point.
These explorations, commenced by me in 1853, were continued
each year until 1861, when the result was seen in the framing
of the bill now known as the Law of 1862.
After this bill was passed, the Union Pacific Company was
organized at Chicago, September 2, 1862, and Reed, Dey, and
Brayton made reconnoissances east of the mountains, Reed
confining his work to the crossing of the mountains to reach
the Great Salt Lake Basin. The effort to engage capital in
the road was a failure.
During these explorations, in 1856 or 1857, I happened to
return to Council Bluffs, where Mr. Lincoln chanced to be on
business. It was then quite an event for an exploring party
to reach the States. After dinner, while I was sitting on the
stoop of the Pacific House, Mr. Lincoln came and sat beside
me, and in his kindly way and manner was soon drawing from me
all I knew of the country west, and the result of my surveys.
The secrets that were to go to my employers he got, and,
in fact, as the saying there was, he completely “shelled my
woods.” President Lincoln, in the spring of 1863, sent for me
to come to Washington.
When I received the summons from General Grant, at Corinth,
Mississippi, to repair to Washington, giving no reason,
it alarmed me. I had armed without authority a lot of negroes
and organized them into a company to guard the Corinth
contraband camp. It had been severely criticised in the army,
and I thought this act of mine had partly to do with my call
to Washington; however, upon reaching there and reporting to
the President, I found that he recollected his conversation on
the Pacific House stoop; that he was, under the law, to fix
the eastern terminus of the Pacific Road; and, also, that he
was very anxious to have the road commenced and built, and
desired to consult me on these questions. He finally fixed
the terminus at Council Bluffs, Iowa.
In the discussion of the means of building the road I thought
and urged that no private combination should be relied on,
that it must be done by the government. The President frankly
said that the government had its hands full. Private
enterprise must do the work, and all the government could do
was to aid. What he wished to know of me was, what was
required from the government to ensure its commencement and
completion. He said it was a military necessity that the road
should be built.
From Washington I proceeded to New York, and after consulting
there with the parties who had the question before them,
the bill of 1864 was drawn. In due time it passed, and under
it the Union and Central Pacific Railroads, constituting one
continuous line, were built.
In the fall of 1864, and after the fall of Atlanta, and while
on my return from City Point, where I had been to visit
General Grant for a couple of weeks, the commander-in-chief
sent me back by way of Washington to see the President.
While the President referred to the Pacific Road, its progress
and the result of my former visit, he gave it very little
thought, apparently, and his great desire seemed to be to get
encouragement respecting the situation around Richmond, which
just then was very dark. People were criticising Grant's
strategy, and telling him how to take Richmond. I think the
advice and pressure on President Lincoln were almost too much
for him, for during my entire visit, which lasted several
hours, he confined himself, after reading a chapter out of
a humorous book (I believe called the _Gospel of Peace_),
to Grant and the situation at Petersburg and Richmond.
After Atlanta, my assignment to a separate department brought
the country between the Missouri River and California under
my command, and then I was charged with the Indian campaigns
of 1865 and 1866. I travelled again over all that portion
of the country I had explored in former years, and saw the
beginning of that great future that awaited it. I then began
to comprehend its capabilities and resources, and in all
movements of our troops and scouting parties I had reports
made upon the country—its resources and topography; and
I myself, during the two years, traversed it east and west,
north and south, from the Arkansas to the Yellowstone and
from Missouri to the Salt Lake Basin.
It was on one of these trips that I discovered the pass
through the Black Hills, and gave it the name of Sherman,
in honour of my great chief. Its elevation is 8236 feet, and
for years it was the highest point reached by any railroad in
the United States. The circumstances of this accidental
discovery may not be uninteresting to you.
While returning from the Powder River campaign I was in the
habit of leaving my troops, and, with a few men, examining
all the approaches and passes from Fort Fetterman south, over
the secondary range of mountains known as the Black Hills,
the most difficult to overcome with proper grades of all the
ranges, on account of its short slopes and great height. When
I reached the Lodge-Pole Creek, up which went the overland
trail, I took a few mounted men—I think six—and with one of
my scouts as guide, went up the creek to the summit of
Cheyenne Pass, striking south along the crest of the mountains
to obtain a good view of the country, the troops and trains at
the same time passing along the east base of the mountains on
what was known as the St. Vrain and the Laramie trail.
About noon, in the valley of a tributary of Crow Creek,
we discovered Indians, who at the same time discovered us.
They were between us and our trains. I saw our danger and
took means immediately to reach the ridge and try to head
them off, and follow it to where the cavalry could see our
signals. We dismounted and started down the ridge, holding
the Indians at bay, when they came too near, with our
Winchesters. It was nearly night when the troops saw our
smoke-signals of danger and came to our relief; and in going
to the train we followed this ridge out until I discovered
it led down to the plains without a break. I then said to my
guide that if we saved our scalps I believed we had found the
crossing of the Black Hills—and over this ridge, between the
Lone Tree and Crow Creeks, the wonderful line over the
mountains was built. For over two years all explorations had
failed to find a satisfactory crossing of this range.
The country east of it was unexplored, but we had no doubt
we could reach it.
In 1867, General Augur, General John A. Rawlins, Colonel
Mizner, and some others, crossing the plains with me, reached
the point where I camped that night. We spent there the
Fourth of July, and General Rawlins made a remarkable speech
commemorating the day. We located there the post of D. A.
Russell and the city of Cheyenne. At that time the nearest
settlement was at Denver, one hundred and fifty miles away;
and while we lay there the Indians swooped down on a Mormon
train that had followed our trail, and killed two of its men;
but we saved their stock, and started the graveyard of the
The explorations by the government for a Pacific railroad are
all matters of official report, long since published and open
to all. They were the basis for the future explorations of
all the transcontinental lines, except the Union Pacific,
then known as that of the forty-second parallel of latitude.
That line, and the country from the Arkansas to the Yellowstone,
was explored and developed mainly by private enterprise, and
it is by far the most practicable line crossing the continent
—the shortest and quickest, of lightest curvature, and lowest
grades and summits. It is not, in an engineering point of
view, the true line from the Atlantic to the Pacific, but in
a commercial point of view it is.
In an engineering point of view we demonstrated, before the
year 1860, that the true line was up the Platte to its forks,
to which point the Union Pacific is now built, then up (where
the Oregon Short Line now runs) to the Columbia, and then to
tide-water at Portland. The Union and Central were built for
commercial value, and to obtain the shortest and quickest line
from ocean to ocean. The line of the Central was controlled
almost entirely by the development of the mining industries
in California and Nevada until it reached the Humboldt; then
its natural course would be to reach Salt Lake and the Mormon
settlements. The Union Pacific objective point was the Pacific
Coast by way of the Great Platte Valley and Salt Lake. . . .
When we reached the mountains a series of questions arose as
to how this base should be determined. The eastern base was
determined by Mr. Blickensderfer, who was appointed by the
government. After examining the country he declared it to be
right at the foot of the mountains, where the heavy grades to
overcome the first range, the Black Hills, were made necessary
—a very proper decision. The west base of the Sierra was
located near Sacramento, where the drift of the mountains
reached into the valley, or where, you might say, the first
approach to the mountains begins, but long before the heavy
A good story is told, the truth of which I will not undertake
to vouch for, in relation to the fixing of the base. By the
original railroad act, as we have noticed, the President was
to fix the point where the Sacramento Valley ended and the
foot-hills of the Sierra Nevada began. Chief Engineer Judah,
in his report, had designated Barmore's, thirty-one miles
from Sacramento, as the beginning of the mountains. This
corresponded with a decision of the Supreme Court of the
United States, made in April, 1864, in the case of the
Liedsdorff grant. The contestants of the grant attempted to
fix the eastern boundaries at Alder Creek, eighty miles nearer
Sacramento. This grant, by Mexican authority, was bounded by
the foot-hills on the east. The Supreme Court decided that
the foot-hills commenced about thirty miles from that city.
Several attempts were made by Mr. Sargent, then a member of
Congress, and since United States Senator, soon after the
passage of the original act, to bring the attention of
President Lincoln to this subject, but the President's
constant occupation, with weightier duties forced upon him by
the great war, prevented his action. The time came, however,
when it could be no longer delayed.
Owing to the increase of subsidy among the hills and mountains,
it was important to the railway company that the foot-hills
should begin as near as possible to Sacramento. The senator
claims the credit of moving the mountains from Barmore's to
Arcade Creek, a distance of twenty-four miles. His relation
of the affair to his friends is this: Lincoln was engaged with
a map when the senator substituted another, and demonstrated
by it and the statement of some geologist that the black soil
of the valley and the red soil of the hills united at Arcade.
The President relied on the statements given to him, and
decided accordingly. “Here you see,” said the senator,
“how my pertinacity and Abraham's faith removed mountains.”
Reconnoissances made in 1862, 1863, 1864, had demonstrated
that a serious question would arise in reaching the Humboldt
Valley from the western foot of the Wahsatch Mountains in the
Salt Lake Basin. Should the line go north or south of the lake?
The Mormon Church and all of its followers, a central power of
great use to the transcontinental roads, were determinedly
in favour of the south line. It was preached from the pulpits
and authoritatively announced that a road could not be built
or run north of the lake. But our explorations in an earlier
day unqualifiedly indicated the north side, though an
exhaustive examination was made south, and only one line run
north, it being our main line to the California state line
surveyed in 1867.
The explorations by parties south of the lake, and the
personal examinations of the chief engineer, determined that
it had no merits compared with the north line, and on such
report the north line was adopted by the company and accepted
by the government.
Brigham Young called a conference of his church, and refused
to accept the decision; prohibited his people from contracting
or working for the Union Pacific, and threw all his influence
and efforts to the Central Pacific, which just at that time
was of great moment, as there was a complete force of Mormon
contractors and labourers in Salt Lake Valley competent to
construct the line two hundred miles east or west of the lake.
The two companies also had entered into active competition,
each respectively to see how far east or west of the lake
they could build, that city being the objective point, and
the key to the control of the great basin.
The Central Pacific Company entered upon the examination of
the lines long after the Union Pacific had determined and
filed its line, and we waited the decision of their engineers
with some anxiety. We knew they could not obtain so good a
line, but we were in doubt whether, with the aid of the Mormon
Church, and the fact that the line south of the lake passed
through Salt Lake City, the only commercial capital between
the Missouri River and Sacramento, they might decide to take
the long and undulating line; and then the question as to
which (the one built south, the other built north, and it
would fall to the government to decide) should receive the
bonds and become the transcontinental line. However, the
engineers of the Central Pacific, Clements and Ives, took as
strong ground, or stronger than we, in favour of the north
line, and located almost exactly on the same ground the Union
Pacific had occupied a year before; and this brought the
Mormon forces to the Union Pacific, their first love.
The location of the Union Pacific was extended to the
California state line, and that of the Central Pacific to the
mouth of the Weber Cañon. The Union Pacific work hastened,
and most of the line graded to Humboldt Wells, two hundred and
nineteen miles west of Ogden, and the Union Pacific met the
track of the Central Pacific at Promontory Summit, one
thousand one hundred and eighty-six miles west of the Missouri
River, and six hundred and thirty-eight miles east of
Sacramento, on May 9, 1869, to the wonder of America, and the
utter astonishment of the whole world, completing the entire
line seven years before the limit of time allowed by the
government. . . .
In 1863 and 1864 surveys were inaugurated, but in 1866 the
country was systematically occupied; and day and night, summer
and winter, the explorations were pushed forward through
dangers and hardships that very few at this day appreciate;
as every mile had to be within range of the musket, there was
not a moment's security. In making the surveys, numbers of
our men, some of them the ablest and most promising, were
killed; and during the construction our stock was run off by
the hundred, I might say by the thousand. As one difficulty
after another arose and was overcome, both in the engineering
and construction departments, a new era in railroad building
Each day taught us lessons by which we profited for the next,
and our advances and improvements in the art of railway
construction were marked by the progress of the work; forty
miles of track having been laid in 1865, two hundred and sixty
in 1866, two hundred and forty in 1867, including the ascent
to the summit of the Rocky Mountains, at an elevation of eight
thousand two hundred and forty feet above the ocean; and
during 1868 and to May 10, 1869, five hundred and fifty-five
miles, all exclusive of side and temporary tracks, of which
over one hundred and eighty miles were built in addition.
The first grading was done in the autumn of 1864, and the
first rail laid in July, 1865. When you look back to the
beginning at the Missouri River, with no railway communication
from the east, and five hundred miles of the country in
advance; without timber, fuel, or any material whatever from
which to build or maintain a roadbed itself; with everything
to be transported, and that by teams or at best by steamboats,
for hundreds and thousands of miles; everything to be created,
with labour scarce and high—you can all look back upon the
work with satisfaction and ask, under such circumstances,
could we have done better? . . .
The experience of the war made possible the building of this
transcontinental railroad, not only physically, but financially.
The government, already burdened with billions of debt,
floated fifty million dollars more, and by this action it
created a credit which enabled the railroad company to float
an equal amount; and these two credits, when handled by men of
means and courage, who also threw their own private fortunes
into the scale, accomplished the work.
If it had been proposed, before the war, that the United
States should use its credit, and issue bonds to build a
railroad two thousand miles long across a vast, barren plain,
only known to the red man, uninhabited, without one dollar
of business to sustain it, the proposition alone would have
virtually bankrupted the nation.
Possibilities of finance, as developed during the war, made
this problem not only possible, but solved and carried it out,
and accomplished in three years a feat which no previous plan
had proposed to accomplish in less than ten years; and while
it was being accomplished, the only persons who had real,
solid, undoubted faith in its completion were that portion
of the nation who had taken an active part in the war.
Necessity brought out during the war bold structures that in
their rough were models of economy in material and strength.
In taking care of direct and lateral strains by positions of
posts and braces, they adopted principles that are used to-day
in the highest and boldest structures; and I undertake to say
that no structure up to date has been built which has not
followed those simple principles that were evolved out of
necessity, though reported against during the war by the most
experienced and reliable engineers of the world.
A few bold spirits backed the enterprise with their fortunes
and independent credit. They were called fools and fanatics.
Oakes Ames—the real pluck of the work—said to me once, “What
makes me hang on is the faith of you soldiers,” referring, at
the time, to the support the army was giving us, led by Grant,
Sherman, Sheridan, Pope, Thomas, Augur, and Crook, and all who
had direct communication with us on the plains. There was
nothing we could ask them for that they did not give, even
when regulations did not authorize it, and took a large
stretch of authority to satisfy our demands.
The commissary department was open to us. Their troops
guarded us, and we reconnoitred, surveyed, located, and built
inside of their picket-line. We marched to work by the tap of
the drum with our men armed. They stacked their arms on the
dump, and were ready at a moment's warning to fall in and
fight for their territory.
General Casement's track-train could arm a thousand men at
a word; and from him, as a head, down to his chief spiker,
it could be commanded by experienced officers of every rank,
from general to captain. They had served five years at the
front, and over half of the men had shouldered a musket in
many battles. An illustration of this came to me after our
track had passed Plum Creek, two hundred miles west of the
Missouri River. The Indians had captured a freight-train and
were in possession of it and its crews. It so happened that
I was coming down from the front with my car, which was a
travelling arsenal. At Plum Creek Station word came of this
capture and stopped us. On my train were perhaps twenty men,
some a portion of the crew, some who had been discharged and
sought passage to the rear. Nearly all were strangers to me.
The excitement of the capture and the reports coming by
telegraph of the burning train brought all the men to the
platform, and when I called upon them to fall in, to go
forward and retake the train, every man on the train went
into line, and by his position showed that he was a soldier.
We ran down slowly until we came in sight of the train.
I gave the order to deploy as skirmishers, and at the command
they went forward as steadily and in as good order as we had
seen the old soldiers climb the face of Kenesaw under fire.
Less than ten years before, General Sherman had suggested
a different method of dispensing with the Indian. Writing to
his brother, he said:—
“No particular danger need be apprehended from Indians. They
will no doubt pilfer and rob, and may occasionally attack and
kill stragglers; but the grading of the road will require
strong parties, capable of defending themselves; and the
supplies for the road and maintenance of the workmen will be
carried in large trains of wagons, such as went last year to
Salt Lake, none of which were molested by the Indians.
So large a number of workmen distributed along the line will
introduce enough whiskey to kill off all the Indians within
three hundred miles of the road.”
In speaking of the climatic changes incident to the building of
transcontinental lines of railroad, General Dodge also says:—
The building of the Pacific roads has changed the climate
between the Missouri River and the Sierra Nevada. In the
extreme West it is not felt so much as between the Missouri
River and the Rocky Mountains. Before settlement had
developed it, the country west of the Missouri River could
raise little of the main crops, except by irrigation. From
April until September no rain fell. The snows of the
mountains furnished the streams with water and the bunch-grass
with sufficient dampness to sustain it until July when it
became cured and was the food that sustained all animal life
on the plains, summer and winter.
I have seen herds of buffalo, hundreds of thousands in number,
living off bunch-grass that they obtained by pawing through
two feet of snow, on the level. It was this feature that
induced the stocking of immense ranches with cattle. Buffalo
never changed the character of the grass, but herds of cattle
did, so that now, on the ranges, very little of the bunch or
buffalo grass remains.
Since the building of these roads, it is calculated that the
rain belt moves westward at the rate of eight miles a year.
It has now certainly reached the plains of Colorado, and for
two years that high and dry state has raised crops without
irrigation, right up to the foot of the mountains.
Salt Lake since 1852 has risen nineteen feet, submerging whole
farms along its border and threatening the level desert west
of it. It has been a gradual but permanent rise, and comes
from the additional moisture falling during the year—rain and
snow. Professor Agassiz, in 1867, after a visit to Colorado,
predicted that this increase of moisture would come by the
disturbance of the electric currents, caused by the building
of the Pacific railroads and settlement of the country.
It must be admitted, however, that the growth of the once vast
supposed relatively sterile region west of the Missouri River
is not due in its entirety to the building of railroads, but
that the idea of absolute sterility was a mistaken one;
without a fertile soil and other possibilities for the
advancement of civilization there, railroads would never have
been constructed. The railroads have developed what was
inherently not a desert in its most rigid definition, but a
misunderstood region, which only awaited the touch of the
genius of agriculture, made possible alone by the building of
But for the railroads the great central region of the continent would
indeed be a howling wilderness. As the late Sidney Dillon,
ex-president of the Union Pacific Railroad, wrote in a magazine
article on “The West and the Railroads” in the _North American Review_
for April, 1891,
Like many other great truths, this is so well known to the
older portions of our commonwealth that they have forgotten it;
and the younger portions do not comprehend or appreciate it.
Men are so constituted that they use existing advantages
as if they had always existed, and were matters of course.
The world went without friction matches during thousands of
years, but people light their fires to-day without a thought
as to the marvellous chemistry of the little instrument that
is of such inestimable value, and yet remained so long unknown.
The youngster of to-day steps into a luxurious coach at
New York, Philadelphia, or Chicago, eats, sleeps, surveys
romantic scenery from the window during a few days, and
alights in Portland or San Francisco without any just
appreciation of the fact that a few decades since it would
have required weeks of toilsome travel to go over the same
ground, during which he would have run the risk of starvation,
of being lost in the wilderness, plundered by robbers, or
killed by savages. The most beneficent function of the
railway is that of a carrier of freight. What would it cost
a man to carry a ton of wheat one mile? What would it cost
for a horse to do the same? The railway does it at a cost of
less than a cent. This brings Dakota and Minnesota into
direct relation with hungry and opulent Liverpool, and makes
subsistence easier and cheaper throughout the civilized world.
The world should, therefore, thank the railway for the
opportunity to buy wheat, but none the less should the West
thank the railway for the opportunity to sell wheat.
Nothing now marks the spot at Promontory Point where the
formal ceremony of driving in the last spike took place on
May 10, 1869, and even the small station known as Promontory
is at some distance from that point where the connection
between the two transcontinental roads was originally made.
The whole aspect of the country, from the Missouri River to
Salt Lake, has marvellously changed. Where then were only
tents, there are now well-built, substantial, and prosperous
towns; and instead of the great desert wastes, supposed to be
beyond reach of cultivation, one may now see an almost
unbroken stretch of corn-fields and cultivated lands.
The five or six hundred men who saw the junction made at
Promontory Point were strongly impressed with the conviction
that the event was of great national importance; but they
connected it with the development of transcontinental
communication, and trade with China and Japan, rather than
with internal development, or what railroad men call local
traffic. They were somewhat visionary, no doubt, but none of
them dreamed that the future of the Pacific road depended more
on the business that would grow out of the peopling of the
deserts it traversed than upon the through traffic.
It is not too much to say that the opening of the Pacific road,
viewed simply in its relation to the spread of population,
development of resources, and actual advance of civilization,
was an event to be ranked in far-reaching results with the
landing of the Pilgrims, or perhaps the voyage of Columbus.
The Great Salt Lake Trail is now crossed and recrossed by the iron
highway of commerce. The wilderness is no longer silent; the spell of
its enchantment is broken. The lonely trapper has vanished from the
stern mountain scene. The Indian himself has nearly disappeared, and
in another generation the wild landmarks of the old trail will be
almost the only tangible memorials of the men who led the way.
 This John Coulter was the first white man to see and describe
the wonders of what is now the National Park. His account, however,
was received as a frontier lie, and the truth of his statements
were not verified until long after the hardy adventurer's death.
 Fort Osage, on the Missouri River, was on the site of the present
town of Sibley, where the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fé Railroad
crosses that stream.
 John Day was a remarkable man. His life was full of wonderful
adventures. He became insane while on this expedition of Stuart's,
and was sent back to Astoria, but shortly afterwards he died there.
The well-known John Day's River was so called in his honour.
 From an inspection of the map which accompanied Stuart's march,
this stream was evidently the headwater of the North Fork of the
Platte; but he was not aware of the fact.
 Grand Island in the Platte River was thus originally named by the
early trappers and voyageurs, the majority of whom were French Canadians.
 See _Astoria_, by Washington Irving.
 This was not Kit Carson. The great frontiersman did not make his
advent in the mountains until years afterward.
 An Indian vapour-bath, or sweating-house, is a square six or
eight feet deep, usually built against a river bank, by damming up
the other three sides with mud, and covering the top completely,
excepting an opening about two feet wide. The bather gets into
the hole, taking with him a number of stones that have been heated,
and a vessel filled with water. After seating himself he begins to
pour the water on the hot stones, until the steam generated is
sufficient to answer his purpose. When he has perspired freely,
he goes out and plunges in the stream, the colder the water the better.
 Rose lived with the Crows many years, became a great man among
them, could speak their language fluently. He was a giant, and
fearless to recklessness, and by his deeds of daring became one of
the first braves of the tribe. At one time, in a desperate fight
with the Blackfeet, he shot down the first savage who opposed him,
and with the war-club of his victim killed four others. His name
among the Crows was “Che-ku-kaats,” or the man who killed five.
His knowledge of the country was marvellous, and some years after
his adoption by the tribe, he was the principle guide and interpreter
for Fitzpatrick and Sublette, who conducted a trapping expedition
sent across the continent by General Ashley. How he died is unknown;
one rumour says from his licentious habits, another that he was
killed by some of his adopted brethren. He was a heroic vagabond,
but the redeeming feature of his life was that he taught the Crows
to cultivate the friendship of the whites, a policy which that tribe
observed for years.
 See Washington Irving's _Astoria_.
 He was the son of an Iroquois hunter, who had been cruelly
murdered by the Blackfeet on a small stream below the mountains
which still bears his name.
 In 1820 Major Stephen H. Long, of the United States army,
commanded an expedition through the Platte Valley and beyond,
under the direction of the War Department. As its object was purely
scientific, and its details uninteresting to the general reader,
it is omitted here.
 Captain Bonneville attained the rank of colonel, was retired
in 1861, and died on the 12th of June, 1878.
 The Black Fork of Green River is in the southwest corner of the
state of Wyoming.
 The name “Long-Knife” was applied by the Indians to the command
of Lewis and Clarke when they crossed the continent in 1804-5, and
it has remained as a name for the whites ever since.
 A keg.
 Captain Stuart Van Vliet, U.S.A.
 In reciting the preparations for the impending war on the part
of the Mormons, the hardships of the United States troops, and other
incidents relating to the troubles in Utah Territory, the authors of
this volume quote freely from Bancroft, Senate and House Democrats of
the Thirty-third Congress, as well as reports of the War Department.
 Taylor was captured by the United States troops about sixteen
miles from Fort Bridger, and the letter of instruction found on
 The remains of those dams and breastworks could be seen for many
years afterward, by travellers on the trains of the Union Pacific
Railroad which passed through the cañon.
 He took refuge in the Grand Cañon of the Colorado River;
his hiding-place was three miles from any possible pass, and he kept
a faithful adherent constantly on guard. When any one was seen
approaching the pass, Lee was immediately signalled and forthwith
repaired to a cave, where he remained until it was discovered whether
the intruder was friend or foe. If not a friend, he kept to his cave
until the party had left, then returned to his house. Lee followed
this life for five or six years, until he became so weary of dodging,
and running from supposed enemies, that he finally returned to
Salt Lake City. I saw his cave and house some years ago when,
in company with General N. A. Miles and others, I made a pleasure
trip to the Grand Cañon.—W. F. CODY.
 See Bancroft's _Pacific States_.
 Washington E. Hinman.
 The present Julesburg, until a few years ago, was called
“Denver Junction”; the old town was situated a mile west on the
opposite side of the river, and the Julesburg of 1867 was five miles
farther west, north of the Platte, and is now known as Weir.
 Senator Gwinn espoused the cause of the Southern Confederacy,
and lost his wonderful prestige and influence in California, as well
as a fortune, in his fealty to his native state, Mississippi. In 1866
he was created Duke of Sonora by Maximilian, in the furtherance of
his visionary scheme of western empire, but died soon afterwards.
 Known throughout the West as “Pony Bob.”
 So called because the trail ran through a cañon where the
Sweetwater reached from wall to wall, and had to be crossed three
times in a short distance.
 “Cayuse” means horse in some Indian dialects.
 Cy Warman vouches for this story in his _Frontier Stories_.
Copyright by Charles Scribner's Sons, 1898.
 Related to Harriet MacMurphy (to whom we are indebted for this
truthful account) by Mrs. Elton Beckstead, who at the age of thirteen
was Jules' wife and saw her husband murdered.
 The child-wife does not tell (perhaps never knew) that Slade
nailed one of her husband's ears to the door of the Pony Express
station, and wore the other for several weeks as a watch-charm.
 Mr. Creighton died of paralysis in 1874, and his widow endowed
a college named for him.
 Major John Burke thus briefly in a biographical sketch of these
men tells of their antecedents: “Russell was a Green Mountain boy,
who before his majority had gone West to grow up with the country,
and after teaching a three months' school on the frontier of Missouri,
hired himself to an old merchant of Lexington at thirty dollars
to keep books. . . . Alexander Majors was a son of Kentucky frontier
mountain parentage, his father a colleague and friend of Daniel Boone.
William Waddell, of Virginian ancestry, emigrants to the Blue Grass
region of the same state as Majors, was bold enough for any enterprise,
and able to fill any niche the West demanded.”
 This stream was named by Fremont on his second expedition of
exploration to the regions of the then unknown “Far West.”
 The initial starting-point of the stage line was Leavenworth,
on the Missouri, but after a few months it was changed to Atchison.
 This was the route of the Pony Express which was inaugurated
some years afterward.
 Ben Holliday was one of those wonderful characters developed by
a life of adventure and danger, having been nurtured amid the most
startling incidents of the frontier. He was born near the old
Blue Lick battlefield. At seventeen he was Colonel Doniphan's
courier. When only twenty-eight years old he entered Salt Lake Valley
with fifty wagonloads of goods, and was endorsed by Brigham Young
as being worthy of the confidence of his people. Ten years later
he was the head of the Overland Route; at forty-five the owner of
sixteen steamers on the Pacific Ocean, with an immense trade to
Central America, China, and Japan.
 Near the station of Ogallala, on the Union Pacific Railroad.
 The unfrocked monk, Geudeville, who travelled extensively in
Canada, and published in London, in 1703, his _New Voyages to North
America_, under the nom de plume of Baron La Hontan. It is doubted
how far this jolly soldier and bon vivant travelled west. He had
served at various points in the interior, and leaves no reason to
doubt his presence, at various times, at what was Fort Gratiot,
Michilimackinac, Green Bay, and other points in the region of the
Upper Lakes. It is the opinion of the historians, however, that he
went no farther than Green Bay. There can be but little question of
the character of the fiction he attempted to palm off on his readers.
His work is a literary curiosity, unexcelled in bibliography, for its
bold assumption in attempting to impose on a credulous age a tale of
fancied adventures and fictitious observation. He was a veritable
 Although very rare indeed, among all other tribes, it was the
leading physical characteristic with the Mandans, a nation long since
extinct, who occupied the region at the mouth of the Yellowstone.
 This band was known as the Arikaras—not the Pawnees proper.
 See Long's _Expedition_ and Schoolcraft's _Indian Tribes_.
 The proper designation of this numerous tribe is Dakota,
meaning allied; the word “Sioux,” although difficult to trace to its
proper origin, is generally conceded to be a nickname—one of reproach
given to them by their ancient enemies east of the Mississippi.
 A common game among the savages. One party to the game takes
a pebble or small bullet in the curve of both his hands. After he
has tossed it about for a few seconds, he swiftly holds them apart,
and if his opponent can guess which hand the pebble or stone is in,
he wins; if not, he loses. Immense amounts are frequently wagered
in this game, for the North American Indian is an inveterate gambler.
 The name owes its origin to the practice of this tribe scarring the
left arm, crosswise, a custom which was kept up until a few years ago.
 It is a fact that the Comanches and Shoshones, though living
a thousand miles apart, with hostile tribes between them, speak exactly
the same language, and call themselves by the same general name.
They have, however, lost all tradition of having once formed one nation.
 As in some instances the medicine-men, so called, are really
the doctors of the tribe, and as “médecin” is French for doctor,
the early French voyageurs gave this term to these mystery-men,
by which they have been known ever since.
 The name of the Crows is not the correct appellation of the
tribe. They have never yet acknowledged the name, though as such are
officially recognized by the United States government. It was
conferred upon them in the early days by the interpreters, either
through ignorance of the language, or for the purpose of ridicule.
The name which they themselves acknowledge, and they recognize no
other, is in their language Ap-sah-ro-kee, which signifies the
Sparrow Hawk people.
 Beckwourth was a mulatto born in Virginia in 1798. He was of
medium height, of strong muscular power, quick of apprehension, very
active, and one of the greatest warriors the Crow Nation has ever
produced. Around his neck he wore a perforated bullet, with a large
oblong bead on each side of it, secured by a thread of sinew. He wore
this amulet during the whole time he was chief of the Crows. He was
one of the few honest Indian traders of whom history gives any account.
 Disfigurement of the body and dismemberment of the fingers,
as an observance of mourning, was common among all Indian tribes.
Sometimes upon the death of a warrior in battle his horse was cut
and slashed, “to make him feel sorry for the loss of his master.”
 During the sessions of the Peace Commission at Fort Laramie in
1866, Beckwourth was sent on a mission to consult with the chiefs of
the Crows. He was taken sick in one of their villages and died there,
probably from old age rather than disease.
 The Sioux bury their dead on platforms erected seven or eight
feet above the ground.
 For the best and most authentic collection of Indian Folk-lore,
see George Bird Grinnel's admirable volumes on the subject.
 This account is taken from files of the Denver newspapers
published at the time of the massacre.
 Ouray did not profess the Catholic religion, despite his early
training. He believed in the Ute god, and in a happy hunting-ground,
and also in a bad place, where wicked people cannot meet their friends.
 There is more in this legend of a primitive, superstitious people,
from an ethnological view of its details, than would be suspected at
first. The story of the sacrifice and the medicine-man wrapping
himself in the bloody hide of the buffalo, the use of the pine as fuel,
and the prostration of the multitude, while communion is held with
the Great Spirit, is the same ceremony that was observed by the Druids,
and religious peoples before them. This peculiar offering of blood
was common to the Indian who in the early years of the century
occupied a portion of the territory east of the Mississippi. It will
be remembered by the student of American history that when the war
of 1812-1815 was pending, the celebrated Tecumseh and his brother,
the Shawnee Prophet, called the tribes together, in order to induce
them to side with the English. At that famous council they sacrificed
a spotless red heifer on a high altar, and the medicine-man wrapped
the bloody skin around him, while all the savages present prostrated
themselves and communed with the Great Spirit to know what to do.
The result was that Tecumseh's plans were defeated, for the Indians
were told by the Great Spirit to side with the Americans.
In the eleventh Book of the _Æneid_, Virgil relates the same
observance on Mount Soracte, where there was a temple dedicated to
Apollo, and a sacrifice made annually to the god, who represented
the sun. Arruns in his prayer says:—
Apollo, thou of gods
The mightiest, who in guard the sacred mount
Soracte holdest, and whom first of all
We worship, unto whom are heaped the fires
The piney branches make, and whom adore
Thy votaries, as we walk, by pious zeal
Sustained, on burning coals.
 _The White Chief_, by George P. Belden. Edited by General
James S. Brisbin. Published by C. F. Vent; Cincinnati, 1872.
 The Southern Cheyennes, Kiowas, and Arapahoes waged an unrelenting
war along the whole line of the border from Nebraska to Texas, under
the leadership of the dreaded Sa-tan-ta.
 Jack Stead was a runaway sailor boy. He was on the Peacock
when it was wrecked years ago near the mouth of the Columbia River.
He lived for years in the Rocky Mountains, and was the first man to
report to the United States government the Mormon preparations to
resist it. He had a Cheyenne wife, was a good story-teller, and
 William Frederick Cody (“Buffalo Bill”), the scout, guide, and
Indian fighter, was born on the 26th of February, 1846, in a primative
log-cabin in the backwoods of Iowa. In 1852, the family removed to
Kansas, where the father of young Cody, two years later, became a
martyr to the Free State cause. From the moment the family was thus
deprived of its support, the only boy, though a mere child, at the age
of nine years, commenced his career. As a collaborator in the
preparation of this work, he has been prevailed upon to relate all the
incidents of his life, so far as they confined to the region of which
this volume treats. [E-text editor's note: They encompass chapters 16
and 17 in their entirety. In the original book, every paragraph
appeared in quotation marks.] For his further adventures in the
Arkansas Valley and south of it, see _The Old Santa Fé Trail_.
 Long poles, one fastened on each side of a pony, the ends dragging
on the ground far to the rear; on these the dead and wounded were
carried. The Indians also move their camp equipage by this primitive
means of transportation.
 Strange as it may seem, this savage, instead of being moved with
hatred toward Colonel Cody, as a civilized woman would have been under
similar circumstances, actually looked upon him with special favour
and esteemed it quite an honour that her husband, a great warrior
himself, should have met his death at the hands of such a brave man as
the Prairie Chief, the name the Indians had given to the colonel.
 Nelson is still shooting Indians from the top of the old Deadwood
stage-coach in the Wild West show.
 The rendezvous, in trapper's parlance, was a point somewhere
in the region where the agents of the fur companies congregate to
purchase the season's catch, and where the traders brought such goods
as trappers needed, to sell.
 A very bad quality of whiskey made in Taos in the early days,
which, on account of its fiery nature, was called “Taos Lightning.”
 The Ute name for the Spanish Peaks.
 His name for his knife. It was the custom of the old trappers
and hunters to personify their weapons, usually in remembrance of the
locality where they got them.
 If “California Joe” had any other name, but few knew it; he was
a grizzled trapper and scout of the old régime. He was the best
all-round shot on the plains. He was the first man to ride with
General Custer into the village of Black Kettle, of the Cheyennes,
when that chief's band was annihilated in the battle of the Washita,
in November, 1868, by the U. S. Cavalry and the Nineteenth Kansas.
Joe was murdered in the Black Hills several years ago.
 Uncle of Senator Cockrell of Missouri.
 The real name of this strange old trapper was Thomas L. Smith.
He was eventually killed by the Indians.
 The authors of this book both well remember when the sand-hills
of the Arkansas River were, as their name implied, mere dunes of
shifting sand. Now they are covered with rich verdure upon which
thousands of cattle feed, and in the intervales are to be seen some of
the finest fruit-farms in the region of the central plains. Whether
Professor Agassiz was correct, or whether it is caused by great cycles
of atmospheric variation, it is a fact.
This section presents a record of the source book used to complete
this Etext edition of The Great Salt Lake Trail by Col. Henry Inman
and Col. William F. Cody. This Etext is not a faithful representation
of the source book's typesetting, but does contain the complete text
of the authors.
The source book was obtained from the Johnson County (Kansas) Library.
The bibliographic reference of the book is as follows:
Inman, Henry, and William F. Cody. _The Great Salt Lake Trail_. 1898.
Social Science Reprints Series. Williamstown, Mass.: Corner House
MARC Record Display.
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