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Title: Breaking the Wilderness

Author: Frederick S. Dellenbaugh

Release Date: December 1, 2018 [EBook #58390]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by Melissa McDaniel and the Online Distributed
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Transcriber's Note:

Inconsistent hyphenation and spelling in the original document have been preserved. Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

The following alternate spellings may be typos, or refer to different places or people.

The photograph of "Navajo Silver Beads" shown in the list of illustrations as being on page 72 does not appear in the book.

Duplicated advertisements in the front and back matter of the book have been removed from the front.


Blanca Peak, 14,390 feet. Baldy Peak, 14,176 feet.

Blanca Peak is the Third Highest in Colorado.

The point of view is on Trinchera Creek looking north from an altitude of about 8000 feet. To the left is the San Luis Valley through which flows the Rio Grande, and to the right are the two high passes known as Veta and Sangre de Cristo. The Sierra Blanca forms the southern end of the Sangre de Cristo Range and was one of the great landmarks of the Wilderness.

Sketch in oils made at the place by F. S. Dellenbaugh.

Breaking the

The Story of the Conquest of the Far West, from the Wanderings
of Cabeza de Vaca, to the First Descent of the Colorado by
Powell, and the Completion of the Union Pacific
Railway, with Particular Account of the
Exploits of Trappers and Traders

Frederick S. Dellenbaugh
Member of the Powell Colorado River Expedition; Author of "The Romance of the Colorado River," "The North Americans of Yesterday," etc.

"Accursèd wight!

He crowds us from our hills. He hacks and hews,

Digs up our metals, sweats and smelts and brews."

Hauptmann, The Sunken Bell.


G. P. Putnam's Sons
New York and London
The Knickerbocker Press

Copyright, 1905

The Knickerbocker Press, New York


1871 AND 1872




In this volume I have endeavoured to present a review in chronological order of the important events which contributed to breaking the Wilderness that so long lay untamed west of the Mississippi, mentioning with as much detail as possible in a single popular volume the principal persons and happenings in proper sequence, but paying special attention to the trapper and trader element, which, more than any other, dispelled the mysteries of the vast region.

I believe this to be the first book so fully to treat the subject as a consecutive narrative. By means of it, not only may the story of the struggle to master the Wilderness be examined, but the place of the trapper and trader in the work of its reduction, and that of Coronado, Mackenzie, Lewis and Clark, Frémont, Powell, and similar explorers, may be determined with reference to each other as well as with reference to the general order.

Many people seem to know little about Western history; about Coronado, Cabeza de Vaca, or even about Mackenzie; and others are by no means clear as to where in the historical scale these characters belong. While the name of Daniel Boone is familiar to every child, names of men equally eminent in the same pursuits, like Jedediah Smith, Bridger, Fitzpatrick, etc., are scarcely known at all. Nor have many persons a just appreciation of the numerous attempts that were made to explore the Western Wilderness, or of the extremely early period in the history of North America when these attempts began. Many are surprised, therefore, to learn that the first European entrance into the western part of the United States occurred over three and a quarter centuries ago. At least partly, this vagueness is due to the one-sidedness up to the present of the usual works dealing with American history, most of which are only histories of the eastern part of the country, with mere offhand references to the important events of the region beyond vi the Mississippi. Numerous details are presented of early Virginia and of New England, but the happenings in New Mexico and in California, and the great West generally, are dismissed with a few superficial notes.

Within the last year or two much has been written about Lewis and Clark, and consequently their grand exploit is well known, but its relation in the popular mind as to accomplishment and position with reference to other explorations is often quite uncertain. It therefore appeared to me that a single volume which should tell the Wilderness story in unbroken sequence, with special emphasis on the trapper and trader, would be of value. I have consequently shown the first attacks by sea and land, and the gradual closing in on all sides, through the matchless trail-breaking of the trappers and traders, down to the year when Powell practically finished this particular white man's task by his bold and romantic conquest of the Colorado,—the year when the first railway trains crossing the continent began a new era. In order that the subject might be still clearer and more comprehensive, I have gone farther and have told the story of the chief denizens of the pristine Wilderness: the beaver, the buffalo, and their close associates, those indomitable, iron-nerved people, the Amerinds; the North-Americans of yesterday.

Sometimes it is difficult to describe with precision the route of an explorer without searching his original story, and, in my studies, this has not always been practicable. For example, I do not know where the journals of Hunt and Bonneville now are, if extant. Irving's interpretation seems fairly accurate, but as he was entirely unfamiliar with the region west of the Rocky Mountains, his description is not always clear. In other cases, especially in that of Verendrye, I have relied on the transcripts of others. The trail of Coronado I have long studied with special care, and I have reached the conclusions embodied in the map on page 115,—conclusions entirely at variance with all accepted authorities, but which I feel confident, nevertheless, are in the main correct.

One early explorer in the Minnesota and Hudson Bay regions I have not mentioned. This is Radisson, who, it is vii claimed, saw the upper Mississippi before Marquette. The omission was an oversight. Miss A. C. Laut has given a convincing account of his travels in her Pathfinders of the West, to which I take pleasure in referring the reader for information on this point.[1]

A completed book is the mirror of the writer's shortcomings. I hope the reflections which may fall to my lot in this one will not be too painful, for I have had in contemplation others to fill in a general scheme. One starts with a desire for perfection, but without the resources of a Carnegie he is apt to fall so far short of the mark that he fears to look in the glass at all.

With the Wilderness, however, I can claim some degree of familiarity, for I may be said to have been "in at the death," as I was one of Powell's companions down the Colorado on his second voyage, 1871-72, and have been over portions of almost every one of the principal historical trails. I have travelled there on foot, on horseback, by boat, by waggon, and by railway,—even by Pullman "Palace" car. I have lived under its open sky through summers and through winters; its snows, its rains, its burning heat, have baptised me one of its children. In some cases my footsteps have been among the first of our race to break the surface; and if I have not visited every nook and corner of it during the last thirty four years it is the fault of my purse, not of my spirit.

My remarks on supplying whiskey to the natives may by some be deemed too severe, but in my own opinion there is no expression of condemnation adequate to denounce the debauchment of the American tribes by this foul means. It was a crime against civilisation, against humanity; a cruel, dastardly outrage against these people who by its means largely have been reduced to the lowest degree and are sneered at by those who have profited by their debasement. In the final chapter I have thought it desirable to add a footnote to the effect that I am neither a teetotaler nor a prohibitionist for the reason that my viii condemnatory remarks might otherwise be attributed to the prejudice of zeal, rather than to indignation at the low devices resorted to by white men to work the Amerinds for their own profit. A great deal that is base and mean is now excused on the ground that this is a commercial age, but I can only remark that if there is to be no standard for measuring modern conduct but financial profit, the white man's footsteps are surely on the wrong trail.

The reader in following these pages must remember that comfort is generally relative, and that what appears hard from the chimney corner may have been comparative luxury. I have never slept more comfortably anywhere than under a foot of snow.

I have had much kind assistance and am grateful for it. I am particularly obliged to Mr. William J. Schieffelin for the generous and unlimited use of valuable books from his library; to Mr. E. H. Harriman for transportation favours; also for the same to Mr. S. K. Hooper; to Mr. F. M. Bishop for the loan of a volume on Jacob Hamblin not otherwise obtainable; to Mr. O. D. Wheeler and the Montana Historical Society for cuts; to Captain E. L. Berthoud, Edgar A. Rider, and Jack Sumner for manuscript notes; to Mr. L. H. Johnson for manuscript notes and photographs; to Mr. B. L. Young for a special drawing of the rock pecking of a buffalo in southern Utah; to Mr. R. H. Chapman, Mr. J. B. Lippincott, Mr. J. K. Hillers, Mr. E. E. Howell, Mr. Delancy Gill, for photographs; and to the United States Bureau of Ethnology for the use of illustration material. I would also here thank my publishers for their constant consideration, for presents of books pertaining to my subject, and for the loan of others; and Mr. H. C. Rizer, chief clerk of the United States Geological Survey, for assistance and courtesies extending over a long series of years. Finally I wish to express my renewed thanks for many favours to the veteran geographer and explorer, A. H. Thompson, of the United States Geological Survey, to whom I have the honour of dedicating this book.

Frederick S. Dellenbaugh.

New York, December 7, 1904.




Extent of the Wilderness—The First White Man—The Backbone of the Continent—A Vanished Sea and a Petrified Ocean—The Biggest Trees—The Spike of Gold 1
The Intelligent Beaver, Chief of the Rodents—A Four-footed Engineer—A Builder of Houses, Artificial Canals, Dams, Ponds, and Lakes—Beaver Meadows—A Masterful Woodchopper—A Tail for the Epicure—Muskbogs—The Fatal Trap 13
A Monarch of the Plains—The Hunchback Cows of Cibola—A Boon to the Frontiersman—Wide Range of the Bison—Marrow Bones for the Epicure—Washington Irving a Buffalo Hunter—The Rushing Run of the Bison Herd—The Sacred White Buffalo Cow Skin—A Calf with a Bull Head—Wolves and White Bears 32
The People of the Wilderness—Men without Rights—Killing by Alcohol—Change in the Character of the Native—Growth of the War Spirit—Classification by Language—Dwellers in Tents and Builders of Houses—Farmers and Hunters—Irrigation Works—The Coming of the Horse 54
Three Conditions of Wilderness Life—Farming in the Driest Country—The Cache—The Clan, the Unit of the Tribe—Hospitality—Totems and Totem Marks—Dress—An Aboriginal Geographer—The Winter Life—The War-path, the Scalp-lock, and the Scalp-dance—Mourning the Lost Braves—Drifting 75 x
Lost in the Wilderness—Cabeza de Vaca, Great Medicine Man—The Wilderness Traversed—Spanish Slave Hunters—The Northern Mystery—The Monk and the Negro—The Great Coronado Expedition—The Settlement of New Mexico and the Pueblo Rebellion—California Missions—Escalante to Salt Lake Valley 103
Soto and the Mississippi—The Gate to the Wilderness—The Voyageur—Champlain to Mackinaw—Pandemonium of Wars—Down the Mississippi to Soto's Grave—Louisiana—La Salle and his Death—Coureurs de Bois—First Sight of the Northern Rockies—Where Rolls the Oregon—The American Revolution 126
The United States Borders the Wilderness—American Ships to the Pacific Coast—The North-West Company—Mackenzie Spans the Continent—Meares and Vancouver Baffled by Breakers—Captain Robert Gray, Victor—The Columbia at Last—The Louisiana Purchase a Pig in a Poke, and a Boundless Wilderness—Claims All Round to the Centre—The Perfidious Napoleon—The Spanish Sentinel Steps Back 144
Jefferson's Hobby—Two Noblemen—An Indefinite Transaction—Expedition to the Wilderness—Fort Mandan—The Roche Jaune and the First View of the Great Range—The Long-lost Sister—Depths of the Unknown—Starvation on the Trail—Music of the Breakers—Fort Clatsop—The Return—Medicine Men Again—Two Natives Shot—Premature Death of the Captain 156
The Metropolis of the Far Wilderness—James Pursley Arrives—Pike up the Mississippi and across the Plains—A Spanish War Party—A Breastwork to Mark the Site of Pueblo—Polar Weather and No Clothing—Pike Sees the Grand Peak—San Luis Valley—The Americans Captured by Diplomacy—Pursley Finds Gold—Malgares, the Gentleman—The Pike Party Sent Home 175
A Race for Life—Colter Wins—The Missouri Fur Company—The American Fur Company—The Pacific Fur Company—A Great Project Foredoomed—Disaster at the Columbia Bar—The Destruction of the Tonquin—Hunt Starts for the Columbia Overland—The Voyageurs Baulked—The Caldron Linn—Dog Steak at a Premium—Misery and Danger—Success at Last 193 xi
Eastward from Astoria—The War of 1812 on a Business Basis in Oregon—Astoria Becomes Fort George—The Pacific Fur Company Expires—Louisiana Delimited at Last—The Expedition of Major Long—A Steamboat on the Missouri—The First Man on Pike's Peak—The Elusive Red River Refuses to be Explored—Closing on the Inner Wilderness—The Spanish Sentinel Turns Mexican 215
The Wilderness Breaker—Lisa Closes his Account—General Ashley Takes a Hand—The Religious Jedediah—Green River Valley—What a White Bear could Do—Ashley Navigates Red Canyon of Green River—Discovery of Salt Lake—Ashley Retires Rich—The Rocky Mountain Fur Company—Sylvester and James O. Pattie—Pattie's Journey in the Valley of the Colorado—The Great Circuit of Jedediah Smith 229
A Brood of Wilderness Breakers—Kit Carson the Dauntless—Campbell, 1827, Santa Fé to San Diego—Becknell and the Santa Fé Trail—Wheel Tracks in the Wilderness—The Knight in Buckskin Dies—Pegleg Smith the Horse Trader—The Apache Turns Forever against the American—New Mexico the Dreamland—Wolfskill Breaks a Trail to the Pacific—Bonneville, Captain Courteous; and Wyeth, Leader Hopeful—Bonneville Forgets a Duty 253
Bonneville Dropped from the Army—Indian Shooters—The Mythical Rio Buenaventura—Bonneville Twice to the Columbia—Wyeth Again—The Oregon Trail—The Big Thunder Canoe—A Wilderness Whiskey Still—Missionaries to Oregon—The North-West Boundary Settlement—Decline of the Beaver—Through the Canyon of Lodore on the Ice—Frémont, the Scientific Pathfinder—The Spanish Sentinel Turned to the Wall—Fortune's Blindfold 276
Free Distribution of Frémont's Reports—Latter Day Saints—Murder of a Prophet—Brigham Young Guides Saints to the Wilderness—The State of Deseret—California the Golden—Massacre at Mountain Meadows—Old Jacob, the Mormon Leatherstocking—Steam on the Lower Colorado—Old Jacob Finds the Crossing of the Fathers—Circumtouring the Grand Canyon—Solitudes of the Colorado—Last of the Wilderness Problems—Powell Solves it by Masterful Courage—The Iron Trail—The End and the Beginning 303
Index 339




The Sierra Blanca Frontispiece
Blanca Peak, 14,390. Baldy Peak, 14,176. Blanca Peak is the third highest in Colorado.
The point of view is on Trinchera Creek looking north from an altitude of about 8000 feet. To the left is the San Luis Valley through which flows the Rio Grande, and to the right are the two high passes known as Veta and Sangre de Cristo. The Sierra Blanca forms the southern end of the Sangre de Cristo Range and was one of the great landmarks of the Wilderness.
Sketch in oils made at the place by F. S. Dellenbaugh.
The Backbone of the Continent 3
Photograph by R. H. Chapman, U. S. Geol. Survey.
Wilderness of the Upper Missouri 5
Photograph by R. H. Chapman, U. S. Geol. Survey.
The Yosemite Valley 7
Photograph by C. C. Pierce & Co.
The Grizzly Giant 9
Height, 285 feet. Circumference, 93 feet.
Copyright by C. C. Pierce & Co.
A Wilderness Home 11
Photograph by R. H. Chapman, U. S. Geol. Survey.
The Mountain Part of the Wilderness 14
Relief map by E. E. Howell.
No Place for Beaver 15
Photograph by J. K. Hillers, U. S. Geol. Survey.
Beaver Country 17
Photograph by J. K. Hillers, U. S. Geol. Survey. xiv
Great Beaver Dam—Grass Lake, 260 Feet Long 19
From Morgan's American Beaver.
Red Canyon—Green River 20
Where Ashley went for beaver in 1825.
Photograph by E. O. Beaman, Colo. Riv. Exp.
Beaver Canal 22
From Morgan's American Beaver.
Lower Colorado River—Mouth of Gila on Right 23
Where Pattie trapped beaver in 1826.
Photograph by Delancy Gill.
Trees Cut by Beavers 26
From Morgan's American Beaver.
Beaver Trap 29
The Beaver 30
Copyright, 1901, by Doubleday, Page, & Co.
The Monarch of the Plains 33
The figure a photograph by C. C. Pierce & Co.
Picture of Buffalo on Cliff Wall, Southern Utah 37
Pecked drawing, copied by B. L. Young.
The Grand Teton from Jackson's Hole 39
The buffalo reached this valley by 1824.
Photograph by W. H. Jackson, U. S. Geol. Survey.
Canyon of Lodore—Green River 41
Canyons of this character are almost continuous from a few miles below the Union Pacific Railway crossing.
Photograph by E. O. Beaman, U. S. Colo. Riv. Exp.
Head of Bison Bull 43
Specimen shot by Theodore Roosevelt, Dec. 17, 1883.
From Roosevelt's Hunting Trips of a Ranchman.
Buffalo Chase 45
After Catlin. From Smithsonian Report, 1888.
Character of Buffalo Range in Green River Valley 47
Photograph by E. O. Beaman, U. S., Colo. Riv. Exp.
Canyon of Desolation—Green River 50
A barrier to the buffalo's westward movement.
Photograph by E. O. Beaman, U. S. Colo. Riv. Exp. xv
Mandan Buffalo Dance 51
After Catlin From Smithsonian Report, 1885.
Buffalo Swimming Missouri River 52
After Catlin. From Smithsonian Report, 1885.
A Village of the Plains 55
This form of tipi was readily taken down and as readily set up again.
Photograph by U. S. Government.
A Pai Ute Family at Home 57
Photograph by J. K. Hillers, U. S. Colo. Riv. Exp.
A Ute Mountain Home 58
Photograph by J. K. Hillers, U. S. Geol. Survey.
Village of the Puebloan Type. View in the Moki Town of Mishongnavi, Arizona 59
Photograph by U. S. Bu. Eth.
Umatilla Tipi of Rush Mats on Columbia River 61
From Lewis and Clark, by O. D. Wheeler.
Amerind Linguistic Map 62
After Bu. of Eth. Seventh An. Rep.
A Puebloan Farmhouse 64
Photograph by J. K. Hillers, U. S. Geol. Survey.
Plenty-Horses, a Cheyenne 65
Photograph by J. K. Hillers, U. S. Geol. Survey.
A Pai Ute Modernised 67
Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.
Ruin Called Casa Grande, Arizona 69
Photograph by Cosmos Mindeleff, U. S. Bu. of Eth.
South Portion of the Tewa Pueblo of Taos, New Mexico 71
Photograph by U. S. Bu. of Eth.
Navajo Silver Beads—actual size 72
From U. S. Bu. Eth.
South-western Baskets—Apache, Pima, etc. Navajo Blankets behind 73
Photograph by J. B. Lippincott, U. S. Geol. Survey. xvi
Moki Woman Modelling a Clay Jug 76
Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.
Earthenware from Moki Region 77
The Ruins in Canyon de Chelly, Arizona, Called "Casa Blanca." These were once Connected. 78
Photograph by J. K. Hillers, U. S. Geol. Survey.
Old Mandan House 79
From Wonderland, 1903, Northern Pacific Railway.
A Young Cocopa 80
Photograph by Delancy Gill.
Rear View of Mandan Village, Showing Burial-Ground 81
Drawing by Catlin, plate 48, vol. i.; Catlin's Eight Years. Reproduction from Smithsonian Report, 1885, part ii.
A Dakota of the Plains 83
Figures from photograph by U. S. Government.
A Uinta Ute 84
Photograph by J. K. Hillers, U. S. Geol. Survey.
Umatilla Woman and Child 85
From Wonderland, 1904, Northern Pacific Railway.
Mandan Village on the Missouri, 1832 86
Drawing by Catlin, plate 47, vol. i.; Catlin's Eight Years. Reproduction from Smithsonian Report, 1885, part ii.
A Group of Crow Chiefs 87
Photograph by U. S. Government about 1875.
Granary—Cliffs of Green River, Thirty Feet above Ground 90
Photograph by L. H. Johnson.
Interior of a Moki House 91
The women at the back are grinding corn, while those at the right are baking bread on a hot slab in paper-like sheets. Above is the chimney-hood.
U. S. Bu Eth.
Sitting Bull 93
From Wonderland, 1901, Northern Pacific Railway. xvii
Bellochknahpick—The Bull Dance 94
Mandan ceremonial.
Drawing by Catlin, plate 67, vol. i., Catlin's Eight Years. Reproduction from Smithsonian Report, 1885, part ii.
Details of Navajo Loom Construction 95
U. S. Bu. Eth.
A Navajo 96
Photograph by J. K. Hillers, U. S. Geol. Survey.
Scalp-Dance of the Sioux 97
Drawing by Catlin, plate 297, vol ii., Catlin's Eight Years. Reproduction from Smithsonian Report, 1885, part ii.
A Group of Dakotas 98
Photograph by U. S. Government about 1875.
Necklace of Human Fingers 99
House Ruin on Green River, Utah 101
Photograph by L. H. Johnson.
Alarçon's Ships in the Tidal Bore, Mouth of the Colorado, 1540 105
Drawing by F. S. Dellenbaugh.
Character of the Seven Cities which Friar Marcos so Glowingly Described 109
Drawing by F. S. Dellenbaugh.
New Mexico, 1540 to 1630 115
Church and Mission of San Xavier del Bac, Arizona 118
Mission founded 1699. The church here shown was finished in 1797.
On the Yuma Desert 120
Character of the country around the head of the Gulf of California.
Photograph by Delancy Gill.
Church of the Mission San Carlos de Monterey 121
Mission founded in 1770. Photograph by C. C. Pierce & Co.
Glen Canyon, Colorado River 123
This shows the nature of the Colorado where Escalante crossed in 1776. The surface on each side is barren sandstone.
Photograph by J. K. Hillers, U. S. Colo. Riv. Exp.
Barriers of Adamant, Mission Range 128
Photograph by R. H. Chapman, U. S. Geol. Survey. xviii
A Reception Committee 131
Photograph by J. K. Hillers, U. S. Geol. Survey.
In the Heart of the Wilderness—Southern Utah 135
Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.
Great Falls of the Missouri 137
From The Trail of Lewis and Clark, O. D. Wheeler.
Great Fountain Geyser—Yellowstone Park 141
From Wonderland, 1901, Northern Pacific Railway.
Summits of the Backbone 145
Gray's Peak, 14,341 feet; Torrey's Peak, 14,336 feet.
Photograph by U. S. Geol. Survey.
Mouth of the Columbia from Astoria 149
Cape Disappointment, left distance.
From The Trail of Lewis and Clark, O. D. Wheeler.
Map of the Wilderness Showing American Acquisitions 154
Mount Hood—From Cloud Cap Inn 159
From Wonderland, 1903, Northern Pacific Railway.
Canyon of the Gates of the Mountains 165
From The Trail of Lewis and Clark, O. D. Wheeler.
Junction of the Madison and Jefferson 167
The Madison at left, the Jefferson at the right centre.
From The Trail of Lewis and Clark, O. D. Wheeler.
The Dalles of the Columbia 169
Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.
Snake River below Lewiston. On Lewis and Clark's Trail 171
Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.
Route of Lewis and Clark from Maria's River to Traveller's Rest and Return 173
From The Trail of Lewis and Clark, by O. D. Wheeler.
New Mexican Cart 177
Drawing by Julian Scott. From Bulletin of the Eleventh Census.
A Rocky Mountain Torrent 179
Photograph by J. K. Hillers, U. S. Geol. Survey.
A Glade for the Weary. Altitude 8000 Feet 183
Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh. xix
Pike's Peak through the Gateway of the Garden of the Gods 187
(Pike got his view of it from a mountain to the left, not seen.)
Photograph by C. C. Pierce & Co.
Vegetation of the South-West 191
Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.
Canyon of the Yellowstone from Grand View 195
From Wonderland, 1903, Northern Pacific Railway.
A Mansion of the Wilderness 197
Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.
Sawmill Geyser, Yellowstone Park 201
From Wonderland, 1904, Northern Pacific Railway.
The Deadly Rattler 203
From The Mystic Mid-Region, by A. J. Burdick.
Photograph by C. C. Pierce & Co.
Shoshone Falls, Idaho, from South Side, Below 205
Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.
Shoshone Falls, Snake River, Idaho, from Below 207
Sketch by F. S. Dellenbaugh.
Shoshone Falls, Snake River, Idaho, from Above, South Side 209
Photograph by G. K. Gilbert.
Boat Made of Framework of Sticks Covered with Bison- or Horse-Hide 211
Frequently used in early days of the West.
From The Trail of Lewis and Clark, by O. D. Wheeler.
On the Virgin River, Southern Utah 217
Near where Escalante went in 1776. Pine Valley Mountain in distance.
Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.
An Arizona Thistle 220
Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.
A Full Larder 223
From Wonderland, 1904, Northern Pacific Railway.
Standing Rocks, Common in the Wilderness 227
Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh. xx
In the Mountain Wilderness—Vulture Peak 230
Photograph by R. H. Chapman, U. S. Geol. Survey.
Before Sunrise 231
From Wonderland, 1904, Northern Pacific Railway.
Green River Valley 233
Photograph by C. R. Savage.
Arrow Weed in the Yuma Country 236
Photograph by Delancy Gill.
Red Canyon of Green River 239
Length, 25 miles. Walls 1800 to 2500 feet high. Average width of water, 250 feet. Ashley was the first white man to pass through this gorge.
Ashley Fall, Red Canyon, Green River 241
Ashley's name was found on right of the picture on one of the huge fallen rocks, about at the top of the old dead tree.
Lower Falls of the Yellowstone 245
From Wonderland, 1901, Northern Pacific Railway.
On the Gila River, Arizona 248
This is the place chosen for the San Carlos irrigation dam.
Photograph by J. B. Lippincott.
Headwaters of Virgin River 251
Named Adams River by Jedediah Smith in 1826.
Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.
Prairie Dogs 254
From Wonderland, 1901, Northern Pacific Railway.
On the Yuma Desert. A Dying Horse 256
Photograph by Delancy Gill.
An Old Beaver Haunt 261
Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.
The Heart of the Sierra 263
Photograph by Watkins.
A Rose of New Mexico 266
Photograph by C. C. Pierce & Co.
On the Gila 268
Photograph by J. B. Lippincott. xxi
Captain Bonneville 271
A General when this was taken, long after his trapping career.
Photograph from Montana Historical Society.
"Old Faithful" Geyser, Yellowstone Park 274
From Wonderland, 1901, Northern Pacific Railway.
Elk in Winter 277
From Wonderland, Northern Pacific Railway.
In the Sierra Nevada 279
On the Merced, Yosemite Valley. Walker, 1833, was probably the first white man here.
Copyright C. C. Pierce & Co.
A Wilderness Waggon Road 282
Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.
Steamer "Yellowstone" Ascending the Missouri in 1833 285
From Travels, etc., 1832-3-4, by Maximilian, Prince of Wied, 1843.
From Wonderland, 1904, Northern Pacific Railway.
Before the Sawmill Comes 289
Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.
The Great or Lower Fall of the Yellowstone 291
From Wonderland, 1904, Northern Pacific Railway.
Jim Bridger in his Latter Days 293
Photograph from Montana Historical Society.
Green River from Green River Valley to Wonsits Valley 295
Snow-Bound in the Wilderness—1875 297
Pencil sketch on the spot by F. S. Dellenbaugh.
Canyon of Lodore, Green River 299
The first on record to go through this and the canyons immediately below it—that is, from Brown's Park to Wonsits Valley—was Joe Meek and a party of trappers on the ice, in the winter of 1838-39.
Photograph by E. O. Beaman, U. S. Colo. Riv. Exp.
A Chance Meeting 301
Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.
A Mormon Sorghum Mill and Evaporating Pans 306
Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh. xxii
A Setback 307
Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.
In Council 311
General Sherman third from left of white group.
Photograph from United States Government.
The Steamboat "Explorer" 316
In which Lieutenant Ives, in 1858, ascended the Colorado to the foot of Black Canyon.
Sketch by H. B. Mollhausen.
Where the Wilderness Lingers 319
Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.
Running the Colorado 321
Drawing by F. S. Dellenbaugh.
Upper Part of Marble Canyon—Colorado River 323
This gorge merges into the Grand Canyon at the mouth of the Little Colorado. The length of both together is about 300 miles. The first to travel this distance were Powell and his men, 1869.
The Grand Canyon Region 326
The Thousand-Mile Tree 328
A hemlock 1000 miles from Omaha.
Photograph by C. R. Savage.
Secret Town Trestle 329
1000 feet long. Maximum height, 90 feet.
Photograph by C. R. Savage.
Snow Sheds in the Sierra 331
Photograph by C. R. Savage.
Adobe Ruins of Green River—Union Pacific Terminus 332
Photograph, 1871, by E. O. Beaman, U. S. Colo. Riv. Exp.
Scene before Driving the Last Spike—Promontory Point, Utah, May 10, 1869 333
John Duff in front, immediately beneath engine. Sidney Dillon at his left. The Reverend Doctor Todd asking a blessing.
Photograph by C. R. Savage for the Union Pacific Railway.
The Ames Monument—Union Pacific Railway 334
Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh. xxiii
Driving the Last Spike, 3.05 p.m. (New York Time), May 10, 1869 335
Locomotive "Jupiter" of the Central Pacific, and "119" of the Union Pacific about to meet when last spike is driven.
Photograph by C. R. Savage for the Union Pacific Railway.
The Last Tie 336
Union Pacific Railway, 1869. Made of California laurel polished, and with a silver plate on the side.
The Last Spike 337
Union Pacific Railway. Made of gold.
A Modern Fast Train 337
From Wonderland, 1901, Northern Pacific Railway.
The Mormon Temple—Salt Lake City 338
Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.
Canada Lynx 361
From Wonderland, 1904, Northern Pacific Railway.





Extent of the Wilderness—The First White Man—The Backbone of the Continent—A Vanished Sea and a Petrified Ocean—The Biggest Trees—The Spike of Gold.

The natural habitat of man is the wilderness. No matter how civilised he may become, his heart turns with longing to the woods, to the sea, and to the mountains. There he is unconventional; animals are his compeers, the forest his friend, the free-flowing stream nectar to his lips. Civilised peoples, after all, are but wanderers driven from the Garden of Eden by the sword of necessity. Of the virtues they claim, a large proportion is imperative, the result of conflicting numbers—society's effort to preserve itself. Men are no better, no worse, in the wilderness or in civilisation; nor does race or colour appear exactly to define quality. By noting this at the outset we may be inclined to be more sympathetic; and therefore may better understand the superb wilderness which forms the subject of this work.

Nearly two-thirds of the entire present area of the United States was comprised in it, extending between the north and south bounds of the Union, from the Mississippi on the one hand, to the Pacific on the other; a vast region of marvellous diversity, greater far than several of the Old-World empires rolled into one. Up to the hour when the Santa Maria flung 2 her parting banners out and under the steady will of the Admiral moved upon the Western Mystery, no European had ever beheld the wide horizon of this splendid realm, nor yet even dreamed of it, for whatever in the way of exploration prior to Columbus the Northmen may have accomplished on the Atlantic coast of America, we may be sure not one of them ever set foot beyond the banks of the Father of Waters. And so this land, unknown to Europeans, remained unknown till the year when Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, escaping from the terrible disasters of the Narvaez Florida expedition, in his enforced long wanderings, crossed the lower margin, now the State of Texas, and in 1536, less than four decades after the Discovery, gave to expectant Europe first news of the "hunchback cows" and the great interior. That was a day of marvels. After Mexico and Peru anything! Though we may smile at the imaginings of those iron-nerved Spaniards, they were not inconsistent with their time. Now the mighty tract is well known to us, but our knowledge has come piecemeal through centuries of endeavour, the last portion of the unknown yielding only so late as 1869. It is a romantic story. In these pages the salient features will be traced with special attention to the doings of the trappers and traders who bore in its conquest so dominating an influence.

In the beginning it will be well to glance at the main facts of the region, and see what it was that the newcomers were compelled to encounter and overcome before the land became theirs. Vast mountain chains there were, turbulent rivers, deserts and semi-deserts, and forbidding gorges. Almost through the middle, trending north-westerly and south-easterly, stretched the great Backbone of the continent, the Shining Mountains, or, as we now call them, the Rocky Mountains, with many peaks reaching up beyond the timber-line and into the realm of perpetual snow, peaks now familiar under the names of early explorers like Pike, Long, James, Frémont, etc., and whose meandering crest composed the Continental Divide, casting the rains on one side into the broad Pacific, and on the other side into the tides that laved the shores of Europe. For a considerable portion of the year deep snows 4 upon these heights prevented all crossing, except at great hazard. This mountain range was at the same time the western limit of the most remarkable and bountiful river valley in all the world, the basin of the Mississippi, whose other edge was bounded by the verdant slopes of the Alleghanies, and which came within a stone's throw of the Niagara cataract and the Great Lakes.

The Backbone of the Continent.

Photograph by R. H. Chapman, U. S. Geol. Survey.

Four large rivers of immense length took their rise towards the north on the summits of the Backbone, the greatest three springing like triplets of a single mother from practically the same spot in what is now Wyoming. One of these, rushing toward the north-west over a cataract that rivals Niagara, and over falls and wild rapids, swept into the Pacific through a line of dangerous breakers which, notwithstanding the labours of our best engineers, still remains a barrier to the entrance. This was the "River of the West," now the Columbia, taking its name from the ship of Captain Gray, the first to sail into its mouth. Another river, the real continuation of the Mississippi, ran its course for some three thousand miles before joining the parent stream at a point still more than a thousand miles from the Gulf of Mexico, navigable in high-water season for boats of moderate draught for about two thousand miles of its length above the junction. This was the Missouri, at first the main highway from the east into the wilderness, leading the trappers and traders to the very threshold of the great mountains. The third river, the Seedskedee, the Rio Colorado Grande of the Spaniards, now the Green and Colorado, started just over the range at the head of the Missouri and the Columbia, and leaping down the westerly precipices in bold cataracts, made for the south-west and the gulf now called California, never heeding the mountain barriers, but for half its two thousand miles of length cleaving through them, a series of terrifying chasms, deep and difficult, where its waters are torn by hundreds of loud rapids, and whose tributary chasms unite with the mother gorges to interpose almost insurmountable obstacles in the path of the explorer,—the last portion of the wilderness to be vanquished and, though vanquished, yet to this day formidable and defiant. The fourth 5 river, less in magnitude and vigour than the others, but nevertheless fractious, rose some miles southward of their birthplace on the rugged slopes of spurs of the great range, and sweeping to the south and south-east entered the Gulf of Mexico. This was the Rio Grande del Norte, now abbreviated to Rio Grande, and forming for a long distance the boundary of Mexico. It was on this river that the first settlements were made in the wilderness, by Europeans, in what is now New Mexico.

Wilderness of the Upper Missouri.

Photograph by R. H. Chapman, U. S. Geol. Survey.

East of the huge central mountain system there rolled away from the base of the range to the Mississippi endless plains resembling a petrified ocean; the prairies, treeless, sublime in their immensity. For about half the distance from the mountains to the river, approximately as far as the 100th meridian, this enormous territory was well-nigh rainless, thus presenting an additional barrier to investigation from the eastward. The remaining half was invitingly fertile. Across 6 these wide prairies meandered eastwardly several branches of the Missouri and the Mississippi, chief among them the Platte, the Arkansas, and Red River. West of the Backbone lay a maze of mountains, "parks," deep gorges, now called canyons, cliffs, plateaus, and valleys, limited on the far western side by a second mother-range rivalling in height and extent and impenetrability the central system itself. This was the Sierra Nevada and its upper continuation, the Cascade Range. About midway between the two master ranges another, the Wasatch, extended northerly and southerly, forming the eastern limit of the dry bed of an ancient sea of which a small remnant remained concentrated in a salt lake some fifty miles in length. This vanished sea is now known as Lake Bonneville, its old bed as the "Great Basin." Its southern rim breaks down from an altitude of about ten thousand feet in a series of mighty cliffs, like cyclopean steps, to the canyons of the Colorado, and near the summit of this rim a river starts north down into the basin, sweeping along for many miles to turn suddenly to the westward and end in a lake without visible outlet, in the middle of a stretch of desert. This is now the Sevier. West of the salt lake another stream, the Humboldt, took its rise and, darting boldly toward the Sierra as if to cut it in twain, meekly collapsed in a small lake at the foot. Between the Wasatch and the Rocky Mountains lay the valley of the Colorado, already mentioned, a marvellous labyrinth of canyons and cliffs, of dead volcanoes, lava beds, plateaus, and mountain peaks of rare beauty.

The Yosemite Valley.

Photograph by C. C. Pierce & Co.

Some of the stream branches took their rise in a series of deep valleys called "parks," lying close within the main range and known to-day as North, Middle, and South parks, with still another below South Park, called San Luis Park, in which heads the Rio Grande. Thus the wide area intervening between the two chief mountain systems, the Rocky and the Sierra, was one of extraordinary topographical diversity, presenting innumerable minor mountain ranges (most of them, like the mother chains, trending northerly and southerly), lines of high cliffs of great length, extensive plateaus, and wonderful gorges like mountain ranges hollowed out and 8 turned upside down below the surface of the earth, gorges so long and so deep as to absolutely and completely separate the areas lying on their opposite sides. East of the Rocky Mountains was the vast prairie land mentioned, while west of the Sierra lay the sunland now known as California, with the moister region of Oregon immediately above it cut in twain by the Columbia rushing triumphantly to the sea. Here too was still another lesser mountain chain, the Coast Range.

On the headwaters of the Yellowstone branch of the Missouri was a district of hot springs and geysers, famous now the world round. Here also were the great falls of the Yellowstone and its celebrated canyon, so wonderful in the variety and brilliancy of its colouring, now held, by the wisdom of Congress, for a National Park. Farther south, like a beacon for the Christian pilgrim, there shone aloft, formed in ice and snow, on the topmost slopes of a high peak, the semblance of a perfect cross. The Arkansas, in freeing itself from the mountains, carved through them a long gorge, deep and narrow, of splendid picturesqueness, which later made a highway for the locomotive. Besides the Great Salt Lake there were broad salt lagoons farther south in what is now New Mexico, and in California likewise salt spread itself by tons and tons over the surface of the ground. In Southern Utah were the superb Temples of the Rio Virgen. In the Sierra Nevada was the now celebrated Yosemite, one of the grandest valleys on the globe; and there too stood the largest known trees, patriarchs from a former age, three hundred feet in height, with trunks of enormous circumference—the Sequoia. Here also were the redwood forests, scarcely less noble than the Sequoia. The vegetation was as varied as the topography. On the prairies of what is now Kansas flourished the sensitive plant, covering the ground with its lovely rose-coloured, rose-scented blossoms, round as a puff-ball, the delicate stems withering at the touch of a human hand, to lift themselves again when the intruder had withdrawn. Farther west the antithesis of this exquisitely sensitive growth, the cactus, spread its defiant lances everywhere, and there it was the human hand and not the plant which withered at the touch. And the cactus was no less 10 beautiful than the sensitive "rose"; indeed, more beautiful, for nothing could exceed the gorgeousness of its blossoms of various shades of red, or yellow, or white as they stood resplendent under the glowing sun against the soft colour of the earth.

The Grizzly Giant.

Height, 285 feet. Circumference, 93 feet. Copyright by C. C. Pierce & Co.

At the north, and on the higher lands of the south, grew the pine trees in magnificent forests, with the beautiful spruce and cedar, the latter attaining its noblest proportions in the north-west. Towards the south, on the lower lands, grew the juniper and the piñon, the latter bearing a delicious, edible nut, a boon to the native. In the south, too, were the mesquite with its sweet bean, and the splendid yuccas, some of them tree-like and twenty or thirty feet high, the pitahaya, and many other plants strange to European eyes. These and the cacti require a dry climate and a hot one, and the southern portion of the wilderness was particularly dry and hot. The extreme south-western part was the driest and the hottest, and there stretches of real desert interposed further obstacles to exploration and to settlement. On the other hand, the climate of the extreme north-west was the reverse. There mist and rain, nearly unknown in the lower basin of the Colorado, were almost constant. But the characteristic of the major part of the wilderness was excessive dryness, prohibiting agriculture without irrigation. The high peaks, receiving snow and rain in plenty, dealt out the moisture generously through creeks and rivers upon the parching plains roundabout.

A Wilderness Home.

Photograph by R. H. Chapman. U. S. Geol. Survey.

Thus there were wide deserts as well as regions of humidity; an immense range in climate with a corresponding range in life zones, till the biologist discovered in this area specimens ranging from the boreal to the tropical. The animals were of all kinds found on the North American continent. There were scorpions, tarantulas, snakes (many varieties of rattlesnakes) in the south; there and elsewhere beaver, bison, panthers, bears, wolves, deer, elk, mountain sheep, and small game of various kinds, all adjusted to altitude or latitude. Bears were particularly numerous. The bison (buffalo) roamed the east in countless numbers, crossing the Rocky Mountains and pushing westward to the Pecos, to Green River, and to 12 the Columbia. As a wild animal the bison now is extinct, and it is difficult to imagine the enormous herds that so short a time ago at will traversed the face of the wilderness. The beaver existed in vast numbers also, and this fact was the first incentive to exploration of the immense tract by Americans. Deer and antelope grazed everywhere and scarcely a day could pass without the traveller sighting some of these animals. All furnished subsistence to the man who was there, the Amerind. Because this person was not a European he has often been regarded as hardly worth consideration, but he was a good specimen of mankind in the hunter state. Physically and mentally he had few superiors. He knew the country as well as we know it to-day. He knew every pass in the mountains, every buffalo trail. Each tribe knew its own land limits, as well as those of its neighbours, and each defended its home with unsurpassed daring and bravery.

This was the wilderness when the hordes of Europe descended upon it and claimed it for their own. Well did they fight their way into it, and equally well did the native oppose the invasion and fight to preserve his ancestral home in all its freedom and pristine glory. But the Europeans were stronger and wrested it from him, from the animals, and from Nature; yet it was never fully theirs till the sledge drove home that last spike of gold that pinned the East and the West together and tacked the skirts of Europe to those of Cathay.





The Intelligent Beaver, Chief of the Rodents—A Four-Footed Engineer—A Builder of Houses, Artificial Canals, Dams, Ponds, and Lakes—Beaver Meadows—A Masterful Woodchopper—A Tail for the Epicure—Muskbogs—The Fatal Trap.

Several factors combined to break the wilderness to the uses of the Americans into whose possession it eventually fell. One of these, and it was one of the most important in its effect on primary exploration, was the presence there in vast numbers of a comparatively small and singularly intelligent animal called the beaver, belonging to the order Rodentia. While not of great size it was, nevertheless, with one exception, the largest of its kind, weighing thirty or forty pounds and being about three and one-half feet long. In colour it was chestnut brown and was endowed with a rich, thick fur, one-half to three-quarters inch long, with coarse hair scattered through it about one inch longer. It so happened that this particular quality of fur was in great commercial demand in Europe for the making of hats. For some time it had constituted an article of profitable export from the eastern part of the continent, as the similar animal in Europe had been exterminated. Finally the supply from America also diminished as the trappers pursued their merciless task. Then followed the discovery that the great wild region west of the Mississippi contained beaver in immense numbers, and beaver trapping immediately became the principal quest of many bold natures eager to stake their lives in a tilt with Fortune, just as others later played a different game with the golden gravels of California. 15

The Mountain Part of the Wilderness.

Relief map by E. E. Howell.

No Place for Beaver.

Photograph by J. K. Hillers, U. S. Geol. Survey.

In their search for the most lucrative beaver grounds they crossed the boundless prairies, and stimulated by the prospect of riches and the excitement of new scenes they sought the innermost recesses of the mountain wilderness, slaying what opposed their way, taking beaver by thousands and tens of thousands, and sending pack upon pack by way of St. Louis to the waiting markets of the Old World. The early returns may be estimated from the success of one enterprising man who, having employed a band of expert trappers, came out of the far regions on one occasion with nearly two hundred packs, each worth in St. Louis about one thousand dollars. In one period of two and one-half years, over six hundred thousand beaver skins were sent out by one of the great companies that were organised systematically to prosecute the fur business in North America.[2] Thus it was that the beaver became responsible for the first opening of the great western Unknown, and in order fully to understand the interesting story of human endeavour, it is necessary to glance at the characteristics of this remarkable creature, which unwittingly performed such a prominent part in affairs so momentous to the American 16 Republic and to the world, and which in consequence has become almost extinct. By it was the trapper and trader led from the Mississippi to the Western Ocean, and from the Gila River to and beyond the bounds of Canada.

With so great regularity was the daily life of the beaver ordered that the hunters in their admiration ascribed to it mental qualities which probably it did not actually possess, yet it certainly executed well defined works with skill and precision, and performed many acts which might easily have been the result of mental processes.[3] A house builder and an engineer, it constructed for its occupation comfortable lodges, it excavated canals for its convenience, and formed ponds and lakes of considerable extent by means of dams made of trees, sticks, mud, and stones. Moreover, the trees were felled by its own efforts, and cut up into pieces suitable for the object desired. The mud and stones were then combined with these pieces with a dexterity that was astonishing and that will always command for this amphibious, burrowing creature of the genus Castor a high rank in the animal world. Its paws were supplied with long, strong claws, the hind ones having an extra claw peculiar to the beaver. The front pair were small and were used deftly like human hands; and the animal could walk erect on its hind feet carrying small stones and earth, pressed against the throat, for house or dam building; it could drag poles and sticks in the same manner. When necessary to move larger stones they pushed them along, sometimes using the tail also, and stones of five or six pounds' weight were moved in this way. All their works were of the same general character, and in each class they did not vary their methods, which were largely dictated by surrounding conditions. Being amphibious, they naturally lived by and in water. Their food being tender bark and small twigs of trees, they were forced to gnaw down woody growths to exist, and as these growths near streams usually incline toward the water they naturally fell into or across the channel. Accumulations of driftwood and of the discarded food sticks started dams, and the animal aided the natural construction by adding mud and more sticks. Thus, 17 perhaps, its habits were begun in the remote past by what is called instinct rather than any reasoning quality, yet there remains always the problem as to where instinct stops and reason begins. At any rate there appears to have been no very deep intellectuality about the beaver, notwithstanding its dexterity and ingenuity. It was moulded by the laws of its life exactly as the spider is when it spins a web; yet in the case of the beaver there was a complexity of action that seems extraordinary, although the action apparently was always that which beaver after beaver had employed for an immense period. Where a stream was large and deep or swift, the beaver could not build a dam, nor was it necessary, as it could and did burrow into the banks, excavating a chamber above the water-level, and the primary object of the dam was to supply deep water to cover the lodge entrance. Where waters were continually swift or turbulent and uncontrollable, and especially where they were not bordered by an abundance of cottonwoods, willows, yellow birch, or other favourite food wood, the beaver was absent. For these reasons they were never found in deep canyons. The trappers, as soon as by some bitter experience they discovered this, sought them no further in such localities, hence while these men traversed almost every other foot of the great wilderness, the huge canyons, particularly those of the Colorado River series, were avoided. They continued, therefore, terra incognita long after the remainder of the region was broken; till, in fact, 18 the remarkable boat journey of Major Powell in 1869 fathomed their mysteries. Thus the habits of the beaver controlled widely separated events.

Beaver Country.

Photograph by J. K. Hillers, U. S. Geol. Survey.

Where brooks or creeks were small with the proper wood growths beaver were abundant, as well as in natural lakes and on all the quieter reaches of the large rivers. Across small streams trees were felled, and with the aid of sticks, mud, and stones the beaver laid up a dam to back up the water and form a basin wherein could be built their lodges with entrances below the surface. On mountain streams these dams one above another often transformed them for long distances into a series of pools and ponds where great numbers of beaver made their homes. In such places a trapper would reap a speedy reward, more particularly as there was no thought of sparing any of the creatures for the future. Often fifty or sixty beaver would be taken in a single night.

According to Morgan, dams were of two kinds, the "stick" and the "solid bank." The former was made by a combination of sticks and poles on the lower side, while the upper was built of sticks and earth. The sticks were laid in the direction of the current with the butts up-stream, and not across. This was probably due to the animal's inability to lay the stick in any other way, the current itself determining the beaver's conduct, though it is possible that experience had taught that this was the best method, for by such arrangement the water was not wholly obstructed and, percolating through the interstices, was less likely to break away the structure. The other form of dam, the solid bank, was merely a modification of the stick dam adapted to a deeper channel. Large quantities of earth and stones were added to this to enable it to withstand the greater force of water, and this seems to indicate some degree of contemplation on the part of the builder; yet the result was natural, as the animal, having placed earth on one form of dam, would go on placing earth on the same form in deeper water as a matter of instinct. But there was one touch in the construction of the solid-bank dam which more than any other appeared to be the result of thought. This was an opening left in the top of the dam, several inches lower than the 20 remainder, and three or four feet long, as a spillway for surplus water. In the stick dam no spillway was provided because the surplus was allowed to flow through the interstices, so that the construction of this feature in the larger, more compact dams seems to have been an example of pure invention to guard against possible disaster.

Great Beaver Dam—Grass Lake.
260 feet long.

From Morgan's American Beaver

Red Canyon—Green River.

Where Ashley Went for Beaver in 1825.

Photograph by E. O. Beaman, Colo. Riv. Exp.

All dams were begun at the surface and no sticks or stakes were driven down in beginning to hold in place the sticks that were to compose the bulk of the structure. Earth and stones, the latter of as much as six pounds each in weight, were brought 21 to the spot and piled on the sticks. Trappers asserted that they would load each other's backs with earth and stones to be carried to the site, but this statement is not sufficiently authenticated to receive much confidence. In form all dams were curved, up stream in small dams and down in the larger. This was doubtless due to the current, which in small streams, obstructed easily in the centre, would become stronger on the sides and push the sticks down, while the reverse would be the case in large streams. Ordinarily the dams would support a man's weight. They seemed like masses of driftwood under the foot. The older they were, the more compact. Within the ponds, formed by these remarkable dams, sometimes covering more than fifty acres, one or many lodges were built to furnish shelter and protection to the beaver family. These houses were dome-shaped structures composed of sticks and mud, the dome rising above the water-level between four or five feet and extending along it about sixteen feet. The top of the lodge was left rather loose, but below it was compact with earth. This gave the interior sufficient ventilation. The floor, which was about two inches above the water-line, was hard and clean with, in summer time, fresh cut grass around the sides. Being so near the level the inmates could tell, by the lowering of the surface, whether the dam had a break in it, in which case they would sally forth to make repairs. Trappers took advantage of this trait, breaking the dam and setting traps in the break. The interiors were about two yards in diameter and twelve to sixteen inches in height, the roof above being about three feet in thickness, while the sides were four or five. There were several kinds of entrances, ten to fifteen feet long, but one was always straight with an inclined floor, to permit food sticks to be taken into the house and out again when the bark on them had been consumed. Then the sticks were used in construction work. Other entrances were more abrupt and full of curves. The winter pile of food sticks was sunk alongside the house where it was easily accessible under the ice. No animal could successfully attack one of these lodges, so that the family within it was perfectly safe, but men with axes could force an entrance from above. 24

Beaver Canal.

From Morgan's American Beaver

Lower Colorado River—Mouth of Gila on Right.

Where Pattie Trapped Beaver in 1826.

Photograph by Delancy Gill.

In low ground the dams backing the water around trees killed them and in course of time they would disappear, leaving in their place an open, boggy space covered with a growth of rank vegetation. These were called by the hunters "beaver meadows." The "beaver canals" were cut through marshy places and were sometimes prominent features of the local landscape, extending four or five hundred feet in length, and having a breadth of three feet, with a depth of fifteen to thirty inches.

When in the water the beaver was far more graceful and active than when on land, swimming powerfully by means of its large, strong, webbed hind feet, aided, when speed was desired, by the broad, flat tail used like the blade of a sculling oar, which, indeed, it much resembled, being ten inches long by five wide, and smooth, hard, and scaly, and entirely devoid of the soft fur which covered the body. Besides this use in swimming, the tail served as a prop when the animal desired to sit up on land, and also as a sort of trowel for beating down the mud-mortar used in dam building. At night it was also struck sharply on the surface of the water as a signal of alarm, giving a report which sounded, in the stillness, like a pistol shot and could be heard for a long distance. In regions frequented by man, or where in any way likely to be disturbed, the beaver was nocturnal and did most of its work during the dark hours, but where unmolested it spent much time out in the broad daylight. I saw large numbers swimming about in daytime when on Green River in 1871, in Wonsits Valley, where white men had rarely passed, and they gave no indication of special alarm at sight of us. Perhaps they regarded our boats as nothing more than drifting logs, just as the seal of Alaska is deceived by the trick the natives there have of covering themselves and their canoes with white cloth to resemble floating ice. At one point where we were in camp a whole day within a few hundred yards of a colony actively engaged in their various labours in the sunlight of the river bank, they apparently did not notice our presence, and even a rifle ball sent among them did not seem to derange their equanimity. In this locality the banks were full of burrows, 25 and as we passed along in our boats we could see the beaver swimming around in every direction. We shot at several, but as they immediately sink to the bottom when killed, the gun is not successful in taking them, except in very shallow streams. We would have failed altogether albeit we made no special effort, had not one of the boats been able to head off a large fellow that was wounded, just as he arrived at the opening of his burrow, which happened, at that stage of river, to be a little above the water-level. A moment more and the animal would have been safe from us, but though the bottom was invisible on account of the turbidity of the river, one of our men quickly took the plunge and grasped the beaver from behind firmly around the middle at the moment when its head was almost against the steep high bank. The depth was no more than about three feet, and though the beating of the heavy tail, and the fierce struggles, made it anything but easy, the beaver was thrown into the boat, where a blow from an oar finished him. The captor, drenched and covered with mud, climbed triumphantly on board. Some of the meat was cooked and suggested to me beef in flavour, though it was rather tough and unappetising. The tail makes a soup which is the delight of the epicure, or was, when beaver tails were procurable, but somehow that which our cook concocted did not strike our palates favourably and we abandoned it for the regulation bacon and beans. Beaver meat was often the only food the trapper and frontiersman could obtain, and they considered it quite a good article of diet. The one we tested was doubtless too old a specimen, and we had no opportunity to secure another, for we passed on into the great Canyon of Desolation and saw beaver no more.

Trees Cut by Beavers.

From Morgan's American Beaver.

When at work cutting down a tree they stood on their hind legs, supported also by the tail, two working at one time on the same tree. They began eight or ten inches above the base and cut round and round, making each successive cut wider and deeper, the chips thrown off being some three inches in length by one and one-half wide, and one-quarter thick, each showing the sharp, clean strokes of the teeth, and resembling chips made with an axe. As the trees selected were always 27 soft wood, they were easily gnawed while green. A tree of considerable size would be readily felled in two or three nights. Often they worked in pairs at a number of trees at one time, and nineteen falls, says Morgan, have been counted in a single night between the hours of seven and twelve. Cottonwoods twenty-four inches in diameter were brought down, though the more ordinary size was fourteen to sixteen inches. Father de Smet saw a stump that was thirty inches in diameter.

At first glance a beaver stump looks almost as if it might have been cut by an axe in the hands of an inexperienced chopper. Pine trees were sometimes cut down, but the boughs were not used for food. Food branches were cut up into lengths of one to two feet, for convenience in handling and storing. Sometimes trees that fell with their tops in the deep water were allowed to remain this way till winter, when the branches were cut off under the ice. As the beaver was able to stay below the surface comfortably from five to ten minutes, he could accomplish his work there with ease. Both sexes possessed in two glands of the groin a musky secretion called castoreum, which was used in medicine and also as a bait for the animal itself. When at play they would void some of this musk upon the ground, and their favourite playgrounds were consequently called by the trappers "muskbogs."

Hunters sometimes found trees standing near a stream that were partly cut, and they observed that in these cases the trees would not have fallen into the water, from which they inferred that cutting these trees had been started by young, inexperienced beavers who had finally been stopped in the useless labour by their wise elders. Bradbury, the English naturalist who was in the West with Wilson Price Hunt in 1809, thought he found some substantiation of this theory in trees he carefully examined—at least, none of these trees would have fallen across the neighbouring streams. Inasmuch as these animals, however, were in constant need of food branches, there would seem to have been no good reason for preventing the young beaver from completing the cutting of any tree no matter where it might drop. That the beaver had gone into the study of forestry and was endeavouring to preserve the woods is not 28 likely, nor is it probable that the time of the youthful beaver was valuable. If all stumps in a given locality had been examined, doubtless it would have been found that a considerable number of trees had not fallen across the stream or even in its direction. A more probable explanation of these half-cut trees would be that from time to time some of those engaged in gnawing were interrupted during the operation, perhaps killed, and prevented from resuming, and that the rest, having their attention engaged on other trees or their branches, were not impelled to take up the work. The tree being girdled soon died. Then the fibre of the wood growing dry and hard, the tree would be avoided, because there were always plenty of fresh, juicy ones to cut. The tops of the old dead trees would also be of no use for food. So while the young may have been regularly educated as the trappers believed, this particular illustration of wise guidance does not appear convincing. It was also believed that an old beaver which had once escaped a trap could not again easily be caught, for the reason that thereafter it carried a stick in its mouth with which to test suspicious places and spring any trap that might be in its way.

Nevertheless the trap was fatal to these industrious and ingenious animals, and by the year 1835 they had been reduced in numbers to such a degree that they were no longer the chief lure and gain of the fur hunter. The native, before the opening of the European market, not having much use for such small skins and preferring the meat of other game for food, the beaver for ages had been practically unmolested. But the footsteps of the American trapper sounded his death knell. At the same time they sounded the same knell for every living thing in the whole vast wilderness, and now, a century after, not only is it next to impossible to find a beaver colony in that immense array of mountain and plain, but all wild animals have become more or less of a curiosity, only preserved from absolute extermination by the most rigorous game laws. Killing for fun is even more destructive than killing for profit.

The principal contrivance employed in taking beaver was the common steel trap, a couple of jaws so arranged that they could be spread and set on a trigger which was connected with 29 a treadle in the centre. When the animal stepped on this treadle, the powerful jaws were freed and were brought fiercely together by a spring, clamping the leg of the victim securely. The trap being fastened to a strong chain and this to a stake, the captive could not escape, unless it gnawed its own leg off, and it is said beaver sometimes did this. The trap was set in the line of a runway or trail or near the entrance to a burrow, with a stick leaning over it on the extremity of which was the bait, a small quantity of castoreum, of gum camphor, oil of juniper, cinnamon, or cloves. The last two were dissolved in alcohol and made into a paste. In reaching for the bait, the beaver stepped on the treadle of the trap. The hunter made his rounds regularly to gather in the pelts of the captives, resetting the traps for another catch if the locality was promising, or, if the contrary, taking them up and pushing on in search of better ground. In the very beginning those first in a rich spot of course reaped the best harvest, and it was the desire to obtain large and quick returns that induced trappers constantly to enter farther and farther into the unfathomed places. The move was not always a wise one. Frequently they left comparatively good ground and came to that which was lean, or perhaps entirely devoid of the animal sought.

Beaver Trap.

The Beaver.

Copyright, 1901, by Doubleday, Page & Co.

Sometimes the trap was set so that the ring attached to the end of the chain, as soon as the captive dived, would slide down to the small end of a pole planted in the water, preventing the ascent of the beaver and consequently drowning it. At the lodge, rows of strong stakes were driven in such a way as to form alleys leading to the entrances through which the members of the family would have to pass to reach the house, the trap being cunningly concealed on the bottom. In 31 winter, as it was easy to discover the lodges because the snow was melted away from above by the rising warm air, the tops were chopped in, and the beaver taken in this way. The store of winter food sticks being placed in a pile beside the lodge, the trappers often staked around it to compel the beaver to enter for food at points where traps were set. When it was driven to its bank burrows, the entrances were closed and then the occupants were dug out from above. The setting of steel traps, however, and visiting them at regular intervals was the easiest and most profitable method, for one man could take care of fifty traps or more, without great difficulty. One peculiarity of the animal was of great service to its pursuers,—it never stepped backwards. Altogether the poor creature was an easy prey to the keen hunter, and the capture of it amounted to wholesale slaughter.

In disposition the beaver was gentle and shy. When caught very young, they became perfectly tame and contented. Native women sometimes nursed young captives as they would a child, till, in a few weeks, they were old enough to eat bark, when they would wean themselves. Their cry resembled that of a human infant, and their affectionate natures made them attractive and satisfactory pets. Full growth was attained at two and one-half years, and they died of old age at about fifteen. A beaver family consisted of the two parents and the several offspring under two years of age, all living in one lodge or burrow. Occasionally a male refused to pair, and then after the second season he was driven from the colony and became an outcast. Their interesting social organisation and general sagacity placed them in the very top rank among animals.

This small creature, then, that offered its life as a bait to entice the white man into the depths of the wilderness, was one of the most remarkable on the continent, and its likeness, as the emblem of the American Republic, would be far more appropriate than the carrion eagle, which has little to commend it, as compared with the beaver, the model of gentleness, industry, ingenuity, and painstaking skill, and which formed a stepping-stone to the power and greatness of the Union of States now spreading from ocean to ocean. 32



A Monarch of the Plains—The Hunchback Cows of Cibola—A Boon to the Frontiersman—Wide Range of the Bison—Marrow Bones for the Epicure—Washington Irving a Buffalo Hunter—The Rushing Run of the Bison Herd—The Sacred White Buffalo Cow Skin—A Calf with a Bull Head—Wolves and White Bears.

Another denizen of the wilderness that performed an important part in its preparation for occupation by the white race was the buffalo or Bison Americanus, a monarch of the plains, huge and fierce in appearance; a monarch with the mien of a lion and the resistance of a sheep; an animal quite the opposite of the interesting beaver in almost every particular but numbers. In this respect, however, it vied with its smaller associate, roaming by millions and millions up and down across the limitless prairie-ocean, apparently as inexhaustible as the vagrant breezes blowing one day here and one day there. But the breezes still waft above the billowy surface, while the bison has vanished like a dream. The farm, the ranch, the town, and the railway now claim his vast grazing grounds. Were it not for a few specimens preserved in private herds and zoölogical gardens, this strange creature would be as unfamiliar to us in the life as are the Dinosaurs of the Jurassic plains.

The Monarch of the Plains.

The Figure a Photograph by C. C. Pierce & Co.

They were the "hunchback cows" which Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca first accurately described to the European world, although it is said that Montezuma had one captive in his collection 34 of animals at the time Cortez pillaged the Aztec capital. They were later called "cattle or cows of Cibola" (and Sibolo)[4] by the Spaniards, perhaps because the inhabitants of the first group of native villages of New Mexico encountered by Coronado were supplied with buffalo robes and were in the habit of going to hunt the animals on the plains of the river Pecos, where at that time they were abundant. The name passed into common use and to-day, although there is the correct word Bisónte, the American bison is generally known in Spanish as Cibolo. In his celebrated traverse of the Texas and Kansas prairies in 1540 Coronado saw immense herds that roamed there. The buffalo range was great, especially in a north and south direction, its southernmost limit having been in north-eastern Mexico a little below the lower end of Texas, while its northernmost was the upper shores of Great Slave Lake. It seems, however, that it did not cover this range in latitude at one time, so that in Coronado's day the northern limit was doubtless considerably below Great Slave Lake. The buffalo was not migratory in the sense that herds from the extreme north traversed the entire range and occupied a place on the southern edge, but it was migratory as a whole, swinging back and forth from north to south and south to north like a huge pendulum, the various sub-herds always retaining practically the same relative position to the complete mass. It appears also that in this annual oscillation with the seasons it gradually retired from the extreme southern limit and encroached beyond its northern limit, till the position at the north mentioned was arrived at. This is indicated by the statement of an Amerind of the Athabasca country, who in explaining his age to Mackenzie, said that "he remembered the opposite hills and plains now interspersed with groves of poplars, when they were covered with moss, and without any animal inhabitant but the reindeer. By degrees, he said, the face of the country changed 35 to its present appearance, when the elk came from the east and was followed by the buffalo; the reindeer then retired to ... a considerable distance."[5] It is therefore quite probable that, had not the European arrived to interfere, the buffalo eventually would have gone farther north and would have spread over Alaska. It was perfectly at home in the cold northland so long as the summers permitted grass and herbage to mature. The Saskatchewan country was full of them all winter, though they were forced to paw away the snow to reach the grass. The range east and west was also extensive, though this was not the direction of its annual movement. Its eastern limit was the extent of the Mississippi valley north of the Tennessee; and possibly as far as Lake Champlain. While seemingly not as numerous in this eastern part of its range as farther west, yet there were large numbers, and the hunters of the early days of European settlement often killed them. Albert Gallatin states that while in western Virginia in 1784 he subsisted chiefly on buffalo meat. The city of Buffalo takes its name from this animal, which formerly fed on its site. That they were abundant in this eastern region long before Gallatin's time is established by the large quantities of their bones found around the salt licks of the Ohio valley. At Big Bone Lick, Kentucky, these accumulations are so great as to indicate, beyond question, a very remote date for the beginning of the range of the buffalo in this region. Beneath them the bones of the mastodon are discovered.[6]

It is strange that no bison remains have thus far been found in the ancient mounds of the Mississippi valley; nor are there any images of them on Moundbuilder pipes. It is also strange that, despite the abundance of buffalo throughout the greater part of the West, pictures of it made by the natives should be so rare. The Sioux lived with and on the bison, yet they 36 seldom drew it, while their robes are covered with drawings of horses and other animals.

On the west the limit of the range, at least north of about latitude 41°, up to the end of the first decade of the nineteenth century seems to have been the Rocky Mountains. Lewis and Clark, on their great journey of 1804-06, make no mention of the buffalo on the Pacific side of the mountains, hence it is probable that few had crossed there at that time. This would imply that it was the advance of civilisation which impelled the buffalo in numbers finally to seek passes over the Backbone and spread across the upper valley of Green River, of Bear River, and of the Columbia. The possibility always remains that there may have been other causes at work, perhaps climatic, to induce or assist this movement, and it is also possible that the animal may have crossed earlier, and have temporarily refrained from migrating in that direction, perchance on account of extra deep snow or some such natural interference, although the usual snow did not prevent their crossing in dead of winter. Escalante's party in 1776 found abundant signs of buffalo on White River, near the Green, and killed one there. They named a canyon Arroyo del Cibolo because of the many buffalo trails in it.

But the modern Pai Utes apparently had no knowledge of this animal, so that if it ever was found in any numbers in southern Utah, the period of occupation must have been remote. Dr. Coues believed that it ranged at one time in Arizona, though he could not recall the ground for this belief, simply remembering that it appeared to him sufficient at the time. The only indication that I know of, of the former presence of the buffalo in southern Utah is a rock picture found on the walls of Kanab Canyon (see page 37), some eight miles north of latitude 37° and about two west of longitude 112° 30´. This drawing would suggest that some natives captured a buffalo not far from the spot, though it might have been the record of a hunt at some other point. Buffalo would not have been likely to cross the vast depths of the Grand Canyon to the southward, hence they could have arrived at 37 this place easily only by way of the Sevier River, the Escalante Desert, or by turning the western end of the Grand Canyon. At Gunnison on Sevier River a buffalo skull was found in a canyon ten feet below the surface. It is more probable that they would come from the north, yet if they did not cross the mountains there till 1810, a new difficulty is met with, for the present Pai Utes seem not to have made any rock pictures. These were done by the pottery-making, house-building Amerinds, who, as far as can be determined, had vanished from the region long before 1810.

Picture of Buffalo on Cliff Wall, Southern Utah.

Pecked Drawing Copied by B. L. Young.

I do not remember any reference to buffalo on Espejo's trip to Zuñi and west in 1583, nor on the journey Juan de Oñate made across Arizona and back in 1604-05; it is likely that if this animal ranged there it was before the time of Coronado. The south-western limit at that period appears to have been the first mountain range west of the Rio Pecos. North of latitude 57° they never crossed the Rocky Mountains. In 1820, according to Long, they had not yet entirely crossed in the central portion, that is to Green River and the Columbia, yet in 1824 they were ranging the Green, Columbia, and Bear River valleys in vast numbers. Up to 1823 they existed in great herds in the new State of Missouri, and their crossing to the Pacific slope thus appears about coincident with their retiring from this eastern ground. In their western range they 38 extended as far as the Blue Mountains of Oregon, and even to the foot of the Sierra Nevada in the region farther south. Fossil remains have been found, according to Coues, within the limits of its range, east of the Rocky Mountains. There were two kinds of buffalo in the opinion of the frontiersmen, the wood buffalo and the prairie type. Apparently there was not sufficient differentiation in these to warrant the separation. They were practically the same, the variation being merely one of habitat, and individual change, like the occasional development of an extra rib. The buffalo inhabiting the woods usually grew to a larger size than that of the plains, but this was probably the result of a less active life and more abundant food. All buffalo at maturity were large animals, the male weighing 1000 to 1500 pounds or more, and the female from 800 to 1200. In size the adult male measured about 9 feet from muzzle to root of tail, and 13 feet 6 inches to end of tail including the hairs, which were about 15 inches long. In similar measurement the adult female was about 6 feet 6 inches to root of tail and 9 feet to the extreme end, the hairs being about 10 inches long. The male at the highest part was 5½ to 6 feet and the female about 5 feet; at the hips both sexes were around 4½ feet. The horns of the male were short and very thick at the base, with a quick taper to a sharp point. Those of the female were smaller at the base, but about the same in length and curve as those of the male. In winter the colour of the woolly hair was a blackish brown, but it became lighter in summer and so varied somewhat with season and locality. The hair was moulted in early spring except that on the shoulders, which with age became tawny—a yellowish brown.

The earliest published drawing of the American bison is supposed to be that which appeared in 1558 in Thevet's book,[7] sixteen years after the return to Mexico of Coronado, but it would seem that some illustration of an animal that was considered so remarkable must have been printed before that. Since then it has been drawn and painted unnumbered times. It figured largely, as a matter of course, in Catlin's celebrated 40 illustrations of aboriginal life in the Far West, and forms the subject for about the best picture Albert Bierstadt ever painted, Buffalo Hunting on Laramie Plains.[8]

The Grand Teton from Jackson's Hole.

The Buffalo Reached this Valley by 1824.

Photograph by W. H. Jackson, U. S. Geol. Survey.

But it was not as material for picture making that the bison became of greatest value, it was as a meat supply to the trapper, the trader, and the traveller generally upon the bosom of that wide expanse of rolling prairie that so resembled the great salt ocean itself. As Butler[9] describes it,

"the unending vision of sky and grass, the dim, distant, and ever shifting horizon; the ridges that seem to be rolled upon one another in motionless torpor; the effect of sunrise and sunset, of night narrowing the vision to nothing, and morning only expanding it to a shapeless blank, ... and above all the sense of lonely, unending distance which comes to the Voyageur when day after day has gone by, night has closed, and morning dawned upon his onward progress under the same ever-moving horizon of grass and sky."

No wonder the moment buffalo were first sighted by the anxious caravan, a joyful cry went up, equivalent, as Irving says, to the cry of, "A sail, a sail!" at sea. All was commotion on the instant, and everybody prepared for the hunt. Thenceforward, as long as buffalo were near, hunger held no terrors on that boundless plain that now our limited express so contemptuously spurns beneath its throbbing steel, as the ennuied lady sits wearisome at the window gazing with disdain on those blood-bathed reaches of country, so full of thrilling story and history, a bill of fare in her hand that would have driven the old voyageur to distraction.

Canyon of Lodore—Green River.

Canyons of this Character were almost Continuous from a few Miles below the Union Pacific Railway Crossing.

Photograph by E. O. Beaman, U. S. Colo. Riv. Exp.

Yet buffalo meat could not have been less delicious to the appetite of the plains traveller. It not only furnished food for the moment, but dried, or dried and pounded and mixed with the rendered tallow, sometimes including berries, it made pemmican,[10] which could be kept a long time, and which formed the basis of the supplies for long expeditions and for winter consumption. The meat from old bulls was often tough, but that 41 from a fat cow was always delicious, and the marrow!—well, that was a dish fit to set before a king. The Hon. Grantley F. Berkley[11] of England was not exactly a king, unless we elevate him as far above the Americans as he thought himself to be, but he appreciated marrow in 1859 when he honoured the great plains by his presence.

"No man [he exclaims] can guess what marrow amounts to until he has been to the Far West.... The bone was brought to table in its full length, and they had some way of hitting it with an axe which opened one side only, like the lid of a box. The bone 42 then, when this lid was removed, exposed in its entire length a regular white roll of unbroken marrow, beautifully done. When hot, as the lid had kept it, and put on thin toast, it was perfection."

Another part that was particularly delicious was the hump or rather the hump-ribs; and so too was the tongue. Still another tidbit was the meat along either side of the loin, so that altogether living was high on the rolling prairie as long as buffalo held out. Frequently the traveller became so pampered by these luxuries that he spurned all but the daintiest parts and thought nothing of killing a cow simply for the marrow or for the tongue.

The poor beast deserved better treatment than it got; indeed, the only treatment was a dose of lead on sight, even when no meat was needed. The Amerinds often killed the bison recklessly before the arrival of the European, yet the herds would have resisted all such inroads. But when the white man came he quickly gave the native points in the game of useless destruction. The buffalo range immediately was transformed into a vast slaughter-house, and the carcasses were left to rot and dry under the western sun. And the more civilised the hunter—that is, the more unaccustomed to the frontier—the greater the waste of bison life at his hands. More than sixteen thousand were shot for sport alone, on the plains of Kansas and Colorado, in 1871. The sportsmen killed all sizes and ages, pell-mell, just to kill and to ride away at headlong speed like escaped madmen, never stopping a moment even for the tongues. Everywhere the carcasses of wantonly slain buffalo in disgusting masses of putrefaction were lying over hill and dale.[12] They enjoyed the bison's terror and agony, and with the improved breech-loader death was dealt in a steady stream, easily and at little cost. It was grand sport!

"Some of our bullets are telling; you can hear them crack on his hide. There is a red spot now, not bigger than the point of one's finger, opposite a lung, and drops of blood trickle with the saliva from his jaws.... He is bleeding internally.... Now 44 he stands sullen glaring at us. The wounds look like little points of red paint, put deftly on his shaggy hide.... The large eyes roll and swell with pain and fury.... See him blow the blood from his nostrils. The drops scatter like red-hot shot around him, seeming to hiss in globules of fury, as they spatter upon the dry grass."[13]

Head of Bison Bull.

Specimen Shot by Theodore Roosevelt. Dec. 17, 1883.

(From Roosevelt's Hunting Trips of a Ranchman.)

When finally the railways began to push across the plains, passengers would amuse themselves by shooting buffalo from the windows. The animals had a habit of trying to cross the track ahead of the engine, and sometimes would rush beside the train a long distance, for in the early days trains had to run slowly, thus giving passengers the opportunity. If the train did not stop, the herd would perhaps butt up against it, so the engineers learned to stand still, and, with due respect, wait for the bison to pass. When wounded, they became dangerous, especially the vigorous bulls, and the novice then had to look sharp for his own life, like the matador in the bull-ring.

The advance of one of the enormous herds was a terrific sight. Great clouds of dust rolled up, there was bellowing and bawling, and the thunder of the thousand hoof-beats on the hard ground. The herd came as one animal, sweeping everything before it as an avalanche descends some precipice in the Alps. "Their lion-like fronts and dangling beards—their open mouths and hanging tongues—as they come puffing like a locomotive engine at every bound do at first make the blood settle a little heavy about the heart." Woe to the caravan or horseman who failed to evade this resistless approach! The forward animals were borne ahead by the pressure from behind, and the mass swept on like some tremendous flood. Should a river or other obstacle come in the way there was no halt. Whole herds were sometimes dashed to death over some precipice, or drowned in a river where quicksand prevented fording or swimming. Four thousand once crossed the Platte when it was a foot or two deep and full of quicksand. The animals in the lead mired, but those behind prevented their return, and rushing on over the ones already 45 entangled in the fatal sands, themselves fell in, till finally the bed of the stream, nearly half a mile wide, was covered with dead and dying buffalo, two thousand, at least, having been killed in the attempt to cross. Gregg[14] asserts that any herd was easily turned aside, but others give a different opinion, and judging from all the data, it seems that Gregg's experience in this particular must have been unusual.

Buffalo Chase.

After Catlin.
From Smithsonian Report, 1885.

Hunting was done by several methods; first, following along the outskirts of a herd on a trained and fleet horse and "cutting out" an animal to shoot; or, by "still" hunting—that is, creeping up to a herd unobserved and picking animals off while feeding; or by the surround; or the drive. The natives were expert in all methods. In the surround they closed in large numbers on a herd and at a given signal all began to shoot. They used the bow and arrow and the spear, and also firearms when they finally acquired them. They were astonishingly expert with the bow, singling out their animal 46 while riding full speed and sending an arrow entirely through the victim. Sometimes the arrow would also kill a calf or another buffalo before ceasing its flight. The spear was skilfully used, and it is said an Amerind would ride alongside a cow allowing his spear to rest on its back till it became accustomed to it and then he would thrust the weapon into the vitals and deftly withdraw it, all without even slackening his horse's speed, the horse being trained to guide by the movement of his rider. Large numbers were captured by building a sort of corral with wing-like sides of bushes fifty feet apart and a mile or two long, or more, leading to the entrance. The hunters closed in gradually on a herd and drove them into the corral, other men being stationed behind the bushes to frighten the buffalo. Hind describes vividly his visit to one of these scenes[15]:

"A sight most horrible and disgusting broke upon us as we ascended a sand dune overhanging the little dell in which the pound was built. Within a circular fence 120 feet broad, constructed of the trunks of trees, laced with withes together and braced by outside supports, lay tossed in every conceivable position, over two hundred dead buffalo. From old bulls to calves of three months old, animals of every age were huddled together in all the forced attitudes of violent death. Some lay on their backs, with eyes starting from their heads, and tongue thrust out through clotted gore. Others were impaled on the horns of the old and strong bulls. Others again, which had been tossed, were lying with broken backs two and three deep. One little calf hung suspended on the horns of a bull which had impaled it in the wild race round and round the pound. The Indians looked upon the dreadful and sickening scene with evident delight."

This seems like great slaughter, and so it was, but compared with the white man out after tongues and hides it was as a raindrop to Shoshone Falls.

Character of Buffalo Range in Green River Valley.

Photograph by E. O. Beaman, U. S. Colo. Riv. Exp.

Another way was to take advantage of the blind impetuosity of the charge of a herd and lead it over the brink of a 48 precipice. A man holding upon himself a buffalo skin with head and horns, and running before the herd toward the precipice, thus induced the buffalo to follow, as they took him to be one of themselves. At the brink the man secured himself in some safe nook, while the herd, forced by the rush from behind, fell over the cliff and were dashed to death. The hunters then took what they wished and left the rest to the wolves.

The fur companies about 1835, when the beaver began to fail and they found their next mainstay in buffalo robes, annually sent to market about a hundred thousand. Add to this a greater number killed by all parties for various purposes, and it is reasonable to estimate the number yearly destroyed at not less than a quarter of a million. When the value of robes fell off, the buffalo was killed for hides and tallow. Eventually the price of hides fell to no more than one dollar apiece, delivered in Leavenworth. Made into leather, the bison hides could not compare with those of domestic cattle. It was soft and spongy and not adapted for shoe, for sole, or for harness leather. Large quantities were at one time finished by American tanners, but were chiefly used for making horse collars. A good deal was exported to Great Britain. The process of tanning was the same as for ordinary leather. But no method of tanning robes with the hair on could equal that of the natives, and this was admitted by the best American tanners, who turned out few robes for this reason. The Amerind method was first to scrape off the superfluous flesh with a sort of bone adze, the skin being either stretched on a frame or pegged out on the ground. When dry the surface was rubbed and scraped again and then covered with the brains and rolled up flesh side in for three or four days, the brains of the animal being sufficient for its own hide. Then it was soaked in water and softened by working and rubbing, thoroughly smoked over a fire of rotten wood, and finally rubbed down to a finish. A large hide was often split in two for convenience in dressing and then sewed together after completion of the tanning process.

One hardly thinks of Washington Irving as a sportsman and buffalo hunter, yet he was out on the plains in 1832 gaily 49 charging after buffalo with pistols of the old priming-pan pattern, for breech-loaders were not yet in use, and many of the early trappers had only the old flint-lock. It was the breech-loading repeater and canned goods that finished the buffalo.

"There is a mixture of the awful and the comic [says Irving] in the look of these huge animals as they bear their great bulk forwards with an up-and-down motion of the unwieldy head and shoulders; their tail cocked up like the cue of Pantaloon in a pantomime, the end whisking about in a fierce yet whimsical style, and their eyes glaring venomously with an expression of fright and fury."

Borrowing a companion's double-barrelled gun which had one shot remaining in it, Irving took after the fleeing herd and succeeded in bringing one down.

"Dismounting, I now fettered my horse to prevent his straying and advanced to contemplate my victim. I am nothing of a sportsman; I had been prompted to this unwonted exploit by the magnitude of the game, and the excitement of an adventurous chase. Now that the excitement was over I could not but look with commiseration upon the poor animal that lay struggling and bleeding at my feet. His very size and importance, which had before inspired me with eagerness, now increased my compunction."[16]

The scurrying herds sometimes ran close to a caravan and mules, horses, and oxen have been known to run away with them. The buffalo often seemed to consider the domestic animals part of their own herd and the cattle appeared to hold the same opinion of the buffalo. Indeed, there was little difference except in appearance between a herd of domestic cattle and one of buffalo. The mingling was prevented by firing into the buffalo and killing several, which served to turn a small herd, though frequently their headway was so great they could not be swerved and the animals were stampeded with them. Then hours of hard work became necessary to rescue the tame animals, and some never were regained. The season had much to do with the manageability of a herd, as at some periods the bulls were extremely fierce. 50

In summer the bulls would find wet places in the prairie and soon by ploughing and wallowing would create a considerable puddle, wherein they would lave themselves and finally emerge coated with mud. Others would follow till a great depression was the result. These depressions were called wallows and the plains were covered with them. When filled up eventually by the washings of the rains they induced, by superior fertility, a rank growth which distinguished them for a long distance.

Canyon of Desolation—Green River.

A Barrier to the Buffalo's Westward Movement.

Photograph by E. O. Beaman, U. S. Colo. Riv. Exp.

The Osages and other tribes at one time wove blankets of buffalo wool in the same manner that the Navajos to-day weave blankets of sheep's wool. Many tribes lived by and with the buffalo, having no other source of food, shelter, or 51 raiment, and this animal became to them the most important being in creation. It entered into their ceremonials and into almost every act of their daily life. When no buffalo had been secured for a time and the camp was growing hungry, the Buffalo Dance was performed and, as Catlin says, it never failed to bring the buffalo, because it was invariably continued till buffalo came in sight—a happy event signalled by a lookout "throwing" his robe. All then rushed to the hunt. If a white buffalo cow were taken,—and there were occasionally white buffalo,—the skin was preserved as a sacred object by the Dakota tribes. It was sheltered under a special sacred tent and carried about from camp to camp with the greatest reverence.

Mandan Buffalo Dance.

After Catlin. From Smithsonian Report, 1885.

The buffalo was easily domesticated, but the Amerind never seems to have attempted to tame it, although Gomara states that a certain tribe living in north-western Mexico about latitude 40°—wherever that might have been—had herds of tame bison. In the north-west counties of Virginia early in the nineteenth century a mixed breed was common, and in the first settlement of the North-west there was also crossing with 52 European cattle. The cows of this mixed breed that were considered best for milking were the half bloods down to the quarter or even eighth of buffalo blood. But it may be assumed that had there been any considerable gain by the cross the experiment would have been continued. It seems probable in view of the physique of each animal that the cross had heavier forequarters and lighter hindquarters than either parent, and a lighter milk yield, hence it would not be found advantageous.

Buffalo Swimming Missouri River.

After Catlin. From Smithsonian Report, 1885.

The calf, Catlin asserts,[17] could be made to follow a horseman simply by holding the hand over its eyes and breathing into its nostrils a few strong breaths. In this way he collected about a dozen, which were fed at the fort on milk and finally sent down the river to St. Louis as a present to Choteau. All but one died on the journey. The breathing operation was not unattended with danger for the calves were vigorous butters and not lightly to be trifled with. The trapper Pattie, when crossing the prairies, shot a cow and concluded to take 53 the little calf alive to camp. So he laid aside his equipment in order the more easily to catch it, expecting a hot chase. But when he approached the prospective captive it also approached him, and with the speed and vigour of a battering ram. Mr. Pattie found himself stretched on the ground, with the further misfortune of being knocked back again every time he attempted to rise. He began to suspect that his final hour had come, when he succeeded in catching the calf by one of its legs, and killed it with his sheath knife, which was still in his belt.

The pursuit of the buffalo was full of excitement and within reason was a legitimate sport. Catlin exclaims: "I have always counted myself a prudent man, yet I have waked (as it were) out of the delirium of the chase, into which I had fallen as into an agitated sleep, and through which I had passed as through a delightful dream, where to have died would have been but to have remained riding on without a struggle or a pang."

The herds of buffalo were always followed by large numbers of wolves, both the small coyote variety and the huge grey wolf. There were also on the prairies in great numbers what the early frontiersmen called "white bears." These were grizzlies. They were very bold and many a man was sent to the Happy Hunting Grounds by their ferocious power. No animal in the world perhaps, taken all in all, was so dangerous. Besides these there were numerous antelope, elk, deer, sheep, prairie hens, turkeys, quail, rabbits, and other small game, more or less familiar to the reader, and, therefore, not requiring an extended description here. The beaver and the buffalo were the animals of the greatest importance; and the buffalo deserves a place in our national emblem along with the beaver, for the bones of the bison may be said to form one of the corner-stones of the Union.





The People of the Wilderness—Men without Rights—Killing by Alcohol—Change in the Character of the Native—Growth of the War Spirit—Classification by Language—Dwellers in Tents and Builders of Houses—Farmers and Hunters—Irrigation Works—The Coming of the Horse.

Of more than equal interest with the magnificent wilderness and its animal occupants was the human dweller within its broad limits, the Amerind,[18] commonly called the Indian. Still another name for him was Red Man, yet he was neither an Indian nor was he red, except when he painted himself with ochre and vermilion. His real colour was various shades of brown or bronze, rather yellowish than red where protected from the sun. We are not surprised that roses of different hue grow in a garden, but there has always been unwarranted amazement that different shades of men should be found in the garden of the universe. There appears to be no reason why men should not vary in colour as well as all other animals and plants. But though races of mankind may vary in colour they never, so far as now determined, have varied in any other essential; or at least only slightly in fundamental characteristics. In general physical composition all men to-day are identical, and there is no certain evidence that they have ever differed more than they now do.[19] Man is everywhere the same as far 56 back in the ages as he can be traced. Some may be stronger, or larger, or shorter, than others, with brains more or less developed, but they are all practically alike, even to their emotions.

A Village of the Plains.

This form of tipi was readily taken down and as readily set up again.

Photograph by U. S. Government.

Races, as a whole, differ from each other, in their ability to make machines, in their ability to secure comfort, in language, and in their social regulations; differences of degree. These qualities are begun and fostered more by stimulating circumstances than by particular superiority of race. For example, the Europeans forged ahead mainly because they were possessed of animals easily domesticated that would supply their needs. The Amerind had no such animals in North America except the bison and the dog. The latter he utilised to the full as a draught and pack animal, as a wool producer, and as a supply of animal food. Why he did not domesticate the bison is a problem. Perhaps it was because there were too many of them. The store of animal food was usually over-abundant with all Amerinds living in the range of the buffalo, so there was no spur to economy. We may imagine that if the buffalo from time to time had appeared in comparatively small numbers in the thickly populated country of the Aztecs where animal food was so scarce that an elaborate system of human sacrifices developed to supply this deficiency, the latter eventually would have been abandoned and captive buffalo substituted for captive man. Domestication, to guard the supply, would then have been an easy step. But the buffalo was permitted to roam at will, and the dog remained the sole domestic animal in possession of the people of North America before the arrival of the white race.[20]

The Amerind was not a savage. He was a barbarian with a rather well ordered society. He possessed a high quality of intellect, and he differed from his white antagonist more in external complexion than in any other particular except his social organisation, which was one the white man had passed through 57 and left behind in centuries far past. But the Amerind had the same emotions. He loved his home, his family,—as constituted by his social regulations,—and his children. As to honesty and dishonesty, the balance was certainly not far from even, average for average; if anything, the Amerind had more respect for the ideals of his race than was the case with the white man with reference to his. Of course he had abundant vices like all the rest of humanity. He was often horribly cruel to his enemies. But on the whole he was not worse than the European who brought him degradation; who frequently soaked him with cheap rum and alcohol, in order more easily to exchange nothing for valuable furs: who engrafted upon him more and worse vices, who shot him needlessly, and who reviled him as he sank helpless under the heavy tide of imposition. Love of home and defence of country are ever extolled as of the highest merit in the white race; in the American native they were crimes. From the beginning of the contact the Amerind began to change for the worse.

A Pai Ute Family at Home.

Photograph by J. K. Hillers, U. S. Colo. Riv. Exp.

A Ute Mountain Home.

Photograph by J. K. Hillers, U. S. Geol. Survey.

The white man blamed all Amerinds for every crime and the Amerind blamed the white man similarly. Each visited 58 retribution on the other without discrimination. The antagonism grew and grew. Tribes which at first received the whites most kindly and were continually cheated were apt to become bitterest enemies. On the Missouri in 1810 Wilson Price Hunt asked some Amerinds why they killed white men, to which they answered, "because they kill us—that man—" pointing to Carson—"killed one of our brothers last summer." This statement was true. Carson while with the Arikara had shot, probably for amusement, across the river at a war party of Sioux. The latter then retaliated by killing three whites. In this way the mutual antagonism multiplied as the years passed, just as a snowball increases when it rolls down hill. The native soon discovered that he must apply himself to his protection, and from being comparatively peaceful he became intensely warlike, emulating the example of the Iroquois and Apache. Had he possessed the power of organising, the story of white 60 encroachment on his domain would have read differently. As it is, it may be considered a great loss to history that we have so little of the story from his point of view.

Village of the Puebloan Type. View in the Moki Town of Mishongnavi, Arizona.

Photograph by U. S. Bu. Eth.

Before the nineteenth century was half over, the country east of the Mississippi was entirely appropriated by the whites. The various tribes that had lived there were absorbed, exterminated, or crowded out; the same process was to be repeated in the Wilderness. The Iroquois held their ground in New York and succeeded in exchanging their former holdings for small reservations; and here was another story of the white man's perfidy. The Seminole, the Creek, and the Sac-and-Fox tribes were finally crushed and their remnants removed, with others, beyond the Mississippi. The general government as a rule tried to deal justly by the Amerind, yet it has been much censured. Its task was an impossibility as long as so many white men who came in contact with the natives were willing to set aside every principle of fair dealing and treat them with no more consideration than they did the beaver and the buffalo. They wanted their furs and anything else of commercial value that they possessed, and no subterfuge was too dishonourable to practise on them. The matter for surprise is not that the Amerind was occasionally on the war-path, but that he was not always there. He received daily lessons in cupidity, cruelty, and dishonour.

Thus far the most exact basis for the classification of these interesting people has been language. It was some time after the early intercourse with the natives of the East before the wide divergence in language was appreciated and all attempts to classify them fell into confusion. Finally, in 1836, Albert Gallatin began an arrangement by language which, reorganised by Powell, in 1885-86, has been generally adopted by ethnologists, and to-day, while not entirely approved, it is the only method that is satisfactory.

By this system all tribes whose language roots are the same are classed together no matter how widely separated geographically they might have been. Notwithstanding the remarkable homogeneity of all the aboriginal inhabitants of the continent in customs, habits, and organisation, yet more than 61 sixty separate stock languages were discovered in North America. Each one of these is taken to represent a "stock" group to which is given a title derived from Gallatin's first designation or from the leading tribe in that particular stock, with the addition of "an" or "ian," and all tribes having similar language roots are classed with this group or stock. Thus in the Siouan stock, the title is taken from the leading tribe, the Sioux, and all affiliated languages are brought under the same heading, as Dakota, Crow, Hidatsa, Iowa, Mandan, etc., and in the Athapascan the title is taken from the Athapascas of the far north, while the Apaches and Navajos of the south are classed under the same heading, as they speak related languages.[21]

Umatilla Tipi of Rush Mats on Columbia River.

From Lewis & Clark by O. D. Wheeler.

Amerind Linguistic Map.

View larger image

After Bu. of Eth. Seventh An. Rep.

It so happened that the Wilderness possessed a greater 62 variety of these stock groups than any other part of the continent, one portion, that lying west of the Sierra Nevada, containing an astonishing number of small groups living contiguously, yet each speaking a totally distinct language. It was therefore often difficult for the early invaders to make themselves understood, as well as to understand. Among the Amerinds themselves a "sign" language existed which was of 63 remote origin and which was convenient and expressive for intercourse between tribes speaking radically different tongues. Sometimes a third language served to convey ideas between tribes or between them and white men, this third language being one belonging to some widely diffused stock of the region. Still another language was one which grew up spontaneously, composed of words from two or more languages as well as of a lot of words which in one way or another originated themselves, a mongrel language perfectly understandable but made up of flotsam and jetsam. Of this class the most widely used and best known was that called Chinook jargon, originating in the Columbia river region and composed of words from many different languages, including those of the white man, as well as words that never existed anywhere else.

Taking language as a basis, we find the Wilderness divided mainly between two great families, or stocks, which had grown numerous and were able to spread over a vast extent of country, though each contained a large number of separate tribes often at war with each other, at least after the arrival of the whites. These two stocks were the Siouan and the Shoshonean. Of the first, some leading members were mentioned above; of the second, the Shoshone, Comanche, Ute, and Moki (or Shinumo) were representative, in fact comprised almost the entire stock. The Siouan division, or family, ranged from the banks of the Mississippi westward, with its lower border stretching diagonally from south-eastern Arkansas as far as our present Yellowstone Park, north to the upper boundary of the United States and beyond. They were flanked above by tribes of another stock, widespread and powerful, north to Hudson Bay and east of the Mississippi, the Algonquian, represented by the Blackfeet,[22] Chippewa, Knisteneau (or Cree), and others. South of the Siouan range came that of the Caddoan, in south-western Arkansas, the eastern half of Texas, and in Louisiana with a central group in the midst of the Siouan range, in southern Nebraska, and a northern one also surrounded by the Siouan people, in North 64 Dakota. The northern was the Arikara (or Ree), the middle the several sub-tribes of Pawnee, and the southern the Caddo, Wichita, Kichai, and others. Adjacent to the central Caddoan group, on the west, was another section of Algonquian stock, the Cheyenne and Arapaho, and just north of this came the Kiowan, represented by the tribe from which the stock name comes, the Kiowa. This tribe was intimately associated with the Comanche, and there was a strong similarity in language.

A Puebloan Farmhouse.

Photograph by J. K. Hillers, U. S. Geol. Survey.

Plenty-Horses, a Cheyenne.

Photograph by J. K Hillers, U. S. Geol. Survey.

West of all these ranged the Shoshonean stock from the middle line of Texas north-westward almost to the State of Washington, west to the Sierra Nevada, and south-westward like an inverted U around other stocks in New Mexico and Arizona, sending a slender arm entirely across California to the sea. This stock occupied a large part of the territory once claimed by Spain and Mexico, while the Siouan covered the major part of what was the Louisiana wilderness. Immediately south of the country of the Shoshonean tribes lay that of some branches of another numerous people already mentioned, the Athapascan, whose main body was far to the north, spreading across the whole extreme north-western part of the 66 continent through Alaska, almost to the coast, which was occupied by a narrow fringe of Eskimauan people. These southern Athapascans, known as Apache and Navajo, were thus a long way from any relatives, but no people on the continent were better able to look out for themselves, both being warlike from the first, though this tendency was aggravated by the impositions of the early whites. The Navajo appear to have been considerably changed by an admixture of other blood, which may be termed Puebloan,[23] the term in this case being used not to designate people with similar language, but with similar culture and social organisation. The Apache, by his swiftness of action, his mobility, and his general skill as a predatory warrior, kept the more peaceful tribes in a state of constant turmoil and terror. At the same time he seems originally to have received the whites fairly well. In some ways he resembled the Iroquois, yet he had no approach to their masterly organisation.

Below the Athapascan group of the present New Mexico and Arizona was the Piman, a peaceful agricultural people, whose main range was in Mexico; and lying between the Piman and the Shoshonean was the northern part of the Yuman country, their southern range being the peninsula of Lower California.

Scattered irregularly through the Athapascan district were the villages of the sedentary Puebloans, a group made up of tribes speaking different languages but more or less affiliated by their similarity of habit. They were often at war with each other. They were house-builders, though that may be stated with regard to many of the tribes of other stocks. Their houses, however, were erected, with a view to greater permanency than any others, of adobe clay, or of stone, for their country was deficient in game and in forest, and they relied largely, chiefly indeed, upon their crops of maize. These 67 groups are now well known, particularly the seven villages of the Moki, that of Zuñi, of Taos, and a number of others along the Rio Grande. The Moki (or Moquis) as stated above are classed as Shoshonean.[24] The Zuñi are designated Zuñian, and others fall under Keresan, from Keres (or Queres), and Tañoan. When considered otherwise than linguistically, the general term, Puebloan (really villagers) is useful for reasons explained above. The tribes of this group, remnants of a once far more numerous people, are some of the most interesting of all the Amerinds within our borders.

A Pai Ute Modernised.

Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.

In the middle of Texas was the Tonkawan group, a small remnant, and at the southern extremity the Karankawan, another small remnant, and the Coahuiltecan, named from the Mexican state, Coahuila. In what is now the State of Louisiana were several other remnants, the Chittimachan, Natchezan, 68 Tonikan, Adaizan, and Attacapan. West of the Sierra Nevada and extending north to the boundary, was the extraordinary conglomeration of small stocks, terminating in the wider-spread Salishan which reached up into British Columbia.

The dwellings of these various tribes had a great deal of variety. It was popularly supposed for many years that an "Indian" lived only in a skin tent or a wickiup, or any shiftless kind of a shelter, consequently when it was discovered that there were some who had lived centuries ago in rather well constructed houses which were found in ruins, it was assumed that these people must have been of another race and a superior one. The fact that tribes were still building and occupying houses of the same kind, who were only common "Indians," was not for years permitted to interfere with the romance, but now the "vanished-race" theories are pretty well abandoned except perhaps by visionary writers who do not understand the field. The ruins were found in canyons and valleys where natural-rock débris and a poverty of timber and large skins almost compel house-building. A vast abundance of gypsiferous clay furnished another excellent building material, for that climate, and this was utilised in the South-west where other materials were difficult to secure. They also rammed this clay mixed with gravel into large wicker frames which were lifted, after the mass had hardened, to aid in preparing other blocks on top, so that a sort of clay concrete-block wall was raised. When the white men first came to the country, a ruin of one of these large houses called Casa Grande stood in Arizona near the present town of Florence. No one knows when this structure was erected or abandoned. It is still standing about as first described by whites. The government has assumed its care and protection.

Ruin Called Casa Grande, Arizona.

Photograph by Cosmos Mindeleff, U. S. Bu. of Eth.

The Mandan built a large round earth-covered wigwam which was substantial and comfortable. The Dakota developed the portable tipi. The Shoshone lived in skin tents and huts of boughs, as did the Comanche. The tribes of the North-west built strong houses of slabs, often very long. The tribes of California built of brush and slabs. Each people constructed 70 a habitation in accordance with the facilities of the region they occupied, and while house-building may indicate a certain superiority of social advancement it is no mark of race differentiation. Tribes of one stock built good houses and lived in mere brush shelters at the same time.

Some of the occupied villages became of great importance in the early days of white intrusion, notably Taos, a pueblo on the headwaters of the Rio Grande. This figured prominently in the events which broke the Wilderness from the time of Espejo to the acquisition of the region by the Americans, and is standing to-day.

For subsistence the tribes relied on different things depending on the nature of the country. The Siouan and other plains people where the buffalo roamed, lived almost exclusively upon it. The meat was food; the skins raiment and shelter; the sinew, thread; the robes, beds, and so on. The Puebloans having few or no buffalo and little game cultivated maize. Many other tribes also cultivated this grain, particularly those living along watercourses. In some districts irrigation had to be resorted to, and the Amerind was equal to the problem. Where shower waters were insufficient or could not be turned at once amongst the corn, elaborate and extensive irrigation canals were constructed, remains of which have been discovered. One of the largest was found by modern engineers to be so well placed that they followed its course for some distance with their canal. The Moki still plant their corn with a sharpened stick and guide the water from every shower through the fields.

These people had solved the problem of agriculture in an arid country, long before the Spaniard, or the Mormon, or any other foreigner planning irrigation had ever set foot on this continent.

South Portion of the Tewa Pueblo of Taos, New Mexico.

Photograph by U. S. Bu. Eth.

Their manufactures covered a considerable range. They made clothing and blankets, of wool, skins, and cotton. They were unsurpassed in basketry; they made excellent pottery. They originally used as weapons the bow and arrow, the lance, and various kinds of war clubs. Their beverage was mainly water, though some knew how to concoct intoxicating drink. 72 Where the maple tree grew, its sap and syrup were utilised, and they also made sugar from it. Salt they obtained from briny lakes. Of mining they had no knowledge whatever, nor did they have metals, excepting, near the Missouri, an occasional fragment of copper.

Cooking was done in pits previously heated by large fires, or in wicker jugs by means of hot stones put inside; or it was done in earthenware pots. Bread, when made of corn, or of grass-seed meal, was baked on hot stones. Their musical instruments were drums, rattles, flutes, and whistles. Of ceremonials they had a great many. Sometimes these were sickening ordeals, like the now famous Sun Dance of the Omaha; or the Moki Snake Dance, where live rattlesnakes form part of the ritual and are carried about by the Snake priests, even in their mouths.

Notwithstanding an intermittent and desultory sort of warfare kept up between tribes of the same stock, as well as of different stocks, comparatively few were killed in this way before the European came. Night attacks were seldom made and in day attacks not many at one time were injured. The ordinary routine was one of peace. It is probable that in the American Civil War alone more men were killed than ever at one time in aboriginal days occupied the same area. Almost four thousand were destroyed at the battle of Shiloh, and in the battles of the Wilderness fully fifteen thousand. Even proportionately the wars of the "savages" were mere child's play compared to this. But when the white man crossed the Mississippi and began to encroach from the east and then from the west and one tribe was forced back upon another as the wind beats the combing waves upon a lee shore, matters began to change. A large infusion of inferior white blood aided this change. Then came the horse! It was a deficiency suddenly and completely supplied. The warrior on horseback was quite a different being from the one on foot. The boundless Plains were circumscribed. And the gun! Another void by this was so admirably filled that horse and gun and Amerind instantly merged into one; an indissoluble trio. Henceforth he supplied himself with an abundance of horses and with the best 74 guns and ammunition he could get, till at the fearful moment on the Little Big Horn, he was better armed than the white soldiers sent to overpower him. It is exceedingly difficult always to view things dispassionately from our antagonist's standpoint, but when we succeed in doing so we invariably discover that he has some of the justice and virtue on his side. The Amerind seen in this way was not half as bad as he has been painted by his conqueror, who was prone to gloss over and forget his own shortcomings.

South-western Baskets—Apache, Pima, etc. Navajo Blankets behind.

Photograph by J. B. Lippincott, U. S. Geol. Survey.





Three Conditions of Wilderness Life—Farming in the Driest Country—The Cache—The Clan, the Unit of the Tribe—Hospitality—Totems and Totem Marks—Dress—An Aboriginal Geographer—The Winter Life—The War-path, the Scalp-lock, and the Scalp-dance—Mourning the Lost Braves—Drifting.

The daily life of these natives of the Wilderness was regulated chiefly by the food quest. With reference to this quest they existed in three general states or conditions: hunter, fisher, farmer. Sometimes two, sometimes all, these conditions were combined at one time. But no matter which condition a tribe might be living in, nor what language it might speak, its customs and social organisation were surprisingly similar to those of all the other tribes. So that we have the picture of numerous tribes dwelling in houses of widely varying construction, subsisting on food obtained in radically different ways, and speaking distinctly different languages, with general habits, customs, and ceremonials almost identical, yet with the details of the daily routine regulated largely by the kind of food most easily obtained in their particular locality. Those in the higher mountains and on the plains were mostly hunters. The tribes of the plains subsisted principally on the buffalo, though some few cultivated maize, beans, and squashes along the Arkansas, the Platte, and the Missouri river bottoms. To these people of the prairies the horse was the greatest prize. Those living mainly by fishing were tribes of the Pacific Coast and along the Pacific river-valleys, like the Columbia, where the salmon run. Most of this class had 76 small use for the horse; many had for him no use whatever, doing their entire travelling by canoe, and handling this craft with unsurpassed dexterity.

Moki Woman Modelling a Clay Jug.

Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.

Those in the farmer condition were the people of the extremely arid south-western quarter where large game was scarce, and where crops of maize and beans, grown with considerable difficulty and labour, were the principle reliance. With maize as a basis of food supply it was possible for a tribe to be far more sedentary than when subsistence was obtained by the chase. Hostile neighbours could be avoided. A whole tribe could occupy fortifications, like the Pueblo villages for example, in the midst of some wide valley, near a river or other water supply, or could retire to some fastness of cliff or mountain, easily defended, where ample crops could be grown on bottom lands, and where recesses in cliffs afforded sites for secure and comfortable homes, as well as great quantities of fallen débris for building purposes. Such were hundreds of villages scattered over the South-west as far north as the southern parts of Utah and Colorado; and even perhaps to Salt Lake. There was no need of sallying forth to the confines of hostile country in search of food; and, before the coming of the whites placed the gun and horse at the service of the more predatory tribes, they would not readily risk an attack on such strongholds.

The cultivation of maize was increasing, except on the immediate Pacific Coast, where it was not cultivated at all. Even the Pai Utes, who lived largely on grass seeds and edible plants and roots, had begun to have small gardens where beans, pumpkins, melons, and maize grew. East of the Mississippi 77 and south of the Great Lakes enormous quantities of the great staple of the New World were produced before the white people arrived. Tribes to the north in the region of Minnesota were beginning to understand its cultivation, and the importance of having a food supply under control. In the South-west, for an unknown period, it had been the mainstay. There it was cultivated by irrigation whereas in the eastern part of the continent the rainfall was, of course, sufficient. In the South-west the men did the work in the fields, leaving the management of the household to the women; even the building of the houses in fact. But in districts where the products of the soil formed only a minor part of the subsistence, or where it was mainly or entirely wild meat, the men for so large a part of their time were engaged in the pursuit of game that the camp and household duties, as well as what tending of crops might be necessary, fell to the women. Their labours were intermittent, and when the men returned from the chase, sometimes worn out if game were scarce, the women waited upon them just as a white woman waits on her cross husband when he comes home tired from the shop.

Earthenware from Moki Region. ½.

The Ruins in Canyon de Chelly, Arizona, Called "Casa Blanca."

These were Once Connected.

Photograph by J. K. Hillers. U. S. Geol. Survey.

Besides the various game animals, and maize, beans, squash, grass seeds, pine nuts, cactus apples, wild potatoes, agave, and numerous palatable roots and berries, the dog was largely eaten. Some kinds of young dogs were said, when well cooked, to be much like pig, but the larger ones were apt to 79 be coarse and rank. In addition to these numerous kinds of food, human flesh was occasionally eaten, but only when in the pangs of starvation: or as a religious ceremony. When no water was to be had, the plains tribes would kill a buffalo and drink the blood. They often also ate the entrails of animals raw, particularly those of the buffalo, which latter delicacy Harmon[25] indulged in and speaks of as "very palatable." All the Amerinds smoked, and with most tribes every consultation or council or friendly visit was opened by the tobacco pipe. Indeed the place of tobacco and the pipe among the natives of the continent was one of the greatest importance. It was not always what we call tobacco that was smoked, but frequently the inner bark of the red willow, the leaves of the manzanita bush, dog-wood bark and sumach leaves, or a plant resembling garden sage, which according to Beckwourth,[26] grew wild in the country of the Snakes, but which was cultivated by the Crows and several other tribes. Most of the Algonquian tribes grew large quantities of maize, and cooked it with beans and other things. From them, and their neighbours, we have derived not only a number of dishes, but their names as well, such as supawn, succotash, pone, mush, etc.

Old Mandan House.

From Wonderland, 1903—Northern Pacific Railway.

A Young Cocopa.

Photograph by Delancy Gill.

Many tribes laid away stores for winter, but these were the 80 more sedentary, though dried buffalo meat, and pemmican, were accumulated as far as possible by the tribes living upon the plains. But when the diet of a people is confined to meat alone, an enormous supply, per capita, is required for a whole winter, hence some tribes ran out of provisions, especially when the numbers of buffalo began to diminish, and were in hard straits before spring came again. The fisher tribes put away great amounts of dried salmon, but here again was the danger of shortage that always threatened meat-eaters. The same might be true of people living on the products of agriculture if the population pressed on the supply, but with agriculture the returns are so bountiful that the supply was always adequate among those tribes cultivating the ground, except there was a failure of crops, which was rare. The Puebloans provided against this by retaining a considerable extra store from year to year. They used the lower inside rooms of the village which were much like cellars, as the village, resembling a pile of huge packing cases, 81 was built over and around them. Thus they were admirably adapted for storage in that dry climate. The ears of corn were piled up evenly and neatly one beside the other. Watermelons were treated in the same way, and were preserved in perfect condition till the end of February at least. Naturally the tribes which moved about considerably could not well make such ample provision for the future, but they often stored food, and other goods in holes dug in the ground, well concealed. Such storage places were also used by the whites, and the name cache was applied to this method by the early French trappers. Where the cache was in dry ground the contents would remain in good preservation for a long time.

Rear View of Mandan Village, Showing Burial-Ground.

Drawing by Catlin, plate 48, vol. i., Catlin's Eight Years. Reproduction from Smithsonian Report, 1885, part ii.

It is plain that the people of the Wilderness possessed everywhere an abundant food supply, whether in the arid Southwest, whereat first glance it would seem no cereal could grow, in the buffalo country, or in the region of the salmon streams. It was the preservation of these supplies, over-abundant at certain times, scarce at others, which was their greatest difficulty.

With us the unit of our social organisation is the family: 82 father, mother, children. With the Amerind the unit was generally the clan (or gens) as we call it, a group of several families related on the mother's side, for descent was usually counted in the female line. The Omahas and some others had changed to descent in the male line. The clan held property in common exactly as one of our families does to-day; that is not all property, but general property and food. There were articles and objects which were exclusively individual property and did not belong to the clan any more than certain articles a daughter or a son may individually possess belong to the parents in one of our families. Hunting, farming, and such affairs were conducted, as a rule, for the clan, hence food was clan property free to all members, or for that matter to almost any one, because in the Amerind village, or camp, every house was open to the hungry guest. The white man was always fed as well as the supplies would permit; special stews of dog, or buffalo, or succotash, were prepared for his special delectation, and he was expected to eat all given him or take it away. To these people, therefore, it was a rather painful surprise when, as they began to unravel the peculiarities of their new acquaintances, they found that the white man was perfectly willing to accept the boundless hospitality of the native, but when the latter visited fort or camp, he was received as a beggar. When the hospitality he expected was not granted, he asked for it; and this, to a white man, was begging. In dealing with Amerinds the white man went on the principle of what is yours is mine and what is mine is my own. Perhaps there were two exceptions to this, the early French, and the great Hudson Bay Company.

Marriage within the clan was forbidden, therefore a man had to seek a wife in another clan or another tribe. A violation of this rule, or of any other moral precept of their code, brought punishment from the clan of the individual or from the officers of the tribe. Sometimes this was nothing more than a flogging; sometimes it was death. A man always retained allegiance to his own clan and the wife to hers, the children belonging to their mother's clan. As a rule there was no limit to the number of wives a man could have, though 84 polygamy was not general. In the Amerind code the bona fide acceptance of a wife was a marriage, and the husband was expected to assume the duties of a husband seriously. The white adventurer did not do it. He was quite apt to abandon his wife as cheerfully as he had taken her.

A Dakota of the Plains.

Figures from Photograph by U. S. Government.

A Uinta Ute.

Photograph by J. K. Hillers, U. S. Geol. Survey.

The clan had the right to adopt into it any outsider it pleased, and this right of adoption was frequently exercised. In this manner white, or other prisoners, or friends, were incorporated into the clan and therefore into the tribe, taking the place perhaps of some deceased son or brother, daughter or sister. The adopted men not infrequently rose to positions of importance, even to that of head chief. These officers were 85 usually chosen because of personal qualifications and achievements, but it was not uncommon for the title of ordinary chief to be bestowed on a visitor as a sort of honorary degree. There were many chiefs of varying power and importance, mostly military; the office of sachem, a purely civil position, was more difficult to attain, as it was generally hereditary within the clan. Because of the law of maternal descent, a man's son in most tribes could not inherit his father's office. He might be adopted, however, by the clan.

Umatilla Woman and Child.

From Wonderland, 1904—Northern Pacific Railway.

Children were seldom whipped, yet they were carefully trained and were obedient and respectful. Their parents loved them just as white parents love their offspring and in later days when the Indian Bureau compelled the children to attend the agency schools, there was many a heart pang and copious tears all round at the parting. But the usual theory was that these people had no human sensibility.

Several families of a clan often occupied a single structure. Each clan had a sign, a sort of coat of arms, called a totem, to represent 86 it, and this was often used as a signature. Combined with other pictures it indicated the occurrence of certain events. It was generally an animal from which in far past times the clan was supposed to be descended; but there were also personal totems. The clan took its name from its totem, Bear, Hawk, etc., and its members frequently held names which indicated their clan title. The clan controlled its members, settled disputes, and if one were murdered or committed murder, the clan prescribed or accepted punishment or settlement as the case might be. It also argued its case when necessary by means of representatives before the council of the tribe. To know a tribe well it was important to know the workings of the clan system, yet this has generally been overlooked by all but the ethnologists. A tribe was usually spoken of by its members as "the men" or "the people," and these terms were often understood by white men to be the names of the tribes, and accordingly were so used.

Mandan Village on the Missouri, 1832.

Drawing by Catlin, plate 47. vol. i., Catlin's Eight Years. Reproduction from Smithsonian Report, 1885, part ii. 87

A Group of Crow Chiefs.

Photograph by U. S. Government about 1875.


When at peace these people were kind. The Rev. Samuel Parker who was on the plains at a very early time, referring to some who accompanied him declares: "They are very kind and manifest their kindness by anticipating all, and more than all my wants." Harmon, who for nineteen years was a leading member of the North-west Company, speaking of one village where he passed several days, is sure he was treated "with more real politeness than is commonly shown to strangers in the civilised part of the world."

The general dress of the men was leggins of buckskin resembling the legs of a pair of white man's trousers, attached to a belt, with frequently a shirt of the same material, though a great deal of the time there was no covering for the upper part of the body except a robe or blanket thrown loosely around the shoulders. The remainder of the costume was a breech cloth and moccasins of buckskin, the latter with or without hard soles according to the tribe. In the South-west, particularly after the Spaniards came, the costume was different. There leggins came only to the knee, and were made to button, or were attached by a woven garter twisted around just under the knee. Above there were short trousers, or rather breeches of cotton. A cotton shirt with a blanket over it in cool weather, and a cloth à la turban around the head completed the dress. No matter if an Amerind wears trousers as he often did and does, he rarely dispenses with the breech cloth. In battle the warrior stripped completely, though in past times some tribes wore armour of slats, rods, or tough buffalo hide.

The woman's dress was a loose gown or tunic of buckskin, of woollen or of cotton fabric, bound at the waist by a girdle, and, when travelling or in ceremonials, moccasins with leggins attached, the latter buckskin strips winding round and round the leg. In the house or about the village or camp the women generally went without any covering on the feet. The women of some tribes wore only a sort of kilt of bark strips. The younger children in summer wore no clothing; and in some tribes, particularly those of the mild South-west, neither men, 89 women, nor children troubled themselves about covering. The manner of wearing the hair was always significant; caps and head-dresses were also worn.

In moving camp the plains tribes usually took their whole tent with them, the poles, before they had the horse, being tied on each side of their dogs by means of a sort of saddle made for the purpose. Moving was far easier after the horse arrived, for not only could he pull the poles of the tent tied to his back, but also upon them he could drag the children, the tent cover, and the general household goods; furthermore, the mother could ride on the horse. The travois was, therefore, a different affair with the horse to drag it than it was with the dog; but they did not abandon utilising the dogs and they were often harnessed to light loads on the poles. The horse, then, was not only an essential in war and the chase, but also in the journeys from one locality to another.

They knew well their own land and its limits. We sometimes forget this. Francis La Flesche, an educated Dakota, writes with reference to their knowledge:

"The white people speak of the country at this period as a wilderness as though it was an empty tract without human interest or history. To us Indians it was as clearly defined then as it is to-day; we knew the boundaries of tribal lands, those of our friends and those of our foes, we were familiar with every stream, the contour of every hill, and each peculiar feature of the landscape had its tradition. It was our home, the scene of our history and we loved it as our country."[27]

Tabbaquena, a head chief of the Comanches whom Gregg interviewed, drew for him a map, with paper and pencil, and "although the draft was somewhat rough it bore much to our astonishment, quite a map-like appearance, with a far more accurate delineation of all the principal rivers of the plains, the road from Missouri to Santa Fé and the different Mexican settlements than is to be found in many of the engraved maps 90 of those regions." Pike and other early explorers might have saved themselves vast trouble had they employed such a man to accompany them. This was not always easy, however, for sometimes when the native was perfectly willing to draw a map, or otherwise describe a route, nothing could induce him to leave his people, and even if he did go, he would frequently tire of his job and slip away.

Granary—Cliffs of Green River.

Thirty Feet above Ground.

Photograph by L. H. Johnson.

In all the history of the Wilderness only one explorer has travelled where the modern Amerind did not go and that one was Major Powell when he descended the Colorado. The natives of his time entered the various canyons here and there, but they never remained in them or navigated their waters. Long years ago clans lived within their fastnesses and knew them well, but before the eventful journey of Powell[28] they had vanished. As winter approached those tribes that had been roving during the mild season selected for the winter comfortable village sites near wood and water and prepared for a long stay. Other tribes whose general village life was more stationary arranged their food supply and 92 provided for stormy weather. If the shadow of famine did not fall on the camp time passed pleasantly, the long evenings being devoted to visiting from tipi (tepee) to tipi, or from house to house, and the crisp air resounded with merry laughter, shouts, and singing. Games of different kinds were played, and certain gifted story tellers kept their audiences nightly in a roar with vivid tales—some true, some made for the occasion out of whole cloth. The Pueblos practised their ceremonial songs, and at times the boom of the great drum quivered constantly on the evening air, when perhaps no other sound was audible. The Pueblo adobe and stone walls being thick all ordinary sounds were prevented from passing out, hence, as a rule, evening closed in silently, particularly in winter when doors were shut against the cold. This was more the case after the whites came, for before that event there were no doors, the openings being filled by blankets or skins. The doorways then were much smaller, to exclude cold air, storm, animals, enemies, and this gave rise to stories of dwarfs, that have from time to time appeared.

Interior of a Moki House.

The women at the back are grinding corn, while those at the right are baking bread on a hot slab, in paper like sheets. Above is the chimney-hood.

U. S. Bu. Eth.

In the villages where the walls were no more than the thickness of the buffalo-hide covering the tipi poles, the hilarity rang out and made the locality extremely gay. The popular notion that these people were gloomy and fierce in daily life is a delusion. They were as happy and full of larks as children, and probably no people ever more appreciated a joke. A little thing would sometimes cause great merriment. I remember on one occasion, a good many years ago, when encamped near Fort Defiance, I was standing one evening in front of my tent when an old Navajo was seen approaching who was particularly afraid of a camera. I had in my hand a small hand camera, and as a joke I ran toward him pointing it as if to photograph him, although the light had nearly vanished and a negative could not have been made except by very long exposure. The Navajo did not know this and much to the amusement of his compatriots who were standing around to the number of perhaps a score, he began to dodge about in the wildest fashion, trying to avoid my advance. For some 93 moments I kept up the play, because they were all having such a jolly time except the victim; and he did not seem seriously to mind the chase. Apropos of this subject, Fowler,[29] when crossing the plains met with an incident, also illustrative of their appreciation of fun. He wore spectacles and had broken one of the glasses. One day while at a native settlement, he felt some one steal the spectacles from his eyes and run away with them. He thought they were lost for good, but presently he heard a great uproar of shouts and laughter, and then saw the man who had taken them advancing and leading another with the "specs" on his face. On closer approach Fowler saw that the led person was blind in the eye corresponding to the broken glass; and the joker signified that the "specs" suited his friend much better than they did Fowler. Then amidst great good humour they were returned to him.

Sitting Bull.

From Wonderland, 1901—Northern Pacific Railway.

In some portions of the South-west, cotton was cultivated and woven into blankets and garments long before the white man came. The Pueblo men did the weaving in that division; among some tribes the women did it. The loom was a simple affair, made of a couple of slender logs, or thick boughs, and several sticks with an arrangement of cords. It is still in use by the Navajo and the Moki people. Among the Moki the men set up the loom in the kiva, a sort of club room entirely devoted to the men, whereas among the Navajo, women usually weave under a flimsy shelter of boughs. The Navajo builds no substantial house, because 94 he will never live in a structure in which any one has died. Probably some such idea retarded many tribes from building more permanently.

Bellochknahpick—The Bull Dance.

Mandan Ceremonial.

Drawing by Catlin, plate 67. vol. i., Catlin's Eight Years. Reproduction from Smithsonian Report, 1885, part ii.

Details of Navajo Loom Construction.

U. S. Bu. Eth.

It was a sorry day when the trader brought them alcohol. By its use tribes were degraded, swindled, beggared. Occasionally some energetic chief would raise an objection, even to the point of a fight with his people, but it was like a man raising his hand to halt the north wind. The whites wanted the goods the native had, and they wanted them for nothing. Alcohol and water were next to nothing. Porcupine Bear, a Cheyenne, once protested so vigorously that he and a brother chief came near to mortal combat. He was overruled, and like Rip Van Winkle, they all agreed not to count that time. Very soon every one was full of whiskey, not excepting the noble Porcupine Bear himself. The traders poured tallow into the bottom of the measuring cup so that 95 it should hold less than the stipulated amount, also putting thumbs and fingers in to cunningly accomplish the same cheat.

As to population, it is difficult to form an exact estimate. Undoubtedly in early times the number of natives in the region forming the United States was exaggerated; the tendency now appears rather to go to the other extreme. The dwellings having been mostly of perishable materials there is little to indicate former population outside of the mounds of the Mississippi valley, and the house ruins of the South-west. The latter are so numerous as to testify either to residence for an immense period or to a population of considerable size. It was probably both. While these village sites were often only repetitions by the same people at different times, yet there are so many of them that there must also have been a goodly 97 number of clans and tribes. Whole areas, like the region lying immediately north of the Colorado River, exhibit multitudinous remains, but, when white men first went there, only a few scattered bands of Pai Utes were found, who built nothing but brush wickiups.

A Navajo.

Photograph by J. K. Hillers, U. S. Geol. Survey.

Scalp-Dance of the Sioux.

Drawing by Catlin, plate 297, vol. ii., Catlin's Eight Years. Reproduction from Smithsonian Report, 1885, part ii.

A Group of Dakotas.

Photograph by U. S. Government about 1875.

The time when the others expired has never been even approximately established. It may have been one, two, three, any number of centuries before our occupation. In that climate a house ruin might endure ages with hardly a noticeable change. But there are certain points leading to the belief that some of the depopulating was of sudden occurrence, and as diseases brought by the Europeans early spread from Mexico, and as sedentary people closely grouped would suffer even more than tribes living in open camps, it appears reasonable to assume that smallpox and kindred diseases ravaged the whole Wilderness soon after the landing of Cortez, and were particularly 99 disastrous in the South-west. Nothing in the shape of skeletons would remain to tell the tales of destruction, because wolves and dogs would devour the bodies and scatter the bones. As they will dig a body out of a grave and strew the bones far and wide, dragging one from a house would be simple. When the smallpox finally swept through the plains tribes, in historical time, they were wofully reduced in numbers. Many killed themselves to avoid the lingering horrors. Whole tribes were exterminated, and the wolves and dogs consumed the putrid carcasses.[30]

Necklace of Human Fingers.

Probably there was never a dense population, yet there might have been, say, three or four hundred thousand all told, in the Wilderness. This, with perhaps, six or seven hundred thousand east of the Mississippi, would give a total aboriginal population for the area of the United States of about a million.[31] The estimate of Major Powell was under three-quarters of a million. A quarter of a million are left, and they are not decreasing, for though they are very poor as a rule, owing to the destruction of their game and other food supplies and to their having no means of earning money, yet contagion no longer 100 destroys them as of old, and wars are a thing of the past. They are now, however, a different people from those occupying the country at the beginning of the sixteenth century.

To their enemies they were often horribly cruel, to those of their own hue as well as those who were white. And they learned speedily that the white man was much the same as themselves in this regard. They no longer burn victims at the stake, but the white man who, in the earliest time gave them fearful lessons in this art, still continues it; even within sight of our temples of justice. Their wars were multiplied by the compression of their free territory, which was the result of the white man's arrival, and by the impositions of the newcomers. There was one locality, a strip lying along the eastern base of the Rocky Mountains, which appears to have been a sort of No Man's Land, and this was called the "Hostile Ground," and the "War Road." Any one wandering in this tract was always in danger of attack from many directions.

If a war party met with failure it would try to recover its prestige by attacking whatever came in its way, but if it were successful, all but the enemy it had originally proceeded against were comparatively safe.

A successful band reaching the borders of its home camp would send a runner in with the announcement, when the people would turn out to form a triumphal procession, and the braves decked themselves out in war-bonnets, war-shirts, etc., kept for such parades. One with his face blackened carried a long pole from which the bloody scalp-trophies dangled, and these were saluted with shouts of joy. At the same time they were reviled as enemies. This pole was planted in front of the lodge of the head chief, where later the scalp-dance and other ceremonies were performed. Many tribes removed all their hair but a solitary lock, called the scalp-lock in consequence, left for the benefit of the enemy. The number of scalps a warrior could boast was the gauge of his military importance in the tribe. But when the war party returned in defeat, the camp became a pandemonium of wailing, and moaning, and gnashing of teeth. Women chopped off fingers by way of mourning; tore their flesh; and braves also shockingly 101 mutilated themselves. Then nothing short of a success in war could wash out the disgrace.

House Ruin on Green River, Utah.

Photograph by L. H. Johnson.

One hardly can believe that a large number of these people once had their villages and their farms east of the Mississippi, where the factory and the mowing-machine now hold sway, but in the South-west wherever we tread we discover some indication of the old population: a trail, an irrigating ditch, a tree for a ladder, house walls, rock pictures, etc., and often, far from the tumult of the modern world, we seem almost to catch the sigh of a voice, or the rustle of a blanket, in the breeze that whispers through the old piñon tree. On the East Mesa of the Mokis we appear to command a clear perspective, for the modern world is not evident. I always seemed there to be far out of it. Through their windows we can well see into the past and reconstruct the wilderness. Sitting on the housetop at the day's end, the surf of our restless civilisation beating against the far horizon, the vanished sun burnishing with a wondrous spread of gold the whole high vault of the Arizona sky, we drowsily follow the fading light as it dissolves in a sea-like mist the plains so far below, till they no longer have 102 being but float from its firm moorings, the great headland—villages, rocks, and all—drifting it backward through phantasmal centuries. And out of the strange houses around us, where the mothers sing their lullabies, arise the forgotten hosts of other days, with the cry of the chase and the clash of battle, as if like Don Roderick we had unlocked the fateful gates of the Forbidden Tower and were about to be overwhelmed. Suddenly, amidst the turmoil of that ancient throng we discover a greater commotion. It is the European with his hand of iron, shooting as he marches, while through the smoke of his gun rises, like the Spectre of the Brocken, a hideous companion he does not see. It is the dismal Shadow of Death, smiting right and left; and they walk on together, ever over corpses.





Lost in the Wilderness—Cabeza de Vaca, Great Medicine Man—The Wilderness Traversed—Spanish Slave Hunters—The Northern Mystery—The Monk and the Negro—The Great Coronado Expedition—The Settlement of New Mexico and the Pueblo Rebellion—California Missions—Escalante to Salt Lake Valley.

As the harmless little snow-birds flit before the advance of winter's desolation, so a few hapless Spaniards cast up by the sea were forerunners in the Wilderness of the pressing swarms of Europe. These men were a small remnant of the expedition which Panfilo de Narvaez in 1527 led with rosy banners for the conquest of Florida, where a few years before Ponce de Leon, instead of his sought-for waters of perpetual youth, had found a shroud. Three years had barely passed when the same grave-garment was enwrapping Narvaez and his band, twining through one disaster after another, till the lonely, shimmering sea offered the only pathway from under the dark presence. Then it was a kingdom for a boat! Yet the staggering band had no tools, nails, cordage, skill; nothing in fact wherewith to prepare for the combat with Neptune. But the resolution of despair is great. They gathered spurs, bridle bits, all the iron they had, and made tools and nails. Spanish accoutrements were ever elaborate, so they were able to put their boats firmly together, and with shirts sewed one to another for sails, and their muscles fortified by the meat of the horses which they had eaten, whose manes and tails furnished ropes, at last in five large boats they coasted westward hoping valiantly to sight some camp, or settlement, of their fellow 104 countrymen who, from the capital of the Aztecs, had been striving to penetrate the Northern Mystery.[32]

Seven or eight years only, it is true, had passed since this same luckless leader so ignominiously had failed in his errand from Cuba to arrest Cortez, but the Spaniards, besides annihilating the Mexican Confederacy, had founded some settlements towards the north, and it was these, their knowledge of distance being necessarily hazy, that the unfortunates expected to reach. After many days of weary toil and suffering, they passed the mouth of the Mississippi which Pineda, about twenty years earlier, had discovered and named the Rio de Espiritu Santo. No Holy Spirit was it to these baffled wayfarers, for its strong current brought confusion and separation. The boat of Narvaez reached land, the fate of two is not mentioned, while the remaining two, one of which was commanded by Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, who had filled the once important office of treasurer to the expedition, drifted away together. After several days a storm threw these apart also and each was driven along haphazard, yet always keeping towards the land. Cabeza's craft finally beached itself on the wide sandy shores of an island, called by those who eluded the breakers the island of ill-luck, Malhado.

Here were natives who treated the castaways in a friendly way, and their fortunes seemed to slightly brighten; it was but a rift in the cloud. Attempting to proceed, their boat was capsized in the surf, and disappeared on the wide bosom of the Gulf. After a few days some men from one of the other boats, which had been thrown on another part of the island, joined Cabeza's party, raising the total number to forty. It was now November of 1530, and here begins the remarkable experience which Cabeza de Vaca afterwards wrote down as well as he could remember it. The account is vague in its details, giving rise among eminent students to a number of different opinions, as to Cabeza's exact route.[33] The island 106 Malhado was either Galveston or some other along the north coast of the Gulf of Mexico between this and the mouth of the Mississippi. Bandelier places it at the mouth of the Sabine.

Alarçon's Ships in the Tidal Bore, Mouth of the Colorado, 1540.

Drawing by F. S. Dellenbaugh.

It was decided to send out a search party, and four men were therefore dispatched on the hunt for the settlements. Soon after some disease broke out in the camp which reduced the thirty-six to fifteen. Then the natives, who were not otherwise unkind, separated these and they never again all met. When spring once more turned the country green, all the Spaniards but Cabeza de Vaca and one Lope de Oviedo, who were too sick to travel, again started westward. Cabeza and Oviedo necessarily remained with the natives, and in spite of Cabeza's tale of cruelty we can see that he was not very badly treated, for after awhile he was allowed to make trading tours into the interior. On these journeys he saw the "hunchback cows" and learned much about the country, the first white man to tread that northern soil. In the course of time he and Oviedo turned their faces westward also and presently learned from other natives of three men like themselves farther on. Oviedo lacked the courage to proceed, and he went back to the first natives they had been with while Cabeza kept on alone and came to the other Spaniards, the fag-end of the company that had previously started. They were Andreas Dorantes, Alonso del Castillo Maldonado, and Estevan, an Arab negro.

The Amerinds they were now among did not seem to like the idea of their departing, but after one or two attempts, the four succeeded in taking up the broken march for the West. The tribes they met treated them kindly. In one place a man came with a headache which Castillo cured by making the sign of the cross and "commending him to God." Many more came to be healed, each bringing venison in payment, and the Spaniards found thereby the road to safety and comfort as well as to their desired goal. Cabeza even claims to have 107 revived the dead; at least he became so proficient as a "medicine man" that everywhere the natives came to him in large numbers to be healed. Cabeza was successful, hence his progress was uninterrupted, but the role of medicine man is sometimes dangerous to assume. They think that if one is able to cure a single case, that he can cure all, and if the patient dies his "medicine" is bad. The reputation of Cabeza grew, till the progress of the four wanderers was little short of triumphal.

Without presenting further details of this first traverse by white men of a part of the Wilderness, it may be stated that after passing some mountains, a beautiful river, some rough dry country, many sorts of people, and divers languages, through fixed habitations and cultivated fields, they arrived at a place where the people presented them with a great many hearts of deer. In consequence they named the spot, Valle de los Corazones, and it figured conspicuously in the explorations that were to follow. It was the "entrance to the South Sea," that is, it was here they first came to waters flowing into the Pacific, via the Gulf of California; where, in fact, they crossed the great divide of the Sierra Madre of Mexico. The river they reached was the Yaqui. Here, too, they beheld the first signal of nearing their countrymen in the shape of a metallic buckle, of Spanish make, while the natives described white men with beards, of whom, with good cause, they were much afraid. The Spaniards were slave hunters. A few days later Cabeza, who with Dorantes and Maldonado resembled white men no more than did the negro Estevan, met Spaniards on horseback. They were Captain Alcaraz and several of his slave-hunting gang. The captain tried to use Cabeza as a decoy, but he was not successful. Cabeza spread a warning and his Amerind friends made their escape much to the wrath of the captain, who thereupon treated them all badly, and prevented their advance. At last, however, the four were sent on to the settlement of San Miguel de Culiacan, where they fell in with that brave and sensible officer, Melchior Diaz, and their troubles were at an end.

These wanderings, so briefly outlined, beginning at the landing on Malhado, and terminating at Culiacan, covered a 108 space of a little over five years. The time of the continuous journey toward the Pacific Coast was about ten months. The Narvaez expedition broke up at the end of 1530. Cabeza started about August, 1535, for Mexico, and arrived among the Spaniards early in 1536. His general route was across the southern part of Texas to the Rio Grande, then perhaps some distance up that stream, and across to the great central mountain range of Mexico. Bandelier traces the route up the Conchas and over the pass of Mulatos, but it may have been, and I believe was, more to the northward.

A brilliant picture was now painted for the Spanish people by the returned wanderers, particularly by the negro Estevan, who had been specially active in securing information on the journey, for Cabeza says he "was in constant conversation with them (the natives), he informed himself about the ways we wished to take, of the towns that there were, and concerning the things of which we desired to know."[34] That is, Estevan practically made himself the guide of the party while the others attended to the "medicine" business, hence he could tell a longer story about the "populous towns" of which the people had spoken. Much was made of these "great" towns where emeralds were dug out of the mountains, and it all appeared to confirm earlier rumours of Seven Cities of fabulous wealth somewhere in the midst of the Northern Mystery. The fate of Narvaez was now forgotten in the intoxicating dream of a country rivalling the riches of the Aztecs.

There is some confusion as to one or two minor expeditions then sent northwards; evidently they did not proceed far. But in 1539 Viceroy Mendoza directed Friar Marcos of Niza to march under the guidance of Estevan and reconnoitre, with a view of following this reconnaissance by an elaborate exploration. Marcos had with him a brother friar and a number of native Mexicans. Just where he went and what he actually saw is rather uncertain, but he apparently arrived somewhere near or in the region now Arizona-New Mexico. Estevan had gone ahead and was killed for his arrogance at the first Pueblo village. Marcos soon had word of it and beat a precipitate 109 retreat, though he claims to have approached near enough to view from a hill the wonderful magnificence of the Seven Cities.[35]

Character of the Seven Cities which Friar Marcos so glowingly Described.

Drawing by F. S. Dellenbaugh.

At this time Francis Vasquez de Coronado, an even-tempered gentleman, but withal a capable one, was governor of the infant province of New Galicia, and to him came the monk with so wonderful a tale, that Coronado immediately set out with the enthusiastic prevaricator for Mexico, and held a secret conference with Mendoza. But instructions were given to the clear-headed Melchior Diaz to follow back the friar's trail and verify his statements, and he proceeded north as far as 110 Chichilticalli before he was obliged to return on account of extreme cold. He found nothing important. This he reported by letter to Mendoza, and with his usual good sense, he included a careful description of the now notorious Seven Cities of Cibola, obtained from natives who had lived there fifteen or twenty years, and some who had been with Estevan on his disastrous entrada. The account thus derived was absolutely truthful and accurate; it was likewise a serious damper on the enthusiasm of the soldiers of the new expedition, for it became known in spite of efforts to keep it secret. Marcos again repeated his gorgeous fabrication and expectation once more rose to the boiling point, for what was the word of a common officer against that of the distinguished monk!

Under Coronado the army went forward early in 1540, "the most brilliant company," says Castañeda,[36] "ever collected in the Indies to go in search of new lands"; and three ships were sent up the coast under Hernando de Alarçon. When they finally stood aghast before the first "city" of Cibola worn and famished, many were the curses bestowed on the imaginative friar, till Coronado, fearing he might be killed, sent him at the first opportunity back to Mexico. There were no great cities, no stores of gold, no precious stones; nothing but a common adobe village. It was easily conquered, and its capture, July 4, 1540, marks the first battle between Amerinds and Europeans on the soil of the Wilderness, now the region of Arizona-New Mexico. There was luckily plenty of maize here, and the hungry Spaniards were sadly in need of it. Though their dreams received a heavy shock, they soon again expanded with the hope of better prospects ahead, just as the gambler repeats his risk with the idea that a turn of luck is sure to retrieve waning fortune.

They heard of other towns called Tusayan (or Tuçano) to the north-west and men were sent there, one party under Captain Cardenas continuing on to a great river, the present Colorado, of which the people told, and these were the first white men to see the magnificent chasm of the now familiar Grand 111 Canyon.[37] About the same time Alarçon, with his ships, endeavouring to get into communication with Coronado had discovered and for some distance explored with small boats the lower part of the same river, calling it the Rio de Buena Guia. And now Melchior Diaz, with dispatches and the discredited Friar Marcos, was sent back from Cibola, and ordered to explore from the valley of the Corazones, wherein was a small settlement of Spaniards called San Hieronimo, north-westward to look for Alarçon. This Corazones was evidently the same valley that Cabeza de Vaca had named.[38] Diaz went across the north-western corner of Mexico and the south-western corner of Arizona to the Colorado River, which he reached about eighty miles above its mouth. Alarçon had already passed down on his return, but Diaz found letters left by him at the base of a tree, from which he learned the character of the river. He determined to explore westward, and went four days beyond the river which he called Rio del Tizon, because the natives carried about with them firebrands. He did not know the name Alarçon had bestowed. While in what is now southern California he was seriously hurt by a spear which he threw at an unruly dog, and after twenty days of suffering he died, his men carrying him back through every danger, as long as life remained.

While these explorations of the Wilderness were going on under Coronado's command, he heard of more towns, especially a group, and a single town of the group, called Tiguex, northerly from Cibola, resting on the banks of a river. Directing the main army to proceed by the "regular" road, that is, by the travelled trail, Coronado, with a small escort, struck out by another route and came to the river below Tiguex at a group of villages called Tutahaco, and following the river up, reached Tiguex by that way. The main army by the regular trail 112 passed a remarkable town on a high cliff, called Acuco, usually identified, I believe wrongly, with Acoma of to-day. At Tiguex, which was on the Rio Grande, called by Coronado the "River of Tiguex," somewhere near the present town of Socorro, probably about fifteen miles below it, the general learned of still other towns in various directions, for the valley of this river and the contiguous country was the home of many house-building Amerinds.[39] One of the important villages called Cicuye[40] was twenty-five leagues north-east of Tiguex, and when Coronado went there he met a native from the East whom the soldiers nicknamed Turk because he resembled one, and this person actuated by a diabolical object rivalled the Friar Marcos in tales of great cities and wonderful riches back in his country, which he called Quivira.

Coronado resolved to follow his guidance, so after the people of Tiguex, who had rebelled at the impudence and cruelty of the Spaniards, had been subdued, that is, numerously killed, and the severe winter of 1540-41 was over, preparations were made for an eastward journey. Other parties were sent up and down the river of Tiguex, fifty and eighty leagues respectively. Finally leaving the river, Coronado with the whole army proceeded by way of Cicuye toward the realm of lavish wealth the Turk described, but the Turk was only trying to lure them to destruction on the wide, arid plains, of Texas, so the route under his lead bore off to the southward after crossing the Pecos River, till the army was hard pressed for subsistence. The Turk's trick was discerned, and he was rewarded by strangulation. Then the main army was sent back to Tiguex by a direct route, while Coronado with a picked company continued northerly for a long distance, probably to within a few miles of the Missouri River, the first white men to traverse this region, unless, which is not probable, Cabeza de Vaca, or some of the Narvaez party, may have reached it. 113

Coronado returned to the main camp at Tiguex with the intention of planning further eastern explorations for the next year, but in a tilting bout being nearly killed by a fall from his horse, and with a growing conviction that little more was to be gained by a longer stay, he decided to abandon all exploration at this point, and lead his forces back to Culiacan.

Every one was disappointed; the army turned its back on the Wilderness, so pregnant with great possibilities, with a reluctance akin to that which a confirmed toper might feel on being obliged to replace the cork before draining the last drop. But Coronado was right. He had accomplished a remarkable exploit, and it was time to go back. The country had been shown to have no ready wealth, it could not then be settled, and its general topography had been discovered. He displayed good judgment and fine resolution in adhering to his decision despite the pleadings of his officers, and the scowls of the rank and file. Toward the latter part of 1542 they were again in the Spanish settlements, and the army disbanded. Mendoza is said by Castañeda to have received Coronado with great coolness, but this is doubtful.

The Seven Cities of Cibola, the first permanent villages met with in the Wilderness, have been positively identified by many eminent scholars with the modern district of Zuñi, but it is a peculiar and persistent error. Tiguex was near Socorro, and Cibola was southerly from it, so we must look for Cibola not at Zuñi on the headwaters of the Little Colorado, which is northerly, but on those of the Gila, in south-western New Mexico.[41]

Many native Mexicans remained at Tiguex and several at Cibola. Others stopped at still other places. Friar Juan de Padilla and a lay brother, Luis de Escalona, also desired to remain, the first going to Quivira, the second to Cicuye, and Coronado sent an escort as far as Cicuye with them and their 114 companions, who were native Mexicans, a Portuguese, and two negroes, one of whom had his wife and children. Some sheep, mules, and a horse were also left with them. It has been stated that there was a third friar, but this appears to be an error. The Friar Juan de la Cruz mentioned in an old letter was perhaps only another name for the lay brother Luis, for neither Castañeda, Jaramillo, nor the letter, mentions more than two friars. Both were soon killed.

The next entrance into New Mexico was by three friars, Rodriguez,[42] Lopez, and Santa Maria, in 1581, escorted by an officer named Chamuscado, with eight soldiers. They went at least as far as Tiguex, where Lopez, and perhaps Rodriguez, was killed. The friars of this same order (Franciscan), fearing trouble, sent out a relief party under Friar Beltran and with this went Antonio de Espejo, a daring and wealthy citizen of Mexico. The departure was made November 10, 1582, the route leading northward to the Rio Grande and the country they called New Mexico. Following up the river, which they spoke of as the Rio del Norte, passing after a while through a number of permanent villages, "very well built," with estufas (kivas) in most of them, and seeing others at a distance, they arrived at the Tiguex group. In one of these called Poala, the friars had been killed. It will be noticed that there were a number of villages below Tiguex. These were probably the Tutahaco of Coronado's journey. Six leagues up the river from Tiguex they found a province called Quires, and fourteen leagues farther, on a small tributary (the Puerco) they came to Cunames. Then another five or six leagues north-west were seven villages of the Ameies people; and about fifteen leagues west of this was the pueblo of Acoma. Thus it is perfectly clear that Espejo travelled from Tiguex continually northward and north-westward to reach Acoma. If we start assuming Bernalillo to be Tiguex[43] it throws Acoma in the latitude of Taos which of course is out of the question. Yet the scholars of to-day persist is locating Tiguex at Bernalillo, 116 many miles out of Espejo's inward route. For the locations of these villages see map on page 115.

New Mexico, 1540 to 1630.

View larger image

This map is the result of more than ten years' study of the subject. It is entirely at variance with the locations as accepted by students and writers up to the present. Tiguex heretofore has been placed at Bernalillo, whereas it was far south of that point, as shown above.

Drawing by F. S. Dellenbaugh.

From Acoma he went on west to Zuñi, probably the first white man ever to set foot there, and he found at that place three of the Mexican natives who had remained in the country as noted above. This fact has been made much of, too much, in establishing Zuñi as the site of Cibola, even to the extent of nullifying the testimony from Espejo's route and other equally valuable data.[44] A considerable number of these Mexicans had stopped at Tiguex and other places, and it is not to be supposed that they were petrified in their tracks. Espejo continued westward from Zuñi, about to the San Francisco Mountains, but he did not see the great Colorado. Returning to Zuñi he struck out for the upper waters of the Rio Grande, reaching it sixty leagues above his Quires villages. Returning to the latter, he took an easterly course to Hubates, then north to the Tamos, and east again to the Pecos River which he followed out of the country, naming it the Rio de las Vacas, because of the large herds of buffalo he saw.[45]

Still nothing had been done in the way of permanent settlements. But this was now to come. Fifteen years later, in 1598, the famous expedition of the bold and wealthy Juan de Oñate, who had been appointed governor, made its way up the Rio Grande, a long and elaborate train. Travelling through many villages he finally established the settlement of San Gabriel, at the native village called San Juan, north of the present Santa Fé. Next to St. Augustine (1565), this, now marked by the village of Chamita, is the oldest European town within the limits of the United States. Six years later, with thirty soldiers and two padres, he crossed New Mexico and Arizona, by way of Zuñi; the Moki towns; a stream he called Colorado, now the Little Colorado; skirting the San Francisco mountains; to the great Colorado at the mouth of Bill 117 Williams Fork. He called the Colorado the Rio Grande de Esperanza, and descended to its mouth, where he stood January 28, 1605, three full centuries ago.

The same year, on his return, he founded Santa Fé, later went out across the plains toward the Missouri, and was generally active and efficient. Every effort was made to organise the country, and though the padres worked earnestly and fearlessly, there was much dissatisfaction, which had begun with the treatment the Puebloans received from the captains of Coronado's expedition. The latent fires smouldered. A native of Taos began to organise an opposition, and in 1680 he had united about all the Puebloans, who, on signal, began a war of extermination. The Spaniards were speedily overwhelmed and driven from the country. Had the Puebloans been able to continue their league the re-occupation of New Mexico would have been long delayed, but they were not accustomed to fighting in concert, hence when General Vargas appeared with a conquering force in 1692 the rebellion collapsed like a house of cards. It was their last stand.

Although Spain laid numberless restrictions on exploration and settlement in the endeavour to compel large tribute to the royal coffers, the opening of the next century saw a number of settlements flourishing in New Mexico. Missions were established with greater permanence, the ruins of the old ones bestowing an air of long European occupation on the new land. Villages were settled by Spaniards and their families, cattle, and sheep were brought in larger numbers, and agriculture was developed on a greater scale, so that at last the life of Europe became rooted in this foreign soil. Each governor during his term ruled much at his own pleasure, being so far from the central power, and they went usually on the principle of making hay while the sun shines. The regions away from the Rio Grande were left alone as a rule, though expeditions from time to time went on various errands: to punish the Apaches or other predatory tribes; or, perhaps, to oppose the progress of the French from the eastward. About 1720, one under Villazur, Governor Cossio's lieutenant, was sent out on the plains to the Pawnee villages, for what purpose is not 119 exactly clear, but it seems to have been with an idea of enlisting this tribe against the French. Almost the entire force was massacred, only a few escaping to carry the news to Santa Fé. The Spaniards blamed the French for inciting the natives to this act, and as such action was quite common always by French, Spaniards, and English alike, it is not improbable.

By this time a number of Spanish settlements were established in Texas and there was intermittent communication.

Church and Mission of San Xavier del Bac, Arizona.

Mission Founded 1699. The Church Here Shown was Finished in 1797.

The year Coronado returned Cabrillo coasted north on the Pacific, touching here and there along what is now California, and died at the Santa Barbara Islands, the command then falling to Ferrelo, who explored as far as what is now the southern line of Oregon. The famous English pirate, Drake, thirty-seven years later, with his vessel filled with Spanish plunder, sailed north from the west coast of Mexico endeavouring to find a water passage to the Atlantic. He repaired his ship in a bay, and to-day, just north of the Golden Gate, a small bay is known as Drake's Bay. Another thirteen years and a Greek, Juan de Fuca, discovered the strait which is now known by his name, as well as the great arm of the sea called Puget's Sound. Four years after this Vizcaino was sent with three vessels to explore the northern coast, but he did not then go beyond the Gulf of California.[46]

Then Philip III. came to the throne and adopted more vigorous measures than his predecessor. Vizcaino was again sent forth, in 1602, with a command to make a close examination of the coast, and this expedition had fruitful results in breaking the Wilderness in that direction. Vizcaino entered the harbour of San Diego, which had earlier been visited by Cabrillo. Here he heard accounts of the New Mexican settlements from the natives. Then he sailed past the Santa Barbara Islands, turned Cape Concepcion, which he named, and made a general examination, covering the same course as Cabrillo, which convinced him that the land was fertile and a good place for colonies. He finally obtained permission to organise and settle the region, but died before he could 120 execute his plans. Many years then rolled away with no attempt to open the rich Californian lands. It was not till 1697 that any settlement was made, and this was in Lower California, on the east side, and was called Loreto, the beginning of Friar Salvatierra's Jesuit missions, in which enterprises he was assisted by friars Kino, Piccolo, Ugarte, and others, who, with great labour, extending over a period of sixty years, founded and maintained sixteen missionary settlements, all on the east side of the peninsula and none in Upper or Alta California. Kino had established in Sonora, in 1687, the mission of Dolores, and from this place he passed back and forth to the missions of Lower California, learning the topography of the region around the mouth of the Colorado and making, in 1701, a fairly accurate map of the head of the Gulf. He was the first white man to see the now famous Pima ruins, called Casa Grande, a huge adobe mass of thick walls built in prehistoric times.

On the Yuma Desert.

Character of the Country around the Head of the Gulf of California.

Photograph by Delancy Gill. 121

Church of the Mission San Carlos de Monterey.

Mission Founded 1770.

Photograph by C. C. Pierce & Co.


The Jesuit order was at length superseded, 1767, by the Franciscan, whose members, patient, earnest workers in their cause, at once began efforts to plant missions in Alta California, and in the spring of 1769 they proceeded from La Paz, on the west shore of the Gulf of California, with cattle, sheep, and horses to San Diego, sending ships around with supplies. They arrived on May 14th and found two vessels already in the harbour, so that the settlement was immediately begun. It was the first in this portion of the Wilderness. A second party was to establish itself at the Bay of Monterey, but missing the way came to San Francisco Bay instead, then returned to Monterey, and finally to San Diego. The natives were hostile, food grew scarce, and starvation threatened, but a vessel, which had been sent back for supplies, came in the nick of time. The prosperity of California began with this event, March 10, 1770. Other settlers followed, cattle multiplied, vines and fruit trees bore abundantly, till, before the eventful year of 1776, the California missions were forever out of reach of the bony grasp of starvation. By the close of the decade eight had been founded from San Diego to San Francisco, and before the end of the century nine more.[47] Each consisted of a church, storehouses, workshops, dwellings, and a fort, usually arranged in a square. All these structures were at first extremely simple, but as time passed the friars exhibited their artistic taste in the construction of really admirable specimens of architecture. Some of these are still standing and will bear out this assertion. There were in California four presidios, or military posts, in addition to the forces at the missions, at San Diego, Monterey, Santa Barbara, and San Francisco.

Glen Canyon, Colorado River.

This Shows the Nature of the Colorado where Escalante Crossed in 1776. The Surface on Each Side is Barren Sandstone.

Photograph by J. K. Hillers, U. S. Colo. Riv. Exp.

The missions of the Rio Grande and those of California possessed no route for overland communication. Two monks 124 of the Franciscan order, in trying to establish such a route, established for themselves imperishable fame. They were Garces and Escalante. Not far from where Tucson now stands a mission had been founded by Kino, whom Humboldt calls the "astronomer of Ingolstadt." This was San Xavier del Bac. Franciscans were occupying the place, and there Garces made headquarters, accomplishing five journeys from that point. The presidio, or military post, of Tubac was about thirty miles south of Bac, and from that post soldiers kept watch on the natives of the region. Garces reached Bac in June, 1768, and made two preliminary explorations before the end of 1770. In 1771 he reached the Colorado over the same trail that Kino had followed long before, but the Franciscans seemed to have no record of this nor of Oñate's trail; at least they did not profit by these earlier explorations. In 1774, with Captain Anza, Garces made the trip across the Colorado through to the mission of San Gabriel, near the site of the present town of Los Angeles.

In the winter of 1775-76 Garces again went with Anza, who was bound for San Francisco Bay, there to found a mission, to the Colorado, where he stopped for a time, then went on to San Gabriel. Returning to the Mohave country he struck eastward, June 4, 1776, on his celebrated entrada,[48] with no companions but the natives along the route, and on July 2d reached Oraibi, only to be there treated with supreme contempt. On the 4th he was driven from the town, and he returned to the mission of Bac by way of the Colorado River.

Escalante was at this moment making preparations for his traverse to the San Gabriel Mission. On July 29th he started north, absurd as it may now appear to us who know the whole geography. Crossing western Colorado, over Green River, which he called Buenaventura, near the mouth of White River, he mounted the Wasatch Range by the Uinta and its branches, and entered Salt Lake valley, probably by what is now known as Spanish Fork. After viewing Lake Timpanogos (Utah Lake), he turned southward, followed down the western edge of the great mountains extending north and 125 south along the central line of Utah, about through where Fillmore, Beaver, and Parowan now stand, to the Virgen River at about Toquerville. Here the season indicating the approach of winter, it was decided to abandon the attempt to reach San Gabriel, and strike eastward for the Moki Towns, where Escalante previously had been. He was not aware of the tremendous obstacles, in the nature of deep canyons, which intervened. After a vast amount of effort he crossed, not the Grand Canyon, as has sometimes been stated, but the lower end of Glen Canyon, at a point about thirty-five miles above what is now Lee Ferry. The place is still known as the Crossing of the Fathers. From here there was a trail to the Moki Towns, and their anxiety soon came to an end.

The route Garces travelled from the west to the Moki Towns became no highway; indeed, for years was not travelled at all, nor had Escalante's anything in its favour so far as reaching California was concerned. For half a century longer the New Mexican and Californian missions remained about as far apart as ever. Those in California waxed rich and had little cause to desire the world to come to them. When it did come it was the beginning of their end.

The Spaniards were as brave a people as ever lived. They had now firmly established themselves in Texas, in New Mexico, and in California, and their claims on the basis of first exploration covered a vast area. In every direction they opposed the entrance of other nationalities. The lands were forced to pay tribute to Spain; nothing was left for local government, and these methods, the antithesis of home rule, were the undoing of this noble race.





Soto and the Mississippi—The Gate to the Wilderness—The Voyageur—Champlain to Mackinaw—Pandemonium of Wars—Down the Mississippi to Soto's Grave—Louisiana—La Salle and His Death—Coureurs de Bois—First Sight of the Northern Rockies—Where Rolls the Oregon—The American Revolution.

While Coronado was striving from the direction of Mexico to reach the mirage-like cities of Quivira, which the deceitful Turk asserted were somewhere eastward of the Rio Grande, and in search of which he arrived in some locality not many miles from the present site of Kansas City,[49] another Spaniard, whose name is better known, not for greater deeds, but because the country he traversed is more familiar, and because of his romantic burial at night beneath the turbid flood he had been second to discover, was marching and fighting towards the great river so permanently linked with his name. This was Hernando de Soto, who, in 1539, had landed with a large force at Tampa Bay for the purpose of conquering and appropriating to his heart's desire all of 127 Florida, a realm comprising then the whole continent east of the River of Palms, now the Rio Grande. His cruelties to the natives were frightful, and as he wandered he left a trail of mingled Spanish and native blood, which at length led him, in 1541, to the Mississippi, where he crossed some distance above the mouth of the Arkansas. Near Tampa he had captured a white man, a survivor of the Narvaez party, who had been preserved among the natives by the intercession of a chief's daughter, and this Juan Ortiz should have been a reminder of the fate of Narvaez, a fate largely due to imprudence, bad management, and a disregard for the rights of natives; but it seems to have conveyed no warning.

Continuing his harsh career into the Wilderness as far as what is now central Arkansas, he turned south and passed the winter of 1541-42 in north-western Louisiana, or south-western Arkansas. Coronado spent this same winter at Tiguex, on the Rio Grande, where the inhabitants declared the Spaniards had no regard for friendship or their pledged word. In the spring Soto went down to the mouth of Red River. There his health failed. He died, and his followers, to prevent the natives from finding his grave, buried him in the deep water of the river. The command fell to Moscoso de Alvarado, who now led the company again westward, hoping to come to Spanish settlements, but when he arrived in Texas at the upper part of Trinity River he abandoned the attempt and returned to the Mississippi.

He had probably been within less than two hundred miles of the place where Coronado, about the same time, sent his army back. They had rumours of the presence of Coronado, but the nature of the country was so forbidding they feared to proceed. Moscoso was even more brutal than Soto. He punished natives by cutting off their noses and their right hands; or, by another method not unusual with the early Spaniards, setting hungry dogs on a victim to tear him to pieces before their eyes. At last this remnant of the expedition, that had started with high hopes, succeeded in building boats with which they descended the Mississippi and coasted westward, reaching the province of Panuco, in north-eastern 128 Mexico. A great deal of misery and death had been brought to the people of the new land, but, aside from ground for an additional Spanish claim, little more had been accomplished by this than by the Narvaez expedition.

Barriers of Adamant—Mission Range.

Photograph by R. H. Chapman, U. S. Geol. Survey.

Although the Spaniards opposed vigorously the coming to the New World of any other people, New Spain soon found a rival in New France, and then in New England. Cortez had barely finished the overthrow of the Aztecs before Verrazano, for the French King, cruised along the Atlantic coast from Hatteras northward to where French fishermen already had been, and where Cartier in 1534, ten years later, discovered the great island we call Newfoundland and his Gulf of St. Lawrence. The next year he sailed up the great river, to which he gave the same name, and thereby opened the real gate to our Wilderness; for it was by this route, and not by the south, that the best early entrance was offered, on account of the numerous closely connected lakes and waterways of various kinds. Travel in a new country is always easier by 129 boat than by any other method, for, if there are plenty of waterways, a canoe and its cargo can be carried from the head of one stream, or lake, to the next nearest one, and so a practically continuous passage effected with quantities of goods, which otherwise could not be transported without a large number of pack-animals or waggons, and pack-animals frequently need a way cleared for them, while a waggon in a new land is often impossible. So by these waterways, numerously ramifying from the mouth of the St. Lawrence into the vast western Unknown, the Frenchmen, with the beautiful birch-bark canoe of the Amerind, whose skill they also speedily acquired, entered the Wilderness with a sailor's light-heartedness, singing their gay chansons as they paddled along; songs with little sense but much rhythm, like all the ditties sailors use for expediting their labours, which, like rowing or paddling, require to be accomplished in unison. As New France developed into Canada the voyageur became a familiar and distinct character; a creation of the New World. He was as competent with a canoe as was his Spanish brother, the vaquero, with the horse. We meet him constantly in the Wilderness, and all the waterways leading to it, his airy verses echoing through the forest till the sombre pine trees seemed more lightly to wave their drooping branches; or dying across limitless stretches of prairie, in conflict, perhaps, with the stranger notes of some Amerindian chant.

By these songs the voyageurs united the strokes of their oars or paddles, and they were often responsive, like the sailor-songs on shipboard, between one party and the other; the steersman and the rowers, or the forward and the stern oarsmen. One stanza of a voyageur's song will serve to give their character:

"Derrière chéz nous, il y a un etang,[50]

Ye, ye, ment.

Trois canards s'en vont baignans,

Tous du lóng de la rivière,

Legèrement ma bergère,

Legerment ye ment."



"Behind our house there is a pond,

Fal lal de ra.

There came three ducks to swim thereon;

All along the river clear,

Lightly my shepherdess dear,

Lightly, fal de ra."

Cartier opened the way as far as Hochelaga, now the site of Montreal, which was soon to become the very centre of all commerce with the Wilderness. Attempts were made by the French to found settlements down the coast, and one, on St. John's River, in Florida, seemed to have some life in it till the Spaniards entrenched themselves at St. Augustine, and from there crushed the French fort and the French power in that quarter for all time. This St. Augustine of the Spaniards was the first permanent settlement of Europeans within the limits of the United States (1565), antedating by forty years Oñate's founding of his first village at San Juan, New Mexico, now marked, as previously mentioned, by the little town of Chamita.

About the time that Oñate was organising New Mexico there came over to the north-east coast one Sieur de Monts, who established Port Royal for France in a region named Acadia, lying between the Lower St. Lawrence and the Atlantic, a title later restricted to the portion now called Nova Scotia, and immortalised in Longfellow's poem, Evangeline. But it was not till the illustrious Champlain, afterwards so justly famous, founded Quebec, in 1608, that France really closed her grip on the north-eastern part of the continent; a grip that was later to be broken for ever by the British. Having permanently settled Quebec, Champlain, with his voyageurs, extended his travels westward by watercourses and lakes as far as the Straits of Mackinaw, founding many trading-posts and missions, and marking the first practicable highway to the Wilderness. He was efficiently supported in his efforts by monks of the Jesuit and Franciscan orders, brethren of those who were labouring diligently in the south-west, and who, 131 though their energetic and sincere labours to Christianise the natives amounted to no more than a puff-ball tossed against the side of a battleship, performed a great and indispensable work in this breaking of the Wilderness.

A Reception Committee.

Photograph by J. K. Hillers, U. S. Geol. Survey.

The British also began to turn their attention to the New World, and after several explorations along the coast—Raleigh's attempt at settlement in what is now North Carolina; Davis's exploration in the Far North, where his name still remains to designate the strait he discovered—they finally founded on James River their first permanent settlement in 1607, two years after the establishment of Santa Fé, New 132 Mexico. To this they gave the name Jamestown, and from it as a centre they expanded their power. The French were pushing out at the North; the Spaniards controlled the South and West. Then a fourth nation appeared—the Dutch—who settled at what is now New York in 1614, five years after Hudson discovered the river now bearing his name to mark the event. Not long after this Hudson found for England the immense bay to which his name was given, and where his mutinous crew turned him, with some of his adherents, adrift on the icy sea. Never was he heard from again. Then the Mayflower came, freighted heavily with new and forceful ideas and a hardy company, who entered by Plymouth Rock; so that by 1625 all the forces that were to battle for the mastery of North America had established their footings, and with the various native tribes, who opposed their encroachment and their cruelty, they soon turned the land into a pandemonium. Almost daily the natives were given exhibitions of treachery, brutality, butchery, on the part of these newcomers among themselves, even while the good priests held aloft the crucifix and repeated, "Thou shalt not!" Is it a wonder the Amerind refused to believe? He was quick to perceive that, except the priests, the one sole object of all these warring people was pecuniary advantage. This, indeed, was rendered imperative by the European system of life.

As a rule the French were the most humane, the most just; they treated the natives more as if they might be human beings with sensitiveness and intelligence. William Penn, and his followers among the English, and the Hudson Bay Company, also dealt justly with them, but in the eyes of the others the Amerind was a beast of the forest to be exterminated. The French sent their missionaries and traders far to the West and before long had acquired a hold on the continent equal to that of the Spaniards; a hold which it then seemed impossible should ever be lessened. Raddison, the French trader, is said to have been on the head of the Mississippi as early as 1660.

Marquette and Joliet, the former a priest, the latter a trader, were sent by Frontenac, in 1673, to search for a route across the Wilderness to the Pacific by way of a great river, of 133 which much was told by the natives. The river indicated was doubtless the Columbia. Proceeding from Michigan they finally came at the mouth of the Wisconsin to the river forming the eastern boundary of the vaster Wilderness, the Mississippi, called by Marquette Conception, and down it they went, instead of up, as they should have gone to get on the track to the Pacific, their birch-bark canoes gliding swiftly along, while the unfathomed waters for the first time heard the song of the voyageur. Down they went to Soto's burial-place. They were encroaching on the claims of the Spaniards, but boundaries then were as nebulous as the Milky Way, and the sword was the instrument of survey by which all lines were drawn. Their flag was finally carried through to the mouth of the Mississippi by that splendid character Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle,[51] a Frenchman whose qualities shine ever undimmed by the roll of fading centuries. With Tonty and Hennepin he came through the Great Lakes, and, leaving these two men behind, reached with his party the Mississippi at the mouth of the Illinois, and proceeding down it finally, in 1682, standing at the delta beside a great claim-post, he proclaimed the jurisdiction of Louis the Great (XIV.) over all this country of "Louisiana,"

"the seas, harbours, ports, bays, adjacent straits, and all nations, peoples, provinces, cities, towns, villages, mines, minerals, fisheries, streams, and rivers, within the extent of said Louisiana, from the mouth of the great river St. Louis, otherwise called the Ohio, ... as also along the river Colbert or Mississippi, and the rivers which discharge themselves thereinto, from its source beyond the country of the Nadouessioux ... as far as the mouth of the sea, or Gulf of Mexico, and also to the mouth of the river of Palms, upon the assurance we have from the natives of these countries, that we are the first Europeans who have descended or ascended the said river Colbert."

They had forgotten Pineda and the unfortunate Soto and Moscoso, to say nothing of the still more unfortunate Narvaez, 134 who was wrecked at the river's entrance. This claim certainly was broad; it covered almost everything.

La Salle had a magnificent dream of developing this enormous region for his King, and proceeding to France he came back with vessels laden with supplies and colonists. But they missed the mouth of the river. Then a series of disasters left the leader stranded, as the Narvaez survivors had been, on the coast of Texas. La Salle, of all men, surely deserved more generous treatment from Fortune. But worse was to follow. They struck out for the north-east to reach the French settlements. La Salle was ambushed and shot March 18, 1687, by a villainous member of the company, leagued with other assassins, and his body stripped and thrown to the wolves. But La Salle needed no gorgeous funeral train, no costly sepulchre to carry through the ages to come his illustrious name.

One of the assassin band, he who served as a decoy, was a youth of sixteen named l'Archeveque, who later arrived in New Mexico, lived a highly respected life there, and was eventually killed at the Pawnee village with Villazur.[52] L'Archeveque, with four others from the dismembered La Salle expedition, three young men and a girl, were found among the Tejas, two years after La Salle's murder, by Alonzo de Leon, a Spaniard who came up into Texas from Coahuila, one of the northern provinces of Mexico. He ransomed all and sent them to Mexico. Three years later, 1692, the Spaniards organised a settlement at San Antonio, and henceforth the French and Spaniards began in a hostile way to encounter each other on these wide frontiers. Iberville, in 1699, started near the mouth of the Mississippi the first permanent French settlement, and the French then rapidly spread along that river and its branches, and when the eighteenth century was fairly under way they had explored the country immediately along the Mississippi and the regions between it and Montreal; they had pushed far out into the North-west, even to the banks of the Saskatchewan. Indeed, a Frenchman is said to 136 have reached Hudson Bay in 1656. All through these regions were beaver, bison, deer, panthers, and numerous other fur-bearing animals. The trapping of these and trading for them with the natives formed the chief incentive of the Frenchmen, just as the search for imaginary mines and fabulous cities actuated the Spaniards. The pursuit of the fur business offered a life of wild freedom, particularly fascinating to many Frenchmen, who fraternised with the natives and were able peacefully to travel from tribe to tribe, exchanging European wares for furs and other property the Amerinds had. The Amerinds welcomed these pedlars, for they wanted the goods they brought; and numbers of them ranged the forests, finally being collectively called Coureurs de Bois. They have been described as a kind of outlaw, but they were not exactly that. Their lives, knowing no restriction but their own consciences, highly elastic like almost all the consciences of that time, and perhaps this, were not always models of propriety, but they were in general probably little worse than the throat-cutting gentlemen who composed a large part of the several samples of the European nations which were striving to murder each other, and incidentally the natives, for the purpose of acquiring sole possession of everything in sight. In the perusal of the history of the development of this continent it seems almost ludicrous to describe the natives particularly as the savages. One could fill a library with volumes detailing the murderous brutality of the white race, not only in dealing with the natives, but with each other. The native was hardly more than a good second in rapine and butchery, even when he was employed by one side or the other to raise slaughter to a fine art.

In the Heart of the Wilderness—Southern Utah.

Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.

In 1669 the British formed a settlement in the shape of a fur-trading post on the coast of Hudson Bay. This was the first of a series of establishments founded by "The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England Trading into Hudson's Bay," a company which, because of its masterly control, wise management, general fairness to the natives, and complete efficiency, was highly successful and of wide and long-continued influence. 137

Great Falls of the Missouri.

From The Trail of Lewis and Clark. O. D. Wheeler.


As the eighteenth century opened, the French seemed to be in the lead. They claimed and controlled Canada and the greater part of the Mississippi valley, and by 1710 there were many French colonies and posts on the banks of the Mississippi. Eight years later Bienville founded New Orleans, and two after that Antoine Crozat received from the King a grant of the privilege of exclusive trade in Louisiana, a privilege which he relinquished in 1717, when it was taken by the Compagnie d'Orient, or, as it also was called, Law's Mississippi Company. It was so held for fifteen years, when it was governed as a French province. By 1722 the French had established a fort on the Missouri called Orleans, about two hundred and fifty miles above the mouth, by some authorities said to have been the result of the Spanish expedition under Villazur, which was destroyed, according to some reports, in an attempt to annihilate the Missouris, who were friendly to the French. But the Spaniards claimed that the French instigated the attack upon their 1720 expedition to the Platte; and the French, it appears, claimed that the Spanish were striving to wipe out their allies.

There were now open into the interior two great water highways, one by the St. Lawrence, the other by the Mississippi-Missouri. Transportation was almost exclusively by boat, hence the waterways were seldom departed from for any great distance, and the immense tract lying west of the Missouri and upper Mississippi was still an unknown country. From time to time rumours were repeated of a huge river which flowed towards the Sea of the West, but the traders did not always heed the tales of the natives. As early as 1716 there was a definite statement that "towards the source (of the Mississippi) there is in the highlands a river that leads to the western ocean." Whether some Frenchman had made the journey or not is unknown, but it is not improbable that a daring coureur de bois had slipped along from tribe to tribe and finally arrived at the Pacific.

In 1728 there was a trader at Lake Nipigon—Sieur de la Verendrye, a Frenchman, to whom the natives told such positive tales about this great river flowing to the Sea of the 139 West, that he determined to explore it.[53] He laid his plans before Beauharnois, then Governor of Canada, who was favourably impressed by the story, and also by a map which Verendrye's Amerind guide had drawn for him. An expedition of fifty men was fitted out, which left Montreal in 1731 under the command of Verendrye's sons and nephew. The party seem not to have moved directly for the river they intended to examine, but spent a number of years exploring, trading, and trapping in the North-west country. Finally, in 1738, they built an advance post, Fort La Reine, on the Assiniboine, whence they continued explorations north and south. In the latter direction they ascended the Souris, or Mouse, River, and at length arrived in the country of the Mandans, on the Missouri, at the great bend to the south, in what is now North Dakota, antedating in the region Lewis and Clark by over threescore years. This was in 1738. Again in 1742 the company arrived at the Missouri under the command of the eldest son and his brother, passed the Yellowstone River, and on January 1, 1743, came in sight of the Rocky Mountains, perhaps the Big Horn range, probably the first white men to see them from this direction; that is, north of about the 38th parallel, where the Spaniards had been. They climbed these mountains, and appear to have proceeded westward, perhaps as far as Wind River, where they remained some time in the country of the Snakes, hearing of another river farther south called Karoskiou, probably the head of the Colorado, now named Green River. They were then within about two hundred miles of the point reached, twenty-three years later, by Escalante, and not much farther from the locality on Grand River arrived at in 1765 by Don Juan Maria de Ribera.

Owing to a war between the Snakes and a tribe to the southward named Arcs, they were unable to go on and returned to the upper Missouri in May, 1743, somewhere erecting a stone monument to commemorate their entrance into the 140 region. Having done this they went to the Saskatchewan valley by way of their Fort La Reine. Jealousy of their success and changes in the governorship of Canada resulted in the overthrow of the Verendryes, but Jonquire later, coming to the head of the government, determined to profit by their investigations and planned two expeditions to the Pacific, one over the course Verendrye had pursued, and the other by the waters of the Saskatchewan. These appear to have had little success, yet some of the men reached the Rocky Mountains, and were there in 1753. The war with England then prevented further organised explorations by the French. Several accounts of the existence of a large river beginning at the head of the Missouri and flowing west to the Pacific had been given by the Amerinds, as already noted, Dupratz having heard one from a native of the Yazoo country.[54] This man said he had himself ascended the Missouri to its source and there found this other river, which he followed for some distance, wars preventing him from going through to the ocean into which he was told it entered. Several maps of about 1750 gave a supposed course of this river, which was called the Great River of the West. Jonathan Carver[55] also told of this stream, called the Oregon, in his book describing the travels he made in 1766-68 into the region of the upper Mississippi; but he did not go there.[56] The Dane, Bering, under Russian patronage, in 1741, had marked out a path to the New World from a totally different direction from any taken by the other nations; he came from the West, from Kamtchatka, by the far northern route. The Russians followed and began to explore down the North-west coast. 141

Great Fountain Geyser—Yellowstone Park.

From Wonderland, 1901—Northern Pacific Railway.

Having triumphed over France, Great Britain in 1763 acquired the whole of Canada, all of Louisiana east of the Mississippi except New Orleans, and the Spanish claims in Florida. They now controlled the entire continent east of the Mississippi, the Dutch having long before surrendered. France published the next year a secret cession two years before of all Louisiana west of the Mississippi to Spain, and Spain obtaining New Orleans also in 1769, France was thrown completely off the continent. In 1764, at the time France announced the cession to Spain, La Clede founded St. Louis on the site where it now stands, a settlement that henceforth became the departing point for the great Wilderness. Great Britain renounced all claim to lands south-west of the Mississippi, and the vast territory of North America was now divided between Great Britain, Spain, and Russia, the latter on the north-west, Spain on the south-west, and Great Britain on the east. Spain was endeavouring to clinch its hold on the Californian coast and 142 the regions to northward, and several vessels were sent out in that direction. One of these, commanded by Bruno Heceta, returning from more northern shores on the evening of August 17, 1775, came to a great bay where a current was discovered setting out from the land with such power that Heceta thought he had found either some great river or some connection with another sea. The Strait of Fuca was then supposed to join the Atlantic, under the old title of the fabled Strait of Anian, and he also thought he might be at the mouth of this, although his reckoning did not agree with that of Fuca. In reality he had discovered thus vaguely the mouth of the River of the West, now the Columbia. He called the place the Bahia de la Asuncion, but later charts mark it the Inlet of Heceta, while the supposed river is put down as Rio de San Roque. Aguilar, who commanded one of Vizcaino's ships in 1603, went north of Cape Mendocino to the mouth of a great river, which he could not enter on account of the current. This was probably the Columbia. Thus from sea and land the existence of a large river in this quarter began to be understood. Owing to the line of fierce white-caps formed by the tides breaking on the great bar, extending across the mouth of this river, even now, as one views the entrance from the deck of his approaching ship, after government execution of a large amount of admirable engineering, it presents a most impracticable looking channel, the white foam appearing to form a continuous line. At low water, with a sea running, the place is still one of difficult passage, and reminds of Gray, the bold sailor who first steered through it. Heceta, however, did not hesitate from timidity, he was a Spaniard, but his officers dissuaded him from making an attempt to enter on account of their unfit condition.

Once across the bar, the broad bay and river-mouth offer easy navigation, and it is a beautiful voyage, though a short one, up to the site of the fine, prosperous American city which now stands at this gateway, where the Far West opens into the Far East.

As the last quarter of the eighteenth century fairly developed, an event took place which perhaps, influenced the 143 destinies of man more than any other of modern times. Garces and Escalante had barely completed their entradas before the guns of the American Revolution had for ever shattered the fetters of a new people on the Atlantic seaboard, where a youthful giant sprang into being, a portent for Spain of great danger. The Spaniards posted their sentinels facing that way.





The United States Borders the Wilderness—American Ships to the Pacific Coast—The North-West Company—Mackenzie Spans the Continent—Meares and Vancouver Baffled by Breakers—Captain Robert Gray, Victor—The Columbia at Last—The Louisiana Purchase a Pig in a Poke, and a Boundless Wilderness—Claims All Round to the Centre—The Perfidious Napoleon—The Spanish Sentinel Steps Back.

Spain had good reason to turn a watchful eye on the people of the Atlantic seaboard. No sooner was the war for independence triumphantly concluded than they began to look intently toward the vast Wilderness that made up the bulk of the continent, a region so little understood, and the object of so many uncertain, conflicting, and ill-founded claims. Russia was beginning to assert claims from the north-west, Spain had acquired the rights and claims of France, and, with her own, wanted everything west of the Mississippi, while Great Britain advanced from the north-east. The middle road was open to the Americans. The new nation managed its affairs with great skill. Though Spain and France combined to obstruct the westward movement of the young country, and particularly to prevent it from securing any territory whatever near the mouth of the Mississippi, so as to shut it off from free navigation, the treaty of 1783 gave the United States all the country east of the great river and south of the Great Lakes to the mouth of the Yazoo. Notwithstanding opposition, the new Government positively held a huge area, and was next-door neighbour to the delta of the Mississippi as well as upon the threshold of the great undefined 145 Wilderness, known as Louisiana, bordering the Father of Waters on the west.

This immense extension of their domain gave a fresh impulse to American exploration and settlement. They loved the wild woods and came over the crest of the Alleghanies in large numbers, erecting their log dwellings here, there, and everywhere, till it was not long before the fertile region between the Mississippi and the eastern mountains was filling with settlements.

Summits of the Backbone.

Gray's Peak, 14,341 feet. Torrey's Peak, 14,336 feet.

Photograph by U. S. Geol. Survey.

Many of these people were trappers and hunters. The fur trade was yearly becoming a greater business; hundreds, despite danger or privation, were eager to pursue wherever it might lead. The pressure of civilised life with its rigid financial demands was, and is, so intense that whenever a channel of escape opens, the flow through it is as natural as that of water through a puncture in the bottom of the kettle. There were large profits to be made in furs, though it was usually the organiser and business manager who reaped the full rewards. 146 The Pacific coast offered in this line brilliant prospects, and American vessels pushed around Cape Horn and sailed up the western shores to secure a share of the trade of that region. Spain, Great Britain, and Russia were also active there in the fur business, as well as in that of "claiming." The Americans then had no claims in that quarter.

The year following the agreement on the western boundary of the United States, 1784, found a number of Montreal merchants organising with the determination of participating in the rich returns of the fur trade; a business where a penny whistle was traded for a gold dollar. These men of Montreal formed an association which they entitled the North-west Company, consolidating with it a number of small rival concerns which for some years had been operating separately, and often disastrously, for they were frequently at war. The North-west Company intended to occupy the country beyond Lake Superior and oppose there the increasing power of the Hudson Bay Company. One of the men taken into this partnership was Alexander Mackenzie. He was the man for the hour. He proceeded to the far shores of the Saskatchewan, where posts had been established beyond those of the Verendryes and earlier Frenchmen, whose former presence was now marked only by the names they had applied to the natural features of the country. But though the Verendryes were forgotten, the voyageur was still a chief factor in travel and in trapping operations, and the chansons yet echoed through the forests of that wild landscape, where, in the words of Butler,[57]

"there are rivers whose single lengths roll through twice a thousand miles of shoreland; prairies over which a rider can steer for months without resting his gaze on aught save the dim verge of the ever-shifting horizon; mountains rent by rivers, ice-topped, glacier seared, impassable; forests whose sombre pines darken a region half as large as Europe; sterile, treeless wilds, whose 400,000 square miles lie spread in awful desolation.... In summer, a land of sound, a land echoing with the voices of birds, the ripple of running water, the mournful music of the waving pine branch; in winter, 147 a land of silence, a land hushed to its inmost depths by the weight of ice, the thick falling snow, the intense rigour of a merciless cold."

This was the country the trapper first entered on his way to the Wilderness we are specially considering; here where the voyageur received some of the experience that made him so valuable in this kind of work, the voyageur whom Harmon elaborately describes[58] as lively, fickle, cheerful in privation, talkative, thoughtless, unrevengeful, not brave, deceitful, smooth, polite, dishonest, unveracious, generous, ungrateful, obedient, and unfaithful. Yet he was a man who served the time admirably, who braved many dangers, whose labours helped more than those of any other single element to open the pathways of the Wilderness.

By 1778 the British had founded a trading-post within forty miles of Lake Athabasca, and ten years after one on the shore of Lake Athabasca itself. This was named Fort Chepewyan, and historically is of great prominence, as it was the headquarters of Alexander Mackenzie for eight years, and was his starting-point on both the expeditions which are recorded among the remarkable exploits of the modern world.[59] The North-west Company was making systematic war upon the Hudson Bay Company, and in order to gain advantage for his association Mackenzie undertook the two expeditions, which practically solved the geographical problems of the North-west and determined the impossibility of the existence of any north-west passage. In 1789 he descended, as far as its discharge into the Arctic Ocean, the river that now bears his name, but he was not the first to reach the Arctic overland, for Samuel Hearne, of the Hudson Bay Company, eighteen years before, had touched the shore some miles east of the Mackenzie, having first discovered Great Slave Lake.

These journeys proved beyond question that the Straits of 148 Anian, which had prominently figured on maps up to this time, were a myth. Cook, who had been along the north-west coast, had expressed strong doubts of the existence of any waterway between the Atlantic and Pacific. Mackenzie's other journey was of equal, if not greater, importance. It was in 1793 that the start was made, and he followed up Peace River till, by means of the chasm it cleaves in the great chain to free its waters for their descent to the Mackenzie, he passed entirely through the Rocky Mountains, and with admirable determination and perseverance reached the shore of the Pacific just north of Queen Charlotte Sound, completing the first traverse on record of the North American continent above Mexico. One river, that he followed down for some distance, which was called by the natives Tacoutche Tesse, he thought was the head of the Columbia, which had obtained this name the year before. The Tacoutche Tesse, however, was not the Columbia, as was some years later discovered, but the river now called Fraser.

Navigators had been at work minutely examining the Pacific coast of the Wilderness,—La Perouse, Dixon, Meares, and others. Although Meares, for Great Britain, in 1788, searched for the Rio de San Roque as laid down on Spanish charts, according to Heceta's observations, and although he actually entered the bay where it disembogues, he departed without finding it, because the breakers were clearly seen by him to extend entirely across the shore end of the inlet. In consequence he applied to the place the title of Deception Bay, and the prominent headland just north of it he called by the name it still bears, Cape Disappointment. He declared positively that there was no such river as the San Roque, which illustrates the ease with which mistakes are made, even by men of intelligence. It was a fortunate error for the United States, as now neither the Spanish, who were still clinging to the northern coasts, nor the British, who were opposing them, had obtained any right of discovery in this great river. No captain as yet had possessed the insight, or the courage, or the resources, to dash through the formidable line of fierce combers and open the mouth of the Columbia to 150 the world. But its day was soon to arrive. The same year that Meares in disappointment turned his prow away from the entrance, an American merchant captain, Robert Gray, of Boston, in his trading vessel, the Washington, had nearly foundered in trying to force the passage. After this Gray exchanged ships with Kendrick, a captain in the service of the same company, and in the Columbia made a trip to China and then home. Kendrick, meanwhile, with the Washington, put into the Strait of Fuca and pretty well examined this body of water, which Gray before him had entered to the distance of fifty miles.

Mouth of the Columbia from Astoria.

Cape Disappointment Left Distance.

From The Trail of Lewis and Clark. O. D. Wheeler.

After a while, 1792, Gray came back to the north-west coast in the Columbia and met at the Strait of Fuca the great English navigator Vancouver, who had been sent to make charts of the coast, a work which he carried out so admirably that it has been the basis for all charts ever since. Vancouver had already been in Deception Bay before meeting Gray, so that when the latter described the place he had tried to enter with the Washington, and stated his belief in the existence of a large river there, a belief perhaps increased by the statements of Jonathan Carver, he refused to believe. Vancouver had seen the breakers extending "two or three miles into the ocean," and though he noticed that the sea there changed to river water he thought it only from some minor stream, and did not consider the subject of any importance. So, like Meares, he had turned his back upon it, and now he went on to survey Puget Sound. Gray, however, was of a different mind, and he determined to return to the place to explore. It almost seems, indeed, that Fate had appointed this discovery for him. When he arrived there he did not hesitate, but prepared his ship for the passage, and at eight a.m. May 11, 1792, he ran in "east-north-east between the breakers, having from five to seven fathoms of water. When we were over the bar we found this to be a large river of fresh water, up which we steered." Thus, in spite of everything and with no effort or desire to do it, the United States had acquired by right of discovery a claim on this far-away country. The matter, which at the time was little thought of, proved afterwards of considerable 151 value. When Gray sailed out of the river, which he was able to accomplish only after several attempts, he gave to the river the name of his ship—Columbia. For some years the name of Oregon, by which Carver had described it as he heard the account from the natives, was also applied, as well as the other title—River of the West,—but all at length gave way before the name bestowed by the discoverer, whose action in running the bar was all the more praiseworthy since other skilful navigators had failed to fathom the secret of Deception Bay.

The following year Mackenzie arrived on the coast, just after Vancouver had passed north in pursuing his excellent survey. Thus little by little the white man was permanently closing in on the great central Wilderness. In 1792-93 Todd, a Scotchman with a special grant from Spain, made several journeys from St. Louis up the Missouri, and Fidler, in the employ of the North-west Company, travelled from Fort Buckingham on the Saskatchewan south-west to the foot of the Rocky Mountains and down through regions drained by the Missouri. Dorion, afterwards with Lewis and Clark, had lived with the Sioux since 1784 or earlier, and there were many others like him.

Trading-posts were established here and there on the Missouri; Pawnee House,[60] or Trudeau's House in 1796-97, near the site of Fort Randall, was occupied by that trader, and a year or two earlier Fort Charles was built six miles below Omaha. Trappers and traders were constantly pushing out into the Wilderness. St. Louis was developing from a mere village to a town of importance, and some of the characters intimately identified, a few years later, with the development of the region were already there, notably the famous Manuel Lisa, a Spaniard, shrewd, daring, and intelligent, speaking with difficulty French and English, who made many enemies, and who feared no man. His name is a part of the history of the breaking of the Wilderness. As the eighteenth century 152 drew to a close this Wilderness had been completely circumnavigated. Two and a half centuries had now gone by since Coronado made his celebrated journey. Ships had passed along the western confines; trappers had penetrated here and there across the eastern part; Escalante had made his entrance north almost to Salt Lake; yet the Wilderness remained the Wilderness still.

Events were now to occur that would affect the Wilderness more than anything which up to this time had taken place. Spain in 1800 secretly transferred to France the great region called Louisiana, the Spaniards to remain in possession till such time as it pleased France to assume direction of the territory. About two years passed before this transfer was published, and meanwhile, though Napoleon had contemplated putting a large army there, circumstances interfered. Having had an agreement with the United States by which the latter were permitted to use New Orleans as a port of deposit, Spain reversed this, and the relations between these countries were thenceforward not the pleasantest. Spain declined to renew this privilege on the ground that the country belonged to France and she had no right to do it. Thereupon the American Government endeavoured to purchase the lands on the east at the mouth of the river, West Florida and New Orleans, and Napoleon, evidently discovering that he would be unable to carry out his plans with regard to Louisiana, and notwithstanding his solemn pledge to Spain that he would never part with it, offered the whole to the United States. The offer was accepted, and the sum of fifteen million dollars was finally agreed upon as the purchase price. Communication was slow; events were rapid; so that Lussat, who had been sent as French Governor to New Orleans, to accept the territory from Spain, received instructions that, instead of holding it, he was to transfer it to the Americans. No one was more surprised or chagrined than the French representative. Spain protested that the transfer was not in conformity with the French agreement, but it availed nothing, and the Spaniards at first were inclined to refuse to give up the land. But on the 30th of November, 1803, Louisiana was formally surrendered by Spain 153 to France and twenty days later France gave possession to the United States. Next to the Revolutionary War, the acquisition of this vast region was the most important occurrence in the life of the Americans. Yet it was a veritable "pig in a poke" which they bought, for not only were its bounds undetermined, except on the east, where it met the Republic, but the character of the domain, for the most part, as is evident from the preceding pages, was entirely unknown. Yet by this purchase the mouth of the Mississippi was permanently secured to the American people, and this was an object of paramount importance; the nature of the Wilderness was secondary. On the part of the Americans there had been a growing impulse to investigate the great wild realm that so invitingly rolled away from their very feet, and had the purchase not been consummated it is probable they would nevertheless soon have passed over into the forbidden land.[61] A vast amount of future difficulty and war, for it takes as little to start a disastrous war among the whites as ever it did among the Amerinds, was permanently avoided.

The acquisition, indeed, was a boundless area. The very first thing to be accomplished was to gain some knowledge of its limits and possibilities. As for limits, it had, as noted, but vague ones, yet on all maps showing the territory purchased at this time the lines delimiting it, which were arrived at only after years of diplomatic discussion, are presented as though they had existence at the moment of purchase and had been measured off like a town lot. As originally ceded by France to Spain and again by Spain to France there were no defined limits whatever other than the Mississippi River on the east, though France claimed to the Rio Grande. The United States acquired the same hazy demarkation. The map on page 154 shows in the dotted portion what the claims were at the time of purchase, in 1803, as well as the defined boundaries that eventually were established. 154


View larger image


The Spanish claims ran up the western side of the continent indefinitely, and thence eastward indefinitely. Great Britain considered as belonging to her everything west, south, and north of Winnipeg Lake indefinitely, and everything east, north, and south from Nootka Sound indefinitely. Russia thought that the continent from Bering Strait down to the Columbia River and eastward indefinitely belonged to her, while the United States on their part believed the Louisiana they had taken off Napoleon's hands extended to the Rio Grande on the south-west; and on the west and north-west, and on the north as well, to an undefined distance. The task was now to fit these indefinite bounds against each other, and it was a task that consumed years of diplomacy. In pursuance of this design, President Jefferson projected an expedition which was to traverse the continent where no white men as yet had penetrated—the region of the Columbia. It was destined to take a first place among the explorations of the New World, and to weld into one the names of two admirable men, and this indelibly into the fabric of American history.

The Spanish sentinel had challenged, but the challenge was unheeded. He was obliged to step back; and other backward steps were in store for him.





Jefferson's Hobby—Two Noblemen—An Indefinite Transaction—Expedition to the Wilderness—Fort Mandan—The Roche Jaune and the First View of the Great Range—The Long-Lost Sister—Depths of the Unknown—Starvation on the Trail—Music of the Breakers—Fort Clatsop—The Return—Medicine Men Again—Two Natives Shot—Premature Death of the Captain.

The mighty Wilderness, which like a tennis-ball had been tossed back and forth between the European kings, was of particular interest to one of the foremost statesmen of the new Republic, Thomas Jefferson, who pondered on its mysteries and on ways of fathoming their fascinating depths. As early as 1792 he had proposed to the American Philosophical Society the raising of a subscription to send a small party to the Pacific by way of the Missouri, across the "Stony Mountains" and by the nearest river to the sea. A very young man, Meriwether Lewis by name, eighteen at the time, asked for the commission, but it was given to a French botanist, Andre Michaux, who was also eager to see the Far West, and who volunteered his services. The execution of the plan was frustrated by the French Minister, who, as Michaux was in the employ of the French Government, directed his path another way.

When Jefferson was elected President of the United States, in 1801, his mind, prepared therefore, turned more intently toward the problematical region bordering the American domain on the west. He now had for private secretary the same Meriwether Lewis who had desired to search the Western wilds 157 nine years earlier. Lewis had risen to captain[62] in the army and had not lost interest in the exploration he had been unable to undertake before, so when Jefferson in 1803 sent a confidential message to Congress dealing with the subject of trading-posts for the natives of the sparsely settled country and beyond, and suggested an exploring expedition across the Wilderness, Lewis knew all about it, and applied immediately for the leadership. He was not yet twenty-nine, but his character was well formed. Jefferson had learned it thoroughly in the two years he had filled the position of secretary and says he was

"of courage undaunted; possessing a firmness and perseverance of purpose which nothing but impossibilities could divert from its direction; careful as a father of those committed to his charge, yet steady in the maintenance of order and discipline; intimate with the Indian character, customs, and principles; habituated to the hunting life[63]; guarded, by exact observation of the vegetables and animals of his own country, against losing time in the description of objects already possessed; honest, disinterested, liberal, of sound understanding, and a fidelity to truth so scrupulous, that whatever he should report would be as certain as if seen by ourselves: with all these qualifications, as if selected and implanted by nature in one body for this express purpose, I could have no hesitation in confiding the enterprise to him."

Congress approving the plan, Lewis was appointed chief, and no better man for the undertaking could have been found.[64]

Lewis selected as his first assistant, and to act as leader in case of his own disability or death, William Clark, four years his senior, and a brother of George Rogers Clark, who had captured Kaskaskia, Cahokia, and the Illinois country, and otherwise distinguished himself. Strangely enough, in his mental and moral qualities William Clark was almost a 158 duplicate of Meriwether Lewis. Throughout the whole of the hazardous, difficult, toilsome journey that was now begun, the two men were most devoted friends, Lewis having not the slightest fear that Clark would receive too much credit, and neither having the least jealousy of the other; quite in contrast with some expeditions of later years, where the leader must be all in all. The result was that the world to-day exalts all the more this noble commander-in-chief because his broad generosity forever linked with his, almost as a single name, that of his subordinate officer, so that the great undertaking is not the Lewis, but the Lewis and Clark, expedition. Clark was to have a commission as captain, but when it came it proved to be merely lieutenant. He took it, never grumbled, and, when he returned, gave the commission back.

As far as the head of the Missouri apparently they would traverse no absolutely new ground, for as has been noted the Frenchmen had been from the Mandan villages to the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, and from the French-Spanish settlement of St. Louis numbers of trappers and traders had gone to the Mandan country, while the chief road to that region had long been from the north-east by way of the lakes, and the Assiniboine where the British fur companies had established trading-posts. From these points their traders reached the natives of the upper Missouri and Mississippi, which territory the British claimed as their own. Charles Chaboillez, one of the chief factors of the North-west Company, was in charge of Montagne à la Basse, situated on the Assiniboine probably about where the Verendryes' Fort la Reine had been. From here he and other traders often went to the Mandan country to deal with various natives who made that region a rendezvous. He had proposed to Daniel Harmon that they should make a journey from the Mandan towns west to the Rocky Mountains,[65] over the course the Mandans "pursued every spring to meet and trade with another tribe ... which resides on the other side of the Rocky Mountain." 160 This expedition was never undertaken, but it indicates the degree of familiarity possessed by the Mandans with the Western country, and shows how the earlier Frenchmen found their way out at least as far as the Yellowstone, already known as the Roche Jaune, a name which in itself is a suggestion of early French visitors to the great falls of that stream where the gorgeous yellow colouring is so remarkable. Peter Fidler, another of the British fur traders, had been down from the Saskatchewan through the area drained by the headwaters of the Missouri. A trader named Cruzatte had a post in 1802 at a point two miles above old Council Bluffs, so that all through this eastern portion of the Wilderness white men had scatteringly penetrated. The French had been on the Saskatchewan before the eighteenth century was half over, and ten years before the American purchase of Louisiana Mackenzie had crossed to the Pacific by way of Peace River Pass. But beyond the Rocky Mountains no one appears to have been away from the coast besides Escalante coming up from Santa Fé to Utah Lake, and Mackenzie from Fort Chepewyan to the shore of the Pacific at King Island (lat. 52° N.), so that the region Lewis and Clark designed to enter beyond the mountains was absolutely unknown territory, outside of the Amerinds themselves.

Mount Hood—From Cloud Cap Inn.

From Wonderland, 1903—Northern Pacific Railway.

Captain Lewis was ready to start on this traverse before the official transfer of the Louisiana region from France to the United States had been made. His plan was to go to La Charette, the farthest French settlement up the Missouri, a few miles above St. Louis, and there spend the winter of 1803-04, the season being so far advanced that it was not considered advisable to make the final start till spring opened again and they would have a chance to go as far as possible before another winter began. But the Spanish officers there objected to Lewis's entering the territory and a camp was made on the American side of the river, about opposite the mouth of the Missouri. The purpose of the expedition was communicated to the foreign ministers, and passports obtained from France and Great Britain. Spain was particularly jealous of this movement or any other which led to crossing the Mississippi, and had opposed the right of the United States 161 by the Louisiana Purchase to anything more than the region around New Orleans and the mouth of the Mississippi; they resented Napoleon's selling even that. Hence Spain looked upon the upper country as still hers. The situation, considering the indefinite character of the whole transaction, was full of disagreeable possibilities. Perhaps this was Napoleon's intention. Therefore Jefferson in his instructions to Captain Lewis particularly says: "If a superior force, authorised or unauthorised, by a nation, should be arrayed against your further passage, and inflexibly determined to arrest it, you must decline its further pursuit and return." The British fur companies, jealous of each other, were still more jealous of encroachments on their trading grounds and their attitude toward the expedition was uncertain.

On the 30th of April, 1803, the treaty with France ceding Louisiana was consummated, and on June 20th Lewis's instructions were signed and he departed for La Charette by way of Pittsburg and the Ohio.[66] Congress ratified the purchase on October 17th the same year. Travelling was mainly by water in those days, and that seems to be the reason why Lewis stuck to boat travelling when horses would have been so much easier across the western prairies. They were permitted to return by sea, if necessary and possible, and Lewis carried letters of credit which would have obtained money for him in any port, or on any ship, the world round. The object of the exploration as announced was to find a waterway across the continent, but Jefferson doubtless had more in view than such a diplomatic statement would imply. Intercourse with natives, he particularly directed, should be friendly and conciliatory.

With forty-two men and three boats Lewis and Clark left their winter quarters on May 14, 1804, and proceeded up the Missouri, passing the village of St. Charles, with a French Canadian population of 450, and a little above it a small group of American farmers. On the 25th they passed La Charette, the last settlement, and were then fairly under way. Two rafts were met June 12th, on one of which was a trapper named Dorion who had been for more than twenty years among the 162 Sioux. They engaged him to go with the party and this increased the number to forty-five all told. There were nine young men from Kentucky, fourteen American soldiers who had volunteered, a French interpreter, a French hunter, and a negro belonging to Clark. All but the negro were enlisted as privates and drew pay from the Government. Besides these there were a corporal and six soldiers, who were to turn back at the Mandan towns, and nine voyageurs. One boat was fifty-five feet long, drawing three feet of water, with a square sail and twenty-two oars, and was armed with a swivel at the bow. There was a deck of ten feet at the bow and stern, while the middle was covered with lockers which could be raised to form a breastwork. The other boats were open, one having six and the other seven oars. Two horses were taken along the bank. Had they abandoned the boat idea and taken to horses they might have gone to the mouth of the Columbia while they were going to the Mandan towns, but they did not know how great a bend the Missouri makes. They pushed steadily up the river, meeting many natives and having friendly relations with them, and the last of October arrived at the Mandan towns, having consumed five and a half months in making the ascent.

As soon as a proper place was found they felled trees and built houses for the winter, calling the place Fort Mandan. The Mandans were perfectly familiar with white men, as has been noted, and were mainly peaceable. Lewis found here one of the British traders, McCracken, and by him sent a note to the chief of his home post, Chaboillez, also enclosing a copy of his British passport. This apparently was to avoid friction with the fur companies, and it indicates the uncertain condition of the claim of the United States to the territory he intended to traverse. Lewis evidently concluded a month later that he was quite within American territory, for he forbade Laroche,[67] another British trader, from presenting medals and flags to the natives. Up to this time the expedition had lost but one man. Sergeant Floyd, who died near where Sioux City now stands, and he was the only man who was lost on 163 the whole expedition. Nor were any seriously injured but Captain Lewis, who was accidentally shot in the thigh by one of his men who had poor eyesight and took him for an elk. This occurred on the return not far above the mouth of the Musselshell, and Lewis was well before they reached St. Louis. The freedom from needless accident is strong proof of the judgment which Lewis and Clark used in the management of the party, for disasters are usually the result of wrong decisions.

The winter at Fort Mandan passed pleasantly. Corn and other supplies were bought from the natives, and there was plenty of game. About the middle of December, a trapper named Haney arrived from Montagne à la Basse with a note from Chaboillez, in reply to the one sent by Lewis to him. He offered to render any service in his power. Later the trader Laroche came again, desiring to go with the expedition, but Lewis declined his proposition. Laroche had previously planned a journey in that direction which he had not carried out. They had other visitors, among them McKenzie, one of the principal North-west men. The intercourse with the people of the North-west Company was entirely amicable, and there was no friction except for a brief time, when they tried to prevent the interpreter from continuing in Lewis and Clark's service, and took steps to prejudice the natives. This was not sanctioned, however, by Chaboillez or McKenzie.

On Sunday the 7th of April, 1805, all being ready, the party again took up its line of travel up the river. It now numbered thirty-two, the others having been sent back. The interpreters were Drewyer (Drouillard) and Chaboneau, both Frenchmen. Chaboneau took with him one of his three Amerind wives, one who had a small child. This woman Lewis and Clark hoped to utilise as an interpreter among the Snake tribe, to whom she belonged, having been taken captive by another tribe and finally sold to Chaboneau. Her name was Sacajawea, and she was of great assistance, notwithstanding the encumbrance of the child. After eight days they passed what they called Chaboneau Creek and Sunday Island. Chaboneau had once encamped on this creek. "Beyond this 164 no white men had ever been but two Frenchmen," says the journal. One of these, Lapage, was with them, and he could not tell exactly how far he had gone, as they had lost their way. But Captain Lewis does not explain, if this were correct, how the Roche Jaune came to have its name before he reached it, a name which could have been applied only by some one who understood the conditions near its head. Yet farther on he states that this river "had been known to the French as the Roche Jaune, or as we have called it the Yellowstone." Proceeding up the Missouri they came to the "Musselshell," which is stated to have been so called by the Minitarees. The name then seems to have been a native word and has no connection with the shells of mussels! All through this region they saw large numbers of trees which had been cut down by beaver, and as they proceeded the beaver were thick everywhere. Buffalo were plentiful, and there was no dearth of fresh meat of all kinds. Sometimes they had to take sticks to drive the buffalo out of the way. There was one kind of game that was troublesome—the huge bears, both white (grizzly) and brown. If it be remembered that the guns of the party were muzzle-loaders, that the ammunition was loose powder and ball, that the firing apparatus was the old flint-lock, with priming-pan, it will be seen that it was no small hazard to face these ferocious bears. On one occasion six of the men, all good hunters, at the same moment attacked one of the huge brown bears, and though the bullets all took effect they were obliged to fly to the river, where two escaped in a canoe, while the others hid in bushes and fired repeatedly. The only effect of this was to enrage the animal still more till the four hunters were glad to leap down the steep bank twenty feet into the river, whither the bear pursued them and was within a few feet of one when a good shot from the shore hit him in the head and at last killed him. Eight balls had passed in different directions through him.

Canyon of the Gates of the Mountains.

From The Trail of Lewis and Clark, by O. D. Wheeler.

On May 26th, from the summit of a hill, Captain Lewis had the first sight of the Rocky Mountains, which seemed to be about fifty miles away. This was from a few miles below Judith River, and the mountains seen were probably the Belt 166 range. They were not the first to see the Rocky Mountains. The French and the Spaniards had been to them farther south. They were surrounded by immense quantities of game from here on to the sources of the Missouri, and their larder was always full of dainties. The river was 150 to 250 yards wide, and they had no difficulty in ascending. There were many signs of the aboriginal owners of the soil, particularly old lodges. This was the country of the Minitarees, who had described it to the leaders. It seems singular that they did not secure two or three of these Amerinds as guides. Had they done so, they would have been spared a good deal of labour and considerable delay. As they toiled up the Missouri they came at length to a point where it was difficult to tell which of two branches to take—that is, which was the real Missouri,—but they finally made a correct decision, and, naming the northern branch Maria's River, continued up the left or southern stream, when they soon arrived at the Great Falls. Had Fidler come down as far as this it would seem that he would have discovered these falls and would have described them, hence as he seems not to have mentioned them it is probable that he did not come much below the branches of Maria's River, and that Lewis and Clark were now in the untrodden Wilderness, untrodden by whites with the possible exception of the Verendryes or some other Frenchman of that period.

A portage eighteen miles long was imperative to surmount the falls, and it was rendered more difficult by extremely hot summer weather. A large cottonwood, the only one of the proper diameter within miles, was felled for the purpose of sawing from its trunk wheels with which to make a carriage for transporting the canoes. Sacajawea had been seriously ill since leaving Maria's River and it was fortunate for the party that she recovered, a happy event largely assisted by draughts from some sulphur springs found here. Here too she, together with Captain Clark, his negro, and her husband, was nearly lost by the flood from a cloudburst, having encamped in a deep, dry ravine. Even to this day people have not learned to avoid camping in the Great West, in the bottoms of ravines 168 and washes which in a few minutes may become filled by roaring torrents.

Junction of the Madison and Jefferson. The Madison at Left, the Jefferson at the Right Centre.

From The Trail of Lewis and Clark, O. D. Wheeler.

From the head of the falls they took a fresh start, with an additional canoe that was built there. Throughout this locality they heard the strange booming sounds which are a feature of the region and have not been explained. It was not long before they were confronted by three forks of almost equal dimensions, and they were puzzled as to which was the proper one to choose, the easiest to arrive at the head of some Pacific slope river. While considering the matter they bestowed the names of Jefferson, Madison, and Gallatin upon them in the order named from west to east. At last they concluded to ascend the Jefferson, and in this they made no mistake. They pushed up towards its source, following Beaverhead branch, Horse Prairie Creek, and Trail Creek, and on August 12, 1805, Captain Lewis, who had gone somewhat in advance, came, in Lemhi Pass, to the final rill of the Missouri and soon stood beside another brook that swept westward to swell the flood of the Columbia, the first white man to surmount the Backbone of the Continent between Peace River, far to the north, and New Mexico, far to the south. He looked out upon an absolutely unknown portion of the Wilderness,—an area many times that of Spain, which still claimed it. Escalante had been from Santa Fé to Salt Lake valley, but west and north of his route, to the head of Fraser River, no white man had ever penetrated.

The Dalles of the Columbia.

Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.

Still advancing before the main body, he met with some stragglers from and then a band of Shoshones, some of whom he had been anxious to meet for the purpose of securing information, for while we speak of the country as unknown, it was, as before noted, only so to white men. The natives knew it perfectly. From these people he borrowed horses and prevailed on the chief to return to the main party with him, a proceeding the chief was doubtful about, for never before having seen white men (though the Lewis and Clark party were so tanned they might have passed for natives) he was fearful of some treachery. On meeting the party, the chief discovered that Sacajawea was his sister, who in childhood had been stolen 169 by the Minitarees. The whole band were overjoyed at seeing this woman whom they had never expected to meet again. Proceeding to the camp of these people, a halt was made while Captain Clark explored in advance down this Lemhi branch and Salmon River into which it flowed. The Shoshones had told them that the country below in this direction was too rough to travel far in any manner, and Clark found out the exactness of this information and returned. With guides from the Shoshone band they then proceeded down the Lemhi branch and over to North Fork which they mounted, thence cutting their way across the range and descending to Ross's Hole on the head of Bitter Root River. This stream they followed down to the mouth of Lolo Creek, where they made a camp called Traveller's Rest. Once more starting on their westward way, they climbed the Bitter Root range again along Lolo Creek, through Lolo Pass, to the head of the Clearwater middle fork, which they called by its Amerind name, 170 Kooskooskie. Passing westerly between this fork and the north fork of the Clearwater, they finally reached a place at the mouth of the north fork whence the natives said they could descend in canoes, therefore they stopped here from September 26 to October 7, 1805, to build some. They were now nearer sea level than at any time since passing Council Bluffs, for the Wilderness is generally above two thousand feet.

The natives were kind and obliging, and though provisions had been alarmingly scarce since leaving the Missouri, they managed to secure enough of one kind or another, roots, dried salmon, horse meat, dogs, and fish, to keep themselves alive. Descending in their canoes the Clearwater, they entered Snake River, or, as they called it, Lewis River, a junction marked to-day by a thriving town named Lewiston in honour of the captain. From this point they had a noble river all the way to the end, broken by rapids, some of which were so fierce they were forced to make portages. As one sails down on the bosom of the Snake to-day and looks up at its towering walls, close and precipitous, with each bend a hazy mystery to the new voyager, he sympathises with these first explorers who followed its torrent to the sea. They soon entered the Columbia, sweeping down on its tremendous reaches, sighting magnificent peaks, and finally reaching the mouth where Robert Gray had cleaved the long line of breakers, thirteen years before. At that time, too, Broughton, one of Vancouver's officers, Gray having broken the way, stemmed the current of the Columbia for about eighty miles, to Point Vancouver, near the mouth of the Willamet. It was on November 7th that they came in sight of the ocean and listened to the music of the breakers, that had deceived so many excellent navigators; a sound full of delight to these men, for it announced the triumph of the undertaking.

Winter quarters were established on the south side at a place not far above the mouth of the river and three miles up a small stream called the Netul. The camp was thirty-five feet above high tide, two hundred yards from the creek, and seven miles east of the sea. Houses were built in a tall pine grove and the village was named Fort Clatsop, after the 171 neighbouring tribe. For some time they had been subjected to constant rain, for the coast hereabouts is a wet one, totally unlike the region they had passed through on the Missouri, which is very dry. The food question continued to be the chief one. Their diet consisted of pounded fish varied by wapatoo roots, and some elk-meat. No serious illness occurred. Every man was buoyed up by a desire to make the expedition a success, and with every undertaking of this kind success ultimately depends on the spirit of the men. The winter wore away and they managed to evade starvation.

Snake River below Lewiston. On Lewis and Clark's Trail.

Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.

One writer refers to the story that a Boston brig put in to the mouth of the river in November or December of this year, but it seems that this story has some error in it, for if the brig had come its captain would have been after furs, and the natives would have known of the visit, and surely would have mentioned it to the explorers. As they did not, it seems that there must be an error in date and that the visit of the 172 brig was the following year, when her captain obtained papers from the natives telling of Lewis and Clark's stay.

On the 23d of March, 1806, they turned their backs on Fort Clatsop and the Western Ocean and retraced their course up the Columbia. Like Cabeza de Vaca they had acquired fame as healers and their services were in demand as medicine-men, a fortunate circumstance, for they now had hardly anything to trade. Even their clothes were made of skins. By means of eye-water and other simple remedies they were able to purchase an occasional horse, a few dogs, and roots and fish. The generosity of one chief was greater than any white man would have been likely to offer, for he told them to help themselves to his horses without remuneration. At length they surmounted the Lolo Pass again and dropped down on the eastern slope of the Bitter Root range to Traveller's Rest. Here Lewis turned up one of the eastern forks of Clark River and crossed to the Missouri by a more direct route, while Clark followed the Bitter Root again, and at its head crossed to the stream they had followed out, and descended to where the canoes had been left. With these, a party under Ordway was sent down the river, and Clark with the rest went from the three forks to the head of the Yellowstone. Building canoes at a point a day or two down this river, they descended it to the Missouri, waiting for Lewis to come to them, a little below the mouth.

Meanwhile the latter had gone up Maria's River and in that locality occurred the only fatal encounter with natives of the whole journey. With several men he was on a side trip when they met a small party of Blackfeet. All camped together. Before the whites were awake in the early morning, the Amerinds attempted to run off with the guns. This move was detected by the guard, who gave the alarm and pursued the one who had his gun. In the scuffle for the possession of this, Reuben Fields stabbed the Blackfoot through the heart and the man instantly dropped dead. With a pistol Lewis, who had been at once awakened, pursued others, who had his gun, but being unable to overtake them, he fired, striking one in the abdomen. Whether this man died or not is unknown, but he lived long enough to return the shot, the ball passing 174 close to Lewis's head. The Blackfeet had also driven off the horses, but all but one were recovered, while for that one the enemy left four of their own. Thus the white men for the moment were victorious. It was an unfortunate episode, and evidently an unavoidable one. It served to enrage the Blackfeet, and turn them violently against the whites. It was not far from here that Cruzatte blindly mistook Lewis for the elk and put a bullet into his thigh.

Route of Lewis and Clark from Maria's River to Traveller's Rest and Return.

View larger image

From The Trail of Lewis and Clark, by O. D. Wheeler.

They passed the camp of two white trappers, Dickson (or Dixon) and Hancock, the first white men they had seen since leaving Fort Mandan. These men had come out from Illinois to trap and trade, the forerunners of a host of others eager to make nature yield them a quick fortune. They had seen Clark the day before and this news was welcome to Lewis, for Ordway, with the boats, having also come safely down, the party was soon reunited. At Mandan they found their old quarters had been accidentally burned. White traders were frequently met below this, for the conditions had materially changed in the more than two years the explorers had been gone. Among these men was Auguste Choteau, a noted man in that region; and McClellan, a former army officer, who was planning a journey to Santa Fé with some Pawnee and Otoe chiefs, to exchange merchandise for the barrels of gold and silver the Spaniards were thought to possess. The gold quest of the Conquistadores was to be renewed, though now it was the Spaniards who occupied the Seven Cities of Cibola. This trade, as we shall see, developed to considerable proportions.

Lewis and Clark reached St. Louis on September 23, 1806, and were in Washington the middle of February, 1807. Lewis was made governor of Louisiana, Clark was raised to general of militia of the same district as well as agent for the numerous tribes within its area. All were given grants of 320 acres of land and double pay. Lewis died September, 1809, on a journey from St. Louis to Washington. Thus he did not live to see even the beginning of the wonderful development that occurred in the Wilderness where he had so masterfully driven the entering wedge. 175



The Metropolis of the Far Wilderness—James Pursley Arrives—Pike up the Mississippi and Across the Plains—A Spanish War Party—A Breastwork to Mark the Site of Pueblo—Polar Weather and No Clothing—Pike Sees the Grand Peak—San Luis Valley—The Americans Captured by Diplomacy—Pursley Finds Gold—Malgares, the Gentleman—The Pike Party Sent Home.

The settlements on the Rio Grande had now been continuously occupied by the Spaniards for more than a century. To some extent the surrounding country had been explored in every direction, and a desultory trade was carried on with the various Amerind tribes, particularly with those of the plains and the northern region, from all of whom they obtained furs in exchange for articles of European make, exactly as the British were doing in the Far North, and the Americans in the East. They were therefore known far and wide, even to tribes which did not directly deal with them. Santa Fé at this period, 1805, may therefore be regarded as the metropolis of the vaster Wilderness. It had a population of about 4500, with two churches, and covered about a mile of ground in length, a distance which was longitudinally divided by three streets. Agriculture was practised by means of irrigation, a system which natives had operated ages before. By it, an abundance of maize, melons, beans, peppers, squashes, peaches, grapes, etc., were produced, and as there were also plenty of sheep and cattle, life on the Rio Grande in New Mexico was by no means severe, indeed it had a kind of dolce far niente quality that clings round it still. The routes from the eastward to reach this elysium were not unknown, and would more often have been travelled had it not been for the restrictions of the Spanish Government. 176

One route across Texas passed through the town of San Antonio, with a population of about two thousand, and in Texas there were at that time besides the people of San Antonio about five thousand others, a mixture of Spanish creoles, some French, some Americans, and a few civilised natives. Another road was by way of Red River, and still another, the least known, by way of the Arkansas. At Lemhi Pass, Lewis and Clark had heard from a Ute of these towns about twenty days' journey to the south, and at Council Bluffs others had stated that Santa Fé was twenty-five days' journey from there. One white man, McClellan, was planning a tour to Santa Fé about the time of Lewis and Clark's return, and it is said that certain Mallet brothers with six others, before the end of the eighteenth century, went up from St. Louis and struck from the Missouri to the Rio Grande settlements. One Baptiste LaLande, in the employ of Morrison, an American merchant, had gone there in 1804 with goods to trade, but had never returned, for he found the country attractive and himself out of reach of his employer. All merchandise for the Rio Grande settlements was brought by a long, difficult road from Mexico, and prices were enormous by the time the goods arrived at Santa Fé. The government and the governor too had to have their bonus. The Americans knew of these conditions, and hence early began to speculate on the possibility of transporting merchandise overland from St. Louis to compete. As the governor and the government were everything in that region, and permission to trade, to trap, or merely to enter or leave the land had to be first obtained from the autocratic head, going to Santa Fé to trade and entering or approaching the Spanish domain in any way were not trifling matters; more particularly as the point at which American jurisdiction ended and that of Spain began was as uncertain as the point where the north wind ceased to blow. Few Americans therefore had attempted it. The first to make the entry did so almost involuntarily. He was a man from Kentucky, James Pursley, who was trapping in the region west of St. Louis in 1802—before the purchase of Louisiana by the United States.

Like so many of the Americans of that time brought up to 177 the frontier life, he was perfectly familiar with every danger, and with all the peculiarities of the Amerind character; and he was of dauntless courage and limitless perseverance. Nothing ever baulked this type of man, of whom Daniel Boone was a fine specimen. Battered and thrust down by fortune till it would seem impossible for anything human to rise above the circumstances, they mastered them as if merely remounting a mustang from which they had momentarily been unseated. So it was that Pursley ploughed his way to Santa Fé with no original intention of going there. Some of the Kansa tribe having stolen the horses of his party, Pursley happened to see his own being ridden by one of that tribe to water. Without a moment's hesitation, Pursley pursued him, and discovering that he could not get the horse, ripped open the animal's bowels with his hunting knife. The Kansa thereupon tried to shoot him, but the gun missed fire, and Pursley, with the knife, chased the man into the camp, where he was unable to get him because he hid in a tent surrounded by women and children. Other white men were there at the moment and saw the whole thing. The chiefs of the tribe were so much astonished and delighted at Pursley's courage that they caused all the horses to be returned to him.

New Mexican Cart.

Drawing by Julian Scott.
From Bulletin of the Eleventh Census.

He and his partners then went back to their cache intending to take their goods to St. Louis, but a second time their 178 horses were stolen. Thereupon they built a canoe and sailed down the Osage, but when near its mouth they were capsized, and with the exception of their arms and ammunition, lost everything they possessed. Just at this disheartening moment along came a barge bound for the upper Missouri. Pursley joined this company, and arriving in the Mandan country, he was sent on an expedition to trade with some Paducas and Kiowas. They were all driven by Sioux into the mountains at the head of the Platte. The natives with whom they were, some two thousand in number, desired to trade with the Spaniards, but not knowing how they might be received, they finally sent Pursley with his white men, and two of their own kind, to Santa Fé to interview Governor Allencaster. The latter not objecting to their trading, the two Amerinds returned with that information to their waiting brethren, while Pursley and his men, having been rather dubious about ever arriving again among whites, were quite content to remain in the Spanish towns. They arrived in June, 1805, and Pursley took up the practice of his trade of carpenter, earning considerable money by it. He had been in the habit of making his own gunpowder in Kentucky, and tried doing it here, but on his operations being discovered he came near being hung. He was forbidden to write, but was told he could have a passport whenever he wanted it, though they exacted security that he would not leave without permission.

Another man, whose name was soon to be written for all time upon the face of this particular region, was at this moment preparing for the first of two important undertakings.

A Rocky Mountain Torrent.

Photograph by J. K. Hillers, U. S. Geol. Survey.

The uncertainty of the sources of the Mississippi and of the northern boundary of Louisiana impelled the astute Jefferson to arrange for other explorations in that quarter before the return of Lewis and Clark. For this work a young, brave, and capable officer, Lieutenant Zebulon Montgomery Pike, was chosen.[68] He proceeded to St. Louis, and in August, 1805, with a keel boat seventy feet long, and a crew of one sergeant, two corporals, and seventeen privates, provisioned 179 for four months, started to explore the Father of Waters to its uppermost rill. The Amerinds of this region had a great dread of the Americans, considering them quarrelsome and warlike, hence they would often go out of the way to avoid a meeting. Yet Pike was generally well received and one influential chief gave him a special peace pipe to show to the Sioux above as a sort of passport. It was a request to have him treated with friendship and respect. At one of the villages this friendship and respect were indicated by a salute from the guns of a party on shore. The guns were loaded with ball and, inasmuch as their owners were drunk, they tried to see how near the boat they could strike without actually hitting it. Notwithstanding their undesirable condition, Pike presented them later with several gallons of rum, an action which seems hardly pardonable in a government officer, yet this issuing to the natives of intoxicants was common among all officers, traders, and all managers of fur companies. They knew its diabolical effect, as well as its debasing and generally demoralising quality, yet they all did it. Of course the ordinary fur trader desired to intoxicate the natives in order to overreach them, and traded 180 whiskey, or rather alcohol and water, for their goods because in this way he made a profit of several hundred per cent. The great fur companies each used it in their trade because the others did; but with the officers of the United States Army there was no excuse for employing this means of gaining the Amerind favour.

The expedition mounted the river without any serious drawback, and the boats, increased to four all told, were Pike's pride, for he exclaims on one occasion: "Our four boats under full sail, their flags streaming before the wind, were altogether a prospect so variegated and romantic that a man may scarce expect to enjoy such a one but twice or thrice in the course of his life." They sailed across Lake Pepin with violins playing, and other music, and altogether seemed to enjoy their voyage. In this region Jonathan Carver was supposed to have travelled in 1766-68, and since that time the fur traders from the north and north-east had operated all over it. When Lewis and Clark were at their Fort Mandan, a man named Haney visited the place, and they obtained from him "much geographical information with regard to the country between the Missouri and Mississippi and the various tribes of Sioux who inhabit it." Pike found there a number of agents and trappers belonging to the British fur companies and protested against their occupying the country. Everything was amicable between them, and after a winter spent in the region Pike returned, by the river, to St. Louis, the last of April, 1806, about the time that Lewis and Clark were toiling up the Columbia on their return.

A little more than two months before Lewis and Clark arrived at St. Louis, Pike was again on the march, this time with his steps directed toward the mighty peak which now bears his name, and which afterwards evolved itself into the famous motto of the caravans, "Pike's peak or bust." It was July 15, 1806, when he made his start on this traverse of the plains and mountains, apparently with no information as to the route, with no guides, and with no proper equipment. Of course he had no intention of blundering around the high mountains in dead of winter, but it was an impossibility 181 for any party to accomplish the journey out to the head of Red River and back before cold weather should set in, therefore, with all the uncertainty, they should have been provided with winter clothing, but they had nothing of the kind. I should say they had hardly enough of anything for even a summer campaign. However, where ignorance is bliss, preliminary suffering is avoided. He was directed to escort a number of rescued Amerind captives back to their tribe, and with these he left St. Louis. The whole party consisted of one lieutenant, one surgeon, one sergeant, two corporals, sixteen privates, one interpreter, and fifty-one natives of all ages. Up the Missouri, which somebody has styled the "Mother of Floods,"[69] in two boats, they worked their way for six weeks to the Osage River. Here the boats were sold for a hundred dollars and horses were purchased with which to continue.

The Spaniards on this expedition kept a jealous eye, as indeed they did on any party from the United States into the region beyond the Missouri.[70] A strong force in fact had been sent to intercept Pike. This had gone as far as the Sabine, and then northerly to the Republican fork, the very place where Pike soon after arrived and found the trail of his prospective captors. The relations of the United States and Spain were much strained owing to the Louisiana transaction. The Spaniards were endeavouring to limit Louisiana as much as possible, while on the other hand the claims of the United States were as broad as the most liberal conception of the extent of Louisiana could formulate, and as Louisiana never had possessed any real demarkation it is easy to see how far apart the two countries on this subject were. In the region farther down the river, in the Texas and Orleans districts, the situation was precarious. While Pike was fitting out, information of his intentions was forwarded by Spanish agents to their Government. The large armed force whose trail Pike had now fallen upon was the result. According to Pike, who afterwards 182 learned all about it from its commander, Malgares, it had three objects: first, to descend Red River, and if Pike was met to turn him back; second, to explore the country to the Missouri; third, to visit a number of the native tribes, make them presents, and renew the chain of ancient friendship between "his most catholic majesty and the red people." Furthermore, the commanding officer had orders to compel all parties in this country to retire to the acknowledged territory of the United States, or to make prisoners of them and take them to New Mexico. So the position of Spain with regard to the region lying along the Missouri River was entirely plain.

It was fortunate that they did not meet with Pike till he was worn out by exposure and famine, for he certainly would have given battle. But Malgares, who was a man of "large fortune, generous, well educated, with a high sense of honour," was later under different circumstances very kind to Pike, and to the surgeon, Dr. Robinson, so that both became much attached to him.

On his march he gathered in every American trader and trapper he found and some of these he sent to Nachitoches, a Spanish post in Texas, where Pike afterwards found them existing in abject poverty. The army was made up of one hundred dragoons from the province of Biscay, who had fitted out on reaching Santa Fé, and were there joined by five hundred mounted militia, equipped for six months. Each man led two horses and a mule, making in all over two thousand head of stock. Down Red River they had gone some 233 miles, before turning to the north-east to reach the Arkansas, where Malgares left 240 of his men with the worn-out stock, while with the rest he kept on to the village of the Pawnee Republic, on the Republican fork of the Kansas River, where he held councils with various tribes of Pawnees. It was about here that the unfortunate Villazur party met its sad fate in 1720, and the recollection of that affair now produced in the Spanish soldiers a desire rather to revenge the treachery against Villazur by destroying the Pawnees, than to promote the repairing of the slender links of the ancient amity chain. In addition to this they seem to have grown discontented. 183 These considerations and the lame condition of the stock prevented Malgares from advancing farther or from waiting to intercept Pike, and he was obliged to take the back track; a lucky thing for the small American party. By October he was in Santa Fé, where his militia disbanded, but he remained there with the regular troops. He was well out of Pike's way, as it was the end of September before the American party came upon the trail of the Spaniards on the Republican fork.

A Glade for the Weary. Altitude 8000 Feet.

Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.

This was probably the region that Coronado reached in his eastward march two and a half centuries earlier—and it was little different from what it was at that time.

Pike immediately demanded from the Pawnees the Spanish flag which Malgares had given them in token of their allegiance to the Spanish king, and he presented them instead with a flag of the United States; but he finally returned the Spanish flag on condition that it should not be displayed during his 184 stay. The Pawnee chief on his part urged Pike to turn back, and admitted that he had agreed with the Spaniards to stop him, but the American officer, whatever faults he may have had, was not of a temper to be easily stopped, and probably the Pawnee chief observed this, for he made no attempt to prevent the expedition from proceeding. He told a good deal about the Spanish visit which Pike recorded, but these papers and all others were taken from him later. Here they heard the pleasant news of the safe return of Lewis and Clark, and doubtless Pike looked forward to an equally brilliant accomplishment. But he had to deal with an additional factor or obstacle, the Spaniards, and consequently, as he persisted in putting his head in the lion's mouth, it closed upon him. Lewis and Clark had certain other advantages in threading the unknown Wilderness; the natives there had not yet been deceived, swindled, and unjustly shot, and the British had no force in that quarter to interrupt their progress even if such a desire had been present in the British mind: the Spaniards were even more handicapped. Pike, on the other hand, was on a sort of highway, where the Spaniards had already been searching for him. After delivering his wards at their home camp, he kept on his westward way, following the trail of Malgares, where it was not obliterated by the bison herds, reaching the Arkansas, and then pursuing a course up that stream. On October 28th, Lieutenant Wilkinson was sent back with letters. His party descended the Arkansas with two boats, one a skin canoe, in which he embarked with three soldiers and an Osage, and a wooden canoe with the baggage, manned by another soldier and an Osage, while one more soldier walked along the shore.

Pike's plan was to follow up the Arkansas as far as the mountains or as the Comanches, and then go south to Red River, returning home by this stream.[71] Had he not deviated from this plan it is likely that his expedition would have been able to return without serious suffering, but he departed from 185 it when he reached the mountains, there turning north to find Red River, instead of south as he had intended. On November 15th, as they were pushing along on the wide plain, he thought he detected the suggestion of the great range, and half an hour later the splendid line of peaks came in full view. Then "the Mexican mountains were cheered three times," but had they realised the amount of suffering and misery they were to endure amidst those enticing forms, these cheers instead would have been tears, bitter tears. They were now filled with the idea of arriving the next day at the foot of the long line of billowy enchantment, but the following night they seemed no nearer than before. They here, however, had plenty to eat, and feasted on marrow bones, for enormous herds of buffalo encompassed them. They had the wisdom to dry a large supply of the meat to carry along; but it ought to have been far larger. On the 22d a war party of Grand Pawnees was encountered, and Pike was fearful of a clash, which indeed was always imminent in the region they had now entered, extending along the eastern base of the mountains and termed later the "War Road," or "Hostile Ground," because it seemed to be a sort of lawless area, where every tribe felt at liberty to attack anything that came in its way. There were sixty of the Pawnees and only sixteen of the Americans, so that the battle would have been uneven, half of the Pawnees being armed with guns. But they had a powwow, and the Amerinds asked for corn, ammunition, blankets, etc. Pike gave them presents and invited them to smoke and eat,—an invitation which was accepted, and the relations were not unpleasant till the Americans began to pack up, when the Pawnees took to stealing what they could. Thereupon Pike announced to them that he would kill the next one who touched the baggage, which had the proper effect, and each party continued on its own way.

On the 24th of November they arrived at the "Grand Fork"—that is, at about the place where Pueblo, Colorado, now stands. Here they made a sort of fort, or as Pike calls it a "breastwork," of logs for the protection of the main body which Pike designed to leave here while he, with three of his 186 men, should scout up the North Fork, or Fontaine qui Bouille. This was the first establishment of any kind by Americans, near the site of Pueblo, or in any part of Colorado.

In thirty-four miles Pike reached the foot of the mountains and climbed to the summit of one where the snow was middle deep. The cold was intense, and the party suffered greatly, as they were not clothed for winter. In fact they could hardly be said to be clothed at all, for they had only overalls and no socks. Expeditions in fitting out are inclined to go to extremes. They either show an absurd contempt for equipment and neglect essentials, or they load themselves down with luxuries.[72] In breaking the Wilderness the majority of parties were inadequately supplied, especially with food. Pike's was a good sample of this lack of foresight. Lewis and Clark fall somewhat in the same category, but they had good luck. From the summit on which Pike stood he could see the "Grand Peak" about fifteen miles away, the same which afterwards was given his name, and to-day is one of the most celebrated mountains in the world, because it is not only high and beautiful, but for many years stood an emblem of the danger and privation endured by those who entered within the radius of its shining top.

Pike's Peak through the Gateway of the Garden of the Gods.

(Pike Got his View of it from a Mountain to the Left, not Seen.)

Photograph by C. C. Pierce & Co.

Returning to the main camp where the men were suffering from lack of clothing and blankets, Pike led the way, not south to the headwaters of Red River, but on up the Arkansas. Just what his idea was is difficult to comprehend. They had bad weather, a great deal of snow, and severe cold. Under the circumstances, the only sensible thing to have done, was to find a good place for a camp, and from that point reconnoitre thoroughly before making the next move. This would have spared them an immense amount of hardship, and it seems to me what sound judgment would have directed. Had they done this, they would have found the trails leading 188 toward the Spanish settlements and the heads of the Canadian and Red rivers. But, instead, they went blunderingly on, entirely unprepared for winter in any climate, yet deliberately climbing to heights where they would be in that of the North Pole. They finally found themselves on the head of the South Platte. Here they saw signs of a large party they thought was that of Malgares, but it was natives. Then their troubles increased, mainly because they had no suspicion of where they ought to go and were unprepared for going anywhere. They blindly followed the Platte for a day or two and then concluded to strike south-west to find Red River. The result was they got on the head of the Arkansas again. They had neither clothing, blankets, nor shoes. Had they encamped in the beginning at the foot of the mountains, they might have provided themselves abundantly with all three. At length they made a sled to carry the baggage, and after a while divided into eight parties, all travelling at different rates.

Pike now saw that he was not on Red River at all, but he believed he had seen the headwaters of "La Platte, the Arkansaw, and the Pierre Jaune," and here perhaps is a solution of the object of his aimless wandering. He wanted to make some great discovery. He was correct on the designation of his first two rivers, but not on the third, for the Roche Jaune which he meant, in English the Yellowstone, takes its rise at least three hundred miles north of his position. After a great deal of wearisome travel, and suffering from cold and famine, they arrived at the same spot where they had encamped on December 10th, at the mouth of what is now Currant Creek above Cañon City. A week later Pike decided to build a fort here for the protection of the baggage, and leave the interpreter and one other to guard it, while with packs on their backs all the rest were to strike out afresh across the mountain for Red River. On the 14th of January, 1807, they started. Each carried forty-five pounds and some provisions, making with his arms a load of about seventy pounds, no very easy weight to carry continuously, day after day. Proceeding southward through Wet Mountain valley they finally 189 came to the head of the Huerfano, and then saw the great White Mountain, or Blanca Peak.[73] Nine of the men now frosted their feet, and on the 20th, three days after, two were in such a condition they could not proceed, and on the 22d they were left behind in as comfortable circumstances as were possible. All the provisions, except enough for one meal, were left with them. Food had been a scarcer thing than ever with the party, and a day or two before, Pike was so exhausted that he nearly swooned.

At last, on the 28th of January, they stumbled on a trail leading down the "White Mountains" (Sierra Blanca), a trail which had been worked by men and had hieroglyphs cut on trees. This was through Mosca Pass, 9700 feet altitude, and following it westward they soon saw the Rio Grande flowing southward, and thought at last they had found the object of their search. But more disappointments were in preparation. They were now in San Luis valley after an immense amount of misery and exhaustion which were entirely unnecessary. Had they sensibly reconnoitred from their breastwork at the Pueblo site, they would have discovered the Pueblo-Ute-Spanish trails across the mountains to San Luis valley, by way of Veta and of Sangre de Cristo passes. They could also have found the headwaters of the Canadian, and those of Red River. They need not have suffered for food or clothing, and they would have saved time, and perhaps have avoided the Spaniards, if Pike really intended to do so.

Here they shot deer and supplied themselves with meat, and on a large west branch, Rio Conejos, a fort was built about five miles from the junction, on the north bank. This was thirty-six feet square, of heavy logs, twelve feet high, protected at the top by sharp stakes slanting over for about thirty inches. Around this they made a moat four feet wide, filled with water. It is evident that Pike saw here signs of Spaniards, and expected trouble even though he supposed he was on Red River and considered himself within American 190 territory.[74] The Spaniards did not so consider Red River, as is entirely clear from the expedition of Malgares. No matter where they found Pike, they intended to turn him back or take him prisoner. The doctor, Robinson, left the party now and continued on to Santa Fé, his pretext for entering being Morrison's claim against the dishonest LaLande, Morrison having requested him to settle the matter.

Some men were now sent back to bring in those left behind, but poor Sparks and Dougherty, the ones who had frozen their feet, could not travel; they sent instead, to prove it, bones they had taken out. On the 26th, two Frenchmen visited the fort with information that a detachment of Spanish soldiers was coming to protect the Americans from an attack by the Utes. A few days before this a Spanish dragoon with a Pueblo had come, and the following day, the 17th of February, they went away. They had been sent out on the arrival at Santa Fé of Dr. Robinson. The body that was now approaching was therefore aware of the situation and accordingly acted with great diplomacy. Pike considered it deception, as indeed it was, but in the end this method was better for all concerned than a cold demand for surrender. Fifty dragoons and fifty mounted militia appeared under command of Don Ignacio Salleto, who was politeness itself. He was very careful not to ruffle Pike's pride. They had breakfast and then Don Ignacio put in operation his diplomacy. He said: "Señor, the Governor of New Mexico being informed you had missed your route, ordered me to offer you in his name mules, horses, money, or whatever you may stand in need of to conduct you to the head of Red River, as from Santa Fé to where it is sometimes navigable is eight days' journey, and we have guides and the routes of traders to conduct us."

"What," exclaimed Pike, "is not this Red River?"

"No, Señor, the Rio del Norte."

Pike immediately ordered his flag to be taken down, for he considered he had committed trespass. From the Spanish 191 point of view he had been a trespasser ever since he left the Missouri, and had he been on Red River it would have made no difference to them. As soon as he consented to go to Santa Fé to visit the governor, Don Ignacio ordered his men to supply the Americans with blankets and provisions, and from this time on they were comfortably fed again. The next day Pike discovered the agreeable Don Ignacio writing a letter addressed to the Governor, thus proving that he was not himself going on with Pike, and that the whole American company were really under arrest. They would not have been able to resist, anyhow, in their destitute condition. It was too late to change circumstances, so Pike went with the escort down the river. On the road at one of the villages Baptiste LaLande tried to play the spy upon them, but did not succeed. Arriving at Santa Fé, Governor Allencaster treated Pike politely, but he never swerved from his purpose of securing all of Pike's papers to send to headquarters. The conversation with the Governor was carried on in French, a language which neither appears to have wielded fluently.

"You came to reconnoitre our country?" said the Governor.

"I marched to reconnoitre my own," said Pike.

"In what character are you?" asked the Governor.

Vegetation of the South-West.

Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh. 192

"In my proper character, an officer of the United States Army," replied Pike.

Here he met Pursley, who had been nearly two years in Santa Fé, and who told him he had found gold on the head of the Platte, and had carried some of it about with him in his shot pouch for months, till he believed he would never again reach civilisation and threw it away. This is the first American mention of gold existing in that region. He told the Spaniards about it, and they wanted him to show the way, but he concluded it was on American territory, and also that such a discovery might interfere with his leaving the country. Copper mining was going on in New Mexico at a place down the river below Socorro.

All the Americans were treated well at Santa Fé, and presently were sent under escort to headquarters of General Salcedo, at Chihuahua. The commander of the troop was Malgares, the same who had made the fruitless tour to the Pawnee country to intercept Pike. The journey to Chihuahua was most agreeable, for Pike and Dr. Robinson had become well acquainted at Santa Fé with Malgares and had found him a delightful personality. Robinson says, "He was a gentleman, a soldier, and one of the most gallant men you ever knew," consequently, excepting the fact that they were prisoners, the route southward, in the splendid sunny air of New Mexico and Old, was agreeable enough. The Americans were everywhere well received by persons in authority, and there was nothing to complain of in this respect.

General Salcedo was as polite as Allencaster, and, though he considered the invasion "an offence of magnitude," on full consideration it was decided to return the Americans to their own country. Accordingly, they were sent back by way of San Antonio and Nachitoches.

Geographically, Pike's expedition added little to American knowledge of the Wilderness, yet it served to make clearer the conditions existing between the Missouri and the foot of the mountains. Politically it emphasised the claims of the United States in that direction, but much remained to be adjusted before anything definite could come out of the chaos. 193



A Race for Life—Colter Wins—The Missouri Fur Company—The American Fur Company—The Pacific Fur Company—A Great Project Foredoomed—Disaster at the Columbia Bar—The Destruction of the Tonquin—Hunt Starts for the Columbia Overland—The Voyageurs Baulked—The Caldron Linn—Dog Steak at a Premium—Misery and Danger—Success at Last.

The fine profits obtained by the British fur companies, combined with the information of the enormous numbers of beaver existing in the Rocky Mountains, brought back by Lewis and Clark and the trappers who had followed at their heels, gave a sudden impetus to the movement of Americans into the new Louisiana acquisition. The expedition of Pike had marked the trail to Santa Fé and indicated possibilities of profitable overland trade with New Mexico when the Spanish Government should modify its restrictions. Notwithstanding, therefore, that nobody knew just where Spanish territory began and where that of the United States ended, American hunters and trappers crossed into the Wilderness by scores. Even the sparsely settled districts of the Ohio valley proved irksome to them, and in the lead was the veteran Daniel Boone, who with fourscore years upon him turned his back upon the land he had done so much to win, and settled at La Charette, the French village beyond St. Louis.

And St. Louis, half Spanish, half French, had now become part American. Being the point of departure for all parts of the Wilderness, even the region of the upper Missouri, to which attention was now mainly directed, it began every day 194 to increase in size and importance. Maxent, La Clede, and Company were operating from this point before the cession to the United States, and so was the artful and slippery Manuel Lisa, who was believed to have no liking for Americans, or for any other competitors, and who, justly or unjustly, was looked upon with suspicion by every trapper who ventured up the river. Lisa annually sent trading parties in that direction, and in 1807 he made the journey himself. Perhaps he was no worse than the other traders, every one of whom was striving to thwart the success of rivals. He was about thirty-five years old, and in cunning and business intrigue a match for the keenest. In these respects he was the opposite of another noted character of the time, Auguste Choteau, a French creole, whose integrity and agreeable personality made him as much liked as Lisa was mistrusted. On Lisa's trip up the river he seems to have had with him the trapper Potts, who had been one of the Lewis and Clark party; and later he employed another of that party, Colter, who had obtained his release from Lewis on the return trip when they met Dixon and Hancock.

Canyon of the Yellowstone from Grand View.

From Wonderland, 1903—Northern Pacific Railway.

Colter and Potts were sent trapping in the Blackfoot country. These people were in a revengeful mood because of the fatal encounter with Lewis on Maria's River, and Colter and Potts were on the alert to elude them, but they were discovered. As they pushed their canoe into the stream, an arrow struck Potts. He then fired and killed a man. Instantly he was riddled by arrows. Colter made no resistance. He was taken on shore and stripped. They thought of setting him up as a target, but the chief gave him a chance for his life, which indicates that they were not in so ferocious a temper as has been assumed, for had they been bent on blood atonement for the deaths on Maria's River they would have given Colter no chance at all. They were willing to make a game of it. The chance that was given was to lead the captive out on the prairie, about four hundred yards in advance of the band, and let him go to save himself if he could. They did not shoot at him. It was to be a pure test of speed. Colter ran fast, for he was a good runner and life was the prize. Only one pursuer 196 gained. He drew nearer and nearer. Colter stopped, turned round, and threw up his hands. The blood, owing to his severe exertion, had flowed from his nostrils and covered his body, making a startling spectacle. The Blackfoot, surprised, tried to halt and throw his spear, but exhausted, he fell, breaking the spear as he went down. Colter thrust the sharp point into the man's heart, and rushed on for Jefferson River. This he reached while the Blackfeet stopped at their fallen comrade, and plunging in he swam to an island, dived under a large pile of driftwood, and raised his head above water amidst the sticks. The pursuers mounted the pile and ranged, the whole island all day long, but it did not occur to them to dive in the search. Night fell. All grew quiet. Colter swam gently down a long distance, and then started for Lisa's fort, where, after seven days' hard travel and exposure, he arrived.

Lisa went back to St. Louis the next year, 1808, but Colter remained till 1810. He passed through the geyser region of the Yellowstone, and is said to have been the first white man to go there. Inasmuch, however, as the Yellowstone was named before Lewis and Clark made their journey, and by Frenchmen, it seems probable that these same Frenchmen had visited the geyser region. They certainly were at the great canyon, for, as before noted, they would not otherwise have applied the name Yellowstone. Colter, therefore, more exactly may be said to have been the first American in the geyser basin. When he arrived at St. Louis again, he met there the English naturalist Bradbury, who printed the story of his race for life in the book he wrote, from which it has been transcribed many times. As it was a famous incident, I venture to give it again in a much condensed form.[75]

About this time Henry, one of Lisa's trappers, being obliged to abandon his post at the three forks, because of the hostility of the Blackfeet, passed over to the headwaters of the Snake and built a trading-post there, the very first establishment by an American on the Pacific slope, excepting Fort Clatsop, of Lewis and Clark, at the mouth of the Columbia. 197 This fort of Henry's was built about three years later than the one Fraser founded for the North-west Company near latitude 54.

A Mansion of the Wilderness.

Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.

The shrewd Lisa perceived that power was necessary in the fur business to secure the greatest profit, and as this required combination, he established, in the winter of 1808-09, the Missouri Fur Company, with William Morrison as one of the partners. At almost the same moment, a keen business man of New York, John Jacob Astor, obtained a charter from the State of New York for the American Fur Company. Encountering the rivalry of the Mackinaw Company, he arranged with some of the members of the North-west Company to buy it out, and they obtained possession in 1811. Meanwhile, the possibilities of the North-west and the region traversed by 198 Lewis and Clark appealed to Astor's business sense, and in 1810 he organised another company to operate from the mouth of the Columbia, called the Pacific Fur Company. His plan was to establish a line of trading-posts along the Missouri and Columbia to the Pacific, where, at the mouth of the Columbia, a chief station was to be maintained, to receive furs and distribute supplies. An annual ship was to keep this post in touch with New York. The scheme was entirely feasible, but in the execution of it every circumstance appeared to conspire for defeat. Some enterprises float easily across every obstacle, while others seem to create barriers which grow to enormous proportions.

When Fraser established his post west of the Rocky Mountains in 1806, it was intended that he should move down and explore all the country to the southward. Later another party was dispatched under David Thompson especially to forestall Astor's people at the mouth of the Columbia. Astor, himself, endeavoured to conciliate the British companies by offering them a third interest in his Pacific Company, but they declined. He next engaged a number of North-west men for his enterprise, to gain the advantage of their experience, but in this he seems to have made a mistake. As Great Britain and the United States were on the verge of war, it would have been better if the concern had been made purely American. In prominent positions there were only two citizens of the Republic: Wilson Price Hunt, of New Jersey, chief agent; and Jonathan Thorn, a lieutenant of the United States Navy, on leave to command the first supply ship, the Tonquin, a vessel doomed to strange destruction. The new company organised on June 23, 1810, Astor holding one half of the hundred shares, while the other half was distributed among the several partners. Hunt was to go overland and remain at the chief station five years.[76]

Some of the partners were to go by the Tonquin. These were all British subjects, Scotchmen. There were, besides, mechanics, and thirteen voyageurs, the latter coming down from Canada in a birch-bark canoe by way of Lake Champlain 199 and the Hudson, singing gaily as they came. Could they have foreseen the future, the song would have died in their throats. Of all the expeditions ever set on foot, this one, perhaps, met with the most continuous disaster. Although well planned, the Fates appeared to be opposed in this direction to Astor's success. The British had an eye on it and intended to baulk it if they could. For one thing they meant to stop the Tonquin and impress the voyageurs, which they thought would cripple the enterprise. The Constitution, the ship soon to make its name forever famous, was sent for some distance as a convoy, but nothing happened except that the voyageurs became seasick, and the foreign partners and Captain Thorn failed to harmonise. Thorn looked upon them with suspicion, and did not conceal his opinion that they were working against the company's interests. He particularly disliked McDougall who was next to Hunt in authority.

Thorn was a capable officer on the high seas, and he sailed the Tonquin successfully from the starting day, September 10, 1810, to that on which he arrived at the mouth of the Columbia, March 22, 1811. Then he seems to have lost his caution. Instead of lying off to wait for favourable weather to run the breakers, he immediately ordered chief mate Fox, a seaman, John Martin, and three voyageurs, notwithstanding Fox's protest and that of the partners, to reconnoitre the entrance in a small boat. They were never seen again. The wind abating, two days later the ship anchored under Cape Disappointment. Search was made for the missing men, but with no result. The Tonquin then approached the bar, but the captain was afraid to run through, and sent the second mate in the pinnace to pilot the way. He was nearly lost. Another attempt was made, but the ship struck on the bar repeatedly, and the waves broke over her. The pinnace, which had again attempted to pilot, was swept away with five men on board, while the ship, in great danger of complete wreck, came to anchor in seven fathoms. At last they got under Cape Disappointment once more, and were safe. On searching the coast for the lost men of the pinnace, only two were found. Thus eight lives were sacrificed to the bull-headedness of this 200 crusty captain. It was a full measure of what was in store for the ill-fated enterprise. Had Thorn used a small amount of common sense, he could have passed the bar without losing a man.

At length the Tonquin was inside, and after much wrangling between the captain and the foreign partners, a settlement was begun on what they called Point George. To this the name Astoria was given in honour of the head of the company. When the supplies had been landed, the Tonquin went up the coast to trade, with McKay to direct. Against the advice of the interpreter, a native from down the coast, they anchored in Neweetee Bay on the southern end of Vancouver Island. McKay went ashore and was well received, for six natives were held on board as hostages. The people of this bay had a bad reputation, which perhaps means that they saw through the game of the traders. Great numbers came the following morning to trade and as they sought high prices, doubtless one per cent. of real value, Thorn grew angry and threw the chief overboard. When McKay returned, the interpreter urged immediate departure, but Thorn scorned his advice. Astor had particularly instructed not to allow many natives on board at one time, but this was ignored. Next morning they came again with their furs; canoe after canoe arrived till the deck was thronged. The captain saw indications of trouble. He ordered men aloft to make sail while others weighed anchor. The natives were eager to trade, especially for knives, and they quickly obtained a great many, so that when the command was given to clear ship, they uttered a yell and fell upon the unprepared crew.

Sawmill Geyser, Yellowstone Park.

From Wonderland, 1904—Northern Pacific Railway.

Thorn fought desperately, for he was no coward, and though he had only a clasp knife, he killed several before a blow from behind laid him low forever. Four of the men aloft succeeded in gaining the cabin alive and speedily cleared the deck with the muskets that were there. All the rest of the day the natives kept off. The ship's clerk, Lewis, was one of the first struck, and he had fallen down the hatchway with a serious wound. He recovered sufficiently to discuss the situation with the four other survivors. The latter would not 202 attempt to sail the ship, as they thought they could not get her out of the bay, so they put off in the night in one of the boats. Lewis, it is said, declined to go on account of his wound, thinking he would die soon anyhow. He therefore made a plan for revenge. He arranged the powder so that he could instantly explode it, and when the fair morning sun again shone on the bay he stood on the deck and beckoned to some natives to come aboard. As he was the only one to be seen, they finally climbed up the Tonquin's sides. The decks were presently again thickly crowded, all eager to secure the rich prizes. At this moment Lewis executed his intention. The waters of the bay were strewn with wreckage intermingled with dead and dying. A hundred or more were annihilated and another grewsome tale was added to the long list describing the intercourse between the opposing factions for the mastery of the Wilderness. The four men were prevented from leaving the bay by stress of weather, and took refuge in a cove for shelter, where they were captured and taken back to the village. They were sacrificed with every cruelty known to the enraged natives. Thus ended the first trading venture of the Pacific Fur Company.

Before the Tonquin left Astoria, the party arrived from the upper Columbia under command of David Thompson of the North-west Company,—the expedition designed to forestall the American settlement at this point, but it was a little too late. Thompson had accomplished the first descent of the Columbia above Snake River. He was well received by his compatriots, especially by McDougall, who was in charge pending Hunt's arrival. McDougall did not conceal his devotion to the British Crown, and it was this which so exasperated Captain Thorn. Thompson finally left, returning by the road he had come. He was astronomer and geographer of the North-west Company, and made notes that are of great value.[77]

The Deadly Rattler.

From The Mystic Mid-Region by A. J. Burdick.
Photograph by C. C. Pierce & Co.

Meanwhile Hunt was bravely setting in motion a second train of disasters. With Donald McKenzie, another of the 203 foreign partners, he went in June, 1810, to Montreal, the great fur-trading centre, and secured canoes and voyageurs for the overland journey. The party proceeded by way of the Ottawa River, Mackinaw, Green Bay, Fox River, the Wisconsin, and the Mississippi to St. Louis, the route that had been the first from the east into the Mississippi Wilderness, and which had been a highway ever since. Lisa's Missouri Fur Company was at this time fitting out an expedition to go in search of Henry, who, as already mentioned, had been driven from his station at the forks of the Missouri, and Lisa was in doubt as to his whereabouts. The Spaniard looked with disfavour on the new rival, but this was no more than all the fur traders were in the habit of doing. He did what he could to check the enterprise without open hostility, but Hunt's plans progressed, nevertheless, and he soon had his affairs in order. Bradbury, an English naturalist, had been for some time making St. Louis headquarters, and was desirous of going up 204 the Missouri for specimens. Hunt at once cordially invited him and another English naturalist, Nuttall, to accompany him as far as they wished to go. Bradbury afterwards wrote the book which is now so well known, and which throws a valuable side-light on the starting of Hunt's party. He also tells much about the natives, of whom he remarks, "No people on earth discharge the duties of hospitality with more cordial good-will."

On the 21st of October, 1810, Hunt left St. Louis with the intention of wintering not far up the river, and in the spring following the trail of Lewis and Clark to the mouth of the Columbia. He had three boats, two being barges, and the third a "keel" boat. The winter camp was made at the mouth of the Nadowa, where several new men joined the ranks, notwithstanding that it was considered a rather desperate venture. About the end of April, 1811, all being ready, the party started up the muddy Missouri with four boats, one of which mounted a swivel and two howitzers. The number of persons in the company now amounted to sixty, almost too many for success. Forty of these were Canadian voyageurs, who, while exceedingly useful in their sphere of boatmen, were not so serviceable away from their craft, just as a good sailor is out of his element on horseback. But in those days no fur trader thought of travelling without them, and the North-west and Hudson Bay Companies employed them by hundreds. The rivers west of the Rocky Mountains, however, were entirely different from those flowing from the eastern slopes. Had Hunt been aware of this, he would have sent his forty voyageurs back, before crossing the mountains, where their peculiar abilities were of less advantage. Indeed, had it not been for the idea of utilising them, it is likely that the story of this traverse would have been less painful.

Shoshone Falls, Idaho, from South Side, Below.

Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.

Little trouble was experienced from natives, although the latter had now been shot and cheated for a sufficient time to render them dangerous. Alexander Carson, now with Hunt, was the man who had shot a Sioux not long before, just to try his skill. Some tribes, too, wished to injure others by preventing traders from reaching them, thus compelling manufactured 205 articles to pass through their own hands, whereby they made a profit. This was a cause of some difficulty. In addition, the rival fur companies used means, honourable and dishonourable, to injure each other, and they sometimes had serious battles. They would also incite against newcomers natives with whom they had traded, and this was a frequent source of disaster. Two men with Hunt, Ramsay Crooks and McClellan, believed that Lisa in this way had induced the Sioux a couple of years before, to thwart their plans, and McClellan was still incensed to such a degree that he declared he would shoot Lisa on sight. As the latter diplomatic gentleman was also bound up the river a few days behind Hunt, and had sent word that he would like to travel with him to strengthen both parties, the outlook was 206 precarious. The whole party were suspicious of Lisa's motives, and Hunt endeavoured to keep in advance. His chief interpreter, Pierre Dorion, a son of the Dorion who had gone with Lewis and Clark for a time, had been in Lisa's employ, and there was a fierce disagreement between them as to certain large amounts of whiskey which Dorion had imbibed, and which Lisa had modestly charged against him at ten dollars a quart. The Spaniard had a barge manned by twenty expert boatmen, and he knew the river. It was therefore only a few days before he overtook the Hunt party. With him was Henry Brackenridge, who later wrote a valuable book, and this man with Bradbury and Nuttall laboured as peace preservers, and though Dorion and Lisa had a dramatic scene, with McClellan ever ready to exterminate the perfidious Lisa on the spot, there was no bloodshed. To make matters worse, Lisa used towards Hunt an expression that roused his ire, so that for a day or two the rival crews barely spoke. At last, however, the Hunt people decided that Lisa was bent on no immediate mischief, and amicable relations were established.

Arriving at an Arikara village, some distance below the Mandan towns, Hunt began preparations to leave the river and strike across the country, thus abandoning the trail of Lewis and Clark. He was induced to take this step by three trappers he had met and employed, Robinson, Hoback, and Rizner, who had been in the country at the head of the Missouri. The change was a good one, and had Hunt dispensed with the voyageurs at this point, he would have clung to his horses all the way, which would have saved much time and suffering, but he took the boatmen along, though he exchanged the boats with Lisa for horses, of which the latter had a supply at his fort at the Mandan towns. Thither Crooks and Bradbury went to bring them down. Meanwhile the voyageurs fraternised with the Arikaras and were particularly devoted to the women, whose temporary favours were readily purchased. Bradbury says: "Travellers who have been acquainted with savages have remarked that they are either very liberal of their women to strangers or extremely jealous. In this species of liberality no nation can be exceeded by the Arikaras, who 207 flocked down every evening with their wives, sisters, and daughters, each anxious to meet with a market for them." And yet if a white man adopted regular relations they expected him to continue them, and not abandon his wife as was so often done. Their code was a peculiar one.

Shoshone Falls, Snake River, Idaho, from Below.

Sketch by F. S. Dellenbaugh.

Bradbury and Nuttall here left the Hunt party and returned, while on the 18th of July, 1811, the Astorians, having also said good-bye to Lisa, who had been of more service than detriment, turned their faces toward the Backbone of the Continent. A man named Rose was engaged, with the expectation that he would be serviceable in the Crow country, as he had been a good deal with that tribe, but Hunt discovered indications of treachery, and was glad on reaching the Crows to pay Rose off and let him depart. Crossing the Black Hills, and the Bighorn Mountains, they kept up the Bighorn to Wind River, and on the 14th of September camped at a place where a large fork came down from the Wind River Mountains. It will be noticed that mountains and streams were already named, showing that white men had frequently been in this region. In fact, the trappers with Hunt knew it pretty well, and told him that if he followed up Wind River 208 and crossed a single mountain range he would be on the headwaters of the Columbia, but game being scarce, he decided to go to another stream which they said flowed to the south of west beyond the Wind River range. This was Spanish River, now the Green, the upper continuation of the Colorado. They found a beaten trail leading that way and followed it over some very high ground whence the trappers pointed out the Three Tetons. These magnificent peaks Hunt called the Pilot Knobs! They were hailed with joy, for they marked the end of the first stage of the journey, but had the party been able to look ahead their joy would have collapsed in tears. Descending into Green River Valley, afterwards famous as the place of rendezvous for trappers, they found it delightful, with grassy glades and plenty of buffalo, as well as other game.

This was a crucial point for Hunt. Had he decided to stick to his horses till he was sure of the navigation, the party would have escaped much misery, but instead of camping here, amidst plenty of game, till the path could be reconnoitred, he stopped only five days to lay in a supply of buffalo meat and then went on. Winter with rapid strides was approaching, yet they would have gained time by tarrying here, with scouts thrown ahead. But they moved without knowing what to expect. Hoback had been on the headwaters of the Snake and he led them by way of a small stream they called Hoback's River to a large branch. This, because of its rapid and fierce current, was named Mad River. The voyageurs were tired enough of horses, and were eager to sail down on this impetuous tide, so, without even scouting beforehand, trees were felled to make canoes. Several men were then sent down the stream, but before they returned two Snakes came along and informed them that navigation was impossible. When the men came back they gave the same report. Here was a chance to find out much concerning the region before them, but no attempt seems to have been made. Robinson, Hoback, and Rizner, who had been with Henry, of the Missouri Company, now advised going to Henry's post, to which the Snakes were quite willing to guide them. After four days' travel they reached it amid a flurry of snow. 209

Shoshone Falls, Snake River, Idaho, from Above, South Side.

Photograph by G. K. Gilbert.


Henry had gone, but they were glad to occupy the deserted cabins. The stream they were now on was large and swift, probably the main Snake River, and the fatal canoe idea cropped up again.[78] Timber was felled and boats soon completed. One advantage of travelling with horses Hunt seems now to have lost sight of: they can always be consumed as food. But Hunt decided to leave them here, and to establish the first of the trading-posts. The two Snakes were hired to look after their welfare. Four trappers had been dropped to begin work on Mad River, and now five more were left at this place to go into the mountains.

Fifteen canoes having been completed, the expedition pushed off on October 16th, and swept rapidly down the stream all unknown. For some fifty miles affairs went well. Then the river began to plunge among rocks, two canoes were swamped, one of them smashed, and a large portion of the cargoes swept away. They continued with great labour, and on the 28th met with a sad disaster. The canoe of Ramsay Crooks struck a rock in one of the rapids and was capsized. Four men, including Crooks, managed to save themselves, but the fifth, Clappine, an expert voyageur, was dashed away in the torrent and lost. This was at the beginning of a very bad stretch of river, hemmed in for miles by high cliffs of several hundred feet, so foaming and torrential that they named it the Caldron Linn. The country was excessively barren. The provisions had dwindled to no more than five days' supply. The situation was desperate. In these straits it was decided to split up into small parties, which should set out in different directions, the idea being that it would be easier thus to obtain subsistence. One party went down the river, Crooks with five others started back toward Fort Henry to get the horses, and another under McKenzie went north.

Boat Made of Framework of Sticks Covered with Bison- or Horse-hide. Frequently Used in Early Days of the West.

From The Trail of Lewis and Clark by O. D. Wheeler.

With Hunt there remained thirty-four persons, three being Dorion's squaw and her two children, aged two and four. Like Sacajawea, on the Lewis and Clark expedition, she was a sturdy and uncomplaining traveller, resourceful and resolute. 211 The goods were cached at Caldron Linn, which consumed three days, and then Crooks and his men came back discouraged about reaching the place where the horses had been left. Without these, and with no chance of using the river, progress toward the mouth of the Columbia would be slow. They were not only breaking the Wilderness, but they were doing it in the hardest possible way. Hunt followed the stream for a time and then on the advice of some natives he led the party across the desert country to the northward. As one to-day, even under favourable circumstances, rides over the wide waste of lava-covered plain lying north of the Snake, he cannot fail to be impressed by the sweep of giant snowy ranges that encircle the horizon. To Hunt, these gleaming barriers must 212 have presented a deeply sinister aspect. His party was on the verge of starvation, when they arrived at a little river where there was a Shoshone camp. Here some fish and a couple of dogs were bought, enough to give them a supper. They also secured a couple of horses, and then went on. At last they tried to leave the river, but returned to it again after severe climbing through deep snow, and next day met Crooks and his men on the point of starvation coming up stream. Hunt had traded for a couple more horses with some Shoshones, and one of these he now killed, making a hasty canoe out of the skin with which to send Crooks some of the meat. Crooks came over in the boat, and reported that his party had been reduced to some soles of old moccasins for food. Hunt now decided to go back up the river in search of a Snake camp, where they might barter for more horses and dogs, but a new difficulty appeared. Crooks and one other were so feeble they could not travel. The party wished to leave them but Hunt refused to do this. Five stayed with him and the rest left. The stock of provisions finally dwindled to three beaver skins, and taking one of these Hunt at last pushed on to overtake those who had gone in order that he might persuade Dorion, who now had the only horse, a bony creature, to sacrifice it for the benefit of Crooks. But Dorion pleaded for the animal and they went ahead a little farther, when they surprised a Snake camp, where a number of horses were grazing. The natives ran, and the whites seized five of the horses and soon were devouring one, while a messenger was hurried back to Crooks with some of the meat on another.

Some of Crooks's party were across the river in a starving condition and could see and hear distinctly. When Crooks came he sent meat over to them, and one voyageur jumped wildly into the frail skin canoe to return. When he came near the shore, the sight of the roasting meat caused him to deliriously clap his hands and dance, which operation upset the canoe and the poor fellow disappeared in the furious current. The boatman was saved with difficulty. John Day, who had been one of the strongest, was now a mere skeleton, barely able to walk, and all were extremely emaciated. About December 213 15th, they arrived at a little creek which they had crossed on the 26th of November, and here discovered a dozen Shoshone lodges, and on up the stream were more. Hunt traded for a couple of horses, a dog, and some dried fish and roots. From these natives he tried to secure a guide, but they urged him to remain with them, though at last one consented to go for large pay.

On December 21st they went down the creek to Snake River, and down this a short distance in search of some rafts. These were not found and two horses were killed to make a canoe out of their skins. The river was full of floating ice, and the frail canoe gave them much trouble, but on December 23d, breaking the shore ice, they succeeded in crossing. Crooks's party were waiting for them, and they all moved forward together, under the guidance of the native and two of his companions. The voyageurs were happy to say farewell to this perilous stream, so unlike any they had ever seen before.

The ground was snow covered, the weather stormy, but fortified by a meal of horse meat once in twenty-four hours, they moved on toward the Blue Mountains, a superb range which one sees well from the railway now crossing the north-east corner of Oregon about on the trail that Hunt was following. On the 29th, Pierre Dorion was made a father, and his squaw had three children in place of the two she had thus far dragged through all the difficulties. Dorion's horse now came into full service for the transportation of this increased family. One of the voyageurs, La Bonte, here gave out, and had to take to another horse which had been packed, Hunt himself carrying the load. This La Bonte seems to be the same that Ruxton[79] afterwards wrote about. On the last day of the year they came to a wide valley without snow and here camped for New Year's Day, 1812, and as much revelry as possible was indulged in. Some Shoshone tipis being nearby, they did not lack for dog and horse steaks, and began to feel in better mood. They finally crossed the Blue Mountains and descended into the valley of the Umatilla, where there was no snow, and the weather was mild, for they were 214 approaching sea level. Dorion's infant now died, but there was no halt on this account. All pressed on, encouraged by sights of deer and of horse tracks, till they came to a large camp of Sciatogas, or Tushepaws, where there was plenty of everything they needed, with at least two thousand horses grazing on the hills. Hunt was now but two days' march from the Columbia. Horses were cheap and the men ate their fill, though these Amerinds did not eat horses or dogs. Proceeding they came at last to the Columbia, having occupied six months in traversing the Wilderness from the Arikara village. Had they stuck to their horses, they might have done it in four. Part of this wide stretch had been entirely unknown to white men, and Hunt's expedition, therefore, as an American exploration, ranks second to that of Lewis and Clark, while in its bearing on the future of that great unclaimed region then known as Oregon, it stands on an equal footing. It was also the third traverse of the North American continent above Mexico; and it was the beginning of the Oregon Trail.

Keeping down the north bank they began to hear news of the Astoria establishment, and then of the loss of the Tonquin. The people by the way were well posted on these matters, although they had no newspaper. Purchasing canoes, the Hunt party ran down on the current, and on February 15, 1812, they came in sight of Astoria, the goal they had so long and so strenuously struggled to reach. McKenzie was already there, having beaten Hunt by a full month. All the chief men of the party, except Crooks, were now once more together. It therefore seemed that the Astoria enterprise was about to bloom into success, but more trouble was in store for it.





Eastward from Astoria—The War of 1812 on a Business Basis in Oregon—Astoria Becomes Fort George—The Pacific Fur Company Expires—Louisiana Delimited at Last—The Expedition of Major Long—A Steamboat on the Missouri—The First Man on Pike's Peak—The Elusive Red River Refuses to be Explored—Closing on the Inner Wilderness—The Spanish Sentinel Turns Mexican.

The Astoria establishment was now in good order. There seemed to be no reason why Astor's project at last should not move on to success. Several trading-posts were founded in the upper Columbia valley, and to further develop the situation, Hunt, in the supply ship Beaver, which had duly arrived in May, 1812, sailed north along the coast. This was in accordance with another part of the plan whereby arrangements had been made with the Russians for supplying their North American trading posts with merchandise and transporting their peltry. The chief of the Russian company was the famous Baranof, a man of domineering power and iron purpose. His home was in the celebrated Baranof Castle, at New Archangel, now Sitka, a castle that saw grog flow like water, and where a teetotaler met with no toleration. The castle, a massive log structure, was accidentally burned only a few years ago. Hunt withstood as well as he could the power of Baranof's potations, and succeeded in adjusting his business satisfactorily.

Before he left Astoria, he sent Robert Stuart, a young Scotchman of integrity, good judgment, and sincere devotion to the company, back overland on June 29th, with messages 216 for Astor, and this journey deserves more space than it is possible to give it here, for Stuart traversed new ground a part of the way, and so may be recorded among the first Wilderness breakers.[80] With him went McClellan, Ramsay Crooks, John Day, Ben Jones, Andri Vallar, and Francis Le Clerc. Crooks and John Day, after having reluctantly been left behind by Hunt, had finally arrived at Astoria in a desperate condition, from which Crooks recovered, but Day's health was permanently destroyed and, his mind giving way, Stuart was obliged to send him back to Astoria, where he died the next year. His memory endures in the name of a river in Idaho, as well as in his connection with the second great traverse of the continent within the limits of the United States. The Stuart party on its eastward way followed the Columbia and the Snake, meeting opposition from some natives and assistance from others. They also encountered near the head of the Snake some of the hunters who had been left to trap and trade. These men were in a sorry plight, having met with various disasters and also with robbery at the hands of hostile bands of natives. At Caldron Linn they found that six of the caches had been robbed by natives under the guidance of three voyageurs of the Hunt party who had remained behind and finally had taken up their residence among some Shoshones. Fitting out several of the men from the three remaining caches, Stuart left them to once more try their fortunes, and directed his course on to the East. After a good deal of difficulty, the 17th of October found him crossing one of the branches of the Green. Food was limited, and finding no buffalo here the men were at the last notch. Francis Le Clerc insisted that lots should be cast, as it was better for one to die than for all, but Stuart threatened to shoot him on the spot for the suggestion. Food was soon after obtained and the party saved from extinction.

On the Virgin River, Southern Utah, near where Escalante Went in 1776. Pine Valley Mountain in Distance.

Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.

Crossing over to the head of the North Platte, which they did not know at the time, they descended its wide valley for 218 a long distance, and then made a permanent camp for the winter, November 2d, where there was abundant game. A visit from a war party of Arapahos caused them to abandon the place and seek another, where the remainder of the winter was passed comfortably without interruption, and in the early spring they continued down the Platte, meeting in April with an Otoe who told them of the war between the United States and Great Britain. Within a few miles of the Missouri they bought a canoe from a trader and then sailed down, arriving at St. Louis April 30th, 1813, ten months after their departure from Astoria. Their horses had all been stolen on the way by the natives, which not only caused delay, but deprived them of a permanent food supply, and was one cause of their descent to the brink of collapse.

As soon as the news of the war reached the North-west Company, orders were issued for a party to proceed to Astoria to oust the Americans. This detachment under McTavish and La Roque reached the place in a famishing condition, but as McDougall, one of their countrymen, was in charge, Hunt being absent, they were cordially received. For various reasons Hunt's return was delayed, the next annual supply ship, the Lark, failed to come, having been wrecked on the way, and altogether the project was again deeply overshadowed. McDougall negotiated a sale with the North-west representatives, and when the British man-of-war Raccoon, on December 1, 1813, arrived to capture the American post, all the disgusted captain could do was to substitute the British for the American flag, as, of course, he had no power to molest property of the North-west Company. He re-named the place Fort George, and sailed away, without the rich prize money he had anticipated. When Hunt, who had been back and again gone off to secure a ship for the removal of his company's property, once more arrived on February 28, 1814, he found the place a North-west Company post with McDougall in charge. He accepted drafts on Montreal for the settlement of the account of the Pacific Fur Company, and this part of the War of 1812 was thus a purely business transaction. It would be cheaper if all wars could be settled on the same basis. 219

McDougall has been roundly denounced for selling out in this manner. Astor himself considered it disgraceful. But it is probable that in the end, this procedure was the best, and there is nothing to indicate that McDougall acted in bad faith. The Astoria enterprise was ended. It had been well planned, but circumstances were against it. It did not expire in a blaze of glory to make the close romantic, but merged into the North-west Company as one day melts into another, and for years thereafter this company was the dominant power of the whole region. But while the scheme as a fur-trading venture had failed, as a part of the history of breaking the Wilderness it takes a front place. Had those in authority then fully appreciated the importance of the proceedings of the Pacific Fur Company to the future of the United States, they would have bent their energies to its successful promotion instead of taking but a languid interest. Nevertheless the bearing of the disastrous operations of the Pacific Fur Company on the boundary of Louisiana and the claims of the United States in the Oregon country was of the first importance.

When the treaty concluding the war was signed, December 24, 1814, it stipulated that all territory and all places taken from either party, with a few exceptions, were to be restored, and on this basis, though the Oregon country was not mentioned, the United States claimed Astoria. But the British, while finally agreeing to yield the post, although they claimed it had never been booty of war, refused to allow any right of possession of the region to go with it, asserting that Astoria had merely been established in British territory. Captain Biddle in the United States ship Ontario took formal possession August 9, 1818, and somewhat later J. B. Prevost went there on the British ship Blossom and received the actual transfer as agent for the United States. Great Britain was firm in its claim for the mouth of the Columbia and as no settlement could be reached it was agreed, October 20, 1818, that for a period of ten years the whole region eastward to the Rocky Mountains should remain free and open to both nations. East of the Rocky Mountains the forty-ninth parallel was at the same time adopted as the division between Louisiana and 220 British territory, an adjustment which had nearly been arrived at eleven years earlier.

An Arizona Thistle.

Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.

The Spaniards now once more came forward with their claim to all Pacific territory up to the fifty-fifth degree, while Russia demanded everything down to the fifty-first. The United States yielded nothing in this direction, and, still claiming Texas to the Rio Grande as a part of the Louisiana Purchase, was finally able, in February, 1819, to negotiate a treaty with Spain whereby that country ceded Florida, and its rights north of latitude forty-two, in the Oregon region, for the claims of the United States to Texas. Spain desired to extend its boundary to the Mississippi, but in this did not succeed. The line between all Spanish territory and Louisiana was also definitely fixed, and the Louisiana Purchase now had limits for the first time, except on the west between the forty-second parallel and the forty-ninth, and no line could be drawn here till the United States and Great Britain settled their difference over the Oregon region. These various agreements delimited Louisiana as it is usually given on maps, except north from the forty-second parallel, where there never was a boundary, 221 except that the Rocky Mountains were temporarily recognised as the eastern limit of the disputed region. The lines of Louisiana on the west followed the Sabine River to latitude thirty-two, thence north to Red River and west along it to the one hundredth meridian, thence north on this to the Arkansas, and west on the Arkansas to its source, thence due north to the forty-second parallel. See map on page 154, in which the dotted part shows the original state of the claims. All north of the forty-second parallel claimed by Spain fell to the United States. These claims in themselves were not very strong, except as to original discovery on the coast, but, united to those acquired from France, from Gray's discovery, from Lewis and Clark's exploration, from the Astoria establishment and its subsidiary posts, and from the journey of Wilson Price Hunt, they presented a better title to the region than any other nation could show.

Pike had reported the country he traversed to be no more than a barren desert, and it was his opinion that it would be a permanent and an effectual barrier to the western movement of the Americans. This discouraging view, together with the War of 1812, retarded for several years operations in the Wilderness on the part of Americans. The British companies, however, were constantly active, the North-west holding all the country west of the Rocky Mountains and a large part east of them. Trappers operated along the Missouri and its tributaries, some few entered the mountains, and the energetic Lisa was particularly active in pushing his trade. In 1813 he was made sub-agent for all tribes on the Missouri above the Kansas River, with instructions to prevent them from going over to the British. He seems to have been a useful man in many ways, and Brackenridge, who was with him for a considerable time, has given a glowing picture of his enterprise and bold energy. He made his last voyage in 1820, and died August 12th within the limits of the present St. Louis.

In order to gain further knowledge of the vast western possessions, another expedition was sent out by the Government in 1819 under Major Long, to go to the Rocky Mountains by way of the Platte and return by Red River. This 222 party left St. Louis on June 21st, with the advantage of a steamboat.[81] Fulton's experiments having achieved success in 1807, steam propulsion had been extensively introduced for river navigation and had brought a great change in transportation facilities. Long's steamer, the Western Engineer, proved to be even better than was expected, and they made their way up the Missouri easily against the strong current, where by the old method of towing the keel boats, enormous labour was involved. It was also a source of great interest to the natives. The region was rapidly settling along the Missouri east of the mouth of the Kansas so that supplies were there much easier to obtain than formerly, and altogether the new order of things made progress for Major Long quicker than that of any of his predecessors. By September 17th, he had arrived at Fort Lisa and went into winter quarters near Council Bluffs, naming the place Engineer Cantonment. Long, himself, went East again from here by way of St. Louis, returning on the 28th of May, 1820. Lieutenant Graham then took the steamboat back, while Long mounted his party on horses for the trip across the plains. There were twenty-eight horses and mules, one for each man, and eight for carrying packs. The absurdity of having only eight pack animals for a party of twenty men starting on a long exploring tour far from any base of supplies, seems not to have struck any of the party, not even Major Long. It was the same old story over again, inadequate preparation, a story, too, that was often to be repeated in the future. For such a party there should have been no fewer than twenty pack animals, and thirty would have been nearer the right number. The list of supplies was equally absurd. There was no flour, and only five hundred pounds of biscuit, one hundred and fifty pounds of pork, and three bushels of parched cornmeal, twenty-five pounds of coffee, and thirty of sugar.

A Full Larder.

From Wonderland, 1904—Northern Pacific Railway.

They left Engineer Cantonment on June 6, 1820. The chief members of the party were, besides Major Long, Captain 223 J. R. Bell, T. Say, and Dr. Edwin James,[82] the last afterwards writing the account of the journey from the note-books of the leading members, and at one place mentioning the inadequate outfit. They were well received at a village of the Pawnees, and the chief said, "You must have long hearts to undertake such a journey with so weak a force, hearts that would reach from the earth to the heavens." He urged them not to go on, but of course no heed was paid to this. They passed other Pawnee villages along the Platte, and went up the Loup Fork, to the Grand Pawnee village, then across from the Loup Fork to the main Platte again, and followed that stream up to the junction of its two great branches. Here they chose the south branch, and on the 30th of June had their first glimpse of the mountains lying like clouds on the horizon and gradually developing till their snowy summits were plainly seen, especially a prominent peak since named after Long. This 224 first view of the great range is always thrilling, and as one sights the heavy masses lying so mysteriously soft in the clear light, he remembers the exclamation of the good bishop, who as he stepped in this region off a railway train, deeply breathed the sparkling air and fervently cried, "Well! I have never been out-of-doors before!"

They had expected to celebrate the Fourth of July on some cool summit, but on that day the peaks were still far distant and they were forced to content themselves with an extra pint of maize and a small portion of whiskey, on the common plain. Provisions were alternately scarce and plenty according to locality and the success of the hunters; sometimes buffalo hump-ribs, tongues, and marrow bones were abundant; again there was starvation diet. At last, on the 10th, they were before the great Backbone, with Pike's "highest peak" in full view from a hill. On the 12th they camped on the Fontaine qui Bouille near the present site of Colorado City, and Dr. James, with four men started out to climb the great peak. Two of the men were left at the base to care for the horses, while the others went on. About noon they came to the Boiling Spring, the present well-known soda spring of Manitou, which gives name to the stream of which it forms a source.[83] This beautiful spring was of great interest to James and they had their lunch beside it. Through its crystal waters could be seen on the bottom the offerings of beads and trinkets by the Amerinds.

Before this no attempt to climb the mountain had ever been successful, but as in many other similar matters, no serious effort seems ever before to have been made. The night of the 13th, James and his two companions spent in a most uncomfortable place, and on the next morning started early with the hope of making the round journey before dark. About noon, timber line, 11,720 feet, was reached, and by four o'clock they stood on the mighty summit, 14,108 feet above 225 the sea, and 8000 above the plains, and could see on the east the prairie ocean melting into the limitless distance, while on the other hand spread away a broad chaos of peaks, canyons, valleys, fading into the depths of the unknown Wilderness. Vast clouds of grasshoppers were flying over the peak, sometimes so dense as almost to obscure the light. After about half an hour on the majestic summit, now reached by a prosaic railway, the descent began. Losing their course, they failed to reach the camp of the previous night, and were forced to sleep out with no food or shelter or comfort of any kind; not after all so awful as it sounds. As soon as light came in the morning they continued, and reached their camp only to find it ablaze; the fire had spread and consumed everything except a few scraps of food, on which they greedily breakfasted. A heavy bison and Amerind trail passed the Boiling Spring going into the mountains. This is now a road to South Park.

Long rightly named this peak after James, and it should have retained the name of the man first to surmount it, but geographical names are sometimes singularly acquired, and so the peak which Pike saw from some miles away, and was not the first to see, received his name without his intention, or that of any one else. Indeed, no one can tell just how it came to be called after Pike, except that it simply grew; and Frémont finally put it on record.

Leaving Boiling Spring Creek, as the Long party called it, translating the original French name, they struck south-west on July 16th, to the "Arkansa," thus properly pronouncing (Arkansaw), and also correctly writing it. The river takes its name from the Arkansa tribe, and how it came to be designated by the plural is another of the curiosities of geographic nomenclature. They looked for Pike's "blockhouse," but could not find a trace of anything resembling work of white men, which is not strange when we remember that what Pike built on or near the site of Pueblo, was an extremely rude affair and not a house at all. Some of the Long party went up the river to the deep canyon by which it cuts a passage through the mountains, where Pike had already been, and 226 where to-day the railway follows the torrent out of the tangled rock masses to the plain.

On July 19th they turned east down the Arkansas. Two parties were then formed. One under Bell was to explore the Arkansas to Fort Smith, and there await the others, who under Long's own command were to travel south in search of the sources of Red River, with the intention of descending that stream. Their guide all the time had been Joseph Bijeau, who knew the country between the Arkansas and the Platte perfectly, but that below the Arkansas he was not familiar with. He had often been in the Rocky Mountains for some distance and gave a description of the region, so far as he knew it, which was correct.

On the 24th of July the parties separated. The thermometer stood at 100° in the shade, when there was any, and the water being either bad or lacking entirely, the journey south from the Arkansas was not exhilarating. Wood was also scarce or absent, and fires had to be made of "buffalo chips." They then followed up the Purgatoire and finally passed to the head of another stream which they concluded must be Red River. They crossed more than twenty well-beaten parallel trails, and though they did not know it then, they were within a few miles of the Metropolis of the Far Wilderness, Santa Fé, and could easily have gone there by this road, had they so desired. There was suffering for food, but from time to time this was relieved by the killing of a wild horse, a buffalo, or some other game. On August 9th they met a large band of "Kaskaias," who, while not exactly hostile, were not hospitable, and it was with difficulty that any food was obtained from them. Water they carried in paunches of bison, and in camp hung them on tripods. Long did not discover from these people, strangely enough, that the river he was following was not Red River, as he supposed, but the Canadian, and it was not till they had consumed seven weeks and travelled down the valley of the stream 796 miles, that on September 10th they came to the Arkansas and learned their error. Two days later they met a trader, Robert Glen, the first white man seen since the 6th of the preceding June. He 227 gave them coffee, biscuit, and some other supplies, and told of the safe arrival at Fort Smith of the other division of the expedition. Fort Smith, which they soon reached, was on the Arkansas just below the Poteau, and had been established by Major Long in 1817. He was now again on familiar ground, and nothing of note remains to be mentioned concerning his expedition.

Red River seemed to evade the American explorer. Pike had failed to find it; Long now had a similar disappointment, due to the same cause as Pike's, neglect to reconnoitre properly before proceeding; and in 1806 Captain Sparks, attempting to explore westward from its mouth, met with a greatly superior Spanish force and was compelled to retire.

Standing Rocks, Common in the Wilderness.

Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.

From the Arkansas to the northern border of the United States the country was now fairly understood, the Columbia was no longer a mystery, Garces and other Spaniards had traversed Arizona, New Mexico had long been flourishing, the California Missions were quietly growing rich, and the unbroken Wilderness was narrowing approximately to the region between the thirty-sixth and the 228 forty-second parallels and the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky Mountains. Not that all outside of these bounds was well known, for it was far from it, but it could no longer be regarded as Wilderness absolute, while the area above outlined, except for the entrada of Escalante, was a blank. It was all the property of Spain, hence Americans had no right to enter, but when the War of 1812 was well disposed of hunters began again to pour into the Wilderness, and Long's expedition seemed to mark the beginning of another important attack upon the mountain fastnesses, where the beaver by thousands and tens of thousands were enjoying a busy life and holding forth unwittingly an alluring bait that was now to induce a great invasion of Spanish territory notwithstanding the challenge of the sentinel. Spain's hold, too, on her Mexican possessions was loosening. Iturbide in 1821 proclaimed Mexican independence, and the next year Santa Aña unfurled the flag of the Republic. For some time Mexico had her full attention occupied with internal affairs.





The Wilderness Breaker—Lisa Closes his Account—General Ashley Takes a Hand—The Religious Jedediah—Green River Valley—What a White Bear could Do—Ashley Navigates Red Canyon of Green River—Discovery of Salt Lake—Ashley Retires Rich—The Rocky Mountain Fur Company—Sylvester and James O. Pattie—Pattie's Journey in the Valley of the Colorado—The Great Circuit of Jedediah Smith.

As the third decade of the nineteenth century came in, the trappers and traders began more than ever to long for the conquest of the great mountain Wilderness, whose solemn front, ending the wide rolling plain, reared its craggy barriers with soothing outlines tantalisingly suggestive of wealth and wonder easily accessible behind. The hardships of the explorers to the mouth of the Columbia passed unheeded, for the men who now came to match nerve and muscle against the entrenched mystery were in their natural element when battling with danger and difficulty in the uplifting air, and, like the eagle sailing high, were never more at home than when pushing their daring tread into some virgin valley, where falling waters broke the calm and fostered multitudes of beaver, where game bounded from every nook and glade, and the rich bunch-grass fattened their patient horses. Here with traps, a good rifle, and plenty of ammunition, notwithstanding encounters with the native striving to preserve his happy hunting-grounds, their lives were full of pleasure and that resolute and healthy vigour which comes to the intelligent man alert to protect life and limb. They appeared to have been born for this particular operation of breaking the final strongholds of the Wilderness. 230

In the Mountain Wilderness—Vulture Peak.

Photograph by R. H. Chapman, U. S. Geol. Survey.

The whole western region, being at a greater elevation than two thousand feet, the air is extremely invigorating. This desirable quality, with the absence of continuous rains from the larger part, renders it an ideal country for living in the open. Even in dead of winter the dry air causes the cold to be more easily borne than the same degree in moister regions. Those who have never tried it can hardly appreciate the pleasure of winter living out-of-doors; nor can they realise the alluring interest of unknown country, where now and then from some splendid height the wide encircling problem is viewed for leagues, or till merged in the haze of distant sky. Perchance a film of smoke steals up from some blue, deep glen to mark the presence of dwellers in the wilds. Toward evening the night mists draw earth and sky together, and the mountain billows seem interminable and impossible. Another sun lights the mystery, and the stranger gropes on expecting surprises at every step. 231

Before Sunrise.

From Wonderland, 1904, Northern Pacific Railway.

The extreme hardship that sometimes was endured was frequently due to wrong decisions or inadequate outfit; or from going ahead too fast. The born mountaineer and explorer, however, meets with few setbacks because he does not know a setback when he sees it. He fits into the Wilderness without effort, and drifts across it as summer clouds cleave a tranquil sky. Many of the American trappers of this period had been reared to life in the woods of the East; the rifle was their childhood's toy. Through sheer love of adventure they were impelled to the wider Wilderness, and quickly adjusted themselves to new conditions. They could have been anywhere readily distinguished. With compact muscles and solid frame, partners of fresh air, exercise, and simple fare, they had a clear, wide gaze, flinching before neither man nor beast; and unfailing nerve that often whipped prospective disaster to success.

The routine of the frontier and especially of the deeper Wilderness precluded any great lapse from physical excellence. When a man was alive he was generally well. Indeed, the average American trapper had a constitution that seemed invincible. Besides this his moral fibre was usually excellent. His word was good, his dealings with his fellows honourable. 232 Money he cared less for than freedom. Cheerfully he risked his life for another. The code of law was unwritten, but it was well understood; punishment for serious offences was swift and certain. Crimes against white men were proportionately less than in a modern city; but when it came to dealings and intercourse with the Amerind conscience was paralysed. They also rated his blood at about the price of water, and out of this, for them and for the nation, came deep and lasting trouble. But, on the whole, they were a class to be much admired; some of their names, like Bridger and Kit Carson, are imperishably woven into history and literature; others, like Jedediah Smith, are to the general reader unknown.

Green River Valley.

Photograph by C. R. Savage.

This period opens with the death of the dominant figure of the Missouri River trade from the beginning of the century, especially from the date of the Louisiana Purchase, Manuel Lisa, who made his last voyage in 1820 and then closed the epoch, and his own earthly account, forever. He may have had all the faults charged against him, but nevertheless he seems not to have committed any grave offence, and he possessed commanding ability, so that his life appears to balance well. In a letter to General Clark, Superintendent of the Western Tribes, resigning the position of sub agent, which he had held for three years—1814 to 1817,—he explains his influence over the natives by his fair dealing and by his kindness to them. He gave them pumpkin, potato, and other seed; his blacksmiths worked for them without charge; he lent them traps, and his forts were the refuge of the old and feeble. He was the most active man of his period. But the beginning of this decade saw another active man come to the top, the man who started the actual breaking of the Rocky Mountain Wilderness, and who, with his employees and the "free" trappers and freebooters who followed their lead, soon penetrated the secret places of Mexican territory. This was William H. Ashley, a brigadier-general of militia in Missouri, the first lieutenant-governor, and later twice a member of Congress from the newly created State. He was a Virginian who came to St. Louis in 1802, the year before the transfer of Louisiana. He was then twenty-four, a man of education, 233 of great executive ability, and of unfaltering courage. He was forty-eight when the third decade of the century opened, with which his name is so closely associated that it might almost be called the Ashley decade. Not that he was the first to cross the mountain barrier into Mexican territory, for Etienne Provost (Provo) had gone to Salt Lake in the very first year, and there were others, of whom little or no record is preserved. Samuel Adams Ruddock, in 1821, went from Council Bluffs to Santa Fé and thence north, apparently about on the line of Escalante's old trail, to Salt Lake valley, performing a memorable journey, but Ashley was the master organiser who dealt the obstinate Wilderness its death-blow, battering a permanent breach that was quickly widened. In 1822 he built a fort on the Yellowstone. With twenty-eight men, the following year, he started to make his first attack on the frontal 234 mountains. The Arikaras by this time had more than ever determined to obstruct the entrance of the whites into their territory and sharply repelled the company, killing fourteen of the party and wounding ten. Such an overwhelming defeat would have completely vanquished many leaders, but Ashley, who had a large investment in this venture, did not falter, and next year, 1824, when the time came to move on he was ready, and they marched to success.

With him were a number of men soon to become celebrated in Wilderness breaking, among them Andrew Henry, who had crossed the Continental Divide to Snake River as early as 1809; Fitzpatrick, William Sublette, Green, after whom Green River is supposed to have been named; Jim Bridger, then a youth of nineteen; and the extremely religious as well as unflinching trapper, Jedediah Smith, one of the boldest, strongest, most skilful, and altogether admirable characters of the time, a veritable knight in buckskin, whose career was a continual romance. Andrew Henry, who, as mentioned, had long before explored and trapped in the country, in connection with Lisa and the Missouri Fur Company, at the time when he established the fort on the head of Snake River, which Wilson Price Hunt visited and temporarily occupied, had then discovered South Pass, a discovery which has been erroneously awarded to others of a later time. Of course, even he only followed an Amerind trail. Ashley led his band up the North Platte, about on the track of Robert Stuart's eastward journey from Astoria of 1812-13, named the Sweetwater Branch, and passed over to Green River Valley, an inviting basin surrounded by high mountains, the Wind River range on the north, and on the south the point where the Green, then commonly called the Colorado, Spanish River, or the Seedskedee, enters the Uinta range by Flaming Gorge, the first of the thousand miles of canyons now celebrated, which enclose the river and, together with the rush of descending waters, make travelling by it hazardous. This Green River Valley was adopted as the rendezvous—that is, the point where all the trapping parties, separating to pursue the hunt for rich beaver streams, should again meet the following year to deliver pelts for shipment to 235 St. Louis. The locality for a long time afterward was the central meeting-place for mountain men and was known far and wide.

Many of the trappers and traders of the early days wrote or dictated books, and there is consequently a large amount of literature bearing on the subject, but others, like Ashley, whose story would to-day be invaluable, apparently recorded little. Yet some journals may still come to light, for it was not long ago that Coues discovered and printed that of Jacob Fowler, who, in 1821-22, went across to Santa Fé in company with Hugh Glenn.[84] Fowler and Glenn built the first real house on or near the site of Pueblo, Colorado, and occupied it for about a month. Then they went on to Taos and Santa Fé. Glenn had a permit from the Mexican authorities to trap and trade in their territory. The route was over the Sangre de Cristo Pass by the regular trail, for many years travelled by Spaniards, who inherited it from the natives. It passed down to Trinchera Valley, in San Luis Park, where the sketch was made which forms the frontispiece to this volume.

Fowler and his companions met with difficulties from Spaniards, from lack of food, from Amerinds, and from bears. The "white bear," or grizzly, at that time was numerous everywhere, and the guns of the hunters being small-bore, muzzle-loading flint-locks, they were of small service in a battle with one of these impervious monsters. The cry of "white bear" was almost as alarming as that of "Indians." On one occasion a bear ran for shelter into a dense thicket of ten or twenty acres near camp, where Glenn and four others pursued him. As is usual with them, the bear kept quiet till the men were directly upon him, when he rose and attacked Lewis Dawson. Glenn's gun missed fire, but a dog worrying the animal Dawson was able to get away, though only momentarily, for the ponderous beast was again quickly upon him. Glenn's gun missed a second time. Dawson ran up a tree, but the bear caught him by the leg and pulled him down. Meanwhile Glenn, in another tree, sharpened his gun flint, reprimed his piece, and put a ball into the enemy. Several others now coming up also shot 237 and the bear was killed. But Dawson was badly hurt. He was helped to camp, where, in Fowler's own words and spelling,

"His wounds Ware Examined—it appears His Head Was In the Bares mouth at least twice—and that when the monster give the Crush that Was to mash the mans Head it being two large for the Span of His Mouth the Head Sliped out only the teeth Cutting the Skin to the bone Where Ever the touched it—so that the skin of the Head Was Cut from about the Ears to the top in Several derections—all of Which Wounds Ware Sewed up as Well as Cold be don by men In our Situation."

Arrow Weed in the Yuma Country.

Photograph by Delancy Gill.

Dawson declared he had heard his skull break, but as he was cheerful this was supposed to be imagination, yet on the second day he grew delirious, and then a hole, supposed before to be slight, was found to be so deep that the brain was oozing out. The man died on the third day and was buried, of course, on the spot. They were all sorry, but there was no time for lamentations, nor necessity for them. The bear was skinned, the oil tried out, Dawson's effects sold to his companions, and the party proceeded, having painted another picture of the risk of breaking the Wilderness with a flint-lock gun. The disaster, however, like many another, was the result of rashness,—in this case the plunging into a thicket where a grizzly lay concealed.

A noted trapper and scout, belonging to what may be termed the freebooter class, of which Edward Rose was another but worse example, was James P. Beckwourth, who years afterward, 1854-55, dictated a somewhat bombastic but highly interesting story of his adventures, from which we learn something about Ashley, in whose employ he was for several years.[85] Beckwourth was a mulatto, part French, and Parkman 238 describes him,[86] from hearsay, as "a ruffian of the worst stamp, bloody and treacherous, without honour or honesty," a rather extreme and apparently unjust description. He performed valuable services at times, and, while wild and reckless, seems to have possessed a fair amount of honour and honesty. He knew the Amerinds well, particularly the Crows, in which nation he became a chief, and he declares the natives knew that the whites cheated them; an important point in judging the course of the various tribes. He was young when he first went with Ashley—twenty-six,—but was one of the most active men in the party—at least from his own story. At this time Ashley's main camp was placed at or near the lower end of Green River Valley, and the General determined, 1825, to descend the river through the canyon to search for fresh beaver ground. It has been stated that he intended returning to St. Louis by this route, thinking the Colorado (Green) discharged into the Gulf of Mexico, but this is disproved by the fact that he did not take his fur packs along. He was merely searching for more beaver. The boats were rude affairs made of buffalo hides and were not at all adequate to the demands of the fierce current, which carries one along with great impetuosity. Just below the camp was some rapid water called "Green River Suck," and this was probably at the mouth of Henry's Fork, where the river first breaks into the rocks of the Uinta Mountains, extending across its path, forming Flaming Gorge and other canyons. For several miles below this the canyons are short and not difficult to get in or out of, then Red Canyon suddenly closes in and for twenty-five miles the bounding rocks are high, steep, red sandstone, reaching at the highest twenty-five hundred feet for a long distance, while the water is torrential. Ashley's was the first attempt to navigate the upper waters of the Colorado, a reckless procedure with such boats, for they had no idea what might be encountered. The stream falls about 450 feet before emerging into Brown's Park, or "Hole," as it was originally named, after Brown, a trapper 239 who once lived there. From the term "Hole" some writers have been misled into supposing that this is a very dangerous part of the river, and that it was there that Ashley met his great danger; but, on the contrary, the Hole is one of the few openings, or wide valleys, on the Colorado, and the river meanders through it quite tamely, with level banks and cottonwood groves. Therefore it was between the foot of Green River Valley and this Hole, now Brown's Park, that Ashley lost two of his boats, risked his life in the rapids, and nearly starved to death. Some have laid his trail through the Canyon 240 of Lodore, but this follows Brown's Park, where escape is easy.

Red Canyon of Green River.

Length 25 miles. Walls 1800 to 2500 feet high. Average width of water 250 feet. Ashley was the first white man to pass through this gorge.

The men grew weak and disheartened, and after six days without food they reached the limit of endurance. They proposed drawing lots, according to Beckwourth, to see which one should die to create food for the others. But Ashley implored them to postpone this hideous alternative at least another twenty-four hours, and meanwhile led them rapidly forward in the hope of coming to the end of the gorge. This fortunately they did, and came out into Brown's Hole to find Provost camped there with abundant provisions and horses. With him they went across the mountains to Salt Lake, and thence back to the rendezvous.

Ashley, 1825

Owing to frequent battles between the Hudson Bay Company and the North-west Company, both of which operated mainly north of the 42d parallel west of the Rocky Mountains, and north of the 49th east of them, these companies in 1821 were merged under the Hudson Bay title. Astoria had been abandoned and their chief fort in the Columbia region was Vancouver, just above the mouth of the Willamet. Their trappers ranged the whole northern country, and at Salt Lake Ashley met one of their chief men, Peter Skeen Ogden, with a large quantity of furs which he succeeded in buying at rates that much pleased him, especially as he was now heavily in debt. With these he returned to the rendezvous, where soon the trappers came in with splendid packs of furs, which, could they be safely delivered in St. Louis, would immediately retrieve the General's fortune and enlarge it.

Ashley Fall, Red Canyon, Green River.

Ashley's name was found on right on the picture on one of the huge fallen rocks, about at the top of the old dead tree.

The fact of his entrance into Red Canyon and the date are recorded, apparently by Ashley's own hand, "Ashley, 1825," on a large rock on the left bank of the river, over a sharp drop in the water, in the upper portion of the canyon. Of this I made a copy in 1871 and append a reproduction. The rapid, or fall, at this point is named after the bold General, Ashley Fall. The account of the canyon trip is from Beckwourth, to whom the General told it. I have never seen any other. I cannot understand 242 why they did not climb out, which could have been done in many places; and the heights abounded in game. Perhaps the reason was that, constantly expecting the end of the gorge, they went on till hunger caused the high walls to seem unscalable; or perhaps they were not in such desperate straits for food as Beckwourth declares.

His rich cargo of pelts Ashley took to St. Louis by way of the Yellowstone and the Missouri, building boats for the purpose. On the way he met General Atkinson, an old friend, who had been sent by the Government up the Missouri for the purpose of driving out Hudson Bay trappers. These did not then much intrude into that region, so his task was a light one. Ashley reached St. Louis at last with the furs and from being in debt became rich. He treated his men handsomely, putting them up at the best hotel with carte blanche as to orders, paid wages in full, and for faithful service gave each a present of three hundred dollars and a suit of clothes. Ashley thus was more successful with his enterprise than Lord Selkirk was with one he embarked in to settle the Red River country in what is now Manitoba. He obtained in 1811 a large grant there, but the North-west Company opposed him, not desiring to see the country civilised, and finally after battles and bloodshed the colony collapsed.

The year following his very successful return, Ashley, 1826, went again to the mountains, taking a six-pounder with him all the way to Utah Lake, then called Ashley's Lake, where he built a fort. His men had ramified in every direction, busily trapping during his absence. It was in the winter of 1824-25 that Bridger, to decide a bet between two comrades as to where Bear River emptied, was selected to trace the stream from their camp in Cache Valley, to find out. Thus he came to Salt Lake and tasted its waters. The report he took back to the camp caused the men to believe that this salt water was an arm of the sea, an idea which was not dispelled till the spring of 1826, when four of the men circumnavigated it in a skin canoe, searching for beaver streams. Robert Campbell, who was in Cache Valley when the party came back, is firm in awarding the honour of discovering Salt Lake to Bridger, but 243 as Provost had been in that neighbourhood as early as 1820 he may have seen the lake before Bridger, and it has been asserted that he did.

The treatment of the natives was often abominable, and each year the breach between whites and Amerinds widened. Clarke, of the Astoria enterprise, had hung a Nez Perce in full view of his comrades because he stole a silver mug, and it was such treatment as this, and the shooting of them for "fun," that convinced them they must eternally fight the white man's advance. They therefore adopted various methods. One favourite exploit was to run away with horses, to accomplish which they would sometimes pretend friendship. These incidents were sudden and startling. Beckwourth relates this one: "We encamped that night, keeping a strong guard, and saw all round us, as far as the eye could extend, numerous signal fires." At daylight operations began. The cry went up:

"The ropes are cut! Shoot them down! Rifles began to crack, and six of the Indians fell, five of whom were instantly scalped (for scalps are taken off with greater ease while the bodies are warm), and the remaining Indian having crawled into the river after receiving his wound, his scalp was lost. One of their chiefs was among the slain. He was shot in our camp before he had time to make his retreat."

The Blackfeet were always hostile to everybody, white or red, and the Arapahos and Sioux were apt to be. Some tribes were friendly most of the time; others were friendly all the time.

Beckwourth describes numerous bloody engagements, especially when he was a chief among the Crows, but doubtless these accounts must be somewhat discounted. Once he and Sublette dragged a wounded Amerind away from the enemy's lines, although the desperate fellow clung to the grass and made it a difficult task. They placed him for execution before one of their own men, who had been wounded, in order that this man might have the satisfaction of killing one of the hated race. "But," says Beckwourth, "the poor fellow had 244 not strength sufficient to perforate the Indian's skin with his knife, and we were obliged to perform the job ourselves."

Ashley finally sold out his interest to Sublette, Fitzpatrick, and others, who made up the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, and himself returned to St. Louis to settle down and enjoy the large income now his from the success of his energy and judgment. He never went to the mountains again. He had "handsome grounds" about his house, and enclosed within them one or two of the ancient mounds which then were common on the site of St. Louis. At this time in St. Louis there was a variety of architecture. There were broad, steep-roofed stone houses of the French; tall stuccoed dwellings with tiers "of open corridors above them, like a once showy but half-defaced galleon in a fleet of battered frigates,"—the houses of the Spaniards; and the "clipper-built brick houses of the Americans—light as a Baltimore schooner and pert as a Connecticut smack." The population was seven or eight thousand, extremely varied with plenty of trappers and frontiersmen, who "think as much of an Indian encounter as a New York blood does of a spree with a watchman."

Ashley was a popular man in every way and was twice elected to Congress from his State. Beckwourth relates the parting incidents when Ashley left his men in the mountains: "We were all sorry to part with the General.... There was always something encouraging in his manner; no difficulty dejected him; kind and generous in his disposition, he was loved equally by all.... He left the camp amid deafening cheers from the whole crowd." The Rocky Mountain Fur Company prospered under Sublette and Fitzpatrick, though the enormous returns of the first years could not again be secured. As every company had from forty or fifty to several hundred men constantly at work, the beaver ranks were rapidly thinned, and profits correspondingly diminished.

Lower Falls of the Yellowstone.

From Wonderland, 1901, Northern Pacific Railway.

The Blackfeet were the greatest scourge to the region, occupying toward the country around the headwaters of the Missouri something the same relation that the Iroquois did to the Ohio valley, and the Apaches to the New Mexican territory. Sometimes they were met in the most unexpected way, 245 as in the case of a trapper named Clyburn, who with one companion was on his way to the rendezvous of his company with the furs of a whole season. As they turned through some timber to cross a stream they rode squarely into a Blackfoot camp. Escape was impossible. Clyburn did not waver for a second, but rode calmly to the head chief's tipi, where he proclaimed himself a friend who wished to pass the night under his protection. The chief received them coldly, ordered his women to unpack the horses, and demanded from the men an account of themselves, also how they dare intrude on his hunting-ground. These questions were evaded and the men tried to swallow some of the food placed before them, though they felt little like eating. Clyburn overheard the chief say they must be killed. He told his mate and instructed him to watch closely and follow every move he made. When it grew nearly dark and the warriors were somewhat off their guard, Clyburn suddenly broke for the river, a hundred yards off, with his companion beside him. There were wild yells, shots, confusion. Clyburn swam the stream, hid beneath a shelving bank, and when the search was abandoned looked about for the other man. He was nowhere to be found and was never heard of again. Clyburn succeeded in reaching the rendezvous, where he refitted and once more went to the beaver grounds. He had engaged for five years, and when his time was up he started for the East. Going to hunt where the river made a large bend, he missed the boat, and as they never waited for any one he was alone on the plains and struck out on foot for Council Bluffs, a thousand miles away, where he finally arrived 246 with barely strength enough to creep on all fours. These men never gave up. Never did their nerve give way, never did they admit defeat; it might crush them, but as long as a heart throb remained they fought against it. Death alone could check their efforts to retrieve a desperate situation. Two fine examples of the highest type of the Wilderness breaker were a father and son by the name of Pattie. Sylvester, the father, was about forty-four, who had moved to Missouri from that State famous for great hunters,—Kentucky. He was familiar with frontier warfare, having served as lieutenant in the army against Amerind foes. Courageous and intelligent beyond the average, he was held in high esteem. The death of his wife induced a species of melancholia, and on the advice of friends he sold his property and fitted out, in 1824, a trapping expedition to divert his mind. Distributing his children among relatives, he yielded to the pleadings of his son, James O., then about twenty, and added him to his party. His goal was the upper Missouri, the region then most talked about, but on arriving at Council Bluffs with his men and ten horses loaded with materials for a trapping and trading campaign, the commanding officer of the post refused him permission to proceed as he had no license, not having known that one would be required.

He was not to be easily thwarted. The Santa Fé trade was growing and he decided to turn his course in that direction. Selling his extra arms he bought more goods for this trade, and then joined one Pratte, whom they had met on the way to Council Bluffs, and who was preparing for the Santa Fé journey. Sylvester Pattie was elected to command the combined parties, many of the men having served as rangers under him. There were 116 all told, with several hundred horses and mules. Pattie conducted the affairs of the caravan methodically and skilfully and they went up the Platte without any drawbacks. The Pawnees welcomed them cordially, even affectionately, and their intercourse would have been altogether agreeable had not a war party come in at a village of Pawnee Loups having with it a child captive, whose mother had been killed and scalped. This harrowing spectacle of the unfortunate 247 little redskin probably brought Pattie's own children more vividly before him, and he offered to buy the boy, but the Pawnees prepared to burn him as a part of their victory celebration. The chief was unreasonably greedy in negotiating to spare the child, so the Pattie outfit decided to take the little prisoner away by force. The thongs binding him, over which the flesh had swelled till they were not visible, were removed, and he was sent to their camp. With arms in readiness, Pattie told the chief they meant to keep the boy. He asked if they thought they could do it, to which Pattie replied that they would or every man would die in the attempt. "Save your powder and lead to kill buffaloes and your enemies," the chief said, and accepted the offer of goods. The incident is worth relating as it shows the temper of the Patties, and many other trappers, who would lightly risk their lives and all their possessions to save an unfortunate little Amerind child.

One day farther on they met with some other natives. The little boy was playing about the camp as usual when the attention of the white men was suddenly attracted by loud screams and cries.

"Looking up we saw our little boy in the arms of an Indian whose neck he was closely clasping, as the Indian pressed him to his bosom, kissing him and crying at the same time. As we moved towards the spot, the Indian approached us still holding the child in his arms; and falling on his knees made us a long speech which we understood only through his signs."

This was the father of the boy.

White bears were met and one of their men was "literally torn to pieces" by one and died five days after. Pattie counted in one day 220 of these grizzlies. A few days farther on they witnessed a great battle between Comanches and Iotans. "The discharge of their firearms and the clashing of their different weapons, together with their war yell and the shrieks of the wounded and dying, were fit accompaniments to the savage actors and scene. The contest lasted about fifteen minutes,"—the Comanches being vanquished. 248

At last they arrived at San Fernandez de Taos and then at Santa Fé, which had a population of about five thousand.

On the Gila River, Arizona.

This is the place chosen for the San Carlos Irrigation Dam.

Photograph by J. B. Lippincott.

With some trouble they obtained permission to trap on the Gila, "a river," says Pattie, "never before explored by white people." They soon came into the country of the Apaches, and one of the men was killed in an advance party. When the Patties came to the point they saw the remains. "They had cut him in quarters after the fashion of butchers. His head with the hat on was stuck on a stake." It was full of arrows.

After considerable manœuvring around New Mexico, James O. Pattie again went trapping down the Gila and its branches to the Colorado River in 1826. Up the Colorado he went to the Grand Canyon, the first American apparently to see it, 249 then across country not far from the great gorge, probably on the north, till they came to Grand River, Colorado, and in April, 1827, they crossed the Continental Divide to the head of the Platte near Long's Peak, whence they proceeded to the Yellowstone, terminating there a remarkable traverse of this part of the Wilderness. Pattie then went back to Santa Fé, where his father had remained, and once more started out, going to the Colorado, where they trapped beaver down to the mouth, intending to go this way to the Spanish settlements, which they thought existed there. Encountering the great tidal bore they were nearly wrecked.[87] They finally struck across for the California missions, suffering greatly for water, and reached St. Catherine's in 1828. Here they were arrested and Pattie the elder at length died in prison. James O., with great difficulty after long captivity, succeeded in freeing himself and returned to his home by way of Mexico, arriving far poorer than when he started with such rosy hopes and his father's strong support. The book which he published is one of the most interesting in the whole range of this literature.[88] Had he chosen to remain in the Wilderness there is no doubt that he would have become one of the most famous of trappers, but the death of his father took the romance out of the life and he cared no longer for adventure.

William Becknell, in 1824, went far west of Santa Fé, and in August of the same year William Huddart, with fourteen men, went from Taos to Green River, and in so calling the stream used the term for the first time on record. Green seems to have been a denizen of Green River Valley before 1820. They probably followed the old Escalante trail approximately. A battle with Arapahos finally compelled Huddart to return to Taos with a part of the company, the others having previously gone north along Green River.

The afterwards celebrated Christopher (Kit) Carson now appears on the scene in New Mexico, 1826, only seventeen 250 years old, but full of that courage, energy, and good judgment which finally placed his name at the top of the list of Wilderness breakers. 1826 was a fruitful year in exploration. Lieutenant Hardy of the British navy came up the Gulf of California in a schooner and entered the Colorado for some distance.

Pattie, the first American to see the Grand Canyon, so far as I can ascertain, had in a general way explored the Colorado from its mouth to the head of its Grand River branch. He had not been able to enter the deep canyons, but he had seen them from above, and had ascertained the character of the great river which for the distance from at least White River to the mouth of the Rio Virgin remained unbroken wilderness for more than forty years longer, the last portion to be vanquished.[89] Pattie's name has been little known in this connection, and his extraordinary journey has not received the recognition it deserves, for it actually holds a place alongside the achievements of great explorers. The same year, 1826, that Pattie made the successful traverse from the mouth of the Gila to the Yellowstone by way of the Colorado and Grand rivers, Jedediah Smith started from Salt Lake with fifteen men and, proceeding south to Utah Lake, thence went southwesterly about on the same trail apparently that Escalante had followed in 1776, till he came to the Virgin River, which he called Adams in honour of the President. He followed it down to its junction with the Seedskedee or Colorado. The Seedskedee or Green River was also known as the Colorado, hence when Smith speaks of the Seedskedee in this region his meaning is perfectly clear.[90]

Headwaters of Virgin River.

Named Adams River by Jedediah Smith in 1826.

Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.

The Mohaves were kind to him and provided food and horses with which he went on to the Mission of San Gabriel in California, the first American on record to go there. He spent the winter trapping, and early in May, 1827, tried to cross the range, probably near the head of the Merced, without success. 251 Another attempt on the 20th of the same month, with two men, seven horses, and two mules, occupied eight days and, with the loss of one mule and two horses, they came down on the eastern flank. In twenty days they were again at Salt Lake. Chittenden thinks they crossed near Sonora Pass. On July 13th of the same year Smith returned to California by his former route down the Virgin. This time the Mojaves, prompted by Spaniards it is said, set upon his party as they were crossing the Colorado, killing ten of his men and capturing everything. Smith at last reached the Spanish settlements where he was thrown into prison. In November he was allowed to go on condition that he would leave Mexican territory. He had left the bulk of his party behind in California, and now brought them together again. He led his men to San Francisco and thence up to the Columbia, meeting with success in trapping all the way. Finally he had 252 accumulated furs worth about twenty thousand dollars and prepared to take them back to Salt Lake. He camped in the Shasta country one night on the south bank of the Umpqua. The Shastas seemed to be entirely friendly and Smith was apparently thrown off his guard. They hung about camp, and in the morning when Smith was on a raft searching for a fording-place for the pack animals, having with him a little Englishman and one of the natives, the latter suddenly seized Smith's gun and jumped into the water. At this moment a wild commotion at the camp indicated an attack there. Smith quickly shot the Shasta with the Englishman's gun, and knowing it would be death to return now to the camp made for the opposite shore and at length succeeded in reaching Fort Vancouver, the North-west-Hudson Bay post on the Columbia at the mouth of the Willamette,—the fort which had taken the place of Astoria, or, more correctly, of Fort George. Besides the Englishman who was with him, only two of his men escaped, Black and Turner, the latter having killed four Shastas with a half-burnt stick which he snatched from the camp-fire at the moment of attack. They were well received at the British fort, and everything was done that was possible to relieve their unfortunate situation. A party was sent to punish the Shastas according to the Hudson Bay Company policy, and the furs and goods were recovered. Sir George Simpson, in charge, offered to send Smith with his furs to London the next summer in the supply ship, but Smith preferred to sell out to Simpson on the spot and in March, 1829, made his way across by way of Snake River toward the rendezvous. Sublette about this time sent out a party to look for him, and they came together in Pierre's Hole. The journey back to Salt Lake from here was easy after what Smith had accomplished. He had executed two circuits around the remaining Unknown; journeys that must ever stand in the front rank with those of Lewis and Clark, Wilson Price Hunt, Robert Stuart, and James O. Pattie, in the breaking of the Wilderness. 253



A Brood of Wilderness Breakers—Kit Carson the Dauntless—Campbell, 1827, Santa Fé to San Diego—Becknell and the Santa Fé Trail—Wheel Tracks in the Wilderness—The Knight in Buckskin Dies—Pegleg Smith the Horse Trader—The Apache Turns Forever against the American—New Mexico the Dreamland—Wolfskill Breaks a Trail to the Pacific—Bonneville, Captain Courteous; and Wyeth, Leader Hopeful—Bonneville Forgets a Duty.

The Mexicans were restless over the advent of the numerous Americans who now appeared in their settled valley, which, for more than a century and a half, had lain completely isolated from the outer world, a lone child of the Wilderness, a sort of dreamland where one day was like another day, and where years rolled into decades, even centuries, without any one knowing it. The Americans, quick, sharp, bluff, energetic, startled these slow people, yet the officials tried to impose on them. Trapping was permitted because the Mexicans did not know how to do it, but after the American had reaped a harvest it was not easy to get away with it, for by some flimsy subterfuge the furs might be confiscated and the trapper on a pretext thrown into prison, as in the case of the Patties in California. Nevertheless the American trapping operations quickly extended over all the New Mexican territory as well as over the region north of the forty-second parallel, still undetermined as to ownership. British mainly operated there. The ten years agreed upon in 1818 between Great Britain and the United States as to this tract expired without their being able to come to an understanding, and the agreement was renewed for a second ten years. Russia came to terms on her southern and eastern boundary, making 254 treaties with the United States and Great Britain, the one with the latter establishing in 1825 the lines of Alaska that were inherited in 1867 by the United States, and only definitely settled in 1903. Matters relating to the Mexican country and to the Oregon region remained therefore for another decade without political change.

Prairie Dogs.

From Wonderland, 1901. Northern Pacific Railway.

The American trappers were not, however, deterred in the slightest degree by boundaries, or diplomacy, or the attempted impositions of the Mexican officials. They plunged, more actively than ever, into their pursuit of the unfortunate beaver, no matter where it led so long as they had rifle in hand, and incidentally they were performing the whole world a service by swinging open the gates of the Wilderness. Kit Carson, one soon to become familiar with almost every part of the 255 vast region, began his exploits in New Mexico in 1826, at the age of seventeen. A whole brood of these remarkable characters appear to have been born at one particular period, as if planned expressly to be thrown at the beginning of their manhood into the vast Wilderness, to reduce it for travel by less dauntless spirits. Carson joined a party of these men to trap down the Gila and its branches in 1828, having spent the winter of 1826-27 at San Fernandez de Taos learning Spanish, so that he was able to converse with the Mexicans here and in California where they went trapping on the Sacramento, finally reaching Santa Fé again, where their furs were sold and the party disbanded. Carson was alert, cool, honourable, exact, with that abounding self-confidence that led him to balk at nothing, and, though so young, move rapidly to the lead. I knew a man of this type, who was so certain that nothing serious could possibly happen to him that he was perfectly nonchalant in every danger, but his eye was always alert, his movements quick as a tiger's, and his aim unflinching and sure.

One incident will serve to show this confidence and quickness of Carson. While on Green River an Amerind stole six horses belonging to the trader Robideau, who had employed him. Carson and a Ute pursued. The Ute's horse gave out and he would not continue on foot, so Carson went on alone thirty miles farther, and came up with the culprit. The thief saw him and rushed for shelter, but Carson fired so skilfully from his horse moving at full speed that he killed the wretch at once. His reputation for skill and daring had spread before he was fairly of age. He fell in with Fitzpatrick, Bridger, Sublette, Smith, and all the rest of the now famous coterie of mountain men who so brilliantly adorned this epoch in the Wilderness, and his career was filled with deeds of wild daring.[91] He engaged one winter to hunt for the men at Fort Davy Crockett, founded in Brown's Hole, and he then became familiar with the course of Green River in that vicinity, though he seems never to have cared to attempt the navigation of its impetuous torrent. The great rendezvous in Green 256 River Valley also saw him often and he described it. At the selected place

"for the rendezvous, in the space of two or three miles upon either side of the river, the bottom spreads out in a broad prairie, and the luxuriant growth of grass, with the country open all about it, made the spot desirable for a large encampment.... A scattered growth of fine old trees furnishes shade at every camp, and immediately about the great tent they afford protection from the sun to parties of card players, or a 'Grocery Stand' at which the principal article of sale is 'whiskey by the glass,' and perhaps further on is a monte table, parties from several Indian tribes, and the pioneer of semi-civilisation—the backwoodsman—has come in with his traps, a few bags of flour, and possibly some cheese and butter, and the never-failing cask of whiskey."[92]

On the Yuma Desert. A Dying Horse.

Photograph by Delancy Gill.


At such a place the trapper, who had led for a whole year his lonely life in the mountains, ran riot for a brief time, as a sailor will after a long voyage; and then he vanished again into the wilds.

Richard Campbell in 1827, with thirty-five men and a pack train, travelled from Santa Fé to San Diego by way of Zuñi, and this part of the continent at last began to be understood. Intercourse between St. Louis and Santa Fé was gradually growing in permanence and importance. Although McKnight, Chambers, Baird, and others had ventured to Santa Fé to trade as early as 1812, the conditions were unfavourable. They were seized as spies and thrown into jail at Chihuahua, where they remained for nine years. Their goods were confiscated. When Iturbide finally succeeded, they were liberated. Glenn and Fowler met them at Taos at the time they arrived.

William Becknell went out in 1821 to trade with the Comanches, but falling in with some Mexican rangers, they persuaded him to go to Santa Fé, where he sold out at prices which netted splendid profits.

In 1822, a man named Cooper with his sons also made the traverse of the plains with a party of about fifteen, arriving at Taos with $5000 worth of goods; and Becknell a month later with thirty men came again with another $5000 worth. He took a more direct route than had been followed before, and his party had a fearful time, nearly dying of thirst in the barren dry region along the Cimarron, a river they were quite near and did not know it. At last when they were on the point of expiring, and some had actually cut off their mules' ears to drink the blood that would flow, they discovered a buffalo fresh from the river bank, its sides distended with water. It was instantly killed and the water it contained saved the party,—a new use for the animal.

This was the real beginning of the famous Santa Fé Trail by which the great annual caravans found their way back and forth between Franklin, on the Missouri, 150 miles west of St. Louis, and the New Mexican capital. Independence finally became the eastern terminal. Gregg has written an admirable account of the Trail, and all who read it will acknowledge their 258 indebtedness for the accuracy, interest, and general excellence of this contribution to Southwestern history.

In 1824, an effort was made to use waggons. A party which had twenty-five wheeled vehicles besides pack-animals, transporting all together about $30,000 worth of merchandise, started and arrived successfully. By government order J. C. Brown then, 1825-27, with chain and compass surveyed the road from Fort Osage to Taos. The natives gave little trouble in the early days of the trail, and Gregg says the great hostility which afterwards developed was partly due to the brutality of the whites in killing natives, whether they had done wrong or not. Instead of mules, oxen were later largely employed. As far as Council Grove the traders usually travelled in detached parties, but there the caravan was made up with some attempt at military form. A captain was always elected, but he had little real control. Gregg crossed in 1831 with a caravan which had nearly one hundred waggons, drawn by mules and oxen in about equal proportions. The value of the goods was $200,000. The party had two cannon, a four- and a six-pounder, for cannon were considered highly desirable for this work at that time. There were two hundred men organized in four divisions. A constant guard was set and all precautions taken to prevent surprise. In Gregg's caravan were several Spanish women who had, with their family, been banished in 1829. The ban having been removed, they were now returning home. They appear to have been the first European women ever to cross the Wilderness from this direction.

The caravans, so far as possible, always proceeded with order and regularity, and it is an illuminating fact that all parties in the Wilderness which had such organisation and systematic movement met with very little trouble. Ashley was another example of this. Everything with him was admirably systematised. Each man knew exactly what he had to do as to the horses and everything else. At night the animals were tethered with a strong rope, attached to a stake two feet long, expressly made for this and fortified with an iron band at the top and an iron point. His party was divided into three or four sections with his most confidential men in command, and 259 the sections were subdivided into messes under reliable men. When they went into camp, the position of each mess was assigned, and they arranged their baggage, saddles, etc., as a breastwork in case of attack in the night. The stock were watered and turned over to the horse guard who kept them on good grass nearby till sunset, when each man brought in the horses under his care, put on a stronger halter, set his stakes, and otherwise prepared the animals for a comfortable night. Guard was set regularly, of course, and in the early morning, if in dangerous country, two men mounted and scouted the neighbourhood before any others were permitted to leave the breastworks. On the march, scouts were constantly thrown ahead, on the sides, and to the rear. No enemy could surprise Ashley's parties, and they were also enabled to cover ground rapidly.

"In this way [says Ashley] I have marched parties of men the whole way from St. Louis to the vicinity of Grand Lake, which is situated about 150 miles down the waters of the Pacific Ocean, in seventy-eight days. In the month of March, 1827, I fitted out a party of sixty men, mounted a piece of artillery (a four-pounder) on a carriage which was drawn by two mules; the party marched to or near the Grand Salt Lake beyond the Rocky Mountains, remained there one month, stopped on the way back fifteen days, and returned to Lexington in the western part of Missouri in September, where the party was met with everything necessary for another outfit, and did return (using the same horses and mules) to the mountains by the last of November in the same year."

This proves what good planning and proper organisation will do. Had Wilson Price Hunt been as scientific and as cautious as Ashley, his great traverse would have been exempt from the harrowing disasters which followed it so relentlessly. From that day to this, suffering and failure have more often been due to contempt for adequate preparation than to any other single cause.

The caravans of the Santa Fé Trail, also, moved with considerable regularity and order, but their make-up was more heterogeneous and there was no dominating control. Where 260 there were many waggons, they marched in three or four parallel columns, "but in broken lines, often at intervals of many rods between." At night they were arranged in a quadrangle with a gap left at the rear corner as an entrance for the animals, which after grazing for a few hours were shut up in this corral of waggons. One of the difficulties was the stampede. This frequently started from some slight cause. The oxen, even if yoked, dashed at headlong speed across the plain, with the mules and horses intermingled. Oxen when frightened were the most difficult to control and did not recover their calm as speedily as horses and mules.

Mules were the most advantageous, but were also the most expensive. They possessed one characteristic which was useful as well as peculiar. They could detect the presence or the approach of an Amerind long before it could be learned in any other way, but I have seldom seen this peculiarity noted. It was indicated by a restlessness, a pricking up of the ears, and a general alertness as of a dog approaching game. When I have been riding a mule in the mountains, I have often been apprised of the approach of natives in this way, before I noticed any other sign. I am satisfied that no Amerind could ever approach on the windward a mule not accustomed to them, without being discovered. It used to afford us amusement when an Amerind guide tried to mount a mule, and we sometimes were forced to hold the animal securely till he could get on. With usual mule perversity, once the native was in the saddle the scene calmed, only to be repeated when he tried mounting again.

A cry of "Indians!" set the caravan in commotion, and amidst great excitement all prepared for defence. If the party were a large one it was seldom troubled, hence all who wished to cross combined, forming an annual caravan for mutual protection which went out and back at fixed periods, but sometimes small parties ran the risk of crossing alone.

An Old Beaver Haunt.

Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.

In the winter of 1832-33, twelve men with their baggage and about $10,000 in specie left New Mexico for the States. They met a large body of Comanches and Kiowas, who approached one by one and in small bodies till they were all 262 beside the travellers, who began to move on. A man named Pratt, trying to herd in two mules, was shot. A battle then opened. The white men made a breastwork of their packs and fought desperately for thirty-six hours, when they made an effort to escape in the night. The owners of the money told all to help themselves, and what could not be carried was buried in the sand, where the Comanches afterwards found it. The men stole away as quietly as possible in the darkness. Five went west and at last reached a Creek village near the Arkansas where they were kindly received. Only two of the others succeeded in getting out of the Wilderness.

It was on the Santa Fé Trail in 1831 that the famous Jedediah Smith finally lost his life. With his partners, Jackson and Sublette, he had gone into the Santa Fé trade and was on his way to that capital. In his remarkable career he had escaped many dangers, and he was still a very young man, but his hour was approaching. He started for Santa Fé over the general route, but after leaving the Arkansas became lost among the multitudinous buffalo trails. Gregg says: "He was one of the most undaunted spirits that ever traversed the Rocky Mountains, and if one half of what has been told of him be true ... he would surely be entitled to one of the most exalted seats in the Olympus of Prairie Mythology." There was something highly dramatic in the lonely simplicity of this dauntless trapper's death amidst a wide barren waste, at the hands of the race he had so often successfully opposed and eluded. He set off alone to find water for his party in the dreary expanse of the Cimarron desert, when on mounting a hill he perceived what appeared to be a small river. It was the sandy bed of the deceptive Cimarron. Smith scooped out a basin in the moist sand and waited for the water to fill it, unconscious of a band of Comanches lurking near. As he stooped to drink, an arrow pierced him. With the indomitable tenacity and power that so often had carried him through danger, he returned the fire and two or three of the enemy paid with their lives the penalty of bringing the gallant knight in buckskin to the ground. The picture was exactly the composition one would expect to find surrounding the last hour of this eminent 263 and characteristic breaker of the Wilderness. His task was done. Beside the treacherous Cimarron his bones are forgotten, but his splendid fearlessness, his even justice, and his bold enterprise in cleaving the silent mysteries have consecrated the sands that drank his blood and dedicated the Wilderness to a lofty future.

The Heart of the Sierra.

Photograph by Watkins.

He had a brother, Thomas L. Smith, equally energetic and fearless, but who lacked the refined moral tone of Jedediah. He was widely known in the Wilderness, though more after the manner of Rose and Beckwourth. "Pegleg" Smith was his ordinary title because one leg had been cut off below the knee. It had been so badly hurt in a battle that under Pegleg's direction an Amerind companion amputated it with a hunting knife and a keyhole saw. A wooden leg was then substituted. This did not materially interfere with Pegleg's peculiar business, stealing horses from the Mexicans and 264 Californians, and trading horses, for he was in the saddle a great deal and that was home to him. His operations had a wide range. On one raid he succeeded with the aid of Beckwourth and a band of Amerinds in getting out of California by the southern route with about three thousand head; but, after the United States acquired the Mexican territories, he gave up his raids as he would not operate against his own countrymen.

The frontiersmen—trappers, hunters, and traders—had little respect for the Mexicans, and the treatment which the cupidity of the officials led them to bestow on trappers who came into their power tended to widen the breach. All along the line, therefore, fires of resentment were smouldering which before long were to break into flame and consume the Mexican power in this quarter.

Gregg, who was nine years among them, said of the Mexicans[93]:

"They have no stability except in artifice; no profundity except for intrigue; qualities for which they have acquired an unenviable celebrity. Systematically cringing and subservient while out of power, as soon as the august mantle of authority falls upon their shoulders, there are but little bounds to their arrogance and vindictiveness of spirit."

The Wilderness breaker had no fear whatever of these people, but much contempt for them. A few trappers were generally a match for half an army of Mexicans. Milton Sublette, a well-known trapper, brother of William Sublette, while in New Mexico with Ewing Young, had his furs, which he had concealed, seized and confiscated. The packs being damp were spread out to dry, and Sublette recognised some unquestionably belonging to him. Before the eyes of the whole garrison he carried these away,

"and concealed both them and his own person in a house opposite. The entire military force was immediately put in requisition and a general search made for the offender and his prize—but in vain 265 ... the troops seemed to have as little desire to find Sublette as the latter had of being found; for his character was too well known to leave room for hope that his capture could be effected without a great deal of trouble."

The governor, Armijo, "raved and threatened—had some cannon pointed at the house—declaring he would batter it down—but all to no purpose." Sublette finally got away with the furs.

For amusements, Santa Fé occupied itself largely with bull-baiting, cock-fighting, dancing, and gambling. A considerable trade was carried on with the Apaches, war materials and whiskey being exchanged for mules and other property stolen from settlements to southward. The Sonoran Government issued a proclamation declaring all booty that might be taken from savages to belong to the captors, which led a party of foreigners under the lead of an American to visit a large camp of about fifty warriors with their families. Among these was Juan José, a famous chief who had been educated at Chihuahua, and who had harassed the Mexicans terribly. José was willing to either fight or trade,

"but on being assured that it was a trading party a friendly interview was immediately established. A small field-piece which had been concealed was loaded with chain and canister and held in readiness. The warriors were then invited to the white men's camp to receive a present of flour which was placed within range of the cannon. While the Apaches were dividing this they were fired on and a number were killed. The remainder were then attacked, and about twenty slain, including José and other chiefs. Those who escaped became afterwards their own avengers in a manner which proved terribly disastrous to another party of Americans who happened at the same time to be trapping on the Rio Gila not far distant. They massacred every one—about fifteen."[94]

A Rose of New Mexico.

Photograph by C. C. Pierce & Co.

From this time forth the Apaches became the open, deadly foe of all Americans as they had previously been of the Mexicans. It became all round a war of extermination which ended 266 only when General Crook, many years later, finally captured the last famous warrior, Geronimo. The Apache has been much reviled, and he certainly was a terror and made that portion of the Wilderness a dangerous place for Mexicans and Americans, yet, estimated judicially, he seems to have had some right on his side, and he was not more cruel or treacherous 267 than the whites. He went under eventually because of the overpowering numbers of his opponents, but, considering all the circumstances, it is doubtful if any people ever made a braver or more determined stand against their acknowledged enemies and oppressors than did the Apaches.

Gold mines were now worked in New Mexico, El Real de Dolores, the chief one, turning out about $75,000 a year between 1832-35. It was opened in 1828. The gold was washed out in wooden bowls. No foreigners were allowed to work mines, but, as noted, they were permitted to trap because the Mexicans did not know how to do this. Besides, the governor would often confiscate the results of the trapper's labours, and this was an easy way of making money. Silver mines had been only slightly worked in earlier days and not at all for a century. The copper mines near Socorro were the most successful in the country, at least till the gold mines began to be opened.

Everything was primitive. Sawed lumber was unknown. The buildings were mainly of adobe. Vehicles were carretas (carts) with wheels hewn out of a cottonwood log, with an additional segment pinned on each edge and dressed into an irregular circle (see page 177), and required three or four yokes of oxen to draw them. Ploughs were no more than a log with a branch left on for a handle and a sharp stick attached for a share. Agriculture was correspondingly primitive in its returns, yet, thanks to irrigation, there was generally an abundance of what was needed. Sheep were bred in enormous numbers, as many as two hundred thousand to five hundred thousand being driven to market in one year. Horses and cattle were also numerous, and the skill of the vaquero, or herder, in riding and throwing the lasso was unsurpassed. No horse was too fractious to ride, and he could catch an animal by any limb he chose.

A favourite article of diet was the tortillas, made of corn boiled in water with a little lime till soft enough for the skin to come off. Then it was ground to a paste on the metate a flat stone, and formed into a thin cake, which was spread on a sheet of iron or copper, called a comal (comalli), and placed over 268 the fire, where it baked in two or three minutes. A sort of thin mush called atole was a favourite drink, and there were also wine, and a sort of strong liquor called aguardiente or ratafia (Taos lightning). Taken all in all the American trapper did not have such a bad time in New Mexico after it left the hands of Spain, so far as the people were concerned, and had they despised the Mexicans less, matters would have been pleasanter, though, as Gregg says, the government was whimsical and oppressive, as much, however, to Mexicans as to Americans.

On the Gila.

Photograph by J. B. Lippincott.

A high tariff was laid on goods from the United States, though it was generally compromised on the Mexican frontier. When Governor Armijo, however, came in he imposed a tax of $500 on every waggon, no matter what its size or contents. The result was that waggons grew to the limit in proportions, and Armijo was obliged to go back to ad valorem assessments. 269 Between the Missouri River and the mountains there were no settlements then, above Texas.

Thomas Forsyth, who had long experience among the people of the Wilderness, said he thought that in most misunderstandings the fault was with the white people. He told of a young agent on the Missouri River who cut off the ears of a half-breed because, when drunk, he had spoken disrespectfully of the Americans. Another agent on the Mississippi turned out of the guard-house an innocent Indian to others, his enemies, who butchered him in the presence of the whole garrison. Forsyth remarks, also: "In my intercourse with the Indians for the last forty years I never found that coercive measures ever had any good effect with them, but that conciliatory measures always tended to produce every purpose required."

The intercourse between the tribes of the Wilderness and the whites was rapidly increasing, and this period—1830 to 1840—saw many hard conflicts and much bloodshed, some of it, at least, entirely unnecessary. The whites came with the firm belief that every native was an enemy, and they sometimes took the precaution to shoot first and apologise, if at all, afterwards.

Trappers and traders were now operating over all the Wilderness excepting the portion which at present forms the central part of the State of Nevada. As yet this had not been traversed by any but Jedediah Smith for it was generally barren and streamless, with no beaver. Of course, much of the remainder was still unexplored, yet the general character was understood. Books on the fur trade are apt to give so little account of the trapping operations in the South-west that the reader obtains the impression that there was nothing done there, but while no large company operated, bands of trappers for years ranged the Gila and its tributaries, the lower Colorado, the Virgin, the Rio Grande, the Sevier, and other streams in the south-western country where beaver abounded and where some rich hauls were made, sometimes to be confiscated by the Mexican officials or lost through the difficulties of travel in that country. 270

William Wolfskill and a party of trappers in 1830 opened a route to California, going north from Santa Fé across the head of the San Juan, across Grand River, and Green River, the latter in what is now Gunnison Valley, thence across the Wasatch to the western base, and south along that through Mountain Meadows and across the Beaver Dam mountains. Thence it followed down the Virgin River almost to the Colorado, where it struck across the desert to Los Angeles. For many years afterwards this was used and in time came to be known as "the Old Spanish Trail." I have never been able to understand why this northern route was taken when a much easier one existed by way of Zuñi and the Moki region. To go north at all necessitated going as far as Gunnison Valley on account of the deep canyons. The advantage of the mountains was certain water and wood and grass, but this advantage was offset by the southern Nevada region which is as barren as anything in Arizona, and in the latter country the Colorado Plateau with its magnificent forest would have afforded a beautiful resting-place. Wolfskill afterwards settled at Los Angeles and planted a vineyard which became famous. Bell[95] says he was a hero: "A man of indomitable will, industry, and self-denial; an American pioneer hero; one who succeeds in all he undertakes, and is always to be trusted. He died in 1866, leaving a very large fortune."

Captain Bonneville.

A General when this was taken, long after his trapping career.

Photograph from Montana Historical Society.

The trappers and traders who entered the field in this fourth decade of the century were so numerous that a very large volume would be required to even sketch over their exploits. There was one, however, who, because of his connection with the army and of his extensive though not financially successful operations, must ever be prominently identified with this particular epoch in the breaking of the Wilderness. This was Bonneville, a captain in the American Army who had leave of absence to conduct a fur-trading venture. Chittenden[96] is rather severe on the genial captain, and says: "After all it 271 will not be far wrong to say that the greatest service which Captain Bonneville rendered his country was by falling into the hands of Washington Irving." Unquestionably Irving made the exploits of Bonneville tell to their full value, yet while admitting that Bonneville was not scientific, that he improperly overstayed his leave, and perhaps even more, he remains nevertheless an extraordinary figure in the breaking of the Wilderness, and he punctuated the explorations of a long period together with other striking characters like Ashley and Frémont. As Lewis and Clark gave the seal to the first decade of the century in this field, Lisa to the second, Ashley to the third, so Bonneville gave it to the fourth, and Frémont to the fifth. Irving's brilliant narrative may have done much to distinguish Bonneville, and place his name ahead of Sublette, Fitzpatrick, and others as a dominating note, but that does not detract from his skill at manœuvring in the Wilderness. Chittenden further says:

"As the manager of an expedition and as a popular leader Bonneville was a distinct success. Had his function been that of conducting a party through the country, he might have rivalled Lewis and Clark in the skill with which he could accomplish it. He managed his men with great judgment, ... he remained three 272 years in the mountains without the loss of a single life where the men were in any wise under his personal control."

It is rather unfortunate that he did not make exploration the basis of his operations.

Benjamin Louis Eulalie de Bonneville was of French birth and graduated from West Point in 1819 at the age of twenty-three. His family and La Fayette were friends, and the General took young Bonneville back to France, where he lived in the La Fayette household for several years. On returning to the United States he was assigned to duty on the frontier and there conceived the idea of getting rich in the fur business. Granted leave of absence from August, 1831, till October, 1833, he organised an expedition with the aid of Alfred Seton, who had been at Astoria when that enterprise as an American venture went to pieces, but whose faith in the fur trade was nevertheless very great. He and his associates provided the funds and Bonneville was able to start in May, 1832, some eight months of his leave already gone. He had 110 men and twenty waggons drawn by horses and mules. His chief assistants were Walker and Cerré, both well-known mountain men of great experience. Both had been among the earliest to cross to Santa Fé.

Bonneville's waggons were not the first to enter the great Wilderness. Becknell used waggons on the Santa Fé route at least seven years earlier. Ashley took his wheeled cannon to Utah Lake in 1826, and Sublette and Company had already taken waggons to Wind River. Bonneville was the first to take them to Green River.

His route was up the Platte and the Sweetwater branch, over South Pass to Green River Valley, preserving military discipline all the way and meeting with no serious difficulty. Five miles above Horse Creek on Green River he built his first trading fort of the common pattern, a square stockade with bastions at diagonal corners. Little use was made of it and it soon acquired the title of Fort Nonsense.

The competition for furs was rapidly growing more intense, for the hundreds of skilful trappers who had now been ranging 273 the beaver grounds for a decade or more had perceptibly thinned them down. Each company therefore threw every possible obstacle in the way of newcomers, as well as of their older rivals. Bonneville felt the effects of this condition. Some traders also had their native clients under such control that they would not deal with any one else. Bonneville once thought he could drive a trade with a tribe where their British visitor was short of goods, but they would not deal with him at all.

Another man whose name is prominent at this time was Nathaniel J. Wyeth of Boston, a man of fine character and hopeful disposition, but with no experience in Wilderness life. All of his men were likewise innocent of frontier knowledge. Before leaving Boston they had attracted much attention by camping on an island in order to harden themselves for the Wilderness! At Independence, Missouri, he was fortunate enough to fall in with William Sublette and Robert Campbell, who were taking a train of supplies out to the rendezvous. Wyeth therefore travelled with them. He now had eighteen men, six having given up at Independence. He had provided himself with waggons which could be converted into boats, but at St. Louis, understanding that waggons could not be used, he sold them and took to packs. He reached Pierre's Hole July 8, 1832, while Bonneville came to Green River on the 27th of the same month, Wyeth having passed him on the way.

Wyeth was desirous of reaching the Pacific coast early and did not linger anywhere. He, with the Sublette party, had had a slight brush with natives on Green River. In Pierre's Hole they were to add to that experience. A band of Blackfeet having been treacherously fired on by the whites, war began and all the trappers turned out to take part in it. The battle was to the advantage of the whites, who were the larger force and were armed with guns while the Amerinds had mostly bows. In the night the Blackfeet made their escape, and this battle of Pierre's Hole, about which much has been written, was over. It was enough for seven of Wyeth's men, who now determined to return to civilisation. They started 274 back and five days later, in Jackson's Hole, were attacked by a band of Blackfeet. One of the men, More, became demoralised with fright and stood still till the enemy came and killed him. Two others, Foy and Stephens, trying to get to More, were also shot, Foy dying on the spot and Stephens several days later. The others succeeded in reaching the camp of Milton Sublette, who had been shot in the shoulder in the Pierre's Hole affair. As soon as he felt able to travel he started with Campbell for St. Louis, and Wyeth's men accompanied them. They met with no further difficulty. The Blackfeet all fell back into Green River Valley, but did not molest Bonneville.

"Old Faithful" Geyser, Yellowstone Park.

From Wonderland, 1901—Northern Pacific Railway.

The Captain presently decided to proceed to the head of Salmon River to pitch his winter camp. Here among the friendly Nez Perces he and his followers passed a pleasant season. Parties were sent in various directions, and in the spring Bonneville went out on the plains of Snake River. On the 13th of July, 1833, he was back again in Green River Valley, and here he met the bands of trappers he had sent out the previous autumn. Their success had been small. The valley was lively with the returning trappers, not 275 only of Bonneville, but of the American Fur Company and the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, both having rendezvous three or four miles from Bonneville. The intercourse of the various camps was friendly and agreeable and the valley was for two or three months, during the off season of trapping, a very gay place.

There was no danger of a hostile tribe attacking so large a body of whites, hence life at the time of the rendezvous was free from this fear. Another unusual and singular one came up however. A mad wolf entered one of the camps and bit several, some of whom died of hydrophobia. Mad wolves are rare, but there seems to be no doubt of their occurrence. In recent years the young son of a man in southern Utah, while camping out with another boy, was bitten in the night by one of these animals, and shortly afterwards died in great agony.

Wyeth had travelled down Snake River, across the Blue Mountains, and then down the Columbia to Fort Vancouver, making the first continuous trip on record from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and the record trip was all that he had to show for his investment and his exertions. Then he turned round, heading once more for Boston, to form a company for the prosecution of the salmon fishing. He was a man of elastic hopes, and prepared to go again to the Pacific.

Bonneville, meanwhile, seemed not to notice that it was about time for him either to return to his post or to apply for an extension of his leave. He ignored the situation entirely. His packs of furs were sent east, but the Captain sent no word to headquarters, and on his own responsibility remained a trapper in the Wilderness.





Bonneville Dropped from the Army—Indian Shooters—The Mythical Rio Buenaventura—Bonneville Twice to the Columbia—Wyeth Again—The Oregon Trail—The Big Thunder Canoe—A Wilderness Whiskey Still—Missionaries to Oregon—The North-West Boundary Settlement—Decline of the Beaver—Through the Canyon of Lodore on the Ice—Frémont, the Scientific Pathfinder—The Spanish Sentinel Turned to the Wall—Fortune's Blindfold.

After forwarding his meagre collection of furs, Bonneville prepared to try his luck in the Wilderness once more. Although his orders were to avail himself of every opportunity of informing the War Department of his position and progress, he gave this matter no attention whatever, and without an extension of leave plunged into another year's trapping and trading as lightly as if army orders and obligations had no existence. His furlough he had obtained ostensibly for exploration, but, of course, it is clear, his real object was the fur trade; exploration was not even a secondary consideration. Had he met with Ashley's success he might have ignored the War Department entirely. As it was, he ignored it for the time being, and making no report, he was dropped from the rolls.

Meanwhile, some of his plans were being executed and there was prospect of a good harvest. He sent one large party under his first assistant Walker, to California, though the Captain afterwards claimed the great object of this expedition was the exploration of Salt Lake, upon which he said 277 his heart had been set. Walker has consequently been severely censured for disobeying his instructions, but Chittenden declares the Salt Lake project was an afterthought, and he seems to be right. "If this ambitious explorer [Bonneville] were really so absorbed in his desire to learn all about the great Salt Lake, how happened it that he remained three years in the country and passed repeatedly within fifty or a hundred miles of the lake but never went to see it?" he inquires. Salt Lake was then well known, it was easy to reach, and there was absolutely no reason why Bonneville himself should not have gone there and explored it if he really had its examination at heart. The conclusion is inevitable that at the time he did not consider it a matter of great importance; yet he may have intended Walker to explore it on the way to California.

Elk in Winter.

From Wonderland—Northern Pacific Railway.

At any rate, Walker, with his forty men, started July 24, 1833, and, after suffering somewhat from thirst in the region west of the lake, abandoned it for pastures new, and falling upon the head of Mary's, or Ogden's, River, now the Humboldt, of which he must of course have had some previous information, he followed its more inviting valley, and there pursued a career toward California which emulated the Forty Thieves in the stirring story of Ali Baba. They were in the country of the "Shoshokoes," some of whom took the liberty of appropriating certain traps. One trapper who so suffered, declared he would kill the first native he saw, innocent or guilty. He soon came upon two who were fishing and instantly shot one and threw the body into the river. This crime naturally caused the party to feel that they might expect retaliation, and hence when a few days later they saw a 278 large body of the natives around them, they believed a battle was at hand. Thirty-two of Walker's men thereupon surrounded about eighty of the supposed enemy and shot them mercilessly down, leaving thirty-nine dead on the field. "The remainder," says Leonard, who was one of the shooters, "were overwhelmed with dismay, running into the high grass in every direction, howling in the most lamentable manner." Farther on, Nidiver, another of the trappers, noticing two natives running accidentally towards him and away from Walker, supposed they had committed some crime, and shot both with one ball.

Such was the mad progress of this triumphal band. Similar work was being accomplished in other directions. It was about this time that the afterwards famous mountain man Joe Meek came to the Wilderness. One day he shot a "Digger" who was prowling about a stream where Meek had some traps. Wyeth, who was with the party, asked why he had shot the man.

"To keep him from stealing traps," replied Meek.

"Had he stolen any?" inquired Wyeth.

"No," said Meek, "but he looked as if he war going to."

There were some men who seemed to take pleasure in shooting natives without any reason. Captain Bidwell[97] called these "Indian shooters." "One of the Indian shooters," he writes, "seeing an Indian on the opposite bank of the river swam over, carrying a butcher knife in his mouth.... The Indian ran. The man with the knife crippled him with a stone and then killed him.... Another Indian followed later. One of the Indian killers hid and shot him." Another time a man missed his bridle. He swore an Indian had stolen it. "He fired at an Indian who stood by a tree one hundred yards or so distant. The Indian fell back into the brush and the other Indians in sight fled in terror." The bridle was found later under some blankets in camp.

In the Sierra Nevada.

On the Merced—Yosemite Valley. Walker, 1833, was probably the First White Man Here.

Copyright, C. C. Pierce & Co.

Walker passed the sink of the Humboldt and then struck into the Sierra Nevada. It took twenty-three days to cross 280 and they suffered for food, seventeen horses being used up for this purpose and seventeen others being absolutely lost. There was no game and they finally were reduced to almost nothing and were glad to get a basket of acorns which a frightened native dropped. Arriving at last on the western edge they met with rocks so steep that it was with difficulty they were able to descend. Here they killed three deer and a bear and began to find a less inhospitable region, although at one place they were obliged to lower the horses by ropes over a long slope of loose rocks. On October 30, 1833, they reached the foot of the range and appear to have passed through the now famous Yosemite Valley, perhaps the first white men to enter it.

They were soon in Monterey where they found the people so agreeable that they had the jolliest kind of a winter. The season passed, however, and the time to go back came. Reluctantly they started in February, 1834, went up the San Joaquin valley with native guides, and crossed the Sierra at a more southern point than the outward passage; by Sonora Pass, Chittenden believes, and he is doubtless correct. Then they worked north-east till they came to their outward trail. On the way they had further amusement killing natives, whom they hunted down as a species of rare game. Several Mexicans in this sport exhibited their skill at horsemanship and lassoing by charging at full speed and throwing the rope over the necks of the terrified runners. The noose tightening, the victims were dragged and strangled to death. Some of the men joined a party under a trapper named Fraeb, who hunted in the mountains of what is now Colorado, and they ranged from the Gila to North and Middle Parks. Walker went to the rendezvous on Bear River to settle his affairs with Bonneville.

Walker had made a trip similar to Jedediah Smith's, but with a smaller circuit, and it was now certain that the river Buenaventura, which heretofore had been vaguely supposed to flow from Salt Lake or from near it, to the Pacific, was a myth. Bonneville, in a letter written long afterwards, claims this as one of the great results geographically of his expedition, yet he condemns Walker for not having explored Salt Lake, a 281 much easier task and one which, to a certain extent, had already been accomplished though not placed on record.

Captain Bonneville himself, when he had arranged his permanent camp the previous autumn on the Portneuf, a branch of the Snake in south-eastern Idaho, set out December 25, 1833, with only three companions to visit the Columbia River region. Crossing the barren valley of Snake River about on the route which by this time may be called the usual one, for besides Hunt and Stuart, and recently Wyeth, the Hudson Bay Company men often passed that way—the Oregon Trail in fact,—through a thick layer of snow, he arrived at last, without any unpleasant encounter with the bands of Amerinds he met, in the valley of the Grande Ronde, on the eastern foot of the splendid Blue Mountains. This fair basin was free from snow, and was obviously the place from which to make an extensive and thorough reconnaissance before attempting to cross the Blue range, whose mighty summits lay between him and the Columbia. But instead of doing this Bonneville wandered on and presently was back on Snake River amid a wild array of rocks and canyons, where, after desperate ventures, he was forced to fall back. He tried to surmount the range and failed. Farther back they tried again and butted their way across with the usual starvation and fatigue incident to advancing without proper investigation. At last they floundered down to a tributary of the Snake where a solitary Nez Perce was encountered who speedily led them to the camp of his friendly tribe. Here their troubles for the moment were over, and Bonneville gained the chief's high favour by curing his daughter of an illness by means of a dose of gunpowder dissolved in water. On March 4th they reached the Columbia at Fort Walla Walla, a post of the Hudson Bay Company, which, in the Columbia River region, had entire control of the trade, as Bonneville, as well as Wyeth, soon discovered. Pambrune, the agent, was cordial and treated them well as long as they were in a measure his guests, but when they wanted provisions with which to return he declined to sell any, on the ground that it was not fair to his company to encourage competing traders. 282

He advised them to return in company with one of his men about to cross the Blue range by the regular trail on a visit to the upper tribes of the Nez Perces, but Bonneville declined and once more butted his way haphazard across the great ridges, arriving at last on the Snake after much unnecessary privation. At one point a horse approached too near an icy precipice, and sliding down more than two thousand feet was literally dashed to pieces, as they found on going to the spot to secure the carcass for food. By May 12, 1834, he was again at the Portneuf, where he found his camp removed to the Blackfoot River not far away.

A Wilderness Waggon Road.

Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.

Not satisfied with this trip to the Columbia, Bonneville again started for that river on July 3, 1834, with twenty-three men. He had not been on the way a week, before he received word that the indefatigable Wyeth was at his heels, also bound for the lower Columbia. About the same time a Hudson Bay Company party appeared, so the prospects for company were 283 too good to suit the objects of the Captain. The Oregon Trail was rapidly becoming popular in spite of its hardships, and perhaps Wyeth's enthusiasm did as much as any other single factor to advertise this great road to the Oregon country.

Wyeth was again on his way to put into execution his vast scheme to combine fur trading with salmon fishing, for the benefit of his "Columbia River Fishing and Trading Company." He had with him sixty men, veterans of the mountains many of them, and two naturalists, Thomas Nuttall, the same who had gone up the Missouri with Hunt, and J. K. Townshend, an ornithologist. There were also several missionaries under Jason and Daniel Lee. Wyeth had made a contract the previous year to bring out a quantity of goods for the Rocky Mountain Company, but the managers repudiated their obligation. When he arrived on the Portneuf he built a trading-post to utilise these goods, and called it Fort Hall. A flag, made of unbleached sheeting, red flannel, and some blue patches, was raised above the fort, and twelve men well armed were installed there. Wyeth reached the Columbia in good order, and there made another post on Wapatoo Island, but though his ideas were practical and deserved success, he met with disasters and the Hudson Bay people had such complete control of the whole Oregon country that, while his personal relations with them were cordial, he finally gave up, sold out, and returned to Fort Hall, which he also sold to the Hudson Bay Company. Thence by way of Taos and the Arkansas, he went back to Boston, arriving home in the autumn of 1836. He had conducted all his affairs with admirable skill, intelligence, and perseverance, but in business the Hudson Bay Company was a rock, and he was crushed against it.

Bonneville went on down the Snake and over the Blue range to Fort Walla Walla, being much impeded in the mountains by a vast conflagration which made the air dark with smoke and added a new danger to the difficulties of the great mountains in his path. But his efforts to start trade on the Columbia were foredoomed to failure by the power of the Hudson Bay Company. This company had revived old Astoria in 1830, they had Fort Vancouver, Fort Walla Walla, 284 and others, covering every branch of the trade, and the natives were loyal. Bonneville found it impossible to buy anywhere the simplest articles or food of any kind. The Hudson Bay Company was tolerably fair and just with the Amerind and he appreciated this kind of treatment. At Fort Walla Walla Bonneville's effort to buy food met with the same repulse from the manager as on the former occasion. He therefore could but retrace his steps to Bear River Valley where he passed the winter of 1834-35.

In the summer of 1835 he met his parties on Wind River and, adjusting the accounts, started for the settlements, where he arrived on August 22d, his great enterprise over with very meagre results to show. As a trading venture it was a dire failure. As a geographical exploration it had little that was new to present. The maps Bonneville made were partly copied from Gallatin and others. Yet when all that is against him is admitted, he remains a dominating figure of the time, a high light in the picture of breaking the Wilderness. His name, which he applied to Salt Lake, has by geologists been given, as mentioned, to the ancient sea which once lashed the Rocky Mountains with its waves, so that in geology, in geography, in history, and in literature, it is permanently fixed.

"As a soldier by education and profession," says Chittenden, "Captain Bonneville committed an unpardonable breach of discipline in overstaying his leave of absence. It was more than a simple lapse of duty, it was an act of ingratitude to his superiors, considering their great indulgence in granting him so long a leave." By special order of President Jackson he was finally reinstated. He served in the Seminole and in the Mexican wars and was made Brevet Brigadier-General. He bought a farm at Fort Smith, Arkansas, and there, after 1865, ended his days, dying June 12, 1878, at the ripe age of eighty-two.

Steamer "Yellowstone" Ascending the Missouri in 1833.

From Travels, etc., 1832-3-4, by Maximilian, Prince of Wied, 1843.
From Wonderland, 1904—Northern Pacific Railway.

The year after Bonneville went out to the mountains (1833), a distinguished foreigner, Maximilian, Prince of Wied, made the journey up the Missouri[98] with Kenneth McKenzie, on the 285 steamboat Yellowstone to Fort Pierre and thence to Fort Union on the new Assiniboine. The Yellowstone was a boat with the distinction of having been the first steamboat to go above Council Bluffs. In 1831 she was taken to Fort Tecumseh, a little above where Pierre, South Dakota, now stands (named from Fort Pierre, which was named for Pierre Chouteau, Jr.), and in 1832 went as far as the mouth of the Yellowstone. On board at this time was Catlin, the artist whose paintings of Amerinds and whose extensive travels through the Wilderness have made him forever famous.[99] The natives called the boat the "Big Thunder Canoe," and the "Big Medicine Canoe with Eyes." It was an object of wonder with them for a time, but they soon accepted in a matter-of-fact way the new things the whites brought to them. The steamboat on the Missouri was a great 286 boon to the traders and fur companies as it enabled goods to be taken into the North-west with far greater ease and consequently at less price. There was much rivalry among the companies as heretofore. New ones were formed and the competition was great. All sorts of methods were adopted, many of them questionable, often dishonourable, to secure advantage. As whiskey was prohibited by the Government, and a rigid examination was made of every ascending boat, there were many schemes for smuggling it; for every trader used it, if he could, in his dealings with the natives. It was the most profitable medium of exchange, and by means of it a tribe could be literally skinned for a song. The traders were there to take every advantage of the natives, and, except the Hudson Bay Company, they hesitated at nothing that would bring them money. They would have been perfectly willing to exterminate the whole Amerind population in twenty-four hours if they could have done it with great profit. In other words, their sole care was to fleece the native for a company's benefit. The beaver by 1835 were beginning to be alarmingly scarce and attention was turned more and more to buffalo robes and other furs, but there was yet much money to be made in this field.

McKenzie set up a whiskey still at Fort Union, to get ahead of the inspectors. Ramsay Crooks, who had long been prominent in the American Fur Company, opposed the scheme, fearing trouble with the Government, and he was right, but it was put in operation. Wyeth and Cerré, passing Fort Union, learned of it and reported to the Government, and William Clark, of Lewis and Clark, who was still superintendent for the Western tribes, was instructed to stop it. The matter was finally allowed to pass without punishment, but it came near bringing the American Fur Company to disaster. The persistence with which the respectable fur companies forced whiskey into the Wilderness and debauched the tribes there, in spite of every effort of the Government to prevent it, is a permanent disgrace to these companies and to their managers, every one of whom, from chief down, knew that the wealth they were accumulating by it was largely a swindle, and 287 meant the impoverishment and wrecking of the people of the Wilderness. It was bad enough to charge the poor natives outrageous prices for cheap articles, but deliberately to intoxicate them for profit can never be considered anything but dishonour for every man, high and low, who permitted it to go on without hindrance or protest, or who abetted it, and received the money from such base sources.

Famous travellers now went for a turn in the Wilderness, though most of them contented themselves with the part east of the Rocky Mountains. Among these was Washington Irving, in 1832, with several congenial spirits, one of whom was Charles Latrobe, an Englishman, who wrote an interesting book. This adventure of Irving was of value afterwards when he came to write Astoria and Bonneville, albeit it was brief. He saw the buffalo, however, and, as described, experienced the excitement of the chase. Francis Parkman, at a later time, followed Irving's example, and then gathered notes for his Oregon Trail.

Various American and English sportsmen also sought this fascinating field, but this volume is too small to record the doings of the great numbers who now began to swarm into the Wilderness. Many of them have written valuable books which may be found in all good libraries.[100]

The missionaries began to turn more attention to the Oregon country, and in 1836 Samuel Parker was sent by the Presbyterians to that region. He took with him a medical man, Doctor Marcus Whitman, and these two were practically the breakers of the Oregon Trail for the gentler side of civilisation. They went out as far as the Black Hills under the guidance of the veteran trapper Fontenelle, a man as widely known as Fitzpatrick, Sublette, or any of the other prominent mountain men of the time. Fitzpatrick himself escorted them on to Green River. Whitman was able to give medical attention to many of those in the Wilderness, and he seems to have been the first American doctor, or indeed the first doctor of any nationality, who ventured there. In Green River Valley he 288 took from the back of Bridger an iron arrow-head, which had been there three years. It was the custom of the mountaineers to do their own surgery. Sometimes it was successful, as in the case of Pegleg Smith, sometimes the patient did not survive the camp operation more than a day or two. Sometimes they let "well enough alone," as in Bridger's case, who allowed the arrow-head to remain. No anæsthetic was thought of at that time, and Whitman performed the operation under the admiring gaze of a crowd of natives and whites, while Bridger never winced. Another arrow-head was taken from under the shoulder of a hunter, where it had been for two and a half years.

Whitman became so much interested in the missionary side of the prospective Oregon work that he returned from Green River to secure more help, leaving Parker to continue. Parker says of the trappers: "Their demoralising influence with the Indians has been lamentable, and they have imposed upon them in all the ways that sinful propensity can dictate. It is said they have sold them packs of cards at high prices, calling them the Bible."

Of the rendezvous he remarks:

"These days are the climax of the hunter's happiness.... A hunter who goes technically by the name of the great bully of the mountains mounted his horse with a loaded rifle and challenged any Frenchman, American, Spaniard, or Dutchman, to fight him in single combat. Kit Carson, an American, told him if he wished to die he would accept the challenge. Shunar defied him. Carson mounted his horse and with a loaded pistol rushed into close contact, and both almost at the same instant fired. Carson's ball entered Shunar's hand, came out at the wrist, and passed through the arm above the elbow. Shunar's ball passed over the head of Carson, and while he went for another pistol Shunar begged that his life might be spared. Such scenes, sometimes from passion and sometimes for amusement, make the pastime of their wild and wandering life."

Before the Sawmill Comes.

Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.

Parker reached Oregon safely, while Whitman was making the eastward journey. On reaching New England, Whitman, 289 who was only thirty-two, married. With his wife and another newly married couple, the Reverend H. H. Spalding and wife, he set out once more for Oregon, with the settlement of which his name was now to become forever associated, even to the extent of being called the "Saviour of Oregon."[101] It must be remembered that the British Hudson Bay Company still maintained almost complete control of the Oregon country, notwithstanding the provision made by the two Governments that the region was to be free to both nations. It was free nominally, but, as has been seen in the case of Bonneville and in that of Wyeth, as well as other Americans, the freedom was a mere form. American trappers could pass through the country without direct molestation, but it was an impossibility for them to accomplish anything there. As the fifth decade of the century opened, the question of boundary so long left in the air became pressing. The time set for adjustment had arrived. 290 It was particularly in relation to this that it is said Whitman made a winter journey to Washington by way of Santa Fé in 1842-43. During his absence the natives grew more insolent. Mrs. Whitman was obliged to flee to the Methodist mission for protection. The natives were also suspicious of the missionaries: the latter often held themselves superior to the trappers who would have been their best friends; and the Hudson Bay Company continued its opposition to American settlement. A troublous condition all round was the result. A horrible massacre by the Cayuses finally took place at the Whitman mission, November 28, 1847, eleven years after the Doctor began his enthusiastic work for Oregon. Doctor and Mrs. Whitman with many others were most cruelly murdered, some of the chief criminals being those whom they had often befriended.

Doctor McLoughlin, the Hudson Bay Company governor, while refusing aid to Americans, came to have much sympathy for, and was later accused by the managers of the great corporation of having promoted, American settlement. He was even charged an enormous sum as damages the Company had suffered in consequence of the course of action of which he was accused. He resigned, settled himself in Oregon, and eventually became an American citizen. The British desired an adjustment of the boundary by following the course of the Columbia River, but this was not accepted by the United States, and it was not till 1848 that the line was placed permanently where it now is; a continuation of the line on the forty-ninth parallel, which had been adopted east of the mountains long before.

The Great or Lower Fall of the Yellowstone.

From Wonderland, 1904.—Northern Pacific Railway.

One of the trappers intimately connected with the development of Oregon was Joe Meek, who had ranged the Wilderness for many years. He was possessed of a full share of the qualities which abounded in men like Jedediah Smith, Sublette, Bridger, and others of that type, and was seldom taken unawares. One anecdote will exhibit his temper and at the same time present a picture of the dangerous circumstances which sometimes surrounded such men and over which they triumphed. Meek was captured by a party of Crows in the 291 Yellowstone country. His captors numbered 187 men, nine boys, and three women. Meek calmly counted them while they were discussing his case. At last the chief, called "The Bold," said to him: "I have known the whites for a long time and I know them to be great liars, deserving death, but if you will tell the truth you shall live. Tell me where are the whites you belong to; and what is your captain's name." Meek replied that his captain was Bridger, and to an inquiry as to the number of men Bridger had, he answered forty, which was a 292 lie, as Bridger had six times that number. The Bold laughed and said: "We will make them poor, and you shall live, but they shall die." For four days they travelled to attack Bridger, and Meek was forced to do the menial work of the camp under the ridicule of the squaws.

"On the afternoon of the fourth day," he says, "the spies, who war in advance, looking out from a high hill, made a sign to the main party. In a moment all sat down. I war as well up in Indian signs as they war; and I knew they had discovered white men. What war worse, I knew that they would soon discover that I had been lying to them. All I had to do then war to trust to luck. Soon we came to the top of the hill which overlooked the Yellowstone, from which I could see the plains below extending as far as the eye could reach, and about three miles off, the camp of my friends. My heart beat double quick about that time and I once in a while put my hand to my head, to feel if my scalp war thar. While I war watching our camp, I discovered that the horse guard had seen us, for I knew the sign he would make if he discovered Indians. I thought the camp a splendid sight that evening. It made a powerful show to me, who did not expect ever to see it after that day. And it war a fine sight anyhow from the hill where I stood. About two hundred and fifty men, and women and children in great numbers, and about a thousand horses and mules. Then the beautiful plain and the sinking sun; and the herds of buffalo that could not be numbered; and the cedar hills covered with elk,—I never saw so fine a sight as that looked to me then! When I turned my eyes on that savage Crow band, and saw the chief standing with his hand on his mouth,[102] lost in amazement, and beheld the warriors' tomahawks and spears glittering in the sun, my heart was very little. Directly the chief turned to me with a horrible scowl. Said he: 'I promised that you should live if you told the truth; but you have told me a great lie.' Then the warriors gathered round with their tomahawks in their hands."

Jim Bridger in his Latter Days.

Photograph from Montana Historical Society.

Bridger's horse guard now approached to drive in the horses. The Crow chief ordered Meek to tell him to come up, but instead Meek shouted for him to keep away and to tell 293 Bridger to try to treat with them. In a little while Bridger came on a large white horse to within three hundred yards and asked for a council. Little Gun, the second chief, finally was ordered to go and smoke with Bridger, while the whole band prepared for war. When Little Gun and Bridger were within about a hundred yards of each other they halted and stripped, according to Crow rules, proceeding the remaining distance in a nude state, to kiss and embrace. Meanwhile five of Bridger's men crept along in a dry ravine and were able to cut off Little Gun from his friends. Now there was a great commotion among the Crows. At this moment about a hundred of Bridger's men came up and he called to Meek to propose an exchange of himself for Little Gun. To this the chief sullenly 294 consented, remarking that he could not afford to give a chief for one white dog's scalp. Meek thereupon was allowed to go toward his friends as Little Gun approached his, and in a few moments the exchange was accomplished. That same evening, the head chief with forty of his men visited Bridger's camp and made a treaty of peace to endure three months, in order that they might join together to fight the Blackfeet. They gave Meek his mule, gun, and beaver packs, and told him his name should henceforth be Shiam Shaspusia, as he could outlie the Crows.

The growing scarcity of beaver toward the end of the thirties threw many trappers out of work. The fur companies disbanded, and the men were left in the mountains not knowing what to do. They therefore scattered in small bands in search of profit and adventure. Meek was in Brown's Hole in the winter, about this time, at Fort Davy Crockett. It will be remembered that Ashley had come through Flaming Gorge, etc., and Red Canyon from Green River Valley, and went out to Salt Lake from Brown's Hole. Meek joined a party to go down on the ice through the next canyon, now called Lodore. The entrance to this gorge is very abrupt and magnificent, the rocks rising suddenly and sheer to a height of over two thousand feet, forming a monster gateway which can be seen for miles out in the valley. Into this gateway, Meek and his companions entered, doubtless the first whites ever to go far within the solemn chasm. He says they travelled nearly a hundred miles down this "awful canyon without finding but one place where they could have come out, and left it at last at the mouth of the Uintee." That is, they went through Lodore, about twenty-one miles, Echo Park, one mile, Whirlpool Canyon, about fifteen miles, Island Park, nine miles, and Split Mountain Canyon, eight miles, or in all a distance through canyons of about fifty-four miles. The remainder of their journey was in the open Wonsits Valley. The place where they thought they could have come out was Island Park, which is a small valley enclosed on the west only by slopes of the Uintas. There are also other places but more difficult. About ten years later a party attempted the descent 295 in boats through this particular series of canyons and was wrecked in Lodore. The descent in Lodore is 420 feet, and, in the distance that the Meek party went on the ice, about 750 feet. A band of Catholic missionaries, according to Farnham,[103] attempted the descent of the Colorado, presumably from the point where the trail to Los Angeles crossed Grand or Green River. They were never heard of again. The name "Julien—1836" 296 is cut in three places on the canyon walls, one in what is called Labyrinth Canyon, one near the foot of Cataract Canyon, and another near the head of the same canyon. So far as the records known to me go, the canyons below Lodore remained absolute wilderness till 1869, unless this Julien passed through Cataract, as is suggested by the occurrence of his name.

Green River from Green River Valley to Wonsits Valley.

The Uinta range extends across from left to right. The canyons through its eastern flank are shown by the very dark portions. Brown's Park lies between two series. The first, or upper, series was traversed in 1825 by Ashley; the second, by Meek and party on the ice in 1838; partially by an unknown band about 1850; and all of the canyons finally by Powell in 1869, clear down to the Virgin River.

A trapper made famous by Ruxton's romantic account[104] of his doings was La Bonté. The Arapahos having killed four trappers and run off with La Bonté's animals, he and his partner, Killbuck, were after them. They discovered the camp where the scalps of the trappers were stuck on a spear in the centre of the circle. While spying out the situation, one of the mules perceived them and gave forth a whinny. La Bonté and Killbuck immediately fired killing two Arapahos, whereupon the three survivors rushed upon them with loud yells. The trappers, "drawing their pistols, charged at once, and although the bows twanged and the three arrows struck their mark, on they rushed, discharging their pistols at close quarters. La Bonté threw his empty one at the head of an Indian who was pulling his second arrow to its head at a yard's distance, drew his knife at the same moment and made at him. But the Indian broke and ran, followed by his surviving companion; and as soon as Killbuck could ram home another ball he sent a shot flying after them as they scrambled up the mountain side, leaving, in their fright and hurry, their bows and shields on the ground."

La Bonté now pulled an arrow out of his arm, while Killbuck took his whetstone from the little sheath on his belt and put an edge on his knife. Then, examining the first body to see if any life remained, and finding the man dead, he proceeded to the business of scalping.

"Seizing with his left hand the long braided lock on the centre of the Indian's head, he passed the point edge of his keen butcher knife round the parting, turning it at the same time under the skin to separate the scalp from the skull, then with a quick, sudden jerk 297 of his hand he removed it entirely from the head, and giving the reeking trophy a wring upon the grass to free it from the blood, he coolly hitched it under his belt and proceeded to the next; but seeing La Bonté operating upon this, he sought the third, who lay some little distance from the others. This one was still alive, a pistol ball having passed through his body without touching a vital spot.... Thrusting his knife for mercy's sake into the bosom of the Indian, he likewise tore the scalp lock from his head and placed it with the other."

Snow-bound in the Wilderness—1875.

Pencil sketch on the spot by F. S. Dellenbaugh.

Killbuck up to this moment had been walking about with an arrow through his thigh. The point being near the surface on the other side, he pushed it entirely through, and cut the head off below the barb, after which he could pull the shaft out. A tourniquet of buckskin soon stopped the bleeding, and he "brought in his old mule, lavishing many a caress and most comical terms of endearment upon the faithful companion of his wanderings." After a hasty meal on the venison which the Amerinds had been cooking, they hurried away from the locality to a camp of Utes. The latter were enemies of the Arapahos, and when La Bonté told them the Arapahos were coming the whole village was speedily in commotion: the 298 squaws began to lament and tear their hair; the warriors, to paint and arm themselves. A band of a hundred soon left for the field, and La Bonté and Killbuck would have gone too, but the chiefs forbade this, as their wounds were stiff and painful and they were well worn out. So buffalo robes were placed in a warm roomy lodge and they were left to rest and recuperate.

On the Mexican frontier trouble had for some time been brewing concerning the status of Texas in the Mexican political arrangement. The Texans, who were now mainly Americans, having followed the lead of Austin, desired to have Texas a sovereign Mexican state, but a military government was proposed by the Mexicans and a revolt occurred in 1835, which resulted in a proclamation of entire independence, March 2, 1836. The Texans triumphed the same year under Houston at the battle of San Jacinto. The western boundary was laid without any just reason along the Rio Grande from its mouth to the source and thence due north to the forty-second parallel; but the Mexicans refused to consider any line beyond the Nueces River, when the independence of Texas was finally allowed. Therefore the boundary on the Rio Grande never having been agreed to by the owner of the soil, Mexico, it has no rightful place on any map. It never had any existence, and as it is usually given without qualification on historical maps, it is entirely misleading.

Canyon of Lodore—Green River.

The first on record to go through this and the canyons immediately below it—that is, from Brown's Park to Wonsits Valley—was Joe Meek, and a party of trappers, on the ice in the winter of 1838-39.

Photograph by E. O. Beaman, U. S. Colo. Riv. Exp.

In the troublous times which now for a period fell upon the Wilderness, a new figure comes to the front and dominates the epoch with a force that resulted in attaching his name to it forever and at the same time in rousing a great amount of opposition and condemnation. This was John C. Frémont, called the Pathfinder, though, as the reader perceives from the preceding pages, the main paths had long before been found. Nevertheless, Frémont was the first of his kind—the first to follow paths for the sake of the paths themselves—the first to record them properly—the first who looked at the Wilderness beyond the peaks of the Rockies with sole reference to the geographical problems that might lie there—the first to pay attention to the botany and geology. He has been ridiculed 300 for likening himself when looking down on Salt Lake, to Balboa but the injustice of this is apparent when we find that he did not compare himself to the Spanish explorer, but merely said he was "doubtful if the followers of Balboa felt more enthusiasm" when they saw the Pacific for the first time. Frémont, as a lieutenant, and about twenty-five, began his work with Nicollet on the Mississippi and the Missouri in 1838-40. In Washington he met Senator Benton; and also his daughter, Jessie, whom he married in 1841. In 1842 he was selected to explore the region of South Pass and on this journey he climbed the peak named for him,—the highest of the Wind River Mountains. In 1843 he was out again, remaining fourteen months, with a large party of frontiersmen. He made a third journey in 1845-47, resigning from the army on his return. His fourth, last, and disastrous trip was in 1848. In his several expeditions he went to Oregon by the Bear River, Fort Hall, and Snake River route; to Klamath and Pyramid lakes; to San Joaquin Valley; to southern California; back over the Jedediah Smith (outward) trail from Salt Lake; crossed the Rocky Mountains and Green River from Utah Lake, and so back and forth in a number of directions.

A Chance Meeting.

Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.

In 1845 Texas was admitted into the Union as a State. President Polk, on what ground is not apparent, agreed with the Texans that the western limit of their domain was certainly the Rio Grande. He might as well then and there have agreed that it was the Pacific. General Taylor was ordered to occupy the region west of the Nueces and he pushed on to the Rio Grande. There was nothing left for the Mexicans to do but fight, and this they accordingly did. Scott was ordered with his army to Mexico, Kearney to New Mexico and California. Santa Fé was easily captured in 1846, and the navy speedily took the California coast towns. Frémont being in California engaged actively in the insurrection there, and was much censured for what he did. The Mexicans were vanquished. In 1848 a treaty was entered into between them and the United States, by which in consideration of $15,000,000, and the United States assuming all claims, New Mexico and California were ceded to the Americans—that is, all below the forty-second 301 parallel to the Gila and the Rio Grande. The latter river now was admitted to be the western boundary of Texas; a boundary afterwards adjusted with the Federal Government. The Mexicans were left with nothing north of the Gila; the British with nothing south of the forty-ninth parallel, west of the Mississippi. The immense area which once had formed the basis of so many broad and indefinite claims was now held by a nation which had no being when the European countries began their wrangling over this splendid domain. From Atlantic to Pacific, from the Lake of the Woods to the Rio Grande, one power was in control, and that power the very youngest in all the world. The American nation had secured for itself the most fertile, most diversified, and altogether the finest and richest area on the entire globe. The Spanish sentinel had been turned with his face to the wall; the British sentinel was equally overwhelmed; the natives were cheerfully 302 poisoned with cheap whiskey; and it was now only a question of settlement and communication between the widely separated parts of the Republic.

The beaver was gone. Buffalo robes formed the bulk of the fur trade. Even the buffalo were diminishing in numbers. It seemed as if little incentive remained to lead people to brave the discomforts and dangers of the western Wilderness. It appeared as if the young Republic for centuries to come would have a wilderness on its hands.

But under the very feet of the trapper struggling to earn his small wage by exterminating the beaver, rich metals were hidden; and Fortune was almost ready to remove the blindfold, and lure the next set of Wilderness breakers into the field.





Free Distribution of Frémont's Reports—Latter Day Saints—Murder of a Prophet—Brigham Young Guides Saints to the Wilderness—The State of Deseret—California the Golden—Massacre at Mountain Meadows—Old Jacob, the Mormon Leatherstocking—Steam on the Lower Colorado—Old Jacob Finds the Crossing of the Fathers—Circumtouring the Grand Canyon—Solitudes of the Colorado—Last of the Wilderness Problems—Powell Solves it by Masterful Courage—The Iron Trail—The End and the Beginning.

The reports Frémont made of his several expeditions were so striking and so important that Congress ordered thousands of copies to be printed for free distribution. They formed the beginning of the long series of invaluable volumes the Government since that day has so wisely and so lavishly published. First to present drawings of new plants and fossils as well as to give accurate details of geography, they serve to mark Frémont as the scientific Pathfinder. Botanical specimens were classified by Torrey; paleontological by Hall, and comment on the excellence of their work is unnecessary. Altogether these expeditions of Frémont began a new period in Wilderness exploration—the period of scientific examination. He has been much criticised, but it was he who broke the way for the numerous Government expeditions which followed and which reflect much credit on the intelligence and generosity of Congress. Few governments have ever fostered the scientific spirit with a better grace or to so full an extent, 304 and Frémont was partly responsible for this commendable attitude. Through his enthusiastic labours the Far West began to be more clearly understood than ever before. He took no pessimistic view of the resources of the Wilderness as Pike and Long had done, but was rather inclined to the other side. It seems notable that he should so commandingly have stepped into the vast field at a moment coincident with the collapse of beaver trapping as a business; an industry which, as we have seen, was responsible for the breaking of all the main trails of the Wilderness, and for searching out every important secret save that of the hidden fury of the Colorado. Not only had the beaver been practically exterminated, but the bison was on the decline.[105] Those beyond the mountains suffered nearly to the point of annihilation in the exceptionally heavy snows of the winter of 1842-43.

The Great Salt Lake, enshrined in the snowy mountains and resembling the Dead Sea of Palestine, strongly appealed to the imagination of a new sect which was to have a great effect on the Wilderness, a sect which in 1830 began its development, and notwithstanding vigorous and often bloody opposition or possibly because of it, augmented steadily its power. Those who adopted this new creed were commonly called Mormons though they designated themselves as "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." The cult, like others which have prospered, was originated by a very poor and rather despised individual, Joseph Smith, near Palmyra, New York. By his followers, Smith was believed to possess supernatural powers as a seer and prophet. He had political ambition also, for in 1844, he "published an address to the people of the United States on the powers and policy of the general government and offered himself as a candidate for the office of President." Out of his visions and inspirations grew the now famous Book of Mormon, purporting to relate the history of the original people of the Western World, the Amerinds, or "Indians," descendants by its authority of some of those 305 who were dispersed and lost to history by the confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel. In Mormon belief it supplements the Holy Bible, which they hold to be the history of the Eastern World as well as the Divinely inspired Word. Thus they have the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Book of Doctrine and Covenants and a book of guidance called Pearl of Great Price. First success was due to Sidney Rigdon.

After a number of migrations in search of the proper spot whereon to found the New Jerusalem, the Mormons were attracted by reports of the Great Salt Lake, lying in Mexican territory, and in some degree duplicating the topography of the Holy Land. Having much difficulty with their neighbours, they were desirous of isolating themselves, and to them the region of the Salt Sea of the Wilderness seemed the promised land. Their Prophet Joseph had been murdered in cold blood, June 27, 1844, in Carthage jail, whither he had been taken from his Mormon town of Nauvoo, Illinois, having there, on the advice of the Governor, surrendered himself for trial on charges preferred by his opponents. The Mormons resolved then to move bodily to the valley of the American Dead Sea, wild and forbidding though it seemed. A thousand miles of separation from their antagonists, by what was then believed to be irreclaimable desert, was a condition they desired and doubtless they believed that once established on that foreign soil behind a barrier of mountain ranges, they would there be able to develop their institutions unmolested. No mind then foresaw the rapid exploration and settlement of the Wilderness which has taken place.

Brigham Young, the new leader who succeeded Smith, was possessed of unusual executive ability and clear judgment, though with a limited school education. But no amount of book knowledge could have replaced the qualities with which he was born. Possessing such a commander; with a martyred prophet in the background; with "persecution" unlimited; the Mormons were equipped for sectarian as well as for civil progress. Add to all this the suggestion of the Holy Land found in the country of their choice, and the State of 306 Deseret, as they wished to call it, was in a position to appeal strongly to those who were looking for salvation in some new form.[106]

A Mormon Sorghum Mill and Evaporating Pans.

Photograph by F. S Dellenbaugh.

A Setback.

Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.

It was not till July, 1847, they were able in numbers to reach the Salt Lake, and doubtless the dry, barren, region appeared discouraging. But Brigham Young, who followed a little later, had not begun this move blindly. His astute mind had shown him that irrigation by means of the mountain torrents would transform into gardens the arid plains, exactly as had been done in that dreamland of the Wilderness, the Rio Grande Valley. At first the devotees of the Mormon faith had a severe time, starvation was close to their thresholds, but perseverance, grit, and industry gradually conquered the antagonism of nature and the once forbidding valley was presently 307 offering the Latter Day Saints abundance; Salt Lake City became a centre of order and prosperity. Other portions from this as a base were brought under cultivation and the soil was rendered prolific. It must be acknowledged that these people were Wilderness breakers of high quality. They not only broke it, but they kept it broken; and instead of the gin mill and the gambling hell, as corner stones of their progress, and as examples to the natives of white men's superiority, they planted orchards, gardens, farms, schoolhouses, and peaceful homes.[107] There is to-day, no part of the United States where human life is safer than in the land of the Mormons; no place where there is less lawlessness. A people who have accomplished so much that is good, who have endured danger, privation, and suffering, who have withstood the obloquy of more powerful sects, have in them much that is commendable; they deserve more than abuse, they deserve 308 admiration, no matter what may have been their shortcomings in the earlier stages of their career.

The fortunes of the Mexican War, which the Mormons helped to decide for the American arms, as far as they were able, soon threw them again within the jurisdiction of the United States, and eventually, in place of their desired State of Deseret, Congress established the Territory of Utah, and made Brigham Young first governor, an appointment which should never have been made if the Mormons were as bad a people as by some was maintained. By it the Government really sanctioned the Mormon creed.

Besides the Mormons other sects pushed into the Wilderness. The Methodists and Presbyterians were early in Oregon, the first under the Lees and the second under Whitman. The Catholics also began missionary work in that quarter, and their chief worker was Father De Smet, whose name is forever welded into the history of the Wilderness, by his earnest labours for one thing, but more particularly by his careful observation and the records which he made of all he saw. He went everywhere in the northern parts of the Wilderness, always welcome, always doing good, and never in danger. More ought to be related here concerning his career, but the limits of this volume prevent.

Meanwhile the settlers in California startled the sleepy atmosphere of the old Mission régime; yet the region was so inaccessible from the East that few ventured to go there. But Fortune was holding something in reserve. A blindfold was on all eyes; no one could see the future indicated by the discovery of gold near San Fernando Mission. It had been washed out as early as 1841, but only in a small way, and it was not till one day in 1849, when nuggets were found in repairing a mill race on Sutter's ranch at the mouth of the American River, that the blindfold was dropped and the people saw. In a general way this was the end of what may be termed the Frémont period and the beginning of another, which was to have a tremendous influence upon the destinies of the Wilderness. Emigrants crossed the oceans; they crossed the Wilderness; they came from round the globe by thousands and by thousands 309 again, to wash from the golden soil of California their everlasting fortunes. It became a stampede.

There were two routes from the East. One, the northern, by the Oregon Trail, and the other, the southern, by way of the Santa Fé Trail, both starting from Westport, now Kansas City. A few years before they had started from Independence, some miles farther east. The Oregon Trail was followed as far as Fort Bridger,[108] a post established by the famous trapper of that name, on Ham's Fork in Green River Valley, 1843, and also as far as the great bend of Bear River, when the immigrants made for Salt Lake and thence by way of the Humboldt to and over the Sierras; or south about on the trail of Escalante and Jedediah Smith, till it struck the old Wolfskill (Spanish) Trail, which was then followed down the west side of the Wasatch Range to the Mountain Meadows on the head of the Santa Clara, across the Beaver Dam Mountains, down the Virgin nearly to the Colorado, and then across southern California. From Santa Fé two routes were open; one by way of the Gila and the other northward over Wolfskill's trail, the "Old Spanish Trail," to Green River at Gunnison Valley, and then across the mountains to join the other trail coming down from Salt Lake not far from the present town of Nephi. The northern route by the Humboldt was the one most travelled. The interesting incidents connected with these trails and the California gold rush would fill a volume. There were battles, scalpings, starvation, captivity, and privations of all kinds. Sometimes a whole family was destroyed at one blow, as in the case of Oatman, who had ventured on without company. He was attacked by Apaches on the Gila, the slaughter being speedy and, as the murderers thought, complete, excepting two daughters, whom they sold to the Mohaves. A son, however, recovered sufficiently to escape. One of the daughters died; the other was discovered five years later by Henry Grinell, and was bought by him from her Mohave owners and sent to her brother in Los Angeles.[109] 310

Another affair which stirred the outer world a few years after this, 1857, was the "Mountain Meadows Massacre." Just at this moment, owing to a quarrel between the Federal Government and Brigham Young, a small army under Colonel Albert Sydney Johnston, famous later as a Confederate leader, was sent in a half-hearted and futile way against the Mormons. This move was a great error on the part of the authorities, and it hardly appears as if they were in earnest. Either a well-equipped, powerful army should have been sent that could have reduced the Mormons if they had done anything deserving such treatment, which appears not to have been the fact, or they should have been dealt with by arbitration and argument as free-born citizens of the United States. The army operations were a ridiculous fiasco, but nevertheless gave the Mormons ground for the assertions that they were invincible. A caravan of one hundred and fifty people from the Arkansas-Missouri region was now on its way from Salt Lake to California by the southern trail. Between people from that region and the Mormons there had always been bitter feeling, and it was now aggravated by the presence of the threatening army and by contemptuous taunts which the immigrants are said to have freely spread along their route, accompanied by vile epithets. It is also said that they stole fowls and other property and abused those who remonstrated. The result was that when they reached Mountain Meadows, where they intended, as was the custom, to rest before starting on the more difficult journey beyond, they were attacked by a number of natives and Mormon fanatics. The attack was a local matter and had no authority then or afterwards from the officials of the Church. The immigrants were well armed and made a good fight, believing the attacking party to be natives all. When the Mormon participants appeared on the scene and told the Gentiles if they would lay down their arms the Mormons would guarantee safe exit from the valley, they accepted the proposition as an honourable one; they were anxious to spare their wives and children further exposure. They went forth, therefore, in confidence, but as they neared the south end of the valley the miscreants, as treacherous as the lowest savage, 312 violated without compunction their pledge. The immigrants were coolly butchered, for they were now helpless. Only a few little children were spared, and John D. Lee, the leader of the Mormon villains, perpetrated, according to account, crimes unspeakable in connection with murder of the most cold-blooded character.

In Council.

General Sherman Third from Left of White Group.

Photograph from United States Government.

A pile of stones was reared on the spot where the bodies were buried, and as one looks down upon it to-day from the waggon-road, which runs somewhat farther up the slope than at that time, the grim spectres of Death and Dishonour appear still to hover above the scene of blood; where savages were put to shame in an exhibition of terrible depravity. A dismal pall seems to pervade the once pure valley and doubtless always will. At the north end the cutting of floods in the stream-bed has destroyed a large part of the tillable soil, and springs that once flowed abundantly have disappeared. Several houses stand there, but they have a forlorn and dilapidated appearance. The hand of Fate has laid a blight on the place, and it will yet be many a long year before that awful tragedy will not live again as the traveller passes over the fatal road. No Mormon I have ever met thought for a moment of excusing the action of the fanatics who led the massacre. On the contrary, it has always been unequivocally condemned.

Even Lee was at least ashamed of the part he played, and he tried to persuade me in 1872 that he was innocent, that he attempted to prevent the crime, and that he had wept when he found it was to be done. Yet immediately after the event he admitted to other Mormons that he had taken part. He was "cut off" from the Church and for years lived an outlawed life in the most inaccessible places, but he was caught and, in 1877, executed at the scene of his hideous deed. The massacre was most unlucky for the Mormons, as the world refused to believe that it was not secretly sanctioned. Unfortunately for the poor immigrants one man who probably could have saved them, and who certainly would have tried desperately to do it, was absent from his home at the Meadows at that time, being on his way to Salt Lake. This was Jacob Hamblin, 313 the Leatherstocking of Utah, or "Old Jacob," as he was familiarly called when I knew him some fourteen years after the massacre. On another occasion when a fanatic, stationed on the Muddy to assist immigrants, concluded to kill a man, and said to Jacob, "This man must go up," Jacob answered, "If he does I go up first, mark that," and the man went free and never knew his danger; for it would have been a reckless nature that would have dared to oppose the wrath of Old Jacob.

Had he been at Mountain Meadows on that awful day he would have saved the immigrants or would have died with them.

Old Jacob was a remarkable character, and must hold a place in the annals of the Wilderness beside Jedediah Smith, Bridger, the Sublettes, and the rest of that gallant band. But he differed in one respect from every one of them; he sought no pecuniary gain, working for the good of his chosen people, always poor and seeming to have no ambition for riches. Honest, slow and low of speech, keen of perception, quick of action, and with admirable poise and judgment, Old Jacob was one of the heroes of the Wilderness, and one of the last of his kind. Long ago I tried to persuade him to tell me for publication the story of his life, but he then intended to write it himself. Afterwards it was brought out by the Church in the "Faith Promoting Series."[110]

In 1855 the Mormons had progressed far enough into the southern Wilderness to settle on the Santa Clara near the Virgin, and in 1861 they founded St. George, now the principal town of that wide region. They also settled at Grafton and several other places up the Virgin which winds its way through a series of bounding cliffs that rival those of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado.[111] 314

As yet few white men since Escalante, in 1776, had crossed the great canyon barrier of the Colorado between the mouth of the Virgin and Gunnison Valley on Green River, a distance of about six hundred miles as the river runs. Escalante had hunted out the fording-place of the Utes, some miles above the mouth of the Paria, the only place in all that stretch where fording is possible even at the lowest stage of water, which occurs in the autumn and winter. The trapper, Richard Campbell, as early as 1840, perhaps as early as 1827, knew of the Crossing of the Fathers, as it was called because of Escalante's venture, and he also knew that a trail from Zuñi went there, but whether he had crossed is not clear. James O. Pattie had travelled along near the canyon edge for a considerable distance and finally reached Grand River, but his route is obscure, for his narrative gives few details of this important part of his remarkable journey from the mouth of the Gila to the head of the Yellowstone in 1826. When the Mormons reached southern Utah the whole length of the Green and Colorado from Green River Valley to the mouth of the Virgin was mainly unbroken Wilderness, only the extreme upper portion having been entered by trappers and the lower part, except the crossing of a few persons at the Escalante ford, was a complete blank. Ashley had made no record of what he saw in Red Canyon, and his voyage there was forgotten. Meek's trip through Lodore on the ice was likewise forgotten, and several other futile attempts to solve the mystery of the Colorado were vague memories in the minds of the trapper fraternity. Bridger and Carson had been near the upper canyons from time to time, and once Bridger attempted to explore the Green by following along the land, but soon gave it up for lack of water. He and his companions could see the river, but they could not get down to it. E. L. Berthoud, the engineer, in 1861 also made an attempt, but gave it up after one day for the same reason. There was, indeed, only one way to fathom the secrets of this river, and that was to start above with good boats and go down on the tide; but as yet no man had appeared with sufficient nerve and good judgment to make a successful attempt at it. 315

In 1861 Berthoud and Bridger explored a road from Denver to Salt Lake by way of Middle Park, crossing the Green near the mouth of the Uinta. This road was for the Overland Stage Company. Owing to the Civil War the project was abandoned, but a regiment of California volunteers marched this way from Salt Lake to Denver. The distance was 413 miles;[112] and there was small record of the features of the Wilderness through which the road ran. From the mouth of the Colorado at the Gulf of California up to within a short distance of Fort Yuma Lieutenant Derby, of the Topographical Engineers, made an examination in 1851, and later that same year George A. Johnson came to the mouth with supplies for Yuma, constructing there some flatboats for the purpose of transporting the cargo to the fort. The Gila at this time was the southern boundary in this quarter of the United States, but complications having arisen over an ill-defined portion of the line a new treaty was negotiated by Gadsden in 1853, by which, for a consideration of ten million dollars paid to Mexico, the boundary was placed where it is now. The mouth of the Colorado was not included, though navigation privileges were granted. The mouth of the river is of no value to Mexico and ought to be purchased by the United States, although the difficulty of navigation renders it of comparatively small importance.

In order to arrive at the Yuma post, situated at the mouth of the Gila, a steamer adapted to this kind of navigation was brought by sea from San Francisco by Turnbull. This was to ply between the fort and the Gulf at the mouth of the Colorado. She was named Uncle Sam, and it was only a few months before she struck a snag and went to the bottom. The power of the river, the immense quantity of sediment brought down and shiftingly deposited by every slack current, the earthquakes, and the fierce tidal bore, rendered navigation anything but easy. Turnbull gave up, but Johnson took the contract for transporting the fort supplies from the Gulf and soon had a new steamer in service, the General Jesup. This was followed by a second, the Colorado, one hundred and twenty feet long. Johnson became familiar with every bar and current and for 316 years continued skilfully to operate his boats. He knew the history of that locality as perhaps no other man could know it.[113]

The Steamboat "Explorer" in which Lieutenant Ives, in 1858, Ascended the Colorado to the Foot of Black Canyon.

Sketch by H. B. Mollhausen.

In 1851 Sitgreaves reconnoitred the country about on the trail of Garces, and in 1854 Whipple, also for the Government, explored along the 35th parallel. The mighty gorges carved through the great plateau prohibited north and south travel, for they were well-nigh impossible to cross except at the one or two places mentioned. A mountain range of equal length and of the greatest magnitude would not have offered so tremendous an obstacle. In 1857 E. F. Beale surveyed a waggon-road along the 35th parallel for the Government, and Johnson, in his steamer, the General Jesup, went up from Yuma early in January, 1858, to ferry Beale across on his return from 317 California. Before meeting Beale, Johnson pushed his steamer experimentally on up the river to the head of Black Canyon, the highest point attainable by steamers under the most favourable conditions. He did this to expressly anticipate the exploration planned by Lieutenant Ives, of the Topographical Engineers, who, the month before, December, 1857, had landed at the mouth of the river with sections of a steamboat, The Explorer, built in Philadelphia, with which he intended to find the head of navigation and also map the river. Ives conducted this survey with skill and accuracy, and while Johnson's manœuvre took from him the distinction of first ascent, nevertheless he remains the first explorer of the river in this region. He went to the foot of Black Canyon with his steamer and thence to the head of Black Canyon with a small boat. He visited the Grand Canyon at the mouth of Diamond Creek, the Havasupai Canyon, and also the Moki Towns. His report is a model of graceful diction, but many of the illustrations are preposterous. In 1866 Captain Rodgers took the steamer Esmeralda, ninety-seven feet long, drawing three and a half feet of water, up to Callville, not far below the mouth of the Virgin.

The Mormons were desirous of opening a road to communicate with the region east and south of the Colorado, especially that the "Lamanites" might be able to come from there and receive endowments in the temple of St. George according to prophecy. Brigham Young directed Jacob Hamblin to undertake this journey, and in the autumn of 1857 went with a party under the guidance of a native to the Ute Ford, or Crossing of the Fathers, where Escalante had broken the way eighty-one years before. Successfully traversing this difficult passage, possible only at a very low stage of water, he and his eleven companions reached the Moki Towns in safety. Nearly every autumn after this saw Jacob wending his way to the same region, but not always without disaster. In 1860 the party was turned back south of the river and one of their number, young Smith, killed by the Navajos. In 1862 Jacob tried another route to reach the same locality, going to the Colorado by way of the Grand Wash, south-westerly from St. George. 318 At the river they built a boat and safely passed over. Then they went south and east below the great chasm to the San Francisco Mountains, suffering greatly for water in that arid region. Crossing the Little Colorado they finally arrived at the towns of the Mokis. But on the return Jacob followed his original route by way of the Crossing of the Fathers, and was thus the first white man to circumtour the Grand Canyon. The next year he went again by the Grand Wash trail, touched at Havasupai Canyon, and arrived once more among the friendly Mokis, three of whom had accompanied him back to Utah on the last trip. On this 1863 journey he was accompanied by Lewis Greeley, a nephew of Horace Greeley, who had come down from Salt Lake with letters from Brigham Young. It was not till six years later that a crossing was made at the mouth of the Paria, now Lee Ferry, still the chief, I might almost say, the only available crossing between Grand Wash and Gunnison Valley. Jacob Hamblin was the first to go that way. The river is deep and a raft or boat is necessary to transport goods.

In seeking a hiding-place John D. Lee found this point desirable and settled there early in 1872, building a log cabin and cultivating some ground. He began the ferry by helping several persons across the river, the first being J. H. Beadle, who had written a severe denunciation of him. Lee told me he discovered Beadle's identity, but I have forgotten exactly how. Lee called the place "Lonely Dell," and it was a name well applied, for the precipices of naked rock rose high on every side, and about a hundred miles separated the locality from Kanab, the nearest settlement of any consequence.

Where the Wilderness Lingers.

Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.

Though the canyons of the Colorado had now been crossed midway of the great six-hundred-mile stretch, and farther north near Green River Valley had far back in the century been penetrated to a limited extent, almost nothing was actually known about them. Even at the most favourable points approach to the brink was extremely difficult, and descent to the water generally impossible. On each side the country was for many miles forbidding wilderness, for the journeys of the trappers, where they had penetrated, had left 320 no impression. It was as if no white man had ever looked upon it. They were thus the final great problem of the Wilderness. A stout heart was required to launch forth into their unfathomed mystery, particularly as by this time numerous tales of underground channels, fearful cataracts, and chasms impossible of passage, went the rounds of the camp-fires. For a time the Civil War withdrew attention from Western exploration, but when it was ended one of the officers, who had gone through the weary four years, and who wore in consequence an armless right sleeve, turned his attention once more to his scientific studies, and finally found himself, in 1867, exploring in the Parks of Colorado. Here he learned of the wonderful and forbidding canyons of the great river, saw some of the minor tributary gorges, and also met and employed a rare mountaineer, Jack Sumner, also a veteran of the Civil War. Sumner says he suggested to Powell the descent of the canyons. At any rate, Powell became enthused with a desire to explore this remnant of the original Wilderness, and Sumner was a more than willing companion in the scheme. Organising an expedition Powell started from Green River Station, Wyoming, in the same valley where the early trappers had so often made their rendezvous, and which had also been the resting-place for the California pioneers. He was a geologist and his experienced eye and quick judgment doubtless soon disclosed to him the probable nature of the interior of the canyons; the probability that no insurmountable obstacle existed to prevent his triumphant descent through the whole series. But while he believed the canyon mystery could be solved he went at it with no spirit of bravado. With him it was serious, scientific business, solely for the purpose of determining the geologic and geographic character of the mighty gorges in which the river lost itself. As the difference between the altitude of Green River Station and that of the mouth of the Rio Virgin was known to be some five thousand feet, there was clearly room for realisation of all the fantastic tales of the mountaineers.

Running the Colorado.

Drawing by F. S. Dellenbaugh.

On May 29, 1869, with four staunch boats built in Chicago, manned by nine men besides Powell, the party set forth on 322 the swift current from Green River, Wyoming. They were soon deep in the fastnesses of the canyon wilderness where the plunging river roared defiance. As has before been mentioned Ashley had passed through Red Canyon, one of the first of the great gorges. Meek in winter on the ice had gone through Lodore and the gorges just below it, and a party of trappers had been wrecked in Lodore in attempting the descent. The latter made their way to Salt Lake, where they worked on the temple which the Mormons had begun. This canyon of Lodore had disaster in store for Powell too. One of the boats was wrecked, though fortunately not a man was injured; but the accident produced trouble, as Powell blamed some of the men for blundering, and they blamed him for failing to signal in time.

When they reached Wonsits Valley one of the men, Goodman, who was in the wreck, decided that he had had enough of this river and made his way across country to the Uinta Agency. The precipices soon closed in again to form the ninety-seven miles of the Canyon of Desolation,[114] immediately followed by thirty-six miles now called Gray Canyon before an opening occurred. This opening was Gunnison Valley, through which Wolfskill in 1830 had led the way, breaking the "Spanish Trail" to California. It is from this point downward for six hundred miles that no opening occurs in the cliffs that bound the river. They become higher or lower, slightly farther apart or nearer together, and there are lateral canyons and minor breaks, of course, but there is no valley along the river, and in places for miles on either side the surface of the country is only barren sandstone. The cliffs reach altitudes of three, four, and five thousand feet above the water of the river. In these great depths men are as completely shut away from the world as if they were in the very bowels of the globe.

Upper Part of Marble Canyon—Colorado River.

This gorge merges into the Grand Canyon at the mouth of the Little Colorado. The length of both together is about 300 miles. The first to travel this distance were Powell and his men, 1869.

After passing through Labyrinth and Stillwater canyons the Powell party found themselves at the mouth of Grand River, which entered the main stream in a canyon thirteen 324 hundred feet deep, and they were at the same time in the head of another great gorge, later named Cataract Canyon. Any one who follows their trail will admit the appropriateness of this title. The length is forty-one miles, the walls reach an altitude of twenty-seven hundred feet at the highest, and in some of the bends are so straight as to give an impression of overhanging the spectator's head as he peers aloft from his boat to the sky so far above. At least that was the impression I received. The verticality of the rocks was greater to my eye here than at any other point. For some distance the declivity of the river bed is the sharpest on the whole course, and this with the narrowness of the canyon began to disturb Powell and lead him to fear that some of the stories of impassable falls might be true. Fortunately no insurmountable obstruction was encountered, and they swept triumphantly on through Narrow Canyon and Glen Canyon to the head of Marble, the real beginning of the greatest gorge of all, at the point where Jacob Hamblin crossed a month or two later in the same year, and which to-day is known as Lee Ferry.

Now there was before the party the greatest continuous chasm on the globe, Marble-Grand, almost three hundred miles in length as the river flows. Here they met with the hardest work and greatest danger. They became worn out; food grew scarce, for accidents and wetting had reduced too rapidly the original supply. Then it seemed as if they could not proceed, and the men who had been wrecked in Lodore were not reconciled. Another joined them and, discontented, the three refused to attempt a particularly bad rapid. They climbed to the plateau and were killed by the natives not far from Mount Dellenbaugh. The others, nerving themselves for a desperate struggle, passed the bad place, swept on through more, and emerged triumphant the next day, at noon, August 29, 1869, at the mouth of the Grand Wash, and the end of the Grand Canyon. The victory was won—the last problem of the Wilderness was broken!

From this point down the river was known. Jacob Hamblin with several others had passed from here by boat to Callville, and thence to the sea Ives had explored as already noted. 325

It was a dramatic triumph over the angry and rock-walled stream which for three hundred and twenty-nine years, since the Spanish captain, Cardenas, first looked into the deeps of the Grand Canyon, had defied mankind. Powell and his men were nearly exhausted by starvation-diet and exposure, but the exhilaration of success sustained them, and help was near. Brigham Young, hearing rumours of disaster to the expedition, had sent instructions to some Mormons at the mouth of the Virgin to keep a sharp watch for wreckage and to render any assistance possible, and also for extra food to be taken there. The day after emerging from the great gorge they came to these men, Asa and his two sons, and enjoyed abundance of food and the sight once more of friendly faces from the outer world. The following day Bishop Leithead and two or three other Mormons arrived in a waggon with more supplies, including some fine melons, and the explorers were treated with every kindness.

Powell left the river here, but Jack Sumner and the others, except Walter Powell, went on down by river to Yuma where Sumner and Andrew Hall wintered, going the next year to the Gulf, the first and, so far as I have heard, the only human beings ever to accomplish the entire voyage from Green River Valley to tidewater. Sumner was a born trapper, hunter, and prospector, and at last accounts was still roaming the mountains engaged in these pursuits, another of those extraordinary characters that belong to the original Wilderness and will never live again. He knew Bridger, Baker, Carson, and others intimately and had met Frémont and Bonneville.[115]

When Powell, with his brother Walter, arrived at St. George he went immediately to the post-office eager to get the mail he had directed to be sent to this point.

"By whose authority," indignantly exclaimed the postmaster, "do you come here asking for Major Powell's mail—Major Powell is dead."

"By the best authority in the world," returned the Major. "I am Major Powell."

"But Major Powell is dead," reiterated the official. Something 327 then about the ragged, haggard man shook his confidence. He said: "What evidence have you?"

The Grand Canyon Region.

"This," replied the Major, holding up the empty sleeve. "I left this arm at Shiloh." He got the mail.

Powell would hardly have been able so speedily and successfully to accomplish this feat had it not been for an event which was contemporaneous,—the construction of a transcontinental railway. This enabled him easily to place strong boats and supplies on the banks of Green River. His great voyage, which marks the end of the Wilderness, and the completion of the railway, marking the beginning of an entirely new epoch, occurred the same year. The rivers of the Wilderness were not available for practical transportation. Those east of the Backbone were circuitous and for the most part too shallow for boats of much draft; those west were torrential. Hence the necessity of the Iron Trail. In the search for the best route for such a trail to bind the Hudson to the Golden Gate a great many admirable surveys were made. Every one of the expeditions was profoundly interesting and intimately connected with Wilderness breaking, but it is not practicable here to describe them.

The route finally selected was up the Platte, across Green River Valley, to Salt Lake, down the Humboldt, and over the Sierra Nevada to Sacramento and San Francisco. The idea of putting a railway through the Wilderness was early conceived, but owing to numerous obstacles and difficulties as to route to be followed and as to finances, although the numerous surveys were made, nothing definite was done. As far back as 1850 Senator Benton, of Missouri, introduced a bill authorising portions of road to be constructed with gaps where it was supposed a line was not possible. In 1853 Congress appropriated $150,000 for six surveys to be executed by the War Department. The next year $190,000 more were appropriated for three additional surveys. It is thus apparent that Congress appreciated the importance of a line through the Wilderness which should bring the Pacific Coast with its now rapidly developing interests closer to the seat of Government. In the dissension which began to rend the country 328 concerning the slavery question and State rights, there was danger of secession in that direction as well as at the South. The military importance of such a railway was beyond discussion. General Sherman, who knew the conditions thoroughly and had gone in 1846 to California, declared the Government could well afford to build the whole line and would make money by the operation, as it was indispensable for the transportation of troops and supplies.

The Thousand Mile Tree.

A hemlock 1000 miles from Omaha.

Photograph by C. R. Savage.

In July, 1862, Congress, though burdened with the terrific war problem, passed the Pacific Railway Bill authorising the construction of a continuous line from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean. Two private companies were then formed to build this line—the Union Pacific for the eastern part and the Central Pacific for the western. These companies were to receive Government aid as follows: 1. A free right of way 400 329 feet wide. 2. An issue of Government bonds amounting to one half the cost of the road. 3. An absolute gift of ten alternate sections of land per mile (12,800 acres) on each side of the line. 4. Privilege of using coal, iron, etc., from the region through which building operations extended. 5. To receive on completion of continuous sections of 20 miles the bonds of the United States as follows: A. Between the Missouri River and eastern base of mountains, about 650 miles, $16,000 a mile. B. Across the Rocky Mountains, 150 miles, $48,000 a mile. C. Across the Great Basin, $32,000 a mile. D. Across the Sierra Nevada, 150 miles, $48,000 a mile. E. To San Francisco, about 120 miles, $16,000 a mile.

Secret Town Trestle.

1000 feet long. Maximum height, 90 feet.

Photograph by C. R. Savage.

The Government also obliged itself to extinguish the title of Amerinds to all lands donated. The State of California assumed the interest for twenty years on $1,500,000 of the 330 Central Pacific bonds, assistance estimated as the equivalent of $3,000,000 in gold. San Francisco gave $400,000 and Sacramento donated 30 acres of land. The aggregate of land given to the two companies was ten million acres. Thus it seems that the Government practically paid for the whole line. It would have been better if it had built the road without the intervention of the companies. About two miles a day was made in track building, then considered rapid work. The chief contractor was J. S. Casement, and William Dodge was chief engineer. The workmen lived in trains which were pushed ahead as fast as the road advanced and were supplied with plenty of rifles and ammunition for protection against the Sioux and other roaming tribes. These hovered about like vultures, choosing opportune moments for attack. The assistant engineer, P. T. Browne, with his party, was fired on sixty miles west of North Platte. They fought for about two hours against seventy-five natives. Browne was killed.

Sometimes the Amerinds destroyed the track, captured trains, killed engineers, firemen, brakemen, and telegraph linemen. They also would destroy the telegraph line and carry off the wire. In fact, they were a constant terror and menace. But when denouncing them nobody remembers the swindles perpetrated on them in former years, nor the bad whiskey which impoverished them and brutalised them and won their furs for a bagatelle. Their attitude was largely the result of the earlier treatment they had received from the whites, as well as of all the bad white blood which had been infused into the tribes. One of the worst affairs was the Plum Creek massacre. William Thompson, an Englishman, a telegraph man, was sent out with a party of five to hunt up a break. They started about nine o'clock one evening and when they reached the place a pile of ties was discovered on the track for the purpose of wrecking a supply train nearly due. Barely had this discovery been made when Thompson and his men were attacked by the enemy. They fired back and then ran. One of the natives on a horse pursued Thompson, shot him through the arm, and then knocked him down with a clubbed rifle. Next he stabbed him in the neck to finish him, and immediately 331 began the operation of removing Thompson's scalp. As Thompson was far from dead the prospect was not agreeable, but a movement would have brought death. His only chance was to keep quiet and let the work go on, and he was able to do this notwithstanding the pain. But when the scalp was jerked loose he thought his whole head was off, and then felt as if a red-hot iron had been passed over his crown.

Snow Sheds in the Sierra.

Photograph by C. R. Savage.

The native tucked the scalp in his belt and mounting rode hastily away, but in doing so dropped the scalp and its owner picked it up. Thompson was obliged to remain quiet while the band piled more ties on the track. Presently he heard the distant rumble of the train. It was impossible to do anything to prevent the wreck. In a few moments the cars were piled in a heap. The engineer and fireman were shot and scalped; the train was ransacked by the light of a huge fire. A barrel 332 of whiskey was opened and all got drunk. When daybreak came they set the whole wreck on fire and gleefully danced around it. When they were finally gone from the scene Thompson crawled away and at length reached Willow Island station, where a rescuing party found him. People came from all around to see his ghastly baldness. He was taken to a hotel where a doctor dressed his wound. "In a pail of water was his scalp, about nine inches in length and four in width, somewhat resembling a drowned rat as it floated curled up on the water." Such were the incidents due to the wild tribes which constantly harassed the builders of this iron trail.

Adobe Ruins of Green River—Union Pacific Terminus.

Photograph, 1871, by E. O. Beaman, U. S. Colo. Riv. Exp.

Scene before Driving the Last Spike—Promontory Point, Utah, May 10, 1869.

John Duff in front, immediately beneath engine. Sidney Dillon at his left. The Reverend Doctor Todd asking a blessing.

Photograph by C. R. Savage for the Union Pacific Railway.

But these savages were little worse than those who composed a large part of the population of each terminus. They had different methods, that was all. Whiskey flowed free and drunkenness was, as usual with our European race, the great recreation. Gambling dives and grog shops made up a large part of the mushroom town that grew up at each official end of the track. All manner of people, like birds of prey, flocked to these places to secure a share of the money paid to the workers, who were numbered by thousands. Some buildings were fairly substantial, but there were many that were merely board sides with a canvas roof. Others were "dugouts," that 334 is, holes in the ground roofed over with sticks and earth; in a side hill if possible. There were large numbers of tents. Where there were vertical clay banks along a dry water course, or a stream, these were burrowed into near the top, a square chamber being made seven or eight feet long, five or six high, and four or five deep, the outer side being closed by a blanket or canvas hung from the upper edge. Rents were high and any shelter at all was valuable.

The Ames Monument—Union Pacific Railway.

Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh.

From time to time, as progress of the line demanded, the official terminus was moved on. From Grand Island it jumped to North Platte, then to Julesburg, then to Cheyenne, and so on, in some cases leaving a permanent town of considerable proportions behind. In the case of Cheyenne a city of five thousand sprang out of nothing, and there were three newspapers; but in some instances the advance left behind only a wreck looking as if a tornado had swept that way. Remnants of old clothes, boards, straw, broken furniture, thousands of tin cans, empty bottles, etc., strewed the ground in all directions. At Green River a number of adobe houses were built, the ruins of which were still standing at the time of my first visit to that locality in 1871. Even two or three miles up the 336 track I found dugouts and a large amount of wreckage to remind one of the late "prosperity." The life at these places had all the most vicious qualities of our civilization, and few of its good ones. There were no policemen, and the state of disorder may be imagined. It was a feverish nightmare of horrors, in striking contrast to the sobriety of the life the Mormons brought to the Wilderness.

Driving the Last Spike, 3.05 p.m., New York Time, May 10, 1869.

Locomotive "Jupiter" of the Central Pacific, and "119" of the Union Pacific, about to meet when last spike is driven.

Photograph by C. R. Savage for the Union Pacific Railway.

The Last Tie.

Union Pacific Railway, 1869. Made of California laurel, polished, and with a silver plate on the side.

Three years after the beginning of the great work, which it was thought would require ten, the day came when the ceremony was to be performed that should complete the engineering triumph. On May 10, 1869, two engines at Promontory Point, Utah, were brought head to head, a half-world at each back, as Bret Harte said, only a small space intervening, where the crowd gathered to witness the driving of the last spike which should bring far seas together and mark an end and a beginning. There was a prayer by the Reverend Doctor Todd. The last tie, of California laurel, beautifully polished and bearing on one side a silver plate with names of officers engraved upon it, was then laid. Two rails were next placed opposite each other, one for the Union, the other for the Central Pacific. Following this was a presentation of spikes on the part of California, Nevada, and Arizona. Governor Stanford responded for the Central Pacific, and General Dodge for the Union Pacific. With a silver hammer for driving the last spike, presented by the Union Express Company, Governor Stanford stood on the south rail, while Dr. Durant, to drive another, stood on the north one. At a signal that the telegraph was ready these spikes were driven, the last one, the golden spike of the Central Pacific, being connected with the telegraph so that the strokes of Stanford's hammer were repeated all over the country, and at the final blow "done" was sent to the waiting world. The crowd cheered; Dr. Durant and Governor Stanford shook hands. Telegrams of congratulation were received. General Dodge, the engineer in chief, 337 and Jack and Dan Casement, the chief contractors, were the heroes of the hour. The work was finished.

The Last Spike.

Union Pacific Railway. Made of gold.

The operation of building this line partly belongs to the romantic period of Breaking the Wilderness, but when that last spike of gold was sent home and the engines met upon the rails a new and different epoch began. Scarcely less fascinating, up to this moment, have been its events, but this volume is not for them. The trail of the iron horse, which would annihilate the vast distances of the Wilderness, where the life blood of so many had softened the way, was an accomplished fact. The new era was at hand. Europe and Cathay stood at last face to face, in the midst of that once "northern mystery" which was the dream of the gold-hunting conquistadore. The Seven Cities of Cibola had long ago vanished, but the rich cities of the Republic were building in their place, and wealth beyond the wildest imagination of the early adventurers was now to flow from every corner of the broken Wilderness.

A Modern Fast Train.

From Wonderland, 1901. Northern Pacific Railway. 338

The Mormon Temple—Salt Lake City.

Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh. 339



Canada Lynx.

From Wonderland, 1904. Northern Pacific Railway.


[1] See also Sulte (Benjamin), Découverte du Mississippi en 1659. In Proceedings and Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, Second Series, vol. ix., (1903), section i., pp. 3-44. Radisson's veracity is not unquestioned.
[2] For an admirable account of the fur trade see The American Fur Trade of the Far West, by H. M. Chittenden.
[3] See The American Beaver and his Works, by Lewis H. Morgan.
[4] Gatschet says there is a word in the dialect of Isleta, N. M., Sibúlodd, meaning buffalo, and it is possible that a native name for the animal has been mixed up with the name of the first group of towns, written often Cevola. For a description of these towns, etc., see Coronado, by George Parker Winship, A. S. Barnes & Co. edition.
[5] Voyages through North America, Alexander Mackenzie, vol. ii., p. 27, Barnes edition.
[6] An excellent monograph on the American Bison, by J. A. Allen, edited by Dr. Elliott Coues, is contained in the Report of the U. S. Geological Survey of Colorado and Adjacent Territories, by F. V. Hayden, for 1875. See also works of W. T. Hornaday.
[7] Les Singularitez de la France Antarctique.
[8] Owned by the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy.
[9] The Wild Northland, Sir William Francis Butler, K.C.B.
[10] Pemmican, from the Cree language—pimmi, meat, and kon, fat.
[11] The English Sportsman in the Western Prairies.
[12] Buffalo Land, W. E. Webb.
[13] Buffalo Land, p. 304.
[14] Commerce of the Prairies.
[15] The Canadian Red River Expedition of 1858, H. Y. Hind, p. 356.
[16] Crayon Miscellany. A Tour on the Prairies.
[17] Catlin's Eight Years, vol. i., pp. 25, 26.
[18] A substitute word, compounded of the first two syllables of American and the first syllable of Indian, adopted by some leading ethnologists.
[19] I am not now taking theories into account. The theory that man has evolved from a lower organism seems to be correct. Here reference is made only to absolute facts.
[20] The domestication of the buffalo by some tribe referred to by Gomara is not sufficiently definite to be accepted, and, furthermore, if true, could have been only a limited case. In Arizona there is some indication that an animal like the vicuna was used, but it is very vague.
[21] For a list of stocks and sub-stocks, and of tribes, classified according to language, see The North Americans of Yesterday, by F. S. Dellenbaugh, Appendix, p. 461. By means of these lists the proper places of the majority of tribes can be readily found.
[22] There was also a Dakota sub-tribe called Blackfeet. In their own language they were Sihasapa—a branch of the Tetons.
[23] Throughout the South-west, in the Colorado and Rio Grande River basins, certain tribes of similar culture and village habits once lived. These seem to have been of different stocks, exactly as the village building tribes of to-day are. Some were probably Shoshonean, some Piman, others were allied to the Tañoan and Keresan, while still others were of stocks now extinct. For all these the term Puebloan is convenient.
[24] North of the Colorado River are innumerable house ruins ascribed by the present Pai Utes (Shoshonean) to the Shinumo. They also call the Mokis, Shinumo, hence Powell applied this term to the whole group. The probability is that the Shinumo were all Shoshonean.
[25] A Journal of Voyages and Travels in the Interior of North America, by Daniel Williams Harmon. A. S. Barnes & Co.
[26] The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth. Harper & Bros.
[27] The Middle Five.
[28] For the story of this exploration see The Romance of the Colorado River, by F. S. Dellenbaugh, and for further information on the natives of the Wilderness, see The North Americans of Yesterday, same author, and The Indian of To-day, by George Bird Grinnell.
[29] Journal of Jacob Fowler, edited by Elliott Coues.
[30] See Voyages to the Arctic, by Alexander Mackenzie, vol. i., p. xxxviii., and other early travellers in the West.
[31] Catlin estimated 16,000,000.
[32] A valuable, handy volume on the early doings of the Spaniards is Pioneer Spaniards in North America, by William Henry Johnson. See also The Discovery of America, by John Fiske.
[33] See Relation of Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, translation by Buckingham Smith. Contributions to the History of the South-western Portion of the U. S., by A. F. Bandelier. "Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca," by Brownie Ponton and Bates H. McFarland, in the Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Society (January, 1898).
[34] Buckingham Smith, p. 102.
[35] Castañeda asserts that Marcos was sixty leagues from the towns when he received news of the death of Estevan, and that he did not go a step nearer. See The Journey of Coronado, by George Parker Winship, p. 8. Barnes & Co. edition.
[36] See the narratives of Castañeda and Jaramillo in The Journey of Coronado, by George Parker Winship. Barnes & Co. edition.
[37] For an account of the explorations of the Colorado, see The Romance of the Colorado River, by F. S. Dellenbaugh. Topographical description, Chapter III.
[38] An indication that Corazones was farther north than the region of the pass of Mulatos, and therefore that Cabeza's route was also farther north than Bandelier believes. It would also indicate that Estevan led the way back over their old trail.
[39] See Chapters IV. and V.
[40] Cicuye is identified with the present ruins of Pecos near Santa Fé, but like most of the accepted identifications it is not correct. Cicuye was farther south. See also Bandelier on the Ruins of the Pueblo of Pecos, papers of the Archæological Institute of America, American Series I.
[41] Some years ago, in a Bulletin of the American Geographical Society (1897), I published my views on this subject. Since then I have succeeded in making the matter somewhat clearer, especially as to the site of Tiguex, and gave my ideas before the meeting of the International Congress of Americanists, 13th Session, New York, 1902. Simpson, before me, located Tiguex below the mouth of the Puerco, and it can be nowhere else.
[42] Also given "Ruiz" and "Ruyz."
[43] The site assigned for Tiguex by Bandelier is at Bernalillo, but I consider it an impossible location.
[44] Benavides, in his residence in the country, went over the same route as Espejo, and his itinerary tallies with Espejo's from Tiguex to Acoma. Thus Tiguex falls below the Puerco by evidence separated by more than forty years.
[45] It has been stated by some historians that Santa Fé was founded in 1582, but it is a mistake.
[46] See Robert Greenhow's admirable History of Oregon and California, and the history by H. H. Bancroft, for details on California.
[47] San Diego, 1769; San Luis Rey de Francia, 1798; San Juan Capistrano, 1776; San Gabriel, 1771; San Fernando, 1797; Santa Barbara, 1786; La Purissima Concepcion, 1787; San Luis Obispo, 1772; San Miguel, 1797; Soledad, 1791; San Antonio de Padua, 1771; San Carlos de Monterey, 1770; San Juan Bautista, 1797; Santa Cruz, 1794; Santa Clara, 1777; San Francisco, 1776; San José, 1797. In the next century three more were added: Santa Inez, 1804; San Rafael, 1817; San Francisco de Solano de Sonoma, 1820.
[48] See Garces, by Elliott Coues.
[49] Some years ago, Col. John Reid found on his farm, six miles west of Lexington, Mo., and two miles from the river, a silver-plated halberd, together with some old French and Spanish coins. The articles were six feet below the surface, and were exposed by the cutting of a creek. Later owned by Mr. Jo. A. Wilson of Lexington. This halberd does not indicate Coronado's presence, but it is interesting in this connection. The French coins would suggest a later time—dates not known.
[50] Travels in the Interior of America, John Bradbury, edition of 1817, p. 12.
[51] See La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West, by Francis Parkman.
[52] See The Expedition of Pedro de Villazur, by A. F. Bandelier, Papers of the Archæological Institute of America, American Series V.
[53] Sieur de la Verendrye and His Sons, etc., by Rev. E. D. Neill, in Contributions, Montana Historical Society, vol. i., p. 267. See also Report on Canadian Archives, Douglas Brymner, and Thwaite's Rocky Mountain Exploration, p. 27 et seq.
[54] Among the papers of James Stuart, who was long resident in that region, was found a memorandum referring to some monument "twenty feet in diameter—on river bluffs—round and run to point—spaces between boulders filled with green grass and weeds." Contributions, Historical Society of Montana, vol. i., p. 272.
[55] See Greenhow's History of Oregon and California, p. 140, et seq., second ed.
[56] Travels throughout the Interior Parts of North America in 1766-8, by Jonathan Carver. The descriptions of native tribes contained in this book are, according to Greenhow, not original, but mainly translations from Lahontan. Greenhow, p. 144. second ed.
[57] The Wild Northland, Sir William Francis Butler. Barnes edition.
[58] Journal of Voyages and Travels, Daniel Williams Harmon. Barnes & Co. edition.
[59] Voyages through North America, Alexander Mackenzie. Barnes & Co. edition.
[60] Fur-trading establishments were called forts or houses, the latter term being more particularly used in the more northern regions, though fort was employed there also. An excellent impression of the life at one of these posts may be obtained from Stewart Edward White's novel, Conjuror's House.
[61] Several expeditions, indeed, had been proposed: George Rogers Clark in 1783; John Ledyard from Paris to Kamtchatka, thence to Nootka Sound, thence across the continent to the United States, 1784; and Michaux referred to in the next chapter. These amounted to nothing.
[62] He was made a captain at twenty-three.
[63] At eight years Lewis was a "coon" hunter.
[64] See: Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites; Lewis and Clark, Biddle edition, edited by Elliott Coues; Lewis and Clark's Journals, Biddle edition, reprint, Barnes & Co.; The Trail of Lewis and Clark, O. D. Wheeler.
[65] Journal of Voyages, Barnes edition, p. 106.
[66] $2500 were appropriated by Congress for the Lewis and Clark expedition.
[67] This was La Roque of the N.-W. Co.
[68] Pike was later captain, then major, then general. He was killed at York, Upper Canada, in the War of 1812. He was about the age of Meriwether Lewis.
[69] Charles Joseph Latrobe, a companion of Washington Irving on the plains. He wrote The Rambler in North America.
[70] About this time the Marquis Casa Calvo had given an American, Dunbar, permission to explore the Red River and Wichita country.
[71] Coues suggests that Pike was really bound for Santa Fé and fully intended to allow himself to be captured. It is possible that he had some secret compact with General Wilkinson and Aaron Burr.
[72] I find that the majority of men object to having an over-abundance of provisions, even of the staple sort. It seems often to be considered a sort of cowardice to provide for unforeseen food emergencies, yet these are the very ones which wreck expeditions. Some one compact staple should always be carried in extravagant quantity, and there are ways of doing it.
[73] See the frontispiece. They came down into the valley behind the left-hand peak. The exact route from Wet Mountain valley to the Rio Grande is uncertain, also the pass. See Coues on these points.
[74] Coues pertinently asks, if Pike thought himself on Red River, why did he cross it into acknowledged Spanish territory and there build his fort. Robinson also knew he was near Santa Fé.
[75] For the full account see Bradbury, Travels, etc., original edition, page 17, footnote.
[76] For full details of this undertaking see Washington Irving's Astoria.
[77] See New Light on the Early History of the Greater North-West, by Dr. Elliott Coues.
[78] I have not seen the original journal of Hunt. Irving, not knowing the country, does not always make the trail perfectly clear.
[79] Life in the Far West. G. F. A. Ruxton.
[80] Recently a manuscript diary of Robert Stuart's was discovered, and a typewritten copy of it has been added to the New York Public Library.
[81] Account of an Expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains in 1819-20, compiled by Edwin James from the notes of Major Long, Mr. Say, and other gentlemen of the party.
[82] James took the place of Dr. Baldwin, who had become ill and remained behind at the village of Franklin, where he died on August 31, 1819. Dr. James came out in the spring of 1820 with Major Long.
[83] Dr. Coues states in his Pike's Journal that the proper name for this stream, as applied by Frémont, is Fontaine qui Bouit, but as it was named before Frémont's time from the celebrated "boiling" springs, Dr. Coues's statement is an error.
[84] The Journal of Jacob Fowler, edited by Elliott Coues, with notes.
[85] The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth, written from his own dictation by T. D. Bonner. Chittenden says he became Beckwourth only when this book was written—before that being plain Beckwith, but men are often called for years by wrong names, and Beckwourth is no more distinguished than Beckwith.
[86] Inman, The Santa Fé Trail, says the Bents, Carson, and Maxwell, whom he knew, spoke well of Beckwourth. He also says his honesty was unquestioned, and that he was a born leader.
[87] For further details of this part of Pattie's journey see The Romance of the Colorado River, by F. S. Dellenbaugh.
[88] The Personal Narrative of James O. Pattie of Kentucky, edited by Timothy Flint.
[89] Ashley went through Red Canyon and another party later through the Canyon of Lodore. Below this there is no record of successful passage till 1869.
[90] Chittenden thinks Smith later changed the name Adams to Virgin after Thomas Virgin of his party. It may, however, be a corruption of Le Verkin, a name which survives in one of the branches.
[91] There are several biographies of Carson.
[92] Burdette's Life of Kit Carson.
[93] Commerce of the Prairies.
[94] Gregg, Commerce of the Prairies.
[95] Reminiscences of a Ranger.
[96] History of the American Fur Trade—an admirable work. He criticises Bancroft for speaking of Irving's book as The Adventures of Captain Bonneville, but this was the title of the edition of 1849.
[97] Early California Reminiscences, by General John Bidwell, in Out West Magazine, March, 1904, p. 286.
[98] Travels in the Interior of North America, by Maximilian, Prince of Wied, translated from the German by H. Evans Lloyd.
[99] See Catlin's Eight Years.
[100] In the works of H. H. Bancroft may be found lists of books on the Wilderness.
[101] How Marcus Whitman Saved Oregon, by O. W. Nixon. It is now stated that the importance ascribed to Whitman's labours is exaggerated, and that he had little to do with "saving" Oregon.
[102] The method of expressing astonishment was to cover the mouth with one hand.
[103] Travels in the Great Western Prairies, etc., by Thomas J. Farnham.
[104] Life in the Far West, by George Frederick Ruxton.
[105] Though beaver trapping was no longer profitable, yet the fur business was still carried on, and, as Chittenden points out, is to-day greater than ever. Furs now come from a much wider range, however.
[106] Books about the Mormons are full of prejudice one way or the other. The most valuable account I know is The Story of the Mormons, by William A. Linn.
[107] The reader may conclude from my remarks on alcoholic beverages that I am a Prohibitionist or a teetotaler, yet such is not the case. But the manner in which whiskey was furnished to the natives, and the way in which it debauches the frontier towns, are a disgrace to humanity.
[108] For location of forts and trading posts see Chittenden, History of the American Fur Trade, Part III., with an excellent map.
[109] Captivity of the Oatman Girls, R. B. Stratton.
[110] Jacob Hamblin; A Narrative of His Personal Experience, Fifth Book of the Faith Promoting Series, by James A. Little. Juvenile Instructor Office, Salt Lake City, 1881.
[111] The Mormons also settled in southern California, and Major Bell declared "they were the very best fellows" he ever had to do with. In 1859 they were recalled to Utah by Brigham Young, who for the time being concentrated his people in the territory over which they had control.
[112] Provo to Golden.
[113] Being desirous of securing details of Johnson's operations, and finding that he was still living in California, I wrote to him about a year ago requesting information particularly on certain main facts. Instead of giving it to me, he replied that he would soon publish a book in which I would find all the points, and referred me to that. He died soon after, and I have not been able to get track of the book.
[114] For a list of the canyons in their sequence, with declivity, altitudes, height of walls, etc., see Appendix, The Romance of the Colorado River, by F. S. Dellenbaugh.
[115] After this was written Sumner died—in 1907.

The Romance of the
Colorado River : : :

A Complete Account of the Discovery and of the Explorations from 1540 to the Present Time, with Particular Reference to the two Voyages of Powell through the Line of the Great Canyons

By Frederick S. Dellenbaugh

8o, with 200 Illustrations, net, $3.50. By mail, $3.75

"As graphic and as interesting as a novel.... Of especial value to the average reader is the multiplicity of pictures. They occur on almost every page, and while the text is always clear, these pictures give, from a single glance, an idea of the vastness of the canyons and their remarkable formation, which it would be beyond the power of pen to describe. And the color reproduction of the water-color drawing that Thomas Moran made of the entrance to Bright Angel Trail gives some faint idea of the glories of color which have made the Grand Canyon the wonder and the admiration of the world."—The Cleveland Leader.

"His scientific training, his long experience in this region, and his eye for natural scenery enable him to make this account of the Colorado River most graphic and interesting. No other book equally good can be written for many years to come—not until our knowledge of the river is greatly enlarged."—The Boston Herald.



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The North Americans of
Yesterday : : :

A Comparative Study of North American Indian Life, Customs, and Products, on the Theory of the Ethnic Unity of the Race

By Frederick S. Dellenbaugh

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"For its thoroughness, the scientific spirit in which it is written and in which the studies on which it is based were made, the book cannot fail to take high rank in its field of literature."—Buffalo Express.

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"Mr. Dellenbaugh's book is the most satisfactory volume that the new study has evoked. It is full of facts which are agreeably but forcibly presented. Without seeking controversy it takes bold positions and works from their standpoint, and it is graced by a wealth of illustration."—Transcript, Portland, Me.

"The first great merit of the book is that it is strictly impartial, written from a viewpoint midway between that of the white man who has rarely treated the Indian or his history justly, and that which the Indian himself would be supposed to take were he to write his history. And the author's treatment of the red man it must be admitted is just."—Grand Rapids Herald.


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A Canyon Voyage

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Artist and Assistant Topographer of the Expedition

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Mr. Dellenbaugh's new book is a narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition, generally known as the Second Powell Expedition down the Green and Colorado Rivers from Wyoming almost forty years ago; an expedition which in all these years never has been described in any government publication, nor by anyone in print excepting Mr. Dellenbaugh, who was a member of the party. Yet it was the expedition to make the first maps of the course of the river and of some of the contiguous country. In the Romance of the Colorado, Mr. Dellenbaugh gave a brief description of this expedition in order to make his history of the remarkable river complete, but now feeling the desirability of a fuller record in the interest of Western United States history, he tells, in A Canyon Voyage, the whole experience.



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The Ohio River

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