CONSTRUCTION OF A MILITARY ROAD
FORT WALLA-WALLA TO FORT BENTON
By Capt. JOHN MULLAN, U.S.A.
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE.
THE SECRETARY OF WAR,
In answer to a resolution of the Senate of the 6th instant, the report and maps of Captain John Mullan, United States army, of his operations while engaged in the construction of a military road from Fort Walla-Walla, on the Columbia river, to Fort Benton, on the Missouri river.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES, February 27, 1863.
Resolved, That there be printed for the use of the Senate one thousand additional copies of Captain Mullan's report of his military survey of the route from the Columbia river, in Washington Territory, to Fort Benton, in Dakota Territory; also four hundred copies for the use if the Topographical bureau for distribution, and one hundred copies for the use of Captain Mullan.
J.W. Forney, Secretary.
Washington City, February 19, 1863.
Sir: In compliance with the resolution of the Senate of the 6th instant, I have the honor to transmit herewith the report and maps of Captain John Mullan, United States army, of his operations while engaged in the construction of the military road from Fort Walla-Walla on the Columbia river, to Fort Benton, on the Missouri river.
I am, sir, very respectively, your obedient servant,
EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.
Hon. SOLOMON FOOTE,
President pro tempore of the Senate.
OFFICE OF MILITARY ROAD EXPEDITION,
Topographical Bureau, Washington, D.C., February 18, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor herewith to transmit to your bureau the final report of my operations while in charge of the military road from Fort Walla-Walla to Fort Benton, with eight illustrations. Accompanying the report are one general map and three detailed maps, all compiled from our original field-notes. All these are worthy of publication, and particularly the general map.
I am, sir, truly, your obedient servant,
Captain 2d Artillery, in charge of Military Road.
Major J.C. WOODRUFF.
United States Topographical Engineers,
Chief of Topographical Bureau, Washington, D.C.
(2) OFFICE MILITARY ROAD EXPEDITION,
Topographical Bureau, Washington, D.C., February 14, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to submit to the War Department the following final report of my labors and operations in connexion with the exploration, location, and construction of the military road from Fort Walla-Walla, on the Columbia, to Fort Benton, on the Missouri river, comprising a period from March, 1858, to September, 1862. At short intervals, while engaged in the field, sub-reports in full detail were submitted to the bureau, and your department was kept advised of the prosecution and progress of the plan of the work; also the causes that led to the location of each special section of the line as it was handled en route. The material, however, contained in these sub-reports, though important to be known to the bureau at the time of the location and construction of the road, has lost much of its special value since the road has become completed. In making to you, therefore, this my final report, I have deemed it due to the character of our work and to the labors of those who have followed and assisted it to a successful completion through so long a period, to give a brief outline memoir of the causes that led to its first exploration and location, the special difficulties under which this construction was had, and the ulterior views and ends sought to be accomplished in part by the completion of the work.
The necessity felt by the government for a more thorough and satisfactory knowledge in detail of the geographical and topographical character of the country that lay between the Mississippi river and the Pacific ocean, looking especially towards the location and construction of a Pacific railroad, called into the field, in the spring of 1853, under authority from Congress, several corps of engineers and explorers, whose mission it was to supply this desired information within certain limits of time and means.
To one of the fields of exploration laid out by the department was assigned the Hon. Isaac I. Stevens as chief, to whom, at the same time, I was assigned as one of his several assistants, and in that capacity accompanied his expedition across the country from Minnesota to the Pacific.
The problem of a railroad connexion from St. Paul across the prairies to the eastern water-shed of the Rocky Mountains, in latitude 46 and 47 degrees, was one of easy solution, and the country was therefore accurately and rapidly explored; but the late autumn of 1853 found our labors of exploration truly only begun; for we now entered the more difficult section of the Bitter Root range of the Rocky Mountains, where the lateness of the season, the difficulty of the country, the importance of our mission, the scarcity of our supplies, the meagerness of the information we then possessed, and the necessity felt for a more detailed and thorough exploration of the Rocky Mountain section, since proved to be the key of the work, together with other equally cogent reasons existing at the time, all conspired to influence Governor Stevens to leave in the mountains a small party for the winter of 1853, for further explorations, and thus supply that information which a lack of time did not allow him to collect at an earlier period.
To the command of this winter party I was assigned in October, 1853, and selecting in the genial range of the Bitter Root a suitable location, and there erecting comfortable, though rude, log huts for my men, I made it a centre from which to explore the mountain region which included the sections whence flow the sources of the Columbia and Missouri rivers in a network of babbling brooks.
The margin of authority left me by Governor Stevens was broad and liberal, and the field to be explored was only commensurate with the importance of the work that called us to its exploration. The most essential thing at that time was a general reconnaissance and exploration of the country before the question of location and construction of a railroad line could be at all profitably or
(3) properly considered; and up to that date the only basis that formed our knowledge and understanding of the country was the map left us by Lewis and Clark in 1805, together with such addenda as the more intelligent of the employees of the Hudson's Bay Company were able to give us, or the scraps of information which the chance traveler or sojourner in the country felt disposed to offer.
That the field of labor assigned to Governor Stevens, owing to the meagre information possessed at that date, was the most difficult to be explored, I believe few will doubt; and that he filled it with an ability and energy, so characteristic of the man, I can personally vouch. His labors have left to the country a very correct outline of the geography of the Rocky Mountain sections, examined by his parties, which needs hereafter only the minutiæ which the more detailed surveys and time will supply, to complete our knowledge of the entire north Pacific region. In connexion with the proper location and construction of a railroad, one of the most essential aids in advance was a good wagon-road line; and looking at the necessity of transporting supplies and material over a long line from eastern to western depots, which the Pacific railroad on all lines will necessarily involve, this last became a subject of primary importance, and reduced the spirit of my own work almost to exploring the country for practicable wagon-road locations, which, in time, should lend themselves as aides to the construction of our railroad lines. The attention of Stevens was especially given to this matter at an early date of our explorations, and in his instructions to me was dwelt upon with more than ordinary emphasis and stress; and hence my mission in the winter of 1853 was to solve the problem of a proper connexion, through a practicable mountain pass, of the plains of the Missouri with the plains of the Columbia, between the 45th and 48th degrees of north latitude, for either wagon road or railroad lines, and to make my reports thereon; and, therefore, my present connexion with the Fort Walla Walla and Fort Benton military roads dates therefrom.
In making our explorations in 1853 we had used a wagon train from St Paul's, Minnesota, to Fort Benton on the upper Missouri river, at which last point in was deemed judicious to abandon it, and complete our work with the use of pack trains; and the character of the country in advance was such that this afterwards proved not only a wise but necessary step.
The eastern or the western plains, as a general thing, interpose but few physical obstacles to the location of a practical wagon road; but the mountain sections form special problems for solution, which are not always so easily handled. The only continuous overland wagon-road line, at that date, traveled to the Pacific was by the South Pass, where the difficulties were so few that it was then, and is now, probably, the great highway across the continent. But the region of the sources of the upper Columbia and Missouri rivers, the great arteries of our country, was an area that the geographer had already pointed out as a fruitful field for development, and which our later explorations showed to be worthy of a more detailed examination than it had received up to the time it became our more especial field to study.
The question of the navigation by stream of the upper Columbia and Missouri rivers was, at that date, in the infancy of its discussion, but was deemed of such importance that its practical solution was looked upon by the friends and advocates of the railroad line as the sine qua non to the full and speedy settlement of the country between them, as well as the all-important aids in the construction of a Pacific railroad via a northern route.
The limited commerce and travel along the narrow margin of the Columbia and its principal tributary, the Willamette, at that date, gave employment to one or more similar sized steam-craft, that were ample to do the business of those who looked towards the Dalles as the head of steam navigation on the Columbia, or to Oregon City, that of the Willamette; and on the eastern water-
(4) shed of the Rocky mountains a solitary steamer, engaged in the fur trade, that made its annual trips from St. Louis till it crept along the waters of the Missouri to a region where the red man alone walked, though a pioneer to the long line of steamers that must follow in the wake of its trade and development, constituted the only attempt made to test the further navigation of this noble river towards its sources in the Rocky mountains. The necessity, therefore, of testing by steam the further practicability of each of these rivers entered as a great, indeed as an essential element in an overland connexion between the two, in order to attain the minimum land transit; and hence to solve the special problem of connecting, by a continuous practicable wagon-road line, the head of steam navigation between the two, be those heads where they may, formed the spirit of the end of my work, to which all things else were subordinate means. The field examined by my party, in 1853 and 1854, extended from the valley of the Kootenay river on the north to Fort Hall on the Snake river on the south, between which extreme limits the western link in the chain of connexion with lines from the upper Mississippi must lie.
During the interval, through hunters and trappers and those familiar with the country from a long residence in the mountains, we were enabled to glean much information that formed the basis for our own more detailed examination. Pack trains constituted our own, as it did then the only means of transportation of all other persons when traveling in the country, and as to move from point to point by the aid of wagons did not enter into the necessities of the persons then resident in the country, so it did not enter into the subject either of their thoughts or discussions; and hence to ascertain from them, à priori, where wagon trains could or could not go, was not a matter easily ascertained; but every pass in the range had to be examined with this especial object in view. The result of our earlier explorations showed the Bitter Root range, between 45 and 48, to be a marked geographical centre, and the capabilities that developed themselves under our own eyes confirmed our first views of the importance of its having a direct connexion with the main valleys of the rivers on its either slope.
During the winter of 1853 many were the conversations held with whomsoever could give us information of the geography of the country; and through a half-breed named Gabriel Prudhomme, who had been a voyageur and traveling companion of the earlier Jesuit fathers in their pilgrimage through the Rocky mountains, I was enabled to glean such data concerning a line from the Bitter Root valley to Fort Benton that I was induced, in the spring of 1854, to explore it with a small party. Upon examination it proved to be not only feasible in itself, but, with a small amount of labor, could be rendered a very proper connexion with the line we had followed from St. Paul's, Minnesota.
We left the Bitter Root valley on the 1st March, crossed the Rocky mountains on the 10th, reached Fort Benton on the 14th, and on the 17th of the same month, having fitted up a wagon train, we recrossed the range, and reached our original starting point on the 31st.
This gave a test of practicability that could not well be gainsaid; and, deeming the matter of so much importance, I at once dispatched my expressman, Pearson, to Governor Stevens, with the result of the exploration. This discovery gave fresh hopes to the governor and the friends of the road, all of whom were anxious to open the section by an emigrant line of travel.
This resulted, at a later period, in an appropriation of $30,000, the first of a series to open a wagon road from Fort Benton to Fort Walla-Walla. Though the eastern connexion from the Bitter Root valley was attained by this expedition to Fort Benton, yet the region for the proper location of the line westward to the Columbia had not been thoroughly examined.
The difficulties and disasters arising from snow and other obstacles that attended the trip of Mr. W.W. Finkham, one of our civil engineers, via the
(5) southern Nez Percés trail in 1853, were such as to preclude the possibility of this line being chosen for a field of further examination, much less for a wagon-road location. The only other lines left us were Clarke's Fork, St. Regis Borgia, Coeur d'Aléne valley, and the Lo-Lo Pass. A just estimate of the comparative advantages possessed by these several lines could only be arrived at by an especial examination of each and all of them by the same person.
I learned, though an old Iroquois Indian called Æneas, now resident in the Bitter Root valley, whose wanderings amid the mountains had often thrown him with parties traveling with wagons at the southward, thereby rendering him capable of judging of the requisites for a wagon road, that a line could be had through a gorge-like pass in the the Coeur d'Aléne mountains. Our later explorations proved this to be Sohon's Pass. Placing a partial confidence in his judgment, I send Mr. Thomas Adams, one of our topographers, with Æneas as a guide, as early as March, 1854, to make an especial examination of this point. The snow prevented Mr. Adams from prosecuting his undertaking further than the Kulkullow creek, and he returned, leaving the examination to be made at a later period. In May, 1854, availing myself of a visit from reverend Father Hoeken, S.J., then a missionary with the Lower Pend d'Oreilles Indians, I determined to examine Clarke's Fork valley in person, and starting with a pack train explored the country as far as the Pend d'Oreille lake, where, finding the streams much swollen, with the lake trail under water, and no trails above through the forest, I was compelled to abandon my animals at the east end of the lake and continue my further examination to the Lower Pend d'Oreille mission by means of canoes.
From what I saw of Clarke's Fork and the neighboring country, I concluded that a wagon route could be easily and economically constructed from Hell's Gate Ronde to the east end of the lake; the Bad Rock, Cabinet mountain and Pack river would form, it is true, three difficult problems, but could be solved by time and means; but the chief difficulties would be found in the section around the lake. This lake during the freshet has a rise of from ten to fifteen feet, completely covering the low water trails, thus forcing a location above high water mark and along the slopes of the difficult rocky spurs jutting upon its northern rim; from which I concluded a construction at this point could only be made at a heavy outlay; the Indians, also, gave me to understand that the country back was so difficult and impracticable that during the period of high water all travel was suspended.
I have always exceedingly regretted that it was my fortune to examine this route at so unfavorable a period, for I have been convinced by later data that it possessed an importance, both as regards climate and railroad facilities, enjoyed by no other line in the Rocky Mountains between latitudes 43 and 49; these facilities I will refer to more in detail in a future portion of my report.
I now determined to take in my return route to the Bitter Route valley the pass known to Æneas, and with this view I started for Fort Colville to replenish my supplies, and from thence, via the Spokane, I went to the Coeur d'Aléne mission, where, meeting with the reverend Fathers Josét, Ravalli, and Gazzoli, S. J., I laid before them my desires and requested their co-operation. I deem it but simple justice to these reverend gentlemen to here state that, although we often differed as to the minor details of administration and government of the Indians, yet, looking towards the ultimate ends and objects of my mission, I ever found them my staunchest and most reliable friends.
Finding the Fathers possessed of but little geograpical information that suited my purpose and the Indians absent at the camass grounds to the southwest, my only means left was to make an especial visit to their camps and interrogate them. The reverend Father Josét volunteered to accompany me, and on reaching the Indians I found them much adverse to giving me any information regarding the country, and on one pretext or another, declined to serve me in
(6) any capacity. The Fathers had told me of a route they heard of from the Indians which, crossing the Bitter Root mountains near the sources of the Palouse, followed a generally easy and practicable country until it reached to main Bitter Root valley near the Lo-Lo Fork. Did such a route exist it lay in an admirable connexion with our line recently examined towards Fort Benton, and hence I became exceedingly anxious to reconnoiter it; but circumstances were against us and no examination was ever made. Whether such a route does exist I have never been able to discover, after endeavoring to do so for a period of seven years; my opinion is that it does not; certainly no such line is now travelled. After much solicitation I procured the services of Bassile, a Coeur d'Aléne Indian, to accompany me in the capacity of a guide through the Coeur d'Aléne and St. Regis Borgia valleys. We made this examination in June. As the rivers were still swollen we were compelled to take to the mountain slopes, down ravines, and over much fallen timber. I was much pleased with the general aspect of these valleys, watered as they are by rivers flowing from the same source in opposite and parallel directions. That much work was required to lay and construct a first-class road was self-evident; but its direction and short distances, and the connexion made with the Spokane on the one side and with the Bitter Root on the other, were recommendations in its favor that caused it to occupy, in my judgment, a higher place than a line by the Clark's Fork.
From this, therefore, dates the period and reasons why the Coeur d'Aléne Pass route was looked forward to, both by Governor Stevens and myself, for the ultimate location of our route; and as the War Department possessed no other knowledge of the country it was natural that they should do as they did, viz: indorse our joint views then given from a consideration of all the data that went to form our conclusion. But I am free and frank to admit that there was one element which we had ignored, and this was one of climate.
All of our explorations up to the date of our leaving the field in 1854 had been confined to the spring, summer, and autumn months, and it is a self-evident proposition to those familiar with the winter character of the Rocky Mountains, that it is impossible for a man to express a winter view from a summer stand-point.
This was the error that we made, and a very natural one from the mode of reasoning adopted by us and many others, as fallacious as it is paradoxical. We reasoned thus: that the Coeur d'Aléne route lying to the south of the Clark's Fork by fifty or sixty miles, and the difference of altitude being small, that all questions of climate were supposed to be in favor of the more southern line; and hence, supposing the element of climate in both instances to be equal, or, if there was a difference, that this difference was in favor of the more southern route, which general analogy would grant us, that, as distance, direction, and connexion were all in favor of the Coeur d'Aléne Pass, our location must be via this route and no other. But our later winter examinations have developed this marked and most important fact, that as you go north in this Rocky Mountain region within certain limits, that the climate is milder, the snow less deep, that horses can travel all winter, and the general characteristics of winter are all less severe; and that there does exist a zone or atmospheric river of heat in that region I am free to vouch and can substantiate by facts, and which I desire to treat upon further in my report.
But to come to the bearing of this most important meteorological fact upon our wagon-road location, I would state that had I known in 1854 what I did not learn until 1859, I should have recommended that the section of the road from Antoine Plant's to the Hell's Gate should have followed, at any cost of construction it called for, the Clark's route instead of the section via the Coeur d'Aléne mission. But it was not until a later date, when we had made snow profiles by measuring its depth every ten miles during the winter months, and made a record of the readings of the thermometer on both sides, that we were enabled
(7) to form a just comparative judgment of each. I can only trust that the developments taking place so rapidly in that region will yet demand that the Clark's Fork route be opened, and our experience in this connexion be of service to other exploring parties who would desire to give a truthful description of this Rocky Mountain region both in winter and summer. This may be placed on record as a fact: that to describe properly and truthfully the winter character of these mountains, all data must be collected in the winter season itself, as all rules and analogies applicable to the climates of other portions of the country there apparently fail.
In September, 1854, my party having been ordered in from the field, I determined to proceed to the coast by a new route, and the only one then left unexplored, namely, via the Lo-Lo Fork Pass; not that I felt or believed it to be practicable for wagons, but more with a view to arm my judgment with such facts as would not leave a shadow of doubt behind which should cause us to err in the final conclusion in so important a matter. This route I found the most difficult of all examined. After eleven days severe struggle with climate and country we emerged into the more open region where "Oro Fino" now stands, glad to leave behind us so difficult a bed of mountains. After examining all these passes my judgment was finally decided in favor of the line, via the Coeur d'Aléne Pass, as a proper connexion for a road leading from the head of navigation on the Columbia to that on the Missouri, and the result was so reported to Governor Stevens, under whose direction I was then acting.
Completing my field labors for the winter of 1854, I left Puget Sound in January, 1855, with letters for the War Department from Governor Stevens, and resolutions passed by the legislature of the Territory of Washington, recommending my continuation in the same field of labors. I founds the War Department, though favoring the project, averse to its continuance, at that time, giving as a reason that the appropriation was inadequate to the character of the work, unless carried on in connexion with some large military movement that would justify its expenditure; and as it was not deemed judicious to direct at that time any such movement, the appropriation for our road remained untouched in the vaults of the Treasury Department till a later day, and the measure itself was allowed to slumber until the spring of 1857, when it was again taken up in connexion with a movement of the 4th and 6th infantry. Again it was abandoned, in consequence of a doubt on the part of the War Department as to its feasibility, until the winter of the same year. At this time Governor Stevens was in Congress; he had ever been one of the warmest friends, and, in fact, the projector, in a great part, of the enterprise; he knew and felt its great importance, and invited the attention of the War Department to it, asking that the work be at least commenced. His reasons were so strong and valid that a favorable indorsement was given, and I was once more ordered to Washington to take charge of the work. During this interval the subject of overland communication had grown in importance, and from a subject of speculation and doubt had changed to one of every day reality. While the central section became the field for wagon-road operations under Colonel Lander, the overland mail carried weekly intelligence over thousands of miles of mountain and prairie by a more southern route. These facts gave the friends of a northern line a right to be heard in their modest applications to have a route opened through their own section. The character of the Mormon disturbances, occurring simultaneously, was such as to compel the government to look the subject of overland communication direct in the face. Here were foes, with Indian emissaries in every quarter, whose obedience to law the government had to enforce at the point of the bayonet, by an army so large that the question of supplying it was one of no small import.
Even in this connexion our line entered on the score of economy and safety as a new route of transportation. Mr. Russell, of the firm of Majors & Russell, came to learn of my opinion as to the advisability of transporting supplies by
(8) steamboat up the Yellowstone to the mouth of its tributary the Big Horn, and thence wagon them by a short transit to Salt Lake. Though approving the boldness of his scheme, I could not desire to see it attempted when so great objects as supplying an army depended upon its success or failure, hence it was abandoned.
The subject of route and location having been frequently discussed with General Humphreys, who, from his connexion with the Pacific railroad explorations, thoroughly understood the subject, it was determined to put the work in hand by the route referred to, and special instructions for this purpose were issued from the War Department on the 15th of March, 1858. While this was being done, the co-operation and energy of the house of Chouteau & Co., of St. Louis, was enlisted to the extent of testing the extreme navigation of the upper Missouri. This daring project was attempted by Charles P. Chouteau, with a slight assistance from the government, and was crowned with complete success.
Simultaneously with these developments on the Missouri slope, events were at work at the sources and along the upper section of the main Columbia that were destined to eventuate in results no less important, and directly bearing upon this subject. The Indians of the Columbia had by some strange but united action risen to a tribe, determined to meet the fast approaching settlements from the east, and to measure strength with the whites, and strike a blow in behalf of their rights and property. The Indian war of 1855 and 1856, that converted each man's home in Oregon and Washington into a block-house, caused the portals of the upper Columbia to be opened awide, and brought especially to the attention of the people a hitherto neglected and little known region. Though the disturbance was quelled, the Indians to the east of the Cascade mountains were not subdued, but sought every occasion to show their disaffection, which thus finally culminated in the defeat of Colonel Steptoe. Such was the feeling after the war of 1856 that a military occupation of the Walla-Walla valley became necessary, and the rude mud walls of old Walla-Walla, that year after year had listened to nought but the jargon of Indians and traders, caught a new sound in the tramp of the march of civilization.
A new and unexpected element was thus introduced, which tended greatly to develop the upper Columbia. The question of supplying the large force in the field became one of great importance, and it was but natural to suppose that steam navigation could not long lie dormant and untested. Enterprise, energy, and liberal means were not tardy in converting forests into a steamer destined to plough this river to the very base of the mountains. Thus the year 1859 became a noted period in the history of the development of the upper Columbia and Missouri rivers.
While the above experiments, so pregnant with meaning, were being made at the two extreme sections, instructions from the War Department to commence upon the central link in the line of communication were received. I accordingly left New York on the 5th of April, 1858, and proceeded to Fort Dalles, Oregon, in pursuance to my instructions, designating this as the point for preparing my outfit. Further instructions were sent to General Clark, commanding the department of the Pacific, to furnish me with an escort of sixty men and such stores as were necessary for our purpose. All these having been directed by the general, I reached the Dalles the 15th of May, and, organizing my party, took up my line of march for Fort Walla-Walla, at which point my escort was to join me.
In the outfitting of my expedition, and in all things necessary for the success of my trip, I was cordially aided by Captain Thomas Jordan, (then captain in the army,) to whom I am indebted for all co-operation that it was in his power to accordæto him I return my sincere thanks. Fiat justitia ruat calum. I had not proceeded further than the Five-Mile creek when the news reached me of the lamentable defeat of Colonel Steptoe on the Spokane plains, a point
(9) directly on the route of my intended location. The news, though much exaggerated, as is usual on the frontier, was such as to cause me to halt at this point till I could confer by letter with Colonel Steptoe regarding the strength of the Indians in the field and the prospect of my being furnished with an escort from Fort Walla-Walla, where he then commanded. To construct the wagon road while the Indians were in a state of open hostility was out of the question; but it was necessary for me to possess authentic facts before I could either move forward or break up the expedition. During the interval I occupied my men in building the bridges now over the Five-Mile and Ten-Mile creeks, and in otherwise improving the wagon road from the Dalles to the Des Chutes. On the 30th of May a reply was received from Colonel Steptoe, from which I judged it impracticable to prosecute the work this season. I therefore returned to the Dalles and disbanded my expedition, with the exception of Mr. Kolecki, my topographer, Mr. Sohon, my guide, and the men necessary to take care of my stock, reporting the facts immediately to the War Department.
On learning of Colonel Steptoe's defeat, General Clarke immediately determined upon retaliatory measures, and, with this view, promptly ordered to the field a well-appointed and well-equipped command, under Colonel George Wright, 9th infantry.
I had no disposition to remain idle during the summer, but, on the contrary, was anxious to become personally cognizant of such topographical facts as would give me a correct idea of the western section of the country through which our road would pass. I therefore addressed a communication to General Clarke, and offered the services of myself and party to join any command going into the field, stating that, having instruments and material, we were in a condition to collect and prepare any topographical facts and features that the march might develop. I would here state that the region lying between the Spokane and Snake rivers was only known to me through the reports and maps of others; and to say, a priori, where the line should or should not be located was no easy matter. General Clarke accepting the services offered him, I was assigned to duty on Colonel Wright's staff, as topographical officer, and, with my party, accompanied him against the Indians who had defeated Colonel Steptoe.
The movements of Colonel Wright form not only a part of the especial records of the War Department during 1858, but, being a part and parcel of our own operations, a detailed report thereof has been made by myself, and been published in public documents.
Colonel Wright's successful campaign terminating in 1858, I was once more left in a dilemma as to what course I should pursue. I had seen sufficient of the western approaches to the Bitter Root range to convince me that the physical difficulties were such that a longer period of time, more ample means, and a larger force of men than either myself or others had imagined were requisite to accomplish our object. Should I then remain idle during the winter, and, laying the facts in official reports before the bureau, await in hopes that they would be favorably acted upon by Congress; or should I go in person and solicit the aid and co-operation of those friends of the project who were in a position to give strength to their views by legislative action? The latter plan appeared the more plausible; and, though the fates seemed against us, I determined to make one more effort, pleading my zeal in justice of the course I took. I therefore returned to Washington, reaching there in December, 1858, and laid all the circumstances of the case, together with our new wants, before the War Department and the military committee. Governor Stevens, then in Congress, ever active in those movements that tended to develop the country, had already prepared the way for a favorable action on the part of many, and watched its progress with a daily helping hand, until we succeeded in our applications for additional means. In the month of March, 1859, the bill appropriating $100,000 for our work became a law, and new instructions were issued to me in the same
(10) month by the War Department. With these I again started for Oregon on the 5th of April.
The importance of overland communication, by either rail, wagon, or telegraph, had lost none of its weight or importance, either in the estimate of the government or the people who were to be benefited by them. I found that a communication with the north Pacific was one that the delegations from the northwestern States had made an especial study, and there were no facts bearing upon this region, collected or published, that had not been critically and carefully weighed by these gentlemen, whose constituents were to be directly benefited when these projects were consummated. I had the benefit of many interviews with those who were not only fresh from the field of similar duties, as in the case of Colonel Lander, but of those whose aid was finally requisite to breathe that vitality into our work necessary to its successful accomplishment.
My instructions left me a liberal margin for collecting all the facts that bore either directly or indirectly upon the question of a railroad location, to which our immediate work ultimately tended. We reached the Dalles again on the 15th of May, where, organizing my party, I took up the line of march for Fort Walla-Walla. My escort this season had been increased to one hundred men, who were detailed from the companies of the 3d artillery, then at Fort Vancouver, accompanying which were Lieutenant James L. White, Lieutenant H. B. Lyon, and Lieutenant James Howard, 3d artillery, all of whom joined me for duty at Fort Walla-Walla the 28th of June.
There was a point to which I desired to give especial attention in the earlier part of our exploration, and that was to run in a line of levels along the bank of the Columbia to the Snake river, from the Dalles, and thus obtain some well based data, that would determine the feasibility of a railroad line by this route. No instrumental line ever having been run here, it was necessary that this link be supplied.
Knowing that our labor would be comparatively light and easy over the western plains, to the mountains, I found I could judiciously divide my force, and consequently organized a small but efficient party under the joint command of Captain W.W. Delacy and Conway R. Howard, civil engineers, both of whom brought to bear that experience gained on eastern railroad lines that would render their conclusions of value. Their report is herewith appended, marked A and B. It is apparent that the most difficult section of the line exists from the Dalles to the Des Chutes; but this portion is now being rapidly covered by a railroad under the auspices of the Oregon Steam Navigation Company, which will be in running order by May, 1863, this being made over the portage, to connect with steamers on the upper and lower Columbia. The remaining portions offer most marked advantages for location immediately along the bank of the river, which lends itself as an all-important aid in the construction of the road. The examination was made along the Oregon side, but the survey would tend to show that the Washington side offers the superior advantages.
The reports of Captain Delacy and Mr. Howard are full as to facts and details of construction, pointing out special points of difficulty, and as to mode of handling them. Depots if material, sand, wood, stone, and lime are referred to, and the especial advantages enjoyed by the location are dwelt upon by them with emphasis, and to all of which I invite attention and study. The gentlemen did their work thoroughly, and here have my thanks for the same.
While organizing my expedition at the Dalles, a command of two companies, under Major Lugenbeel, was directed to proceed to Fort Colville, for the double purpose of giving protection to settlers in that quarter and putting on foot such movements as tended to facilitate the work of the northwest boundary survey party, then in the field. Major Lugenbeel requested me to let Mr.Engel, one of my topographers, accompany him in that capacity to Fort Colville, and
(11) after taking a copy of the facts collected by him they should be turned over to me. Acquiescing in this request, Mr. Engel so started, and the map of that line is his work, and the principal features of the route traveled are described in the extracts from his report of the same.-(See Appendix.)
This trip of Mr. Engle tended to give us a truthful map of the country from the mouth of the Palouse, a common point of our present road and the Colville road, to the lower Spokane crossing, and which thus enabled us to map properly the entire Columbia plain. It also gave us the region towards Fort Colville, by which we connected our later work in the summer of 1859; and the fixed position of Colville having been determined by the northwest boundary survey, we were enabled to have a check upon our branch lines of reconnaissance . Mr. Engle's report treats in much detail of this route, the natural advantages that it enjoys, the especial improvements required upon it, and the distances and campgrounds are all referred to with great accuracy.
While at the Coeur d'Aléne mission, in 1858, I brought up anew to the fathers the subject of the route leading from the headwaters of the Palouse to the Bitter Root valley, referred to in former pages as supposed to be known to the Indians, requesting them to obtain for me any facts that would guide me in its exploration. In compliance with this request, Father Josét sent me, while in Washington, a letter which caused me to set foot on a project of surveys that would afford the authentic facts. The instructions of 1858 and 1859 from the Topographical Bureau, directed me to pursue a line which, leaving the Snake river at the most eligible point, should cross the Spokane plains northeasterly, skirting the Coeur d'Aléne lake at its southern edge, and reach the Coeur d'Aléne mission via the valleys of the Coeur d'Aléne and St. Joseph rivers, and thence take the line that I had reported in favor of in 1854. But the reception of this intelligence caused me to weigh the letter of my instructions against the feasibility of finding a shorter, better, and more economical line via the route set forth by the Fathers knowing, as I did, that the instructions of the department were simply based upon the best information then had of the country and not intended to govern me absolutely, if a better and shorter line could be found.
Having directed Mr. Weisner, my astronomer, to proceed from the Dalles to Fort Walla-Walla, and there establish an astronomical station, I instructed Mr. Sohon to accompany him from the Dalles, availing himself of the necessary aid to proceed to the country of the Coeur d'Alénes; there securing such guides as had been promised by Father Josét in his letter and other reliable persons knowing the country, to proceed to explore it in order to give me on crossing Snake river such information as would guide our future movements. With this object Mr.Sohon started from the Dalles on the 5th of June, and his more detailed movements are contained in the appended synopsis from his official report.
Mr. Sohon's early connexion with my explorations in 1853 and 1854, his knowledge of the Indian language, his familiarity with the general scope of country to be traversed, and the influence he had always so beneficially exerted over the Indians, all pointed him out as the proper person to explore the new and dangerous region.
His mission was put on foot, but bitterly opposed by the Indians. He kept me advised from time to time of his position and progress, and it was only after being convinced from his several reports that the country was impracticable and his life threatened by the Coeur d'Alénes, that I determined to withdraw him and give up all hope of finding a route further south than that by the Coeur d'Aléne mission. It was evident from the explorations that had already taken place that the mountains to the south of the Coeur d'Aléne river, until you reach Salmon river, were high, difficult, and probably impracticable for a wagon road, and we were forced, from the topography of the country, to turn this immense bed of difficult mountains by either a line to the north, which takes us by the Clark's
(12) Fork, or by the extreme south, taking us near the head of the Snake river, thence tending northward at the Three Butes, at Fort Hall.
I was determined, however, to satisfy myself as to the true nature of the country lying between the Clearwater and St. Joseph's river, to which I felt favorably disposed, from a conversation with General Stevens, who represented the valley of the Palouse, at its point of intersection with a line drawn from Coeur d'Aléne lake to Lewiston, as being not less than twenty miles broad, and extending eastward from this point seventy estimated miles. This caused us both to think that this valley would, at the headwaters of the stream, lend itself as a favorable location for a road to the Bitter Root valley; but the governor over-estimated its true value; I do not think that a route can ever be had in the direction we so much desired to find one.
The different parties of Messers. Sohon, Engle, Howard, and Delacy, started from the Dalles in advance of my main expedition, which left on the 15th of June, and, following the usually traveled wagon road, reached Walla-Walla by the 28th of June; tarrying there for temporary repairs and additional outfit, we again started on the 1st of July. A portion of our supplies were forwarded to the mouth of the Palouse by the steamer Colonel Wright and the remainder transported by wagons to the same point, under general charge of Lieutenant Lyon, 3d artillery.
The question of wood and water between Walla-Walla and the Snake river caused me, during this season, to locate the route via the mouth of the Toukanon, the spirit of our work looking simply towards having a low-water route, or one that summer travel alone demanded; and as, along this line, the distance between water was much shorter than via the mouth of the Palouse, I was governed by these considerations in its location. The general character of the route is similar to that of the Palouse-a high rolling prairie region-but it is shorter by two miles. The country in this section possess remarkable advantages for grazing, the long red bunch grass giving pasturage to numberless flocks of sheep and horn stock, while the valley bottoms are sufficiently large and fertile to afford not only ample means for the graziers, but could supply the local wants and travel of the country. The creeks found in this length of forty-eight miles are, the Dry creek, eight miles from Walla-Walla; the Touchet, twenty-one miles; the Red creek, thirty miles; and Toukanon, forty miles.
Already have each and all these valleys became the comfortable homes of the pioneer farmer and grazier, where the hand of industry, adding daily to the wealth and prosperity of the country, gives a new beauty, by the erection of school-houses and churches, those barometers of the intelligence and morality of a people.
The waters of the streams flow directly from the snows on the mountains that girt them, and, when the wants of the country demand it, an abundance of good mill sites can readily be found. The pure water, free from all alkaline elements, cannot be too highly appreciated by the stock raiser. We reached the Snake river, at the mouth of the Toukanon, on the 3d of July, and, being delayed in swimming our stock, were not able to proceed until the morning of the 4th, on which date we took up our line of march for the valley of the Palouse at its southern bend.
Mr. Sohon, having crossed the Snake river at the Red Wolf's crossing, and returned to the mouth of the Toukanon via the valley of the Smokle creek, left the section of the Snake river between these two crossings unexplored, so that, in order to correctly map the river and the circumjacent country and connect his survey with my own, I was obliged to send Mr. Engle, now returned from Colville, to examine and report upon this line, and a description of its features is contained in his appended report.
The general character of the country from Walla-Walla to the mouth of the Palouse is an easily rolling prairie; road excellent; camps good, with fine water
(13) and most abundant grass. The valley bottoms are nearly all densely settled; the land in the bottom being sufficient for farms of considerable size, and the hill-sides bowed down in beauty under their loads of most excellent and nutritious grasses. We built bridges over the Touchet and Dry creeks, and over a slough three miles from Walla-Walla; also making slight repairs where needed. With these improvements the road is a good one. Crossing the Snake river without accident, save the drowning of one of my men, who, in rafting wood down the stream, was caught by its impetuous current and swept out of sight before aid could reach him, we moved from the river on the morning of the 4th of July, and after a severe march of fourteen miles reached the Palouse at its junction with Cow creek. At this point we found Lieutenant Lyon encamped, awaiting our arrival, having moved from the mouth of the Palouse, where our supplies had been debarked.
The line from Snake river to this point of the Palouse is over a rolling prairie region, six hundred feet above the river, which at the point of crossing is nine hundred feet, and flows through high, broken, basaltic, bluff banks; at its intersection with the Toukanon is the site of Fort Taylor, built by Major Wyse, of Colonel Wright's expedition, in 1858. Wherever work was required en route from the Snake to the Palouse it was done, consisting of slight excavations made by the men while the train was moving.
Our different parties having come together on the 5th of July, we moved eastward up the left bank of the Palouse for six miles, when, fording, we followed its right bank for a mile, to a good camp, and halted for the day. The general width of the valley is from a half to a mile and a half wide, about a hundred feet below the general level of the prairie country around, and bounded on both sides by abrupt bluffs, from which crop out at many points basaltic rock, the general formation of this region. Only willows and a few cotton woods fringe its borders. The soil is mostly a black loam and will doubtless produce cereals and vegetables; but the absence of timber is an impediment to its settlement that cannot be easily met. At the headwaters of the stream and its tributaries limestone is said to be found, and there also in places, the soil is fertile, and lying, as it does, under the slopes of the mountains, and in close proximity to the Nez Percés mines, it is not at all improbable that the grazier and agriculturist will find at no distant day tracts of land that will amply repay their reclamation.
July 6.-Making another ford, we moved along the valley bottom two and a half miles, when, finding more labor required than could be attended to while the train was in motion, we encamped until the morning of the 9th.
Our work consisted in grading along an abrupt side-hill in loose rock and clay to avoid additional crossings of the Palouse, always difficult, and particularly so when the stream was swollen. At all the fords the current was swift, running over rocky and pebbly bottoms. It was a question with me whether we should follow the main valley of the Palouse or strike across the high prairie country and go by the way of the upper tributaries of this stream; by the former we pass to the south of the direct line to the Coeur d'Aléne, and thus go by way of the camass prairies, near the headwaters of the Nedlwhuald, and by the latter to the north of the Pyramid butte. As the country had not been examined in detail, I deemed it best to avail ourselves of our delay at this point and send Mr. Kolecki forward to explore it and obtain some authentic facts. From the summary of his report (appended) I determined to take across the high prairie country, as no doubt was left upon my mind but that a route to the north of the Pyramid peak was the better as well as the shorter. Therefore on the morning of the 9th of July, our work being completed, the train moved forward a distance of five miles until we reached and crossed the Mocalisiah, the principal tributary from the east, making in this distance three ford of the Palouse.
(14) On Monday, the 11th of July, resuming the march across the prairie country for 13.4 miles we reached the Oraytayouse, the northern fork of the Palouse. In the interval we has a good road, over a level prairie for the most part, and but little work required en route; springs of water were found in the plains and copses of willows at one point sufficient for a small camp. The water of the Oraytayouse was very shallow, being only eighteen inches deep, and with its good grazing, willows for fuel, and pines within a distance of a mile to the east afforded us a good camp. Distance from Walla-Walla ninety-six miles.
On Tuesday, the 12th, of July continued the march for sixteen miles, reaching a camping on the Tcho-Tcho-u-Seep, a tributary of the Oraytayouse. The prairie country afforded us a good location; springs of water were passes in the route; no work of note was necessary. At this point we entered what might be termed the more difficult section of the basaltic basin, which constitutes the chief characteristic of the Spokane plains, and hence it became of marked importance to feel our way by examinations in advance that would guarantee to us the best locations. The general face of the country, as well as the map of the line, tended to show that our more direct route was in a direction eastward from our present camp towards the Coeur d'Aléne lake; but to be assured of this I sent Mr. Sohon forward, with a Coeur d'Aléne Indian as guide, whom chance had brought to our camp, to make a preliminary examination. On exploring it he found the ground so cut up by deep basaltic cañons and ravines, with the bed of the Spectre lake intervening, that we were necessitated to take a more northerly course, and therefore, on Wednesday, the 13th of July, we moved forward over a generally easy prairie region interspersed in places with flat basaltic rock and copses of pines for a distance of nine miles, when we reached and encamped upon the Sil-Sil-cep-pow-vestin, one hundred and twenty-one miles from Walla-Walla. The cañon of this creek at our point of crossing it was rocky in the extreme, so much so, indeed, that when once into it, it required nice engineering to get out. Half a mile back from the cañon good grazing fields are found, which, together with the abundance of timber on the borders, will always make it a good camping ground. No other capabilities, except grazing, are here found. A few acres of good soil of inconsiderable extent occur but not sufficient to make it an object of especial note.
On the 14th of July, leaving the cañon of the Sil-Sil-cep-pow-vestin, and gaining the higher level prairie country in an elevation of one hundred feet, we found a good location for the road, requiring light work in places, for about sixteen and a half miles, when we reached the Lahtoo, or Nedlwhuald creek, which last empties into the Spokane. It is thus seen that on this day's march we cross the prairie divide that separates the waters that flow into the Snake from those that flow into the Spokane; but by a rise so gradual as to be almost imperceptible, except to the barometer. This interval of sixteen miles is a swelling prairie, well grassed, with here and there good tracts for settlement, though the general scope of country is unsuitable for culture. Timber is in sight nearly the whole distance, and though this section will probably never be continuously cultivated, still it offers many inducements for graziers and farmers, and enters as an essential element in affording good sites for mail and recruiting stations, by the fine grasses now found and the abundance of forage and supplies it is capable of producing under the hand of an industrious and diligent culture.
We encamped this day on the banks of the Nedlwhuald, and at the same point where General Wright hung Qualtian, the noted Yakima chief, and several other Indians; from which fact the stream is known to many as Hangman's creek. Poor creatures! their doom, although in this instance a just one, is, nevertheless, pitiable; had the white man been to them more just, fate had proved less harsh.
Our route of this date skirts the lake from which Colonel Steptoe retreated
(15) the day of his noted defeat at the hands of the Coeur d'Aléne and Spokane Indians. We crossed Nedlwhuald on the morning of the 15th of July at the point of our encampment, although another crossing is found one mile above this point. This stream is subject to very high rises in the spring freshets; its banks in places are low, in others, bordered by high, rocky bluff banks, and fringed with groves of open pines. The lower sections are not favorable to settlements, but nearer the mountains its valley widens, and offers inducements for small farms here and there, with rich grazing, fine timber in abundance, and water in creeks and springs of the most delicious purity. Leaving the Nedlwhuald, the road, for three miles, passes over gently swelling hills, when it reaches a prairies swale or bottom two miles in length and one in breadth, whence, in seven miles more, we reached some pools of water fringed with cotton woods and pines. After halting to improve the road, we journeyed on through an open prairie basin for seven miles to some wells, where, being provided with wood in our wagons, we made camp for the night. This portion of the route may be termed a natural wagon road, needing but very slight improvement.
It was on this day that we met, for the first time, a band of the Coeur d'Aléne Indians, under Pierre, a few miles from our camp; they were well mounted, anxious to learn our mission, our line of direction, and plied us with many questions as to our ultimate ends and objects. A few of these Indians were also met by Mr. Sohon in his exploration toward the head of the Palouse. Discretion and prudence directed that our course towards them should be both frank and honest. I invited them to accompany me to my camp, gave them to eat and to smoke, and afterwards explained to them in detail our mission and object; they left, apparently satisfied, and with a promise to preserve friendly relations in future. They are wily fellows, and great caution is necessary in all intercourse with them.
On the morning of the 16th of July we resumed our march; moving eastwardly for nine miles over an easily swelling prairie region, timbered for the last three miles, to a point which I had selected for a depot camp, while our work was progressing in advance. We had left the plains of the Columbia proper, and reached the spurs of the Bitter Root mountains, where our more difficult work commenced.
We had chosen for our location a line which, jutting upon the southern edge of the Coeur d'Aléne lake, would follow up for four miles the valley of the St. Joseph's river; when crossing it would take the most direct line across the divide to the Coeur d'Aléne river; thence up the valley of that stream to the Coeur d'Aléne mission.
Our first work of difficulty was to make the descent of seven hundred feet from the table land to the valley of the St. Joseph's. Several points were examined, but none afforded a natural descent, and I was forced to work one over a long spur making down to the lake at the juncture of the St Joseph's river with the outlet of the Poun lake. Over this outlet a bridge of sixty feet was constructed. This piece of excavation was rocky and difficult; but, with the bridge, was completed in eight days. I then moved the entire camp up the valley of the St Joseph's to the point selected for crossing. The St. Joseph's and Coeur d'Aléne rivers are the two arms and feeders of the Coeur d'Aléne lake. They rise in the Bitter Root mountains, between sixty and seventy miles to the eastward, and during their greater length are characterized by flowing with a rapid mountain current, in a narrow timbered gorge of cañon-like formation, till losing their impetuous current the valley widens, the current slackens to dead water, the stream becomes from twenty to forty feet deep, with banks almost six feet above low water mark, but which, unfortunately, in high freshets, are overflowed, and to which overflow we failed to give a just estimate during this season, and which will be referred to hereafter. While building the bridge over the Poun lake, we observed that during the earlier part of the day
(16) a slight current up stream was perceptible, sufficiently so to move the bridge timbers, while late in the day it moved in the opposite direction.
This phenomenon is only to be seen during the freshet months, and is accounted for by the fact that the outlet of the lake is so small, and so obstructed by boulders and rocks that dam its waters, as to render it incapable of discharging the volume of water as fast as the feeders supply it; hence the lake, swelling, forces a certain volume of water back, giving the appearance of a receding current, this changing again as soon as the lake has discharged itself of the surplus.
The valley of the St Joseph's is a beautiful gem, embedded in a noble range of mountains. Viewed from an elevation, on a summer's day, the scenery and effect is grand and picturesque-the river winding from side to side in graceful curves, while copses of willow, cottonwood, and alder fringe its banks, and silvery lakes dot here and there the green sward in which it is clothed. The spurs that form its either boundary, gently rising to an elevation of a thousand feet, are densely clad with one of the finest growths of fir and pine to be found in the mountains; and, enlivened, as it is, with here a camp of hunters and there the light bark canoe of the Indian, forms one of the most beautiful scenes it was our fortune to meet with in the Rocky Mountains. It was in this valley that, as early as 1842, the Jesuit Fathers chose a site for the first of their Rocky Mountain missions. A small plateau, projecting into the valley from the north, where fine springs gushed from the slopes, on which the forest lay as yet untouched by the woodman, and a rich virgin soil smiled in a beauty of profusion, cultured by the hand of nature alone, offered them a choice garden, that, with slight attention, should yield abundant fruits. Here they maintained themselves for many years, until, finding the overflow of the lower portion of the valley entered as an impediment both to pleasant travel and to the extension of their fields, they removed to their present location on the Coeur d'Aléne lake.
The overflow of the Coeur d'Aléne and St Joseph's rivers, and the means of preventing it, is a subject to which I have given much attention; and having made surveys, both in high and low water, I have been enabled to collect many facts and data, which I will treat of at greater length at a future point of my report.
Four miles up the valley we selected a suitable place for crossing by a ferryboat. We immediately set the whip-sawyers in the timber to get out the necessary lumber, and some men to burning tar, and, being provided with the necessary oakum, we built two flat-boats, forty-two feet long, twelve feet broad, and two feet deep-one for the St Joseph's and the other for the Coeur d'Aléne. The later, when completed, was rowed down into the lake, and thence up the Coeur d'Aléne river to the point selected for its crossing. While this was being accomplished, the divide between the two streams was examined, the road marked out, and several parties placed at work upon it.
The distance from the St Joseph's to the Coeur d'Aléne is twelve miles, passes through a partially timbered country, and gives a good location. Indications of gold were observed, and much quartz scattered over the ground. Springs of water occur at convenient distances, and small tracts of land capable of cultivation. Game, consisting of bear and deer, were occasionally found, and an abundance of mountain grouse. This work, from the St. Joseph's crossing, involved the building of a corduroy, four hundred feet long, over a wet section of the river bottom, and a heavy excavation up a suitable spur, in order to gain the divide, seven hundred feet above. This entire work occupied our force until the 5th day of August, 1859. During this interval our topographers were engaged in tracing the St. Joseph's to its sources, in the Bitter Root mountains, marking its tributaries and defining its boundaries; also in making a survey of the Coeur d'Aléne lake. This last is a noble sheet of water, about eight by twenty-two miles in extent, with a depth of from fifty to fifty-five feet, and
(17) bounded on all sides, except at the points of juncture of its arms, by high, sloping timbered spurs. It is about two thousand feet above the level of the sea, and filled with an abundance of delicious salmon trout. The line to the Coeur d'Aléne river being completed by the 5th of August, I moved the entire train to its left bank, where it remained in camp until the 9th, when the road, for nine miles up its left bank to the point of crossing, was completed. This work consisted of a side cut of a fourth of a mile along a broken, rocky spur, jutting upon the river's edge, building three bridges, and cutting through a slight growth of timber near the point of crossing. Our boat being in readiness, we crossed the river on the 11th, and remained on the left bank until the morning of the 16th, engaged with our entire force in opening the line thence to the Coeur d'Aléne mission, which involved building three bridges, making a cut of one mile of excavation along difficult spurs, and cutting through timber for three miles, which, when completed, gave us an excellent road. On the morning of the 16th of August we reached the mission, two hundred miles from Walla-Walla. This was one of our fixed points from which began our mountain work proper. That this proved a difficult task to handle our three years' labor abundantly proves. I would here state that the same features mark the valleys of the St. Joseph's as characterize that of the Coeur d'Aléne-fine tracts of land for settlement, abundance of timber, and most excellent grazing, with mill sites on many of the smaller tributaries.
Reaching the mission we determined to make it a depot point for our train until such time as our work in advance should enable us to move forward.
Placing the depot under the charge of Lieutenant White, we divided our force into several sections and distributed them along the line of work for ten miles. This work consisted of timber cutting and clearing, building small bridges, corduroying wherever the ground was wet and marshy and making side cuts wherever it was sidling, or where the formation of the spurs compelled it.
Crossing the Coeur d'Aléne a mile above the mission we lose sight of the river till reaching the Four-Mile prairie, a point four miles beyond, and again lose sight of it until reaching a point we called the Ten-Mile prairie. This section of the road, for the first four miles, passes mostly through a timbered region and along the south foot of the spurs, making back from the river, till it reaches the Four-Mile prairie; after which it agin enters a timbered region till reaching Seven-Mile prairie, and then again through timber until it reaches Ten-Mile prairie. Each of these prairies afford good camp grounds, and the first was formerly cultivated by the Fathers; this soil is good; it contains about one hundred acres. Seven-mile prairie is an excellent camping ground but not so well suited for cultivation; it is abundantly fed by springs and creeks, and contains about four square miles; traces of gold are said to have been found here. Ten-Mile prairie has many springs and is very wet in the early part of the year; it contains about a square mile, and is bounded on one side by timbered spurs and on the other by the banks of the Coeur d'Aléne, fringed at this point with pine and cottonwood; it produces a rich growth of meadow grass, and its soil in places is alkaline; it might be reclaimed by ditching, and would then be a fertile and desirable spot. We chose this as our second depot, as it afforded us a good grazing range for our stock; and from it we also cut a quantity of hay. The work from the mission to the Ten-Mile prairie occupied us until the 17th of August, when we again brought forward our entire train to the new depot. Every one was moved except the astronomical party under Mr. Weisner and Mr. Kolecki, who were left at the mission during a lunation to fix the position of that point. Our position at Walla-Walla had already been determined by a six week series of observation, and our plan was to occupy as many fixed points as time and circumstances would allow.
While at the Coeur d'Aléne mission we had sent out two parties to explore and bring back such data as would guide our judgment in our further movements.
(18) The one was assigned to Mr. P. M. Engle, whose duties were to cross the bed of mountains along the south fork of the Coeur d'Aléne river, and strike the Clark's Fork at or near Thompson's prairie, in order to see if the country along this route was adapted to a cheap location. In this undertaking he was provided with the necessary Indian guides and outfits, and directed to pursue his examinations up the Clark's Fork to the Pend d'Oreilles mission, and return via the route of the Bitter Root, recrossing the mountains via Sohon's Pass and thence to our camp. This was fully and satisfactorily accomplished, and developed the fact that the features of the mountains precluded the possibility of securing a line in that direction. The second party was placed in charge of Mr. Sohon, with directions to pass rapidly forward and mark in a general manner the location; to ascertain the best point of passage over the Coeur d'Aléne mountains, and to continue his examination down the valley of the St. Regis Borgia to the Bitter Root, and thence up to the Hell's Gate valley. For this purpose he, too, was provided with the best Indian guides we could procure, and fulfilled his mission satisfactorily, returning to camp by the 15th of September.
From my own knowledge of the country, and the additional data brought in by Mr. Sohon, I saw that we had to content ourselves with the cheapest location that the peculiar features of the valleys of the Coeur d'Aléne and St. Regis Borgia warranted. Both of these valleys were densely timbered, with here and there a prairie affording scanty grass. Both of the valleys at points verged towards cañons, and their rivers were serpentine in their course, leaving alternate flats and spurs along their banks; hence the character of the streams necessitated frequent crossings or long and difficult side cuts to avoid them. The latter was a work of great magnitude, and incompatible with the means at our disposal; hence the former was our only alternative. Our work, consequently, from the 16th of August to the 4th of December, 1859, consisted in cutting through this densely timbered section of one hundred miles, building small bridges where required, and grading in thousands of places, made necessary by the physical nature of the country. We likewise graded an ascent of one and three-fourths miles, to the summit of the Coeur d'Aléne mountains.
This work was heavy, and in so brief a report as herewith given justice cannot be done to the industry and fortitude of the men while mastering this wilderness section.
The standing timber was dense, and the fallen timber that had accumulated for ages formed an intricate jungle well calculated to impress one with the character if impracticability. Suffice it to say that we mastered the many difficulties with which its construction was fraught, and reached out winter camp in the St. Regis Borgia valley on the 4th of December.
As we hade been obliged to keep our stock in the mountains until they were covered with snow, many had died from starvation and exposure. I had at first intended to reach the Bitter Root river, but winter overtaking me, I did the best in my power, and made a point on the St. Regis Borgia below the last crossing. It was to attain this that I pushed my stock to the last point of endurance, dreading to be caught in a mountain gorge to battle out the winter, or to contend with the high water of the coming spring. As stated previously, we did not reach our winter camp until the 4th of December, and already had our men worked in the snow at great discomfort, though with cheerfulness and zeal.
Becoming settled in our camp, we forwarded our stock to the Bitter Root valley, but the distance was one hundred miles, the ground covered with snow, and the mountain trails difficult and slippery; these, together with their enfeebled condition, caused the loss of the greater number of them before they reached the valley; but there was no point for pasturing short of this, and they must either reach it or perish in the snow. I took the precaution to have the beef cattle driven to camp and slaughtered and the beef frozen, in which con-
(19) dition it kept until the month of March. The truth was that the amount of work required was immense, and very much underestimated both by myself and others, for we only truly appreciated it when we came to handle it in detail. It was completed, however, by our party, with an industry and interest seldom evinced on similar occasions.
We occupied the summit of Sohon's Pass for a period of six weeks with our transit, and determined its position with great accuracy. From this point it was sent to the crossing of the Bitter Root river, which we occupied from November until April, and here obtained a very important fixed point.
Early in November I sent Mr. Engle forward to the Bitter Root valley, there to organize a small party and proceed to Fort Benton, mark the general features of the line, and bring me back such data as would control my judgment in future movements.
Our men set to work erecting such log huts as our wants demanded, and to the camp I gave the name Cantonment Jordan. It was situated in a dense bed of timber, that furnished both building material and fuel, had many fine springs, and was securely sheltered from the winds by friendly rims of mountains. We erected an office, and occupied the entire winter in compiling filed-notes, completing maps, as far as our material sufficed, and writing such memoirs and reports as would furnish the bureau with exact information on all points connected with our operations. The office hours of employés were from 10 a. m. to 3 p. m., and from 6 till 9 p. m. The men were employed in gathering and preparing fuel, and the ordinary labors incident to camp life. Guard duty was kept up merely to preserve discipline, as the snow was an effectual barrier against Indian depredation or Indian surprise.
The question of snow has been with me an all-important one, and with the view of arming myself with facts as to its fall and depth, I had snow gauges prepared along the route, either by cutting off the tops of trees or planting posts graduated to a scale of feet and inches, so that when the mail-men passed, which they did every month, they might accurately note its depth. I have had this done during two winters, and am enabled to state definitely the depth attained during any month at every point of the route.
These show that in the upper Coeur d'Aléne and St. Regis Borgia valleys it fell to the depth of from two and a half to three feet; in the higher portions to from three to five feet, and on the summit of the mountains to from seven to nine feet. This is an objection to this route of so vital importance, when compared with that via Clark's Fork, that, as I before states, had I known in 1854 what I did not learn till 1859, I should, by all means, have recommended the latter, at least, as far a regards the portion lying between Antoine Plant's and the Hell's Gate. During the winter of 1859, Spokane Garry brought the mail by the way of the Clark's Fork, and though he lost one horse en route, yet he nevertheless made the trips mostly on horseback. As soon as this fact was brought to my notice, I set an inquiry on foot and found this fact to hold: that no Indians had ever been known to cross the mountains in winter, via the Coeur d'Aléne route, while it was quite the usual thing for them to do so via the Clark's Fork. Further investigations of this point have proved of marked value, and must enter as essential elements into the location of any railroad line that would seek the Columbia via its upper tributaries. We find this meteorological fact to exist: that of we take the isochimenal line which crosses the country in the latitude of St. Joseph's, Missouri, and trace this line westwardly, we reach Fort Laramie, when, varying from the line of latitude, it trends northwestwardly and passes between the Wind River mountains and the Black Hills of Dacotah, reaching the headwaters of the Yellowstone, at the hot spring and geysers of that stream; thence again to the Beaver Head valley, crossing the main range of the Rocky Mountains at the Deer Lodge valley, in latitude 47 north. In other words, in the longitude from St. Joseph's to the Rocky Mountains it has gained six degrees of latitude, which remarkable increment continues as we trace it further westward; for the line crossing the range grasps the valley of the Hell's Gate, and keeps it till it reaches the Bitter Root, and thence, trending northwestward, strikes the Clark's Fork at the Pend d'Oreilles lake; from this point it trends south and comes down to the Walla-Walla, in Washington Territory. Thus we find the same climate along the Clark's Fork, Hell's Gate, upper Missouri, and Yellowstone rivers, that we find at St. Joseph's, Missouri.
This is as true as it is strange, and shows unerringly that there exists in this zone an atmospheric river of heat flowing through this region, varying in width from one to one hundred miles, according to the physical face of the country. This affects the kingdoms of natural history, botany and climatology to such an extent that herein we find mild winters, vigorous grasses even in midwinter, that enable stock to be grazed on the open hills, and gives a facility of travel during the severest seasons of the year.
There is no doubt in my own mind that this fact will yet be turned to a practical utility to the extent of opening this route by a wagon road, when the mail coach and the emigrant wagon can, each and every month, make the trip overland from the Missouri to the Columbia. This line once opened would prove the great pioneer to the railroad which is destined to tap the interior of the northern mining section of the Rocky Mountain system, and which will have its outlet to the north Pacific either via the mouth of the Columbia or Puget Sound. The effect of this important fact had a material bearing upon the time of our resuming work in the spring of 1860. The point chosen for our winter camp was fifteen miles from the Bitter Root ferry, through a densely timbered section, involving heavy labor. The winter at the main camp proved severe, while at the ferry it was generally mild and pleasant, with less snow by one and a half feet, and, although only fifteen miles distant, like a new climate. In fact, to compare the climates of these two points was like the difference of spring and winter, for one was situated within this river of heat and the other without it. So apparent was this difference in the month of February that I could resume work with advantage along the Bitter Root river, whereas the snow and frozen condition of the section from my camp to the ferry rendered it impossible to work this till late in the spring.
I determined at once to throw forward all my men upon the Bitter Root, there build boats for the transportation of our supplies up the river, and resume work. We could not use our animals, as their condition and the want of grass would not allow of their being brought down to us at so early a date. To carry our supplies this distance of fifteen miles by hand involved much hard labor. The men transported on their backs two months' supplies, all their tents and personal baggage, and setting to work at the crossing got out the necessary lumber for six bateaux and a large flat, the last to be permanently left at the crossing, and the former to be used in transporting our supplies and baggage up the river as our work progressed. The location for thirty miles lying immediately along the right bank gave us every facility in moving camp. The different sub-parties were arranged with a view to efficiency, each under the supervision of a chief, to whom, as I was about to leave the party for a period to visit the Indians to the east and prepare for my spring and summer movements, I gave certain instructions, which are herewith appended, and which set forth the nature of the work. I then placed the whole command under charge of Lieutenant J. L. White.
During the winter months my mind was much exercised in regard to the time when I should reach the Missouri, and whether the summer of 1860 would not prove a proper time for carrying out the project originally set on foot by Jefferson Davis, and promised to be carried out during Mr. Buchanan's administration, namely: a military movement via these two rivers, Columbia and Missouri, and the route we were then opening. The success of such a movement would prove
(21) conclusively that a result had been obtained. I felt sanguine that we should reach the Missouri by the early summer. The success of the steamers in reaching Fort Benton in 1858 and 1859 was one point accomplished. Looking upon the necessity of the companies then serving in East Oregon and Washington being replenished in numbers by the coming summer, and the fact of my reaching Benton in the spring with a large and empty wagon train which could be judiciously and advantageously used in connexion with such a movement, I thought the spring of 1860 was, above all other periods, the proper time for testing the merits of our road. With this object in view I despatched to Washington Mr. W. W. Johnson, a young man then in my employ, whose thorough knowledge of the work pointed him out as a suitable person to perform what I desired. He left my camp for Washington city, with letters for the Secretary of War, Topographical bureau, General Jesup, and Governor Stevens, setting forth my views in full detail and pledging my energy and determination that nothing should be left undone to secure the full success of the movement recommended; this was to send three hundred recruits from St. Louis to Fort Benton in the spring by the steamers of P. Choteau & Co., with four month's supplies, and that I would meet them at Fort Benton with my train, with which they could make the trip to Walla-Walla in sixty days. It is needless to narrate all the details that followed my recommendation, nor the various difficulties that beset our pathway to the right and left on the part of callous and apathetic persons, nor those that had to be handled from the inception of the enterprise to its final completion. Suffice it to say, the movement was ordered, its details and management were judicious, and three hundred recruits, shipped direct from St. Louis, supplied the vacancies in companies then stationed in East Oregon and Washington, at an estimated saving of $30,000 to the government. This movement had the effect of keeping in subjection the turbulent disposition of the Indians, transforming, while en route, recruits into soldiers, affording protection to the emigrant, security to the pioneer settler and tiller of the soil, and giving a practical test of the value of a route, which from the days of Jefferson, who initiated the project of opening a north Pacific communication, to the present date of its practical accomplishment, has had zealous friends and advocates.
Having perfected all the details for resuming work in the spring of 1860, and seeing the parties duly engaged, I proceeded to the Bitter Root valley and held a talk with the Indians, whose dispositions towards myself had always been friendly. The necessity of getting my supplies from Fort Benton, and the condition of my own animals, compelled me to lay my wants before the Flatheads. I told them I needed one hundred and seventeen horses, with pack saddles, and from fifteen to twenty of their men to accompany Mr. Sohon across the mountains. They promised me a reply the next day, when they would send me as many sticks as they had men and horses to furnish.
The next morning their chief, Ambrose, came to Fort Owen, where I was a guest, with a bundle of one hundred and thirty-seven sticks, each representing a horse or a man. Such nobleness of character as is found among some of the Flatheads is seldom seen among Indians; and I here record to their credit that I never had a want but which, when made known to them, they supplied, and that they always treated myself and my parties with a frank generosity and a continuous friendship.
They were paid for the use of their animals and the services of their men, and made the trip in the month of March safely across the Rocky Mountains, bringing me back eleven thousand rations. I also dispatched from this place an express to Salt Lake, making a requisition upon Colonel Crossman for fifty mules. My expressman, Ned Williamson, was caught in the mountains by deep snows, near the head of the Snake river, lost his horses, made snowshoes from his saddle rigging, and, though snow-blind for several days, made the greater portion of the five hundred miles on foot, reaching Camp Floyd safely, and returned
(22) on horseback with a single companion, making the whole trip to and from within the period of fifty days. He proved himself a hardy fellow, and showed what a man can accomplish when the will is strong. In company with Lieutenant Lyon I then visited the Pend d'Oreille mission, to procure fresh vegetables for my men who already were affected with the symptoms of scurvy. We had at this time about twenty-five cases of this disease, all of which readily yielded under the care of my brother, Dr. James A. Mullan, to the specifics of fresh vegetables and vinegar.
This fact was developed with regard to the scurvy: that among the citizen employés who received five days fresh beef and two days dessicated vegetables out of the seven, not a single symptom appeared, every case being confined to the soldiers who received but two days fresh beef and two days dessicated vegetables in the seven. The rations of the latter were regulated by Lieutenant White; those of the former by myself.
In our trip to the mission we made the distance from the Bitter Root ferry to the Bitter Root valley in February and March without difficulty or detention. We carried with us a small quantity of forage, to be used in case of emergency; but we found grass at every camp. The ground, in places, was still covered with snow, but here and there large tracts of prairie were found covered with abundant grass; the smaller creeks were still locked in ice, but the main Bitter Root river was open and free.
Accomplishing the object of my journey, I returned to camp in the latter part of March to find my work progressing satisfactorily. As before stated, the timbered section of fifteen miles from our camp to the ferry was kept in abeyance until the disappearance of the snow should enable the ground to be worked; hence all the parties were engaged along the right bank of the Bitter Root river. The topographical character of this stream required us to keep along its right bank for a distance of thirty miles at least, and whether from this point a change to the opposite bank would be advisable, to avoid long ranges of difficult spurs, forming bluff banks for seven miles, could only be determined by thorough detailed examination. The fluviatile plateaus that mark both banks afforded us an excellent location; they are of different levels, but generally from fifty to twenty feet above the water, from one-forth to two miles broad, covered with pines, without underbrush, and well grassed. The work in this stretch of thirty miles involved three miles of excavation.
Mr. Sohon, in his examination of the previous year, brought to my notice that the spur of the mountains thirty miles from the ferry jutted upon the river bank for six miles, leaving no berme over which we could lay our road. This would force us either to cross the stream, make a side-hill cut through this length, or turn the mountain by its rear. I endeavored to accomplish the latter, and in the month of April devoted several days to examining the entire country, and especially a route known as Brown's Cut-off; but I found the mountains so high and abrupt, to say nothing of the snow, that I gave up all hopes of attaining my ends in this direction.
To make this six-mile cut through rocky spurs was an undertaking that I almost feared to attempt. I fully appreciated the advantages of a continuous stretch along one bank; but the extensive plateaus on the opposite side formed so inviting a contrast to the rocks and bluffs before us, that I at first allowed my judgment to decide in favor of the additional crossing, and, indeed, had begun to get out the material for a flatboat, when, reflecting on the many contingencies to which these boats would be subject from fires, floods, and Indians, I re-examined these spurs, and determined, at all hazards, to make the cut, thus having but one ferry on the river.
The road from our winter camp to the Big mountain, as these spurs are called, was completed by the 10th of May, including the fifteen miles of heavy timber already referred to, which was opened by Lieutenant White and Cap
(23) tain Delacy. On the 1st of May I commenced upon the cut around the Big mountain, and by the 10th had my entire force of citizens and soldiers employed. My camps were formed at its west base, where a small creek and an abundance of timber afforded all the conveniences required. In order to obtain the practicable elevation, on account of the abrupt, rocky faces of the spurs, I carried the line up a ravine until, gaining 1,000 feet, I wound around mountain sides, making the re-entering angles by gentle curves, until the entire six miles was completed. It was a severe piece of work, and cost is the labor of 150 men for six weeks. Being rocky in most places, we were compelled to blast, when, by a premature explosion, one of our men, Sheridan, lost one of his eyes, and another, Robert P. Booth, was severely stunned; this finished, all further difficulties as to location ceased.
In the remaining stretch to Hell's Gate, amounting to sixty miles, we made one and a half mile of side-hill excavation, built a bridge of 150 feet in length, over a bad slough seven feet deep, and continued the road through much open timber. This line, during this season, was left in fair order. Our entire work to the Hell's Gate ronde was completed by the 28th of June, when our train was moved from our winter camp to the residence of a Frenchman, named Brown, where I had built a storehouse to leave such supplies as I did not care to transport to Fort Benton. While my train was encamped in the left bank of the Bitter Root the river gained its maximum rise, and during the night swept away our ferry-boat, leaving us no alternative but to build another. The men therefore were set to work to whipsaw the necessary lumber, built and launched the boat, crossed the train and set it in motion on the other side-all within seven days.
The 90 miles from the Bitter Root ferry to the Hell's Gate ronde affords a good road, with camp grounds at convenient points, with an abundance of wood, water, and grass. Many beautifully situated agricultural tracts are found through this region. The principal of these are the Nine-Mile prairie, the Nemoté prairie, the Skiotay and Kul Kullow creeks, and several stretches of great extent along the main Bitter Root river. Game is in abundance in the shape of deer and sheep, and all the streams are filled with trout. My astronomical party was moved to the Hell's Gate ronde on the 1st of April, which point it occupied until the middle of May, when it was sent to Fort Benton, via the Big Blackfoot Pass; it was deemed best to send it to Fort Benton at once, and let it take observations there during the remainder of May and June, as the atmosphere in the prairies was then clear, and to return to the summit of the Rocky Mountains at Mullan's Pass in July, when we could take the necessary observations for determining its position, and also observe the eclipse of the 17th of July, 1860, and thus determine the longitude.
In order to get the geographical connexion of the Bitter Root with the Clark's Fork, never before made, I sent out Captain Delacy with a boat party. It was satisfactorily obtained, and a map of both rivers made. His detailed report is appended.
Having now completed all the work of exploration and construction to the west of the Hell's Gate ronde, we pushed on to the Blackfoot river, and reached our crossing point on the 1st of July. I here detached a party under Mr. Howard and Mr. Kolecki, to make a thorough examination of the Big Blackfoot and run a line of levels from the mouth of its tributary, Lander's Fork, across the Rocky Mountains, via either Cadottes or Lewis and Clark's Fork Pass to the Dearborn river. According as a preliminary examination should best determine, this party was to join my own at the crossing of the Dearborn river.
This work was accomplished, a profile was determined, and many valuable statistics gained, which will be hereafter referred to in a detail in the chapter on "railroad data." Mr. Kolecki's more detailed report is herewith appended.
Reaching the Big Blackfoot, we crossed to its left bank on the 1st and 2d by
(24) means of a wagon-boat and a small bateau, transported for the purpose. We carried this last the entire distance to Fort Benton, and in it Mr. Williamson with a small party descended the Missouri to Fort Randall. While crossing this river we learned of the arrival at Fort Benton of Major Blake, with a command of three hundred recruits en route for Fort Walla-Walla, and who awaited our arrival at Fort Benton, to supply himself with the necessary means of transportation. This movement was the execution of the recommendation to which reference has been made. Our location up the Hell's Gate this season involved eleven crossings of this stream in fifty miles; the first was ferried, the rest forded. This stream is from one hundred and fifty to two hundred and fifty feet broad; its current rapid, and its course very serpentine over the distance that we followed it. Its valley is from one to four miles broad, and mostly timbered with open pine. The location, until reaching the last crossing of this stream, was not one involving much labor, being simply slight cutting in timber, grading banks at river crossings, and such other light work en route as the face of the country called for. We reached no point of much difficulty until making the eleventh crossing of the Hell's Gate, where a spur involved a cutting of half a mile to enable us to pass it. This was completed by the 9th of July, when with rapid marches we harried forward to the mouth of Gold Creek. On our march to Fort Benton this season we made the mouth of the Little Blackfoot a point of the route; this involved three additional crossings of the Hell's Gate, and four of the Little Blackfoot, all of which we avoided on our return trip.
From the eleventh crossing of the river, now the only one bridged, the Hell's Gate widens to a broad valley, the spurs recede and large flats or plains are found; it has many rich and fertile spots, and the river has many tributaries; the valley generally afforded an excellent location for our road.
From the mouth of the Little Blackfoot the steam makes an elbow to the north for a distance of ten miles, and to avoid this bend we crossed the open prairie in the re-entering angle, and struck the river again near Belknap's camp. This section involved light work. We then followed the stream until it forked and took up the north branch, making two crossings of the main river, and a greater number of its north fork.
The chief difficulty up to this fork arose from its wet and mucky condition, which continued for eighteen miles, when we reached a gravel formation.
The valley of the Little Blackfoot and its north fork is from one-fourth to two miles broad, bordered by timbered spurs of one thousand feet. The soil in places is a rich black loam; but its altitude above the sea may prevent its ever being brought under cultivation; with the necessary work that this section involved we reached the west base of the Rocky Mountains by July 16. On the morning of the 17th we crossed the range at Mullan's Pass without difficulty, and encamped upon the waters of the Missouri. You approach and descend this pass by a gradual slope; its summit is not timbered; the mountains on both sides are much higher and densely timbered with fir and pine. It is six thousand feet above the level of the sea, and is evidently one of the lowest depressions in the whole range. The pass at the head of the south fork of the Little Blackfoot is practicable for a wagon road, but its position was too much out of the line of our connexions to answer our purposes; it may, however, come into requisition if ever a connexion from the Deer Lodge valley to the plains of the Yellowstone is determined upon.
The eclipse of the sun occurred at an early hour on the morning of the 17th of July, but as our astronomical party had now descended the Missouri for St. Louis we were deprived of the opportunity of observing it from the summit of the Rocky Mountains, as originally contemplated. More detailed allusion will be made of this mishap in the astronomical chapter that is subjoined.
Crossing the Rocky Mountain range at Mullan's pass and descending upon
(25) the Missouri slopes, a new climate and new character of country is at once encountered. The spurs of the mountains become lower and less timbered, the country more diversified with hill and dale, and the scope for a wagon-road location enlarged. The climate too, is warmer, the frosts at night less severe, and the great difference of heat between midday and midnight no longer noticeable.
The first stream touched upon the eastern slope is the Big Prickly Pear creek. It rises at the foot of the pass, and, draining a region twenty miles in width, empties into the Missouri. Its valley for two miles partakes of a cañon like character, where, however, with moderate work, we secured a good location; at the end of this the valley widens, until, near its junction with the Missouri, it has become a prairie ten by fifteen miles in extent. Many fine, though small tracts of tillable land are found within it, and, at present, game abounds. Once in the valley of the Big Prickly Pear we had made our extreme point of southing, and were enabled to turn all the eastern spurs and take a direct line for Fort Benton.
Our location involved three crossings of the Big Prickly Pear, making which, on the morning of the 18th of July, we left its valley and moved northeasterly over rolling hills until we reached and encamped upon Fir creek, distance four miles. In this stretch only light work was required.
The plateau of the Fir creek is about forty feet above its bed, to descend into which required a side cut of sixty feet, and a bridge of thirty feet; making these, on the morning of the 19th of July, we again moved over a rolling prairie region, and in five miles reached and encamped upon the Silver creek. We had now left the more difficult sections of the mountains, and skirted along their eastern bases over the long lateral spurs making out from the main range; these spurs were untimbered, and here became reduced to easy rolling hills; only light work was needed in this last section, so that, on the 20th of July, we again moved forward, and in five miles reached the Soft Bed creek, crossing in the interval Willow creek; this last unites with the Silver creek, which, with the Fir creek, become tributaries of the Big Prickly Pear. None of these streams interpose obstacles to travel, except during the higher freshets, and then only for a few days. The Soft Bed creek is a stream of inconsiderable extent, rising in the prairie hills, and flowing into the Little Prickly Pear. This last rises in the main chain of the Rocky Mountains, and flows through a cañon, with intervals of bottoms, until within three miles of the Missouri, when the hills that bound it recede, giving its valley a width of three miles. It drains a considerable extent of country, and in this vicinity is one of the larger tributaries of the Missouri.
Along the Soft Bed creek but slight work was required to secure a good road; so that, on the morning of the 31st of July, following up this creek to the hills in which it rises, we crossed these hills with moderate work, and at once fell upon another tributary of the Small Prickly Pear, which we called Hard Bed creek. This contains water only a portion of the year; its valley is from a fourth to a half mile in width, bounded by low timbered spurs, and is about eight miles long. We now entered upon the red sandstone and slate formation, the country generally giving every indication of the presence of gold; we followed this stream to its junction with the Small Prickly Pear, which last we crossed, and now entered upon the last point of material difficulty before reaching Fort Benton. The junction of the Hard Bed creek with the Little Prickly Pear affords one of those prairie intervals before referred to, which, at this point, is one by three miles in extent; at the eastern limit of this prairie the Little Prickly Pear again enters a deep rocky cañon, a perfect defile, leaving no berme on its either side. The difficulty drove us over a broken section, which we termed Medicine Rock mountain, and where we worked the road for four days. Its peculiar features of difficulty, and the short time allowed us in which to reach Fort Benton, where Major Blake awaited us with much impatience, all de-
(26) termined me to secure the cheapest and most rapid location; and, for this reason, after descending once more into the valley of this stream I made eighteen crossings, and again reached its more open valley within three miles of the Missouri river. This last was the nearest point of our road to the Missouri, until we reached it at Fort Benton.
On the Medicine Rock mountains we found traces of quartz, and continual indications of gold; one of my men found ten cent prospects in the Big Prickly Pear at the point where it enters the rocky defile referred to, and the Indians gave me to understand that two miles higher up the stream, in another cañon, gold had been found by them. The Medicine Rock section was by far the most difficult of any point along the entire line, from Hell's Gate to Fort Benton, and to it attention will again be given.
Completing this work by the 22d of July, we again moved forward over prairie hills for nineteen miles, when we reached the Dearborn river. We now left both the mountains and their spurs behind us, and emerged upon the broad, swelling prairies of the upper Missouri.
The Dearborn river rises in the main chain of the Rocky Mountains, and for six or eight miles winds through a deep sandstone gorge, when its hills gradually recede, giving place to prairie bottoms covered with cottonwood. Its stream is two hundred feet broad, and fordable, except during the freshet, at which period it is subject to rises that flood its banks and sweep everything before it. The party under Mr. Kolecki, sent to explore the valley of the Big Blackfoot, rejoined us here.
While encamped upon the banks of the Dearborn we were overtaken by Mr. W. W. Johnson, direct from Washington, with dispatches, setting forth a continuation of our appropriation, and orders countermanding instructions that had been issued relative to my command, and the action taken by Major Blake in regard to the same.
From the Dearborn, on the morning of the 27th of July, we traveled over an easy prairie region to a camp at the Bird Tail Rock, passing along the Beaver creek for three miles, and finding during this length an excellent location, requiring but little work. From thence, on the 28th, we proceeded to Sun river, crossing the same at a ford where is situated the Indian agency of the Blackfeet, then in charge of Colonel A. J. Vaughn.
At this point our work proper ceased, for the remaining distance of fifty-five miles to Fort Benton was over an easy and almost level prairie road, with no running streams. The prairie is thirteen hundred feet above the Missouri at the fort, and broken at its southern edge by deep coulées and ravines making into the river, and on its northern edge by similar formations making into the Teton river. A knowledge of the topographical face of this country would therefore show that a feasible line would lie over the high table land and between the heads of the coulées, on its either side, provided water was supplied. This is afforded by a lake sixteen miles to the eastward of the Sun river, and by springs seven miles to the east of the lake. These points subdivided the distance of fifty-five miles from the Sun river to Fort Benton into convenient day's marches. It will be readily seen that the character of the region immediately bordering the Missouri and Teton rivers precludes the possibility of carrying a road by either of these sections.
On the morning of the 29th of July, leaving a portion of my escort in camp on the Sun river to await my return, I divided the remainder of my party into four portions, each to proceed to Fort Benton by different routes; one to camp at the lake, one at the spring, the third to proceed to the Teton direct, and the last to move up the Sun river to the old Blackfoot mission, striking thence across to the Teton, and down it to Fort Benton. This was done for the purpose of examining the country, was well as to bring in a report of each route, which would enable me to judge which was the proper location for a permanent line.
(27) When the different reports were presented, I found that the one via the lake, the spring, and thence to the fort, possessed advantages over all the rest, and was consequently the one chosen for the permanent road.
The Sun river rises in the main chain of the Rocky Mountains, in latitude 48°, and empties into the Missouri about nine miles above the falls. Its border is fringed with cottonwood, and its valley is from one to three miles broad, possessing many tracts of arable land. The Blackfoot agency has large fields under cultivation, where wheat, oats, and every character of vegetable is raised. There are many beautiful agricultural tracts to the south of the Bird Tail Rock, along the many little creeks that rise in the broken section lying between it and the Missouri. Fuel is abundant, though timber for building purposes is scarce. Our different parties that left the Sun river on the 29th of July all reached Fort Benton by the 1st of August. Here we found Major Blake encamped, with three hundred recruits awaiting our arrival. We remained here until the 5th of August. A Mackinac boat built for a party to descend the Missouri to St. Louis, composed of discharged civilians and such soldiers as were near the expiration of their term of service, all under charge of Lieutenant J. L. White. This party made the trip without accident, and for a portion of the distance in company with one of the boats of Captain Raynolds, of the topographical engineers, who for three years had been exploring the country from Fort Laramie to the head waters of the Yellowstone and Missouri, and who had reached Fort Benton only two weeks in advance of our own party. The arrival of Captain Raynolds was of advantage to ourselves, as he was enabled to add to our transportation a large number of pack animals.
Every available means of transportation being turned over to Major Blake for the use of his command, and having completed all the arrangements that our mission called for, we left Fort Benton on the morning of the 5th of August, on our return to Fort Walla-Walla.
At Fort Benton Mr. Sohon was transferred to Major Blake, as a guide and interpreter to his command; Mr. Creighton, one of our wagonmasters, was also transferred, and to their joint good services Major Blake was largely indebted for the success of his march. Such other of my men as could be spared were also turned over to him, so that, so far as our means could supply him, he had nothing of which to complain.
My plan in returning was to pass rapidly over the line, keeping always in advance of the major, and making such repairs as the condition of the road called for and as time allowed. Having turned over to Major Blake's command every wagon taken by us to Fort Benton, and using pack animals ourselves, we were enabled to make excellent time till reaching the Hell's Gate valley, where, having left a few wagons, we were enabled to put our pack animals into harness and used wagon transportation for the remainder of the distance. Our work in returning was limited to repairing the road, excepting at points more especially referred to hereafter. We made no radical change in the location, except in passing from Belknap's camp to the Deer Lodge valley.
Having sent forward my wagonmaster, Mr. Caldwell, to examine this section, and it being pronounced by him practicable for wagons with a moderate amount of work, I determined to adopt it, and thus avoid the three last crossings of Hell's Gate and the four of the Little Blackfoot. It rendered the road longer by three miles; but the avoiding of these streams at high water was an object of great importance, and this is at present the permanent location of the road; thence to the Bitter Root ferry our movements were rapid and our work light. Entering the timbered region of the Bitter Root mountains where the more difficult section of the road lies, repairs became more frequently necessary; we had originally cut the stumps as close the ground as possible, but the road having been travelled, the melting snows of the past winter had washed away the soil from the roots, causing them, from their height, to constitute material obstacles. It was, of
(28) course, impossible to cut them down again this season, and hence, determining to make this a special work for the next summer, I limited myself to making such repairs as immediate necessity called for.
My health during this time had seriously failed me, and I had to intrust the general charge of the work to Lieutenant Lyon and Mr. W. W. Johnson. We pushed forward with the repairs until reaching the Coeur d'Aléne mission, where we arrived on the 1st of September. During this period of the march many despatches were sent back to Major Blake, advising him what camping points to make, and to so divide the distance as to facilitate his movements in passing the belt of timber.
On reaching the Coeur d'Aléne mission I divided my party into two portions, one under Lieutenant Lyon, to proceed towards Walla-Walla, keeping up the repairs of the road in advance of Major Blake and awaiting me on the banks of the Touchet river, employing his men in the meantime in building there a new bridge; with the other party under my own supervision, I returned to the third crossing of the Coeur d'Aléne, to there erect a pier in the middle of the stream, with a view of testing the force of the current and obtaining in the spring fixed facts regarding the rise of the water, as these would be of value in preparing the general programme of my next season's operations, which I intended to lay before the department.
This was done: a triangular pyramid of fir logs twenty-seven feet long, twelve feet broad and ten feet high was erected, with a floor fitted with rock, and left until the following spring. My party, on completing this, resumed the march towards Walla-Walla, reaching the advance camp on the Touchet by the last of September. Here, uniting our forces, the bridge, except its covering, was finished in a few days, the hewn pine timber for its construction being hauled twelve miles, as nothing but cottonwood was found nearer its site. Completing this structure, we reached Fort Walla-Walla in two marches, where, discharging my men and returning my escort to the companies to which they belonged, I brought to a conclusion a long and tedious work constituting my second expedition. The command of Major Blake had made the trip without accident in fifty-seven days, and were now encamped at Fort Walla-Walla; on reaching the Coeur d'Aléne mission they had been met by a pack train from Fort Colville, and by that means turned over one hundred and fifty recruits to the companies there stationed; another portion was turned over at Walla-Walla, while the remainder proceeded to the Dalles and Fort Vancouver. Thus ended this military experiment via the upper Missouri and Columbia rivers; and the success that attended it, the good effects that it induced, the economy resulting, and the eulogistic manner in which each officer of the command referred to the trip, all constitute a sufficient commentary upon its feasibility for future movements towards the north Pacific.
On reaching Fort Benton I had sent Mr. Kolecki to Washington with my field note books, giving him instructions to commence the compilation of our maps. My instructions for the winter contemplated my compiling certain maps at Walla-Walla, but, as the note books necessary for the purpose had been sent off, I was left comparatively idle. The instructions from the War Department required that I should lay before them a plan of operations for the next season's work. Accordingly I prepared one that looked toward resuming work from the Pacific slope, and sent it to the department; but, on comparing a table of statistics of cost of labor and material on the Pacific with a similar table for the Missouri, I became convinced that the latter was the more judicious. My second programme looked toward outfitting at Fort Leavenworth, and proceeding via Fort Laramie to the Deer Lodge valley, where I should spend the winter of 1861, and then press the work vigorously toward Walla-Walla, reaching there by the winter of 1862. This would also enable me to test the value of the Laramie and Deer Lodge route, which had always been with me a favorite measure, give me two long working seasons, and subserve all the requsities of
(29) economy and efficiency. To carry out the plan I proceeded to Washington in the stage from San Francisco to St. Louis, via the southern overland route, and laid my views before the department. On my arrival in Washington I found affairs in a somewhat chaotic state, a change of administration at hand, my first project already indorsed and returned to me, and seeing so many difficulties interpose, I was forced to relinquish my Laramie scheme and procede back to Walla-Walla, reaching there early in April. Immediately organizing my expedition, I was ready to proceed again to the mountains by the 13th of May, 1861. An escort of one hundred men from the 9th infantry was detailed to accompany my command, with Lieutenants Wickliffe and Marsh, and Dr. Lewis Taylor. The former soon resigned his commission and the latter exchanged places with Dr. George Hammond, United States army.
The change that had been wrought by the settlement of the country since the date of my second expedition compelled me to modify that portion of the road from Walla-Walla to the Snake river by changing the crossing point of that stream from the mouth of the Toukanon to the mouth of the Palouse. At the latter point a ferry had been established, chartered by the legislature of Washington Territory, to meet the wants of the Colville travel.
Making the mouth of the Palouse a point of my route likewise enabled me to avoid all the crossings of that stream. The bridge across the Touchet and Dry creek were now completed, and, with the road thoroughly worked from the former to the Snake, left this stretch of forty miles in good order. The distance from the Touchet to the Snake river is twenty-seven miles, with springs seven miles north of the former, and the remaining portion of twenty miles is the longest section without water on the whole route.
From what I had seen of the wet and mucky character of the St. Joseph's valley in early spring, I found that we should be compelled this season to cross the Spokane river and skirt the northern rim of the Coeur d'Aléne lake, opening a new section of thirty miles from the lake to the mission. To this end I had the line explored in September, 1861, by Mr. W. W. Johnson, whose report is herewith appended. This latter, though not furnishing the minutiæ that the location afterwards demanded, tended at least to give me general facts to guide my judgment.
Crossing the Snake by the 20th of May, we worked the road up the bluffs on its right bank and gained the table land, when we had no difficulty in making a camp on the Palouse, fourteen miles from the former river. I availed myself at this time to make a visit to the falls of the Palouse, which are situated nine miles above its mouth. During a high stage of water they form a beautiful and interesting falls. The whole river, which for a mile or more has been confined to a narrow cañon, here leaps in a single sheet over a rocky ledge into an octagonal basin one hundred feet below. The sides of this basin are perfectly black, and the belt of foam, with the spray and mist rising from its base, renders the whole a picturesque scene well worthy of a visit. There are other lesser falls above, but none worthy particular mention. Mr. Sohon has made a very truthful sketch of the larger. Occurring, as they do, in an most uninteresting region, with no signs of habitation or life to break the dreary silence of travel, they serve in a most pleasing manner to break the monotony of this desolate waste.
Leaving the Palouse on the morning of the 21st of May, we journeyed over the prairie hills to Cow creek, a distance of eleven miles, having an excellent road. The Colville wagon road from Walla-Walla is one and the same with our own up to this point; thence it tends up the Cow creek, while our own leads, towards the east in the direction of Antoine Plant's ferry on the Spokane. This ferry is chartered by the legislature of Washington Territory, and, being already established by a fixed settler, I determined to make it a point of my route.
Leaving the Cow creek on the morning of the 22d of May, we moved 18 miles over an easy, open prairie country, with light work, to Aspen Grove;
(30) springs of water were passes en route. From thence our next march was to a chain of laggons, distant 2 1/2 miles, for which distance we still had an excellent prairie road; and from thence to Rock creek, crossing it at the same point made by our old location. Rock creek rises in the Spokane plains, and flowing mostly through a basalt and red sandstone formation, unites with other small streams, and pours its tribute into the Palouse river. There is no country for settlement immediately on this creek, but back a mile or so small patches of arable land exist; this entire district is a pine timbered plain, the timber being in strips of from one to six miles broad, and extending from the Spokane as far south as the Palouse, near the Mocahlissia. From Rock creek, in 13 1/2 miles, we reached Lake Williamson, a beautiful sheet of water in spring, but which evaporates by early autumn. It receives the drainage of a large portion of the Spokane plain, and is surrounded by a fine growth of pine; bordering its margin we also find an excellent tract of fertile soil. Water can be obtained from springs that exist in the neighborhood at all seasons, and there is a smaller lake a mile to the westward, where it may always be had.
From Lake Williamson, in six miles, we reached Hangman's creek, the valley of which is four hundred feet below the Spokane plain; this involved a cut of one-third of a mile, at the end of which we reached the point selected for a crossing. This stream was now quite swollen, and we camped upon it for four days, while building a bridge fifty feet long. Having improved the road in advance, we moved on towards the Spokane at Antoine Plant's, reaching that point on the 1st of June, a distance of 12 1/2 miles from Fort Walla-Walla; at this point we were joined by another portion of the escort, which had marched from Fort Colville under Lieutenant Harker of the 9th infantry; these fully completed the complement of men originally intended for the expedition.
The ferry at the Spokane is a good one, consisting of a strong cable stretched across the river, and a boat forty feet long; it is kept by a very worthy man, Antoine Plant, a half-breed Flathead Indian, who speaks both French and English; he has a small field under cultivation on the left bank, near the ferry landing, from which he obtains corn, wheat, and vegetables; these, with the salmon found in the river, form an abundant supply for his Indian family. The winters here are generally mild, and stock range the hills and plains the whole season, no provision for forage being made. Small tracts of good soil are found bordering the river, as well as two or three miles back; several of these are under cultivation by the Indians, and a few Frenchmen; one of the finest of these is on the south bank, about ten miles from Antoine's, in a re-entering angle of the mountains; here the Coeur d'Aléne Indians have small farms enclosed. This latter region is said to be one of the mildest sections in the Spokane country; little snow falls, and it is protected by long spurs of mountains; these advantages, together with running brooks and perennial springs, will render it a choice locality as the country become settled.
Effecting safely the crossing of the Spokane river, which is here three hundred feet broad and eight deep, with rapid current and high banks, on the morning of the 3d of June we moved up its right bank to a camp at Seltisse's farm, distant nineteen miles. We had an excellent road, fifteen miles of which was over level prairie, and the remainder through a beautiful open pine forest; work in clearing away the fallen timber was all that was required. We passed, during this march, an Indian burial ground of the Coeur d'Alénes, where a cross, erected over each grave, testified to the cheering fruits of the labors of the noble Jesuit fathers in their midst. Seltisse is a worthy Coeur d'Aléne Indian, who has several acres under cultivation, and with hunting, fishing, and tilling the soil, leads the life of an independent chief; I have always found him frank, honest, and friendly.
From his farm we reached in four miles a considerable creek that drains a small sheet of water to the north, and empties into the Coeur d'Aléne lake;
(31) here we entered a difficult belt of timber, extending for thirty miles to the Coeur d'Aléne mission. I determined, therefore, to make this a depot point for such provisions as we had with us, and send a wagon train back to the mouth of the Palouse, where the steamers were to deposit the remainder. Perfecting these arrangements, I set my men at work-a portion building a bridge over the stream, and the remainder making a side cut in the spurs that jutted upon the lake. Mr. Sohon, with a small party and an Indian guide, was kept in advance to mark out the road, and give us, in full detail, the features of the country. This thirty miles of new road was a difficult undertaking, and occupied us until the first of August. The country was broken, and unfavorable to our purposes, but we took advantage of its features as far as possible, following the bottoms of small creeks, and only cutting through the dense timber when it could not be avoided; by these means eventually securing a fair location. The Wolf's Lodge prairie, with an area of a mile square, occurs midway between the mission and the lake, and, with the fine grasses on the hills that surround it, constitutes a fixed and favorable camping ground. Traces of gold are said to have been found in it; and I had myself come across a small camp of men here on my return from the mission in 1862. Quartz is found on many of the neighboring hills, and rumor would set forth that this immediate section was favorable for gold developments. Reaching the Coeur d'Aléne mission, we united with our old road of 1859.
Having abandoned the St. Joseph location, I sent a party to remove the ferry-boat from that river to the Coeur d'Aléne, at its first crossing. My work from this point forward during the first season was to improve the road by cutting the stumps close to the ground, avoiding as many crossings of the Coeur d'Aléne and St. Regis Borgia rivers as possible, by side cuts along the mountains, and by bridging those I could not avoid, and, finally to select a mild and sheltered point for passing the winter. With these objects in view, my entire force was divided into sections of from four to twenty men, with a chief. Each being assigned a bridge to build and the road between two crossings to repair. To each was given wagons drawn by oxen for hauling the heavy timbers, and having blocks and tackles to assist. With these arrangements we made light work of the bridging. All spans over fifty feet required piers, which were filled with rock from the bed of the stream. As soon as one bridge was finished the party in charge would move forward to another. The bridge and abutment sites were all selected by myself, and this system was kept up until the whole was completed. The timber used was red fir and white pine for the framework, and red and white cedar and red fir for covering. We continued bridging the crossings of the Coeur d'Aléne until we reached its forks, when the stream, becoming smaller, no longer absolutely demanded it; but the route would be improved by having every crossing of the north fork bridged. We built twenty heavy bridges on this river, which, together with the repairs in its valley, occupied us until the 15th of September, when, crossing the summit of the Bitter Root mountains, we reached the head sources of the St Regis Borgia river, on which a similar system was initiated.
The lateness of the season and the magnitude of the work, however, all warned me to modify my plan by limiting myself to erecting the frame work of the bridges, and leaving the covering for another season. This was done, and the work pushed forward to completion by the first of November, when the snows of the mountains obliged us to leave for a milder region, for I felt no inclination to again risk the disasters and losses of the previous winter.
During this time my supplies had been thrown in advance to the Bitter Root ferry, where our depot was established. A portion of my escort, with its train, also went to the junction of the Hell's Gate and Blackfoot rivers, under Lieutenant Marsh, that point having been selected as the site of our winter camps, where he was to erect the necessary log-houses. I was governed in this selection by
(32) the fact that the Big Blackfoot was here to be bridged, and my remaining work for the winter and spring lay beyond, along the valley of the Hell's Gate; its proximity to our grazing camps was also a matter of much movement.
Completing the entire work of the Bitter Root crossing we rendezvoused at this point on the 1st of November, and then moved along the right bank towards our winter camp. I employed the men en route in such labor as the condition of the road called for and the lateness of the season permitted. But few sections of the entire distance had become much out of repair and hence our movements were so rapid that we reached the Big Blackfoot by the 22d of November, but not before snow had covered the ground and floating ice showed the approach of winter. On reaching our winter camp the stock were driven to the sheltered valley of the Bitter Root and my entire force divided into five sections, one to build the bridge over the Blackfoot, and the others to be distributed in winter camps along the Hell's Gate at points where side cuts were to be made to avoid the crossings.
My programme of work from this point forward was to avoid all the crossings of the Hell's Gate except one, which would be bridged, and to put the road thence to Fort Benton in such repair as time and means warranted.
Each party was directed to build for itself log huts, and when these were completed to begin work upon the road. I was sanguine that I would be able to work during the winter months, except when the weather should prove of marked severity, and in this I was not seriously disappointed. The party remaining at the main camp having completed their huts began getting out the necessary timbers for the Big Blackfoot bridge. The stream had already become frozen at its edges; and when all the timbers were cut, hauled, hewn and ready to be put together, we threw a boom across the river, which here was two hundred and thirty-five feet broad, six feet deep, and had a current of four miles an hour. By means of this boom we dammed up the floating ice, which in a single night became sufficiently frozen to allow horses to cross. Taking advantage of this ice, we cut an opening large enough to hold the piers and commenced their construction, sinking them, by means of rock placed on a bottom, with which each was provided, until they rested on the river bed. They were leveled by making a profile of the bottom and adjusting blocks under the longer set of ties. Rock for filling them was gathered from a bluff at the abutment site on the left bank and by means of hand sleds run over the ice to the piers, which were thus rapidly filled. Each was thus built and the entire frame-work and superstructure erected before the ice broke up. While this was being done the whipsawyers were at work sawing out plank seventeen feet ling and three inches thick for its crossing; and by the 1st of March we had completed the entire bridge, which was two hundred and thirty-five feet long, with four spans.
This work finished, every available working man was ordered from the main camp to the several outer camps to push forward these sections of the road. The winter had proved one of unusual and marked severity; the snow had fallen as early as the last of November, and continued on the ground as late as the middle of April, with intense cold for about two weeks in January. This compelled us to move our supplies on hand sleds from our main to our minor camps. For a short period in January all travel in the mountains was suspended and from cold and want of forage many of our animals died. The Indians had never before experienced so sever a winter and the poor creatures came in for their share of suffering and loss of stock. This range of cold extended as far east as Fort Benton, the furthest point from which we obtained any data and as far west as the coast. The losses sustained during the winter, together with losses from the heavy freshet that had preceded it, will long be remembered throughout the length of the Pacific coast.
I here mention with regret a sad accident that occurred to a citizen in passing
(33) from one to another of our camps, and which will tend to show the degree of cold we experienced during January. He had left one of the camps with the intention of going to the Deer Lodge valley. Night and severe cold overtaking him before he could reach another camp, he halted to build a fire, and being wet endeavored to slip off his moccasins, when he found them frozen to his feet. He became alarmed, and retracing his steps reached the point he had started from, late at night, but with both feet frozen, and on their being thawed in a tub of water all the flesh fell off. The poor fellow suffered intensely, and his life was only saved by his suffering the amputation of both legs above the knees; the operation was preformed by Dr. George Hammond, United States army. A purse of several hundred dollars was raised for him, and he was left to the kind charity of the fathers at the Pend d'Oreille mission, where he remained up to the date of our leaving the mountains.
Our force was now concentrated upon the side cuts along the Hell's Gate river. This work was finished by the middle of May, involving, in all the five cuts, seven miles of excavation, partly in rock. These cuts avoided ten crossings of the Hell's Gate river. At the distance of thirty miles from the Big Blackfoot we were compelled to throw the location to the left bank of the Hell's Gate, and this necessity involved a bridge of two hundred and fifty feet.
Finding, in the month of May, that the high water prevented me from building this bridge, I gave the contract for the same to a Mr. Samuel Hugo, a resident of the Deer Lodge valley. This is now completed. He was enabled to get out all the timber in high water, and erected it as the freshet subsided. The completion of this work left the entire line to the Deer Lodge valley in a practicable condition. Then my plan for a summer movement was determined upon.
Directing Captain Marsh and Mr. Williamson to break up our winter camp and proceed to the valley of the St. Regis Borgia and there cover all the bridges left unfinished during the past autumn, with an escort of sixteen soldiers and six civilians, and such of my employés as desired to return to the States via Fort Benton, I started for the Missouri river on the 23d of May, 1862. Cantonment Wright, so called in honor of General Wright, a warm friend of our enterprise, was now abandoned; though a cold and bleak place it nevertheless proved a suitable point for our purposes. The camp was situated upon the high flat in the forks of the Blackfoot and Hell's Gate rivers, where timber was abundant and close; but exposed to the bleak winds that at times came down the valley of the Blackfoot, it was found an abode of not over much comfort. All travel with the Indians had been suspended during the winter, but as snow disappeared they were once more on the move, some crossing the plains in quest of buffalo, whilst others were returning from the same point where they had passed the winter. The latter brought accounts of the severity of the winter on the upper Yellowstone and Missouri rivers, and of the loss of stock that nearly all the Indians had sustained.
Mr. Burr, however, in company with Mr. Worden, crossed the main range of the Rocky Mountains, in March, for Fort Benton, from which point Mr. Worden descended the Missouri to St. Louis, to make his annual purchase of goods for his mountain trade. Though they found much snow in the mountains proper they found none on the plains; and during the month of April Mr. Dawson, in charge of Fort Benton, sent me a pack train across the mountains without difficulty or loss. It is but seldom that the winter is so severe as to interfere seriously with travel across via the Little Blackfoot and Deer Lodge prairies.
My arrangements for a departure from Fort Benton being completed by the 23d of May, we started with a pack train and made the Deer Lodge valley in five camps. Expecting to find the Flint creek much swollen, I had a canoe built and transported thither. This proved a most fortunate precaution, as on reaching its banks it was so much swollen, I had a canoe built and transported thither. This proved a most fortunate precaution, as on reaching its banks it was so much swollen that we would have been unable to make its passage without such aid. We halted at the American Fork and
(34) visited the Deer Lodge gold mines, where we found Messrs. Blake, McAdow, Higgins, Dr. Atkinson, and Gold Tom at work sluicing, and at that time they were taking out about ten dollars per day to the hand, and with fair prospects of extensive digging. Wherever parties had prospected in ravines or river bottoms they had found prospects from one to fifteen cents to the pan. Convincing ourselves by indubitable proofs to the existence of gold at this point, we continued our journey, reaching the fort without accident on the 8th of June. We had found the streams much swollen, especially the Little Blackfoot, Small Prickly Pear, and Sun rivers. We, however, forded them all, except the Sun. Fearing that the Dearborn would not prove fordable, I had sent forward a party to here construct a canoe, while with my whole camp I remained for two days at the east base of the Rocky Mountains, to there gain some additional data for determining the position of the pass. These data were collected by Mr. Kolecki, whose camp was pitched upon the summit of the mountains, and where most beautiful clear days and nights enabled us to obtain a good series of observations. Having had a ferry-boat built by Mr. Dawson, at the agency on Sun river, and which was kindly taken charge of by Mr. McCullough, we were enabled to cross this stream without very serious difficulty, though, at the time, the river was even with its banks and the current very rapid. For the want of other lumber the boat on the Sun river was built of cottonwood plank, forty-two feet long by twelve broad, and two deep.
Reaching Fort Benton by the 8th of June, we had a Mackinac boat built by the 12th, when my party started for St. Louis; and having myself completed all my business at this point, I started on my return to my party in the mountains. On the way back we had an abundance of game, for which we were largely indebted to Mr. F. H. Burr, who is an excellent shot and good hunter. Being desirous of recovering some horses stolen from him by the Blackfoot, two months previous, he had availed himself of our trip and became our compagnon du voyage.
On our trip from Deer Lodge to Fort Benton we performed no work beyond what our immediate wants demanded; but I was enabled to mark in detail the points where additional repairs were yet required. The chief point was over the Medicine Rock mountain. It is barely possible that the Medicine Rock mountain might be avoided by following down the Big Prickly Pear, immediately on crossing the Rocky Mountains to the Missouri, and working a road along that river to near the mouth of the Little Prickly Pear. I am not positive whether this can be done. I examined this section in 1854, and my recollection of the region was against its feasibility. In case the road should be reworked it is worthy a special examination. There is no other way of avoiding this mountain, and should this prove impracticable nothing is left except to work the high water trail throughout over the Medicine Rock mountain; this, in many places, will be through rock, but with time and means a good road can be made. After this a good bridge should be built over Willow creek; the two crossings of the Big Prickly Pear should be avoided by work over the hills, and the entire section along the north fork of the Little Blackfoot should be worked by excavating a road along the northern side hills, wherever the ground is wet and marshy. Two crossings of the main Little Blackfoot should be avoided, and a bridge built over its third and last crossing. With these improvements, and such other slight work as the nature of the repairs may demand, the road from Deer Lodge to Fort Benton will be an excellent one at all times, and upon which, in time, there will be much travel. I returned to the Deer Lodge valley, at the American Fork, by the 24th of June, meeting several wagon trains en route for Fort Benton, to freight out supplies for the Bitter Root and Deer Lodge valleys. At the American Fork I was overtaken by Mr. Steele, from Fort Benton, with the intelligence that four steamers had arrived at that point since the date of my departure, with three
(35) hundred and sixty-four emigrants from St. Louis, for Walla-Walla and other points en route; that they were provided with saw and grist-mills, and that there were among them many miners who intended prospecting the country en route; also, that another trading house, under the auspices of La Barges, Harkness & Co., of St. Louis, was to be established near Fort Benton. This cheering intelligence was very gratifying to myself, seeing in it the commencement of a long line of emigrant travel, that in years to come must course along these rivers in search of new homes towards the Pacific slope.
Learning at American Fork that Captain Marsh was pushing on towards Walla-Walla, without having done what had been contemplated by myself, on leaving Cantonment Wright I left my party under charge of Mr. Sohon, with instructions to move at easy marches till overtaking me, and with one man moving rapidly to the camp of my advance party, then under Mr. Williamson, reaching them July 1st. Finding Captain Marsh had already crossed the Spokane, and being so fatigued by my long journey as to be unable to proceed myself, I despatched one of my men with orders to Captain Marsh to halt and await further instructions, and at the same time forwarded despatches to Generals Wright and Alvord reporting the same.
Captain Marsh afterwards returned to the Spokane, and there, awaiting the arrival of myself and party, stated to me that he had misunderstood the exact instructions given him, so no further action was taken in the case. To me it was a source of great regret, and militated strongly against the best interests of the road, and the amount of work which might have been judiciously performed in replacing certain bridges that the freshet had destroyed, and aiding Mr. Williamson in his severe work of covering others. I found, on my return, that one of the sections along the Hell's Gate had been washed away by the sudden rise, and the Big Blackfoot bridge, to a certain extent, thrown out of shape. The latter I gave to Mr. Hugo to repair, and with regard to the former, I told the county commissioners of Missoula county that if they would have this section repaired I would recommend that the sum of $500 be set aside to cover its expense. With these two exceptions no additional repairs were needed till reaching the Sciotay creek. Here a bridge should be erected, and the present upper crossing might be found the best place for locating it. The Rocky Points, several miles below, might be either repaired or changed to the trail line, and here blasting or bridging might meet all the difficulty of location. No other material points need attention until we came to the Nemoté creek. Here, instead of taking Brown's Cut-off, I should now prefer to excavate a line from one and a half to two miles along the Bitter Root, and say, from one hundred to two hundred feet above the river, in order to get above all the slides, and by these means shorten the road two miles and avoid a steep hill. This done, there would be no further work required till reaching the Bitter Root ferry. From this point to the Spokane plain, a distance of one hundred and twenty miles, I should desire to see the timbered section cut 60 feet broad. The admission of additional sunlight, and heat, and the less danger of obstruction from fallen timber, as well as the greater rapidity with which the snow would melt in autumn and early spring, are advantages in its favor so strong that if done at least two months of travel will be added yearly, and the road made subservient to many more objects than I can now claim for it.
A road should be cut around Mud prairie to its south, and thus avoid a point difficult in early spring. We lost six bridges along the St. Regis Borgia and two along the Coeur d'Aléne, during the freshet. Four of these might be avoided by a side hill excavation another season, and it should be worked at any cost of construction; the excavation will be in rock at these side cuts. For this work and that needed from the Deer Lodge to Fort Benton I think the amount of $70,000 should be appropriated by Congress: $20,000 to be used in
(36) the Deer Lodge section, and the remainder in the timbered belt referred to from the Bitter Root ferry to the Spokane plain.
The freshet in these mountains is a difficulty to be sternly handled, and too much care cannot be taken in selecting suitable abutment sites for bridging. The excessive amount of bridging that the Coeur d'Aléne calls for is an element of disadvantage difficult to eliminate.
Along the north fork of the Coeur d'Aléne, from Johnson's Cut-off to Long prairie, all the crossings might be avoided by making some three or four miles of excavation along the side hills. But I candidly believe the government would eventually find it to its advantage to open a line through the mountains via the Clark's Fork, to the Hell's Gate, and thence use my road to Fort Benton. Every advantage of climate would be then gained, and though the amount needed to open it might prove at first large, yet, looking to the fact that it could be travelled every month in the year, we have an argument so permanently in its favor that it must weigh down all other considerations, and I can only hope that the matter may yet be taken up by some person competent to handle it.
The work of covering the bridges in the valley of the St, Regis Borgia having been completed, my party moved for Fort Walla-Walla, making such repairs en route as the condition of the road called for, crossed the Spokane, and halted at Hangman's creek. This is the largest and most important stream to cross between Fort Walla-Walla and the Spokane. The freshet here, having been unusually high, had swept away the bridge erected during the last season. I determined, therefore, to choose a new site and erect a new and stronger bridge, that should defy the force of the highest freshet. Setting the men at work, we had a fine structure ready by the middle of August, when we took up our line of march for Fort Walla-Walla. By this time we were overtaken by several small parties of emigrants, who had come from St. Louis by the steamers before referred to, and were now on their way to Walla-Walla. I aided all in every way in my power, and furnished supplies to those who needed them, also leaving memorandum notes from point to point, setting forth the best camping grounds, &c.
All these emigrants were a very proper class of persons, mostly from the western States, where the civil troubles had caused a number to look towards the Pacific in quest of new homes. They had made the journey on the steamers in from thirty to forty days from St. Louis, and, purchasing their land outfit at Fort Benton at very moderate figures, were journeying safely and pleasantly towards the setting sun. The safe passage of these emigrants during this season proves the value of this line for emigrant purposes, and will yet cause it to stand out in competition with other lines across the continent. From the Spokane to Walla-Walla we found the road in good condition, and It will hereafter only require those slight repairs always demanded on the best of turnpikes to keep it in excellent order.
Reaching Walla-Walla late in August, I disposed of my property at public auction, disbanded my expedition, and on the 11th of September started for Washington city, to make my report to the War Department. Thus ended my work in the field, costing seven years of close and arduous attention, exploring and opening up a road of six hundred and twenty-four miles from the Columbia to the Missouri river, at a cost of $230,000. that it will subserve the many purposes claimed for it by its friends I can only sincerely hope that time may eventually prove. With every disposition on my part, it is impossible here to give those details of construction where special difficulties arose day by day for solution, the many trying positions in which I found myself placed during so long a period, the many discomforts put up with by my men, who yet retained all their cheerfulness.
Suffice it to say, we succeeded to our own satisfaction in accomplishing the full object of our mission, and those who by their cheerful aid lent me their co-operation have here my most heartfelt thanks.
(37) GENERAL DIVISION OF ROUTE.
Our road involved one hundred and twenty miles of difficult timber-cutting, twenty-five feet broad, and thirty measured miles of excavation, fifteen to twenty feet wide. The remainder was either through an open, timbered country, or over open, rolling prairie. From Walla-Walla eastward the country might be described in succinct terms as follows: First one hundred and eighty miles, open, level, or rolling prairie; next one hundred and twenty miles, densely timbered mountain bottoms; next two hundred and twenty-four miles, open timbered plateaus, with long stretches of prairie; and next one hundred miles, level or rolling prairie. Thus it is seen that the Rocky and Bitter Root mountains rise midway in our route, with long prairie slopes on either side; that the latter are intersected in every direction by streams flowing from both water-sheds, and rising in the heart of the mountain system; that these prairie stretches interpose but slight obstructions to the location of a road, and it is only in the more elevated central sections where our sterner engineering problems are to be met.
ITINERARY OF ROUTE.
For those who would desire to know in detail the special features of each day's march, as well as each camp ground and distance, or who might desire to retrace the steps herein described, the following itinerary is furnished, viz:
First day.-Leave Walla-Walla and move seven and a half miles, to Dry creek, and encamp at crossing; easy rolling prairie hills en route; wood, water, and grass at camp.
Second day.-Leave Dry creek and move eleven and a half miles, to Touchet bridge, and encamp; easy rolling prairie hills en route; wood, water, and grass abundant.
Third day.-From Touchet take wood in wagons for two days; move seven miles, to the springs, and encamp; grass and water here, but no wood; level prairie road en route.
Fourth day.-Leave springs and move to Snake river; distance, twenty miles; grass, water, and drift wood here; graze animals on hills on left bank; good road over rolling prairie, somewhat hilly.
Fifth day.-Cross Snake river by ferry-boat; charge for wagons, $4; men, fifty cents each; riding and pack animals, fifty cents each; swim loose stock, or, if preferred, ferry same. Move to Palouse; distance, fourteen and a half miles; water and grass; willows for fuel. It would be well to take a small quantity of drift wood along from Snake river; good road.
Sixth day.-Move to Cow creek; distance, eleven miles. Wood, water, and grass at camp; good place to rest animals for a day, if required.
Seventh day.-Move to Aspen Grove; distance, 18 miles; good road. Wood, water, and grass at camp; good place to rest animals a day, if required.
Eighth day.-Move to Lagoon camp; distance, twenty-one and a half miles; good road; wood, water, and grass at camp.
Ninth day.-Move to Rock creek; distance, twelve and a half miles; somewhat stony, but animals should be shod, in which case they will travel well; wood water, and grass at camp.
Tenth day.-Move to Hangman's creek; distance, nineteen miles; good road; wood, water, and grass at camp.
Eleventh day.-Move to Spokane river; distance twelve and a half miles, and cross; wood, water, and grass at camp; good place to rest animals; charge for each wagon, $4; for each man, fifty cents; swim loose stock, or ferry, if preferred. There is a ford eight miles above.
(38) Twelfth day.-Move to camp on Spokane, at the edge of the timber; distance, sixteen miles; good road; wood, water, and grass abundant.
Thirteenth day.-Move to Wolf's Lodge prairie; distance, eighteen miles; road hilly in places, but not bad; wood, water, and grass at camp.
Fourteenth day.-Move to the Coeur d'Aléne mission; distance, seventeen miles; road hilly at one or two places, but not bad; wood, water, and grass at the mission. Good place to rest animals for a day or two, and which is by all means advisable, as you now enter the timber, where camp-grounds have to be specially selected, and the animals should be well rested. Vegetables may be had at the mission.
Fifteenth day.-Move to Mud or Ten-Mile prairie; road good; in very early spring may be wet in places; good camp for wood, grass and water. A good camp may also be had in seven miles from the mission, in open timber; water three hundred yards to the north of road, in running creek; good place for animals.
Sixteenth day.-Move to the fifteenth bridge; good water and wood; grass is not very abundant, but there are a number of small prairies above and below this bridge where grass is found; about half a mile below the bridge, on right bank, is a fine prairie; good road; distance sixteen miles.
Seventeenth day.-Move to Johnson's Cut-off, which is a ravine from the north. The head of this ravine and the hills around it furnish an abundance of grass. This may be the worst day's march, as it involves many crossings, and the road may be wet; distance eleven miles. An endeavor should be make to camp here at the risk of getting late into camp.
Eighteenth day.-Move to Long prairie; distance, three miles; road good, unless during the freshet, when some of the crossings may be swollen. Long prairie is one mile long, one-fourth of a mile broad; grass in large portion; grass also on hills to its north, just before the descent into the prairie; a blind trail leads to it through the timber.
Nineteenth day.-Make an early start and cross summit of Bitter Root mountains; may have to double teams at second curve. Move to the Five-Mile prairie, on St. Regis Borgia river; distance, eleven and a half miles; grass sparse; wood and water abundant.
Twentieth day.-Move eleven and a half miles to Sawyer's prairie; wood, water, and grass abundant; road good.
Twenty-first day.-Move to Cantonment Jordan, five and a half miles distance; grass half a mile above camp; wood and water everywhere.
Twenty-second day.-Move to Bitter Root ferry; distant, fourteen and a quarter miles; wood, water, and grass abundant.
Twenty-third day.-Cross ferry and go to Seven-Mile prairie; charges for crossing the same as at the Spokane and Snake ferries. The stream is fordable in very low water, but I would advise all strangers to cross in the ferry-boats, as the ford is a dangerous one, except to those who know it well. Rest your animals at this point. Good camp, with wood, water, and grass.
Twenty-fourth day--.-Move nine and a half miles to Brown's prairie; good road; wood, water, and grass at camp.
Twenty-fifth day.-Move fifteen and a half miles to west end of big side-cut, and camp at foot of mountain, on small creek. Wood, water and grass abundant; may have to double teams over Brown's Cut-off divide, going either way; road good, with this exception.
Twenty-sixth day.-Move over big side-cut to a camp on Main river, one mile above the Rocky Points, where the road passes through a rock defile; distance, seventeen miles; road fair; wood, water, and grass at camp.
Twenty-seventh day.-Move to Brown's house, twelve miles distant; road good; wood, water, and grass at camp.
Twenty-eighth day.-Move to Higgin's & Worden's store, at Hell's Gate, dis-
(39) tance twelve and a half miles; road excellent; wood, water, and grass here; good place to rest animals for a day or two; blacksmith's shop at Van Dorn's, and supplies of all kinds can be obtained, dry goods, groceries, beef, vegetables, and fresh animals, if needed.
Twenty-ninth day.-Move to Big Blackfoot bridge, eleven miles; road good; wood, water, and grass abundant.
Thirtieth day.-Move to Campbell's camp, fifteen miles; excellent road; good wood, water, and grass abound.
Thirty-first day.-Move to Lannon's camp, nine miles; road excellent; may have to double teams at Beaver Tail butte; good wood, water, and grass abundant.
Thirty-second day.-Move eleven miles to Lyon's creek, crossing en route Hell's Gate bridge; good road; wood, water, and grass at camp.
Thirty-third day.-Move to Flint creek, distance eleven miles; road somewhat hilly but still not steep; wood, water, and grass at camp.
Thirty-fourth day.-Move thirteen and one half miles to Gold creek or American Fork of Hell's Gate river; road excellent; wood, water, and grass at camp; supplies of all kinds to be had here, dry goods, groceries, fresh beef, animals, and possibly vegetables.
Thirty-fifth day.-Move to Deer Lodge river, distance sixteen miles; road hilly but not requiring double teaming; wood, water, and grass at camp; Deer Lodge would be found a good place to rest for a day or two; fresh beef to be had here from settlers.
Thirty-sixth day.-Move to Little Blackfoot river, seventeen and a quarter miles; road generally good, hilly at one or two points, but not steep; good wood, grass, and water at camp.
Thirty-seventh day.-Move to west base of Rocky Mountains, at Mullan's Pass, thirteen and a half miles; road generally good, though sometimes wet in early spring; no ascending the north fork of Little Blackfoot; wood, water, and grass at camp.
Thirty-eighth day.-Cross summit of Rocky Mountains and go seven miles to Fir creek; road good; wood, water, and grass at camp.
Thirty-ninth day.-Move seventeen miles to Little Prickly Pear creek; road hilly in places but not bad; camps at shorter distances can be made, as several creeks are passed en route; Soft Bed creek midway offers a good camp; this would be a good place to rest animals.
Fortieth day.-Start early and go over Medicine Rock mountain fifteen and a half miles; this is the worst day's march; road rocky in places, but, with care, easily made; wood, water, and grass at camp on Oversight creek.
Forty-first day.-Move twenty miles to the Dearborn river; wood, water, and grass at camp.
Forty-second day.-Move to Bird Tail Rock, fifteen miles; road excellent; water and grass at camp; willows for fuel but scant; it would be well to pack wood from the Dearborn or Sun rivers, according to which way you are travelling.
Forty-third day.-Move to Blackfoot agency, on Sun river, eighteen and a half miles; excellent road, wood, water, and grass at camp; good place to rest animals for a day or two; in high water there is a ferry-boat for crossing.
Forty-fourth day.-Move eight miles to the point where you leave Sun river; road excellent; wood, water, and grass at camp.
Forty-fifth day.-Move sixteen miles to the lake; road excellent; water and grass; take wood from camp.
Forty-sixth day.-Move to the springs, seven miles; water and grass, but no wood; or you can go to the Big coulée, sixteen miles further, and encamp on the Missouri river; road good.
Forty-seventh day.-Move to Fort Benton, twenty-seven miles, if you encamp at the springs, or eleven miles if you encamp at the Big coulée. The latter
(40) never was a portion of my road, but was worked by Major Delancy Floy Jones, and I am not responsible for either its location or the character of the work preformed.
If you are going from Fort Benton, it would be preferable to camp at the spring. This can be accomplished by starting early; and I should advise all parties travelling with wagons to avoid the Big coulée. If water be not sufficiently abundant at the springs, then encamp at the lake. It may be found best to start at dawn and make the lake. The road is excellent.
The total distance herein given is six hundred and twenty-four miles, made in forty-seven days travelling; or, allowing eighteen days for delays, contingencies, and recruiting animals, in fifty-five days, with loaded wagons; or in thirty-five days if you are travelling with pack animals.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TRAVELERS.
For persons who desire to leave St. Louis in the spring on steamer for Fort Benton, where the passage is from $40 to $100, and freight from 5 cents to 10 cents per pound, and who desire to make the land transit by wagon, I would advise that they provide themselves with a light spring covered wagon in St. Louis, also two or four sets of strong harness, and transport them to Fort Benton, where they can procure their animals, mules, or horses. The former can be had from $100 to $150, the latter from $50 to $75; oxen, from $100 to $125 per yoke. Let them provide themselves with a small kit of good strong tin or plated iron mess furniture; kettles to fit one in the other, tin plates and cups, and strong knives and forks; purchase their own supplies in St. Louis; brown sugar, coffee, or tea, bacon, flour, salt, beans, sardines, and a few jars of pickles and preserved fruits will constitute a perfect outfit in this department. I have found that for ten men for fifty days, the following is none too much on a trip of this kind: 625 pounds of flour, 50 pounds of coffee, 75 pounds of sugar, 2 bushels of beans, 1 bushel of salt, 625 pounds of bacon side, 2 gallons of vinegar, 20 pounds of dried apples, 3 dozen of yeast powders, and by all means take two strong covered ovens, (Dutch ovens.) These amounts can be increased or diminished in proportion to the number of men and number of days. If your wagon tires become loose on the road, caulk them with old gunny sacks, or in lieu thereof, with any other sacking; also, soak the wheels well in water whenever an opportunity occurs. In loading the wagons, an allowance of four hundred pounds to the animal will be found sufficient for a long journey. For riding saddles, select a California or Mexican tree with machiers and taphederos, hair girth, double grey saddle blanket, and strong snaffle bit.
If the intention is to travel with a pack train, take the cross-tree packsaddle, with crupper and breeching, and broad thick pads. Use lash-rope, with canvas or leather belly bands. Have a double blanket under each saddle. Balance the load equally on the two sides of the animal-the whole not to exceed two hundred pounds. Have a canvas cover for each pack. A mule-blind may be found useful in packing. Each pack animal should have a hackamo, and every animal (packing and riding) a picket-rope, from thirty-five to forty feet long and one inch in diameter. For my own purposes, I have always preferred the apperajo for packing, and have always preferred mules to horses. Packages of any shape can be loaded upon the apperajo more conveniently than upon the packsaddle. A bell animal should be always kept with a pack train, and a grey mare is generally preferred. Every article to be used in crossing the plains should be of the best manufacture and strongest material. This will, in the end, prove true economy. Animals should be shod on the fore feet, at least. Starting at dawn and camping not later than 2 p. m., I have always found the best plan in marching. Animals should not go out of a walk or a slow trot, and after being unloaded in camp they should always be allowed to stand with their
(41) saddles on and girths loose, for at least fifteen minutes, as the sudden exposure of their warm backs to the air tends to scald them. They should be regularly watered, morning, noon, and night. Never maltreat them, but govern them as you would a woman, with kindness, affection, and caresses, and you will be repaid by their docility and easy management. If you travel with a wagon, provide yourself with a jackscrew, extra tongue, and coupling pole; also, axle grease, a hatchet and nails, auger, rope, twine, and one or two chains for wheel locking, and one or two extra whippletrees, as well as such other articles as in your own judgment may be deemed necessary. A light canvas tent, with poles that fold in the middle by a hinge, I have always found most convenient. Tables and chairs can be dispensed with, but if deemed absolutely necessary, the old army camp stool, and a table with a lid that removes and legs that fold under, I have found to best subserve all camp requisites. Never take anything not absolutely necessary. This is a rule of all experienced voyageurs.
ADVICE TO EMIGRANTS BY THIS ROUTE.
Those who start from the upper Mississippi frontier can replenish their original supplies at Fort Union, at the mouth of the Yellowstone, at Fort Benton, and, in addition, at the other points hitherto alluded to.
Those who travel by the central or Platte route, and desire to take the western section of our road to Walla-Walla, can deflect either at Fort Laramie, the Red Buttes, or Fort Hall, and connect with it at the Deer Lodge valley.
The road from Fort Laramie to Deer Lodge valley has never been worked, but was passed over with wagons by Captain Raynolds, of the army, in 1859 and 1860, on a tour of exploration, and reported upon by him as practicable. It passes through a beautiful, easy, and interesting region.
The road from Fort Hall to Deer Lodge has been used by wagons for many years, and though not worked is quite practicable.
The amount of agricultural land along the general line of the road may be safely estimated at one thousand square miles, or six hundred and forty thousand acres.
The largest single body is found in the Walla-Walla valley, where its rich soil, freedom from early frosts, and with the mild climate there found, constitutes it a great agricultural centre. Corn, oats, barley, spring and autumn wheat, tobacco, and every variety of vegetable, are here grown in great abundance; wheat, thirty bushels to the acre; barley and oats, forty bushels, and corn from sixty to eighty bushels, and potatoes from three hundred to six hundred bushels to the acre. The grape and peach will be found to grow well here, and when the country is settled the oak will take its place among the chief forest growth.
The mines furnish a ready market for all that is raised, cash payments for which are made in gold.
Fruit-growing is attracting attention and thus far promises well. Erection of grist-mills keep pace with the growing demands of the country. Another favorite agricultural tract is the Dry creek; its valley is already studded with beautiful farms; so also the Touchet, where there is still room for the industrious emigrant.
At the mouth of the Palouse is a small tract of good land, enough for one small farm, and which, as trade and travel increase, must become an important point.
Several tracts of good soil are found along the Palouse, but the absence of timber is an impediment not easily supplied.
(42) Small tracts are found along the Cow creek and along the road to Aspen Grove, and many in the direction of the long line of lagoons found along the road.
An excellent body of good land is found along Lake Williamson, and along several of the smaller lakes and creeks to its mouth.
Several small bodies are found along both banks of the Spokane; near the Foot Hill several farms are already under culture. Along the upper Spokane are also small bodies. At the Coeur d'Aléne mission is a body of five or six square miles of most beautiful soil; several hundred acres are here under cultivation by the mission and the Indians. Oats, barley, wheat, peas, and potatoes, are raised in rich abundance.
One of the largest bodies of good land is in the valleys of the St. Joseph's and Coeur d'Aléne, and if these valleys are once drained, a body of forty thousand acres of the finest soil in the world will be reclaimed-soil six and eight feet deep and as black as a coal. This overflow can be prevented by widening the natural outlet, and making an artificial one along side of it; an appropriation of five thousand dollars will meet this difficulty, and the ends to which it looks are well worthy the experiment. Rock blasting is the only method of accomplishing it, and should be done during a low stage of water. The overflow is alone occasioned in the highest stages of water, when the mouth of the outlet of the lake is not capacious enough to discharge the volume of water sent into it by its feeders.
On the right bank of the Coeur d'Aléne, opposite the mission, is a mile square of beautiful soil. Four-Mile prairie has a good body of land, also Ten-Mile prairie.
From this point to the Bitter Root ferry, I fear the frosts and other mountain characteristics will preclude any farms from being opened.
At the mouth of the St. Regis Borgia, however, several tracts of land are found, and which, if cultivated, will come into requisition for mail stations, and supplying travelers and emigrants. Seven-Mile prairie along the Bitter Root river offers a good site for small farms; also Brown's prairie, Nemoté prairie, Skiotay creek, where the wild timothy abundantly grows, and many large and beautiful tracts along the right bank of the main Bitter Root. Frenchtown, in Hell's Gate ronde, already contains from ten to fifteen small farms, and there is room for many more. The small creeks in Hell's Gate ronde offer many choice sites for farms; a dozen at least are here now under cultivation. Wheat, potatoes, oats, and barley, and all vegetables are raised. Corn is not matured, but is raised for roasting ears. The St. Mary's valley to the south, and the Jocko and Flathead valleys to its north, are large and favorite farming sections.
Among the small creeks tributaries to the Hell's Gate, four and five miles from Big Blackfoot, at Clark's camp, at Beaver Dam butte, and along some of the smaller water-runs good soil is found. The upper portion of the valley of Flint creek may be found suited to agriculture.
From Flint creek to the American fork are many beautiful localities where farms may be opened. A large and beautiful one is already opened by a Mr. Dempsey, where he grows oats and wheat luxuriantly. The American Fork has some beautiful bodies of land along it. The Deer Lodge is a large and well located valley and contains from fifty to one hundred and fifty square miles, where crops have already been grown. Along the Little Blackfoot and its smaller tributaries are found patches of good soil. From this point to the Big Prickly Pear creek the altitude and wet condition of the soil may prove impediments to successful or economical culture.
Crossing the divide we get into a new climate and change of soil; along the Big Prickly Pear will be found several small and choice localities for farms, and if the mines on the eastern slope prove successful, I look forward with much hope to see all these creeks settled and fine farms developed under the hand of
(43) the Rocky Mountain farmer. All the small creeks from the Big Prickly Pear to the Bird Tail Rock have smaller bodies of good soil, and if the mines prove a reality a market will be at hand for all they can raise.
To the south of the Bird Tail Rock, about three to five miles in a wild broken region, through which a wagon road can be laid to shorten our line from Sun river to the Dearborn, is one of the largest and richest bodies of land that I have seen east of the mountains, and where timber from the mountains and rock at hand will supply all the requisites of the first settlers. Situated, as it is, midway between Fort Benton and the Prickly Pear gold mines, it is worthy an examination on the part of those who propose to settle in the country. I examined it on my return from Fort Benton, June, 1862, to see if we could not shorten our line by going south of the Bird Tail Rock. With moderate work I found this feasible, and saving from eight to ten miles in distance; and it was on this trip that I was struck with the richness of the soil and the extent of agricultural land here found. It is a favorite resort for game, and sheltered, as it is, by high rock walls from the cold bleak winds which sweep across the plains, forms a choice site for farms.
The next good track is along the Sun river, where a stiff clay soil is already cultivated to advantage. The Blackfoot agency has a farm of from thirty to forty acres under cultivation, and raises wheat and vegetables. Its valley is from fifty to one hundred and fifty feet below the general level of the Missouri plains, and is thus sheltered from the colder winds that sweep across them at spring seasons. Some patches of good soil are found along the Missouri above Fort Benton, but their culture has never been tested. There are enough statistics of growth from actual cultivation along the line to show that the many areas herein referred to will grow abundant crops, and all of which will come under tillage as soon as a market presents itself. At all the points referred to abundant building material and water are at hand, and mill sites can be had on nearly every water-course. There are already three grist and two saw mills in the Walla-Walla valley, one grist-mill at the Coeur d'Aléne mission, one saw and one grist mill at Frenchtown, one saw and one grist mill at the Pend d'Oreille mission, one saw-mill at the Jocko river, and one saw and one grist mill at Fort Owen; one steam saw and one grist mill owned by La Barge & Co., which they propose to erect near the Deer Lodge gold mines. The Blackfoot agency use a small hand-mill for grinding their wheat.
As an experiment, the value of which another season will develop, I had shipped from St. Louis to Fort Benton, and thence packed over into the Bitter Root mountains, twenty-four bushels of bluegrass seed and twelve bushels of cloverseed, and sowed them at the crossing of the Bitter Root, along the valley of the St. Regis Borgia and the Coeur d'Aléne to the mission, wherever the grass was sparse. The seed was thrown broadcast over the ground and through the woods, and over the prairie, at such points as are likely to be selected as camping-grounds. This wooded section of one hundred miles is the only point where grass is at all scarce, and this experiment was made by myself to meet fully all the wants of a future and large emigration over the road.
The experience of all persons travelling through this region has been that, from the Columbia to the Missouri rivers, finer grasses have never anywhere been seen; the number and condition of the stock that feed upon the wild grass alone shows both their abundance and nutrition. Wild hay can be, and is, cut from thousands of acres. The grass is mostly a wild bunch grass, growing from twelve to eighteen inches high, and covering the entire country. Horses and horned-stock by thousands, and sheep by hundreds, all bespeak the wealth that is wrapped up in the native grasses of the north Pacific region, and I con
(44) fidently look forward to seeing the wealth of these beautiful mountain valleys yet consist in the thousands of fleecy flocks to be here sheared; and if the streams of the Rocky Mountains are themselves caught and harnessed to the spindles and looms of wool manufactories to be there erected, that the annual shipments of wool to a St. Louis market will constitute a trade replete with wealth and magnitude. I believe it to be an ordination of Providence that as the buffalo that now blacken the western plains by their millions of shaggy coats disappear with the red man, whose sustenance they now are, their place will be supplied by the silvery fleeces of millions of sheep tended by white men, which this region is capable of sustaining. The wolves now exist in places as an impediment to much attention being given the subject, but travel and settlement soon destroy them. The premiums on cotton which is soon to be transferred to wool render this question one of great magnitude for this region, and I yet hope to see the genial valleys of the Rocky Mountains send to a St. Louis market, via the upper Missouri river, its cargoes of wool and its shipments of gold, as its natural tribute to our national wealth.
It has been only during the last three years that sanguine expectations have existed of mineral wealth to any great extent being found east of the Cascade mountains or even in the northern portion of the Rocky Mountains proper. As soon as the Frazier river mines in British Columbia were discovered and the question of route by which to reach them in the shortest time and cheapest means was discussed, we found the eastern portion of Washington Territory ramified by hundreds of gold seekers in quest of this new Eldorado. This was in 1858. Gold was soon after discovered in the Wenatchee, Nachees, Okinagen, Simalkameen, and Clark's Fork, and worked till the Indians drove the miners from the country. In the succeeding year Captain Pierce, with a boldness and a judgment worthy every commendation, explored the Bitter Root mountains, and the discovery of the Nez Percés gold mines was the result. The wanderings of the miners in this region southward led to the Salmon river discoveries. But the gold miner, who is the most restless of mortals, did not rest content until he had crossed Snake river and discovered the Powder river mines; and not even then content, he opened up the Grand Ronde, Boisé, and Burnt river mines, in East Oregon, and elated at his success returns to his friends in West Oregon, taking the head of John Day's river in his route only to discover the richest quartz leads to be found outside of California.
His companions on Frazier's river heard of this new gold field and they too must visit it, taking on their route the mouth of Clark's Fork and Spokane river, only there to discover gold which has since been taken out by the pound. This news spreads and the Powder river miner tracks it to the latter point, and thence to the Kootenay, where he is amply repaid for his toil and travel. While this is being done the Salmon river miner is not content with making twenty dollars per day, but he too must follow the Salmon river till it becomes a silvery thread in the mountains and crosses the range to discover the wealth of the Deer Lodge mines. As the weary emigrant crossing the plains hears of this Eldorado so near himself, he too must journey thither only to discover the rich gold mines in Big Hole and Beaver Head valleys. Nor does it stop here, but the restless adventurer in St. Louis contracts the gold fever and threads the Missouri to Fort Benton in quest of the Deer Lodge mines, and while en route discovers the Prickly Pear gold mines. Thus, working like beavers, have the miners and emigrants crossed and recrossed the mountains during the last three years, ramifying in every direction until they have opened a gold region which, to-day, is sending to our mints a wealth equal to that of all California in her palmiest days.
(45) Nor are these discoveries limited to the investigations of the miner or alone confined to the limits of our own territory, but the Catholic fathers in British Columbia have made equally rich discoveries at the headwaters of the Saskatchewan river and at Chief Mountain lake, so that now gold is being profitably taken out at the following points: at John Day's, Grand Ronde, Powder river, Burnt, and Boisé, and Owyhee rivers, in East Oregon; in the Nez Percés mines, Salmon river, Spokane, Clark's Fork, Simalkameen, and Deer Lodge, in East Washington Territory; and at Big Hole, Beaver Head, and Prickly Pear, in West Dacotah.
The result of Captain Raynolds's explorations would show that traces of gold were found by his party in all the tributaries to the upper Yellowstone from the south. Enough discoveries have been made to warrant us in thinking that the entire mountain system will be found to be gold bearing.
Gold has also been discovered in the Big Blackfoot, Flathead, Kootenay, and Bitter Root rivers, and slight traces in the Coeur d'Aléne and St. Regis Borgia.
I do not hesitate to say, upon the best of guidance, that the lower Clark's Fork will yet prove a rich gold region. The richest quartz leads yet found are in the John Day's. The other diggings are mostly surface or placer.
Wonderful have been the effects of this great alchemist in that quarter. It has transmuted sluggishness into activity, has brightened the dullest vision, elevated the industrious and frugal laborer, silenced the sceptic and caviller, and struck a new blow in behalf of a northern Pacific railroad route. The trade and travel along the upper Columbia, where several steamers now ply between busy marts, of themselves attest what magical effects three years have wrought. Besides gold, lead for miles is found along the Kootenay. Red hematite iron ore, traces of copper and plumbago are found along the main Bitter Root. Cinnabar is said to exist along the Hell's Gate and at a point along the upper Missouri. Coal is found along the upper Missouri, and a deposit of cannel coal near the Three Buttes, northwest of Fort Benton, is said to exist. Near the headwaters of the Kootenay coal is also said to exist. Coal may yet be looked for east of the Cascades. Iron ore has been found near Thompson's prairie on the Clark's Fork. Sulphur is found on the Lo-Lo Fork and on the tributaries to the Yellowstone; and a coal-oil spring is said to exist on the Big Horn river, a tributary to the Yellowstone.
It would be natural to suppose that the Rocky Mountain system, which, beginning far down in Mexico, there develops its wealth in gold and silver, and continuing northward to Pike's Peak would still retain its same geological characteristics as we trace them northward; and this we find to be the case, and on both slopes at about the same altitude above the sea do we find these rich deposits. What is true here is also true of the coast range, so that the Sierra Nevadas of California do not lose any of these characteristics when they become the Cascades of Oregon. We find that though for many years the gold region was limited to the western slopes and spurs of the Sierra Nevada, yet mineralogy pointed out that a Washoe must exist, and hence developments of fabulous wealth were made on the east slopes of the Sierra Nevada, only to be followed by equally rich deposits now being worked on the eastern slopes of the Cascades, in Oregon.
These great mineral deposits must have an ultimate bearing upon the location of the Pacific railroad, adding, as they will, trade, travel, and wealth to its every mile when built.
The great depots for building material, stone, timber, and limestone, exist principally in the mountain sections, but the plains on either side are not destitute in this particular; white and red fir, and white and yellow pine are found
(46) at Walla-Walla, in the Blue Mountains, on the Clearwater where Cedar is added, and all through the Bitter Root and Rocky Mountains the finest white and red cedar, white pine and red fir, that I have ever seen are found.
Between the Coeur d'Aléne mission and Hell's Gate spruce, hemlock and birch are also found. The elevation at the Dalles and the line of longitude passing through it is the eastern limit of oak, which is traced from the coast eastward. We have no hard woods in this region, and, indeed, nearly all the hard woods used in California and Oregon are shipped around Cape Horn. Even the oak found in the Pacific is of an inferior growth, generally wind shaken and but little used in the mechanical arts. Timber is found until within 120 miles of Fort Benton; it grows also along the upper Missouri and all its tributaries where it can be rafted down. All the rivers here lend themselves admirably to rafting purposes.
Limestone is found on the Clearwater, near the Coeur d'Aléne lake, in the Coeur d'Aléne mountains, in Hell's Gate, in the Bitter Root valley, and head of the north fork of the little Blackfoot river. Beautiful red sandstone is found along the Bitter Root river. Slates are found along the Coeur d'Aléne, St. Regis Borgia and Bitter Root. Excellent gray sandstone is found in the Bitter Root mountains, from which grindstones and scythe-stones have been made, and good burr-stones for mills have been got out of the mountains and used by the Jesuit fathers. Good sand is found along the Columbia, along the Spokane and Coeur d'Aléne and along the Hell's Gate rivers.
RIVERS AND WATER-COURSES.
The entire length of road from the Columbia to the Missouri may be said to follow one continuous line of water-courses, one of the chief recommendations of which is that not one is alkaline; but the water is of a delicious purity.
This fact on a long line of march with much stock is an advantage that all who have crossed the plains will not fail to appreciate. In the first stretch of fifty miles we cross the Walla-Walla, Mill creek, Dry creek, and Touchet river. They all rise in the Blue mountains, the last three flowing into the Walla-Walla river, and the last into the Columbia, at the town of Wallula.
The Snake river, or the south fork of the Columbia, is the most considerable stream crossed; it rises in the Wind River mountains, and is about one thousand miles long. It is navigated by steamers of heavy draught as far as Lewiston till the 1st of August, and light draught steamers have run as late as the 29th of September; and, during the coming year, it is proposed to run steamers as far as Fort Boisé, to supply the mines on either side at this point. Steamers have run up the Clearwater above the Lapway, but only during the highest stage of water.
There is no timber along this portion of the Snake river, and steamers have to depend on driftwood, of which there has always been ample up to date. But fuel can be rafted down from the Clearwater.
The importance of the Snake river for purposes of steam navigation begins now to be thoroughly appreciated. The cost of transportation is a large item, but as long as the mines continue to pay as well as they now do, so long will it pay to run steamers on this river. The scale upon which nature has worked in this region is wonderful. Though she has interposed great physical obstacles, both in rivers and on land, to the opening of the country and speedy travel, she has, nevertheless, at the same time placed in the same region great areas of gold fields, the wealth from which is destined to so meet these obstacles that it is only a question of time when this region will boast of as rapid and as cheap travel as regions where the physical difficulties have been fewer, but the ends sought not so stimulating as the search and mining for gold has proved to be.
The next stream of note is the Palouse, which, rising in the Bitter Root moun-
(47) tains, has a length of ninety miles, unsuited to either navigation or rafting purposes. Its banks are not timbered for a stretch of forty miles from its mouth. Its minor tributaries, north and eastward, only enter as elements of advantage for camping purposes. The great number of lakes found on the plains of the Columbia enter as marked features in this immense area.
Hangman's creek rises in the Bitter Root mountains, has a length of fifty miles, and empties into the Spokane; has no special value outside of affording camping facilities. The Spokane is the outlet of the Coeur d'Aléne lake, is one hundred miles long, and drains throughout a timbered region, and enjoys special advantages for rafting purposes. Its mouth is the southern limit for timber along the main Columbia.
Gold mines exist at and above its mouth. A project has been conceived to open a canal from the Clark's Fork at the Pend d'Oreille lake to the Spokane, the elevation being suited for this purpose, and the Clark's Fork, with the Pend d'Oreille lake, offers marked advantages for steam navigation for at least eighty miles. My idea has always been that steam on the Clark's Fork, at Park's crossing, running thirty miles to the lake, and thirty miles across the lake, and twenty miles up the Clark's Fork, would reach a point where a cheap wagon road could be opened to the Hell's Gate, and that for all purposes of travel, carrying mails, and emigrant purposes, that in time this would be done.
I do not know what special advantages are expected to be derived from the canal referred to, nor do I think it will be undertaken unless this region should prove a very rich and extensive gold field. The Coeur d'Aléne lake and its two arms can be navigated by steam, and enjoy special advantages for rafting purposes.
The Clark's Fork, which is the middle fork of the Columbia, is a most important stream, and enjoys pre-eminent advantages for rafting purposes. It is fed by two large forks, the Flathead river from the north, and Bitter Root from the south.
The St. Regis Borgia enjoys no special advantages outside of defining a valley, and being useful for camping purposes. Its frequent crossings have rendered it rather an element of disadvantage.
The Bitter Root river, with its three large tributaries, Big Blackfoot, Hell's Gate, and St. Mary's rivers, enjoy special advantages for rafting purposes, and though here and there are stretches suited to steam navigation, yet, broken as it is in its length by falls and rapids, precludes the possibility of its ever being used for such purposes.
Crossing the Rocky Mountains we find none of the tributaries of the upper Missouri along our immediate line enjoying any special advantage, except the Dearborn and Sun rivers, both of which might be used for rafting timber and stone from their headwaters; the Sun river more so than the Dearborn. The upper Missouri, with its three forks, enjoys special advantages both for navigation and rafting purposes. The distance from the falls of the Missouri to the Three Forks is about one hundred to one hundred and seventy-five miles, and though the water is rapid at a few points, yet in the lowest stage of water steamers can run; and here is a field for enterprise and bold experiments never as yet tested, and which cannot long lie dormant if the Prickly Pear, Deer Lodge, and Beaver Head mines prove a growing reality.
At present steamers from St. Louis land at Fort Benton, but they can run forty miles further to the foot of the falls. If steamers are put on above the falls a portage of fifteen miles becomes necessary.
The mouth of a small creek from the south, called Portage creek, affords a good landing site. The river from this point to Fort Benton is broad and bold, with plenty of cottonwood fuel on the small creeks and on the main river.
The portage will have to be made on the south bank, as the great number of coulées and broken country on the north bank will render a road expensive,
(48) if not impracticable. On the south bank, by keeping back, say two or three miles from the river, we head all the coulées, and have a level and beautiful plain till reaching the head of the falls, when you descend to the river bank by a gradual slope at the White Bear islands, just below the mouth of Sun river, where the Missouri is again a clear, bold, and placid stream.
The great falls of the Missouri form the only feature of great beauty in this region, and are well worthy a visit. The falls begin nine miles below the mouth of Sun river, and continue in a stretch of thirteen miles with rapids, falls, and cascades, gaining in this distance a total fall of 380 feet.
The lower falls are the largest, being 84 feet, where the stream is 480 yards wide, the southern half of which, in a single sheet, leaps over a ledge of sandstone rocks, while the northern half, in a series of falls, cascades, and chutes, makes a broken descent into the basin lying at its foot. The whole rock formation here is a yellow sandstone, and the character given to the falls has depended upon the ease or difficulty with which the water has either washed the rock away to a sharp face, as in the southern half, or worn it away into plateaus and benches, as in the northern half. A high, prominent point projects into the river at the foot of the falls from the northern bank, from which you enjoy a beautiful view.
The water, the rock thinly veiled in foam, the high, bold banks, the wildness of the scene, so far from civilization, the thundering noise of the fall of the cataract, the rising of the mist, the tout ensemble, constituted a picture worthy the pencil of the artist and the toil of the tourist. The upper, but smaller, falls are 40 feet high, but very beautiful. Between the upper and lower are the Horse Shoe and other falls, from three to fifteen feet.
The banks on either side continue to retain throughout this entire length their wild, rocky, rugged character, so that the Missouri itself ploughs in a deep, narrow gorge one thousand feet below the general line of the plains that bound it on either side.
The special advantages enjoyed by the Columbia and Missouri rivers, rising, as they do, in the same sources in the Rocky Mountains, and flowing thousands of miles into two oceans, must ever enter as essential and economical elements into trade, travel, and railroad construction across the continent.
The Columbia is the only stream that rises in the main chain of the Rocky Mountains, breaking through the coast range and emptying into the Pacific. The large water-courses, with their great net-work of tributaries, lying between the 44th and 49th degrees of north latitude, must ever cause this region to enjoy facilities given by nature to no other west of the Mississippi. These large bodies of water tend to modify the climate, supply mill sites, water farms, and grazing fields; enable the miner to work miles of sluice-boxes, the merchant to float, by steam, his wares to the very heart of the Rocky range, and stand ever ready and panting to be converted into steam for the iron horse that must soon invade their dominions.
The early geographers who attempted the mapping of the country west of the Mississippi left us a very vague and erroneous outline of the Rocky Mountain formation, or the direction of the vast system of spurs that go to form them. The dividing ridge of the Rocky range was nearly always represented as a right line trending from northwest to southeast from our northern boundary to New Mexico. This right line has, however, disappeared from our maps, as explorations have brought in from year to year the results of their researches.
The greatest deviation from a right line that occurs in close proximity to our road exists from the head of Deer Lodge valley to the Wind River chain, where the mountains enclose in a large re-entering angle the Big Hole valley. I look
(49) forward to seeing this section become a great centre for both mining and agricultural developments. Our barometer detects this fact, that all the waters of the Clark's Fork, with the Bitter Root, Hell's Gate, St. Mary's, and Big Blackfoot, flow in a basin elevated above the waters of the plains of the Columbia by seven hundred feet, and above the plains of the Missouri by five hundred feet.
The waters of the south fork of the Columbia, rising as far south as the 40th parallel of latitude, all flow northward; so, also, the Missouri and the Yellowstone, showing that they rise in higher mountains, and necessarily the points to which they flow must be lower, and hence, as you go northward within certain limits, the country must be lower, and the mountain passes have a less altitude above the sea level. Our barometer confirms this theory, and hence, from the 42d to the 48th parallel, you will find the lowest passes in the Rocky range.
The mountain formation, with their great system of spurs, can only be likened to the coral formation, as difficult to delineate on the maps, and following a rule as difficult to describe.
INDIANS ALONG THE ROAD.
The Indians met with along the line are the Palouse, Spokane, Coeur d'Aléne, Flatheads, Pend d'Oreilles, a few Snakes and Bannocks, the Blackfeet, and the mountain Nez Percés.
The Walla-Wallas and the Cayuse have all been removed to the agency on the Umatilla.
The Palouse number about two hundred, reside on the banks of the Snake and the Palouse rivers, and live solely by fishing. I do not know that they cultivate the soil. The absence of any great amount of farming land in their country has always possibly prevented them from attempting it.
They have no treaty arrangements with the government, and I think they could be assigned to the Nez Percés reservation with advantage to the government and security to themselves. They are miserable creatures; have neither houses nor lodges, but live under wicker shelters. They own very few horses. The Spokanes number about five hundred; live by fishing and cultivating small patches of land. They reside, at times, on the Spokane, at times on the Spokane plains, have lodges and houses, and are superior to the Palouse. They have no treaty with the government, and they might, with the Colville Indians, be located near the military post of Fort Colville. They are friendly when it is to their interest.
The Coeur d'Alénes number about three hundred, live at the mission, and along the Coeur d'Aléne and St. Joseph's rivers. They own houses, cattle, and canoes, and with the Spokanes and Nez Percés often cross the mountains in quest of buffalo. They live by hunting, fishing, and cultivating the soil. They have no treaty with the government, and I think they should be moved to the Flathead reservation; they live partly in log-houses, mostly in skin lodges.
The Flatheads number about four hundred, and live by hunting and cultivating the soil. They are the best Indians in the mountains. They have treaty arrangements with the government, but have never gone upon their reservation on the Jocko river; no steps have ever been taken to remove them thence, and they still reside in St. Mary's valley, which, by the terms of the treaty, was guaranteed to them. They think the government has not kept its faith in not confirming this valley to them. Under judicious management they and the Pend d'Oreilles might be made to go upon a joint reservation, contemplated in a treaty made with them by Governor Stevens. They own great numbers of horses and cattle, and cultivate the soil more than any Indians except the Pend d'Oreilles. They are friendly, and under their chiefs, Victor, Ambrose, and Moïse, will always remain so unless some great injustice is done to them. They
(50) and the Pend d'Oreilles go annually to the buffalo hunt on the plains of the Missouri. They live partly in houses, mostly in skin lodges.
The Pend d'Oreilles reside principally at the Pend d'Oreille mission, live by hunting, fishing, and cultivating the soil; as a tribe they are friendly, though there are some bad fellows among them. They number about five hundred souls, and have treaty arrangements with the government, though they have never moved on to their reservation.
The mountain Nez Percés number from one to two hundred, live and hunt with the Flatheads, and are an annoyance to both them and the whites. They should either be incorporated with the Flatheads or made to live with their tribe. They are generally disaffected, and cause much trouble and disturbance in the country.
With the Flatheads are found a few Indians of the Iroquois, Shawnee, and Snakes, and one or two New Mexican Indians. They all find a friendly and welcome home with the Flatheads, into which tribe they have married.
Occasionally a few Snakes and Bannocks come to the Deer Lodge valley. They live generally in the Beaver Head and on the Salmon river. I do not know their number or condition. I only know they are adept horse thieves, have no treaty arrangements with the government, and need to be looked after both for the security of the frontier settlements and their own good.
I especially invite the attention of the Indian department to the necessity of having some arrangements with the Snakes, Bannocks, and Spokanes, and point the Beaver Head out as suitable point for collecting them on a general reservation, where a large military post should be established to keep them in order.
The Blackfeet number from eight to ten thousand souls, and live exclusively by hunting the buffalo. They live partly in our territory, to the north of Fort Benton, and partly in British territory. They have treaty arrangements with the government, and, in the absence of military force to control them, keep their faith as well as could be expected from wild savages. They are rich in horses and wives, for they are perfect Mormons in polygamy-all the other tribes practice monogamy. They are great horse thieves, though I never suffered from this propensity, to which they are greatly addicted. As a people, these Indians have as high a regard for the rights of meum and tuum as their superiors, the whites; and if their true condition was known at the Indian bureau, I am sanguine an improvement for the better would take place. With the present system at the bureau, however, I can only expect to see experiments and changes made until the Indian has disappeared.
The present superintendent of Indian affairs in Washington Territory, Mr. C. E. Hale, has instituted a project that I have long indorsed, and the only one likely to save any portion of the Indian tribes. This is to take the children and educate them under a proper system; for it is as difficult to mould the ideas and acts of an Indian, after he has passed the age of twenty-one, as it is those of his white neighbor; and it is only by taking the children, and rescuing them from sloth, ignorance, and savage propensities, that any decided improvement can be attained.
For myself I should like to see the supervision of the Indians transferred to the War Department, so that the hand that rewards should be the one to punish when needed, and thus produce a more uniform and harmonious management, giving greater security against outbreak, and a more economical administration of the finances of the government. If this cannot be done, of which I despair, since it aims a blow at executive patronage, then I should by all means advocate that the Superintendent of Indian Affairs be allowed to appoint his own agents. This is as natural as it is just; the agents should be directly responsible to the superintendent whom the government has charged with their general supervision, and this supervision cannot be properly maintained when the agents
(51) receive their authority from another and different source, and are thus inclined to slight, if not ignore, his authority.
The sphere of duties of the superintendents should never be so great as to prevent them from visiting every agency once a year; in Oregon and Washington this is impracticable; and I would, therefore, recommend the establishment of a Rocky Mountain superintendency, with its headquarters in the Deer Lodge valley, and to include the Blackfeet, Crows, Snakes, Bannocks, Flatheads, Pend d'Oreilles, and Kootenays, and that the supplies for this superintendency can be taken from St. Louis, by steamer, to Fort Benton. Four agents and a sub-agent would be required: an agent for the Blackfeet, one for the Crows, one for the Snakes and Bannocks, one for the Flatheads and Pend d'Oreilles, and a sub-agent for the Kootenays. This matter is well worthy the attention of the Indian department, and to it I invite their attention, on the score of economy, efficiency, and security for the future.
The white population, made up of Americans, French, and others, on and tributary to the road, may be estimated at ten thousand; found mostly at Walla-Walla and Lewiston, Deer Lodge, Hell's Gate, Beaver Head, Big Hole, Bitter Root, and Prickly Pear. They are engaged in farming, mining, transporting, merchandising, and the mechanic arts. As the mines develop, this population will largely added to annually, both by emigrants by the way of the Missouri and from California. Already is activity infused into every branch of business, and the prospect for the future are flattering in the extreme. Two weekly papers are published in this region, at Walla-Walla the Statesman, and at Lewiston the Golden Age; schools, academies, and churches, already rear their heads, and the great number of books purchased and papers subscribed to bespeak the intelligence of the people. Every nationality, from John Chinaman to the Englishman, and every State in the Union, are here represented; but notwithstanding the variety of languages spoken and views entertained, harmony in council and uniformity in action as yet pervade and mark the body politic.
The Jesuit Catholic fathers have three missions established along the line of the road; one among the Coeur d'Alénes, one among the Pend d'Oreilles and Flatheads, and one among the Blackfeet. The first site of the Coeur d'Aléne mission was in the St. Joseph's valley; but the overflow of the stream and the many difficulties to which they were subjected at this point compelled them, in 1846, to abandon it in favor of its present site on the Coeur d'Aléne river. They have erected here a fine church, dwellings, and such other buildings as are necessary for their wants; the Indians are educated not only to worship God, but every attention is given to teach them to till the soil. The missions use Indian labor exclusively, under the direction of three lay-brothers, and are supported from a small fund for the "propagation of the Catholic faith," which is devoted exclusively to the purchase of those articles which they themselves cannot produce or make. They are thrifty and frugal, and by their zeal in the cause and devotion to the best interests of the Indians, for whom they have given their lives a voluntary offering, they wield an influence among the better portion such as no whites or government agents have ever been enabled to obtain. Far removed, as yet, from contact with civilization, their lives of upright moral rectitude, zeal in behalf of the Indian, their morning, noon, and night devotion, when all the tribes assemble and chant pæans to the Almighty, the perfect harmony that exists in their social family of Indians and half-breeds,
(52) has ever won my highest admiration. In all that tended towards the ultimate success of my movements I have ever enjoyed their kind co-operation and zealous support, and during the many years spent near their mountain homes the kindest and warmest relations have ever existed between us.
The fathers, in abiding among the red men, have but one object in view: to rescue them from the blighting effects of ignorance and superstition, and to reclaim them from the effects of an advancing civilization, which to them is death. I can only regret that the results as yet obtained would not seem commensurate with the endeavors so manfully put forth. The only good, however, that I have ever seen effected among these people has been due to the exertions of these Catholic missionaries.
Many of these missions might be benefited by the government allowing them the charge of the schools and hospitals, for they actually take care of the Indians when sick and educate them when well, and all this with the mere pittance at their disposal, not a moiety of what they need; while hundreds and thousands are squandered on paper for the benefit of the Indians, and which they never receive.
The Coeur d'Aléne mission has the Fathers Josét and Gazzoli, and Brothers Francis, McGuire, and Campapiano. They have chosen a beautiful site, on a hill in the middle of the mission valley, and it has always proved to the weary traveller and destitute emigrant a St. Bernard in the Coeur d'Aléne mountains. I fear that the location of our road, and the swarms of miners and emigrants that must pass here year after year, will so militate against the best interests of the mission that its present site will have to be changed or abandoned. This, for themselves and the Indians, is to be regretted; but I can only regard it as the inevitable result of opening and settling the country. I have seen enough of Indians to convince me of this fact, that they can never exist in contact with the whites; and their only salvation is to be removed far, far from their presence. But they have been removed so often that there seems now no place left for their further migration; the waves of civilization have invaded their homes from both oceans, driving them year after year towards the Rocky Mountains; and now that we propose to invade these mountain solitudes, to wrest from them their hidden wealth, where under heavens can the Indians go? And may we not expect to see these people make one desperate struggle in the fastnesses of the Rocky Mountains for the maintenance of their last homes and the preservation of their lives. It is a matter that but too strongly commends itself to the early and considerate attention of the general government. The Indian is destined to disappear before the white man, and the only question is, how it may best be done, and his disappearance from our midst tempered with those elements calculated to produce to himself the least amount of suffering, and to us the least amount of cost.
The Pend d'Oreille mission is pleasantly situated on Mission creek, a few miles to the north of the Jocko reservation, where Fathers Minetry, Louis Vera Cruz, and Grisi preside, with two lay- brothers. They have here, as at the Coeur d'Aléne mission, a complete set of buildings for their residences and a beautiful church; here, too, Indian labor is employed. The original site of this mission was on the Clark's Fork, about fifty miles from Fort Colville, where the lower Pend d'Oreille Indians lived; but, finding at this point more soil to cultivate and a better site, they removed hither in 1855, bringing many of the lower Pend d'Oreilles with them. They have, besides, a branch mission at Fort Colville, visited from time to time by Father Josét. They had a mission at the present site of Fort Owen till 1850, when it was abandoned and the property sold to Major John Owen, where he now resides, having a pleasant home, and the finest library I have seen on the north Pacific coast.
The next mission is among the Blackfeet; but as yet not much headway has been made towards its permanent establishment. The fathers chose a site on
(53) Sun river, ten miles above the wagon road crossing, where they erected a few buildings; but they never enclosed fields, and last year it was abandoned. They then held service at, and occupied the site of, Old Fort Campbell, a mile above Fort Benton. While I was at this point last summer they were projecting a site on the Marias with a view to there establish their permanent homes; the extent of good soil, its mild climate, its proximity to the homes of the Blackfeet, and its distance from the line of travel, all combining to determine them in its selection. At present the superior is Father Giorda, who has his headquarters at Fort Benton. The superior for many years while I was in the mountains was Father Congiato, from whom I have received many kindnesses and courtesies; but he being assigned to the presidency of one of the colleges at San Francisco, compelled a change. Fathers Imoda and Giorda, with two lay-brothers, are at the Blackfeet mission. The country and the Indians are mainly indebted to the zealous labor of the Reverend Father de Smet in establishing all these missions, for he truly is the great father of all Rocky Mountain missionaries. By his travels and his labors, and the dedication of his years to this noble task, he has left a name in the mountains revered by all who knew him, and a household god with every Indian who respects the black gown. His early work, called the "Oregon Missions," is replete with interesting information, and from which we ourselves have collected many geographical and statistical facts. To him and his colaborers in their self-sacrificing work I return my thanks for their many kindnesses, with the hope that they may live to see the full fruits of their zeal and toil amid the fastnesses and solitudes of the Rocky Mountains.
CLIMATE, SNOW AND COLD.
There has been no one subject so little understood or so much misrepresented as the climate of the northern valleys of the Rocky Mountains and the plains extending to their either base. I am frank to admit that the section of our road from the Coeur d'Aléne mission to the Bitter Root ferry does interpose the obstruction of snow to such an extent that I despair in seeing it travelled in winter unless a daily mail coach is placed upon the line, when the snow being beaten down twice a day, would, I think, keep the line constantly open. But all the remaining sections are mild, with so little snow that travelling with horses can be kept up all winter. And although the climate in the region first referred to is severe, by going north to the Clark's Fork, we at once enter a milder section, and one that offers every advantage to travel. The temperature of Walla-Walla, in 46°, is similar to that of Washington city, in 38° latitude; that of the Clark's Fork, in 48°, to that of St. Joseph's, Missouri, in latitude 41°; that of the Bitter Root valley, in 46°, is similar to that of Philadelphia, in latitude 40°, with about the same amount of snow, and with the exception of a few days of intense cold, about the same average temperature. This condition of facts is not accidental, but arises from the truths of meteorological laws that are as unvarying as they are wonderful and useful. As early as the winter of 1853, which I spent in these mountains, my attention was called to the mild open region lying between the Deer Lodge valley and Fort Laramie, where the buffalo roamed in millions through the winter, which during that season constituted the great hunting grounds of the Crows, Blackfeet, and other mountain tribes. Upon investigating the peculiarities of the country, I learned from the Indians, and afterwards confirmed by my own explorations, the fact of the existence of an infinite number of hot springs at the headwaters of the Missouri, Columbia, and Yellowstone rivers, and that hot geysers, similar to those of California, existed at the head of the Yellowstone; that this line of hot springs was traced to the Big Horn, where a coal-oil spring, similar in all respects to those worked in west Pennsylvania and Ohio, exists, and where I am sanguine in believing that
(54) the whole country is underlaid with immense coal fields. Here, then, was a feature sufficient to create great modifications of climate, not local in its effect, but which even extends for several hundred miles from the Red Buttes, on the Platte, to the plains of the Columbia. The meteorological statistics collected during a great number of years have enabled us to trace an isochimenal line across the continent, from St. Joseph's, Missouri, to the Pacific; and the direction taken by this line is wonderful and worthy the most important attention in all future legislation that looks towards the travel and settlement of this country. This line, which leaves St. Joseph's in latitude 40°, follows the general line of the Platte to Fort Laramie, where, from newly introduced causes, it tends northwestwardly, between the Wind River chain and the Black Hills, crossing the summit of the Rocky Mountains in latitude 47°; showing that in the interval from St. Joseph's it had gained six degrees of latitude. Tracing it still further westward it goes as high as 48°, and develops itself in a fan-like shape in the plains of the Columbia. From Fort Laramie to the Clark's Fork, I call this an atmospheric river of heat, varying in width from one to one hundred miles. On its either side, north and south, are walls of cold air, and which are so clearly perceptible, that you always detect when you are upon its shores.
It would seem natural that the large volume of air in motion between the Wind River chain and the Black Hills must receive a certain amount of heat as it passes over the line of hot boiling springs here found, which, added to the great heat evolved from the large volumes of water here existing, which is constantly cumulative, must all tend to modify its temperature to the extent that the thermometer detects. The prevalent direction of the winds, the physical face of the country, its altitude, and the large volume of water, all, doubtless, enter to create this modification; but from whatsoever cause it arises, it exists as a fact that must for all time enter as an element worthy of every attention in lines of travel and communication from the eastern plains to the north Pacific. A comparison of the altitude of the South Pass, with the country on its every side, with Mullan's Pass, further to the north, may be useful in this connexion. The South Pass has an altitude of seven thousand four hundred and eighty-nine feet about the level of the sea. The Wind River chain, to its north, rises till it attains, at Frémont's Peak, an elevation of thirteen thousand five hundred and seventy feet, while to the north the mountains increase in altitude till they attain, at Long's Peak, an elevation of fifteen thousand feet; while the plains to the east have an elevation of six thousand feet, and the mountains to the west, forming the east rim of the great basin, have an elevation of eight thousand two hundred and thirty-four feet, and the country between it and the South Pass an elevation of six thousand and two hundred and thirty-four feet above the level of the sea. The highest point on the road in the summit line at Mullan's Pass has an elevation of six thousand feet, which is lower by fourteen hundred and eighty-nine feet than the South Pass, and allowing what we find to be here the case, viz: two hundred and eighty feet of altitude for each degree of temperature, we see that Mullan's Pass enjoys six degrees of milder temperature, due to this difference in altitude alone. At the South Pass are many high snow peaks, as Frémont's Peak, Three Tetons, Laramie Peak, Long's Peak, and others, all of which must tend to modify the temperature; whereas, to the north we have no high snow peaks, but the mountains have a general elevation of from five to eight thousand feet about the level of the sea, and of most marked uniformity in point of altitude.
The high range of the Wind River chain stands as a curvilinear wall to deflect and direct the currents of the atmosphere as they sweep across the continent. (By-the-bye, whence arises the name of the Wind River chains?) All their slopes are well located to reflect back the direct rays of the heat of the sun to the valleys that lay at their bases. These valleys, already warm by virtue of the hot springs existing among them, receive this accumulative heat, which, driven by
(55) the new currents of cold air for the plains, rises and moves onward in the form of a river towards the valleys of the Rocky Mountains, where it joins the milder current from the Pacific and diffuses over the whole region a mild, healthy, invigorating, and useful climate.
PRESENT WANTS OF THE COUNTRY.
The results of our long exploration in the country have developed the following results, to which the attention of Congress should be especially invited, and which, if met in the liberal spirit they so well merit, will redound to the best interests of the government by testing, to the fullest extent, the golden resources of the Rocky Mountain region, and which, standing, as they do, midway between the Mississippi and the Pacific, will develop a bond of union and strength between the extreme sections of the continent.
These are to establish a military depot at the head of the great falls of the Missouri, at the mouth of Sun river, with a three company cavalry post; this depot to supply a four company cavalry post at the Deer Lodge, and a one company post at Hell's Gate. In this region are near fifteen thousand Indians, and these posts are needed to guard the emigrant lines that here fork, and over which travel will pass every season, as well as to protect the hundreds of miners and farmers there found. The supplies for all these points should be shipped from St. Louis by steamers direct to the falls of Missouri. These posts can be economically maintained and are a military necessity for the country. The military post at Walla-Walla should be reduced to a depot and its troops moved to Fort Boisé. One company should be posted at Florence, on the Salmon river; one at Oro Fino, and one company either at the Coeur d'Aléne mission or at Park's crossing, on the Clark's Fork. Four companies should be stationed at Fort Hall and the military post at Fort Laramie retained with a large garrison. Theses are all needed for the protection of overland emigrants. The supplies for all these points, except the latter, should come from Walla-Walla. Military roads should be opened from Deer Lodge to Salt Lake, from Fort Benton to Beaver Head valley, and from Beaver Head valley to Salmon river or to Florence.
The entire mountain region, from the Salmon river mountains to the plains at the head of the Platte, should be explored, mapped, and reported upon, and a short and direct connexion opened between Fort Laramie and the Salmon river gold mines, as it may be found that the shortest and best route for a Pacific railroad to the Columbia may be found from the Platte, via Salmon river, to Walla-Walla; at any rate, it is well worthy a special examination. The government should also test the capabilities of the upper Missouri and Yellowstone for steam navigation both for national purposes and as aids to the building of the Pacific Railroad.
The Indians should be concentrated at much as possible and a Rocky Mountain superintendency established, with its headquarters either in Deer Lodge or in Beaver Head valley, and should include the Crows, Blackfeet, Snakes, Bonnacks, Flatheads, Pend d'Oreilles, Kootenays, and the mountain Nez Percés.
A Columbia river superintendency should be established, with its headquarters at Walla-Walla, and to include all the Indians between the Rocky and Cascade range, from the 49th parallel to Utah, both in Oregon and Washington.
Mail facilities should be established from Hell's Gate to Fort Benton, and from Deer Lodge to Fort Laramie and Salt Lake, also from Beaver Head valley to Florence City. A new military department of Oregon and Washington should be established, with its headquarters at Walla-Walla; a first-class military road should be opened from Wallula to Puget Sound; Portland, Puget Sound, and Salt Lake should be connected by a military telegraph; a new territory should be established east of the Cascade mountains, and a detailed map of its topo-
(56) graphy at once made by the General Land Office. A branch mint should be established either at Walla-Walla or Portland.
One of the principal objects looked forward to in the completion of our road was the collecting of such railroad statistics and data as would definitely determine the location of a railroad line that, starting from St. Paul's, Minnesota, would reach the Pacific via the valley of the Columbia. At an early date of our work we gave attention to this subject to the extent of running a line of levels from the Dalles to the mouth of the Snake river, of a similar line through the Coeur d'Aléne mountains from the mission to Hell's Gate, and again a similar line through the main chain of the Rocky Mountains from the mouth of Lander's Fork to the Dearborn river. The results of each of these operations are fully contained in the sub-reports hereunto attached.
In the report submitted to Congress by the late ex-Governor I. I. Stevens a line via the Big Blackfoot and Coeur d'Aléne valleys was favored. But with all due respect for the judgment of this worthy man, and the opinion entertained by him, I am convinced that, had he known that the element of snow existed on these two lines to the great extent that we found it by a three winters' experience, this judgment would have been reversed, and he would have selected the line that I here advocate as the bestæfrom the plains of the Missouri to the plains of the Columbia. It must be remembered that Governor Stevens examined this line in the autumn of 1853, and re-examined it in the summer of 1855. What is herein stated in regard to the wagon road, as regards meteorological data, applies with equal force to a railroad, and when the data collected by Governor Stevens were limited exclusively to the summer and autumn months, it is impossible for him to express what condition these two lines would be in during the winter. There is no doubt that the line he proposes would cause a great saving in distance, probably two hundred miles, over the one I favor, but it is a question whether this snow blockade, which would continue for five months of every year, might not require so great a length of time for its construction, and so increase the difficulties of running after it was built, to say nothing of the heavy expense of the necessary Blackfoot and Coeur d'Aléne tunnels, as should cause it to be selected in preference to one where the climate will enable you to work every month of the year, as well as run it when built, that passes through a country capable of settlement, and where the snow does not interfere with crops either in autumn or spring. The Cadotte's Pass, at the head of the Big Blackfoot, which has been described as preferable to the Lewis and Clark's Pass for a railroad line, would involve a two-mile tunnel, and the Coeur d'Aléne Pass would require one also of two miles, made at an elevation of four thousand feet above the level of the sea. A railroad line through each of these tunnels has an admirable and practicable connexion with the plains of the Missouri to the north of Fort Benton and the plains of the Columbia, via the Spokane river, but, in my judgment, an insurmountable objection to the location and running of a railroad here exists in the deep snow to which this especial section is subject.
Those who have carefully read the foregoing pages will not fail to remark that we discover a climate, via the Hell's Gate and Clark's Fork route, so mild and favorable to winter travel that a meteorological paradox would seem to hold in this especial quarter. I have noticed this so often, and so often taken advantage of it, that I have been disposed to regard the question of snow in this quarter as the all determining element in the location of a Pacific railroad northward through the Rocky Mountain section.
My own idea, therefore, if the line from St. Paul, Minnesota, is to be built, would be, when it had reached the plains north of Fort Benton, that it should
(57) hug the Missouri closely by the bluffs to its north, and thence follow the general line of the river to the Three Forks, thence follow up the valley of the Jefferson Fork and cross the main range of the Rocky Mountains to the Deer Lodge valley, and thence follow the Hell's Gate to the Hell's Gate ronde; here cross over to the Clark's Fork, via the Jocko river, and follow down this fork on its right side to the lower end of the Pend d'Oreille lake; thence to the Spokane, and thence to the mouth of the Snake river; from thence down the Columbia to the mouth of the Cowlitz, whence a branch line can easily be adjusted to Puget Sound. This line, by the direction herein given, would be 1,984 miles long and say three hundred miles longer than the route proposed by Governor Stevens; but when it is remembered that the route I here propose involves no tunnels; that it follows a continuous line of watercourses; that it will never be obstructed by snow, so calculated to lengthen the time of building, and to increase the difficulties of running it when built; that it traverses a region capable of settlement; that it taps all the mining regions where way travel is destined to be built up, and, moreover, passes along the navigable stretches of the Missouri, Clark's Fork, and Columbia rivers, essential and economical aids in the first construction of the road, truly it seems not too much to say, that this line may be regarded as subserving more advantages than any yet examined in the Rocky Mountains north of the 42 of northern latitude.
This line, when traced upon the maps, will show such a short distance between Fort Laramie and the Beaver Head valley, through which last point it passes, that it at once raises the question whether the main trunk railroad from the Missouri to California could not advantageously supply a branch deflecting at Fort Laramie, and thusæsince the one is a necessity destined to be metæsave a distance of not less than seven hundred miles in railroad construction. I would say, yes, provided the face of the country intervening between Laramie and Deer Lodge valley is feasible. With regard to this, we have not, as yet, a published official statistical report of heights to guide our judgment; for myself, I am convinced that we are to have a main trunk railway through the South Pass to California. This was imperative when California alone sent us her golden wealth, and when her protection was an argument sufficient to initiate this gigantic scheme. But when this wealth has been added to by that of Nevada, Utah, and Colorado, lying directly upon the proposed road, it becomes only a matter of time when the work shall be taken in hand, which, from its admirable connexion with the system of railways east of the Mississippi, must eventually supply Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California, that desideratum so much demanded during the last three years.
This fact brings us to the question whether the interests of Oregon and Washington would not be the better subserved by having a branch line from the main trunk extended from Salt Lake to the Columbia, and thus save hundreds of miles of new and unproductive construction, and avoid all the contingencies which climate and length of route would involve. This last matter, however, is one for the legislature alone to determine; but for the benefit of the engineer I would state that the northern line herein indicated is admirably practicable, and following, as it does, upon the continuous navigable stretches of the Missouri and Columbia rivers, it enjoys advantages for rapid and economical construction possessed by none others. In this connexion my attention has been forcibly drawn to the remark of the late General Lander, who, in discussing the Pacific railroad question, states:
"A preliminary railroad across the continent is all essential to aid the construction of the more permanent road demanded by the wants of the country, and any railroad contemplated must have this problem solved."
The first remark is forcibly true; but it is not reasonable to suppose that large and navigable streams, that already exist along the proposed lines, will not better, cheaper, and more abundantly supply all the wants of a first con-
(58) struction or preliminary railroad, built at an estimated cost of $50,000,000, and which, according to Mr. Lander's own idea, is to be considered so much dead capital, from which no remunerative interest can possible accrue?
This idea of a preliminary road was ever a favorite scheme with General Lander as an aid to build the permanent road. This was natural as well as necessary, because along the line he advocated there was no navigable stream which could supply its place; had there been, the keen perception of so good an engineer would not have failed to discover the inestimable advantages of so good a natural substitute.
For myself, I have never ceased to place special stress upon the advantages presented by the Columbia and Missouri rivers, navigable, as they are, to their sources in the Rocky Mountains, and within a few miles of interlocking with each other, thus offering every facility for the rapid and cheap construction of a road along their borders.
Supposing, therefore, it is determined to build a railroad from Breckinridge, on the west border of Minnesota, to Puget Sound, the line herein indicated would, upon a detailed survey, be found to possess advantages so marked in their nature that it might be safe to assume that this will yet prove the approximate line of location for a northern route. In the following estimate which I append I have been guided chiefly by those made by Governor Stevens in his report to Congress, and which I have ever regarded as the most reliable yet made for that line, and therefore I have felt at liberty to use his figures, as well as the reasons that govern him therein, and the special views of location accompanying the same:
The foregoing constitutes the cost of building a road by the route which, after a study of several years, I have thought to be the best in the range, and which is eminently a route via the Columbia and Missouri river valleys; even now it would pass through an interesting gold mining region, in addition to subserving the many advantages before referred to. If the future should determine that the interests of eastern Oregon and Washington are of such a character that a line must be had in their midst, and that this want would be felt before the northern Pacific railroad should be initiated, then by all means, I say, let a road be built along Snake river that will supply the Burnt river, Powder river, Grand Ronde river, and Boisé river mines in Oregon, and the Salmon river in Washington Territory.
As yet no perfectly reliable instrumental data have been brought in from this line; in fact, no government party was ever sent out to explore this region, except that of Colonel Frémont, but it may be assumed that the most authentic railroad facts yet obtained upon it were those of the late General F. W. Lander
(59) in his trip from Puget Sound to the Missouri in the spring of 1854, and from his report I have gathered such reliable data as will guide future parties in making a more detailed survey in this region.
The report of General Lander treats of the railroad question in the light of practicability, cost, mode of construction, and mode of payment while being constructed, and contains so many just views and criticisms on the subject that I have incorporated many of his ideas in my report.
It would be safe to say that no continuous instrumental survey has ever taken place in any of the proposed lines for a Pacific railroad: but what has been done on all of them might justly and simply be termed reconnaissances of routes; for, as General Lander says:
"Explorations of the wild interior, for the purpose of ascertaining the most economical and practicable route for a railroad to the Pacific, are reconnaissances rather than surveys. They are engineering studies of routes or belts of country, often two hundred miles in breadth, of two thousand miles in length, extending from the verge of the eastern border to the Pacific, of which the characteristics are to be known regarding railroad construction." Routes are not lines; several lines might occupy relative positions on a single route. The lineal section, rapidly placed by the labors of a single season, and presented as the result of a Pacific railroad exploration, must not always be presumed to be a profile of the preferable, or the very best trace for location existing upon the division examined. From the limited time prescribed for making these examinations, and from the vast extent of country explored, the first line of barometric levels does not always occupy the best position of the route to which applied. The engineering features of the whole broad division passed over are connected with this base line, and stated in the form of opinions or convictions formed upon the mind of the engineer by former experience of the necessities of location in all varieties of country. The study of reconnaissance is not, however, confined to single divisions. In its broadest application, it compares routes rather than lines, states their relative merits, and by a simplified system of hurried field service, restricts the costly and tedious labors of elaborate instrumental survey to the preferable division; and, even upon that division, to a limited section of service. Thus distinct knowledge of extreme, or nearly impracticable obstacles, upon routes involving deep national interestsæthe existence of which may lead to the abandonment or neglect of important termini, or to the repeated and expensive application of instrumental survey to solve what nature made insurmountableædirects the attention of reconnaissance beyond the narrow limits of sectional location. And as reconnaissance directs reconnaissance; as the labors of survey are pursued as its results, and are involved and tedious in their deferred conclusions, the developments of the first important service cannot be too speedily continued to their limit when tending to prevent more costly expenditure by anticipating proposed surveys by additional information, which changes their direction. In all reconnaissances of location for the selection of the route or the line of a route of a railroad, some requisition to be answered must be present in the mind of the engineer. The interrogation, For what am I here seeking? should be evident to his senses and aid his study. There are different classes of railroads; different plans of construction. In the selection of the route of a railroad to the Pacific, the requisition as to the class of line to be adopted, and the plan of construction to be attempted, is the first and salient feature of the whole question. This unsolved problem in engineering is dissimilar from that of any road hitherto completed. It is, nevertheless, a problem to which one system of construction is more particularly applicable than any other; the physical obstacles to be overcome are in no degree to be deemed subjects of consideration, as compared with the practical difficulties which conspire to prevent its ready solution. The opinions of professional parties on this question, which are the result of experience in railroad-building, should meet
(60) the direct notice of legislation. If it can be readily demonstrated that the selection of the class of line which will best solve the present urgent necessities of this nation for rapid and effective means of overland communication restricts the whole question to the selection of a route or routes over which such a class of line or mode of building can alone be attempted, then the choice of these routes should not be made subordinate to any other consideration. It is not yet particularly known that a wagon road, a rough, rapidly extended railroad, suited to military and mail transportation, and an elaborately completed, thoroughly equipped Grand Trunk railroad, can each exist in their turn, as called for by the necessities of civilization, and each aid as successive steps towards the consummation of the legitimate object required. The wagon road and the rough railroad come within the limits of discussion of constitutional legislation; and if deemed expedient, would progress together. But the Grand Trunk road, if viewed only in legislation as the development of a requisition beyond the reach of constitutional aid, would alone appear as the result of the efforts of private parties to procure remuneration to a patriotic and commendable enterprise by the carrying trade of western commerce.
REVIEW OF THE PACIFIC RAILROAD PROJECT.
It is now nearly twenty years since the patriotic Whitney first advocated the construction of a railroad to the Pacific. He then asserted that, in working out the grand problem of self-government, this nation occupied a position to command the influx of that commerce of the Indies which had caused the prosperity of nations to ebb and flow like the waters of the sea over which it had been transported. He visited the principal cities of the Union. He addressed the legislatures of States and the houses of Congress. He spoke of the development of territory; of the march of a martial people towards the shores of the distant Pacific; of a great highway of nations existing through a line of flourishing settlement; of commerce and agriculture walking hand in hand; of the east and of the west united. He enforced these arguments with the full powers of a commanding intellect and by the expenditure of his private fortune. But he failed in receiving the support of congressional legislation; and as long lines of railway had never successfully competed with water transportation, private individuals declined this investment unless government aided it. Whitney went to England. He was received and noticed with honor. He addressed the British Parliament; but he was never able to achieve this grand purpose and glory of his existence. His patriotism and the devotion of his high nature only have their record in the present character of this great project, now fully before the people, and with which his name must forever remain connected. But the idea of a Grand Trunk railroad, elaborated from the very outset to the needs of an immense carrying trade, built in sections of one hundred miles, by a system of land grants, and existing by some act of intuition on the part of its well-wishers, over mountain ranges, mighty rivers, sterile desserts, and regions devoid of wood, building materials, and sources of supply, has never yet been surrendered. When the municipal land grants of Texas, held out as a bonus to capitalists, led to the creation of a mammoth company, and influenced the voice of the press, this idea of a Grand Trunk road was strenuously urged by eloquent advocates. It appeared in the glorious arguments of Benton. It still lies like an incubus on every effort made by professional parties to divest this national project of those objectionable features which have so long placed it in the light of a chimera and an experiment. While the whole question has changed in its character, and that featureæthe idea of procuring the influx of western commerce to the United States of North America by building a Grand Trunk railroad across the continent, which for nearly twenty years barely elicited public notice, and failed of gaining the attention of congressional legislationæ is no longer the
(61) leading, but has become the subordinate requisition of the problem, it is still allowed to weigh upon and embarrass the action of government. The claim of the Pacific coast to better means of overland communication, unexpectedly made prominent by the discovery of the gold fields of California, and the corresponding development of the Territories of Utah, Oregon, and Washington, was at once thought a necessity of such character that its solution could not be waived or postponed without vital injury to the best interests of the nation and to those important and isolated communities. For this reason, in the very first discussion of this new and striking feature of the question, many patriotic individuals proposed the extension of a wagon road. Others, in ignorance of the various classes of railways, advocated the immediate adoption of the grand plan of Whitney. It was urged by the latter that the great plains of the interior were already whitened by the bones of American emigration in the passage of a wagon road. The railroad of the Isthmus of Panama, extending through an unhealthy climate and over foreign soil, had been projected and carried to its completion by the impulse of American energy. With the aid of government this project might readily be completed by the enterprise of private individuals over our own territory, and by a route avoiding the fatal fevers of the south. Mails, troops, and munitions of war could be safely and rapidly transported, and the great travelling population of the east and west no longer be exposed to the dangers and inconveniences of the isthmus transit. But grave questions now came up for consideration. It was open for argument how far Congress might aid the speculative operations of private parties, save as the most direct step towards the legitimate consummation of a single object in view.
The united sovereignties which jointly possess the broad domain, extending from the east to the Pacific, would necessarily act with caution in entering the debatable ground of constitutional rights. The nation was then laboring under the results of a disastrous depression and derangement of the business relations of the country. This state of things had been produced by an unhealthy mania in railroad speculation, not only unrestricted, but in a measure urged forward by the indiscriminate patronage of local legislation. The unwieldy operations of companies under the management of interested private parties had not always been guided by the true spirit of patriotism. No argument of mere expediency should affect the action of government. In treating this question Congress, acting under constitutional limitation, could only continue to insure a perfect union, domestic tranquility, and common defence, further the general welfare, regulate the land forces, provide for calling forth the militia to repel invasion, promote the progress of science and art, defend California against invasion, and, perhaps, by the extension of a post road, give to her citizens the privileges enjoyed by other sovereign states. No preference could be given, even by the establishment of a regulation of commerce, to one State over another; and it would require a power of discrimination, very difficult of application, to decide to which portion of the Union should accrue these supposed wonderful advantages in the development of a project claiming the aid of a government strictly bound to render exact and equal justice to all. It is well known that these questions were left to the consideration of Congress. The representatives of a people known to possess mechanical ingenuity and constructive faculty were called upon by the united voice of the nation to look this subject of overland communications boldly in the face; to view its manifold relations; to grapple with its great apparent difficulties, and, if constitutional, to decide when, where, and in what manner it could be best and most speedily accomplished. If it was denied that government had constitutional power to act in the premises, it certainly did not require argument to prove that those distant communities, the unparalleled development of which had been the growth of an epoch in the history of human progress, were an integral portion and a part of the republic; and it was also evident that they were entirely isolated and unprotected. By
(62) the Constitution Congress was compelled to defend California against aggression. It is well known, in these years of revolutions and counter-revolutions, that the United States of North America had become an object of suspicion and of dread to older and less progressive nations. In the event of war with one or more of the great powers of Europe, California could not be defended against aggression by the means then within the command of the general government. Troops, supplies, and munitions of war would be exposed to the dangers and costs of inadequate modes of transit, of a broken and interrupted water transportation, and to the passage of an unhealthy and, and in that event, probably a hostile foreign territory. It had ever been the policy of this government to restrict the military operations of the country to a simple and effective character. Rallying the energetic population of every hill-side and prairie around that gallant and efficient military organization, which would compare in ability and attainment with that of any service of the earth, it was evident that the necessity of the occasion would require the rapid transportation of these suddenly collected forces to the utmost verge of her remotest border.
In view of the achievements of science and the mechanic arts, and the advanced stage of human progress in the nineteenth century, a military road could no longer be deemed the means of crossing a river or making passage of a hill-side. In reference to the exigencies involved, it was the application of that mode of transit which had in a measure annihilated distance to a route of two thousand miles in length from the populous eastern States to California. It was the definite solution of the requisition of a new, unexpected, and striking necessity by the use of the best means at the command of the nation. The demand was immediate. If it was within the power of government to act in the premises at all, then when government should act on the question became evident to the weakest observer. If it was within the power of government to act in the premises at all, then where government should carry this project to early consummation grew out of the national requisition of military defense and those claims which had led to the attention of Congress. If it was within the power of government to act in the premises at all, then in what manner it could be best and most speedily accomplished would be devised by the wisdom of legislation, in order to avoid those misfortunes which, in the development of minor and local railroad projects, had affected the business relations of the country, and had been noticed by a message of the President; but the project was yet to be placed in a position to become the object of a fostering legislation; an undertaking which to aid would be national, and to achieve, patriotic. Unprofessional parties had invariably confounded the domestic and commercial relations of the problem with that distinct and salient constitutional feature which gave Congress power to act upon it. The question as to whether government could use the iron rail and locomotive engine in the extension of a post road over two thousand miles of uncivilized country, and that mode of transit which had in a measure annihilated distance, as a means of defending a distant sovereign State against aggression, permitting a proper regulation of the land forces, by rapidly transporting the suddenly organized forces of her volunteer soldiery to the distant, unprotected portions of her domain, whether or not a military road should still be considered that sort of structure which existed at the date of the Constitution, or be superseded by the triumph of human ingenuity, this question had been merged by legislation in an endeavor to answer the anticipation of private individuals, which sought to change a government of general and limited power into a party, speculating with the lands and funds of the people, by aiding an experimental endeavor to procure the influx of western commerce to some single State or section of the Union, perhaps to the detriment of all the rest. If, from want of professional information, the treatment if this subject has hitherto been reversed in its nature, and the need of the hardy pioneer
(63) of civilization has been merged in the claims of the capitalists of the eastern cities, it may readily be placed in a clear point of view.
DIFFERENT SYSTEMS OF RAILWAY CONSTRUCTION.
The plan of building a Pacific railroad, which has been so long presented, by extending it in sections of one hundred miles, elaborated from the outset to the full needs of the immense carrying trade of western commerce, and slowly verging towards the wild interior, is that of the English system of construction. Built on such a plan, by the use of credits, bonds, and mortgages, and by a brokerage over a basis of land grants, it would combine all the disadvantages of both the American and English modes of construction. These are very dissimilar. The English system, adopted in building the first roads of New England, has been modified in America to more expeditious and less costly methods of attaining the results required.
Although the Pacific problem is different from that of any road hitherto completed in civilized regions, it is nevertheless one to which the present American modes of building, divested of their objectionable features, are more particularly applicable than any other. It is that of the extension of a road over an uncivilized and, in many instances, uninhabitable country; and the American system is that of the rapid extension of lines, at low cost, over undeveloped and non-paying routes of transit. The Pacific railroad is to reach a terminus two thousand miles distant, from which a revenue is anticipated; but, until this anticipation of revenue is answered, must be restricted in development to the simple requirements of military and way transportation. The American system of building is one by which a line may pass through various stages of elaboration to any class or character required, even after the connexion of termini has been accomplished; for it is the great principle of the American "open construction account" that a road should not be placed under the serious liability of maximum equipment for service it may never be called upon to perform; but, if practicable, should be made to reach and develop the sources of future traffic, under the support of a way transportation at paying rates. From the operations of interested and unscrupulous speculators, often occupying the position of railroad directors, and gambling with the funds of stockholders committed to their charge, and especially in the building of short lines, where permanent construction should have been deemed expedient from the outset, the system of the open construction account has encountered great opposition, and has been unwarrantably assailed by unprofessional parties.
Under the present credit systemæone of the evils of the American mode of buildingæfrom the necessities of brokerage and premiums, and the gambling liabilities borne by innocent stockholders, a mere percentage of the amount of margin presented as the cost of roads is devoted by the American constructing engineer to their actual working. This has been one of the chief reasons why the cost of American roads has so often exceeded their engineering estimates. Over twenty-five per cent of the amount now invested in lines of the United States has proved a total loss to the original stockholders. The civil engineers of the country have very generally borne the odium of these liabilities, which is probably the reason why their opinions have such slight weight when brought to the consideration of this national undertaking. Yet this project is one to which the application of the American system of expansion will restrict the first liabilities of wear and tear, deprecation and deterioration, risk or loss of outlay, and all questionable expenditures, to the minimum, in the construction of a line which, from the length of route traversed before connexion can occur with a paying terminus, will not warrant first-class construction and equipment from the outset. It would require a period of twenty years to build such a grand road to the Pacific on the obsolete system proposed. During this space of time
(64) those portions of the road first completed would thrice need renewal as worn out and decayed. The amount of the cost of this renewal would absolutely construct and equip a road of medium class, with ordinary management, reaching the Pacific in ten years, and, if necessary, even in five years. This preliminary road would not make a passage of the same obstacles by reduction of surface, or adopt so direct a line, as a Grand Trunk road; but select a route giving the most rapid results to first outlay, by at once answering the present needs of the nation. It would also accomplish that first step towards the construction of a grand road, which would eventually insure its completion without great loss to its projectors, or, more properly, to the government finding means for extending it. A doubt exists in the minds of practical individuals whether the traffic of a Grand Trunk overland railroad will ever support its running expenses. Hence, there is an experiment to be tried. Government is not particularly interested in the question as to whether the commerce of the Pacific seas will pass over this line, when built, or continue to be borne by clipper-ships around the southern extremity of South America. Government is interested in the solution of the problem only so far as the results of the experiment tend towards the extension of a speedily-consummated and effectual means of overland mail and military transportation.
But while government will hesitate to exercise doubtful constitutional powers, and will practice due economy in the expenditure of the money of the people, it will, when not conflicting with those powers, seek to further all important domestic and commercial relations. While the idea of a Grand Trunk road must be treated with caution, because, so far as government has constitutional powers to act on the question, the choice merely lies between the use of the iron rail and of the wagon road, and it can be demonstrated that the use of the iron rail can take place prior to the completion of a grand road; yet, as regards the choice between the use of the iron rail and of the wagon road, the probability of the future construction of a Grand Trunk Pacific road should be brought into the discussion. The experiment as to whether the commerce of the west will pass over the American continent by railway, even when a railway is in operation, cannot be tried by the extension of a wagon road. But it can be practically tested by the extension of a railroad only suited to the absolute needs of military and way transportation. Again, should this experiment prove successful, then the Grand Trunk railroad of the present day would be wholly inadequate to the amount of transportation required. The broad, uncultivated wastes of the American continent (over any route whatever) are unlike the present railroad routes of civilized regions. They compare with them as the drear expanse of the ocean contrasts with the inland navigable waters of our lakes and rivers. When this sea of space is to be traversed with the certainty of a paying business, with no important way stations, and an enormous through traffic to warrant the running of trains, the locomotive engine will make passage of the level sand wastes of the wild interior at rates of speed which will startle human credulity. And when the same inventive genius which once so readily modified the costly modes of building of older nations to the means and demands of our own new and undeveloped country is called upon to grasp the broader conclusion, and solve this future necessity of civilization and of progress, then the Pacific railroad will resemble the present Grand Trunk road, of populated countries, as the new British steamship Great Eastern compares with the first class-steamer of the coast. Thus, while the first study of this question should be grounded on a comprehensive desire to answer at once and in the best manner, that which is at present required, yet, in view of the grand prospective contingencies presented, it should also be definitely guided by a full apprehension of that which is liable to occur. The conclusion is, that if government should see fit to construct a railroad, necessarily in connexion with, but in preference to, the extension of a wagon road, then a railroad, suited to military transportation, and to the mere
(65) testing of this experiment, is the class of road to be attempted. In this connexion, the assertion of the unprofessional observer, "That it is always cheapest in the end to build a good road first," must have no weight. A road suited to the needs of way and military transportation is necessarily a good road, and, built by the aid of government, should not be accepted, if of unstable or insufficient character. It is the choice of route, and nature of surface passed over, which reduces its cost and favors its rapid extension, and which is, in reality, the chief argument for its use in preference to the wagon road. But I will close this argument by asserting that no road of permanent works and substantial class can be built across the continent with only the use of a wagon road as a vehicle of transportation. The appliances of civilization and the materials of construction must be placed contiguous to the works by progression of settlements, or by the prior extension of a pioneer or preliminary railroad. But, although permanent works may be erected by awaiting the tardy progression of settlements through the fertile border country, they cannot thus be raised in the far interior. Long sections of all routes are there devoid of wood, stone, and every variety of building materials. Broad divisions are not susceptible of development by settlements, and can never become provision-producing districts. From the distance to be passed over, and the amount and speed of transportation required, labor can neither be supplied nor supported. Weighty materials cannot be moved over the hundreds of miles from where, existing in natural deposits, they must be furnished to sections deficient. Mules, oxen, and horses fail, break down, and die by scores, in making passage of those distant, sterile, and arid plains. The use of the iron rail and locomotive engine is that means of transit perfected by human ingenuity to the best practicable result for the moving of weighty materials at high rates of speed and at low cost. In fact, it cannot be denied that it fully transcends all other modes of land locomotion. These very routes where domestic animals can hardly be made of use, and where the supplies of human subsistence cannot be procured, can be readily developed by railway, by laying a rough superstructure on the natural surface of the earth, and thus the very best means of transportation can be supplied. The whole pecuniary question regarding the treatment of this project of a railroad to the Pacific resolves itself into the expenditure of the least amount of cash capital without reasonable prospect of remunerative return. The engineering question resolves itself into the obtaining of some rapid and effective means of transportation along the route of the grand road, that it may be constructed at all. The first relation is, the distance to be passed over before connexion can occur, with a paying terminus; and the second, the stupendous nature of the nearly insurmountable obstacles and practical difficulties which will serve to postpone the completion of any road of first class character. Both presentations of the subject are wholly subordinate to the great and immediate need of the Pacific coast, to the healthy overland military and mail transportation, which is the single constitutional requirement in the premises. This is a requisition which cannot be waived or postponed. A wagon road will not answer it, and a permanent railroad cannot be legislated towards the Pacific by the will of its well-wishers, under incomprehensive views of the difficulties attending its extension. Therefore, with a full sense of the importance of such an opinion, and a definite knowledge of at least two of the great routes across the American continent, I propose the extension of a rough American railway, of weighty superstructure, but of medium equipment, from the extreme western border of eastern civilization to the Pacific, as the exponent of that practical experience of the railroad-builders of America, which, if never officially called to the treatment of this public question, has shown such admirable results in the extension of lines through thinly populated regions, even when harassed by the unscrupulous management of speculative parties. I present it as a simple proportioning of means to the end required, and as a restriction of the
(66) undue expenditure of the money of the people in the solution of a national problem. For (returning to the first point of this argument) if, by the Constitution, Congress is compelled to defend California against aggression, and regarding the settled policy of this government, forts and standing armies are not deemed the preferable means of military defence; if, as is stated by the first military talent of the nation, California cannot be practically defended by the means at present within the disposal of government; if a wagon road is unsuited to the rapid transportation of weighty supplies, forces, and munitions of war; if the construction of a grand trunk railway is a ponderous and dangerous experiment, and its eventual completion beyond the limits of reasonable anticipation; if the iron rail and locomotive engine may be made of immediate use, and solve this necessity by the mere adoption of a route of transit over which it can be profitably extended, then the building of this railroad to the Pacific, applicable to the exigencies involved, the amount of transportation required, and the remuneration which will ensue, is a legitimate and warrantable undertaking, because no other will answer the purpose of the case proposed. It is the extension of a railroad of the least cost in the first outlay, because built through an uncivilized country, over an undeveloped route, and as subject to the contingency of total loss to its projectors, if elaborated beyond the stringent needs of the mere requirements of necessity, before reaching the distant terminus from which a revenue is anticipated; the extension of a railroad to solve the correctness of this anticipation of revenue, and, under the nature of an experiment, to test its value; but, beyond all these minor requisitions, the extension of such a railroad as the comprehension of other and more important national considerations will alone warrant constructing. It is, in like manner, the adoption of a route which, from the nature of the surface passed over, and from the avoidance of great obstacles, will lead to the immediate consummation of the project. If the use of the rail, prior to the actual completion of the road, by the mere selection of a route over which it can be extended by light grading, seems to the unprofessional observer impracticable and absurd, to the experienced railroad-builder, who has seen the working locomotive and material train made the grand vehicle of transportation over unfinished lines and upon every variety of surface, this mode of transit will at once sustain its important character in relation to the peculiar necessities of the present case. Over portions of that broad central division of the continent, reaching from the Missouri river to the Pacific, the mountainous, broken, and undulating country bears a very small proportion to the extent of elevated plateaus, either level or of slight inclination to the horizon. These elevated plateaus offer substrata of sand or gravel, easily excavated, slightly affected by the action of frost, and, by nominal reduction of surface, affording a road-bed of perfect drainage, and of superior quality for the preservation of superstructure and machine, and also favoring those simple manual operations deemed sufficient to keep American railway lines in working order. A railroad line, passing over such a surface, would as far transcend all means of transportation by plank or wagon roads as is possible to conceive. It would admit a speed of twenty miles per hour, with loaded trains, over the greater portion of its distance, and at least the passage of loaded trains over all portions of its distance. It would appear as a direct exemplification of capital reserved. The whole amount of its cost would have been expended in the mere needs of transportation for the purpose of building the proposed grand trunk road. Attempted without its aid, the construction of the grand trunk road may be regarded a chimera; and even, if eventually completed, the depreciation and renewal of its superstructure and rolling stock, the loss of interest on dormant capital, and the disastrous results attending its consummation, would thrice exceed the entire cost of a preliminary road. The mere development of territory would remunerate the cost of constructing a road, only attempting in every stage of its completion a character or medium adapted to the simplest require-
(67) ments of necessity, while no such minor sources of revenue would warrant the construction of a first class line or road assuming an elaborated character from the outset."
"For a Pacific railroad, the term route will cover the extreme breadth of country to which side examinations may reasonably extend, or to which any claim of location may carry a line by detour. The term route in these remarks must not be confounded with the word line. The route of a line is, strictly defined by survey. The route to which the location of a line is referable is described by reconnaissance. Two of the grand routes across the American continent are peculiarly adapted to the ready and rapid extension of a rough preliminary railroad. One of these routes passes south of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and in the vicinity of the Mexican frontier. The other is that of the present emigrant road of the South Pass to California, Utah, and Oregon. Both of these lines are of flat plateau surface and gravel substrata. Over one of them the passage of trains would be obstructed during winter by the snow of the great plains; over the other, a northern population would be decimated during the summer by the fevers of the Gulf. Over one of them the frosts of the northern winter would, during half the year, prevent the speedy progression of the works of construction; over the other, the miasmas of a southern summer would prove fatal to the health of the Celtic laborer. Over the northern route pure water can be delivered from abundant sources of supply, at sufficient height above the rail, to be furnished at low cost for the use of locomotives; over the southern, it must be procured by more expensive methods, from fountains difficult of access and limited in quantity. The northern route is longer than the southern, but of central position; it can be more readily defended in time of war. Contiguous to provision and labor producing States, it can be more cheaply constructed, and, when built, will command and unite important and conflicting public and private interests. Long sections of both routes are destitute of timber, which only can be supplied by the use of the iron rail. Both of them differ from all other routes across the continents. Both are better suited to the speedy extension of an effective means of military transportation by railway than any others. Both are especially worthy the attention of government in the selection of the route of a road for the purposes of military defence; but neither of them would so readily attract the notice of speculators in land grants, nor is either particularly adapted to the development of great agricultural interests. As the salient requisition, which gives government constitutional power to act in the premises, is that of military defence, and the leading feature of that requisition is early communication, the first step towards the solution of this intricate problem of overland communication is narrowed down to the choice of one or both of these routes; the subordinate or latent characteristics which subsequently come forward in the domestic relations, of development of inland territory, and of procuring the influx of western commerce, not being confounded with, but in every respect kept distinct from, the peculiar and striking national feature which first won the attention, and is now strenuously urged as entitling this undertaking to the full notice of legislation. The most southern of these routes being beyond the field of the present report, I bring this whole view of the engineering merits of the question as giving great character to a forked road which, reaching by a main stem from the central border of eastern civilization to the Mormon settlements, would there permit of the connexion of a short branch line to Puget Sound, and of the extension of a main trunk to California. This road, as first extended, would represent the word line, as delineated, or placed by the requirements of location, by the trace of actual survey, for preliminary service. But, as eventually elaborated, it can only be described, at the,
(68) present time, by the report of reconnaissance, as within the limits of all future claims of location by the word route. The rough road, built for the purpose of military transportation, must be placed, by engineering study, over a surface adapted to rapid extension, and be adjusted with great care at water crossings, summits of country, and all positions of a character to postpone early communication.
But it may, nevertheless, become the means of constructing a grand line, not necessarily contiguous to it, as the term would be applied in civilized regions; for, reaching by any line of approach, the vicinity of the plains and rim of the Great Basin, where occur sources of supply of iron, coal, building materials, and way stations of population, a preliminary road would become the carrying line for developing and transporting these resources. It is probable that John Charles Frémont is better qualified than any other individual to name the relative merits of the several lines of central routes, regarding agricultural development, from having compared them in the field. The direct line from St. Louis to San Francisco, which is located too far south to admit of ready connexion by a branch with Puget Sound and the important northwestern coast, is described by that distinguished explorer as possessing such characteristics. It has attracted national notice as a grand central Pacific line. Its adoption has been advocated by one of the oldest statesmen of America. And these desultory remarks are for the purpose of explaining that the combined extension of a wagon road and preliminary railroad over the present emigrant trail of the South Pass would in no degree prevent, but would, in fact, absolutely further, the completion of a grand highway of commerce and of nations over the direct line named, which, central in reference to commercial and domestic relations, is not central as regards the combined claims of California, Oregon, Washington, and Utah, or of the entire Pacific coast, for military, defence, and, under the contingencies of rapid railroad construction, could not conscientiously be selected for such a purpose by legislation. This view of the question should also practically refer to all routes of such undulating and, broken surface as to postpone early communication, if adopted. A military railroad should extend over plateau surface, from the mere fact that a railroad is not a line of fortifications, but a structure peculiarly pregnable to the most insignificant means of attack; and, when built over substrata of sand or gravel, the line of communication can be renewed, when broken, at a few hours' notice.
The energy of the American people has never yet failed to develop border country by railway. Legislation has seldom hesitated to aid the construction of roads, even in advance of the needs of civilization. But (summing up the statements of this paper) if nature has debarred any section of the continent those facilities of surface or positions which warrant the attempt at rapid railroad extension, in answering this grand necessity of the earliest practicable consummation of overland transportation, then the requirements of a whole nation should not be made subservient to such merely local claims to attention. If local roads can only tardily progress over a rich agricultural, but broken surface-a surface of excavation and embankment, of masonry and bridging, of practicable construction but of deferred communication-while the less costly preliminary line might be speedily extended towards the mountains, then the claims of the hardy pioneer of civilization, of the citizen of California, Utah, Oregon, and Washington, should not be deemed subordinate to the prayer of the wealthy capitalist of the eastern city.
If legislation is to furnish the means of solving this problem of overland communication, the rights of the poorest herdsman of the Pacific are as much entitled to notice as those of the eastern speculator in land grants."
(69) THE CONSTRUCTION OF THAT FIRST SECTION OF A PACIFIC RAILROAD CONTIGUOUS TO THE STATES, THE INITIATIVE OR PRELIMINARY STEP TOWARDS THE EARLIEST PRACTICABLE CONSUMMATION OF THE WHOLE UNDERTAKING.
During the many long discussions which have taken place on the subject of a railroad to the Pacific it seems to have been forgotten, or to have entirely escaped notice, that all great railroad lines are built in sections, and that, although this road is one of two thousand (2,000) miles in length, yet but a single mile need be built at the outset. The argument that the difficulty of selecting a route prevents such a conclusion need not be entertained if the route is chosen on the constitutional grounds of the cheapest and earliest consummation of the military defence of the Pacific possessions by overland railways. If the whole question of the construction of a permanent road to the Pacific resolves itself into the prior construction of a railroad to the Pacific of less elaborated character, so, too, the construction of a preliminary railroad to the Pacific resolves itself into the building of the first mile of the very first section of the best route for that road adjacent to the border settlements. The first section of the main stem of the forked route of the emigrant road does not, however, commence at the first unfinished portion of the Pacific railroad (so called) of Iowa or Missouri.
The two hundred and fifty miles of severe undulating surface extending between these lines of rail, now tending west, and Missouri river, is of a character to prevent early completion; and the people of the Pacific coast and the present claims of the nation will not permit awaiting the three, four, or five years it will require to bring these roads to Missouri river. Neither can it commence at Fort Kearney, which is the proper point of intersection of all eastern lines. This point is as far inland toward the west, and wagon roads will not furnish the cheap and rapid transportation required for weighty materials of construction. From the peculiarity of surface offered-a surface graded and ballasted by the art of nature-the first section of the pioneer railroad of the emigrant plateau route must be supposed to commence on the Missouri river, near the mouth of the Platte. As the navigation of the Missouri as high as this point is ample for the transportation of rails, equipment, and furnishing the road-finding its own means of rapid extension-would reach the mountains, over the flat, sandy surface offered, at about the same period of time that the local roads of Iowa and Missouri were completed, to become its connecting links with eastern lines, say in three, four, or five years. The line (of five hundred (500) miles length)would traverse the edge of a range of low sand-hills, skirting a broad and fertile river valley, which reaches, without a break in surface, from the mouth of the Platte to the first broken country of the great grazing section of the Black Hills,(so called.) Under the present system of legislation-the aiding of the extension of railroads by speculations based on the augmentation of the price of government lands to the actual settler-reasons might be offered why Congress can assist in the construction of this road of five hundred (500) miles on far more equitable grounds than have hitherto led to the multiplication of rivaling and competing roads across the border. The fact that this line would become the first section of a Pacific railroad, and the needs of California, Utah, Oregon and Washington find a place in a discussion which has hitherto been devoted to those of Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Minnesota, or the wealthy capitalists of eastern cities, is probably the cause why this line could not thus be aided. The following domestic relations entitle it to notice, without reference to the fact that it would become a section of the Pacific railroad, viz: While other divisions of the public domain are favored by navigable waters, by which the appliances of civilization may be transported, the narrow belt of fertile soil which this line traverses can only be laid open to the pioneer by the passage of a railroad. Like many of the richest regions of the west, the country is sparsely
(70) wooded, and during the growth of wood, (by keeping out the prairie fires,) fuel and building timber cannot be transported for the use of settlers by the insufficient means of a wagon road. The needs of better means of transportation than this route now affords have become so great, that it has been proposed to secure them for the benefit of the Mormon settlements, by building a canal from the headwaters of the Yellowstone river towards Utah, and by a detour of over three thousand (3,000) miles of river and canal navigation. The construction of the road would shorten by five hundred (500) miles the distance now travelled by the overland emigration, and prevent the great loss to the nation in domestic stock which yearly occurs, and the value of which, thus saved, would pay the interest on the whole cost of building it. To secure the advantages of becoming the sources of supply to emigration, settlements would grow up at the mountain terminus of the line. These settlements would become some of the most important of the nation. They would soon furnish those supplies to transportation which, in event of war, would make the defence of the Pacific coast a practicable measure, by the further overland passage of trains by a wagon road. The citizens of a narrow State would defend and support their railroad. The border population, thus placed five hundred (500) miles nearer the Pacific, would soon reach the outlying farms of the Mormons. Intercourse would take place with that singular people, and the weight of public opinion tend towards solving an intricate problem in the science of self government. All these results can be obtained by the construction of a railroad at lower coat than any line now in operation in America of equal length. The road is on the grand approach to both the Bridger's Pass and the South Pass of the Rocky Mountains. It is the main trunk of the whole great overland travel going west of those mountains. It is most advantageously situated, regarding the connexion of eastern lines. At a point near Fort Kearney, at the head of Big Island of the Platte, roads from Lake Superior, from the pine districts of Minnesota, from Lake Michigan, at Chicago, from the central roads of Indiana, from St. Louis and the south, can favorably intersect with it on equal terms. These roads can there drain the traffic it has developed, and their trains make passage over it to the mountain terminus and the interior. The road would become, in its artificial relations to Kansas, Nebraska, and Utah, what the great rivers of our country have been in their natural advantages to. the country east of the Mississippi; or, as all navigation ceases at the Missouri, a deficiency of nature would be supplied by the triumphs of human ingenuity; therefore, the general government might reasonably afford to aid the construction of this first section of a great railroad line in its passage towards the Pacific, where, full of important connexions, like the branches of a river, its arms extending upon either side, it would develop not only the narrow region which it traverses, but the resources of distant localities, and become to the western portion of the American continent what the Ohio and Mississippi have been to the eastern.
THE CREDIT SYSTEM OF CONSTRUCTION.
The construction of the pioneer or preliminary, rather than the permanent Grand Trunk road, will restrict the evils of this system to the minimum; and a mode in which the road might be built would, in a measure, prevent their occurrence. Without presuming to suggest to the attention of legislation the evils which, in my own belief, will inevitably follow the literal overworking of the land grant system of construction, when the stock market becomes flooded with the scrip of unfinished roads, I will refer to the credit system as connected with the subject of a railroad to the Pacific. Returning to the legitimate discussion of this question, I shall endeavor to maintain the position that even the construction of the first section of a Pacific railroad should not be made to labor under the liabilities of the land grant and credit system of building.
(71) The conduct of the preliminary step in a series of experiments which shall test a great national project, and, in a measure, define its character, should be simple, effective, and guided by judicious deductions from former experience. The railroads of the United States are actually constructed by building contractors under the direction of civil engineers. These building contractors take the works from other contractors, who are great stock operators, and are often even directors of the company they bargain with. The companies are generally formed in the following manner: A very small amount of stock—say 30, 40, or 50 per cent. of that required—is raised by local parties along the route of the line. These parties (farmers, mechanics, merchants, and landholders) thus form the basis for the schemes and management of the operator, who takes the residue of the stock. Both company and operator are now at the mercy of the agents of the great capitalists of the country. By holding such amounts of stock, the operator in many instances controls the directors' board, or even changes it at his will, by the votes of proxy. When, by capital raised, borrowed, or furnished, the road is partly or wholly graded, it is then mortgaged or bonded for iron and equipment. The running of trains now takes place, and the road, now still in an incomplete state, is turned over to the company. About this period of time the able operator decides whether to dispose of or retain his interest in the line. A few years ago, when many of the lines of the country were first opened for travel, this plan of building occupied a very high place in public estimation; but since these roads have begun to wear, and the costs of renewal, of closing the open construction account, and of running trains at non-paying rates have opened the eyes of stockholders, it has, in a measure, fallen into disrepute. Very few of the roads of the country will now more than pay the interest on their bonds, the original stock subscription or basis being in most instances totally absorbed. But it is, nevertheless, undoubtedly true that the farmers, mechanics, and laud-owners, who took the initiative and lost their original stock, are actually reimbursed by advantages gained. All sections traversed have been augmented in value, and, in the majority of cases, (always excepting the crises of monetary liabilities,) the country generally benefited. By the land grant system of credit construction, after small outlay the lands donated by government become the basis of a borrowed capital, which is devoted to the extension of the road; the security given to government being the preliminary construction of a portion of the road. It is not necessary for me to describe a system so recently within the treatment of legislation. As applied to a Pacific railroad, its results would appear in the creation of a greater and more powerful monopoly than has ever yet affected the business relations of this nation. The placing of the rapid extension of this national road under the necessity of public appreciation, affecting and affected by the monetary transactions of the country, would tend to produce those crises in the stock market, to which the pecuniary affairs of our enterprising people have always been so peculiarly liable. But, without referring to these disasters, it is plain that if, during the progress of this road, public appreciation is once lost, all credit will be withheld, and a clear, simple, readily defined engineering problem will appear in the light of a false, visionary, and chimerical speculation.
The cause of the adoption of the old credit system of construction was from absolute poverty of means; the reason of the continuation of the great monopoly of the land grant system is because its evils are not yet sufficiently developed to be perfectly understood; but why either plan of building should be applied to retard the construction of a Pacific railroad I am at a loss to learn. If there is any power of the Constitution by which government can aid this undertaking on the grounds of military defence, neither poverty of means, nor any plea of expediency, conspires to place the project in a chimerical point of view, and no such course should be adopted to further the needs and desires of speculation. Dismissing the idea of the Grand Trunk road, which is an experiment, the sub-
(72) ject of inquiry is, whether the pioneer or preliminary railroad shall be used for military defence in lieu of the wagon road. To still further divest the project of chimerical features, a surface or route is sought where, by proper management, the use of the rail can take place without material cost in grading. The selection of such a route reduces deterioration without paying business to the minimum, and enables government to procure an approximate estimate of cost; or, more plainly, over either of the plateau routes of the continent a railroad can reach the Pacific in seven years. A road in common use needs renewal in superstructure and rolling stock in seven years; but the pioneer road having within this period of time reached the supposed paying business of the western terminus, a general through traffic would begin to balance wear and depreciation. Government is amply able to construct the road by cash payments.
The need of the nation is immediate. To place the undertaking under the liabilities of borrowing, and to subject it to the fluctuations of public estimation, is to retard it. To retard it when once commenced is, in a measure, to defeat it, or, at least, to indefinitely augment its cost. To create a moneyed monopoly, which will undoubtedly harass the stock market by an unrestricted paper issue, is to infringe upon the legitimate currency of the country, and has not hitherto been thought constitutional. We may, therefore, most certainly affirm that the land grant system should be applied to the Pacific railroad undertaking with great caution. As the very intricate and peculiar questions of loss of outlay by deterioration, and by working without revenue over a route of extreme length and novel character, may not yet be perfectly understood, I will once more allow myself to repeat conclusions offered. I distinctly state that if routes exist across the continent over which communication can ensue with a Pacific terminus in seven years, government should take no action to delay the communication beyond that period, but should aid the construction of roads over these routes only by cash payments. But as there are many other routes across the continent which are practicable, but, by passage of undulating surface, need excavation and embankments, bridge and culvert masonry, ballasting and drainage, before the rail can be made of use, and as these tedious operations (without reference to tunnels and mountain sections) will postpone communication, however attempted, government need not necessarily feel compelled to aid the construction of such lines by the direct application of cash capital. Hesitating to bear the risk of private experiments to procure the influx of western commerce over these lines, Congress might with reason sufficiently endow them against loss of running trains through undeveloped country, and against cost of renewal during their twenty years progression toward the Pacific. This aid, however, should duly be bestowed in sections; for, in the present instance, it is entirely out of place to endeavor to anticipate those contingencies of the future, which are in the course of solution by experiment, and which within ten years, or less, will be completely solved by the completion of the more rapidly extended preliminary lines. Having now placed this subject in every point of view of which I believe it capable, I will again refer to the construction of the first section of the preliminary road on the constitutional grounds of military defence.
HOW THE CASH SYSTEM OF CONSTRUCTION MIGHT BE APPLIED.
As this road is to be aided on the grounds of military defence, it is in some measure a government work. To favor the proper dispositions on Missouri river and along the route required for the purposes and supplies of military defence, it should be built under the direction or with the co-operation of military engineers. To secure the efficient management and able practical knowledge of private parties, it should be forwarded by contract.
The line of location of the route should be placed, from Missouri river to the mountains, by military engineers, to the furtherance of rapid extension, and not for the purposes of private border speculations by contractors. Iron rails and equipment should be deposited, by the water transportation of the Missouri
(73) river, at some point best favoring the most direct approach to the main Platte valley by light grading; this point should be selected by government engineers during preliminary arrangements; and the sources of supply of building and working materials should then be retained, from location of private parties, for the use of the road. The first section of five hundred (500) miles should be placed under contract requiring its completion within three (3) years from date. The expense of grading the road will be merely nominal, and is not sufficient security for advances by government. To require a very large deposit in money might embarrass the operations of the active parties (the real railroad-builders and mechanics) who should be called upon to construct this work by contract. From the favorable nature of the surface passed over, iron rails are necessary to the purposes of construction at the outset. As of high cost, and not liable to depreciation in value below a certain estimate, railroad iron should be regarded as equivalent to a deposit in bullion, and be accepted in lieu of moneyed security, or security by grading. A laid superstructure, capable of sustaining the tread of a first class locomotive engine at a speed of twenty (20) miles per hour, should be provided with simple working equipment, turn-outs, and watering stations before any payment is made to contractors. From the point on Missouri river to Fort Kearney, near Big Island of the Platte, the road might properly consist of the common (T) rail of 60 pounds per lineal yard, spiked to a wooden cross-tie, and extended over a ditched and drained road-bed of the clear gravel of the section. From this point of intersection of all eastern lines, (see sketch) near Big Island, a different class of structure might be attempted at the option of the engineer. Just beyond this point, the great untimbered section, reaching toward the Rocky Mountains, would be entered by the line. Government might make payments of $10,000 per mile for the first and for each succeeding one hundred (100) miles of road completed, if expedited to the satisfaction of the directing engineers. On reaching the western terminus of the first section of five hundred (500) miles, government to pay private parties such sums as shall have been agreed upon by the first contract, based on proposals issued, and thereon concluded with responsible bidders; government to reserve the right of cancelling the contract and taking possession of the road during progress of the work, upon equitable grounds or upon failure of contractor to perform obligations. Such a road sold at public auction would always guarantee first outlay. When completed (the first section) it would become the outlet and carrying line for the building of a Pacific railroad over any central route. It would, therefore, be readily accepted by private parties in lieu of further cash payments (beyond the first $10,000) by government. But, from its important position, this road should continue to be within the general control of legislation. As extended over the route of emigration, the building party could afford to keep up, beyond mere working supply and material trains, a medium equipment for common surface; and government would not be called upon as a donating power to bestow immense land grants on speculating individuals, to guard them against loss by running trains and depreciation of way over a non-paying route. Government should make all payments by issuing scrip in applicable sums-certificates to bear interest, and be payable within a limited number of years. Public lands sold to actual settlers along the line would, in the mean time, take up all scrip issued by government; sections of this narrow strip of valuable territory should be reserved for the growth of timber for the use of the road. The company building this road and encountering the risk of testing this first step of an experiment should be admitted to the single legitimate speculation of having donation and pre-emption fee of a limited quantity of land at station-grounds, but not to interfere with actual settlers. All speculations should be brought to the best engineering line for the road. The road should not be carried from its proper engineering position to further any speculation whatever. In the present instance, the engineering
(74) line is that which will best favor the most rapid extension of the iron rail to the mountains. The summit ridge between the mouth of the Kansas and the Platte is an obstacle to be encountered by a junction line, but not by the preliminary road. The favorable features presented in the above plan would be in the competition of the ablest actual railroad-builders in the nation to construct this road under the scientific direction of individuals educated and trained at the expense of government for the service of military defence. In the event of of war, this country will rely on her system of railroads for defence. By the revolutions of human progress the Pacific railroad is especially an arm of national defence. The military engineers of the country should have practice in this new branch of service; and as government is to furnish a portion of the means for extending this road, the scientific department to which is intrusted the erection of military works should not be debarred from participation in its construction. The practical energy of the civil engineers of the nation will at once turn toward the consideration of this project, and appear among contracting parties; and the basis of the plan of construction offered, however modified, will serve to blend these important branches of an eminent profession in the solution of a national undertaking.
BRANCH LINE FROM PUGET SOUND TO THE SOUTH PASS.
It will be readily understood that that portion of the route between Puget Sound and the plains of the Great Basin is the northern fork or branch of any central railroad to California. In describing the lines of this first portion of the route, I will term the belt of country extending from Puget Sound to Fort Boisé the first division; and that extending from Fort Boisé, through Snake River valley, to the plains of the Great Basin, the second division. From Seattle, on Puget Sound, to a point near the Dalles of Columbia river, all lines are common to both the northern (that of the 47th and 49th parallels) and the southern routes to Puget Sound. From that point to the approaches of the Blue Mountain range on the Columbia river line to the pass of the Walla-Walla river undulating grades of thirty-five (35) feet to the mile may be adopted to save work. The actual approach must be made at fifty (50) feet. In the continuation of the river line north of the Blue Mountains, the approaches can be adjusted at forty (40) feet per mile, and some difference of grade be adopted to save work. By the line from the vicinity of the Dalles, skirting the high country south (to avoid river bridges and severe cuttings of low summits near the Columbia) by detour and by "side hill approach," the first rise from the river valley will probably require grades of not less than fifty (50) feet per mile. All work in the vicinity of the valley of the Columbia is of costly character; but on reaching the surface of the plateau, at the base of the Blue Mountains, grades of thirty-five feet may be adopted. All these details of location will be studied in future survey, and the line chosen which shall seem best applicable to the summit of the Pass and its approaches. From the summit of the first Blue Mountain range the whole country toward the south is distinctly visible. The connecting spur between the Blue Mountains and the great Cascade range, near the source of the Des Chutes or Fall river, appears perforated by the headwaters of that river, and presents a low depression in their vicinity. The line of detour to which I have last referred, rising by the valley of the small stream near the Dalles and skirting the mountain base, would develop some of the richest country in Upper Oregon, and, through the pass of the headquarters of the Des Chutes, could make connexion with a route to California, by a descent to the plains of the Great Basin in a due southerly direction. The last-named route is not within the province of the present report. A line of such direct southern tendency should preferably pass west of the Cascades, and through Willamette valley and the gold regions of the coast. A descent east from the pass of the Walla-Walla can be made by skirting the valley of the Grande Ronde river toward the south, and thence crossing the summit between the Grande Ronde and
(75) Powder rivers, by a system of curvature approach-the change of direction from a tangent of at least one thousand (1,000) feet, and the curvature of mile radii. The descent toward the waters of Powder river can be made by skirting the broken country south, (or nearer the headwaters of that river,) which is the apparent location for a Grand Trunk road, assuming the most direct line between termini. After crossing the summit between Grande Ronde and Powder rivers, the route can either skirt the base of the same hilly country toward the south, and which extends in an easterly direction to the valley of the Burnt river, or pass down the valley of Powder river to the Snake. Either location is practicable-the former the most direct, and the latter the least severe. The character of grade and curvature is favorable upon both, although continued rock-cuttings will occur near Burnt river upon the former, or southern line. The former or southern route can still skirt the mountain base, and crossing Malheur river, six miles from its confluence with the Snake preserve, an easterly direction toward Fort Boisé and the broad valley of the Snake. The northern can keep the valley of the Snake, and by side-cutting gain a road-bed through this valley, which, in the immediate vicinity, does not offer so favorable facilities for railway construction as exist a few miles further east. Either of these routes, hereafter assumed as a grand location line, will need care in adjustment, the engineering problem resolving itself into the "keeping up" of grade, or making facile descent from the pass at the head of the Walla-Walla, by skirting the Grande Ronde valley, and thence by skirting the broken and mountainous country south, avoiding too sudden and abrupt descents and ascents of the various water drains of this mountainous country flowing toward the great valley of the Snake, and which occur in the crossings of the Powder, Burnt, and Malheur rivers. Fifty miles of country, extending west from Burnt river, is severe, but of a nature which, reducing the character of the line, by adjusting either steep gradients or sharp curvatures, cannot obviate. Fifty per cent. of the work is rock-cutting at short haul, spurs of ledges, which cannot be avoided, but with no bad summit section. The work is so placed that large forces of laborers could be applied to it. At prices of excavation in New York and the eastern States, this 50 miles of line could be readily reduced to gradients of 40 feet per mile, and a road-bed of 35 feet, (which admits of a first class line, with double track of wide gauge, properly ballasted and drained,) at $100,000 per mile. This is the severe ledge section of the line east of Columbia valley, and extending to the Great Basin. The summit section of the Walla-Walla will undoubtedly prove deep ledge-cutting, and may require tunnelling, but its approaches are of 80 per cent. earth. From the valley of Burnt river to Fort Boisé no great difficulties of location or construction will occur. The route, by detour through Snake river valley, would possess features of a decidedly more favorable character, as traversing a gravel surface. In reaching the country in the vicinity of the Powder river, the route north of the Blue Mountains would occupy common position with the most northerly of the lines yet reported upon or continue down the valley of the Snake. Side-cutting would occur in the latter instance for a distance of twenty (20) miles, or would be avoided by forming a road-bed of the debris of the neighboring basaltic ledges, which are near the mouth of the Burnt river, and jut down upon the line.
For the purpose of keeping a road elevated in approaching the higher plateau west of Fort Boisé, the line should encounter the ledge-cutting. This would render the road more expensive at the particular section, but would reduce cost in advance. No deep rock-cutting should occur upon a preliminary railroad. The line could be temporarily adjusted to make passage of this unfavorable point for first transportation to the interior, and, when the obstacle is reduced, the main route supersede the preliminary one. The description of the second division of the route from Puget Sound to the plains of the Great Basin may be briefly summed up as the extension of a line over a broad gravel surface, at
(76) merely nominal cost of grading, all questions of location being readily solved. The connexion between the southern plateau of Snake river and the valley of Bear river was obtained by passing up the valley of the western fork of the Bannack river, and over prairie surface of clear gravel formation, to the waters of a small stream seeking an outlet in the Roseaux, or Southern Malade, a tributary of Bear river. Three very practicable passes were examined in this vicinity, and of these, that to which I have first alluded is the superior. The character of the country, as ascertained by an examination of both the northern and southern bases of the northern rim of the Great Basin admits the practicable passage of railway lines between Snake river and the Great Basin at numerous low passes dividing this range north and south. The topographical sketches of country in this vicinity, taken by the late survey of the Salt Lake Basin, are very characteristic, and define its features with great fidelity. Passage can be readily made north and south, but it is not so facile at angles to that direction. The technical description of the first division was entered into as affording information to future survey, and is of slight interest to unprofessional parties.
BLUE MOUNTAIN RANGE, AS CONNECTED WITH ABOVE DESCRIPTION OF LINES.
The exploration of the Blue Mountain range was first directed toward the headwaters of John Day's river; and the approaches proving of more serious character than first anticipated, I was then led to confine myself to approaches of more practicable nature near the headwaters of the central fork of the Umatilla. To the latter pass, which is termed that of the Young Chief's Trail, I gave a very thorough and careful examination, from the result of which I am compelled to pronounce it impracticable for a Pacific railroad. By barometric approximation, the summit of the Blue Mountains (the Young Chiefs Trail) is 4,650 feet above the sea. Railway summit at head of lowest swamp, 4,393 feet above the sea, by the character of the "approaches," involving twelve (12) miles tunnelling and continual water drift. When such obstacles (encountered at a distance from civilized communities) can be avoided by reasonable detour, no claim of direction should style them practicable in comparison. This result affords no grounds for a judgment against the pass of the Walla-Walla, delineated on the sketch, which has been known for years as a low passage of the Blue Mountain range. It is situated at the head of the numerous branches of the Walla-Walla river, and in the vicinity of the remarkable valley of the Grande Ronde. It should be made the line of passage of these mountains by a main road, but I have proposed the extreme northern passage of the great valley of the Snake for a preliminary railway.
IN REFERENCE TO THE SELECTION OF A TERMINUS AT PUGET SOUND, FIRST SECTION OF LINE.
In recapitulation, I shall state the merits of these divisions regarding construction, dividing the first division into three distinct sections. I will quote the language of General George B. McClellan, then chief in charge of the western division of the northern exploration, a military engineer of practice and ability, whose opinion on the selection of a great harbor on an isolated coast, needing thorough protection by the erection of suitable fortifications, is entitled to consideration. The opinion of Governor Stevens concurred with that of General McClellan, and the experience of both gentlemen in their peculiar branch of service places the selection beyond a question. General McClellan states: "I have mentioned Seattle as the proper terminus for the road, whether it crosses the mountains by the main Yakima, or by the Columbia River Pass. This place is situated on Elliot bay, and is by far superior to any harbor on the eastern shore of Puget Sound. Seattle is the nearest to the Straits of Fuca. It is
(77) easily entered with any of the prevailing winds; is secure from heavy seas, and has a most excellent holding ground of blue clay, and a good depth of water-thirty fathoms. The banks are suitable for a town; the deep water comes so near the shore that but very short wharves will be required. Semibituminous coal can be found within fourteen (14) miles by water. The harbor can be defended by permanent fortifications." From Seattle to Vancouver, a distance of one hundred and sixty-five (165) miles, (round numbers,) twenty-five (25) per cent. of all grading will consist of high prairie plains of light soil embankments built by side work in easy gravel shovelling. Fifty (50) per cent. of work extended plateau, of heavily-timbered country; low, wet surface; deep black soil; embankments built by long haul with gravel trains. Twenty-five (25) per cent. of work, undulating surface of equalized cut and fill; fifty (50) per cent. of the latter is ledge excavation at short haul; no deep cutting; no gradients over forty (40) feet per mile; curvatures of mile radii, readily located; minimum amount of masonry; stone suitable for rubble-work at Puget Sound. Brick clay is reported in abundance, but not seen by engineer. More than average facilities for railway construction at reasonable cost.
FROM VANCOUVER TO THE DALLES OF THE COLUMBIA, A DISTANCE OF NINETY (90) MILES.
Not less than fifty (50) miles of heavy embankments exposed to the action of water in the great freshets of the Columbia river; to be formed by borrowing in the broken debris of basaltic ledges, a material abundant throughout the river valley; the weightier blocks to be placed at their natural slope upon the face of the embankment; forty (40) miles of equalized side-cuttings and embankments; the excavations averaging seventy (70) per cent. of ledge. No gradient exceeding 15 feet per mile, unless at the discretion of the engineer. Curves of 2,000 feet radius, and a reverse within 200 feet of tangent point from intermediate straight line; or a tunnel of 700 feet at the mountainous point, termed Cape
Horn, but avoided by a preliminary road. Maximum amount of rough masonry; first class bridge-masonry at a crossing of the Columbia, 1,200 feet in length; stone suitable for rubble-work, if combined with brick work, may be procured in vicinity of line. Brick clay occurs in abundance in vicinity. A fine variety of mountain pine, suitable for all timber structure and tressel-work in vicinity of line. First step in grading, the construction of the road around the falls or cascades of the Columbia, to connect water transportation. The whole section of 90 miles to be assailed during first labors of grading, that supplies and material may be transported to the divisions of the interior. A severe and costly section, requiring the experience of first class engineering faculty for proper reduction at reasonable outlay.
FROM THE DALLES OF THE COLUMBIA TO SNAKE RIVER, NEAR FORT BOISÉ-GENERAL APPROXIMATION OF FACILITIES FOR RAILWAY CONSTRUCTION OVER WHOLE DIVISION.
Fifty (50) per cent. fair gravel work; equalized excavation and embankment, at reasonable average haul; thirty per cent. of ledge in side-cutting; summit sections thirty per cent., hard material; loose rock and hardpan; twenty per cent. of all gradients fifty feet per mile; room for reasonable adjustment of curvatures of 2,000 feet to one mile radius; abundance of first-class timber for all structures to vicinity of Powder river; brick clay in quantity near Powder river; abundance of boulders, affording suitable material for all minor masonry in the vicinity of Grande Ronde and Powder rivers; granite in quantity near Burnt river; brick clay near Malheur river; at mouth of Malheur river, pine granite suitable for masonry; near Fort Boisé, excellent material for masonry in various
(78) localities; some timber, with facilities for boating or rafting upon the great tributaries of the Snake river. The western portion of this section affords fair opportunity for railway construction at reasonable cost. The problems of construction readily solved, experience in location being mainly required to give the line its best position over such broken, undulating country. Should the line pass to Fort Boisé, by detour towards the north, through the valley of Snake river, gradients would be materially reduced, and this broken country, in a measure, avoided. From Fort Boisé to the valley of Bear river, the route is of nearly uniform character. The line would traverse a high gravel or sand plateau, requiring mere nominal grading to prepare it for the rail. A few spurs of the hilly country towards the south extend towards Snake river, and can be encountered by the line and reduced at low cost, or readily avoided. The changes in level are very gradual and occur in broad terraces of many miles in extent, gradually rising towards the eastern mountains. Brick clay occurs in quantity upon Katherine creek, so called. The scarcity of wood in the vicinity would prevent its use; but the extension of a preliminary road over the broad surface of these level plateaus would transport all necessary material to any section required at low cost. Sufficient timber exists in the vicinity of the line (a species of mountain fir upon the hilly country south, and stunted cedars upon all low summits) to allow the ready extension of a line of rail, by the laying of a cross-tie and rail upon the level surface. This section preserves its character in approaching the summit of the dividing range between the waters of the Snake river and the Great Basin. The approach is very easy, and the summit itself is an elevated gravel plain. By gradually approaching along the mountain side-the position of which allows the adjustment of the line by regular curvature-this summit can, undoubtedly, be accomplished by a cutting of thirty (30) feet in gravel, and gradients not exceeding fifty (50) feet per mile. A preliminary line could be extended over it without more excavation than necessary for the adjustment of the superstructure. The descent to the plains of the Great Basin is more difficult than the rise from the valley of Snake river. It may be readily accomplished, however, at low cost. The whole country is open. From surrounding summits the inclination towards the pass and entire line of approach is distinctly visible. The vicinity is remarkably favorable for railway location and construction. The chief difficulty to be apprehended is from the scarcity of timber, both in the immediate vicinity of the Salt Lake and over the whole section extending to Fort Boisé. This difficulty must be obviated by the use of a preliminary road; for the construction of which, suitable stone for masonry is found on the northern rim of the Great Basin. Timber occurs in average quantity in the mountains north of Snake river; for all the purposes of a preliminary line, it can be obtained in the vicinity of the route. From the need of the construction of a preliminary road to complete any railroad to the Pacific within a reasonable time, I shall therefore state that this second division of the route or section, extending from Fort Boisé to Bear River valley, or the plains of the Great Basin, presents extraordinary facilities for the construction of a railroad at minimum cost; and that in the comparison of the engineering features of the lines from Puget Sound, in an easterly direction, to Bear river, upon this southern, with an equal distance upon the northern route, the advantage is immeasurably in favor of the southern line. It may be reasonably affirmed that the extension of a railroad line from the Great Salt Lake City to Puget Sound, or from the route of a railroad from California to Puget Sound, is eminently practicable. The character of the Columbia River valley is severe in places; but it should be borne in mind that it is a pass or passage of the Cascade mountains, and is, therefore, merely to be weighed in comparison with other passes, as incurred by all other lines. It is common to both the northern and southern routes to Puget Sound. It is the most severe section upon the southern, but by no means the worst section upon the extreme northern route. I may observe, in this connexion, that
(79) the Grand Pass of the Yakima river, or the Snoqualmie Pass, to which so much attention has been given, is in far better direction in extending the southern than as a continuation of the northern route to Puget Sound. By a glance at the map, it will be observed as occupying a direct line from the Walla-Walla to that terminus. Should future instrumental survey demonstrate the section to be more practicable than is now anticipated, it will be a source of pride and gratification with me to withdraw any expression of opinion I have offered on the subject, and to claim the location thus developed as giving still greater character to the southern route to Puget Sound. It must necessarily appear, however, that during the excavation of the deep rock-cutting and long tunnel of this summit communication should be extended to the interior; and I should most emphatically advise the development of the Columbia valley, by cheap railway facilities, to afford such communication. The cheap or rough railway to be extended to the interior by detour from direction north of the Blue Mountains and through the Snake River valley to the extensive plateaus east of those mountains, solving the problem of construction at low cost, and existing for the period of years required to construct the more direct route of the Walla-Walla and Powder rivers, as a full solution of the Pacific railway problem.
CONNEXION OF BRANCH ROUTES, AS ABOVE DESCRIBED, WITH THE VARIOUS CENTRAL ROUTES TO CALIFORNIA.
Connexion can alone occur with the straight route of the 38th and 39th parallels from St. Louis to California, (that advocated by Colonel Benton,) by extending the branch line from Puget Sound along the eastern shore of the Great Salt Lake, and by the line of the Mormon settlements to the vicinity of Little Utah valley-an entire distance, in round numbers, of 1,200 miles from Puget Sound. Should the Pacific line reach California through the Bridger's Pass, the connexion of the branch road could take place on the plains of the Great Basin near Salt Lake City, by a route of 1,050 miles from Puget Sound. But should the line to California adopt the route of the South Pass, a line might be adopted which would afford opportunity for the connexion of the branch road to Puget Sound by a route of 875 miles. In the latter instance, the Pacific project would be restricted to reasonable limits, and to the least cost in first outlay which will afford results desired. My estimate of the cost of a branch line will be confined to the intermediate length of line of 1,050 miles.
ESTIMATES OF COST.
No estimate of the cost of a Pacific railroad can be deemed reliable, from the remarkable contingencies which must inevitably occur during the consummation of the project, and serve to defeat what may at present appear quite warrantable conclusions on the nature of the question and the cost of the road. I resolve the whole question of the construction of a railroad to the Pacific, in present estimates, to the mere extension of a railroad to the Pacific, of unelaborated character and of medium equipment; not in broken, or temporary working sections, but actually making connexion between eastern lines of similar gauge, and eastern water transportation, and a Pacific terminus. The connexion with terminus and the passage of trains, without breaking bulk, along the whole line of the road, giving greater character to the conviction I have so often directly expressed, that the construction of a preliminary line will lead to the most effective solution of the question in its manifold relations. When contiguous to settlements, and under due prospect of remuneration from way-business, this line need not necessarily be confined to a preliminary character; over no section encountered in the passage of the continent, necessarily confined to any peculiar character or class, save as under attendant liabilities; and while always subject to the principle
(80) of expansion, or of elaboration, as circumstances shall direct, still never surrendering the obvious necessity of the earliest practicable connexion of termini. Should the passage of the great obstacles to railway transit-by the channels perforated through them by the act of nature, in the flowage of the waters of the interior to the ocean-be prevented for a few weeks by the freshets of the mountains, it is still assumed, in this estimate, that the use of the rail eleven (11) months of the year, during the long period while these obstacles are being overcome by the means of transportation thus afforded to supplies, laborers, and all needed appliances, will still prove a remarkable desideratum in the early consummation of the project. But a road of rough class, admitting the passage of weighty trains, and reaching the Puget Sound terminus by practicable detour, can be completed from the waters of Missouri river to Seattle, on Puget Sound, for fifty millions ($50,000,000) of dollars in cash capital, actually expended on the construction and equipment of the road; (with all contingencies, depreciation, workage, management, inadequate appropriations in broken sums, credits, &c., say $75,000,000.)
The following estimate for the branch road of one thousand and fifty (1,050) miles embraces a larger sum per mile, from the better class of line proposed over certain portions of the route, as probably required by adequate way-business, and as more ecomically accomplished if attempted at the outset:
As connected with a railroad line to California, by the South Pass and valleys of the Snake and Pannack rivers, the branch road would be subject to a reduction, in cost, of about four millions of dollars. In the above estimates an addition of fifty (50) miles, at an average cost, has been made for contingencies and probable deflections in locating a preliminary road. I would double this
(81) estimate, which I would then regard as a close approximation to the actual figures of construction.
CONTINUATION OF RECONNAISSANCE TO MISSOURI RIVER.
"The route just described is, as heretofore stated, the northern branch of a forked route, the main stem of which extends from the plains of the Great Basin to Missouri river. The southern fork of this route and the main trunk stem is termed, in the reports of the Pacific explorations, the route of the 42d parallel. Two of the lines of the route of the 42d parallel respectively extend-the one through the South, the other through the Bridger's Pass of the Rocky Mountains. I consider the choice between, or selection from, these two lines the most important and interesting of the many engineering details connected with the adoption of the line of a central railroad to California. This is especially the case if the selection is to be guided by a determination to reduce the whole question of a railroad to the Pacific to the construction of such a sort of military railroad as shall reach the Pacific coast within seven years. The statements of the introduction to this synopsis will now have their weight, and simplify the final engineering presumption of that paper-that Congress should hesitate to do more, at the present time, than aid the construction of those first sections of the Pacific railroad lines contiguous to the States; aiding the first sections of routes of undulating surface with reference to the needs of civilization and way transportation, if deemed constitutional, by land grants; but aiding the two of plateau surface, extending over broad plains, with a view of the earliest practicable connexion of termini.
"The following reasons are offered for arriving at such definite conclusions in reference to the route of the 42d parallel: The first section of this route is the line of approach to both the South and Bridger's Passes of the Rocky Mountains. The examinations of these passes have been confined to reconnaissance, and have not yet been verified by survey. The South Pass is nothing but an extended plain, slightly broken towards the south into an undulating country. It is the first breakdown of the great Wind River mountains at the north, among which is a summit of over 12,000 feet above the sea. In this plain and among these ponds and swamps heads the waters of the tributaries of the grand Colorado, the Snake, and the Platte. The engineering rule, in seeking location over broad belts of surface between termini which extend at angles to the direction of great water-courses, is to skirt the country in which they head, or to pass over the lower delta where they have deposited in broad terraces the earth from the deep channels excavated by their flowage, rather than to adopt the intermediate region, broken by their transit. Reconnaissances for the location of Pacific railroads only differ from those of minor lines as the broad divisions of a continent differ from the limited sections of the country and the State, and as the choice of routes is affected by the claims and contingencies of construction brought forward by the extreme length of line to be traversed, in the wear of the road during deferred connexion of termini. The inclinations of gradients are affected by the character and length of the approach, as much (in general terms only) as by the elevation of the summit to be overcome. A line which reaches, by the long inclined surface of the Platte valley and the Sweetwater, the level plains of the South Pass, and thence, without surrendering height accomplished, passes over the gradual slope toward the west of the valley of the Snake, and thence, by the low pass of the Pannack, reaches the plains of the Great Basin, necessarily avoids the steep grades induced by a descent into the great valley of the Colorado, (see route 39th parallel, and in less degree, 42d parallel,) and the subsequent rise over and descent from the Wahsatch mountains to the plains of the Great Basin. The intermediate country, broken by the passage of water, is avoided by detour. Therefore, were this surface of the
(82) swamps and sand plains of the great South Pass not at so great an elevation above the sea as to place it near the regions of perpetual snows, the argument would be unanswerable regarding its selection in reference to the extension of a preliminary road. This is an evident conclusion, because the engineering requisition to be answered is, the finding of a continued line of flat or slightly inclined surface, over which a railroad may be extended to the Pacific within seven years. But if the preliminary road traversed the plateau of the South Pass, and the long flat line of country beyond it, fully 7,400 feet above the sea, it would be exposed to the inevitable dangers and embarrassments of this elevated region, regarding snow and frost. To expedite preliminary arrangements it has been proposed to use the natural surface (where of gravel or sand substrata) without grading. Over the South Pass this could only take place during half the year. But in a more deferred mode of extension the facile line of approach to the South Pass will permit, by the adoption of steeper gradients, of the erection of an embankment road bed, which will in some measure guard against the obstacle of snow. Even an open structure, through which snow would drift and over which trains could pass, might thus be adopted, or (with the surface road) a covered way under which trains could make transit. But in reference to snow the elevation of the summits of the broken and undulating surface in the vicinity of the Bridger's Pass are but slightly below that of the flat plains of the South Pass. The excavation of cutting, and the erection of culverts and bridges for the passage of water, would there unquestionably postpone communication, and in a measure prevent the earliest use of the carrying road. Again, every railroad employé knows the difference between a cutting and an open road, regarding embarrassments from snow. The mountaineers of this section state that they can travel over the plains of the South Pass in winters, when the gorges of the more southern line are filled with snow and impracticable of passage. Early communication is the desideratum, and this drives us to the most rapid extension of a preliminary railroad. Therefore, in view of the extension of a similar line as a winter road over the sand plains of the extreme southern route to California, I should give the preference to the route by the detour of the South Pass. Notwithstanding some increase of distance and of the cost of rails, it would probably be less expensive than the other, and would sooner reach the plains of Snake river and the Great Basin, and carry supplies for a working section across those plains.
"But, returning to the engineering presumption first submitted, we might more reasonably infer that, from the difficulty of arriving at a conclusion at the present time, this question of choice between two lines of a route should be left open. It should be determined by future examinations during the construction of that first section of the line of the emigrant road, which is the grand approach to both the South and Bridger's Passes of the mountains; although, to prevent postponement and delay, the construction of the first section should most certainly not be compelled to await the solution of this engineering question. Between the South Pass and the eastern slope of the Black Hills, (so called,) the preliminary line would, in some instances, be confined to the narrow, but by no means costly, passage of the Sweetwater river, while the main route would necessarily adopt a more direct location. The whole section is of favorable character. In the adjacent mountains excellent timber can be readily procured, and first class material for masonry exists contiguous to either line. The earth excavation is in clear gravel of that superior quality which best preserves superstructure from the effects of severe and sudden changes of temperature and frosts, and which gives the most perfect drainage when formed into a road bed. Reaching the valley of the Platte, all difficulties of location cease, and a broad bottom land, falling at scarcely perceptible inclination to the very banks of the Missouri, and overlaying a substratum of clear gravel or sand, offers every facility for a cheap construction. This broad surface of bottom land breaks
(83) toward the north into ranges of low sand hills. Clear streams flow from these low summits at irregular intervals of distance; and, from the facility with which their waters can be delivered at sufficient elevation above the rail for the use of locomotives, will prove of great value to the line-the turbid waters of the Platte not being so well suited to that important purpose. In the edge of these sand hills, and beyond all danger of freshets, a preliminary road can be extended towards the mountains. Stone of medium quality occurs upon the Platte and at the junction of the line with the Missouri. I am compelled to state, however, that, with all its attendant advantages, the route through the valley of the Platte labors under what may be termed a peculiar objection to any railway line to the Pacific. Two hundred (200) miles of the distance between the first broken country and the Missouri is entirely destitute of timber, and the remaining portion but sparsely wooded with the cotton. The waters of the river are broken by sand bars, which would probably prevent rafting from the mountains. This peculiar feature of the line should be especially regarded from the fact that the State of Iowa, which is the eastern terminus of the route, is also scantily timbered, and that the whole upper valley of the Missouri can give but slight aid in the connexion. The northern route labors under difficulties of a similar character in its passage to the mountains, but, by changing the location after the liability was developed by reconnaissance, it may now be readily overcome by the construction of the road over the detour line of Little Falls; a line from a point on the Mississippi opposite the mouth of St. Croix river, and extending to the Missouri, near the mouth of the Platte, would deliver the superior timber of northern Minnesota and Wisconsin at the debouche of the present line, and provide the great Territories of Nebraska and Kansas with the lumber of which they are so deficient, and which the whole upper valley of the Missouri does not afford. The want of timber upon the Platte does not extend to the deficiency of fuel for locomotives. Coal of excellent quality abounds upon the northern Platte, and evidently underlies the whole eastern portion of the route. Less bulky than wood, it is easily transported. Sufficient timber is now growing in the Missouri valley and near the lower waters of the Platte to admit of the immediate extension of a preliminary road; and, in the event of its construction, operations should be commenced by which the fertile country in the vicinity should be made susceptible of improvement in this respect. The mere suspension of the prairie fires will tend to the object; but well instituted experiments have demonstrated that several varieties of timber are readily grown from the seed upon the western prairies, and that a period of ten years is sufficient to make their results available. The coal beds of western Iowa, and of the whole great section near the base of the mountains, with the existing probability of abundant supplies beneath the intervening surface, are of great importance in sustaining the character of the present route by removing all absolute necessity of planting timber for the mere purpose of fuel. The reduction of coal to coke for the use of locomotives may be readily attempted at those points where the raw material is abundant in deposit. The yield of the present variety would average about two-thirds of the weight of coal. The erection of coke ovens in the vicinity of the coal district will reduce cost of transportation, and the reduction of coal to coke, which is peculiarly adapted to making steam, will prove the better economy. The use of coke is not common in America, from the abundance of wood at the numerous way-stations of all inland lines. Experiments have been conducted upon several of the best eastern roads on the use of coal in locomotive furnaces. Engines have been constructed for the purpose of carrying out the results thus obtained. The Boston and Lowell Railroad Company have made a trial with one of their locomotives of the relative value of wood and coal for fuel. The result of the trial is reported as follows: The whole distance run was 2,366 miles, of which 1,868 miles were with freight, using one cord of wood in 26 miles, or 68 cords, at $7, amounting to $476; and
(84) 598 miles, with passengers, using one cord of wood in 30 miles, amounting to $199 51. Total expense of working by the use of wood, $615 51. The expense of running the same distance with coal, at the rate of $6 50 per ton, (the cost in Boston,) amounting to $265 46; being a saving in favor of coal of $350 03, or above one half. This is quite an item. Experiments made on the Illinois Central Railroad in 1856 have solved this question; coal is proved more economical than wood, and will now come into general use as fuel for locomotives. A favorable bridge crossing of the Missouri occurs at a point a few miles north of the mouth of the Platte river, at the old ferry of the Indian trading post, and adjacent to the present Omaha Indian mission. Other crossings of the Missouri are practicable, both north and south of that point. A Grand Trunk line, assuming the most direct route from the first pass of the Sweetwater to the present bridge crossing of the Mississippi, can procure a position further north; and that of a route avoiding the great eastern bend of the Platte can readily be adjusted further south. The whole subject will by fully solved by the numerous surveys of private lines seeking connexion with the great road to the Pacific; and, in this respect, the eastern terminus of the route, which the present report embraces, might properly be located at the head of Grand island, near Fort Kearney, where all roads of local character can make connexion with it."
The foregoing chapter sets forth, therefore, in brief detail, all the physical difficulties to be met with on the central branch route to the Columbia, and it now only awaits the steady action of the capitalists and engineer to put the question into a practical shape. As a means of retaining our Pacific possessions by indissoluble ties the building of this road is imperative. National defence and national preservation alike demand it. When, by the aid of the genius of American engineers, even the autocrat of Russia unites his extended possessions by the construction of military roads, it is a suggestion to the policy of a republican people whether they do not hesitate too long in adopting that means of rapid communication, which will continue to confine the military operations of the country to their present simple and effective character. Forts and standing armies were once deemed national means of protection, but new methods of defence may be made the causes of aggrandisement.
When a city is the growth of a year, and our own San Francisco the wonder and admiration of the world; when the passage of the ocean but a fortnight; when the newsboy cries the morning message of an English telegraph, and the aged man is whistled through space by the flight of steam; then will a military road be no longer deemed the passage of a hill-side, or the crossing of a river no longer a simple problem for the engineer to solve; but it rises to one greater, handled, and used by the statesman and by him advocated as a means of concentrating and rapidly moving suddenly organized forces of the volunteer soldiery of the land to the utmost verge of our borders, thus giving ample protection to the furthest settlements of the republic. The Italian campaign and our own present difficulties have developed the importance of the railroad in all military operations, and have afforded, if any new proof was wanting, the fullest and most complete demonstration that in this era, at least, the railroad is, par excellence, the best military road that a nation can use. How important, therefore, to the United States, does the Pacific railroad problem become, and the necessity for moving in the matter at an early day. The Pacific coast, though piqued under the infliction of neglect, is yet patient and hopeful that the date of initiating this grand work, so important to her fullest development, is not far distant. How important to California and the people of Oregon and Washington becomes the choice of location for such a road, and of what paramount consideration all that shall tend toward the expediency of constructing it, its prospects of remunerating private interests, and its means of augmenting public welfare.