(127) CANTONMENT JORDAN, BITTER ROOT MOUNTAINS,
Washington Territory, January 25, 1860.
SIR: I have the honor to state that the meteorological observations made in connexion with the construction of the military road from Fort Walla-Walla to Fort Benton furnish the material for a profile of the road.
The instruments used in the determination of heights were, Green's cistern barometer No. 1,273, and aneroid No. 18,314.
The reductions were made with Guyot's meteorological and physical tables. The barometer reading at the level of the sea, and reduced to 32° (F.) for latitudes 46° and 47°, was taken at 30,000 in. The absolute heights, or heights above the sea level of the stations at New Fort Walla-Walla, Fort Taylor, In-Chats-Khan, Coeur d'Aléne mission and Sohon's Pass, were determined by a great number of observations, to which the necessary corrections, were applied. The intermediate points were computed from observations with the aneroid, and the reductions made by the application of table sixth of Guyot, as given in the compilation of forms prepared for the Smithsonian Institution, and published in 1858. Indeed, the general principles laid down by Guyot in his table (No. 2) for computing differences of elevation from barometical observations, and the formula there given, have been generally followed.
The heights as given from Fort Walla-Walla to Coeur d'Aléne mission being compiled without corresponding observations, may be doubtful to the amount of the variation during the time of travelling from one camp to the next, generally from 5 to 7 hours. The correction for annual variation was deduced from the mean of the observations made at Cantonment Stevens and Fort Benton in 1853 and 1854.
From the mission to Sohon's Pass corresponding observations have been made use of, and at some places between these points the road having been passed over several times, the mean of two or three determinations was taken.
The greatest error, assuming the level profile correct, is 48 feet, and the probable error for a single observation is ± 7 feet. The observations from which the annual variation was deduced are given in Pacific Railroad Report, volume. lst, pages 594 and 8. Their interpolated mean was found to answer for the purposes of reduction and amounted to 59 feet between Coeur d'Aléne mission and Sohon's Pass.
The positions of the stations between camps were determined by a watch, the whole distances between the camps being measured by an odometer. From the Coeur d'Aléne mission to Cantonment Jordan, between which points a spirit-level line was run, the aneroid readings were generally taken at level stations, in order to compare the profile made from the aneroid with that made from the levelling instrument.
The table of heights deduced along the line, with the respective number of observations from which they were computed, is herewith appended.
I am, &c.,
Meteorologist and Astronomer of Military Road Expedition.
Lieutenant JOHN MULLAN,
United States Army, in charge of
Military Wagon Road from Fort Walla-Walla to Fort Benton.
(128) Table of Heights. (Click to view.)
(129) Table of Heights—Continued (Click to view.)
(130) Table of Heights—Continued (Click to view.)
(131) Table of Heights—Continued (Click to view.)
(132) Table of Heights—Continued (Click to view.)
(133) Table of heights—Continued
Bitter Root Mountains, W. T., February 20, 1860.
DEAR SIR: You are hereby placed in general charge of the fatigue party detailed for work in the construction of the military road from this point, eastward, to Fort Benton, and as soon as your boats are constructed, and the ferry established across the Bitter Root river, you will push the work vigorously ahead to the Hell's Gate defile. Relying upon your good judgment and identity with our work, I can only trust that the best results will be obtained at your hands, and that we shall be possibly enabled to reach the Missouri in time to meet the steamer from St. Louis, on her arrival at Fort Benton, in July next.
While the party is on the river your men can assist in grading the banks of the Bitter Root river, at the ford, and at the ferry landing.
I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN MULL AN,
1st Lieut. 2d Artillery, U. S. Army, in charge of Military Road.
Lieut. JAMES HOWARD, 3d Artillery U. S. Army.
Bitter Root Mountains, W. T., February 20, 1860.
DEAR SIR: Having found it necessary to proceed in person to the Bitter Root valley to start a pack train for Fort Benton, to examine the line of road ahead, see the Indians, and attend to such matters as are essential to the interest. of our enterprise, I hereby turn over the command of the expedition to you during my absence. I shall return by 1st April.
The different parties have been arranged for work to the best advantage, and detailed instructions, given to the chief of each party. Whenever you may think that the road, hence to the mountain, can be worked to advantage, you will detail the fatigue party under Mr. Mitchell, and set them to work on the road. I can only trust that your good judgment and experience will so direct each and every detail, that the best results may be attained that look forward to the successful completion of our work.
I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
1st Lieut. 2d Artillery, U. S. Army, in charge of Military Road.
Lieut. JAMES L. WHITE, United States Army.
(134) CANTONMENT JORDAN,
Bitter Root Mountains, W. T., February 20, 1860.
DEAR SIR: You are hereby placed in general charge of all the civilians for the construction of the military road from the crossing of the Bitter Root river eastward.
As soon as the party shall have its provisions and baggage on the river you will set the carpenters at work, and construct a flatboat forty-two feet long and twelve feet broad, in the clear, from the material already sawed out at the crossing. You will also construct five flat-bottom boats fifteen feet long and two and a half feet broad, in the clear, in the bottom. Two of these will be for the moving of your party, two for Mr. Spengler, and the fifth for Mr. Kolecki. You have the material already sawed out at the crossing. As soon as the ferry is established you will proceed with the work with all vigor up the Bitter Root river, in connexion with Mr. Spengler's party. You will move with boats as far as "Brown's cut-off'," when I trust the grass will be sufficiently high to enable me to move your party with a pack train. When you have finished with the boats, you will send them back to the crossing in charge of Mr. Hildreth.
I shall rely upon your energy and judgment to push on the work as vigorously as possible.
I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
1st Lieut. 2d Artillery, U. S. Army, in charge of Military Road.
DAVID WILLIAMSON, Esq.
Bitter Root Mountains, W. T., February 20, 1860.
DEAR SIR: You are hereby placed in charge of the stores, storehouse, and ferry, at the crossing of the Bitter Root river. You will issue provisions to the workingmen as chiefs of parties shall call for them.
You will see that the boats are properly cared for, and white persons and Indians will have the free and willing use of the boats at all hours. You will lend every co-operation and aid to such persons, citizens, and others, as may desire to cross the ferry, and, by a good understanding with the Indians, promote, the best results for the expedition.
I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
1st Lieut. 2d Artillery, U. S. Army, in charge of Military Road.
CANTONMENT JORDAN, Bitter Root Mountains, W. T., February 20, 1860.
DEAR SIR: You are hereby placed in charge of the fatigue party of twenty-five men for the construction of the road from this place to the mountain, between this and the crossing of the Bitter Root river, and you will take the field at such a day as the snow will allow the men to work to advantage; which day Lieutenant White will designate, and who, then, will make the necessary details.
I shall rely upon your pushing the work ahead with vigor to completion, and
(135) sincerely trust on my return from the Bitter Root valley, to find you far advanced in your work.
I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
1st Lieut. 2d Artillery, U. S. Army, in charge of Military Road.
S. C. MITCHELL.
Bitter Root Mountains, W. T., February 20, 1860.
DEAR SIR: You are hereby placed in charge of the surveying party about to take the field for the mapping of the line hence to Fort Benton. Mr. Smith, civil engineer, assisted by Messrs. Smith, J. A., and Townsend, will have charge of the level line, and you will co-operate and confer with him regarding the necessary movements of the party. You will endeavor to map the country on both sides of the line as far as possible, and from your experience and identity with the expedition, I can only anticipate the best results from your present duties.
I am, sir, truly, your obedient servant,
1st Lieut. 2d Artillery, U. S. Army, in charge of Military Road.
THEODORE KOLECKI, Top. M. W. R. Expedition.
Bitter Root Mountains, W. T., February 20, 1860.
DEAR SIR: You are hereby assigned to duty with Mr. Kolecki's party, in charge of the level, with Mr. Smith and Mr. Townsend as assistants and rodmen. You will begin at the crossing of the Bitter Root river, and push forward your work with vigor from day to day, up the Bitter Root river, until such a time as the trains can move, or until the road will be opened between this point and the crossing, when you will return and complete the work between this point and the Bitter Root, and afterwards you will continue the work up to the Hell's Gate and eastward.
On the line of the road, from point to point, you will make cross-sections, that will go to show the detailed character of the work, and bench-marks will be established at the more prominent points. You will note in your level book every fact that you may notice, and particularly those bearing upon the solution of the problem of a railroad location along the Bitter Root river. You will note the character of both banks, and, possessed of the material for a profile on the right bank, you will endeavor to form the best possible judgment of the location along the left bank, in case it will be found best to cross the Bitter Root with the railroad line. You will notice the best points for crossing, the depth of water, the force of current, and the maximum height of high water, the character of the banks for abutments, &c. You will notice the localities, quantities and character of the forest growths for building purposes, the rock formation that may be convenient and suitable for railroad material. You will notice the number and character of ravines requiring culverts, anal the general character of the earthwork along the line. In a word, each and every fact bearing directly or indirectly upon the railroad question will be noticed, and on the completion of your work you will make a written report on the same.
Supplied with profile paper, you will keep your work plotted up day by day
(136) in the field, and for the allowance to be made for odometer revolutions you will take for your guidance the results deduced by experiments by Captain De Lacy and Mr. Howard, civil engineers.
Mr. Kolecki being in general charge of the party, you will confer and co-operate with him in your general work, and from your good judgment and experience I can only look forward to the best results attending your present survey.
I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
1st Lieut. 2d Artillery, U.S. A., in charge of Military Road.
GEORGE H. SMITH, Civil Engineer.
Bitter Root Mountains, W T., February 20, 1860.
DEAR SIR: You are hereby placed in charge of the fatigue party of twenty-five men for the construction of the section of the road from the crossing of the Bitter Root westward to the spur of the mountain between this point and the river. You will push the work forward with vigor, as far as the snow and frost will allow you, and the work will continue until you meet the party under charge of Mr. Mitchell. Whilst engaged in this work you will avail yourself of the first good opportunity to make a survey of the Bitter Root from the crossing to the Clark's Fork, and the country on both sides. Provided with an odometer and wheelbarrow, constructed for the special purpose, you will measure the distance along the river, and if you should deem it necessary, you will take one of the boats at the crossing for the survey of the Bitter Root river. You will note every fact and feature of the country, and on the completion of your field-work will make a map and report of same. I rely upon your energy and good judgment for the best results.
I am, air, respectfully, your obedient servant,
1st Lieut. 2d Artillery, U. S. A., in charge of Military Road.
Capt. W. W. De LACY, Civil Engineer.
Bitter Root Mountains, W. T., February 20, 1860.
DEAR SIR: You are hereby assigned to duty, with the fatigue party of twenty five men under Lieutenant Howard, for the construction of the military road from the crossing of the Bitter Root to Fort Benton.
You will exercise every vigilance over the party, and your best judgment in pushing forward the work; you will move with boats as far as "Brown's cutoff," when, I trust, the grass will be sufficiently high to enable me to send you a pack train.
I can only trust that your identity with the work, and a desire to reach the Missouri at the earliest day, will be sufficient incentives to induce you to push the work ahead as vigorously as possible.
I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
1st Lieut. 2d Art., U. S. A., charge of Military Road.
Mr. C. SPENGLER.
(137) FORT OWEN.
Bitter Root Valley, W. T., January 8, 1860.
DEAR SIR: In conformity to your instructions of November 5, 1859, to make a reconnaissance eastward from the St. Regis Borgia river to Fort Benton, in order to ascertain, in detail, the character of the line for the proper location of the military wagon road, and in order to arrange the working parties for spring operations, and at the same time collect data regarding the climatology of the main range of the Rocky Mountains in midwinter. I left your camp November 7, 1859, then established at Eleven-Mile prairie, on the St. Regis Borgia river, with Major John Owen, Indian agent for the Flathead nation, and reached Fort Owen, after seven days' march, on the 13th, estimating the distance at one hundred and thirty-two and five-tenths miles. The weather becoming very cold, and the snow falling continually, we had, in that short journey, many little difficulties to overcome, which delayed us considerably, and thereby impressing me with the idea that a reconnaissance, under each circumstances, would bring but poor results. I therefore, November 14th, addressed you a note in which I stated the disadvantages under which I had to undertake the work, mentioning at the same time that I would remain at Fort Owen until I received further instructions from you. A sudden change in the weather induced me, however, to determine to start; but the difficulty to find a person who knew the wagon road route delayed me until the 22d of November, at which date I left fort Owen accompanied by C. C. Irvine, esq., two laboring men, with six riding and four pack animals. I made that day twenty miles against a strong cold north wind, and camped on the Bitter Root river.
November 23 -Two of the riding animals belonging to Mr. Irvine and myself had strayed away during the night. I made a late start, 9 a. m. Mr. Irvine directed Mr. Jacobs to take the two missing animals, in case they should be found, to your camp. At 11 a. m. I made the upper Hell's Gate crossing, at which place the river is divided by an island. The stream was heavily floating with ice, and the crossing rendered difficult by a strong ice cover extending from both shores some twenty feet into the river. The day was cold, and a strong wind blew from and through the cañon. In three-quarters of a mile we came to Rattlesnake creek, which is one-quarter of a mile from the mouth of the cañon, and found much difficulty in crossing it on account of ice. From here the ground rises very gradually for one and a half mile; at the end of which a steep descent of some sixty feet, to the lower plateau, would require some work. If the road is kept, however, near the river, which will occasion a little detour, this place can be avoided; and the ground being gravelly and loose, any earthwork in the lower portion of the defile would be easily and quickly accomplished. We passed over said lower plateau for one-half of a mile, and then came to a steep ascent, (60 to 80 feet,) which cannot be avoided. Here is a kind of ridge running towards the river, with an almost level top of forty yards in width; at the foot of its westerly side, which has a steep, slope of sixty feet, the road crosses a small creek, the ascent on the other side being twenty five feet; then three-quarters of a mile level ground, then cross White Thorn creek with almost undistinguishable banks, then one mile level ground about thirty feet above the surface of the water, thence to the crossing of the Big Blackfoot river, twenty yards above its mouth. No difficulties for wagons to get in and out of the river; depth of water two feet in the channel. Between this river and the first Hell's Gate crossing, which is five and one-quarter miles distant, the road leads through open timber and over level ground. Two creeks have to be crossed—the second one with miry bottom. After making the river crossing, which is a good one, the character of the country is in every respect favorable for wagons, the ground being firm, level, and is covered with, open timber for two miles. I then reached the second crossing; the river here forms
(138) many arms, which overflow at times the enclosed islands and render them miry in places. Then for three fourths of a mile through open timber to a little creek; one-fourth mile from there reached a prairie one and three-fourth mile in length and one-half mile in width; at the end of which I crossed a little creek and went to camp. Made twenty-three miles; snow on the ground about two inches deep; great many icy places on the road to-day, where the snow has melted and frozen again. A little snow fell towards evening.
November 24.-It snowed during the night. We started 9 a. m. in quite a heavy snow-storm; after three miles' travelling through open timber came to a prairie three miles long; at the end of which we crossed the river, (third crossing,) which forms an island; and one and one-tenth mile further crossed Rocky creek at a point where it also forms an island.
This creek is rapid, large, two feet deep, with big boulders in its bed; then three and a half miles open timber; then three-quarters of a mile over ground which cannot be called either prairie or timber land, the trees standing at such a distance from each other that the road can be located without difficulty; thence to the fourth crossing; thence three-quarters of a mile through timber with much underbrush; thence across a prairie, three and a half miles long, to a creek which runs along Beaver-Tail point; this last being a tolerably high and steep hill, which will require some work to make it practicable for heavy wagons. The hill forms a single spur of half a mile in width, terminating at the river in a perpendicular bluff. The present wagon road makes here two crossings of the river to avoid this place, (fifth and sixth;) then one mile and a half over prairie bottom to the river crossing, fifth by the trail and seventh for the present wagon road. This crossing might be avoided by keeping the road on the right bank, but it would require some earthwork, and the bridging of a little creek which runs in a steep ravine. This creek has been named " Gold Creek," as Colonel Lander is said to have found gold specimens in it. A quarter of a mile from the fifth crossing (by trail) a bad slough has to be crossed; then a mile and a quarter over prairie bottom to the sixth crossing. (eighth by present wagon road;) then a quarter of a mile over prairie to little creek; then a quarter of a mile over prairie to seventh crossing, (ninth by present wagon road;) then one-fifth of a mile, through open timber, to the eighth crossing, (tenth by present wagon road;) then the trail takes over a side hill about 250 yards from the last crossing. The wagon road keeps in the bottom and makes the eleventh crossing a little below where the low-water trail crosses. The wagon road would then make the twelfth crossing; then for half a mile through open pine timber, and then over a fine prairie, a quarter of a mile in length, to the 13th crossing. Instead of following the low-water trail, which here forks, one fork making the river crossing, the other winding around the rocky bluff which springs out into the river, I took to the high-water trail, which led me high on to the hill-side. This trail turns, after striking the above-mentioned prairie, over a little swelling of the bottom to the river crossing; then half a mile through the bottom, which is cut up by a miry slough, towards the hill bluff, which has a steep slope. At this point the wagon road will keep a little to the south or right of the trail to gain the saddle of the projecting ridge, where some earthwork, that cannot be avoided, will be required, and which has offered a great deal of difficulty to all the wagons which have yet come from Fort Benton. Reaching the opposite foot of this hill, which is a quarter of a mile from base to base, the road gains in three-quarters of a mile, passing over prairie ground, a slough which is said to be very bad in summer time; then strikes over a prairie three miles long, called "Cold Prairie," to a ridge running in the same direction as the first one. This spur, which is not so high as the previous one, can be avoided by the wagon road by keeping close to its foot. This, though, will involve a detour of three-quarters of a mile, and I think, with little work, the ascent of it can be made by taking advantage of a little ravine which runs up the hill side close to the trail. After reaching the top of
(139) the hill a very gradual descent of half a mile over prairie ground brings the trail to a little creek; then three-quarters of a mile over prairie to an old river bed, or to a lower river bottom; then half a mile along this bottom to camp. Made 27 miles; snow two and a half inches deep; it snowed a little towards evening.
November 25.-Snowing all night and still continued this morning. Started at 10.10 a. m., our horses having strayed; cold day; passed over the prairie bottom for three-quarters of a mile; then the trail takes to the hills, and crosses in half a mile a small creek. The wagon road can avoid this hill by keeping around it and striking the trail again about half a mile beyond the creek crossing; then, for a mile and three-quarters over rolling prairie ground, to two little creeks which run close to each other, and only separated by a small elevation. Both these creeks have miry bottoms; the Hell's Gate river being separated by a bare ridge from the road, and is completely hidden from view. Then for half a mile over rolling prairie to another creek, taking immediately after crossing it to a considerable prairie ridge coming from the south, and forming a connexion with the hill range which separates the road from the Hell's Gate bottom, where some grading will be required, but it is light work. Following that ridge for two miles and a half, in an easterly direction, with its ups and downs, all of which will require some side hill cutting, we reach a small creek; then over a small gently sloping hill to a small spring branch, (from creek to creek about eighty yards;) then take to the opposite hill where also some grading will be found necessary, and in one-fifth of a mile reach a second spring. Ascending the next hill, requiring side hill cutting, the Flint creek valley lays before us, whence commenced the gradual descent, and reached it after four miles and three-quarters travelling. Flint creek has little wood on it; but still good camping places may be found above the crossing. The creek is two and a half feet deep, but the banks not high. After crossing Flint creek in one-tenth of a mile we crossed a small branch of it; then for a quarter of a mile through the valley bottom; thence three-quarters of a mile over rolling prairie hills, forming the river bluffs of Hell's Gate river to the valley itself. The descent from these prairie bluffs at the place where the trail strikes it is rather steep, and requires cutting; but I am confident that, by a little examination, a better place could be found. Following up the Hell's Gate bottom for a mile and a half, I camped on a creek. After crossing it the trail bends about, according to the shape of the creek, which makes an elbow towards the north; in two miles and three-quarters cross a second creek, and then follow up the valley for three miles and a quarter, winding part of the way around the swampy bottom of the river—this portion of the valley being cut by a great many dry ditches, all of which are filled up with drifted snow, often to the depth of four feet. The snow in the valley is five inches deep. The trail is unbroken, and our animals had hard work to keep up a good marching trot. After crossing a hill spur of three-quarters of a mile in width, with gentle slopes on both sides, I took up the bottom again for two miles and a quarter, and then went to camp. Made twenty-two and a half miles. The day was clear, but cold. The prairie bluffs are almost free from snow, which has been deposited by the wind in the valley. I am confident that the wagon road can be located in such a manner as to run almost as straight as the valley, which is a mile and three-quarters wide, and the river bed, though winding much, keeps well to its centre, without touching the bluffs.
November 26.-Started at half past eight a. m.; two mules have strayed off; cold morning; snowed heavily; travelled one mile through a bottom; then crossed "Humbug creek," which has a fine valley running towards the pine clad mountains. Crossing this valley we reached, after three-eighths of a mile, the fourteenth crossing of the Hell's Gate river, which we made on the ice. All the former crossings, and that of the Big Blackfoot, are rocky. Flint and Humbug creeks have offered us more or less difficulty, as the shores were frozen
(140) on both sides, requiring a leap from the ice into the water and out again on the icy shore, which always endangered our animals, the ice being bare of snow. Hell's Gate river here is a bold, rapid stream, from eighty to one hundred yards wide, with a channel of two feet in depth. After making the crossing I travelled for two hundred yards over a prairie bottom; then crossed a small timbered point; then took to a little hill which will require some side-hill cutting. The present wagon road makes at this point two crossings, not more than a hundred and twenty yards apart. The road, after leaving this side hill, will require more work, being rocky and larger than the first one mentioned. At this place the wagon road makes two more crossings of the river; then a quarter of a mile over prairie bottom to a place where the road winds for a hundred and eighty yards around the side hills, to avoid the crossing of a miry slough, formed by a spring around those hills, which are a little sideling; very little work will make this a good road; then for a mile and a quarter over level prairie up a bottom; then cross a creek; then follow up a prairie bottom for one-third of a mile; then cross a coulée, which wagons can avoid by keeping to the left of the trail; then go up the bottom for three-quarters of a mile; then cross a little hill-spur, which may possibly require grading then for two hundred yards, over prairie bottom, to a creek; then up a level prairie bottom for two miles and a quarter; then the river takes a short turn to the south where the trail forks, one passing up Deer Lodge valley. The wagon road here leaves the river, and crossing the valley takes to a gently sloping side hill, and after a mile and a quarter strikes the Little Blackfoot river about a mile and a half above its junction with Deer Lodge creek. From the top of said hill the junction of these waters can be seen, and also the lower portion of the big valley. None or very little work will be required to bring heavy wagons up to the top of the hill without doubling teams; but it may he that some winding about in the, descent would be necessary, as some deep hollows cut up the easterly slope. We encamped one-half mile from the foot of the hill in the bottom of the Little Blackfoot valley, having made eight and a half miles: Mr. John Grant has settled near the junction of the two branches of the Hell's Gate river and built two log houses. It snowed since 4 a. m., and for some time pretty heavily. At 11 a. m. it cleared off. The snow is not so deep here as below, measuring three inches on a level.
November 27.-Very cold morning; started 9.45 a. m; had much delay in finding the animals. For one mile we passed over a prairie bottom; then one-eighth of a mile over a side hill, which will require cutting; then one-eighth of a mile up a bottom, partly through brushwood ; then winding for a quarter of a mile around the river bluffs, where work will be necessary; but in keeping the road along the right bank six crossings of the river would be avoided. Gaining the hill slope the road strikes in one-half mile a creek, and crosses in one-half a mile further a second one, the intermediate space being slightly undulating ground. After ascending a gently sloping hill, I followed its rolling surface for two and a quarter miles, and then began the very steep descent. Here a careful examination of the ground would have to be made to find the best location for the wagon road. This descent of about 350 feet offers one of the greatest difficulties on the whole route. Of the two ravines to the right and left of the trail, one or the other may be adapted to the purpose; if not, considerable work, similar to the descent to the St. Joseph's river, will be found necessary. After reaching the foot of the hill, the road passes up the river bottom for three-quarters of a mile and crosses at the end of that distance the Little Blackfoot river at a point where it forms a timbered island one quarter of a mile in width. Both crossings are good and with gravelly bottoms; depth of water, about one foot and three-quarters; and width from fifteen to twenty feet. The opposite hill, which the road has to cross, is called the Mountain, and is said to be more formidable than the divide of the Rocky
(141) Mountains. From the foot to the top of the hill the distance is one-eighth of a mile, and I am confident that by two turns, which will involve some side hill cutting, a good and easy grade can be attained. The present road does not ascend the hill at the place where the trail is located, but keeps for one mile further up the valley, which forms here a kind of cañon, and then ascends a hill by taking advantage of a coulée which runs up to the top of the mountain. With little work it is said that a good road can be made there; but it will make four river crossings necessary. From the top of the hill for three-quarters of a mile we pass over gently rolling ridges to a timber point of one-tenth of a mile in width. One-quarter of a mile further, over ground of the same character, when we gain the topmost ridge, then commenced the very gradual descent, over undulating surface, towards the Little Blackfoot river valley, which I gained in two and a quarter miles. At the foot of the last slope we crossed Irwine's creek, which has miry shores. At this point the wagon-road could (after crossing) follow down the bottom of that creek; then cross the Little Blackfoot river and strike over an apparently easily graded hill towards the north fork of the Little Blackfoot river. This road, though, is said to be a bad one in its present condition, but is worth examining, as it would save four or five miles in distance. The present wagon road takes, in one-quarter of a mile after crossing the bottom of Irwine's creek, to a gradually ascending hill spur, (surface being covered with stones,) which it follows for one and a half miles, requiring no work at all to bring wagons over; then cross Buffalo Head creek; then follow up the level bottom of the Little Blackfoot for one and a half miles, reach a slough, and in one mile further a second one, which must be very bad in spring and summer. In three-quarters of a mile, still following up the valley, I crossed the Little Blackfoot river at Belknap's camp, after pasting a plateau which is elevated about six feet above the level of the valley. Ascending the almost level valley on the right bank of the river, I reached, in three and a half miles, a kind of terrace or high bottom, 250 feet in length, and terminated by the prairie bluff coming in close to the river and forcing the present wagon road to make two crossings. With little work the road, though, can be kept on the right bank. Passing this side hill the ground is level for a quarter of a mile, and then another side hill closes in, which will require come work for eighty-five to ninety yards. At this point two more crossings are made by the wagon road. In order to avoid a small rocky ridge which springs out into the valley, the road turns to the northeast, and passing the saddle of the ridge, crowned by a few pine trees, strikes, in three-eighths of a mile from the turning point, the north fork of the Little Blackfoot river. The forking point is about a half a mile below. Here again the present wagon road crosses the river twice to avoid two side hills, which, in the space of half a mile, runs in towards the river. I think, though, that the little work which would be necessary to keep the road on the right bank would not justify the crossing of the river, which seems to have miry shores. Having made nineteen miles, we encamped. The day was very cold, and towards evening a chilling northeast wind made the cold still more severe. Snow varies in depth from two to four inches.
November 28.-Started at 9.20 a. m; cold but clear morning; passed up the valley for 200 yards; then turn a sharp side hill, and immediately afterwards ascended a very sideling hill, three-quarters of a mile point; then up the valley for one and one-third mile, which becomes very narrow, the trail wind-ing for the last three-quarters of a mile around the side hill. The wagon road, though, as the ground appears, can keep lower down, thereby avoiding work. At the end of that distance, a bad rocky point has to be passed, and I think the wagon road could cross here with advantage to its location, and keep for three- quarters of a mile on its left bank, first turning, at a distance of one-eighth of a mile, a gently sloping hill spur; and then crossing, one-half of a mile further up, a small tributary of the Little Blackfoot, where the road could recross to the
(142) right bank, at a fine prairie, where the valley widens considerably. The trail, which runs along the right bank, crosses, a half a mile from the last rocky hill spur, a creek, which runs in a valley leading north to a spot where the Little Blackfoot valley is strongly bending to the east. Should the road be kept on the right bank of the river, the work is loose rock around the point where I propose to make the crossing, and would extend from fifty to sixty feet. From there, for two and three-quarter miles, no earthwork would be necessary. A corduroy of thirty-five feet, over a wet place formed by a spring coming from a hill spur, would be needed. Two hundred and sixty yards from there another wet place, originating in the same manner, can be avoided by keeping close to the creek where the ground appears to be dry. I think it necessary that this portion of the road should be carefully examined, because the valley is said to be miry in the extreme during spring and summer, and probably here it will be inevitable to have to cut the road high up on the side hills. From the last-mentioned wet place for a half mile up the valley bottom requires no work; here the road must cross the creek and keep on its left bank all the way, as a long hill-spur, which would require a quarter mile earthwork, runs close to the creek for one and a quarter mile from where I propose the wagon road to cross. The trail crosses the creek also, and takes to the valley towards the divide, leaving the Little Blackfoot valley, which last extends northward to the mountains to the left. Following the eastern valley for one-eighth mile, I came to a ravine of one-eighth mile in length, which, though narrow, will offer no difficulty to the location of the road. Crossing the little water run which empties at the last-mentioned crossing of the Little Blackfoot, I passed for three-quarters of a mile over a level plain, which is situated just at the foot of the divide; then for three-eighths of a mile to the top of the divide, where I found the snow from four to five inches deep on the westerly slope—in some places it had a depth of from six to eight inches—and on the easterly slope with two to three inches. A strong northeast wind struck us as soon as we reached the above-mentioned plain, lulling only toward sunset. The natural slope of the ground through open timber will probably require no work, though in places the grade is somewhat steep.
At the foot of the divide, a quarter mile from the top, I struck the headwaters of Big Prickly Pear creek; one and three-quarters of a mile further, a little branch of running water, coming from the north, crosses the road, before reaching which a little side-hill cutting will be necessary, and also on the other side of it, at points where the hills come close to the creek, which runs in the hollow of the narrow valley. In three-quarters of a mile I crossed Stormy creek; 200 yards before reaching which the valley widens considerably, and affords good camping places. On the east side of Stormy creek the ground is level for three-eighths of a mile; then a side-hill cut of 20 yards will bring the road again on an almost level plain for three-quarters of a mile; at the end of which the wagon road leaves the Indian trail which leads along the Big Prickly Pear and takes to the north, over a small side hill covered with pedrigal rock, and in a half mile crosses a dry water run. In one-eighth mile further a second one is crossed; then a half mile, over a gently-sloping hill covered with large pedrigal rock, a third water run is crossed. Ascending now a gently sloping hill covered with a few red cedars, I gained, in a half mile from the last dry water run, the narrow valley of Fir creek, a tributary to the Big Prickly Pear creek. A few steep places in the descent will offer no difficulty for wagons. The ascent on the other side of Fir creek is very steep; but a ravine running to the right of the trail will facilitate the location of the wagon road. One-eighth mile is the distance from the creek to the top of the hill, which slopes very gently. We then travel for a quarter mile towards a dry pond, which extends to the next hill, of easy ascent and descent, the latter terminated by a dry water run; distance from the dry pond to the dry water run is three-quarters of a mile.
(143) The next prairie hill is tolerably high, and the grade so steep that doubling teams will be necessary for heavily laden wagons. At this ascent, if possible, the road should be located at another point, as the present trail is cut up by many narrow but deep coulées. Ascending a hill a quarter mile long, from the top of which we enjoyed a fine view of the Upper Missouri valley, the gate of the mountains, and a small portion of the Rocky Mountains, Heart mountain can be distinctly seen, and also the direction of the wagon road for 10 or 11 miles, to a point where it crosses Soft Bed creek. After crossing a dry water run, we passed over some rolling ground and descended to Silver creek, one of the tributaries of the Big Prickly Pear creek, thence to camp; distance from top of last hill to camp, four and a half miles. Made to-day 19 3/4 miles. Our animals are getting weak; the want of sufficient nourishment commences to tell on them. The day, which commenced cloudy, became clear as soon as the wind sprang up, and towards evening it became quite mild.
November 29.-Started 9.05 a. m. Our horses had wandered far off during the night in search of grass. Mild, cloudy morning. For five miles and three-quarters we passed over undulating, firm prairie ground, to a small creek with miry shores, bordered by small willows, whence its name, "Willow creek"; then two and a quarter miles over a very gently downward-sloping prairie, part of which is covered with brushwood, to Soft Bed creek, a branch of Small Prickly Pear creek, after crossing which I went up its valley in an easterly direction for two miles, at the end of which a little side branch will have to be crossed.
For the last half mile the side hills close in so narrowly to the creek bed that in some places hill-cutting will be found necessary; but the distances where such work is required are short and the ground not difficult. For one-fourth mile further the character of the ground remains the same as described, then, by turning a little more to the north, the road gains the hill-side, and, gradually ascending, reaches in two miles the top of a little divide. The road, before coming to the last ascent, leaves the trail to its right by taking advantage of a small ravine, which facilitates the ascent considerably. The valley on the other side is quite narrow, and remains so for one-half mile, until a point is reached where the creek will have to be crossed and immediately recrossed. A little work now and then, in this distance, will be necessary on points where the side hills are too much sloping. At this place the valley widens considerably, and a good camping place can be found for a large train. I suppose, though, that the valley must be wet, as the trail keeps on the westerly side hills, and recrosses the creek only three-fourths of a mile below, where the valley bends to the north. In 50 yards the trail recrossed and continued on the west side of the creek all the way to the Little Prickly Pear creek. In two and a half miles more it passes along an easy slope, which is occasionally cut up by small ravines, but offering no difficulty to the location of the wagon road. Little Prickly Pear creek, which runs, at the place where I struck it, in a large valley, is twelve feet wide and one and a half feet deep, the banks of which, in this plain, are lined with willows, but higher up and lower down larger trees will be found.
The creek, coming from the Rocky Mountain chain, cuts through a narrow cañon to gain the broad bottom, and in three miles forces its way through a Rocky mountain range, forming a narrow gorge. After crossing the creek, we proceeded in a northerly direction towards Medicine Rock. The day had become very warm, and we had hoped to have been able to reach "Mullan's creek" before dark; but after riding for one mile a sudden northeasterly gale forced us to seek shelter in the willows of the creek just crossed. In less than one-half minute our horses were covered with white frost, and the air was filled with an icy, foggy substance which, after some time, gave way to a heavy snow-fall. Recrossing the Little Prickly Pear we found a tolerably good camp in the willows, having made fourteen miles headway.
(144) November 30. Remained in camp. The gale has not abated in the least, and the snow still falls heavily.
December 1. The night was cold and stormy. At 9 a. m. the sun broke through the clouds, and I started at 11 a. m. It was very cold, and the snow five inches deep. The road leading to Medicine Rock strikes, in three-fourths of a mile, a little creek, and following it up for one-half mile strikes the foot of the hill range, where the trail takes a very steep ascent, which the wagon road can make more gradually by keeping a ravine running to the left of the trail, when reaching the top of the first hill a good road with easy grade leads towards Medicine Rock, and in two miles from there descends to a small creek, called Medicine Rock creek, the descent to which will require some side-hill work in places where the slope is too steep. In three miles we reached Mullan's creek, where work will be required in different places, as the trail keeps along the side hills.
Two hollows, the first one pretty deep, will have to be passed, and a few trees to be cut to bring wagons through with four or five yoke of oxen. The ascent on the east side of the creek is steep but short, and then the character of the ground for two miles further remains the same as described. At the end of that distance the road leads towards Prickly Pear valley, thence over a bare hill, the descent of which in itself will offer no difficulty except at one point, which, for the present, is made passable by a couple of logs stretched from side to side of a low, rocky precipice, to give, in that narrow passage, the required breadth to the road. Reaching the valley, I crossed a creek coming from the west, one-half mile distant from the bending point of the trail on the top of the hill; then one-half mile through the bottom of the valley, keeping close to the hill-side, through which, in connexion with the vegetation of the valley, makes me believe that it is of a miry character. Taking again to the side hills, I reached, in two miles, the head of what is called Prickly Year cañon, and went to camp. The last portion of the road will also require some side-hill work, which, in places, may prove more difficult as the ground is rocky. We made to-day 11 5/8 miles.
December 2. The wind blew a perfect gale during the night. The morning is very cold and our animals appear much reduced. The snow in the valley is four inches deep and covered with a, hard crust, which makes pawing the grass for the animals difficult. At the head of the cañon, through which the road passes, a small creek coming from the north empties into Prickly Pear creek, and I was told that by following up this creek a good road can be obtained, avoiding, thereby, all the crossings which are inevitable by following the Little Prickly Pear. In taking this direction a little detour might be made, but it is said that no obstacle of any moment would be in the way. Started at 9.25 a. m. At the entrance of the cañon, where the first crossing will have to be made, after having crossed the creek alluded to at its mouth, we found that the usually travelled road had been made impracticable by beavers. Finding a good place to cross, we followed the cañon for eight and a half miles, making seven crossings of the creek, all which were greatly obstructed by ice. The intermediate ground is partly covered with pine timber and partly with brushwood of different heights. After the seventh crossing the cañon becomes wider and forms a valley, affording ample space for camping place, with good grass on the low side hills for the animals. For one-half mile from the seventh crossing I reached the eighth, which is situated at the foot of the northerly hill bluff. All the crossings are shallow, with firm gravelly bottoms, and the, banks offer no difficulty. After ascending-the low bluff, which will be easily rendered practicable far wagons, the road leads over prairie ridges, with easy slopes, to a small creek, two and a half miles distant, which empties into the Missouri river a few hundred yards below the Little Prickly Pear creek. From the crossing point the road follows the creek for three miles, for which distance no work
(145) will be necessary, except at one point where the side-hills close in narrowly. At the end of this distance a low but steep ridge is ascended, before reaching which the wagon road must cross the creek and follow it for three-eighths of a mile, then recross and surmount the ridge, which is of easy grade and offering no difficulty by its slope. The descent, which terminates at a dry creek one and three-fourths mile distant, is in some places steep but not sideling. The next ridge, measuring from base to base three-fourths of a mile, is not so high as the previous one, nor is it as steep. After crossing a dry branch I reached in two and three-fourths miles, travelling over undulating ground which would require no work, another dry water run. At this point the above-mentioned road, which leaves the one here described at the head of the cañon, would again unite with the present wagon road. In three miles further I struck the Dearborn River valley, the ground being undulating prairie, and in one-half mile a small creek will be crossed; no characteristic can be mentioned regarding it. A high and well-timbered ridge to the eastward indicates the Missouri River valley, and a curiously formed hill range, lying to the north of the Dearborn, are good landmarks for the traveller who cannot form his course by the uniformly undulating plateau. The road will have to keep up the Dearborn river for half a mile, in order to reach the best crossing. Its valley is richly timbered, but cut up by a great many sloughs and ditches, which run in every direction. The river is a shallow stream of from 50 to 60 feet in width, with a gravelly bottom and swift current. The wind has been blowing hard and cold all day from the southwest. Made 17 miles. Snow five inches deep.
December 3.-It has been a windy night. Our tent was blown down, and we were fearful that some of the shallow-rooted trees would be blown upon us. This morning it is quite mild. Started at 7.45 a.m. to make Sun river in good time. The ground is gently undulating from the north bank of the valley to the crossing of Beaver creek, which is five miles distant. The road first follows a dry creek, crossing and recrossing it several time, and then lead over a wave-formed plain, which now and then is cut up by long, dry hollow. After crossing Beaver creek the trail commences the ascent of the divide between the Dearborn and Sun rivers, and, if I understood aright, the present wagon road keeps to the left, making a detour of four and a half miles, avoiding thereby the steepest portion of this rocky divide. Just as we commenced the ascent an icy northwest gale sprang up, driving before it a storm of small crystals, which made it almost impossible to keep the eyes open; and the wind continually increasing in force, we became doubtful whether our animals would be able to carry us to Sun river, and were obliged, after having made two and a half miles more, and nearly gained the summit of the divide, to turn back and seek refuge in a small ravine, where we found just wood enough to build a fire, and stow away our baggage. Made seven and a half miles. The storm continued with fearful severity; it was extremely cold, and the snow fell heavily. We had an idea that we might be caught here by a long, lasting snow-storm, which was anything but pleasant, as wood was scarce, provisions nearly exhausted, and our animals in a distressed state.
December 4.-The weather had not moderated in the least, and I judged that the thermometer must have been at about forty degrees below zero. It still snowed, but not so heavily as yesterday. We were undecided whether to push on to Sun river or go back to the Dearborn. To retrace our steps seemed the most sensible in our present condition, as we would have the wind in our back and in a short ride could reach shelter and food in a large Pend d'Oreille camp which we left at the Dearborn river; but then the snow might fall to such depth that we would be cut off from Fort. Benton. At 10 a. m. we decided try to reach Sun River Farm, and at 11 a. m. started for that point. It was terrible weather, and we could distinguish nothing at a distance of 100 yard After a ride of three and a half hours we reached Sun River Farm, which was
(146) twenty-three and seven-tenths miles distant from our last night's camp. We were all more or less frost-bitten, and had suffered extremely. Colonel Vaughan, Indian agent for the Blackfoot nation, received us very kindly, and with his well-known hospitality, offered us accomodations at the agency for any length of time that we might wish. The weather continuing, very cold, and our animals requiring some rest after our last march, we remained at the farm during the fifth and sixth, and left on the seventh, of December. The cold being too severe to take notes on our march, I did so (for this portion of the road) on my return; but will give the description of it here, in order to keep the same travelling direction in mentioning the different objects of the road. From the crossing of Beaver creek to the top of the divide, which forms a narrow rocky gap, the distance is three and one-fourth miles. It is not one gradual slope, but the ascent is formed by a succession of hills of different grades and heights, which will occasion some work in a few places if the road should be located in that direction. Hitherto it has been thought a matter of impossibility to follow with vehicles of any description the Indian trail; but in coming back from Fort Benton I brought over it a two-wheel cart, and found but little difficulty. The descent on the other side is gradual, and is practicable for wagons in its present state. Bird Tail Rock creek, a little stream which bends near the divide, is followed down by the trail for one and one-fourth mile, and then, at a point where it turns short to the west, the trail takes for two and a half miles over prairie hills, until it strikes the creek again, and also the present wagon road, which gains the creek about one and a half mile below the above-mentioned turning point, and follows its valley downwards, crossing and recrossing the creek, which is made necessary by the closing in of the small side-hills. In three miles the trail comes opposite to Bird Tail Rock, a prominent peak of a mountain chain running between the trail and the Missouri river. Following the valley of the creek for three miles, I reached a low, rocky bluff, through which the creek has forced its way. Here a little side-hill work will be necessary, as also at some places above. In three and one-fourth miles, over an almost level plain, the road crosses Crown Butte creek, about two miles below the mouth of Bird Tail Rock creek, and gains in one and three-fourths mile a small rocky ridge, which is easy in its ascent; the descent is sideling, and encumbered by big boulders, which will have to be removed. The Big Knee, Crown, and Square Buttes, which have been in sight for some miles back, are now fully exposed to view. A kind of prairie saddle-ridge, which connects the Big Knee and Crown Buttes with a gentle slope, will have to be ascended. The road passing midway between these two prominent points, begins the descent, which is very gradual. The direction which I followed brought me opposite to the agency, but I think the wagon road must keep closer to the Big Knee, and strike Sun river about three miles below the farm, in order to gain a point where the crossing towards Teton river can be accomplished without distressing the teams. Sun river, which I crossed at a point where it forms an island, was frozen over. A luxuriant growth of cottonwood lines both sides of the stream at this place, and extends up it for some distance. Distance between the last-mentioned little ridge and Sun River Farm is eight miles. By information I learned at Sun river, that the distance to Fort Benton by the shortest route was estimated at 55 miles. At 19 miles from the farm, the road reaches a shallow lake, and seven miles further is a small spring, both of which are destitute of timber. In summer the lake often dries entirely up, and at all events becomes unfit for drinking or cooking purposes, besides that in both places it is strongly mixed with alkali. On the strength of those statements, I resolved to try to find a wagon road leading to camping places where wood and good water could be found, and concluded to strike the Missouri river somewhere below the Great Falls. The interpreter of Mr. Dawson being at the time at the farm, I accepted his offer to guide us to the fort.
(147) December 7.-Started at 10.15 a. m. Mild weather. Followed down the Sun River valley for about 12 miles and then struck across an insignificant prairie ridge towards the Missouri river. Before I left the valley, which we did at a point about three miles above the mouth of Sun river, I crossed a deep ravine with running water 10 miles from the farm. After 18 miles we arrived at the edge of the prairie plateau, and had to accomplish the descent towards the Missouri river by following the winding of a coulee ridge, gaining the coulee bottom itself, which quickly enlarges to a narrow valley with a few cottonwood trees. We reached in one mile the river itself. We intended to follow down the Missouri for 1 1/4 mile further, and camp on a small prairie opposite the mouth of Highwood creek, but the river ice had blocked up the trail, and we were forced to remain where we were, having made 31 miles. The Missouri river is so poorly timbered between the mouth of Sun river and Fort Benton, that if a road could even be found in that direction, the greatest inconvenience for want of wood would ensue for small or large parties. During the night a furious gale forced us to secure our blankets and baggage with logs and rocks, and even those precautions proved to be insufficient.
December 8.-Started 9 a. m. Our guide advised us to head the coulées, and we therefore started back to gain a ridge about five miles to the northwest. The day was clear and warm. After a ride of 28 miles, during which we crossed the Grand and Eight-Mile coulée, and descending near Discovery Butte into the Missouri River valley, we arrived at Fort Benton, and were most kindly received. There was scarcely any snow here, but the river was frozen solid, which was a fortunate circumstance, as we could drive across our animals, that would have starved on this side. The necessity to give rest to my animals and some delay in my preparations for the return trip, induced me to remain seven days at Fort Benton, during which time I received from M. Clarks, esq., of Fort Campbell, a small howitzer belonging to the government, which I intended to bring over mountain, and, with an odometer on the wheel, measure the road.
December 15.-Mr. Dawson having fitted out a party to accompany me to Bitter Root valley, I started at 12 m. towards the Teton river, via Sun River agency. Colonel Vaughan, who arrived at Fort Benton on the 13th, directed his returning wagon to keep with us. The odometer was fastened to the cannon wheel, which measured 9 feet 10 inches in circumference. After ascending Missouri River bluff, which has an easy grade, we followed a well-beaten wagon trail towards Teton river, over almost level ground, and struck said river in four miles. Before descending into the valley the road forks, one keeping along its right bank on the bluff, the other descending into the valley and following it up. Our guide for this portion of the road having been kept back at Fort Benton, we took to the valley, which afterwards turned out to be the longest and most troublesome road of the two, on account of the mirror-like frozen surface of the river. In 3 7/10 miles we made five river crossings, which delayed us considerably, as we had to throw earth on the ice to give our animals a foothold. No other difficulty for wagons was experienced. Made to day 7 7/10 miles, and encamped on Teton river. About two inches of snow on the ground: but the grass ha. been partly burnt and partly eaten off by Indian horses.
December 16.-Started 11 a. m. Our animals having strayed towards the Missouri River bottom, it took us a long time to find them. We made six crossings to-day with great labor. After following the valley for six miles we took to the north bluff, which offered an easy ascent, the top forming a large plain, and the river, which makes a wide bend towards the south, disappears out of view. In the distance the Teton Buttes could be seen. The trail taking a direct line towards the westerly end of the river bend, heads all the coulées, offering thereby an almost level road. In 5 1/2 miles we struck the river again and descended its valley, and camped in 1 1/2 mile further on the bank of the Teton. Baptiste Champaigne, our guide, who joined us this morning, informed
(148) me that one-fourth of a mile below, and opposite the spot where we struck the river valley again, the straight road from Fort Benton descended also to the valley, and that the distance to that place was ten miles, as estimated by Governor Stevens. Where that road strikes the valley the river will have to be crossed for the first time, gaining 9 2/10 miles in distance. Wood is plentiful, the valley large and covered with good grass. A rain-storm passed over us toward; evening, changing by nightfall into snow. The snow kept up all night. Made 13 mile.
December 17.-It is still snowing. Started at 11 a. m. to-day. I attached the cannon to one of the wagons. The road follows the valley for three miles, where no other obstacle is offered but a little creek running in a hollow which can be made practicable in a few minutes' work; a second ditch at the place where the road leads towards the bluff will require the same amount of work. The ascent itself; formed by a gentle slope, requires a little side-hill cutting for a distance of 20 feet to make the road practicable for heavy wagons. The road on top of the bluff requires no work, being almost as level as a table. In 8 1/2 miles I gained the descent to the river, which will require a little side-hill cutting for a distance of 25 feet; half a mile further I camped, having made 12 miles. The day has been very cold; the snow kept falling heavily, and the wind blowing strong from the north. Snow 4 inches deep.
December 18.-Started 10 a. m. Clear and cold morning. At the start our wagons were obliged to make two river crossings to avoid a side-hill of 30 feet in length, requiring but little work to make it passable for wagons. In three-fourths of a mile from camp I came to the last Teton crossing, which, like the rest, was frozen over. The river is about 20 yards wide, and appears to have a gravelly bottom. The banks at the crossing will require but little work. The trail, keeping now altogether on the south side of the Teton river, reaches, in seven miles, the ascent to the low prairie plateau, and here the wagon road could with advantage strike in a southwesterly course towards Sun river. If that course should be adopted, Mud creek, a tributary of the Teton river, with ample wood and water, would afford a good camping place. This creek, which. in its easterly branch, reaches high up towards the divide of Sun and Teton rivers' waters, would enable trains to shorten the long journey between those two rivers considerably, indicating, at the same time, the direction which will have to be followed to strike the place where the two rivers come closest to each other. Two long prairie buttes on the top of the divide would serve as good landmarks, and in leaving the most easterly one of the two to the west, the right course could not well be missed. Sun river at this place, about 28 miles from the Teton, would be reached at a spot where a creek empties into it about 4 1/2 miles below the Indian agency. It is said that no coulées intercept the direct course of the above-described road, and that the ground is favorable in every respect. Sun river could be crossed at the point where it is struck. or followed up to the farm and crossed. Trains reaching here would he obliged to take in wood, because the rest of the timber to be found would only be on Dearborn river, which is 31 2/10 miles distant from the farm. The whole distance from Fort Benton to Sun river would, by the above-mentioned route, amount to 57 3/4 miles, being 13 miles longer than by the prairie lake; but good water, plenty of wood, and convenient camping places would be secured to the road. Unfortunately for us, our guide took us to the westerly branch of Muddy creek, which we struck in 2 1/2 miles from the ascent to the prairie plateau. Made 10 1/4 miles. Found sufficient wood and water, and good grazing.
December 19.-Started at 10 a. m., and took our course southward to a pass between the two high buttes which crown the dividing prairie ridge. A gradual ascent brought us, in three hours, to that place, and finding that the distance to Sun river was considerable, we pushed on with the pack train, Mr. Irvine remaining with the wagons. After crossing three deep coulées, we arrived, at 5 1/2 p. m., at Sun River Farm, having marched at a brisk gait for the last 16 miles.
(149) A cold and strong wind set in early in the afternoon. Made 32 9/10 miles. Mr. Irvine having left the wagons, on account of darkness, at the first coulée, arrived with the animals at 8 p. m.
December 20.-Animals started out for the wagons in a heavy snow-storm, but returned after an unsuccessful march.
December 21.-Sent a man over to the Teton mission to obtain a cart, as the peculiar construction of the cannon does not allow of its being carried any further without the risk of injury to our mules. A renewed attempt was made to bring the wagons in. They were found, but plundered by some Indians.
December 22.-The cart came in, and we caught up all the animals to make an early start. Mr. Dawson and my party numbered, altogether, eight men, with thirty-nine animals.
December 23.-Some animals that had run off during the night delayed our start until 11 a. m. The day was clear and warm; Sun river, however, is still frozen over. At noon a west wind sprang up, augmenting hourly in strength. Made thirteen and two-tenths miles to-day, and camped on Bird Tail Rock creek. Snow two inches deep.
December 24.-Started 10 a. m. Clear and warm, but with a strong southeast wind blowing almost a gale. Snow is getting deeper and deeper the nearer we approach the little divide, on the northeasterly side of which we found it five or six inches on a level, with drifts of many feet in depth. On the south side was eight or nine inches of snow, and still increasing towards the Dearborn river, at which stream we encamped, having made eighteen miles.
December 25.-Started 9.15 a. m. Cloudy and warm; the snow is increasing in depth at every mile we make, and at Little Prickly Pear creek we find it from twelve to fifteen inches on a level. The drifts are almost impassable for a vehicle, and our animals are getting very tired. I am obliged to cache the cart at the south side of the lowest Prickly Pear crossing, where I camped, having made fourteen and three-fourths miles.
December 26.-Started 10 a. m. Our animals had poor feed last night. Cloudy and warm morning; clear towards noon. The crossings in the cañon are partly frozen, making them difficult. Snow from sixteen to twenty inches deep. No trail is broken, and our animals have hard work. On the top of the Medicine River divide we found twenty-six inches of snow, and camped on Little Prickly Pear creek one and a half mile higher up than I did on my outward trip, having made fifteen and five-tenths miles.
December 27.-Started 10.15 a. m. Clear and cold morning. The snow is badly drifted, and has on a level a drift of twenty-six inches. We are travelling very slowly. Found a very comfortable camp on Soft-bed creek. Made eleven miles.
December 28.-Started at 10 a. m. Cloudy and cold day. We have been threatened all day long with a snow-storm, but it cleared off towards evening, though turning very cold. The depth of snow to-day is fast decreasing; at our camping place on Big Prickly Pear creek we found only three inches. Made thirteen and five-tenths miles.
December 29.-Remained in camp, which is about two and a half miles from the top of the divide. A heavy wind-storm, with driving snow, prevailed until noon, when the snow stopped falling. One of the men went out to examine the condition of the road, and reports little snow on both sides of the divide, but a deep snow-drift on its top with a crust strong enough to bear a man.
December 30.-Started 10.15 a. m. Wind strong, with snow. The snow towards the divide is fifteen inches deep. On the divide was a drift of eighty yards in length and five or six feet in depth, the crust being able to bear a man, but our horses sink through and have hard work. On the west side of the divide I found only six inches of snow, with occasional drifts of the same depth. Down the cañon of the north fork of the Little Blackfoot river, near the junction of
(150) the north and south fork, we struck a well-beaten trail leading towards the low Hell Gate Pass, which is a very fortunate circumstance, and relieves our ani-mals considerably. We camped on the highest Little Blackfoot crossing, known as Belknap's camp. Made fifteen and five-tenths miles. The Little Blackfoot is frozen at this place, but higher up the ice is broken by the falling of the water.
December 31.-Started 10.30 a. m. Clear and cold day, the snow being from six to eight inches deep; the beaten trail helped us along beautifully. Found both the lower Blackfoot crossings frozen over; at camp the snow was from four to five inches deep. Made fourteen and five-tenths miles, and camped one mile above John Grant's cabin.
January 1, 1860.-Remained in camp to give a rest to the animals. Warm and cloudy day.
January 2.-Started 9.15 a. m. Cloudy and warm; from the highest Hell Gate river crossing, frozen over three miles lower down. I recrossed the river and kept on its right bank for ten miles and joined the party only at Adams's corral, and encamped on Flint creek, having made twenty and one-fourth miles. Flint creek had partly overflowed its valley, covering it with a sheet of ice. Snow from four to five inches deep.
January 3.-Started 10 a. m. Cloudy and very warm day; the trail in some places was entirely covered over with snow, which at points was drifted to a considerable depth. Made the twelfth crossing on the ice, and avoided the tenth and eleventh by passing the rocky point at the water's edge. Found the ninth crossing partly frozen over but too deep to ford; and it being too late to take to the high-water trail, we encamped at the river bank in thirteen inches of snow, hav-ing made nineteen miles. Towards evening a wet snow commenced to fall; we feared that it might turn to rain. Heavy snow-drifts forced us to make a de-tour.
January 4.-Started at 9.15 a. m. Clear and cold. The water has fallen during the night, and we made the ninth crossing, after having removed the ice. The eighth was frozen over, but the ice cover was overflowed by fifteen inches of water. All the rest of the crossings, with the exception of the two lower ones, were frozen over; but we found, in following the beaten trail, that most of the regular crossing points had been avoided, and even the road, for some time, located over the high-water trail. At 11.15 a. m. it begin to snow heavily, and continued so until evening. The Big Blackfoot river was crossed on the ice, but higher up than the usual crossing and near the foot of the plateau. We camped on White Thorn creek, having made twenty-three and five-tenths miles. It ceased snow-ing at 8 p. m., but recommenced at 10 p. m., and fell to the depth of six inches. 1
January 5.-Started 10.15 a. m. It had been snowing all night, and we started in a snow-storm. I received last night, by the Pend d'Oreille chief Alexandre, the first information that you and your party were obliged to build winter quarters on the St. Regis Borgia river. The trail was much blinded, and it still continued to snow heavily. I crossed Hell Gate river for the last time at the right of the cañon and above Rattlesnake creek on the ice. It cleared off at 12.15 p. m., but soon commenced to snow. We found the lower crossing of the Bitter Root river open for six feet on the easterly side. Made sixteen miles, and encamped on the Lo-Lo Fork. esixteen miles, and encamped on the Lo-Lo Fork.
January 6.-Started 9 a. m. It had been snowing all night, and it blows now strongly from the south, with a heavy snow-storm. The trail is entirely filled up with new snow. We found the Upper Bitter Root crossing open. Reached Fort Owen at 1.30 p. m., having made sixteen miles. My animals were all in poor condition, and the depth of snow in the valley promised them but a scanty chance for food; but I trusted that after a week's rest I should be enabled to start with some of them for your camp. With regard to my trip, I am sorry to say that I had not been able to carry out fully your instructions.
(151) The intense cold prevented me from running a compass line, and the depth of the snow obliged me to abandon the wagon in order to save my animals. I only received your later orders to examine the road, via "Lewis and Clarke's Pass" and the Big Blackfoot river, on my return to this place. By information from several persons, I have learned that as yet the unexplored roads lead towards the headwaters of the Big Blackfoot river, and that both could be made practicable for wagons with but little work.
The first one leaves the Hell Gate river one and a half mile above the mouth of the Big Blackfoot river, and, striking over toward the Cammass prairie, keeps along its edge and gains the Big Blackfoot valley at a point below Lander's Fork. This road, which is certainly the shortest, would avoid all the Hell Gate crossings, and, as it is stated, offers only one difficulty, which consists in the first ascent after leaving Hell Gate river.
The second road leaves the Hell Gate valley at Flint creek, the ascent of the bordering ridge requiring some work; but it is by far not as steep as the one by the lower road; and, as my informant assures me, only a little side-hill work on a few places and the occasional cutting of a few trees would render the route practicable for a wagon road.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
P. M. ENGEL, Topographer.
Lieutenant JOHN MULLAN,
United States Army, Commanding Military Road
Expedition from Fort Walla- Walla to Fort Benton.
WASHINGTON, February 10, 1863.
DEAR SIR : On the 25th of June, 1860, when the expedition had arrived at Brown's farm, in the Hell Gate Ronde, you directed Mr. Howard and myself to make an examination of the Big Blackfoot trail.
The day following, we started, making first a preliminary reconnoissance as far as the plains on the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains; returned and commenced the survey on July 5, at the junction of the Big Blackfoot with the Hell Gate river.
Mr. Howard, with three assistants, was charged to test the practicability of this route across the Rocky Mountains for the construction of a railroad, while I, with one assistant, was to make the topographical survey.
As the former failed to render his report, I will here incorporate a description of the physical condition of that part of the country, as much at least as I know of its adaptation for a railroad route.
The junction of the two rivers, our starting point, is in quite an extensive flat, 3,324 feet above the level of sea; it is surrounded by steep mountain spurs of some 2,000 feet height.
The present Indian trail, which we followed throughout, keeps all the way on the right bank of the Big Blackfoot river. Immediately after leaving the flat, near the junction, we entered a somewhat difficult canon, nearly twenty miles in extent. We crossed a number of small creeks, with rapid currents, and had to, climb over several rocky spurs from 300 to 600 feet in height, whose steep, almost perpendicular, faces are washed by the waters of the river.
Mr. Howard was of opinion that the best location for a railroad in this cañon would be on the narrow strips of level ground intervening between the steep projecting spurs, although, by doing this, the construction of nine bridges would be requisite. At the crossing places the river is less than 250 feet wide, and has very good solid banks.
The next thirty-eight miles, we passed over open, slightly undulating ground,
(152) intersected by many streams, of which three have quite a respectable size, and would be somewhat difficult to cross at the time of high water. The bottoms of these creeks are mostly fertile, and it is altogether a region very favorable for settlement. Its elevation is 3,800 feet above the sea. Over this section a railroad could be built at an ordinary expense.
From this opening we got into another cañon, of some ten miles in length, much less difficult than the first one. The mountain spurs, although of the same height, are not rocky, and do not approach the river as closely; at least, there is almost everywhere a narrow bench between the face of the spur and the river. A railroad could keep on the northern bank of the river without involving heavy work.
From the upper end of this cañon to the summit of the Rocky Mountains, a distance of twenty-two miles, the country is very easy. As far as the fork of the trails, where one leads up to Lewis and Clark's, and the other to Cadotte's Pass, within twelve miles from the dividing ridge, we passed through quite an extensive valley, with plenty of wood and water, and a good deal of fertile soil; yet, on account of its elevation, (4,500 feet above the ocean,) this valley will hardly be fit for agricultural purposes.
From the fork of the trails, where also two branches of the river join, Mr. Howard commenced a level line, which he continued across the Rocky Mountain divide, via Cadotte's Pass, to the Dearborn river, on the eastern foot of the mountains.
The traveller, on foot or on horseback, can hardly reconcile himself to the idea that he is approaching the crest of the mountains, so smooth and easy is the road, so gentle the appearance; of the mountains around him. In July and August not a snow-capped peak is visible far or near. After crossing the river the last time, which there, of course, is but a mere rill, and ascending gradually a couple of hundred feet, he finds, himself in view of the immense plains of the Missouri.
The first descent into the opposite valley is somewhat steeper, and amounts to over a thousand feet in a distance of a mile and a quarter, but thence the trail leads along the left bank of Cadotte's Pass creek on a nice bench, with hardly any obstructions.
Five miles from the summit the mountains ceased, and travelling seven miles more through the prairie, we struck the Dearborn river at a point where there is a very good ford.
Mr. Howard found the following elevations:
Fork of the trails, 4,840 feet.
Western foot of the divide, 5,653 feet; relative distance, 12.2 miles.
Summit of the divide, 6,167 feet; relative distance, 0.4 mile.
Pastern foot of the divide, 4,940 feet; relative distance, 1.3 mile.
Crossing of the Dearborn river, 4,148 feet; relative distance, 10.7 miles.
This develops the important fact that the eastern foot of the divide is 713 feet lower than the western, which presents a serious, but not insurmountable, obstacle to the construction of a railroad.
From the western foot downward, following the course of the Big Blackfoot river, the steepest grade is 217 feet for only one mile, and that the first mile, which might be overcome with or without a cut; but in order to make up for the difference of 713 feet on the eastern foot, the road would have to be carried along the side of the mountain spurs. In that case, the tunnel required would be but a very short one, say 2,000 feet.
But in order to decide whether it is cheaper to lead the road up high and cut a short tunnel, or let it run lower and make a larger tunnel, more specific investigations will have to be made.
To gain the wagon-road crossing of the Dearborn, we followed down the right
(153) bank of the river for 8 1/2 miles, and joined there the main train of the expedition on July 26.
The map of the Blackfoot trail, with the adjoining country, which I have carefully prepared on a scale of 1/300000, will give all the information which I have collected, but was unable to impart in this short report.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
THEODORE KOLECKI, Topographer.
Captain JOHN MULLAN.
2d Artillery, Commanding Expedition.
CAMP AT NEW FORT WALLA-WALLA,
October 12, 1861.
SIR: In compliance with your instructions, the following report of an exploration for a line for a road from the Coeur d'Aléne mission to the outlet of the Coeur d'Aléne lake, and thence to Antoine Plant's, on the Coeur d'Aléne prairie, at the crossing of the Spokane river, and of a reconnoissance from Antoine Plant's, via what is known as Mix and Russel's road, to Snake river, is respectfully submitted for your consideration.
In obedience to your verbal instructions of the 13th September, I left the mission on the morning of the 14th, and proceeded as far as the Wolf's Lodge prairie, which is the first camp-ground from the mission on the line of the Spokane trail. The Wolf's Lodge is a prairie a half mile in length and a quarter mile in width, with a fine, clear stream, fifteen feet wide and two deep, flowing through the eastern and northern portion of it. The stream is lined with willows, the prairie is covered with excellent grass, and is enclosed by mountain spurs covered with open pine timber; its distance from the mission by the trail is about 18 miles. Here I camped, and on the morning of the 15th started with "Bazil," my Indian guide, to examine on foot the line from the prairie to the mission.
As it is impracticable to follow the line of the trail, leading, as it does, over high, steep
side-hills, rock in many places covered with fallen timber, and also making ascents and descents so steep as to be unsafe even for a rider, the only way in which a road can be had is by following the lines of the water-courses in valleys below the trail, and work such places in side-hill excavation as are rendered otherwise impassable for a wagon road.
After leaving the trail at the east end of the Wolf"s Lodge, where it first takes the side-hill, we passed through pine and fir timber for a hundred yards when we entered a small prairie 200 feet in diameter, after passing which there. are no more prairie openings. We followed near the foot of the hill to north, and for the first mile and a quarter passed through pine and fir timber of the size usually seen in the wooded country on the mountains near the mission, the trees being from 80 to 150 feet in height and from 8 to 20 inches in diameter. There is an old Indian trail for part of this distance. We then turned to the north, crossed a dry water run, and ascended along the backbone of spur for a quarter of a mile to a saddle about 200 feet in height, the ground being strewn with fallen timber, which covered the ground in every direction, rendering our progress slow and laborious. In 900 feet more made the descent from this saddle, which is somewhat steep on the eastern slope, but will not require doubling teams. After reaching the foot of this saddle, which I will designate as No. 1, the line for the next mile and a half turns more to the north and follows up the narrow valley of a small stream, crossing from time to time, as may be necessary; the bed of this stream is of hard gravel. 1,000 feet of light side-hill grading will have to be done to pass through a narrow defile made by the passage of the stream through a spur of the mountain, and for a quarter
(154) of a mile more granite boulders, from one to two feet diameter, will have to be removed, to allow the easy passage of wagons. The line strikes the trail about one mile east of saddle No. 1, and follows its general course for a half mile, when it leaves it to the north and ascends an open ravine, narrow at the bottom and very much obstructed with fallen timber. This ravine leads to saddle No. 2 by a good ascent of a quarter of a mile in length, elevation about 200 feet above base. The descent to the east is steep and will have to be modified by grading, unless a natural descent be found on the spurs leading to the south. After descending from saddle No. 2 a valley is reached in the bottom of a steep ravine, along which the road will pass for a half mile, when it will ascend to a third saddle, which will be reached by a long and not very steep ascent of 300 feet in height. This distance of 5 1/2 miles is difficult, the ground being covered with fallen timber, which is crossed and tumbled down in every direction, rendering progress exceedingly difficult. The ascents and descents to these three saddles are steep, however, not sufficiently so as to require double teaming. It will hardly be possible to find any practicable line other than the one explored, as the ridges of the mountains extend in a direction parallel with the course travelled, and rise to a height of from 1,000 to 2,000 feet.
Between the first and second saddles there are two or three streams, which come from the mountains, and are crossed near their mouths by the line of the road location. The ground is hard and solid, being composed of gravel and vegetable mould, and the streams never are of sufficient size to render them impassable by fording, and in the fall are nearly dry.
Descending from the third saddle by a very good slope to the valley 250 feet below, we reach that portion of the line which is most difficult, and will cost much labor in the process of construction. In the first mile 1,400 feet in length will have to be graded with the following cross-section:
This brings us to the first cañon, where the stream flowing from o. 3 enters a cañon, which is from 25 to 50 feet in width, bounded by perpendicular rock, in many places from 20 to 30 feet in height. Here for one mile the road will have to be cut in earth and rock excavation along the side of a spur having a transverse slope of 40º. Advantage can be taken of the formation of the ground, so as to avoid any very severe work, except for short distances. After passing this we can again descend to the valley of the stream, follow on its left bank for 200 yards, when we cross a small tributary from the north and come to the second cañon, similar in its characteristics to the first. The stream winds through it with a narrow alder bottom alternately forming the banks, as the creek turns from side to side in its descent. This cañon is 2 1/2 miles in length, and will be avoided by side-hill excavation for that distance. The work on this section will be severe, and if the rock proves to be hard, when reached, may have to be worked out by blasting. It outcrops in many places, especially on the points of the spurs; has a transverse slope of from 20° to 30° and in some places 45°.
After passing the second cañon the ravine opens out by the receding of the mountain spurs, and a cedar swamp begins, which continues for 3 1/2 miles. The spring can only determine whether it will be best to locate the road through this, which has heretofore proved to be objectionable ground, although at the time when I passed over it it was good and dry. The huge cedar, from three to eight feet in diameter, tower above the ground, and their interlaced branches hardly admit the sun's rays. If the ground is found hard in the spring, but little
(155) work will be required to pass through, as the trees grow sufficiently wide apart to allow the passage of a wagon conveniently. We crossed two large water--courses with gravel bottoms, now dry, which were about four feet deep and 25 wide. A more detailed examination may show that a line may be had by keep-ing around the foot of the spurs, and, by doing occasional grading at points where required, avoid this long stretch of ground, which is probably soft and miry. Leaving this cedar swamp we struck good ground, covered with pine and fir timber, and clambered over and between fallen trees for a quarter of a mile, when we reached a spur with a stream at its base. Here a crossing may be made, but it would be best to grade 300 feet around it, and then continue for nearly a mile over the same kind of ground to a second spur, around the base of which the line would be graded for 1,000 feet—transverse slope 5 on 10. Here the line leaves its general SE. course, and deflects towards the east for a short distance, when it again resumes its general direction. At the point of this spur we leave the valley of the main creek and follow up a small tributary, to shorten distance. I will here note a small cone, 50 feet high, which forms a landmark, and around the western base of which the line passes. In a mile more we ascended by a very easy grade to a low saddle or ridge, then descended as easily to the east, and after passing over good ground in 1 3/4 mile reached the open prairie, 1 1/2 mile from the mission.
I regret that I could not make this examination as thorouglv as desired. My guide, the Indian "Bazil" had recently broken his collar-bone, and the fracture was not even dressed, so that he was unable to carry our blankets and provisions. This work, therefore, devolved upon myself, in addition to other duties, and it was not possible for me, thus encumbered, to examine in person the country in the vicinity of the line. The only place requiring further exploration is the distance of 3 1/2 miles around the cedar swamp at the base of the spurs.
I estimate that 18 days' work of 50 men will be required to cut and clear the road from the Mission prairie to the Wolf`s Lodge; and for the grading, if the rock proves compact in the side-hill work referred to, a month or even six weeks would not be too large an allowance for the time which 50 men would occupy in working it, there being at least 4 1/2 miles of grading required to avoid the two cañons of the creek and other points noted in the foregoing. The distance is estimated by the line travelled at 17 miles. Having finished this portion of the exploration, I returned to the Wolfs Lodge, and on the 21st proceeded to examine the line to the outlet of Coeur d'Aléne lake. For the first two miles and three-quarters the line would follow the general direction of the trail by taking advantage of the ravines to the south to gain the ascent of 300 feet to a saddle, which is a mile and three-fourths west of the Wolf s Lodge. A good descent can be found from this saddle to the valley of a small creek in a mile more, although it will have two or three steep grades in that distance.
After crossing this stream, which flows through a valley of nearly a quarter of a mile in width, the trail winds up the steep side of a mountain which is not far from 500 feet in height, and impracticable at that point as an ascent for a road. After gaining this elevation the ground is nearly level for the next three and a quarter miles, with the exception of three ravines which are crossed by the trail.
The first is a mile and three-fourths from the creek, and is broad and level, being 300 feet wide. This will be subsequently referred to as the third ravine. The other two occur in one-half and three-quarters mile further on; are steep and narrow, coming to a point at the bottom; are about fifty feet deep, and present a serious obstacle to the passage of a road without resorting to heavy bridging on tressel-work. The descent to the lake shore is made by a steep pitch of 450 feet in height. The trail winds and turns along the face of the spur to make this the last descent.
Having heard of Antoine Plant as a man who, from his long residence in this
(156) neighborhood, was well acquainted with the mountains and trails leading through them, I deemed it best to proceed to his residence and procure his services as guide, and examine a line of which the Indians have spoken, leading direct from the Wolf's Lodge to the lake, and giving good ascents and descents in place of the steep pitches which occur by the line of the trail. I accordingly proceeded over level prairie, covered with open timber, to the outlet of the Coeur d'Aléne lake, distant four miles from the foot of the mountain, and followed down the Spokane river on the line of the trail for six miles, where we encamped and remained a day to examine the Little Falls of the Spokane river. Having finished this examination I started on the 23d, and just below the Little Falls left the open pine timber through which I had travelled since leaving the Wolf's Lodge, and entered upon the Coeur d'Aléne prairie, which stretched a level plain as far as the eye could reach to the northeast, towards the Pend d'Oreille. It is bounded by ranges of mountains, which, with their spurs timbered from base to summit, form a pleasing contrast to the prairie, covered with its dry and browned glass. The Spokane river flows through the southern end of the prairie in a channel some thirty or forty feet below the general level of the plain. The soil is gravelly, and not suited for farming purposes, until you cross the Spokane, after which, as informed by Antoine Plant, the soil is fertile. After travelling nine miles across the prairie we reached the foot of the mountains on the west, along which we proceeded for three miles, when we arrived at Antoine Plant's.
On the 24th I started with Antoine to complete the examination of the line from the lake to the Wolf's Lodge. We followed the trail as far as the mouth of the Coeur d'Aléne lake, and then struck to the east through the open timber for four miles, until we were stopped by a lake one mile in length and one-half a mile wide, whose existence was not before known. This lake is enclosed on its northern, southern, and eastern sides by high, steeply-sloping, rocky, mountain spurs, which forbid the passage of a road or any other line than that in the vicinity of the trail.
Having satisfied ourselves of this, we followed down the western side of the lake, and in one-fourth of a mile reached the shores of the lake, where we encamped, and, on the morning of the 25th, proceeded to examine a ravine which leaves the. trail to the south and affords an ascent (somewhat steep in places) of one and a half mile in length to the summit of the last mountain over which the trail passes before reaching the lake. The ascent in this distance is not far from 1,000 feet, and will afford a road without any very heavy work, but one which will require double teaming to make the ascent. The descent to the east to the third ravine is naturally good, but to improve it may require 300 feet of light side-hill grading in earth. The ascent of 50 feet to the plateau to the east of this ravine can be made by side-hill grading for 300 feet, if a natural ascent cannot be found on further exploration. Three hundred feet from the top of this plateau we again left the trail and struck the head of a ravine of one and a half mile, down which we followed to the valley of the creek, entirely avoiding the steep grade previously referred to. This ravine is cañon-like in many places; its bottom is covered with a growth of generally small fir trees, and is somewhat obstructed by fallen timber. It is only wide enough to allow the comfortable passage of a wagon in many places, say fifteen to twenty feet wide. This is the only ravine which can be taken advantage of to make this descent; and if it is not made use of, side-hill excavation, part in rock, must be resorted to for at least a mile to make a practicable grade. The ravine debouches a few yards from the trail on the north. After crossing the creek the ground is less difficult, and the only obstacles are those previously noted.
Antoine Plant informed me that the snow disappeared from these mountains in May, there being perhaps a little left in deep ravines protected from the sun. Its average depth during midwinter is not to exceed two feet. On the Coeur
(157) d'Aléne prairie there is but little or no snow, the Indians always resorting to it as a common wintering ground for their horses and cattle.
The line explored from the lake to the third ravine is objectionable on account of its steep grades, but this can only be obviated by one and one-third mile of heavy grading along the face of the mountain around the shore of the lake to the third ravine, where it can then be located for the remainder of the distance to the Wolf's Lodge by following the line of the trail as before described.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. W. JOHNSON,
Lieutenant JOHN MULLAN, U . S. Army,
In charge Fort Walla-Walla and Fort Benton Mil. Road, Expedition.
-- Extract from Stevens's Report --
RAILROAD REPORT AND ESTIMATE–FROM THE MISSISSIPPI TO THE COLUMBIA
VIA THE NORTHERN ROUTE
St. Paul to Bois de Sioux — Bois de Sioux to Fort Union—Fort Union to crossing of Milk river—Crossing of Milk river to Fort Benton—Fort Benton to entrance to tunnel, Cadotte's Pass—Hell's Gate crossing, via Clark's Fork, to the Spokane—Hell's Gate crossing to crossing of Bitter Root—Crossing of Bitter Root to entrance to tunnel, through the Coeur d'Aléne mountains—Tunnel at Stevens's Pass of the Coeur d'Aléne mountains—Tunnel to the Coeur d'Aléne mission—Coeur d'Aléne mission to crossing of the Columbia—Crossing of the Columbia to Seattle, Puget Sound—Vancouver, on the Columbia, and thence to Puget Sound—Estimate of cost.
ST. PAUL TO BOIS DE SIOUX, (MINNESOTA.)
The Mississippi, at St. Paul, flows some hundred and fifty feet below the higher prairie east of the town. The ascent to this plateau is made with a forty foot grade; then, with little variation of surface or soil, the line follows the general direction of the river, passing over prairies or oak openings to Sauk Rapids, and thence to Little Falls, 112 miles. The same characteristics obtain to Crow Wing.
In this interval the soil generally consists of a vegetable mould, of from one to four feet in depth, resting on a gravelly or sandy substratum, affording the best material for a fine and dry-road embankment. On the right, and further towards the interior, is the heavily wooded and timbered country of Minnesota. No rock cutting was observed, though rock was found near St. Anthony's Falls, and in the vicinity of Sauk Rapids. The grades are light, seldom exceeding two feet per mile. The bridge crossings are, at Rice creek, 60 feet; Cow creek, 60 feet; Rum river, 150 feet; Elk river, 120 feet. The culvert masonry is small, and the earthwork will not exceed an average embankment of six feet. For structures, both of wood and stone, the material is good and near at hand. The crossing at Little Falls requires but 325 feet of bridge, in two stretches, the river being divided by an island. The river is crossed at right angles; the abutment rests on a rock, and being at the falls, the bridge presents no obstruction to navigation. Here the crossing affords a good connexion with a line from Lake Superior, and on the west side enters a better wooded country than that further south, and one probably adapted for a firmer and drier road-bed.
Crow-Wing has also great advantages for a connexion with Lake Superior, in the facility with which a bridge can be thrown across the river at that point, and the easy and very fertile character of the country, both eastward to Lake Superior, and westward to the Bois de Sioux, in its inexhaustible timber, and in the saving of distance in the crossings to the south. The crossings at St. An-
(158) thony's Falls and Sauk Rapids are, respectively, of 800 and 600 feet, both feasible, and giving fair facilities.
In the next hundred and twenty-eight miles, to the Bois de Sioux prairie, the line passes successively through wooded and prairie country, the rise in this interval being about three hundred feet, the ground rolling, sometimes showing stony and gravelly knolls, and frequently interrupted by small lakes. The earthwork in this portion will not exceed an average embankment of eight feet high, and is occasionally stony. Granite boulders, at occasional intervals, are scattered over the surface. Side ditching is often necessary in flat and low places, but for the main part of the distance the excavation is high and gravelly. There is no rock excavation. Grades of thirty feet per mile will occasionally be required in the limited region of knolly, rolling country, but will not generally exceed ten feet. Crossing the tributaries of the Minnesota at their sources, the amount of bridging will be small; an estimate of two hundred feet on the small streams of the Crow, South Branch, and Chippewa rivers covers the whole. The culverts will. be frequent, but small. The pine and wooded region is estimated to extend on this line eighty miles westward from the Mississippi. From this the supplies of timber will be mostly drawn.
Stone is found in places only at the Mississippi. Granite boulders which will supply culvert masonry are found some sixty miles west of the Mississippi. For the small amounts of bridge abutments stone must be brought from the Mississippi unless good materials are hereafter found more convenient.
The Bois de Sioux will require a bridge of one hundred and forty feet; thence forward to the Missouri the distance is 426.7 miles, and the total rise is about seven hundred feet. The first part of this is over the plateau of the Bois de Sioux.
BOIS DE SIOUX TO FORT UNION.
The line westward from the Bois de Sioux passes south of the Shyenne and avoids the difficult crossings of that river. In the breaking up of the winter, and with the spring rains, the plateau of the Bois de Sioux is undoubtedly very wet and marshy, and to a great extent covered by a small depth of standing water. The Wild Rice river, and a branch of it which also runs through this plain, will require bridges of one hundred and twenty and one hundred feet. From south of the Shyenne to Mouse river the country is nearly uniform, gradually rising, in part undulating, but frequently marshy, and with many small lakes. James river is crossed by a bridge one hundred and twenty feet in length. There is a general destitution of wood throughout this interval. The Bois de Sioux and Wild Rice rivers will furnish a small amount, and the Shyenne will supply sleepers for two hundred miles of the way—single track. We do not know that James river will furnish any, but wooded lakes occasionally aid in the supply. A supply can be procured from Miniwakan lake. Mouse river is a large stream of water, and, after the Red River of the North, the most important on the. route between the Mississippi and the Missouri. It flows in a deep, wide valley, upwards of two hundred feet below the prairie level, the bottom varying from a half mile, to two miles; it is wooded, sometimes heavily, with elm, oak, ash, maple, &c. Its high arid steep banks are cut up by deep coulées extending back for fifteen or twenty miles. As these coulées would be difficult to cross, the railroad line is located so as to head them. At Mouse river a coarse grey sandstone crops out, and near by, at the Maison du Chien, Mr. Lander reports an abundance of excellent building sandstone. Mouse river is one hundred and twenty feet wide, and apparently as much as seven feet deep. The information collected as to its navigability was, from one source, that there was no obstruction; from another, that one rapid existed in the course down to its junction with Red river. This may be of great service in transporting materials, besides affording access to its beautiful and fertile valley.
(159) Between Mouse river and Fort Union the route crossed the plateau du Côteau du Missouri, and though by keeping up the River of Lakes to its source a somewhat more level and uniform surface is found, with grades not exceeding forty feet per mile.
The grading on this route will not exceed fifty feet. The line should strike some point on the Missouri in the vicinity of the mouth of the Yellowstone, at the head of navigation for the large class of steamers which can run down the Missouri. This point will be in the general vicinity of Fort Union, and can be reached by the valley of the Little Muddy.
At Mouse, Shyenne, Bois de Sioux, and Wild Rice rivers, but best at Red river, all the materials for good bricks are obtained; and it may be found cheaper and better to use brick masonry in the neighboring bridges and culverts, though the granite boulders will supply a considerable amount. Water can, by reservoir and unimportant aqueducts, be introduced at any point desired, and the numerous small lakes along the route will in this way be of service. Even through salt water regions, fresh water ponds are more numerous than those that are brackish. Prairie fires should be provided for by ditching; and as the grass is not generally heavy, this will prevent all danger to the wood work and trains.
Besides the supply of wood on the rivers and on the. Missouri, the road will require supplies to be transported from the forest near the upper Mississippi.. But without this it is estimated that the supply along the line is sufficient for six years.
Coal exists in lower Minnesota and Iowa, and an inferior quality was also found on Mouse river.
FORT UNION TO CROSSING OF MILK RIVER.
From Fort Union the line follows up the favorable valley of the Missouri to Milk river, 105 3/10 miles, and then up the equally fine valley of the Milk river for 180 miles further. The bottom lands of both are composed of clay and sand, of a nature to become soft and muddy in wet weather, but parched and cracked during the dry season. This section does not offer the best, but will afford a fair, material for road embankment.
The tributary rivers on the north side for which bridges must be erected are, the Great Muddy, Poplar, and Porcupine, all small streams, with an average width of 60 feet; the greatest depth where crossed, three feet. They will each require eighty feet trusses, with two abutments.
There is, besides, one peculiar feature for which provision must be made in constructing a railroad. At short intervals, not over eight miles for the whole river line, narrow, canal-like channels are found, generally extending from the coulées of the bluffs, dry in summer, but in the spring freshets forming the sluices by which the surplus water runs into the river. These have an average width of 25 feet, with a depth of eight feet, and should be spanned with a single timber structure, to prevent the accumulation of water, which would take place if the embankment was filled in across them, and which would in time undermine it. Missouri river, in the vicinity of Fort Union, is about 450 yards wide, and up to Milk river has a valley from two to eight miles wide. Its banks are well wooded with cottonwood, and have a small quantity of red cedar.
The hills on the south side are rough, broken bluffs, from 300 to 500 feet high; and on the north side they also rise abruptly, but are low, the plain, a few miles back, being only from 100 to 300 feet above the river. A coarse, white sandstone crops out of the bluffs, but apparently will not be used for building. Here the Yellowstone coming in, will aid in supplying timber, and perhaps stone, from the Black Hills and other ranges wooded with pine, which occur some distance up, near its source. The lignite of this region, traced from the coulées of Mouse river to the headwaters of Milk, a distance of 500 miles, apparently