(85) CANTONMENT JORDAN,
Bitter Root Mountains, W.T., January 5, 1860.
SIR: In accordance with your letter of instructions, I left the Dalles on May 16, 1859, for the purpose of examining into the practicability of a railroad line along the Columbia and Snake rivers, from the Dalles to the mouth of the Palouse river. Before entering into details it would be perhaps better to say something of the general character of the route, and more especially of the question of grades, which in most lines of railway is the subject of chiefest difficulty.
A glance at the accompanying profile, together with the following considerations, will show that if under any circumstances a railroad is practicable, along the Columbia and Snake rivers, the problem of grades is of easy solution; a large portion of the line is on the broad flats between the bluffs and the river, where there is no engineering difficulty to be surmounted; a considerable part, also, and such sections will be examined in greatest detail, lies along the face of steep rock bluffs, with the river laving their base, and where, by a variation of a few hundred feet to the right or left, the line can be elevated or depressed the greater part of this distance; here it is sufficiently evident the question is not one of grades. Still another portion is on rolling plateau, which sometimes continues for miles, with very gentle ascents and descents, and then breaks off suddenly with sheer precipices of from fifty to hundred feet in height, compelling the engineer to take steep side hills beyond; and these are the only sections where any difficulty from grades can be apprehended. Further investigation will show that even here the difficulty is not great.
To afford a cheap line of railway from the Dalles to the Umatilla river, beyond which point I will not go into detailed report, from being incapacitated for field work by sickness during the remainder of the exploration, the amount of curvature must of necessity be considerable, but much less than those unacquainted with the peculiar features of the country might suppose.
In almost all cases where large ravines occur, the bluffs recede from the river and broad flats intervene, and where the precipitous rock cliffs come down to the water, a straight line can often pass along their face for half a mile without leaving the surface more than a few feet. There are many points along the line where a large amount of rock cutting and embankments would be necessary; and, probably, in several places short tunnels would be required; but the average cost of the line would not be great, if curves of 1,000 feet radius, as a minimum, should be adopted where the nature of the ground required them.
Regarding the means and manner of operation during the exploration, the instruments used were a compass, spirit level, and odometer; the latter attached to a small wheel fitted with axel and shafts, and rolled along the line as surveyed.
Mr. Sohon was compass-man and topographer from the Dalles to Mud Spring; thence Mr. Johnson took his place to a point some ten miles west of John Day's river; and the remainder of the line was surveyed by Mr. De Lacy.
The level was used by myself until we had nearly reached the Umatilla, where sickness forced me to leave the party; Mr. Johnson taking my place as leveller, and the charge of the party devolving on Mr. De Lacy, who completed the special exploration. The map of the line was made by Mr. Sohon so far as he surveyed it, and the rest by Mr. De Lacy; the profile by myself. In the following report, as well as in that of Mr. De Lacy, that stations as referred to are taken from the level book and are identical on map and profile.
The high water mark as given on the profile was taken from actual observation of the greatest height of the water in 1859, when, I am assured, it was higher than at any previous time in the knowledge of the white residents of the vicinity; and it may be safely predicated that a line of railway located a few feet
(86) above this mark, as given, would be safe from any incroachment of the water of the Columbia river.
It is necessary to state that, whilst the profile was made entirely from the level notes, the level line as run was not in many instances exactly over the ground which was chosen as the better line of location; but being limited in time as well as means during the survey, and there having been no previous examination of the ground, I was forced to content myself with merely noting in the field book the variation between the line as run and that afterwards selected. The field book will therefore frequently show the data used in the report where the profile does not.
The initial station of the survey was taken at a point on the Walla-Walla road two miles east of Fort Dalles; and a bench mark, made on the root of a small oak tree near this station, was taken as one hundred feet above the base line.
From station 1 to Five-Mile creek, distance two miles, the line rises forty five feet to the point selected as the best bridge crossing. About one mile of embankment, six feet high, and one-fourth mile rock cutting, five feet deep, necessary; small culvert, six feet span, at Three-Mile creek. Length of bridge across Five-Mile creek, 140 feet, good natural rock abutments at about the same level, and fifty feet above water.
From Five-Mile creek to station 27, distance 1 1/2 mile, the fall is 5 feet. Between these points the ground is much rougher; about 3/4 mile of rock cutting, 8 feet deep, and 1/2 mile embankment, 10 feet high, necessary. From station 27 to 32, distance 1 mile, line rises 10 feet; work here is mostly in sandy earth, about 1/2 mile earth cutting, 15 feet deep, and 1/2 mile embankment, 15 feet high, will be required.
From station 32 to station 40, distance 3 miles, rise 10 feet. Between these points the quantity of work necessary is estimated as about equal to 7/8 mile rock cutting, 10 feet deep, and 1/2 mile of embankment, 30 feet high.
From station 40 to 43 the section is much more difficult than any yet considered. These points are on the same level, and their distance apart 1 3/8 miles. Between them will be necessary 1/2 mile embankment, 20 feet high, which extends from some 800 feet across a shallow corner of the river, then a tunnel of 1/4 of a mile, about; and then to station 43 the line passes for some 600 feet over another and much deeper corner of river, where a bridge will probably be required. The exact depth of the river at this point could not be ascertained, but at high water it must be at least 20 feet, and the current for a part of this distance is quite rapid.
From station 43 to station 53, distance 2 1/4 miles, rise 77 feet, grade 34 feet per mile, there will be necessary 1 mile embankment, 10 feet high. Between station 44 and station 53 the cliff makes a sharp bend, requiring a curve of 2,000 feet radius, an angular deflection of 80°.
From station 53 to station 54, distance 0.44 miles, line level rock cut averaging 10 feet for the whole distance. This is on an elevated plateau, which breaks off suddenly at station 54, with a fall of some 70 feet. Between stations 54 and 55 is another difficult section. The line leaves station 54, passing along a very steep side hill for about 1/4 mile; then curves for some 30° with radius of 1,000 feet, and passes on a straight line through a high rock bluff, with a tunnel of about 1,000 feet; then with a curve of larger radius and some 90° of angular deflection, it keeps the rising ground behind the Des Chutes village, and passes on a straight line across the Des Chutes river to station 55. For the first 1.4 mile the fall is 42 feet, grade 30 feet per mile; thence the line crosses the river on a level, and 15 feet above high water mark to station 55. Length of bridge over the Des Chutes river 480 feet. Good abutment and pier foundations. Whole length of embankments at both ends of bridge 900 feet, height 15 feet. The whole distance from station 54 to station 55 on this location is
(87) 1.85 mile, but, by a mistake in the odometer readings, which was not discovered until after the profile was finished, the distance, as it appears on the profile, is 0.67 mile too short. This will be noticed on the profile as well.
From station 55 to 61, distance about 1 1/2 mile, rise 7 feet. Work about equal to earth cutting 6 feet deep all the way.
From station 61 to 62, distance rather more than 1 mile, fall 16 feet; the grade line leaves the surface more than a foot either way between these stations, material all sandy earth.
From station 62 to Mud Springs, distance 2 miles, rise 34 feet; 1 mile embankment, 10 feet high, and 1/4 mile earth cutting, 6 feet deep, necessary. A culvert of 6 feet span required at Mud Springs creek.
From Mud Springs creek to station 79 the profile of the selected line of location is entirely different from the level line as run.
Between Mud Springs and station 74, distance 2 1/4 miles, fall 34 feet, the line for the first mile is along the slope of very precipitous rocky bluffs; work for this distance probably 1/2 a mile of rock cutting, 20 feet deep; for the remaining 1 1/4 mile the work is very light and nearly all in earth.
Between stations 74 and 79, distance 7 miles, rise 68 feet, the line here lies mostly along the level or gently rolling river flats, where both excavation and embankment would be slight, and the material most all earth; but for a distance of 2,000 feet back of station 78 the line is near the base and along the surface of nearly perpendicular rock bluffs rising from the river; here work would be required equivalent to rock cutting some 50 feet deep; but, even should a tunnel of 2,000 feet be required, it would be much preferable to the heavy grades of the line as run and indicated on the profile. About 3/4 mile back of station 79 is a ravine, where a culvert of 12 feet span would be required; also two small ones of 4 feet span between stations 76 and 78.
Between stations 79 and 82, distance 1 mile, is John Day's river; the line falls 16 feet in the first 1/2 mile, crossing the river on a level, which continues to station 82. Length of bridge required 450 feet. Foundation for east abutment solid; both west abutment and river foundation would probably require filling. Embankment on west side for 1/4 mile, averaging 20 feet in height; on east side very little needed. From station 82 to 90, distance 3 1/4 miles, the line continues level. No engineering difficulty between these points; 1,000 feet of rock, cut 20 feet deep, and 1/4 mile embankment, 20 feet high, would be about equivalent to the work required. Culvert of 4 feet span between stations 86 and 88.
From station 90 to 92, distance 2 miles, fall 20 feet, 1,000 feet of rock cutting, 6 feet deep, required; no embankment, one culvert of 5 feet span.
Between stations 92 and 95, distance 2 miles, rise 60 feet, there are two very precipitous rock bluffs of 100 and 80 feet in height, respectively. The line passes about 15 feet above the base, and along the face of the first for some 1,500 feet; here tressle work would probably be most economical. The second is about 2/3 mile back of station 95, and by cutting through this for 300 feet with an average depth of 15 feet, the line would pass with very little more work up to station 95.
Between stations 95 and 108, distance a little less than 5 miles, fall 37 feet, 3/4 mile of rock cutting, 10 feet deep, 1/2 mile earth cutting, 20 feet deep, and 1 mile embankment, averaging 20 feet in height, will be necessary.
From station 108 to 120, distance 4 1/4 miles, fall 7 feet. About 3/4 mile of earth cutting, 10 feet deep, and 3/4 mile embankment, 8 feet high, needed. From station 120 to 121, distance 2 miles, fall 12 feet, a very special survey is needed. The line passes across a shallow corner of the river for some 800 feet, and about 1 mile is along the face of very tortuous, broken, rocky bluffs, 60 feet high.
(88) From station 121 to 126, distance 1 1/4 mile, rise 20 feet, 1/2 mile earth cutting, 10 feet deep, and 1/2 mile embankment, 10 feet high.
From station 126 to 138, distance 3 3/4 miles, grade line level, earth cutting 1 1/2 miles, 6 feet in depth, embankment almost nothing.
From station 138 to 175, distance 11 miles, the fall here is 17 feet in the first 4 miles; then the line rises 33 feet in the next 6 miles, crossing Willow creek on a level, and 13 feet above its banks to station 175. For the first 9 1/4 miles the grade line does not leave the surface at any point more than 10 feet, and for this distance 2 miles embankment, averaging 8 feet in height, and 1 mile earth cutting, 10 feet deep, is about the amount of work required. About 1 mile back of Willow creek the line passes along a rocky hill side, and from this point to the creek 1/2 mile of rock cutting, 10 feet deep, and 1/4 mile embankment, 15 feet high, is necessary. Length of bridge across Willow creek 330 feet. Abutment foundations solid; pier foundation will probably require piling. 1/4 mile embankment, averaging 6 feet in height, between Willow creek and station 175.
From station 175 to 196, distance is 4 3/4 miles, fall 15 feet. In the first 1/2 mile there is required 1/4 mile rock cutting, 8 feet deep, thence up to station 196 the grade line does not anywhere vary more than 10 feet from the ground; for this distance 1 mile earth cutting, 6 feet deep, and 1/2 mile embankment, 6 feet high, necessary.
From station 196 to 211, distance 2 3/4 miles, rise 32 feet, embankment averaging 15 feet in height for one mile.
From station 211 to 215, distance 1/2 mile, rise 11 feet, excavation and embankment almost nothing.
From station 215 to 222, distance 2 1/4 miles, 1/2 mile of rock cutting, 8 feet deep. The fall between these stations is 26 feet.
From station 222 to 257, distance 6 3/4 miles, rise 35 feet, there is necessarily 1/2 mile embankment, 30 feet high, 2 miles embankment, 8 feet high, and 3/4 mile earth cutting, 10 feet deep.
Between stations 257 and 258, distance 8 1/4 miles, the fall is 7 feet. The line here runs straight across a bend of the river on a low, gently undulating flat. There is nowhere cut or bank more than 20 feet, and the material is all sandy earth. Over this section the level did not follow the line of location selected.
From station 258 to 273, distance 1 1/4 mile, rise 37 feet, about 1/2 mile embankment, 10 feet high, necessary.
Between stations 273 and 325, line level, distance 4 miles, is the Umatilla river. 1/2 mile embankment, 20 feet high, and 1/4 mile earth, 5 feet deep, necessary. Length of bridge across the Umatilla 340 feet; solid foundation for abutments, and most probably for piers. The banks, down to the water's edge, being remarkably firm.
The section of the line from the Dalles to the Des Chutes river, a distance of 13 miles, presents far more of engineering difficulties than any portion of the same length up to the Umatilla. For most of this distance the bluffs are generally very precipitous, and near to the river; the peculiar basaltic formation almost impossible, except from a very detailed survey; whilst in others the position for a railroad is so strongly marked that a very approximate location can be made without an instrument. It is in connecting these last mentioned portions with easy grades and greatest economy that the whole real difficulty, both as regards location and construction, lies.
Between the Dalles and Des Chutes river the ground-which of the whole distance to the Umatilla may be considered as most unfavorable for a railroad-amounts to nearly 8 miles, requiring in this distance probably 2,200 feet of tunnelling and 1,000 feet of bridging; whilst for the remaining 80 miles the sections presenting like difficulties amount to only 4 1/2 miles.
With the exception of these 12 1/2 miles, the estimate of the work required is
(89) quite approximate, most of the line being, sandy flats or gentle sloping side hills. The rock is all basaltic, but, being much seamed and broken, is generally favorable for blasting.
It is also well suited for rubble-stone masonry, and ballasting, for which purposes material in abundance can be obtained from the debris of the base of the cliffs, which at some points has its natural slope for some 100 feet of vertical heights. Clear, sharp sand, of the finest quality, for building purposes, is in abundance at many points.
There is no timber along the line; a few small willows at long intervals, near the margin of the river, being the only wood. Pine timber, however, can be obtained on the Yakima, 12 miles from the Columbia; near the mouths of the Spokane and Pisquouse, also on the main Columbia; this can be readily rafted down the Columbia to any point of the line.
Pines and cedars are also found along the Clearwater, which can be brought down the Snake and Columbia rivers.
I am, sir, &c.,
C. R. HOWARD,
Civil Engineer of Military Wagon road Expedition.
Lieutenant JOHN MULLAN,
Commanding Military Wagon road Expedition
From Fort Walla-Walla to Fort Benton.
Bitter Root Mountains, W. T., January 5, 1860.
SIR : In consequence of the illness of Mr. Howard, who was obliged to retire from the field, I was placed by you in charge if his party, and continued the survey of the Columbia and Snake rivers, from the mouth of the Umatilla river to the mouth of the Palouse, for Pacific railroad purposes.
The work was completed on the 31st of July, after which the party took up the line of march for your camp, which we reached on the 7th of August, on the Coeur d'Aléne river.
During these operations the personnel of the party remained the same as when left by Mr. Howard. The level was run by Mr. Johnson, and the topography of the line was taken by myself. The instruments used were the odometer, engineer's level, and prismatic compass.
Previous to entering on the details of the survey, which I shall give as far as the time now at my disposal will admit, I would remark that on the portion surveyed by me, as on that previously surveyed by Mr. Howard, the question of grades, often so difficult a problem to solve, may be said not to exist-that is, they are so light as to cause no difficulty whatever. It is simply a question of curves and construction, or, in other words, to put in curves which will require the minimum amount of construction, all other things being considered.
This will be peculiarly the case at some of the points of basaltic rock which occur on Snake river, most of which project in the form of ledges, which can be easily taken advantage of for the road-bed.
The line of the river was followed throughout. No attempt was made at an absolute railroad location, but the best was done that the time and means at our disposal would permit. The profile and maps will show the character of the country, and the information gained will serve to guide future engineers to the most difficult points for more detailed examination.
The stations referred to in this report are the level stations marked on the profile, and commenced at No. 325, on the right bank of the Umatilla river.
At this point the line is distant about a half mile from the Columbia river, but
(90) reaches it again in a mile and a half, with a descending grade of 6 feet per mile passing over a sandy, earthen flat, and then takes along the river for 3 miles more, to station 363, on top of a rock ledge, and along a gentle sand slope, which admits of a grade of 10 feet per mile. At station 363 the line takes a steep, rocky side hill, with occasional perpendicular ledges, for 3 1/2 miles, along the promontory called the "Monumental Rocks," to station 387, where they cease. The grade in this distance will not exceed 5 feet per mile, but will probably require, say, 1,000 yards of rock cut, 10 feet deep; the rest will be earth excavation, and curves will be from 2 to 3 miles radius. There is one large ravine, 300 feet wide, through which flows a small spring branch. This will require embankment, and a culvert of 6 feet span.
From station 387 to station 447, distance 5.4 miles, the ground falls 10 feet, passing over a rolling, sandy country, where there would be about 1 mile of embankment, 6 feet high, and the remaining distance cut; average depth, 3 feet.
From station 447 to station 496, distance 4.18 miles, the ground rises 15 feet, and will require very little work, except in the last mile, where there will be about 3,400 feet of embankment, 3 feet deep, and 800 feet rock cut, 30 feet deep, through a rocky point jutting into the river. The level line between these stations did not follow the selected line of location.
From station 496 for about 2 miles the grade will be very light-almost nothing. There will be 200 feet rock cut, 8 feet deep, and about 3,000 feet of embankment; average height, 5 feet.
A better line of location could, however, be probably found by throwing the line nearer the foot of the hills.
Thence to the Walla-Walla river, station 576, a distance of 3 miles, the country is rocky and broken. Points of rock jut into the river, and ledges of rock occur, cut up by ravines. The line will pass at the foot of these, with a very light grade. There will be about one-third of the distance embankments, 10 feet high, and two-thirds distance rock cut. A special and detailed examination will be required, in order to locate the line or make an estimate of the amount of work.
On the left bank of the Walla-Walla an embankment of 1,500 feet in length would be required, and 10 feet high; also a similar one on the right bank, for a mile.
A bridge, crossing about 100 yards above the mouth of the river, of 550 feet in length, would be required. Both banks are of sand, there being no rock immediately on them, but that material can be obtained in abundance from the neighboring cliffs. The river is very rapid, but fordable at low water.
From station 576 to station 587, or between the Walla-Walla and Snake rivers, a distance of 10 1/4 miles, the whole country is a sandy flat, almost level. There are but two elevations on it, neither of which are over 20 feet in height, and both can be avoided, as well as two or three gullies which occur, by throwing the line further from the river, towards the low range of sand hills which border it, at the general distance of three-fourths of a mile.
On each bank of Snake river an embankment of about 2,400 feet in length, and 10 feet in height, will be required. A drawbridge of 1,500 feet will span the river at a point about a quarter of a mile above its mouth. The river is about 16 feet deep at this point, in high water. Curves of 1,500 feet radius will probably be necessary to approach the bridge on either side, particularly on the right bank, where a range of hills about 100 feet high, following down the Columbia, come close on the bank of Snake river, about one-half mile above its mouth. This river was crossed by the survey at this point, and the right bank is the one always spoken of below.
From station 589 to station 598, right bank of Snake river, distance 4
(91) miles, the line runs along the foot slopes of a range of sand and gravel hills, having the same general grade as the river, or not more than 4 feet per mile.
There will be two embankments, with drains, across the mouths of ravines, one 300 feet in length and 3 feet in depth, and another of 600 feet in length and same depth. Just beyond this station is a rocky point, which will require 352 feet of cut, of 35 feet depth. For the next mile, to station 601, the line runs on a flat, following the natural surface of the ground, and crossing a slough which will require a bridge of 75 feet in length.
From station 601 to station 632, distance 9 miles, the line, with the exception of about one-half mile, where it runs on a flat, takes the sides of gravelly hills, with slopes varying from 20 to 40. No grade in this distance will exceed 10 feet per mile. The mouths of several ravines are passed-three of 50 feet in width and 3 feet deep, one of 30 feet wide and 10 feet deep, and one large one of 500 feet embankment, 25 feet deep, with culvert of 6 feet span. None have water in them, except in spring. The rock cutting between these stations will not exceed 40 linear yards; all the rest will be earth excavation. Along this portion of the line the river makes a very large bend northward.
From station 632 to station 635, distance one and three-eighths (1 3/8) mile, the line runs for one-half mile along the steep side of a high rolling plateau, with a ledge of rock next the river, until a slough comes in, which makes a large bend toward the west, and cuts off a large gravel island. Beyond the slough is a high rolling flat, extending for a mile, to the foot of what is called "Anchor Cañon," where the river is enclosed on either side by perpendicular ledges of basaltic rock, rising directly from the water. The cañon extends from about station 646 to about one-fourth mile beyond station 663, where there is a deep ravine, and where it ends.
There are two distinct ledges of rock continuing all the way to the ravine, the lower one occasionally interrupted and narrow, and from 30 to 50 feet above the water.
These ledges are remarkably straight. All of this section from station 632 to station 646 will need a very special and detailed examination to ascertain the best and most economical location.
The most obvious would seem to be to cross the above-mentioned island, which would require two bridges of about 300 feet in length and embankment of about 1,500 feet in length and 30 feet in height, taking advantage of the rolling flat, beyond which is much higher than the island, to obtain the requisite grade, (which in no case would exceed 30 feet per mile,) and these pass the cañon on the upper or lower ledge, as may be found most advisable. There will be about 2 1/4 miles of heavy excavation and embankment, and about the same amount of rock cutting, 20 feet deep. Just beyond station 663 is a ravine about 500 feet wide, which will have to be passed, and a point of rock requiring a cut of 200 feet long and 40 feet deep. From this point to station 721, distance 7 1/2 miles, the line will run generally on the sides of gravel hills, with slopes of from 20 to 40, with about a mile of rolling plateau. There will be some 7 or 8 large ravines requiring embankments of from 100 to 400 feet in length and an average depth of 10 feet, with culverts, and numerous small gullies only requiring drains. There will be about 4,000 feet of rock cutting, with an average depth of 6 feet, and about 500 feet of retaining wall. Grades very light, not more than 10 feet per mile.
From station 721 to station 738, distance 2 miles, will require a detailed examination to determine the best location. About 1/2 mile consists of a rolling plateau, cut up by ravines on top, with two rock ledges at the base part (1 1/2 miles) of a bluff, the face of which is composed of alternate broken ledges of rock and steep earthen slopes. The line on the profile gives the levels on top where the instrument was enabled to run, above which, again, are other perpendicular ledges or cliffs over 200 feet high. A line can be obtained along the face of this bluff by taking advantage of the ledges of rock and the use of
(92) retaining walls. It is impossible to give any definite idea of the amount of work, but most of it will be rock cutting. A tunnel would not be needed and the grade would not exceed 20 feet.
From station 738 to station 742, distance 1 3/4 mile, the line runs generally along the side hills, with slopes of from 20 to 30, where the grade will be light. In this distance there are 4 ravines, embankments from 60 to 200 feet in length, and average depth of 25 feet, culverts four feet span. From station 742 to the Pine Tree Rapids, distance 3 1/4 miles, the river is bordered by steep hills and cut up by ravines. The lower portion of these hills consists of broken ledges of basaltic rock, points of which jut into the river.
There are 5 ravines which will require bridges or embankments of from 100 to 350 feet, and 2 which are 900 feet broad. There are rock ledges on both sides of all the ravines. The grades would be light. At least one-half of the work would be in rock cutting; the remainder earth excavation and embankment.
From Pine Tree Rapids to station 757, distance 3 miles, the line would run along a broken, rocky ledge with a descending grade of 20 feet per mile. This last station will have about 2,000 yards of rock cutting 10 feet deep, the rest being earth excavation on side slope of 1 1/2 to 1. Three ravines are to be passed, 275, 300, and 350 feet broad on the line. This station will require a very particular examination, being probably the most difficult on the whole river. From station 757 to station 778, distance 1 1/4 miles, the line of location selected does not follow the line exhibited on the profile, but takes the bank of the river with an ascending grade of 15 feet. Two large ravines will be passed, requiring culverts of 10 feet span. From station 778 to station 783, distance 2 miles, the line has a descending grade of 10 feet per mile, and presents no difficulty, as it follows the course of the river banks on side slopes of earth, varying from 15 to 45, and intersected only by two ravines of any size, requiring culverts of 10 feet span. From station 783 to station 797, distance 2 1/2 miles, the line can be located either according to the line shown on the profile, or on either side of it, as may seem, on minute examination, the best line to approach a basaltic cliff, which juts out into the river. There is no difficulty whatever on any of these lines and no rock cutting. At station 797 the cliff commences and continues for about a mile. There are three ledges of rock running parallel to the water, but not continuous. Curves of 1,500 feet radius would be required at station 799, and the line can run around the face of the cliff on the lower ledge. There will be rock cutting for a mile with an average depth of 15 feet. This point will require a very particular examination. The grade will not exceed 10 feet per mile. Within the next half mile to station 799 there are 3 large ravines, which will require embankments of from 200 to 300 feet in length, and 20 feet in depth; culverts of 10 feet span. In the above-mentioned cliff the first ledge rises about 50 feet above the water, has an average breadth of 30 feet, and would be the best location for the road. From station 799 to station 822, distance 4 miles, the line runs on side slopes of hills, varying from 10 to 30. The grade will not exceed 6 feet per mile and the section presents no difficulty whatever. The mouths of 17 ravines are crossed, the largest being 150 feet wide and 10 feet deep, the smallest 30 feet wide and 8 feet deep; no rock cutting in this section.
From station 822 to station 825, distance 5 1/2 miles, the line runs partly at the foot of basaltic cliffs, and partly at the foot of steep earth slopes crowned with basaltic rock. There is a regular beach of rock boulders along the whole of this distance, and the level line was run on this below high water mark. An embankment with retaining wall can be easily made at the foot of these cliffs, the total amount of which would be 1 1/4 miles and 15 feet high; besides which there would be about 600 feet of rock cutting, 5 feet deep. There are 4 ravines to be passed requiring embankments of from 100 to 400 feet in length and 12 feet high; the rest will be side-hill excavation.
(93) From station 825 to station 836, distance 4 1/2 miles, the line for 3 miles runs along gentle side slopes for 1 1/2 miles; the side hills are at an angle of 45 and curved in one or two places with loose rock, where retaining walls would be necessary. The grades can be thrown above or below, as may be found best. There are 3 large ravines requiring embankments of from 100 to 150 feet in length and 10 feet deep. There will be about 200 yards retaining wall.
From station 833 to station 836, distance 1 3/4 mile, the line, as shown on the profile, was run directly across the sand hills to the mouth of the Palouse river, but would not be the selected line of location. Should the line go up the Palouse, to gain the table land, it would be thrown on the side hill above; or should it pass the mouth of that stream, it would keep below on the river bank, where it would run on gentle side slopes. The grades and amount of work would, of course, be widely different on the two lines; neither, however, would present any difficulty.
Bench marks were established at the Monumental Rock, at Old Fort Walla-Walla, near the mouth of that stream, and in two places, one near and the other at the mouth of the Palouse. All were cut in the solid rock, and the height above the base line engraved on the last one.
It will be seen by the above report that the survey made by me divides itself naturally into three sections: the first from the Umatilla (station 325) to the Walla-Walla river; second, from the Walla-Walla to the mouth of Snake river; third, from the mouth of Snake river to the mouth of the Palouse.
In the first section, distance 22 3/4 miles, there are 6 1/2 miles of difficult work, rock cutting generally, and requiring a special examination to determine the best line of location. The rest is either side hill cutting or embankment in sandy earth, and presents no difficulty whatever. There will be 550 feet of bridging. In the second section, distance 10 1/4 miles, there is no difficulty whatever; the line will pass on a sand flat, the excavation and embankment will not exceed 10 feet in depth at any point where there is no rock, and no structures required except a drawbridge of 1,500 feet across Snake river. The third section, distance 59 1/4 miles, presents much greater difficulties than the others in consequence of basaltic cliffs and broken ledges of rock which occur at the several points mentioned in the above.
None, however, involve greater difficulties than have already been overcome on railroads in the eastern States, and all of these places can be passed without tunnels, and with easy grades. There will be 15 1/2 miles of the above distance which will be nearly all rock cutting along these cliffs, and which will require a particular instrumental examination to determine the best grades with which to approach them, and the best location to pass with the least work. Of the remaining distance 39 miles will be in side hill excavation, with occasional rock cutting.
The location of the line will be very easy, and the character of the ground will admit of very light grades, the highest not exceeding thirty feet per mile. Embankments will be chiefly across ravines, of which there are a large number, and perhaps three miles across flats, with an average depth of 15 feet, depending on the location of the road.
The amount of curvature will be very great in consequence of the tortuous course of the rivers. The least radius will be 1,000 feet, and very flat curves can be employed with great effect in passing the basaltic cliffs to diminish the amount of work.
Basalt was the only rock found on the Columbia and Snake rivers within the limits of the survey. It was full of seams, much of it columnar, and will, I think, be easy to blast. It is excellent for rubble stone masonry and ballasting, and can be obtained in the greatest quantities; the finest quality of sand can also be obtained in great abundance. There are remarkably few springs above the level of the river, and the soil is generally sandy, but has an abundance of excellent grass, both on the river and the hills.
(94) With the exception of a few willows of small size there is no timber on the Columbia and Snake rivers up to the mouth of the Palouse, within the limits of the present survey. Wood for railroad purposes can be procured, as is well known, from the upper Columbia, the Yakama, and the Clearwater, and rafted down; and it may not be irrelevant to remark that the location of the line directly along the banks of two large and navigable streams will afford unequalled facilities for the transportation of the men, their tools, provisions, and the iron and other materials for the road.
The right bank of Snake river was the one surveyed, as it was reported to offer the least obstacles to a railroad location. The left bank seemed to be more difficult, looking at it across the river, but it is almost needless to say that no final location could be properly made until both sides had been instrumentally examined.
I am, sir, &c.,
W. W. DE LACY,
Lieut. J. MULLAN, U. S. A.,
Commanding Military Road Expedition
Bitter Root Valley, W. T., March 9, 1860.
DEAR SIR: On the accompanying tracing you will observe an approximate location and profile of a railroad line from the eastern base of the Bitter Root mountains, at Sohon's Pass, to a point some seventeen miles westward, where the line leaves the side hill and takes the valley of the Coeur d'Aléne river. This section comprises the points of chiefest difficulty in the vicinity of Sohon's Pass, as on the east of the mountain the line follows the valley of the St. Regis Borgia river with less of curvature and comparatively easy gradients.
Between the points first named there are estimated two tunnels, the main one through the mountains of. 2.35 miles in length, and the other about two miles east of the South Fork, the length of which is 0.25 of a mile.
The curvature has been taken at a maximum. From the smallness of the scale of the map it was found convenient to use reversed curves in places where they were not absolutely necessary; and curves of 1,000 feet radius, in many instances, have been used where larger ones might be substituted.
Between the west portal of the main tunnel and the point where the line leaves the side hill (on the tracing marked a,) the distance is 14.70 miles, of which 6.45 are curved, and 8.25 straight. The air line between these points is 13.38 miles; lengthened by curvature 1.32 mile.
In the 6.45 miles of curved line the amount of angular deflection is 1600°, of which 89° 50' are of 2,000 feet, 59° 21' of 4,000 feet, and the remainder of 1,000 feet radii.
An inspection of the tracing, which was taken from a map made with great detail and accuracy by Mr. Kolecki, will show that several of the large ravines coming into the valley of the Coeur d'Aléne river from the southward can be crossed only at their mouths, and hence the grade lines are very approximately determined.
From the east portal the grade rises 10 feet in the first mile, and then descends at the rate of 75 feet per mile to the west portal; thence for 2.14 miles at 100 feet per mile; thence for some five miles at 80 feet per mile; and for the remaining 7.56 miles the grade is 70 feet per mile.
The base line of the profile is the level of the slackwater at Coeur d'Aléne mission, or 2,209 feet above the level of the sea.
From the point where the military wagon road commences ascending the mountain on the western side, (the western portal of the main tunnel,) there has
(95) been no detailed survey along the railroad line as indicated on the tracing, and further investigation may considerably shorten the tunnel line as here estimated.
I am, sir, very truly your obedient servant,
C. R. HOWARD,
Civil Engineer to Military Road Expedition.
Lieutenant JOHN MULLAN,
United States Army, Commanding Military Road Expedition
From 'Fort Walla- Walla to Fort Benton.
Bitter Root Mountains. W. T., February 15, 1860.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of my journey, undertaken pursuant to your verbal instructions in May last, to examine a route for a military wagon road across the Bitter Root mountains from the Sma-Kodle prairie on an east line to the Hell's Gate defile. Furnished with such information of the route as given by certain Coeur d'Aléne Indians, and as described by the missionary, the Rev. Father Josét, and with the hope and view of obtaining their assistance, I started from the Dalles without delay.
On the 3d of June I left the Des Chutes landing in the steamer Colonel Wright, and landed at old Fort Walla-Walla on the 5th, and reached the new fort on the 6th, where I found Messrs. Wiessner and Kolecki in charge of the astronomical observatory, when the latter informed me that he had already despatched an Indian expressman to the Coeur d'Aléne mission for the necessary guides for my trip.
Whilst at Walla-Walla I endeavored to secure the services of some Nez Percés Indians to accompany me to the Hell's Gate, but when I mentioned to them the particular route that I wished to examine, they represented to me that the whole region was one immense bed of rugged mountains, and over which they never heard of any persons having travelled, and therefore they declined to join my party.
On the 7th of June the Rev. Father Josét arrived, together with Augustine, a Coeur d'Aléne Indian, who had been sent for as one of my guides. This Indian declared that the contemplated trip could not be made yet, because the streams were too high, and the snows in the mountains too deep, and that it would be impossible to pass over the more difficult regions before some time in August. I insisted upon starting immediately for the examination, when Father Josét informed me that the other two guides, who were necessary for the examination of the route, had not yet been obtained, and that it was, indeed, doubtful whether they could be obtained. It evidently seems that the route in question, from the accounts of all, had not been a travelled one, and that no one knew the route continuously from the waters of the Snake river to those of the Bitter Root.
It would seem, however, that there were three Coeur d'Aléne Indians who knew the three sections of the route. These were Ko-ne-moo-say, Kah-lis, and Augustine; the latter knew the more difficult mountain sections and the higher ridges, and told me that he had discovered this section whilst hunting, and that he came in view of the Bitter Root valley about twenty-eight miles below the Hell's Gate defile, but that he did not descend into the valley. Father Josét told me that the other two guides were absent for reasons that I might account for. Augustine was apparently uneasy and displeased; first, because he disliked to show that portion of the country which he claims as his property, fearing they would lose it; nor was he at all anxious to undergo the fatigues and difficulties of the trip; but when he found that the absence of the other two guides would be sufficient to prevent me from travelling, he mustered his best
(96) will for the undertaking. He desired to go back to his family, promising to meet me at the camass prairie of the Coeur d'Aléne on the 20th of June, when he would join and guide me to some of the higher peaks of the Bitter Root mountains in his country, which, though probably covered with snow, we might ascend, and where I could have an extensive view over the mountains and country generally, and saying, "Then you can see all and satisfy yourself." As there was a probability of finding the other two guides at this same camass prairie, I decided to let him go, with the understanding that he would meet me on the 20th of June. While the reconnaissance from the Sma-Kodle prairie was thus retarded on account of my Indian guides, I determined to explore the line from the point where the military road crosses Snake river to the Sma-Kodle prairie. The map of this exploration has been compiled in the office this winter. In order that you may know the character of the country in detail, I make the following extracts from my itinerary, which were made in the field at the time:
June 14.-I ferried Snake river at the mouth of the Palouse and encamped; grass and wood scarce; my party consisted of Toolhill, Prank Hall, a half-breed, and Slougharchy, the Palouse chief.
June 15.-Was cloudy and windy; we crossed the Palouse three miles above its mouth, and ascended a high and steep bluff to the table land; and from the point where your wagon road joins this trail we travelled about north 30° east, and encamped on the Palouse river at the point where Colonel Wright encamped when holding a council with the Palouse Indians in September, 1858; our march was eighteen miles; grass and wood in abundance.
June 16.-At 5 a. m. the weather was clear, with a temperature of 66° (F.); we travelled up the Palouse on the left bank for seven miles, when we struck the Smokle creek and followed it; it flows through a valley of easy grade, and bounded on either side by high rolling prairie, its course being generally east and west. The valley at its mouth is somewhat narrow, but in one-fourth mile it widens, and in five miles it runs out into the general level of the country. In eight miles from the river it is closed in again by slopes 100 and 600 feet high. The soil in the first ten miles is somewhat gravelly; further up it is richer, and in 15 miles it bears the camass and other roots, upon which the Indians subsist. In the first ten miles there is little or no wood, but higher up, cottonwood, aspen, birch and brushwood fringe the banks, more or less. At the mouth of the creek the water is some eight feet wide and two inches deep, and supplied mostly by a small tributary coming in from the south; but the creek is dry in many places, and hence, at times water might be scarce, though there are many springs that might be improved. Grass is plentiful along the whole route, and indeed the road is good, requiring but little grading along the valley of the Palouse for wagons to pass. This day we travelled twenty miles up the creek, twenty-seven from last camp, and encamped on the creek.
June 17.-Thermometer 52° (F.) at 5 a. m.; continued to follow up the valley of the Smokle creek; the valley is dotted with pines, and in many places cut up by narrow sloughs, now dry, but they would interpose no serious obstruction to the construction of a wagon, road. In twenty miles our road joined a heavy trail coming in from the southwest, when it leaves the valley of the Smokle creek; and leading over a rolling prairie region, in eight miles it reaches a good spring of water, which is about 200 feet north of the trail, on a side hill. In three miles more it reaches the bottom of the Sma-Kodle which we ascended for two miles, and encamped at a spring, near a bunch of thornberry bushes, distance from last camp 34 2/10 miles. The creek winds through a flat, which is one-fourth to one mile wide, and in early summer, being under water, produces the camass.
June 18.-We followed up the Sma-Kodle prairie for seven miles, and encamped on the creek of the same name, and at a point where it joins to the north-
(97) west foot of the Tat-hu-nah hills. These hills are from 1,200 to 1,400 feet high and some three miles long. The top of the southern portion is sparsely timbered with pine; there is a ravine also near at hand which is timbered, and where a spring of water offers a good camping ground. The country to the south and west of the Tat-hu-nah is a rolling prairie, extending as far as the eye can reach. On the north and two miles distant is a mountain ridge covered with pine. The intermediate region is low and diversified by small spurs and prairie bottoms, which last connect with the Sma-kodle prairie, and it is through this gate that the road would pass in approaching the Bitter Root mountains from the west.
Towards the east the country for twelve miles is an undulating prairie, with scattering pines, when the western foot-slopes of the Bitter Root mountains are reached. These rise to the east and northeast in lofty peaks and spurs, covered with dense pine forests, while in the southeast they rise in masses of broken flats, and free from timber. I ascended the northern peak of the Tat-hu-nah to obtain a view of the distant ridges, but found them obscured by the haze of the atmosphere. June 19th I despatched Slougharchy, the Palouse chief, on an express to your camp, forwarding by him a map of the line travelled and examined up to date, whence I proceeded to the camaas prairie in search of the Coeur d'Aléne guides.
Leaving the Tat-hu-nah hills we passed over a rolling prairie country in the general direction of N. 30° W., magnetic, for five miles, when we crossed a ridge five hundred feet high, and steep; in eight miles from Tat-hu-nah we crossed a small creek called Ki-ah-ne-mah; four miles more we ascended a ridge nine hundred feet high, and, in one and a half mile, descended to the valley of the Palouse river proper, here called the Mo-ho-lis-sah. The valley is here three-tenths of a mile wide, and timbered with pine. The river is thirty feet wide, two feet deep, with sandy bottom; its general course is west. At the distance of seven miles further we encamped on a creek where the water stood in pools; here the grass was good and wood abundant. The weather was exceedingly warm during the day, and severe upon our animals that were not in the best condition. Our march this day was nineteen miles.
On June 20th we started at sunrise; it was dear and pleasant, thermometer being at 50° Fahrenheit. The road continued over rolling prairie, when, in four and a half miles, it crossed the Ingossomen creek; in two miles further another small creek; thence ascending, in one and a half mile, a ridge of six hundred feet, descends, and, in four miles, reaches Nedl-whuald or camass prairie of the Coeur d'Aléne's-distance from last camp, twelve miles. The prairie is about one mile wide, and bordered by mountain spurs with pine forests.
On a flat elevation on the left bank of the Nedl-whuald creek was the camp of the Coeur d'Aléne Indians; it was at this time they were digging roots. Bands of horses were grazing in the bottom and along the creeks. This, then, was the appointed place and time for meeting the guides who were to conduct me in my exploration across the Bitter Root mountains. The guide Augustine was here, who, with other Coeur d'Aléne Indians, came out to meet me, and, pointing me to a spring near at hand, I encamped.
During the day the chiefs, and principal men, who had been my old friends, visited me in camp and exchanged news. I soon learned that the services of my guides had not been obtained. One, Kah-lis, was absent, and Ko-ne-moo-sey, who was present, was in a doubtful mood, and told me, as an excuse, that we could not go now, as all the guides were not present. They were evidently excited regarding the construction of the military wagon road, and inquired anxiously concerning its probable location. Ko-ne-moo-sey paid he thought we should take the Sma-kodle prairie route; but when asked to go as guide, he refused. I saw then, from the mood of the Indians, that their services could
(98) not willingly be secured, and their disposition was to retard my movements, obstruct my passage through their country, and have me consume a large portion of the summer in fruitless efforts at an examination. Without guides, without information, and in a region known only by its difficulties, and with Indians in their present mood, it seemed a useless effort for me to attempt to make a direct exploration of this special route that you sent me to examine and report upon. I disliked, however, after all my labor and expense of time and means, to leave the mountains without gaining some approximately correct information that would form the basis of your operation or subserve the purposes of future explorers. I determined, therefore, as Augustine was the more willing of the three to accompany me into the mountains, that I would avail myself of the oppportunity, and attempt to ascend some of the higher ridges of the Bitter Root range, and thus obtain a glimpse or view of the country, and thus arrive at some definite conclusion regarding its topographical character and formation. Therefore, on the 21st June I left the camass plain with feelings of some anxiety, though determined to do the best I could with the means and aid at my disposal. Before leaving camp, however, the old Coeur d'Aléne chief, Skah-ha-e-mu, called to see me, and said that his people had held a council the night previous, and, passing around the pipe, had remained up late arguing the question whether Augustine should be permitted to accompany me or not to the upper country. The majority prevailed in my favor, though Ko-ne-moo-sey was against it. Augustine was present and heard the conversation, and appeared indignant at the idea that his people should interfere with him. He started willingly, though lamenting the difficulties that we should meet with in ascending the ridges, where we would have to climb for days over steep side-hills where the ground was obstructed by dense forests and fallen timber, and even now covered with snow. Starting out we travelled up the open prairie valley for three and a half miles, thence through open timber for three miles, when we crossed a low spur and descended to a creek, which we crossed and encamped on its right bank.
There was good grass in the open timber, June 22d started at sunrise, weather clear, thermometer 42° (F.) Our route lay through open timber, and in 5 1/2 miles along a side-hill, and following up the right bank of a small creek, a tributary to the Nedl-whuald, and in a mile more we crossed it at the junction of two branches, thence over a ridge covered with dense forests, fallen timber, and underbrush, and in 2 1/2 miles, or nine miles from our camp, we reached a camass prairie, two miles long and half a mile wide, closed in by mountain spurs densely timbered. We followed a small creek, which joins in this prairie a second creek that rises from the south, and which together formed a stream 20 feet wide. We passed along the main creek through a narrow valley, on a good road for four miles, when we crossed it. Then the trail leads over a low ridge one mile, and then for 1 1/2 mile to the north of a ravine that leads into the valley of the south fork of the St. Joseph's river. We crossed the St. Joseph's, and encamped on its right bank. Distance travelled, 25 miles. The river here is 80 feet wide and two feet deep, with a gravelly bed and swift current. The valley is 3-10 of a mile wide and densely timbered. Our animals had sufficient grazing along the edge of the river and in places where the timber was less dense. June 23d we moved up the south fork of the St. Joseph's eastward, crossing three creeks, and making six crossings of the main river, and encamped on a camass prairie five-tenths by two-tenths of a mile in area. This prairie is along the river, and at the foot of the high ridge for which we were travelling. On June 24th we rested in camp, for our animals were now weary and fatigued, and we thought it best to halt and prepare for our task of ascending the ridge. All had gone well up to this point, but here our evil genius seemed to have attended us in the person of Damass, the brother of my guide Augustine, whom we met hunting in the mountains. After a series of endeavors and intrigues on the part of Damass,
(99) he succeeded in changing the mood of his brother Augustine, who then determined not to accompany me further. He came to me and said as follows: "Let us have a better understanding. I told you at Walla-Walla that there was no road through this section to the Flathead country; the mountains are too difficult. Those high ridges yonder (pointing to some high spurs of the Bitter Root range) are small compared to those over which we shall be compelled to pass, and there are many of them: the road would pass over high and steep mountains, and down in steep ravines and cañons. If all the Americans would work here a thousand years they could never make a road. I think a road through the Pend d'Oreille country is the best for you, for there you do not pass over difficult mountains. It was Ko-ne-moo-sey who told you that a wagon road could be had here, and he says this because he owns land along the Pend d'Oreille route, and fears if the soldiers make a road along that route he will lose his land. I am sorry to see Father Joset and yourself determined to take this route. Those who told you that a road could be had here deceived you, and made you lose time in exploring. I say again, that if all the Americans would spend a thousand years here they could not make a road." And finally he said, "I think you would do better to return from here." This conversation with my guide showed me that he was determined to go no further, and that all endeavor would be now useless. My animals were jaded, provisions scanty, and even in this extremity I should have tried to continue the exploration further, had I not perceived that even he feared some mischief from his brother, who desired to detain me until other Indians should join them, for they daily expected others from the main body. You have, then, my reasons for returning, and though I did it reluctantly, it was my safest alternative to rescue my small party from the hands of men whom I now could trust no longer. I returned to the Sma-kodl prairie, where I found encamped the Nez Percés, and some other tribes, who where here digging camass. They met me in a friendly manner, but could give me no information relative to the proposed route; but they all regarded it as a matter of impossibility to discover a wagon road route south of the one that you had originally proposed, following via the Coeur d'Aléne mission and St. Regis Borgia river. Among the Indians whom I met here was "Three Feathers," whom I had often met in the mountains before; we gathered in his lodge to exchange news, &c. It was here I met the old chief Yah-moh-moh. The old man, not knowing my exact object in this region, began speaking very freely regarding the mountains. He said, "When young he hunted in this region and found plenty of game, water, and grass were abundant, and travelling good." I then asked for a guide to show me the section he spoke of, and for the hire of a few horses. "Three Feathers" replied, "Wait, you will get plenty of horses." I left the lodge and invited them to come and see me in the evening. They did so, and dined with me, when, bringing up the subject of the road, I was only surprised to find that their opinions now were just the opposite to what they had expressed in the morning. I would remark that a portion of the route would have to go through their country. The old man made an energetic speech, declared his friendship for the whites, &c., but described the mountains as formidable, the forests and underbrush as impenetrable, and the streams dangerous, if not impassable, &c., and implored me not to think of exploring the route—that if I did I would perish, and rumor would say that the Indians had killed me. He thought the route by the Coeur d'Aléne mission the best. The consequence of all this was that I could obtain neither horses nor guides. Never have I seen Indians more impertinent or unwilling to do service of any character; I could not even secure the services of one of them to bear you an express. I desired Augustine to return with me, but his brother Damass told him that you would hang him. Thus you will readily see the circumstances amid which I found myself, and the peculiar trying difficulties of my position. I then determined to despatch
(100) Frank Hall with an express to you, mounted on my best horse, and abide your further instructions, and, as you are well aware, notwithstanding all the difficulties around us, I was still willing to undertake the exploration of the line embraced from the Tat-hu-nah hill to the Hell Gate defile, which you thought might be practicable. I satisfied myself of one thing: the extreme aversion that the Indians have against any wagon road passing through their country; and I have no doubt but that it affords a constant theme for conversation and discussion among them. I remained in camp at the Tat-hu-nah hills until the 3d July, awaiting the return of Frank Hall, who on that day arrived with an express from you, directing myself and party to start for your main camp, where I arrived and reported to you on the 7th July, 1859.
I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
Guide and Interpreter Military Road Expedition.
Lieut. JOHN MULLAN, U.S.A., Commanding Military
Road Expedition from Fort Walla-Walla to Fort Benton.
FORT OWEN, BITTER ROOT VALLEY, W. T.,
March 7, 1860.
SIR: In compliance with your instructions to examine the valley of Snake river upwards from Fort Taylor to Red Wolf's Crossing, I left your camp at the mouth of the Tukanon creek on the morning of July 1, 1859, with one man and three horses. The Indian trail leading to the Red Wolf's or Al-pah-hah Crossing follows the north bank of Snake river, which, offering less difficulties for horses, I crossed the river at your camp and took the above-mentioned trail, following it upwards to the place of my destination. Snake River valley, as far as I ascended it, is entirely destitute of timber, and the enclosing bluffs are also naked, and only covered with bunch grass, giving quite a monotonous aspect. The valley itself gains gradually more the character of a cañon, and the bluffs become, in the same degree, more rocky and precipitous, and afford more difficulty to the location of the trail. At the top of the bluffs the surface gains the form of long, rolling plateaus, cut up by steep ravines, which extend backward from the river from four to six miles, many of which, in spring, contain running water, heading in the plateaus. These tributaries to Snake river are not very large, but are of great importance to the Indians, who, by this means, irrigate their fields, which they have established at every little point where the valley extends and the soil promises to yield a crop. The Indians are so anxious to profit by every piece of ground fit for cultivation that islands and even portions of islands are used for this purpose. Besides wheat and corn, they raise vegetables of different kinds, and gain sufficient crops to encourage them in their labors. The soil, generally, does not appear to be rich in the valley, being gravelly and sandy, but the plateaus on both banks produce fine grass, offering magnificent pasture grounds.
The cultivated ground, amounting to from 300 to 400 acres, is distributed in seven farms of more or less extent, the lower two of which belong to the Palouse Indians, and the remainder to members of the Nez Percés tribe. The river flowing between Red Wolf's Crossing and Fort Taylor in a semicircle, convexed towards the north, bends little in itself, but where it does, forms sharp curves, occasioned by projecting rocks springing out from the bluffs. The average width of the stream is 350 yards at the stage of water in July, and I noticed only one place, about 13 1/2 miles above Fort Taylor, where for one and a half mile it
(101) reaches a width of 500 yards. The current of the water is very rapid, but I am unable to give its velocity. I think, though, that it is about the same as observed by Mr. Weisner at Fort Taylor. No obstruction of any consequence exists to its navigation for the whole distance of 65 1/2 miles, and the only rapid which extends from bank to bank, situated about four and a half miles above Fort Taylor, is far more insignificant than all those below the mouth of the Palouse river. At four other points, all situated above the last-mentioned place, the river forms small rapids, extending partly across the stream, leaving a large space of water unobstructed for shipping purposes.
Snake river, in comparison with other large streams west of the Rocky Mountains, forms but few islands; the only one of any extent on the portion of it seen by me is 25 1/2 miles above Fort Taylor, and just below the first Palouse farm; this is an island of one mile in length and a half mile in width, covered with luxuriant grass, used by the Indians for pasture ground when the side-hill grass has been dried up by the summer's heat. The main channel of the river passes the southerly shore of the island, which, in fact, is only divided from the main land by an arm of water not exceeding 25 yards in width. Besides this largest island I counted 13 others, all of which, but one, are above the lower Palouse farm. The depth of Snake river must be great, and at all stages of water above fording; its bed is gravelly and in some portions rocky. Below Alamote creek, which is 391/2 miles above Fort Taylor, five small creeks empty into Snake river from the north, and two from the south. Six miles above Alamote creek, where the upper Palouse farm is established, the second large creek, named Awanwi, empties into Snake river, just above the first Nez Percés farm. From the west bank of the Awanwi creek, the Nez Percés race-ground extends along Snake river for one and three-quarter miles. This is a level, but gravelly, tract of land with a soil too barren to produce even sage brush. From Awanwi to Skalaissams creek the distance is 15 miles, in which interval four more small creeks empty from the north side into Snake river. Skalaissams creek, running in the ravine which the trail from the Red Wolf's Crossing towards the north follows, heads four and a half miles from its mouth, which last is about two and a half miles below the mouth of the Al-pah-hah creek. At Al-pah-hah creek a tribe of Nez Percés, under their chief, Timothy, have a permanent village, with houses constructed of buffalo skins and mats, supported by a light frame-work. I was friendly received by Timothy's son, Edward, ferried over, and treated to salmon, which fish is caught in great numbers in the waters of Snake river. Opposite the mouth of Al-pah-hah creek is a high, rugged, and timberless mountain, called Tailuts, which overtowers all others. This mountain, standing in the course of Snake river, has forced that stream out of its way, causing it to make two abrupt turns to get around its base. At the mouth of Al-pah-hah creek is a spring, known to the Indians as Al-pah-wah spring, which is said to contain some healing power.
Snake river being, as above stated, entirely destitute of timber, the Indians living along its shore have to depend entirely for fuel upon drift-wood, which, at every freshet, is deposited in great quantities by the water along the river shores, and then carefully gathered by the Indians. The valley of Snake river is so cañon-like that it would be very difficult to construct a wagon road in it for that reason alone; but, then, the absence of timber would almost make it an impossibility for railroad purposes; those difficulties would be increased by the sudden sharp curves which would involve long, rocky excavations, or the construction of bridges across the wide and rapid stream. Wagons proceeding to the upper Nez Percés country will find an easy road, along the north plateau, if they keep far enough from the bluff's edge to head all the ravines, water and grass being plentiful, and also wood in patches. Leaving Red Wolf's Crossing without being able to procure a guide, on the morning of July 4 I resolved to follow the plateau road towards the Palouse river, even without assistance, rather
(102) than return with my tender-footed animals over the rocky river trail. By information I had learned of a trail leading in that direction, and concluded to hunt for it, and return by it to your camp; the trail in question gained the plateau by the Skalaissams ravine, which is four and a half miles long. The trail in the ravine is bad in places, but, compared with generality of mountain trails, is a good one. In four and three quarter miles I gained the top of a small prairie ridge, and in one and three-tenths miles further I struck a broad trail forking towards the west, which I thought was the one spoken of by the Indians. After following it for nine and two-tenths miles, and passing four fine springs and a trail leading from the river towards the north, the trail I was travelling gave out, when I concluded to turn and follow the trail which I crossed, three and four-tenths miles back, in search of Mr. Sohon, whom I knew to be encamped at Tat-hu-nah hill. It was 2 1/2 p. m. when I lost the trail, and I had to travel fast in order to reach Mr. Sohon's camp before night, as my provisions were almost exhausted, having started with only two small loaves of bread and a few pounds of boiled meat, which was last spoiled by the heat on the first day out from your camp. In ten and a half miles I crossed a prairie ridge 400 feet high, and six and a half miles further struck a small grove, which I recognized as a camping place of Mr. Sohon, on Sma-kol creek, as indicated on his sketch, of which I had a tracing with me. Still pushing on, I crossed, in three and seven-tenths miles, Sma-kol creek, after having passed Camass prairie. From the crossing I went over a small prairie ridge, and after a ride of forty-one miles encamped on a creek which contained, in holes, bad tasting water. No bush or sage brush was to be seen to which our animals could be tied, and we had to turn them loose. Mosquitos and gnats were innumerable, and kept our horses moving all night, so that they had disappeared the next morning, and were only found after a search of many hours. Knowing now where I was, I determined to take Mr. Sohon's road, along Smokle creek, and try to reach your camp that night without hunting up the camp of Mr. Sohon, who might have moved from Tat-hu-nah hill. Following down Sma-kol creek, on its right bank for five and two-tenths miles to the crossing point, I struck in one-half mile more the trail travelled by Mr. Sohon, and reached in eleven and six-tenths miles Smokle Creek valley, which I followed down for ten and five-tenths miles. At this spot I found an Indian lodge, and obtained, for a few rounds of ammunition, some tea and salmon. Resuming our march, on the afternoon of the 7th July, we encamped on the Smokle creek, after having descended it for fourteen and seven-tenths miles; the day was very hot, and my horses quite fatigued, having make 42 miles. The next morning I started at daylight, and joined your camp, on the Palouse river, at 10 p. m., after a march of 19 miles.
The valley of Smokle creek having been described in Mr. Sohon's report, I think it unnecessary to refer to it here.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
P. M. ENGEL, Top'l Engineer.
Lieut. JOHN MULLAN, U. S. A., Commanding Fort Walla-Walla
and Fort Benton Military Road Expedition.
Bitter Root Mountains, W. T., February 8, 1860.
SIR: In obedience to your orders to examine the Palouse river and the adjacent country, regarding its adaptability to the construction of a military wagon road, I left the main camp, near the Smokle creek, on the morning of July 7, 1859, accompanied by Mr. Spangler and Donnald McKay, our interpreter.
Over the first nine and a half miles, to the mouth of the Oraytayoose, we
(103) passed rapidly, as this portion of the country was known to you from personal observation, and therefore commenced our investigation beyond it.
Having crossed the Palouse about half a mile above the junction of the Oraytayoose, at the same place where the military road crosses it for the last time, we found that 300 yards further up the stream the edges of the table-land bordering the valley of the river approached either bank very closely, forming a rocky defile half a mile in length, sparsely timbered, even impassable for horses. We therefore left the river and ascended on a tolerably easy grade to the top of the table-land on the right bank, which attains a height of about 350 feet. As far as we could see, the country presented a high, slightly undulating prairie, destitute of timber, with here and there an isolated long, narrow ridge from 100 to 250 feet above the general level. The principal depression therein, the valley of the Palouse, was very distinctly marked by its rocky bluffs and scattered groves of timber.
For a short distance we kept on level ground; thence descended on a pretty steep grade again into the valley of the river, the character of which remained almost uniform for the whole distance, we had an opportunity of examining it. It is a quarter of a mile wide, much winding, its main direction E.N.E. The river flows through it in a serpentine course, first touching one side and then the other. The banks on the outer side of these bends form, invariably, a more or less precipitous bluff of basaltic rock from two hundred to four hundred feet high, according to the elevation of the table-land itself, and covered with scattered pine. The banks on the river sides are generally plateau, from ten to thirty feet above the surface of the water. The current at and near these bends is swift; the depth of the water from two to three feet; the bottom big boulders. Above and below them the current is hardly perceptible, and the water very deep.
We found a trail, and followed it along the right bank of the river for seven and three-tenths (7 3/10) miles, alternately passing steep side-hills and level plateaus, to a point where it crosses and leaves the river, keeping in the valley of a small creek. We nooned in a little grove of tall pines very conveniently situated near the crossing for the benefit of travellers. While our horses were enjoying the luxuriant bunch grass on the side-hill, we feasted on sarvice berries, wild currants and gooseberries, which grow there, as in many other places along the river, in the greatest abundance. After a short rest, Mr. Spangler and myself proceeded along the river. Donald McKay kept on the trail to find out its direction. About four miles from this place we came to a considerable bend of the river, and saw, in a northwardly direction, the mouth of an immense cañon with perpendicular basaltic walls from six hundred to seven hundred feet in height. One mile further we passed its entrance, and concluded, by the appearance of the country, that at some former period the river must have flown through it. At present, it contains but little water, the bottom being marshy only in a few places, which were indicated by the growth of low brush.
Above this bend the topographical features of the valley slightly vary. The rocky bluffs become much higher—from four hundred to five hundred feet, and are of much greater extent—one mile or more long. The plateaus opposite are much narrower, and finally form only the lower portions of a gradual slope from the top of the table-land to the river. The bottom land intervening widens, is extremely fertile, covered with tall grass, cottonwood groves, and wild currant bushes.
Late in the evening Donald McKay joined us, bringing the intelligence that the Indian trail followed up an easy valley near and almost parallel to the Palouse, but much more direct.
Three miles from the entrance of the basaltic cañon, or fifteen miles from the starting point of the examination, we camped for the night in a rich bottom.
So far, there existed no material difficulty to the construction of a wagon road.
(104) Immediately beyond our camp, though, there was a rocky bluff, some four hundred feet long, which could not be avoided on account of the marshy ground on the opposite side of the river. At daybreak, July 8, we continued, still along the right bank, as the easiest of the two. In three and a half (3 1/2) miles, crossed a small creek coming from the northward. Half a mile further on were compelled to cross over to the left bank, on account of the rocky bluff on the right bank being impassable. Beyond this point we had to cross at every bend. The valley generally became very difficult, and altogether impracticable for a wagon road; the rocky bluffs abrupt, from five hundred to six hundred feet high; the bottoms either swampy or timbered; and the crossings deep, with very large boulders. In the same degree as the physical obstacles increased the scenery became more beautiful, and somewhat diversified, at every bend of the valley. Once I tried to proceed on the top of the table-land, but soon convinced myself that the innumerable ravines intercepting it in a short time would have broken down our horses and impeded our progress much more than the crossings. So again I descended into the valley, repeatedly crossing the river, through fertile bottom lands, some a half or even three-quarters of a square mile in width, and occasionally climbing along rocky bluffs until I struck the eastern Spokane trail, which crossed the river at a point nearly fourteen miles distant from our camp of the previous night. We took a short rest to avoid the greatest heat of the day and to give our horses an opportunity to graze.
Some Spokane Indians whom we found there encamped behaved very friendly towards us, but could give no information in regard to the character of the country ahead of us. By all appearances, though, it seemed reasonable to suppose that the current of the river further up was rapid throughout, and the valley nearly approaching a cañon with but very small patches of bottom land.
To reach the Pyramid Peak in the shortest time, we left the river entirely, and ascended the steep face of the table-land on the northern or right bank. For three and one-third (3 1/3) miles we rode on the trail in a northerly direction in a gradually ascending valley formed by low prairie ridges. Gaining the top of a cross ridge at the end of that distance, we obtained a view of the Pyramid Peak; as the trail did not tend towards it, we struck for it, across the rolling prairie, in a straight line. In seven miles we reached a bottom near the foot of the peak, where we found a series of cool springs, greatly to the delight of ourselves and animals. The sun was but a few degrees above the western horizon, we were much fatigued by the long march, and, therefore, rather disposed to delay the ascent until morning; but the delicious coolness of the atmosphere succeeding, almost instantaneously, the heat of the day, inspired us with new energy, and we climbed up this steep and rocky cone that stretches its crown more than one thousand feet above its dingy neighbors.
From the top we had a view of the whole country for eighty (80) miles around us. The outlines of all objects were, for a short time, very clearly defined by the last rays of the setting sun. The Blue Mountains, the high table-land stretching from new Fort Walla-Walla to the Columbia, and beyond it the mountains around the Coeur d'Aléne mission and lake, and the Bitter Root mountains, were distinctly visible. The information regarding the particular object for which I was sent out was by no means satisfactory. I merely convinced myself that the topography of the country, as developed by Mr. Sohon on various expeditions, was correct. The Palouse, as far as I could see, followed an east and west course. The spurs of the Bitter Root mountains, from which it proceeds, were gently sloping and densely wooded. Pine timber, in scattered groves, reaches from them to within four or five miles of the foot of the Pyramid Peak.
The whole country enclosed by the above-mentioned mountain systems is rolling prairie, very much resembling a stormy sea. We camped half-way between the summit and the foot. The water we carried from the springs below,
(105) and collected dry firewood on the northern slope, which is covered with small bushes. The nights were extremely pleasant, certainly much warmer than one might have expected. On the morning of July 9 we ascended once more for the double purpose of taking some necessary compass bearings and enjoying the sunrise, which beyond doubt offers one of the most interesting spectacles. These objects being accomplished, we retraced our steps to the Palouse river, crossed it, kept on the Spokane trail, which ascended the opposite table-land and leads towards the south, and in three and a half (3 1/2) miles struck an extensive and very rich bottom, the same that Donald McKay had examined for some four or five miles on the first day of our trip. We followed it down in as rapid a gait as our horses could endure, and at intervals of from six to seven miles we found good springs and small groves of cottonwood. Within five miles of the Palouse the springs became more frequent, and finally formed a small creek which empties into the Palouse at the crossing of the trail, at the place where we nooned on July 7.
There could be no route more desirable for a wagon road than this bottom offers, and as I have stated before, that no material difficulties exist between it and the last crossing of the Paloose, near the mouth of the Oraytayoose. I would consider it as favorable a location for a military road as could be found in this region. This opinion, of course, holds good only so far as I went myself. Beyond the Spokane trail the bottom continues. Whether it contains sufficient water, or whether the connexions with the valley of the Palouse are easy, I cannot decide upon, although I suppose the difficulties would not be great.
To avoid the rocky bluffs of the Palouse valley below the junction of this bottom, we crossed over the table-land, which would be a much better location for a wagon road.
Towards evening we reached the last crossing of the Palouse, where we found the whole command encamped.
I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
Lieutenant JOHN MULLAN,
In charge of Fort Walla-Walla and Fort Benton Military Road.
FORT OWEN, BITTER ROOT VALLEY, W. T.,
March 16, 1860.
SIR: Having received, on the 29th of July, your instructions to examine, in company with Mr. Kolecki, the two forks of the St. Joseph's river, from the point where the military road crosses the same, we proceeded on that day to carry out your orders, and on that date reached the forks of the main river where we found a camp of Coeur d'Aléne Indians. Finding it impossible to travel along the forks on horseback, we made an arrangement with the Indians to take us in bark canoes to the foot of the high mountain which we saw at a distance of about 16 miles; but the price which they demanded for their services appeared to us too exorbitant, and we returned to your camp at the crossing of the St. Joseph's river for further instructions. Receiving your sanction to our plan to ascend the river in canoes, Mr. Sohon (whom you had detailed for this special survey instead of Mr. Kolecki) and myself started, July 30th, for the Indian camp. Finding three bark canoes in readiness for us, we started, and after ascending the north fork of the St. Joseph's for eight and a quarter miles we reached a little creek called "Innemassequilam," running around the foot-slopes of the mountain, which we intended to ascend the next morning, as this was the nearest point to the peak to be gained by water. We landed, encamped
(106) and prepared for the morrow's journey. The character of the river is the same as observed by you at the military wagon road crossing, the water being deep with scarcely any current. The banks are low, but steep. The river winds its way through a narrow valley, touching alternately each side of the high mountain spurs, forming, in places, small prairies, some of which contain lakes, or are cut up by little creeks, bordered by berry bushes. The Coeur d'Aléne Indians consider this portion of the country the richest berry region in the mountains, and visit it regularly towards the end of July and the commencement of August.
July 31.-Mr. Sohon, myself, and one Indian ascended to-day the mountain, but before reaching the summit we were convinced that we would have no distant view, and therefore retraced our steps. At one p. m. the smoke of the burning timber enveloped the whole country, and our Indian guide assured us that we would have no view until after a heavy rain. On returning the Indian set fire to the woods himself, and informed us that he did it with the view of destroying a certain kind of long moss which is a parasite to the pine trees in this region, and which the deer feed upon in the winter season. By burning this moss the deer, in winter, are obliged to descend into the valleys for food, and thus they have a chance to kill them. We remained during the night at Innemassequilam creek and returned, August 1, in canoes to the Indian camp, and from there on horseback to your main camp on St. Joseph's river.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
P. M. ENGEL,
Lieut. JOHN MULLAN, U. S. A.,
In charge of Military Road Expedition
from Fort Walla- Walla to Fort Benton.
Report of a reconnaissance of the country between In-chats-khan camp and the lower portion of Spokane prairie and the portion of Spokane river between the Coeur d'AlÚne trail and the Colville wagon road ferry, by P. M. Engel, topographer
FORT OWEN, BITTER ROOT VALLEY, W. T.,
March 8, 1860.
DEAR SIR: Receiving your instructions of September 19, 1859, respecting an examination of the country between some point westward of Pown lake and the Spokane prairie with the view to the location of a wagon road, I was delayed until the 24th of September by continued rain-storms at the main camp of the party on the ten-mile prairie, on Coeur d'Aléne river, at which date I started with one man, two riding and two pack animals, and camped on the Coeur d'Aléne river, six and five-tenths miles west of the mission. I had to remain there the next day-my animals having strayed off-being found only late in the evening. On September 26 I reached St. Joseph's river crossing; at evening it began to rain, and continued to do so for the night and next day, obliging me to remain in camp. On September 28th I crossed the St. Joseph's river and followed the wagon road towards In-chats-khan, at which place I camped. The Coeur d'Aléne Indians, who were encamped along the St. Joseph's river, annoyed me considerably in stopping me repeatedly with the view of obtaining some presents.
September 29 commenced with rain. I started early and followed the In-chats-khan creek valley downwards for six and three-quarter miles on its right bank. There I crossed the creek and kept the left bank for one and a half mile, at which point I made two crossings but a few yards apart from each
(107) other. The direction of the valley to this point is south 86° west. No obstruction of any description would offer itself to the location of a wagon road; the low prairie hills, which for the first mile and a half closely hug the creek, recede, after that distance, and leave a valley bottom of half a mile in width. The creek, lined with brushwood, contains water only in holes; but the winding bed is cut deeply, showing at different places the sign of a strong water current in high-water season. Large open pine timber covers the low hills which produce fine bunch grass. The above-mentioned first crossing of the creek cannot be avoided, as the creek makes a bend towards the north and keeps close to the hills from which its waters have washed off the foot-slopes, transforming them to a perpendicular cut of ten feet in height. The two following crossings can be easily turned, occasioning only a detour of eighty to one hundred yards. In a mile and a quarter lower down the road would enter the open timber, and half a mile from there a crossing to the right bank would be necessary at the same point where the trail crosses, and then follow that bank for a mile and three-quarters to a place where the trail leaves the In-chats-khan valley and takes a more northwesterly direction. At the place where the road leaves the valley a small ridge of a mile and a half in width, with easy ascent and descent, lying between two parallel running tributaries of the In-chats-khan creek, has to be crossed. Here a little timber cutting will be found necessary, principally on the descent. In-chats-khan creek, a tributary of Lah-too creek, is nine or ten feet wide, and has, at the point selected for crossing, a gravelly bed which, at the present season, is scarcely covered with water. From the foot of the above-mentioned little ridge the road would lead for three miles and a half over undulating ground covered with open pine timber to a third tributary of the In-chats-khan, and in two and a half miles further over country of the same description, would strike a fourth one, which runs in quite a broad bottom, part of which is miry and would require some corduroy work; three-eighths of a mile from this point the trail forks; a wagon road would follow the north fork to save an angle made by the left-hand trail, which strikes the fifth tributary of In-chats-khan creek, a mile and three-tenths below the crossing point of the upper trail. From the forking point the trail strikes the said tributary in two miles and two-tenths, and the lower one in a mile and nine-tenths. I followed the lower trail to reach camp as soon as possible, as it had been raining all day, and we were drenched and cold. This little water run affords good camping places with plenty of water, wood, and grass. The valley is from 180 to 200 yards wide, enclosed by low hills covered with pine timber; the creek itself being lined with willow and cottonwood. Made 22 miles to-day.
September 30.-Ascended the valley for one and one-tenth mile; I struck the point of the upper trail, and one-fourth of a mile from there left the valley, ascending an easy divide of 250 to 300 feet, the top of which I gained in one mile. The descent is as gradual as the ascent, but somewhat more densely timbered; but by removing a few trees any wagon could be brought down to the creek which flows one and one-fourth miles from the top of the divide in a narrow valley. At this point the road has to descend the creek in keeping on its left bank to a place where the pine timber disappears; there it will ascend the low and gently sloping side-hill, and strike, following almost an air line in five and four-tenths miles, the Spokane river, opposite the termination of the bluff running behind Antoine Plant's farm. From this point the road can follow the Spokane river on its left bank until within five miles of the place where it leaves the river altogether, and striking over the mountain pass towards the Fort Walla-Walla and Colville wagon road. No obstruction of any moment will be found to bring wagons over, even in the present natural state of the ground; whereas, on the right bank, some considerable work will be unavoidable. Mr. Kolecki having already reported to you regarding this latter section of the country over which the road would have to go, I think it unnecessary to do so. The Spokane
(108) river, which I crossed at Antoine Plant's house, I found to be eight feet deep in the channel, and big boulders in its bed. My animals having strayed off, I remained the next day at the farm, and started only October 2 for the Colville depot. I camped that night at the Spokane fishery, near the mouth of the Little Spokane river, a distance of twenty miles, having taken the shortest route to gain that point.
October 3.-I started early, but having mistaken the trail I travelled for about ten miles in the direction of Pend d'Oreille lake, and only then finding that I was wrong I had to retrace my steps; but making a short cut I gained before evening the Spokane river, about ten miles below my last night's camp, and in three more marches arrived at Colville depot, where I was kindly received by the officers of the post.
On October 12 I made a survey of the wagon road from the Colville depot to the Hudson Bay Company's fort. This road leads through Pinkneyville, and then along Morigeaus creek, passes the saw-mill two and a half miles distant from the depot, and, following the creek which winds around a high mountain, gains in six and seven-tenths miles from the depot, the junction of the lower or low-water road which runs for some distance through Mill Creek valley, and becomes practicable for wagons only late in the season. From the point of junction the distance to the Hudson's Bay fort is seven and two-tenths mile's, making a total distance of fourteen and two-tenths miles from place to place by the upper road, which is a natural one; and I doubt whether any work has been done on it, with the exception of a few corduroy bridges which were constructed during the summer of 1859.
At Colville I was hospitably received by Mr. McDonald, the gentleman in charge. In returning the next day I extended my sketch a little by going to the old Colville mission and to the Kettle Falls of the Columbia river, and then following the wagon road to the grist-mill which is located on Mill creek, about one and a half mile above its mouth, at the forking point of the lower and upper roads; I took the bottom road, and, having run a compass line over the whole distance, I found the lower road two and one-tenth miles shorter than the upper one.
At Colville I learned that Commissioner Archibald Campbell, of the north-west boundary survey, with party, was shortly expected, and that there was a possibility that he might go down the Columbia river in open boats. I therefore determined to await his arrival, knowing that you were anxious and intended to have that important stream surveyed from Fort Colville to Fort Walla-Walla. Mr. Campbell, who arrived on the 16th, found that the preparation of the boats would occasion a long delay, and preferred, for that reason, to make the trip by land. Having obtained permission from Mr. Campbell to travel with his expedition, I started with him and Mr. Warren on the 20th October. In three marches we reached the lower end of Walker's prairie, where Mr. Campbell was unfortunately delayed for a day by the straying off of his team mules. I pushed on and camped on the Spokane river, three miles above the ferry. I took advantage of my presence in this part of the country to run a compass line from the ferry to the place where the lower Coeur d'Aléne trail to Colville leaves the Spokane river, knowing that this section had never been surveyed. I found the distance between the two points seven and three-tenths miles, of which four miles are rendered difficult by the closing in of the side-hills; but just above the ferry a company has commenced the building of a bridge which was not completed at the time I passed. The day was so foggy and rainy that I hardly could see across the river which runs in quite a narrow valley, walled in by steep, rocky hills. Opon pine timber covers the valley to the very edge of the water which has a swift current over a rocky bed. Having made twenty-six miles I encamped on a small creek three miles west of Antoine Plant's house. At the latter place, which I reached on the morning of October 25, I took an Indian
(109) to guide me to the Coeur d'Aléne mission, where I arrived, on the evening of October 28. Reverend Father Gazzoli kindly offered me the accommodation of the mission, and supplied me the next morning with oats which I needed for my weak animals, knowing that I would find no grass between the mission and your camp, which I was informed by the Reverend Father had been pushed to the east side of the divide. Making two more camps on this portion of the road, I joined your party October 30, on the five-mile prairie, on the St. Regis Borgia river.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
P. M. ENGEL,
Lieutenant JOHN MULLAN,
United States Army, Commanding Fort Walla- Walla
and Fort Benton Military Road.
Report of reconnaissance of Little Falls of Spokane river, and the country along the right bank of the Spokane river, from Colonel Wright's crossing to the Colville wagon road, made August 27 and 28, 1859, by Theodore Kolekci, topographer.
SIR: On August 26, while at the Coeur d'Aléne mission engaged in transit observations with Mr. Wiessner, I received an order from you to examine the Little Falls of Spokane river, and make a topographical connexion between our work of last year and the survey of the Colville wagon road made this year by Mr. Engel, provided I had leisure time to do so.
We had just finished a lunation, and before we could make use of the next one, four, probably five, days would elapse, giving me just time enough to fulfil this order. Therefore, without further consultation, I set out at one o'clock the same afternoon, provided only with the most necessary means which I could scare up at the moment. An Indian guide was my sole companion. Our store of provisions consisted of three loaves of bread, weighing about nine pounds, and a small quantity of coffee and sugar. For want of a pack animal we carried a couple of blankets each on our riding horses.
The valley around the Coeur d'Aléne mission was filled with smoke produced by fires in the woods on the surrounding mountain ridges. The trail to the crossing of the Wolf's Lodge creek, which I had carefully surveyed last year, and found extremely difficult on account of the fallen timber, was almost impassable in several places, as many more trees had fallen down, and a large fire was raging in one of the most thickly timbered bottoms, where, in consequence of the richness of the soil, the trees attained a height of from 200 to 300 feet. It was not without a great deal of vexation and imminent danger to our horses that we got around this scene of destruction. I think it took us an hour and a half, and when we struck the trail again it was fairly dark, still we were very glad having escaped unhurt, and pushing on as fast as possible we reached the Wolf's Lodge creek and prairie—the only camping ground within sixteen miles of the mission—at half past eight o'clock in the evening. Throughout the whole night the deep roar of the immense fire continued at short intervals, interrupted by the loud report of falling trees, similar to a sharp, distant peal of thunder.
Shortly after daybreak, August 27, we were in the saddle, and continued our march over the picturesque mountain spurs touching the northern shore of the Coeur d'Aléne lake. At the uppermost ford of the Spokane river the dimensions are as follows: 427 feet width from beach to beach; 100 feet from beach to high-water mark on the left bank; 70 feet from beach to high-water mark on the
(110) right bank; 7 1/2 feet height of high-water mark above present level; at 90 feet from north beach depth 2 3/4 feet, velocity 44 feet in 37 seconds; at 180 feet from north beach depth 4 feet, velocity 44 feet in 38 seconds; at 270 feet from north beach depth 3 feet, velocity 44 feet in 33 seconds; at 360 feet from north beach depth 2 feet, velocity 44 feet in 35 seconds.
Half a mile below the first bend, three-quarters of a mile below the farm of the old chief Tonnére, and all the way from the point where the trail leaves the river down to the Little Falls, are rapids with big boulders, and no more than one or two feet of water. I estimate the average fall from the lake to the falls, a distance of eight miles, to be twenty feet per mile. The above mentioned falls points will be readily found on my map of last year. At the Little Spokane falls the river breaks through a low ridge of granite, which connects the mountain ranges on either side of the river, forming a cañon or chasm about 900 feet in length, averaging 60 feet wide, the rocky partly overhanging wall on the south side being 80 feet; the one on the north side 60 to 70 feet high, and at the commencement of the chasm is a perpendicular fall of about twelve feet. The channel is not more than 50 feet wide and divided into two parts by a high longitudinal granite block projecting but a few feet above the present level. The bank on the north side is formed by an almost isolated rock 75 feet long, 100 feet wide, and 24 feet high with many smaller and larger cracks or rents parallel to the course of the river, through which a small quantity of water finds its way even at the present stage of low water. This latter circumstance permits the suggestion that in course of time this principal obstruction to the river in high water will be worn away even without artificial aid. The force of the constant flow of water is exemplified by round deep holes worn into the granite rock near the foot of the falls. Above the falls the river forms a lake-like extension with but little current. Below the falls, as far as the chasm extends, the water seems to be deep and the current very swift, boiling over large pebbles beyond it where the river again spreads to a width of from 200 to 300 feet. The high-water mark at the falls I estimated to be eighteen feet above the present level. A full understandtng of the nature of the country in the immediate neighborhood I hope can be arrived at by a careful perusal of the sketch accompanying this report.
Late in the afternoon I pushed on to attend to the second part of my instructions. In about six miles I reached Colonel Wright's crossing of the Spokane river. The ford is good, the river bank neither steep nor high. For eight miles a wagon road would go over the almost level Spokane prairie to a bluff near Antoine Plant's house, where the river so closely touches the plateau bordering the prairie that grading for 300 or 400 feet would be required. The mountain system of which it forms part undoubtedly consists of granite, but on its face, as well as in the river, are basaltic cones from twenty to thirty feet in height, and about the same diameter at their bases; they, however, appear to be a conglomerate of basaltic fragments, very firmly cemented together.
Here we encamped for the night; early next morning, August 28, we proceeded on a large beaten trail leading through the prairie at a short distance from the river. The ground is covered with many boulders of considerable size. In two miles we again touched the river and passed for 500 or 600 feet around the foot of two low projecting spurs, and through a dry water run between them. Here, also, some work would be required in order to pass these points with wagons. One mile and one-third further is another ravine of a similar nature, but not quite so difficult to pass. In six-tenths of a mile passed the last spur of the mountains to the northward; the river tends for several miles to the southward, forming below the next bend the "Great Falls." The prairie extends for many miles to the north; for the next two miles the ground rises gradually, and at the end of that distance is covered with timber which reaches down to the Spokane river. Four miles from the commencement of the timber we encoun-
(111) tered the edge of a low plateau and the same basaltic cones which I mentioned near Antoine Plant's; the ground now was a little undulating, and gradually sank for four and a half miles, when we reached the edge of the timbered plateau and descended about 200 feet into the bottom of the Spokane river; the trail is almost, wide on enough for a wagon road and not, very steep, so that, I think, with little work the passage of wagon trains could be effected. This bottom is quite extensive on the south side of the river and wooded; on the north side it is bare. A considerable tributary draining the mountain region in the northwest joins the Spokane river at the junction of the Spokane fishery, an establishment of the greatest importance to the Indians, as the great quantity of salmon caught there with but little trouble forms the principal portion of their food. A number of lodges of the Spokane Indians and a few of the Coeur d'Aléne, Pend d'Oreilles, and Colville Indians are found throughout the year at this point. In justice to the Indians, I must observe that, with the scanty bounty provided them by nature, they are liberal to all passers by. We crossed the tributary which, by the Indians, is also called the Spokane water, (Sin-ho-may-ney-say-oolk.) We passed for at least 600 feet around a steep spur which, for that distance, touches the right bank of the river. Thence we continued through a narrow timbered bottom, the river on one side and the steep slope of quite high mountains on the other; in two and seven-tenths miles from the descent into this bottom of the fishery we again ascended to a wooded plateau 250 to 300 feet high. The trail kept on it for six and seven-tenths miles in a very direct course. To the northward extended a rocky ridge attaining a height of some 3,000 feet. The valley of the river to the southward was one to one and a half mile distant; its opposite bank is timbered table-land 500 to 600 feet high. The ground for this whole distance presented no other difficulty but one ravine which is some eighty or ninety feet deep. The descent into the river bottom is pretty steep and about 300 feet high. For one and one-fifth mile the trail keeps along the river, crossing some small dry water runs, and then ascends again to cross a mountain pass which is, according to my estimation, 1,000 feet high. The distance from the eastern foot of the mountains to the summit is four and a half miles; the grade for the first 300 feet is very steep, and in its present state, without being worked, would be impassable for wagons; the remainder is very easy. The descent to Walker's prairie on the western foot of the mountains in which the Colville wagon road is located is by some 300 or 400 feet less than the ascent, but the distance is also shorter, being about three and one-fourth miles; there is, however, but a short distance of side-hill and one ravine which would require some work for the construction of a wagon road. The mountains on either side, especially to the northward, attain a considerable height; they are composed of granite and quartz. The layer of fertile soil is some two or three feet deep and would greatly facilitate the grading of a road.
I presume that thirty good working men, properly directed, could, in one season, make the route I travelled a good wagon road. The map accompanying this report points out more in detail distances, differences in elevation, and the nature of the adjacent country. I reached the Colville wagon road just at sunset on the 28th of August. The ignorance of my guide, who said there was no water within a day's march, while there actually flowed a small creek at a distance of 1 1/4 mile, compelled me to retrace my steps over the mountains in the darkness of night, with horses that were almost broken down. At 10 o'clock in the evening we reached the Spokane river and encamped; one of the most beautiful northern lights I ever saw adorned the sky during the greater part of the night.
August 29.-I called on Antoine Plant for some provisions, as my bread had entirely given out, and I had yet two good days' march to reach the Coeur d'Aléne mission; he could spare me only two small loaves of bread, each weighing about two pounds, and a little butter. I asked him also for fresh horses, but
(112) he had none at hand. With the greatest pleasure I would have returned by the St. Joseph's and Coeur d'Aléne rivers, in order to avoid the fire beyond the Wolf's Lodge creek, but with so limited means and broken down horses I had no choice but the shortest road; for the night I encamped on the Spokane river several miles below the Little Falls.
August 30.-I reached the Wolf's Lodge creek early in the afternoon, the difficult trail and the still raging fire compelled me to encamp; our horses got a little rest and good feed, and the next morning, while yet the influence of the night dew kept the fire down, we pushed them on as hard as we could along the trail, through the burning timber, and thus escaped unhurt.
In the afternoon (August 31) we reached the mission without provisions and with horses hardly able to move. I regret that I did not fully understand all your views in regard to this expedition, which was intended to extend to the exploration of the country between the St. Joseph's and Antoine Plant's. With a little more time and a better supply of provisions I could have made this special exploration for a wagon road route, and thus saved the expenses which the trip of Mr. Engel, a month later, occasioned.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
THEODORE KOLECKI, Topographer.
Lieutenant JOHN MULLAN,
United States Army, in charge of Military Road from
Fort Walla- Walla to Fort Benton.
Report of a reconnaissance from the Coeur d'Aléne mission to Thompson's prairie, on Clark's fork; thence to the St. Ignatius mission; thence along the left bank of Clark's fork to Horse Plain; thence across the mountain to the Bitter Root river; thence up the St. Regis Borgia river, and over the high divide to the Ten-Mile prairie, on the Coeur d'Aléne river.
FORT OWEN, BITTER ROOT VALLEY, W. T.,
March 9, 1860.
SIR: Having received on the 18th of April, 1859, your instructions regarding an exploration of a road across the Bitter Root mountains towards Thompson's prairie, on the Clark's fork of the Columbia, which had been described by different persons as probably practicable for wagons, I left your camp at the Coeur d'Aléne mission on the same evening, accompanied by two Coeur d'Aléne Indians with three riding and two pack animals.
At the Four-Mile prairie of the Coeur d'Aléne river, where your working parties under Messrs. Williamson and Spangler were encamped, I joined the party of Mr. Sohon, who started for an exploration of the country towards the Bitter Root valley, and kept company with him until the morning of August 21, when we parted; leaving the Coeur d'Aléne river trail, about 25 miles east of the mission, and following my Indian guide, we took a northerly direction ascending a tolerably steep ravine, with running water, and enclosed by high thickly timbered ridges. The little creek, which is crossed and recrossed many times by the scarcely visible trail, heads three miles from the place where I left the Coeur d'Aléne river trail, and one mile to the northwest from the point where my present trail leaves it, which ascends a very steep ridge densely covered with pine trees. In 1 3/4 mile I gained the summit of the ridge, which has an elevation of 1,500 feet above the Coeur d'Aléne river. To the right of the trail runs a narrow ravine, connected by a low saddle, with another running down the north slope of the ridge; those two ravines could be used for the location of the road, but the removal of rocks of the fallen and standing timber to the mouth of the narrow ravine would occasion considerable labor. At the top of the ridge I
(113) saw two valleys before me, divided by a high ridge, of which contained running water, which join at the termination of the ridge. In 4 1/2 miles, over a very dangerous trail along the steep mountain slopes, I gained the first creek, which we ascended. After crossing the creek, which is ten feet wide, I took the opposite mountain; commencing here the ascent, all signs of a trail disappearing, we had frequently to use the hatchet to open the way for the animals, and finally had to cut the entire road, the young timber being so dense that not even a man could have passed through. In this laborious manner I pushed on until late in the evening, having made but 2 1/2 miles since I crossed the last-mentioned creek, but gained an altitude of about 2,500 feet. I camped on the mountain slope in a large patch of whortle-berries, which proved to be quite an acceptable substitute for water. I was forced to tie up my animals to have them at hand early in the morning.
August 22. Started 5.10 a. m., ascended 700 feet higher, using the hatchet again for one-half mile, then followed along the slope of the ridge, about 500 feet below its backbone. Rock-slides, fallen timber, and slippery grass, made this an exceedingly difficult road. In 1 1/2 mile we found a little spring on the hill-side, and my Indians proposed to encamp, to which I gladly acceded. It appeared to me that the Indian whom you had employed as guide was a little uncertain about the way to proceed. He had only traveled over the trail once, in winter, on snow shoes, and the different appearance of the ground, with its difficulties exposed, evidently puzzled him. Not understanding his language, I could only converse with him by signs; but I easily comprehended that he wanted me to halt, to give him time to examine the character of the ground ahead. I furthermore understood that we had to follow the crest of a high, rugged ridge, the southerly slope of which is one rock-slide from top to bottom, which lay before us at a distance of about six miles. How to bring my animals over it was not quite clear. Alexis, the guide, left camp as soon as I had cooked breakfast, and Nicholas, the second Indian, collected the animals, which, at the risk of their lives, were clambering along the rocks to collect their scanty food. The country was filled with smoke, and no extensive distant view could be gained; but I could discover in the chasm below me the only place where the wagon road could be located; the fallen timber and rocks were piled above each other to a considerable height, and the creek boils over and through them.
The opposite ridge was well timbered, steep, and about 3,800 to 4,000 feet high, and closes in so narrowly with the ridge forming my road that no valley bottom at all is left. Towards evening clouds gathered over us, and at nightfall it began to rain. Alexis returned towards supper-time and gave me to understand that the road ahead was bad.
August 23. I remained in camp, as it was still raining. I had to alter the cruppers of my pack-saddles, which injured my mules, and had to make some alterations in the rigging generally. In the afternoon a heavy thunder-storm passed over a portion of the mountain-bed, but broke against the highest ridges, and the heavy clouds disappeared in almost the same direction from whence they came. Alexis started out again to make a further examination. It cleared off at noon, but the atmosphere is still filled with smoke and haze.
August 24. Started 6.47 a. m. The day was warm and clear, but the atmosphere still filled with smoke. In 2 3/4 miles I gained the top of the ridge, ascending it gradually, finding the same obstructions in the road as heretofore. Keeping along the very backbone of the mountain, which, at places, is not wider than two or three feet, I reached in 5 3/4 miles more the highest point, which is a granite rock formation of about 3,500 feet high, with a perpendicular rock bluff to the north, and a rock-slide of 60 degrees grade to the south. On the north slope hard packed snow, from two to four feet in depth, fills up the ravines, and covers the ground in many places where it has been drifted during the winter. Four ponds, the largest one at the foot of the highest rock, gave
(114) a pleasant relief to the monotonous scenery. A dense pine forest covers all northerly ridges which extend towards Clark's fork, forming an immense mountain bed, only the outlines of which can be seen indistinctly through the smoke. To the south the main ridge, which gets steeper and steeper, approaches more and more, though not so rugged as the one I am on. It is more heavily timbered, however. The next three miles we passed over the worst road I ever travelled in my life. The ridge runs out to a rocky crest, which gives not more than from one to two feet footing. Sharp rocks, intermixed with loose stones packed upon each other, made every step insecure, and we had to proceed with great care. For two-thirds of the distance the north slope forms a precipitous rock wall of 1,000 to 1,500 feet elevation. With hard labor we built a kind of road for the animals, by removing the biggest rocks and steadying the loose stones in the most narrow places. The descent to the low divide is steep, but no rock slides are in the way, and we gained it in 3/4 mile and camped on the head spring of the creek which waters the valley. We made to-day only 12 miles, but spent ten hours on the road. The animals were much exhausted, and so was I. We found good grass at the divide, which itself forms a low saddle connecting the two high ridges.
August 25. Started at 6.39 a. m. We had to gain the top of the ridge again, as it was found impossible to follow the valley, which was rendered impassable by fallen timber and rocks. In 1 3/4 mile we reached the summit again, advancing and ascending gradually, and discovered from there that the low hill forming the divide had a width of only 1/2 mile, and that the two head springs, sending their waters in opposite directions, were situated at the foot of said hill. The road on the ridge was much the same as yesterday, and at one point it was so bad that the Indian guide proposed to try the valley once more. We therefore descended, but, before reaching the bottom, saw it was impossible to get along in it, and had to retrace our steps. Two of my horses rolled down part of the mountain at the point where we tried to descend, and one of them got badly hurt. I observed two large ponds on the north side of the ridge, and also an abundance of snow. The timber on the ridge we followed is increasing, which, with the fallen timber, will augment my difficulties in getting along. 3 3/4 miles from the point where I gained the top of the ridge, I commenced the steep descent formed by a long spur running towards the creek bed, which I reached in 4 1/2 miles. In some places the slope was so steep that the animals had to slide, bearing down by their weight the small pine trees and bushes which thickly covered the ground. The creek at the foot of the ridge is 25 feet wide, carries a large quantity of water, and runs in a rocky bed, which is closely hugged by the mountain on both sides. At the point where I struck and crossed the creek a densely timbered flat borders it on the east side, and over this my way led for 4 1/2 miles. Having made 14 miles, I went to camp, as it was getting dark and my animals appeared to be much fatigued.
August 26. Made a late start, my animals having strayed off during the night. The road to-day leads along the creek, sometimes taking the side hills, but for main part keeping in the bottom, which is much encumbered by brushwood and fallen timber. I forgot to mention that in striking the creek I also struck a small trail, which was so blind that even my Indians lost it frequently during the day. Shortly after leaving camp I crossed a small tributary to the main creek, coming from the south, and one mile lower down a second one from the north; 3 3/4 miles still lower a large spring branch, heading in the creek valley itself, forms a bad slough of one-fourth mile in width. The foot slopes of the enclosing high ridges leave little room to the valley, and the creek winding from side to side forces the trail often over the little spurs. I could not form a good estimate of the altitude of the main ridge on account of the dense smoke, which allowed only occasional glimpses of their tops, but I should judge that they were at least 2,500 feet high. I had hoped to reach Clark's fork to-day, but a
(115) heavy thunder-storm which overtook us forced me to go to camp at 3 1/2 p. m., having made sixteen miles. An extensive fire was raging on the Clark's Fork, and has extended high up on the creek that I was following. All the grass is burned, and my animals are badly off for food. At night the mountains presented a magnificent picture. The rain and wind had driven off the smoke, and fire lines, extending high up on the mountain slopes, reaching, in some places, to the very tops of the ridges, and in others spreading with surprising rapidity over the fire furnishing surface, gave a most fascinating aspect to the landscape.
August 27. Starting at 6 1/2 a. m. I passed in 1/2 mile a large tributary, coming from the northwest. The main creek itself, now a considerable stream with an exceedingly rapid current, sends its boiling water over huge rocks, which gives the bed the appearance of an unbroken rapid. In 1 3/4 mile below the camp I crossed the creek with great difficulty. The water's depth was 3 1/2 feet, and the bottom consisted of one smooth bed, covered with a slippery moss, which the transparency of the water permitted to be seen most plainly. The high ridges, which fall back, indicate the approach to a large valley, and also the suddenly changed course of the creek, which, so far, has followed a northeasterly direction, and now suddenly curved towards the northwest. After crossing the creek I travelled for 1 1/2 mile over high rolling ground well timbered with pine, which has much suffered though from the late fires. I crossed then a small creek, which empties two miles below my crossing point into the large creek which I just left. In 1 1/2 mile further I struck the shores of Clark's Fork, after having wound my way through a bed of rocky cones, which have a height of from 40 to 50 feet, one-fourth mile above the place where I struck the Clark's Fork. The current here is obstructed by a large rapid, which must he called a waterfall of eight feet. The opposite shore was pointed out to me as Thompson's prairie. In 1 1/4 mile more I found a suitable camping place, with some grass along the water's edge.
The opposite shore is in full blaze, and the wind blowing from the west drives the flames unfortunately in the direction which I have to follow. Several deer are forced to swim the river, in order to escape the fire, which extends to the water's edge.
August 28. Remained in camp. During the morning we collected material to build a raft, and before noon had constructed a kind of floating structure, very fragile, indeed, but my Indians think it is more than strong enough to do its duty. The fire is still raging on the opposite shore, but has extended more towards the north.
August 29. In two trips I landed everything safely on the right bank of Clark's Fork, and after having swum the animals, took up our line of march along the shore of the river, which has a width of 200 yards. In three miles I reached a small but rapid running creek, which we crossed at its mouth. On the left bank of the river is a high, almost perpendicular rock, connected with the high river ridge, which gradually has neared the river shores by a well-timbered slope of 1,500 feet elevation. The right shore forms a large plain, which, from the water's edge to the bluff, must have an extent of three or four miles ; but I could not make an estimate of its width, as everything is enveloped in smoke. In 1 3/4 mile from the creek, crossing the rocky bluffs of the right bank close into the river, and renders the trail difficult for three-fourths of a mile. The road is then easy for four miles, and is only now and then difficult by thick brushwood. At the end of that distance I crossed a small creek, and two miles higher up I struck a point, which will be well remembered by all who have ever passed it, called the "Bad Rock." It is formed by a rock point running out to the very water's edge, terminating there in a perpendicular bluff. The Indian trail, which, in its present location offers undeniably great difficulties to the animals, winds high up on the bluff's side, and regains, in the same serpentine manner, the bottom about 300 yards above the place where it left it. I am
(116) confident that, with comparatively little work, a good wagon road could be made, but it would require blasting for a distance of 150 to 200 yards. In 3 3/4 miles, which were made over almost a level road, with the exception of the last three-fourths of a mile, where the trail passed a few insignificant, low, rocky spurs, I gained a little creek, where I camped, having made 16 miles.
August 30. Started at 6.50 a. m. In 1 1/2 mile from camp the low foot-hills of the high river bluffs close into the river at a point where I noticed another river rapid, and which renders the road somewhat rocky for one mile, but offering no serious obstacle. The opposite mountain ridge has been getting lower and lower, and has finally dwindled down to a low hill range. The high bluffs of the right bank recede and give place to a large, extensive flat, which only in some places is covered with open pine forest. Having reached the "Kootenay" trail, I left the river, and shaping my course more northeastwardly gained the Indian road leading to the Camass prairie. This portion of the country having been often described in former reports, I confine myself to the recapitulation of the main ground features. Little or no difficulty will be found to bring wagons over this portion of the route until the ravine is reached which leads downwards to the Camass prairie; there heavy grading for one mile will be necessary, as the hill-sides are steep and the soil is intermixed with rock. Having ascended the steep river bluff, which is 150 feet high, I reached, in 1 3/4 mile, the top of the low timbered plateaus which run along a valley bordered to the northward by a ridge 1,100 to 1,500 feet high. The plateaus are covered with small rocks and now and then rent by a depression in the ground. In 4 1/2 miles I reached a lake of one mile in extent, partly covered with weeds, and sending its waters through the above-mentioned ravine towards the Camass prairie, where it sinks in the ground. A plateau which runs along the foot-slopes of the ridge, which gradually increases in height and finally gains an altitude of 1,200 feet, terminates at the lake, from which point the trail leads over foot-hills for 2 3/4 miles, and then takes, after crossing the creek, to the north slope of the ravine. Of the different trails which lead over the Camass prairie I chose the one which runs along the southwesterly border, which is marked by a timbered ridge of about 1,200 feet. In one-half mile from the mouth of the ravine I crossed the creek and then travelled for 6 1/4 miles, over almost level ground, to the top of a small prairie elevation. In 1 3/4 mile further I crossed a creek running in a valley, with easy ascent and descent, and two miles further gained the valley of Clark's Fork by a gradual and easy descent, at which place I found a well-beaten trail, which led to the river crossing. We tried the ford but found it too deep, and I concluded to ascend the Flathead river to its intersection with the Jocko river, and make a crossing there. Having made 24 8/10 miles, I went to camp one-fourth of a mile above the place where I struck the river. My Indians seemed to be uncertain in which direction to proceed, but, having a map along, I soon convinced them by signs that we had to ascend the valley in view to gain the St. Ignatius mission.
August 31. Started at 6.53 a. m. One-fourth of a mile above camp I crossed a creek which runs in a narrow ravine, and heads about three miles to the north on the Camass prairie. 1 1/4 mile above that creek the river widens to double its extent, and is split up by a number of islands of different sizes and well covered with brushwood. Here my Indians again tried to cross, assuring me that the road was much better on the opposite side; but the depth of the water forced us to turn back, and taking up our road again, we had to mount a high river bluff with a steep and rocky descent. Then skirting along the water's edge I gained, at 5 3/4 miles from my last night's camping place, a fine bottom of three miles in length, again hemmed in by the river bluffs. For 1 1/2 mile the trail gains a plateau which, after rounding a projecting rock, strikes the river at the usual fording place, two miles above the mouth of the Jocko river. Here I crossed with much difficulty, and not without drenching my packs. Instead of
(117) ascending the valley to the Jocko river, as my Indians intended, I ascended the Clark's Forks for 1 1/4 mile further, and then followed Plum creek, knowing that it was the shortest route to reach the mission. At the entrance of Mission creek into Plum creek I struck a large lodge-trail, which brought me to the place of my destination. I was most kindly received by the Rev. Fathers Minetrey and Louis, and hospitably invited to stay as long as I desired. I made to-day 21 5/10 miles. My animals were very tired, and two of the horses I shall be obliged to trade off.
September 3. Rev. Father Congiato arrived from Fort Benton, and left September 5th. I left the mission in company with Rev. Fathers Congiato and Minetrey, who intended to visit the Coeur d'Aléne mission. In 4 1/2 miles I struck the Jocko river, and after crossing it I followed down Clark's Fork, on its left bank, for 16 4/10 miles, and encamped, having made 20 9/10 miles. The road along the river is a very good one, with the exception of one point, where a mountain closes in for a quarter of a mile. The ground is firm, and not rocky. The small creeks, with gravelly bottom and fine grass along their shores, afford good camping grounds.
September 6. Started 6.44 a. m. The trail, after passing the crossing point opposite the place where the road leading towards the Camass prairie ascends the bluff, becomes more and more indistinct, as it is very seldom travelled by Indians; many rocky and swampy places make the road a difficult one, and a bad rock spur, the perpendicular foot slope of which is washed by the river, forces the trail over a high and stone-covered mountain, which is almost as bad as the "Bad Rock" above Thompson prairie. In two places, where no ascent to the ridge can be gained, and the river runs close to the bluffs, the trail leads along the river bed with a depth of water from two and a half to three feet. At a point thirteen miles below the Camass prairie trail crossing, I struck the Bitter Root river, which appears to flow through a narrow valley enclosed by high mountains, and effected a crossing at the junction of the two rivers without any difficulty, and following down Clark's Fork for 7 1/4 miles further, which portion of the road is good, and only made disagreeable to travel by the dense brushwood, I camped on the shores of the river, and on the upper end of the Horse Plain, having made 20 9/10 miles.
September 7. Started 7.27 a. m., and took a straight magnetic southerly course, to gain the top of the mountain ridge which forms the divide of the waters of Clark's Fork and the Bitter Root and St. Regis Borgia rivers. The ascent and descent are, in some places, very steep, and rendered difficult by fallen timber, but the trail is well-marked and broad. The distance from river to river I estimated at 10 1/2 miles, and the height of the ridge at 1,500 feet. Ascending the Bitter Root river valley for eight miles, in which I met with no difficulties on the road, I went to camp, having made 18 5/10 miles. I observed two small rapids in the Bitter Root river, and counted two creeks, both of which empty on the left bank.
September 8. One mile above camp I left the river at the crossing point, and striking over a little divide towards the St. Regis Borgia encamped on this latter stream, after a march of 26 miles.
September 9. I ascended the river valley to the foot of the big divide and encamped, having made 15 miles. It has been raining all day, and we expect to find snow on the top of the divide.
September10. I crossed the divide to-day, and, as predicted by the Indians, found the top covered with snow. From base to base of the mountain I estimated the distance 24 miles. Descending the Coeur d'Aléne river for six miles I encamped on a small prairie, and had the honor to report myself at your camp on September 11.
Knowing that a more detailed and careful survey would be made at a later period, when the military wagon road would have been located and constructed
(118) over the country, I deferred running a compass line from the crossing of the Bitter Root river, westward, to your camp.
I am, sir, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
P. M. ENGLE, Topographer.
Lieutenant JOHN MULLAN,
United States Army, in charge of Fort Walla-Walla and
Fort Benton Military Road Expedition.
CANTONMENT JORDAN, ST. REGIS BORGIA RIVER,
Bitter Root Mountains, W. T., January 2, 1860.
SIR : I have the honor to present the following report of my operations in the field during the months of September, October, November, and December, 1859, while engaged in running a line of levels over the military wagon road, from the Coeur d'Aléne mission to Cantonment Jordan. In obedience to your verbal instructions of September 14, I proceeded to the Coeur d'Aléne mission, and commenced the level survey of the road on the 17th of the same month.
The water level of the springs, at the western base of the Mission hill, was chosen as the commencement point of the line, as it is the lowest point in the vicinity, and is also but a few inches above the level of the water in the Coeur d'Aléne river at the mission.
The Coeur d'Aléne river, which, at the first crossing, one mile above the mission, has a width of eighty feet, a current of a mile and a half an hour, and a mean depth of two feet, attains just below the mission an average width of two hundred feet, and a depth of at least fifteen feet, with a current that is so slow as to be imperceptible. This character is preserved from the mission to the outlet of the river, in the Coeur d'Aléne lake, a distance of twenty-one miles in an air line, and twenty-seven by the windings of the river, for which distance the river, which here, in fact, is only an arm of the lake, is unquestionably navigable, and has but little, if any, fall.
Six hundred feet north of the commencement point is a level plain, which extends to the northward three-fourths of a mile to the base of a range of hills, which rise to a height of five hundred feet, and form the northern boundary of the mission valley, which last has a length of three miles. This plain is covered with a fine growth of grass, which affords an abundance of pasturage for the bands of horses and cattle belonging to the missionaries and Indians. In the spring and autumn, however, it is mostly wet and marshy. Its eastern end is bounded by a high projecting spur of basaltic rock, which extends thence to the river, a distance of eight-tenths of a mile, and is the only rock of that formation which has been seen along the line of the road, from the mission to Cantonment Jordan. The hill on which the mission stands, and along the base of which the military wagon road passes, is eighty-two feet high, and presents a singular appearance, rising conically-shaped out of a level plain, without being in any way connected with the mountain ranges on either side of the valley.
Upon its summit are the buildings of the mission, which consist of a large church and two houses for the dwellings of the priests and lay brothers, around which are scattered various tenements, lodges, &c., comprising the Indian village. At the northwest corner of the portico of the church building is placed bench mark No.1; height above the commencement point eighty-eight and twenty-nine one hundredths feet. At the eastern base of the mission hill is a gully thirteen feet deep and seventy-five feet wide, which drains the hills to the north and east, but which is dry during the summer months. At station three is the western fence of the enclosure known as the mission field, which is used by the fathers as a farm, and extends to the east as far as the first crossing,
(119) and is bounded on the north by the basaltic spur before noticed, and on the south by the river, having an extent of nine tenths of a mile in length by two tenths in width.
The first crossing of the river is made just below the point where it leaves the spur, and being narrowed by a gravelly point, which becomes an island at high water, runs swift over a gravelly bed, with an average depth of two feet and a width at the point of crossing of eighty feet. Should this ford be deepened it is quite probable that the length of navigation on the river can be extended to near the Ten-Mile prairie.
The general character of the banks of the Coeur d'Aléne river at its crossings is very favorable for the purposes of bridging, being of a gravelly formation and perpendicular to the water's edge, and also not subject to overflow. The bed of the river throughout is also gravelly. A very good point for bridging the first crossing is just below the ford. The banks are eleven feet above the water level, and would be connected by a bridge of two hundred feet in length. The distance from the starting point to the first crossing is one and two tenths miles.
From the first crossing to the Ten-Mile prairie the road passes over three saddles, known as the Four-Mile prairie saddle, height one hundred and ninety-three feet; the Seven-Mile prairie saddle, height two hundred and sixty-three feet; and the Ten-Mile prairie saddle, height three hundred and seven feet above the base line. These saddles are portions of the long spurs extending northwardly from the ridge of mountains to the south to the river, causing a large bend in the river, which otherwise runs in a remarkably direct line from its source in the mountains to the mission. Both the first and second saddles are not at the lowest points in their respective spurs.
The heavy growth of timber at these points effectually cuts off the view of the surrounding country, and the want of time did not admit of their further examination. There are points of the spurs which are at least fifty feet lower than these saddles, respectively.
Between the first crossing and the Four-Mile prairie the road runs over a prairie for three tenths of a mile, whence to the prairie it passes through a forest composed of cedar, hemlock, and balsam timber, varying from four inches to three feet in diameter. The Four-Mile prairie, four miles from the mission, has an average width of two hundred and fifty feet, and is three quarters of a mile long, bordered on the north by the river and the south by a forest of timber, of the species before noted. The same character of growth covers the second saddle, and terminates at its eastern base.
A large tributary of the river comes in from the north, it is supposed, nearly opposite to the eastern end of the Four-Mile prairie. This tributary is represented by Father Josét, at the Coeur d'Aléne mission, as being the main fork of the river. He states that Indians ascend it for some distances in their canoes. A glimpse of its valley has only as yet been obtained.
The Seven-Mile prairie is a stretch of nearly a mile and a half, sparsely covered with grass and open timber. Its soil is gravelly. This prairie extends some distance back into the country to the south, and is the mouth of a large ravine which runs southwardlv into the mountains.
The many small gullies which run across it are evidently beds of streams in the spring when the snows melt, although in summer perfectly dry. The hills which form the eastern boundary of this prairie rise in a peculiar manner from its surface: instead of a curved line, as usual, joining the two plains of the side hill and the prairie, the place where they meet is a sharp and clearly defined angle.
This prairie is evidently the bed of a lake, which has filled up the valley of this mountain ravine by its gravelly debris.
The Ten-Mile prairie saddle intervenes between the eastern end of this prairie and the Ten-Mile or Mud prairie.
(120) This saddle is the lowest point of its spur making down from the ridge on the south, and like the others is timbered from base to summit, and with a similar growth. The Ten-Mile prairie is about a mile in length, and from a quarter to three eighths in width. It is wet and miry in the spring from the melting snows, and in autumn from the rains; but at the time when passed over by our train was good and solid. A special survey is required from this to the mission, in order to decide upon a definite location for a railroad line; but the wagon road line is the shortest and most direct route either to the mission or lake. Distance from the mission to this prairie is nine miles; height of west end of prairie above the commencement point, eighty-three feet. From the Ten-Mile prairie to the second crossing the road passes through a forest of pine, hemlock, &c., and through a few small gravelly prairies covered with grass and brush. The timber is generally small, being about fifty feet in height and from six to twelve inches in diameter.
The river at the second crossing has a width of seventy feet and a mean depth of two feet. Its banks are generally sloping on the south and perpendicular and gravelly on the north; height above the river, six feet. One hundred feet below the crossing the river runs at the base of a spur, which last rises to a height of one hundred and fifty feet, and at an angle of inclination of 40°; out cropping limestone rock here makes its appearance. From station sixty-four to station sixty-eight the road runs at the base of a steep rocky ridge, (slope 30°.) The ground to the south towards the river in this distance is marshy and covered with a luxuriant growth of long meadow grass. Further examination may show a better location for the wagon road on the left bank. From station sixty-eight to station seventy-two the road is through a forest of cedar, hemlock, and pine, from two to three feet in diameter, after which it passes into a prairie with open timber, which extends to within two hundred feet of the third crossing. The water level of the third crossing is one hundred and eighty-seven feet above the base line, its width is sixty-six feet, and mean depth two feet. From this crossing eastwardly the valley becomes narrow, and the river exceedingly tortuous, flowing alternately at the base of the ridges that bound the valley on both sides, which rises up with a slope of from 35° to 75° to a height of from three hundred to six hundred feet, when they slope off more gently to the tops of the high mountain ridges. For the heights and distances of the crossing, and different points along the line from here to the summit, I would refer to the subjoined table of heights and distances.
From the third to the eleventh crossing, and from station one hundred and fifty-nine to the divide of the Coeur d'Aléne mountains, the timber is of a heavier growth and is more continuous than before. Cedars from three to six feet in diameter frequently occur. The pine becomes abundant, attaining a growth of from two to four feet in diameter, and from one hundred and fifty, to two hundred feet high. The hills and spurs of the mountain ridges are also covered with pine, hemlock, and fir, which decrease in size in proportion to the elevation, until at the top of the high ridges they are mere dwarfs, and the tops of the highest peaks are entirely bald. Many of these peaks bordering the valley have a height of from five to seven thousand feet above the level of the sea, the height of the range generally being from fifteen hundred to three thousand feet above the level of the valley. A series of small prairies, connected by strips of small pine timber, begin near the eleventh crossing and continue as far as station one hundred and fifty-nine, a distance of four and a half miles, and only interrupted by two belts of timber, which together do not exceed a mile and a half in length.
At the seventeenth crossing is probably the confluence of the north and south forks of the river. The south fork is again crossed just above its junction
(121) with the other branch; height, six hundred and twenty-five feet; distance from the mission, twenty-four and five-tenths miles.
The first crossing of the north fork is one and one-tenth mile further to the eastward; between this and the second crossing three small tributaries come in from the north, the valley of the stream becomes very narrow and the ridges close up, forming a deep and narrow gorge, which at its mouth has a width of two hundred feet; this continues up to the ninth crossing, whence to the twenty-seventh, a distance of two and seven-tenths miles, the river runs between the spurs, which come down close, having only the width of the stream between them, with a narrow margin for the location of the military wagon road. The character of the road as it runs over the small spurs and plateau is indicated by the profile. The southern side of this ravine presents an almost unbroken wall, which slopes up from 30° to 60°, with ledges of rock outcropping in many places.
The northern side, which is also steep, is intersected with four deep and narrow ravines, which extend to the summit of the mountain range, a distance of about two miles.
The last or most eastern of these ravines, called "Johnson's Cut-off," will afford good grazing for emigrants and others passing over the line, grass being found in its bottom about a mile above its mouth, and also on the hills on both sides.
From the twenty-seventh crossing the road rises up to a plateau and pauses over the Long Prairie Saddle to avoid the Long Prairie, which is a marshy meadow about one hundred and fifteen acres in area, one-third of which is covered with grass, and the remainder with clumps of bushes and strips of small timber; the prairie is wet in early spring.
The Long Prairie Saddle is twelve hundred and nineteen feet above the base line, and the distance from the mission is thirty-one and three-quarter miles. After descending from this saddle to station four hundred and six, the road is located upon the foot slope of the ridges, which have a plateau-like formation, and rises at an average rate of one hundred and eighteen and a half feet to the mile, in the direction of the road, until a summit is reached at station four hundred and forty-eight; thence it descends to the river bottom and reaches the foot of the divide of the Coeur d'Aléne or Bitter Root mountains at the twenty-eighth crossing of the northern fork of the river; distance from the mission thirty-five miles and thirty-eight hundredths: height, fourteen hundred and fifty-two feet, or an average fall of forty-one and four hundredths feet per mile. The average width of the river is forty-four feet.
The highest water mark seen was only three feet above its usual level. The average rise of the Coeur d'Aléne river for the first ten miles is ten feet per mile; for the next fifteen mile, thirty-five feet per mile, and for the remaining ten and thirty-eight hundredths miles, is seventy-nine and seventy-six hundredths feet per mile.
The summit of the divide of the Coeur d'Aléne or Bitter Root mountains at Sohon's Pass is four thousand nine hundred and thirty-two feet above the level of the sea, two thousand eight hundred and four and ninety-two hundredths feet above the base line, and thirteen hundred and fifty-three feet above the last crossing of the north fork of the Coeur d'Aléne river; which last height is attained in an air line distance of one and five hundredths miles.
Its summit is gained by the military wagon road, by means of two long bends or curves which are graded on and into the side of the mountain, the distance by this road being one and seventy-two hundredths miles.
The rock lies generally some four feet under the surface of the ground; but at the place known as the " Point of Rocks" blue limestone rock outcrops.
From this place the road up to the summit runs on the natural surface of the ground. The descent of three hundred and ninety-two feet from the summit, to the first crossing of the St. Regis Borgia river, is made in seven-tenths of a mile, in nearly a direct line, over the natural surface of the mountain.
(122) The divide over these mountains has had as careful an examination as the time of our disposal would allow, with a view to obtain, as much correct information as possible for determining the best location and probable length of a tunnel for the passage of a railroad line. There are two passes to the north and east of Sohon's Pass; the first, two miles to the north, is higher than Sohon's Pass and also wider from base to base; the second is some ten miles distant, at the north fork of the Coeur d'Aléne. These require a special examination of their approaches, to enable us to say anything definite in regard to them. At least a month should be spent in this region, so interesting to the topographer and the artist, to obtain at least an approximately correct sketch of the outlines of these passes and their approaches.
Two miles to the south of Sohon's Pass the ridge of the mountains dividing the waters of the St. Regis Borgia from one of the small tributaries of the north fork of the Coeur d'Aléne, which empties itself into that stream a mile or so above Long Prairie, becomes very narrow, sloping on the east at an angle of forty-five degrees, and to the west is nearly perpendicular for fifteen hundred feet. A tunnel could be made at this point of not more than one thousand feet in length, but its approach would involve such steep grades, and heavy em-bankments across deep ravines, as to be impracticable. The eastern base of the mountain in the valley of the St. Regis Borgia at this place, as determined by an observation with the aneroid barometer, is higher than the summit of Sohon's
Pass; it is therefore evident that to pierce the divide of these mountains, either Sohon's Pass must be taken as the tunnelling point or a more favorable line be found through the mountain ranges to the north and east.
The St. Regis Borgia river has its rise in a small bowl-like lake 500 feet in diameter, carved by nature out of the steep rocky walls of one of the spurs of Stevens's Peak. After leaving this spring it tumbles down 300 feet in a quarter of a mile, through a narrow, rocky channel; after which it flows through a valley a tenth of a mile in average width, to the first crossing. The distance from the source to this point is about two miles, and the entire fall is 1,250 feet.
From the first to the second crossing, a distance of two and a half miles, the road passes over the foot slopes of the ridges on the right bank of the river, which have a general transverse slope of one in ten. The descent from the first to the second crossing is 549 feet.
From the third to the sixth crossing, a distance of five-tenths of a mile, the valley is about 100 feet wide, having only a narrow strip of ground between the river and the foot of the spurs. The rock is seen outcropping in many places, having a slope towards the river of from 40° to 70°.
From the sixth to the seventh crossing, one and fifteen hundredths miles, the road passes for 800 feet at the base of the ridge on the left bank; whence, for the remaining distance, it passes over a plateau, from 60 to 150 feet wide, and four feet above the river bottom. Between the seventh and eighth crossing is a small prairie 500 feet long and 250 feet wide, called the "Five-Mile Prairie." The distance from the summit to the eighth crossing is five and sixty-five hundredths miles.
From the eighth to the thirty-second crossing, eight and three tenths miles, the valley is generally narrow, being from 100 to 200 feet wide. Wherever a prairie occurs the ridges and slopes recede, and the valley becomes from 200 to 600 feet in width. The principal prairies in this distance lie between the eight and ninth, the ninth and tenth, and the thirty and thirty-first crossing. The valley between the last-mentioned crossings has a width of from 500 to 1,000 feet.
The thirty-second crossing is at the entrance to the cañon of the St. Regis Borgia, which extends to the thirty-eighth crossing, a distance of one and a half mile. This cañon, so called, is merely a narrow ravine, or gorge, through which the river flows. The spurs which close up the valley have a slope of
(123) from 35° to 40°, and are covered with a growth of small timber; outcropping ledges of rock were only observed opposite to station 790. The road is located on small plateaus at the base of the spurs for most of the distance. From the forty to the forty-first crossing the road passes over rolling prairie ground with belts of open timber. Here is the mouth of a large ravine which comes in from the range of mountains on the north, the valley becomes wider, and the river flows near the hills at the southern side of the valley. The stretches of prairie between the forty-second, forty-third, forty-fourth, and forty-fifth crossings are also the debouches of similar ravines. On these prairies will be found an abundant supply of grass during spring and summer, although at the time of the survey, November 20 to 25, all these prairies were covered with snow to a depth of one and four tenths feet.
The forty-first and forty-second crossing, and also the forty-third and forty-fourth, are made in order to avoid two rocky spurs which run down to the water's edge at an angle of 35°. Here the blue limestone outcrops and presents a regular stratified appearance; the thickness of the strata is from one to four feet, and dips from east to west at an angle of about 45°. The strata forming the spur between the forty-third and forty-fourth crossing has a dip of 60°, and the rock is of a whiter hue, more resembling marble. The forty-fifth and the forty-sixth crossings are made to avoid a swampy flat, occasioned by a stream coming from the north, which sinks into the ground instead of emptying directly into the river. From the forty-sixth, or last, crossing to Cantonment Jordan, a distance of one and ninety-six hundredths miles, we pass over a series of plateaus and rolling ground, with prairies and belts of small timber.
The character of the valley of the St. Regis Borgia is quite different from that of the Coeur d'Aléne, rising in steps or plateaus of four or five feet each, instead of being a narrow bottom three or four feet above the water level. The timber, both in the valley and on the sides of the spurs and mountains, is more open and smaller than the same character of growth on the western slope of the mountains. The pine is generally about fifty feet in height and from one to six inches in diameter, although occasionally trees are found much larger; the hemlock and fir predominating, while the cottonwood is seen lining the immediate banks of the river. Wherever the prairies already spoken of appear the pines are smaller and evidently of a later growth, and the other timber becomes more open and scattering. The river itself has a more rapid descent than the Coeur d'Aléne, as is shown by the following table, the average width being about thirty-eight feet:
The descent of the military wagon road from the forty-sixth crossing of the St. Regis Borgia to Cantonment Jordan, a distance of one and ninety-six hundredths miles, is forty-five feet. The height of Cantonment Jordan above the base line at the mission is 871 feet, and its distance from the mission is fifty-nine and one-third miles; and from old Fort Walla-Walla, the initial point proper of the road, 288 miles; height above the sea, 2,998 feet.
I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. W. JOHNSON, Civil Engineer.
Lieutenant JOHN MULLAN,
United States Army, in charge of Fort Walla-Walla. and
Fort Benton Military Wagon Road Expedition.
(124) Table of heights and distances on the Fort Walla-Walla and Fort Benton military wagon road from the Coeur d"Aléne mission to Cantonment Jordan as determined by W. W. Johnson, civil engineer.
(125) SIR: In obedience to your orders of March 27th, I started on April 4th from the wagon road crossing on the Bitter Root river to make a survey of part of the Bitter Root river, Clark's Fork, and Flathead rivers. I took with me one of the flat-bottomed boats built at the ferry, about twelve feet long, two men, and rations for thirty days. The weather at first was unfavorable, and delayed us several days. I was successful in getting the boat over all the rapids in the Bitter Root river and went down the Clark's Fork about ten miles, and thus ascended the Flathead to the mouth of Plum creek, on which the Pend d'Oreille mission is situated. I visited the mission, where I was most hospitably received by the reverend fathers Louis and Minetrey, and connected it with my survey, and finally returned to the wagon road crossing on the 21st of April, having to cordelle my boat all the way up the Bitter Root and haul it unloaded over the two worst rapids.
From the crossing to the mouth of the Bitter Root is a distance of twenty three miles. It is about 500 feet wide at the ferry, but the breadth is diminished below as the mountains press closer; on the river, at several rocky points, it is not more than half that width. Its general course for seventeen miles is to the northeast; it then turns north to its junction with the Flathead river. It is exceedingly crooked and tortuous, has a very strong current and many rapids, of which four are very bad ones, the channel being obstructed by large rocks. On both sides are rocky, rugged mountains, from 1,600 to 2,000 feet high, bordering directly on the river, except in the bends, which are generally occupied by plateaus twenty to eighty feet high, there sometimes being in the same bend two or three rising one above the other; they are not usually of great extent, and, like the mountains, are covered with pine timber. It has no tributaries of any consequence, there being only three small creeks flowing into it, and but one island of any size, not far below the crossing.
On reaching the junction of the Bitter Root and Flathead, I immediately continued my survey down the Clark's Fork as far as Horse Plain, on the right bank. Opposite the mouth of the Flathead river, on the right bank, there is a rocky, precipitous mountain coming close to the river, and impassable for man or animals. This ends, however, about half a mile down the fork, and a flat succeeds, covered with grass and scattering pines, which continues for some five miles, after which there are rolling grassy hills and points of rock to the Horse Plain. This is an extensive flat, on a high plateau, more than a mile wide and very long, and covered with fine grass. On the opposite side is a similar plain, but not so large, apparently. The left bank of Clark's Fork is rocky and mountainous for nearly the whole distance to the last-mentioned plain, the mountains being higher and more rugged than those on the right bank.
At the junction of the Bitter Root and Flathead there is likewise a grass plain which extends up the latter river some two miles, when the mountains close in on both sides. At about seven miles and a half from its mouth there is a bad rapid extending across the river; this was the only one on it as far as my survey extended. About ten miles above its mouth the rugged and rocky mountains on either side end; the hills become gentler in slope and of much less altitude, and are either bare, or partially so, of timber, whilst many of them are covered with grass to the summits, particularly on the right bank. Along the river, also, are many grass flats, or plateaus, from twenty to forty feet high, some of which, as those opposite and below the mouth of the Jocko river, are very large.
This river is wider than the Bitter Root, and flows in a very straight course, with only (as far as I examined it) two large bends. There is a group of large islands about 20 miles from its mouth, and several smaller ones at different points. Its general direction, as far as the mouth of the Jocko river, is southeast; it then makes a sharp bend and flows in a westerly course to its mouth. The current is very moderate for about 20 miles, there being no difficulty in rowing the boat for that distance; and could the rocks at the rapids before men-
(126) tioned be removed, it would be navigable by small steamboats as far as I explored it, say, 30 miles.
Its principal tributaries, the Jocko river and Plum creek, are on the left bank; there is another above, on which is a Hudson Bay post, which I did not see.
Between Plum creek and the Jocko there is a low range of bare, grassy hills. On the right bank of the creek, however, the whole country is a high, rolling plateau, covered with grass, on which were numbers of Indian cattle and horses, which appeared to be in excellent order. The creek heads in a high, rugged range of mountains, stretching to the northeast, and on the plain at its foot, 10 miles from the river, is located the Pend d'Oreille, or St. Ignatius mission. Here were enclosed fields and gardens, cultivated by the Indians, under the direction of the Fathers. They have a saw and grist mill, several log houses and a church, and are building a larger one, which, however, progresses slowly, for want of funds. Scattered around were the usual conical wigwams of the Indians, the greater portion of the tribe being settled here. Most of the men, however, were absent hunting, and but few besides old men, women, and children, were left. Everything around gave evidence of the unwearied energy and industry of the worthy missionaries for the benefit of the savages amongst whom their lot was cast.
After remaining here a day, I returned to the boat and commenced the descent of the river. I would remark here that all these waters abound in fish, and also great numbers of ducks and geese. From the mission a trail descends the left bank of the creek, crossing the river about a mile below the mouth of the creek, where there is a ford in low water, and continues down the right bank of the river for about 18 miles, when it turns up a ravine and passes over to the Clark's Fork by the Camass prairie. There is another trail along the left bank of the river to its mouth.
On the Bitter Root river there is no trail on the right bank, and the one on the left bank leaves the river about six and a half miles from the wagon-road ferry and crosses the mountains, coming to the Clark's Fork at the Horse Plain.
As regards the practicability of making either wagon road or railroad up the Clark's Fork and Flathead rivers, I would remark that the right is the most favorable. A wagon road, and perhaps the railroad too, (I cannot speak positively, not having seen that portion of the route,) would have to take the line of the Camass prairie trail, as there a would be miles of rock cutting by the line of the river. From the point where the trail strikes the river again, there is no extraordinary difficulty and little rock cutting. To take either of them up the Bitter Root, the left bank would be the most favorable, as having the largest number of plateaus, but even then would be attended with immense expense and labor, as there would be at least seven or eight miles of rock to cut through.
The rock formation seems to be trap, and its varieties dipping to the south, generally at an angle of 45 degrees. There has been an upheaval and disturbance of the whole of this region. Neither fossils nor evidences of metallic minerals were found, though both were looked for when opportunities presented.
The distances on this survey were measured by my paces, carefully compared from time to time with measurements by a tape line.
In conclusion, I would beg leave to mention in terms of praise the two men who accompanied me, Isaac Grier and Dan Smith, privates, 3d artillery, for their good conduct throughout the trip, but particularly when dragging the boat up the Bitter Root river, where they were in the water nearly from morning till night.
I am, sir, with much respect, &c.,
W. W. DE LACY, Civil Engineer
Fort Walla- Walla and Fort Benton Wagon Road Expedition.
Lieut. JOHN MULLAN, U. S. A.,
Commanding Military Wagon Road Expedition
From Fort Walla-Walla to Fort Benton.