The Story of Paul Boyton - Voyages on All the Great Rivers of the World
by Paul Boyton
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"Hop into that boat and get away from here," fairly yelled Paul, springing to his feet, "or I'll pitch you into the river, where you can tell your miserable flood stories to the fishes."

The man looked at the threatening navigator a moment, boarded his boat and with disappointment lining every feature, pulled a short distance away, then resting on his oars, triumphantly shouted: "It was high enough over thet ere bank." A club was flung at him as he drifted out of sight around the bar.

Resuming the voyage, Omaha came in sight as they rounded the next bend and beheld the Union Pacific bridge that spans the river.

"Ah," joyously exclaimed Creelman, "We're out of the wilderness. There's the first bridge."

At that point a party of friends and representatives of the press, met the travelers and escorted them to the city, where thousands of people lined the bank to extend a welcome. One man, who probably intended to commit suicide, threw off his coat and shouting that he could swim as well as that fellow, jumped in and was drowned. Boyton had great difficulty in getting through the crowd to a carriage which conveyed him to a hotel.

That evening, after a wash and getting into suits of clothes which they had shipped ahead, Paul and Creelman met a party of friends and newspaper men in their room and entertained them with an account of some of the adventures of the trip.

On leaving Omaha after a pleasant rest of a day, the voyagers realized that winter was sweeping down from the northwest with such rapidity that it was necessary for them to exert their best efforts if they would reach St. Louis before ice enclosed them. The character of the country through which they now passed was entirely different from that above. While there were still many wild stretches, instead of bare buttes covered with buffalo grass, the hills were loaded with timber, and well kept fences told that instead of a strictly cattle grazing country, immense farms stretched from either shore. At places, corn stalks rustled for miles along the bank and fat swine came to the shore to wallow in the mud.

The first night out from Omaha, they passed the mouth of the Platte river and next morning reached Nebraska City. Many towns and villages were passed and at every place large crowds were looking for the voyagers and expressed much disappointment when they refused to halt even for a few moments. As they were enjoying their pipes over a splendid camp fire one night some miles above St. Joseph, they were somewhat startled at hearing a gruff voice call out, "Hello, there." And immediately two men heavily armed, stood by the fire. One was a tall, muscular fellow and the other shorter and slighter built, both having the appearance of men that were not to be trifled with. They were very friendly, however, and chatted pleasantly for some time; inquiring all about the trip down the river and displaying a keen interest in everything concerning it. They were intelligent conversationalists and the two hours they remained in camp passed quickly. On going away they shook hands and wished the travelers good luck. Later, Paul found out that the midnight visitors were no other than the notorious Jesse James and his pal Bob Ford who afterward assassinated him.

The voyagers sighted St. Joseph at sunset next evening but having grounded in the mud they did not reach the city until after dark and found the bank jammed with people. They had been watching for them at St. Joseph all day. During their stay they were honored by a continual round of receptions, serenades and other entertainments and on leaving, the crowd was just as enthusiastic as on their arrival. They were joined there by Mr. Baker, a correspondent of a Kansas City paper, who had been assigned to accompany them as far as that city. He bad purchased a rather unwieldy skiff in which to accomplish the trip, and started along with them pulling a vigorous stroke. Toward night the weather grew very cold.

Every drop of water that splashed into the boats was quickly frozen. Paul's head covering was iced. About eleven o'clock he pulled alongside the boats.

"Boys," he said, "this is going to be a rough night on you and the best way for you to get along is to pull one hour, turn about and sleep one hour. I will keep time and call you up."

The plan met with favor and was immediately put into execution. Creelman was to pull the first hour and Baker rolled himself in the buffalo robes and laid on the bottom of his boat. He was fast asleep in a moment. At the expiration of fifteen minutes, Creelman softly called Boyton alongside.

"Say, Captain, Baker hasn't pulled all the way do n from Bismarck. He's fresh. Suppose we wake him up and you tell him it's twelve o'clock," he suggested.

Paul fell in with the spirit of the joke and after pulling away from the boat, he blew the bugle and aroused Baker with the information that it was twelve o'clock. The Kansas City man took the oars and Creelman rolled up for a good nap. After fifteen or twenty minutes, Baker hailed Paul, who hauled up.

"Say, Captain, Creelman has pulled all the way down the river and is innured to this sort of thing. I'm not. It's just about knocking me out. Suppose you call him and tell him his hour is up."

"All right," said the Captain, and in a moment Creelman was rubbing his eyes.

"Confound it, Captain. It seems to me that was an almighty short hour," he said.

"It's one o'clock," sung the Captain, "time's up. Creelman took the oars without the least suspicion that Boyton would play a joke on him.

"Call Baker up again," he said to Paul after pulling several minutes, and Baker was called up accordingly.

"By George," exclaimed Baker, rubbing his eyes, "I must have slept awfully sound. It doesn't seem to me as though I have been down ten minutes."

He went to work, however, and Paul enjoyed himself calling them up, each thinking he had the best of the other. At three o'clock, they began to scan the horizon for daybreak. According to the hours they had pulled, it should have been five o'clock. As daylight did not appear, Creelman began to grow suspicious and as Baker was called up again he saw Creelman with a lighted match consulting his watch.

"What time is it?" inquired Baker.

"Three o'clock," replied Creelman in a mournful voice.

"What?" almost screamed Baker, "only three o'clock?"

They favored each other with a cold, hard look and each seized his own oars again. So they rowed through the bitter morning hours.

Leavenworth and other towns were saluted, crowds always cheering on the banks, and the following afternoon, almost frozen, they landed at Kansas City, where for two miles the bank was a solid mass of humanity. Among those who greeted them was an uncle whom Paul had never seen, Mr. Peter Behan, a famous guide and one of the first who ever piloted a wagon train across the plains to California. The voyagers were tendered the freedom of the city and were hospitably entertained. Next morning the journey was resumed amid deafening plaudits.

Speed was now the one thing necessary and Boyton knew there would be some chance of finishing their trip on skates if they did not reach St. Louis ahead of the cold wave that was setting down the river. They passed the United States snag boat, Wright, directly after leaving Kansas City and in the evening paddled by Berlin. Wild geese and ducks were still seen in great numbers at places and several mud hens were run down and killed. At Camden and many other towns, bonfires were built by the enthusiastic citizens who were determined to catch sight of the hardy navigator, whether he passed by in the night or day.

They had now four hundred miles ahead of them. The winter had closed in with great severity. The ice formed rapidly in the river and they met daily snow storms. At the same time the river raised and increased their speed so that they easily made ten or twelve miles an hour.

Below Wellington, at two o'clock one morning, the voyagers mounted a pile of driftwood to rest. Building a fire they went to sleep, but toward daylight they were startled to find their camp was afloat, which caused them to resume the journey rather earlier than they had intended.

Below Lexington, Paul shot a beautiful pair of white heron measuring seven feet from tip to tip. After passing Booneville, the banks of the river became more permanent and they passed through a rich grape growing country, populated mainly by Germans, who have established large wine vaults and make much wine. At Jefferson City, they were met by the Mayor and tendered the freedom of the city. That night they were shown through a wine vault and learned that the soil in that country was as rich and identical with that of the best wine growing districts of the Rhine.

Wagon teams were crossing on the ice along the upper river. Paul was much reduced in flesh, and his face bronzed like an Indian's.

At last, one Sunday morning, sixty-four days after the trip was begun, they camped for the last time at the mouth of the Missouri where it empties into the Mississippi. St. Louis was twenty miles away. They entered that city during the afternoon and were given a tremendous reception. This voyage of 3,580 miles was the longest and roughest journey Boyton ever made.


The long, trying voyage of the Yellowstone and Missouri gave Paul a keen relish for a few week's rest at home. He recuperated so rapidly, however, that when he received an invitation from a friend to go on a hunting expedition aboard a private steamboat, he was ripe to accept it. The steamer was then on the Mississippi and Paul joining her at Memphis, her nose was turned for southwestern waters. They steamed up the Arkansas to Bayou Meta, and were soon far in the depths of the woods. Though the water of the bayou was very deep, it was so narrow at places that trees and vines had to be cut away so the boat could push her way through. Several weeks were spent in shooting deer and bear, catching coon, opossum and other game. At their manufactured salt licks, they succeeded in taking all the deer they wanted. Boyton's love for pets quickly manifested itself and every odd corner of the little steamer had an occupant. Among these was a cub bear, captured after killing the old one, by throwing a coat over it. It was a vicious little brute at first, spitting and clawing at everything that went near it, and it seemed impossible to train. After many things had been tried without avail, a stick with some honey on its end was thrust between the bars of the cage. The little fellow struck at it wickedly at first, but noticing the honey on its paws, began to smell, then to taste it. The honey was so much to its liking that it was soon eating out of Boyton's hand and in a short time it was as tame and playful as a kitten.

Tiring of hunting, Paul was taken with a desire to feel the current of the Arkansas, to which river they returned and with such intention, he packed his dress and tender and proceeded to Ft. Smith, starting above that city at the mouth of the Poteau river, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory, January 12th, 1882, for a four hundred mile run to Pine Bluff. The weather was cold and the chill of Rocky Mountain snow was in the river. The course was rather lonely, winding amid bleak hills and for long stretches there would be small signs of life. At the end of the first day's paddling, he hauled up at a farm house to request shelter for the night. A woman told him that the men were not in yet, but she "reckoned he could stay, though there was no bed." Paul told her he did not require a bed and when the men came in they tendered him the comforts of the cabin. After supper the time was passed in chatting over their pipes around a spacious fireplace, in front of which, Paul was to sleep. During the evening he admired a beautiful little girl four years of age. She was as shy at first as she was pretty; but finally mustered sufficient courage to edge timidly up to his side and ask:

"Please sah, gimme a chaw tobacca?"

"Why, my dear little girl you do not chew tobacco at your age, do you?" exclaimed Paul.

"Yo' bet she do, stranger," answered the father, "she's jus' a chawer from away back," at the same time giving her a goodly sized piece of the weed.

The mother, who was attending to score domestic affairs, overheard the conversation and turning to Paul, remarked:

"Now, stranger, do yo' raily think uts right t' give a chile like thet tobacca?"

"Decidedly I do not," said Paul.

"Look ut thet; look ut thet, Dan," she exclaimed triumphantly, addressing her husband, "even a stranger don't think uts right. What hev I allus been a tellin' yo'?"

The farmer laughed as he replied: "Oh, she'll git over thet w'en she gits sixteen an' goes sparkin' an' wants t' whiten her teeth."

Leaving the hospitable farm house with the tobacco question still unsettled, an early start was made for a run to Ozark. Before reaching, that place, he was driven past a high wood-covered butte when he heard the rhythmic melody of a plantation song and observed an old negro pulling across the stream below. For the purpose of a little amusement, Paul stood up and shouted:

"Aha, I've got you now."

The darkey facing around, caught sight of the curious figure. The look of fright which shone on his black features, was woeful as he struck for the shore, yelling:

"'Taint mine; 'taint mine, sah; it's de kunnel's, 'taint mine."

When within four feet of the shore, he sprang out, leaving the dugout to drift. Not wishing to frighten the darkey into the loss of his boat, Paul pulled in and ran it up on the bank. He then noticed that she had a cargo of stone jugs filled with "Arkansaw lightning," held in with corn cob stoppers. The negro was engaged in the missionary work of smuggling the liquor to Indians on the reservation. As Paul swung off into mid stream, he saw a pair of frightened eyes shining at him from among the bushes.

That night he rested at Ozark. For two days following, the weather was very bad. The first night he was compelled to camp on a sand bar for a few hours and build a fire to thaw himself. The rest so invigorated him that he paddled into the night of the second day. Sleet coated his dress until he resembled a cake of ice and his paddle became so thick that he could scarcely handle it. About nine o'clock he went ashore and found a cabin, the light from a blazing fire within shining through the chinks between the logs. He hammered on the door and was invited to enter. As he pushed in, a line, of black, kinky heads raised from beds on the floor, and several pairs of eyes gazed inquiringly in the direction of the door. When the glistening black figure was discovered, some shrieked and covered their heads. A powerful negro jumped up and seized an ax, moving rapidly toward Boyton with it uplifted.

"What's the matter with you?" said Paul, stepping back a few paces toward the door, "put down that ax. I am on a trip down the river and seeking shelter."

After some persuasion, the negro put the ax down in a handy corner and gave his queer guest permission to sleep in front of the fireplace, while the family peered at him curiously from under their bed clothes. At daylight they all crawled out to see him start and they formed quite a large gathering. It was the sight of a lifetime with them and their yells of delight were unrestrained as he pulled away towing the Baby, which was covered with ice.

As Boyton approached Dardenelle, a party of reporters met him in skiffs. He was informed that a steaming hot breakfast was prepared for him at a hotel and invited to stop; but feeling in good shape, he thought he would go ahead. Mr. James K. Perry, a merchant of Dardenelle, whom Paul had met in New Orleans, rowed up and was so pressing in his offers of hospitality, that the voyager could not refuse. A perfect mass of humanity had gathered at the wharf and a carriage was there to convey him to the hotel. He was soon divested of his rubber dress and made quite comfortable. An invitation from Mr. Perry to dine at his house was refused because of lack of clothing; but the hospitable citizens would not allow a little thing like that to stand in the way of his pleasure, and they attired him in a brand new suit from head to foot. The pantaloons had to be held up as he walked along the streets and were the source of much amusement. There were numerous other guests at the dinner and he spent a most pleasant day and evening.

Next morning was dark and threatening when he resumed the voyage. He hoped to make Lewisburg that night. Toward evening he again ran into rain and sleet which almost blinded him and the numerous islands made it difficult for him to keep the channel. Seeing smoke pouring from a cabin that stood dangerously near the brink, he sounded the bugle in hope of stirring up some one from whom he could glean a little information. A frowsy individual sauntered out, glanced over the river and without displaying the least interest, was proceeding to arrange some crocks and pans about the cabin door.

"Hello, my friend," shouted Paul.

The man slowly turned and ramming both hands into his breeches' pockets, calmly eyed the figure in the water. As he was turning toward the cabin again, without a word, Boyton asked:

"How far is it to Lewisburg?"

"Its a putty good distance," slowly answered the man. "How far do you call that?" "I don't never call ut as I knows on."

"Look here, my good-"

"Ain't I a lukin?"

"Well, is Lewisburg one mile, five miles or a thousand miles from here?"

"I reckon its one o' them numbers."

Paul was beginning to feel out of humor, but realized that he was conversing with a lineal descendant of the "Arkansaw Traveler;" he determined to get some information. Pointing to an island just below, he again put a question:

"Which side of that island shall I take?"

"Any side thet you're a mind to."

"On which side is the channel?"

"Sometimes on one side, sometimes t' other."

"Which side do you consider best?"

"I aint 'tendin' t' other people's business."

"Which side do the steamboats take?"

"Its owin' to what captain's on."

"Wouldn't you kindly advise me which side to take?"

"Reckon I bes' not."


"Frien's o' mine on both sides wants to see you."

"Plague take your incivility; how long will it take me to reach Lewisburg?"

"'Ts owin' ter how fas' yo' travel."

"How long does it take you to go?"

"I don't never go."

"How long did it take you to come from there?"

"Tuk me right smart while; but the team broke down."

"Confound it. Do you know what I think of you?"

"Nothin' thet ud spite my appytite."

"I think you are the blamdest fool in Arkansaw."

"Know what I think o' yo'?"


"Thet yo're the devil come up ter cool himself off."

The fellow deliberately entered the cabin and closed the door, and Paul luckily struck the channel around the island.

The Arkansas river cuts under its banks much after the manner of the Missouri. Several places were seen where they had been undermined and sunk carrying sheep down that had been grazing near the edge, leaving the poor things hemmed in on one side by high banks and on the other by water. There they would starve rather than take to the river to get out. Whenever Boyton ran across such places, he would either drive the sheep off or tell some one below to go up and get them.

Four days from the time of starting, he ran into Little Rock, the State capital, where he was pleasantly entertained. When the voyage was resumed, he was accompanied by Opie Read, the famous humorist, who enjoyed the river experience. They amused themselves during the day with the negroes, many of whom thought Boyton was a drowning man floating along. They would run close to the water's edge and yell at Read, who was pulling leisurely behind in a row boat.

"Hyah, man. Doan yo' see dat ar man drownen? G'on an pick him up."

"Not much, I wont pick him up." Opie shouted, "I'm going to let him drown."

"Hi, Eph; git yo' boat. Drownen man in de ribber. Spec he done drownded now," excitedly yelled one old auntie to a broad shouldered darkey who was running to the bank. Then as both boat and Boyton swept by, they could hear her say: "Dere's de onliest man ebber I see dat'll let a fellah human drownd afore his eyes. Him de wickedest man in de worl'."

One old negro with an armful of ear corn, dropped it with a look of horror and stood as if petrified, as far as the voyagers could see him.

Below Little Rock as night came on, a small steamer was encountered tied up to the bank and Paul and his companion spent the night aboard of her. It was that night that Boyton succumbed to something worse than rapids, quicksand or waterfalls. They had lighted their pipes after supper and were lounging about the cabin talking of their adventures, when Paul asked Read what kind of smoking tobacco he used.

"Old natural leaf," said Opie, "have some?"

"Don't care if I do."

The pipe was refilled and puffing away, Paul continued relating some adventure.

It was an interesting experiment to his listeners and they watched anxiously. They knew that that kind of tobacco must form a man's acquaintance gradually. It will brook no sudden familiarity. The smoke curled in fantastic wreathes about Boyton's head and the stories became less thrilling. His eyes gradually became yellow and his swarthy countenance turned a pale green. The words tumbled over one another and, got mixed up woefully.

"Look here," he said, struggling to keep his eyes open, "where did you get that tobacco?"

"In Little Rock."

"Whew! its stronger than the falls of the Arno," and turning over, he slept, perhaps to dream of red oak tobacco sticks, and bare legged boys with green hands, killing worms. He succumbed to "Arkansaw natural leaf."

Next morning they pulled out for Pine Bluff, the last run of the voyage. Above the city, the steamer Woodson met them with a party of excursionists on board. Capt. F. G. Smart, of Jefferson, was detailed to deliver an address of welcome to Boyton as soon as they met him. The Captain was an enthusiastic admirer of the voyager and had taken numerous doses of "Arkansaw lightning" for the purpose of inspiring his oratorical powers. As Boyton swung into sight, the Captain sprang upon something laying near the rail and throwing both hands up as though a highwayman had him covered with a Winchester, he began his speech.

"Standing here on this sack of salt," he roared, "I say standing here on—"

"Git offen me," yelled a colored roustabout who had laid down and upon whom the Captain had planted himself.

"Get out of my way then," shouted the orator, "don't throw yourself in the attitude of a rostrum unless you have credentials. I say, ladies and gentlemen, we have assembled on this boat, to come up to meet a man coming down. It is my principle never to shove a man down; but on this occasion, I stand merely as a spectator. As a rule, a man goes down on whisky, but this man goes down on water. May we all meet on that beautiful shore, where every man can show a life saving suit of clothes."

The Captain's voice was drowned in a round of cheers and the sound of the steamboat's whistle, as she was headed down stream to escort Boyton to Pine Bluff, where he was warmly received, completing his voyage of four-hundred miles in six days.

Again embarking on his friend's little steamboat, a cruise down the Mississippi to the mouth of Red river followed, where some time was spent in hunting and then the boat was headed for New Orleans.

For two years following, with the exception of a run down the rapids of the James river at Richmond, Boyton was engaged in business. During that time he became an agent of the Haytien insurgents, as a purchaser of supplies and he barely escaped going out on the ship Lapatrie, which was captured and all on board executed by order of Hippolyte.

In 1884, Paul decided to give up his adventurous life, and settle down. He continued in business on shore until 1886, when his health became so affected by confinement that he was advised to resume his old outdoor life for a time, to recuperate. So he concluded to limber his joints with another voyage. On looking about for a course, he found he had made all the rivers in America that promised adventure, except those of the far west. He went to San Francisco and prepared for a run down the Sacramento from Red Bluff, four-hundred and fifty miles.

He entered the water, March 26th. It was a beautiful morning and the people from the town and surrounding country gathered to see him start. A boat load of reporters accompanied him, intending to go as far as Tehama. As Paul felt his well beloved element under him again, he answered the characteristic California salute of the good people of Red Bluff, with rockets and bugle and was soon carried out of sight. When the noise of the town was left behind, the newspaper men were surprised to see him throw his paddle in the air, and catch it with a whoop of almost boyish pleasure. He answered their inquiries by saying that he could not restrain his joy at feeling himself at home once more.

Directly after the start, the Baby was discovered to be leaking. Her long sojourn ashore had subjected her to the malevolent attacks of rust, which had eaten a small hole in her bottom that had been overlooked. How to stop the leak was a serious problem. No solder was obtainable. They used some of the tar off the bottom of the reportorial boat; but it would not stick. The dilemma was overcome by a young gentleman in the boat who had been suspected of a tendency to ape the fashions of the effete east. When he blushingly produced a slug of chewing gum, they were satisfied that their suspicions were well founded. The gum proved efficacious, however, and the leak was plugged up.

Tehama was reached about noon, where they were saluted by volleys fired from shot guns, rifles and revolvers. Paul hauled up and sent a messenger for glycerin and oil to use on his face which began to feel the effects of the burning sun. As he lay in the dock answering a shower of questions, about his name, age, fighting weight etc., an old gentleman stepped to the front and said:

"Captain, why don't you come out? Tehama is famous for its widows. They are handsomer and more of them than will be found in any other town of her size in the world, and if you ain't married, I guarantee you will be in an hour after you're ashore."

The widows present shyly smiled.

After being supplied with the glycerin, he left the newspaper men and struck away alone. He kept on all night and passed Chico bridge early next morning. Before sun-rise he noticed a tree that was strange and wonderful. It was full of what appeared to be large white clusters of feathery-like blossoms, which swayed to and fro as though alive, yet not a breath of air was stirring. His wonder at the beautiful spectacle was so great, that he ceased moving the paddle and drifted with the current toward the snowy looking tree. When opposite, he saw it was a roost for some sort of water fowl. He shouted and a cloud of white heron rose in the air and soared away.

He now entered a stretch of river that was very lonely. The ranches were far away from the banks. The sand bars were full of geese, ducks and heron, while many buzzards sailed gracefully above. He noticed one large flock of these scavengers, that hung over him and which gained in numbers as they moved along, no doubt mistaking him for a dead body, floating. He had commenced the voyage on Friday and the old sailor superstition affected him. He did not like the persistence with which the ill-omened birds kept him company; but they were far out of range of pistol shot. He grew so nervous looking at the buzzards that he could see nothing else along the river. Then he thought of a plan to get rid of them, which he immediately put into execution. Taking a powerful detonating rocket from the Baby, he fired it into their midst and it bursted above. They darted away toward the Sierras and he was annoyed by them no more.

There was one companion he could not get rid of, however, that was the snow clad peak of Mt. Shasta. It appeared ever present and always at the same distance. He would think he had left it in the rear, when at the next bend of the river, it again loomed up in front of him. He saw it at sunrise and at sunset for days, gloriously colored as the variations of light bathed its towering sides.

At Grimes' Landing, a Sunday school picnic was encountered. Arches and banks of flowers, made bright a beautiful grove. On one arch were the words, "Baby Mine," spelled out in roses. Boyton had not intended to stop, but could not resist getting out and shaking hands with the little ones. That night he stopped at a wood cutter's camp.

Next evening he was met by a gentleman in a boat with a servant, who extended a most cordial invitation to spend the night. They repaired to an elegant residence on the river bank and the gentleman proved to be the Hon. John Boggs, proprietor of one of the great ranches which make California famous. He was profuse in his hospitality, sending messages by his private wire to Sacramento and San Francisco. His ranch consists of eleven thousand acres, requiring hundreds of men to work it; herds of cattle and droves of sheep, numbering into the tens of thousands, graze on the ranges. Ocean vessels are docked at his warehouses and loaded for foreign ports. Boyton always remembers the night spent at that California ranch as one of the most pleasant of his life.

Next day Colusa was reached and for some distance below, people were numerous on the banks, school children sometimes running along a mile or more. At one place a tall, raw boned woman, who looked as though she possessed a mind of her own, gathered up her skirts and trotted along the bank for same time, talking to Boyton. She wanted to know if he lectured.

"No; I am taking notes so as to write a book," replied Paul.

"Well, you're just the fellow I'm looking for. I want you to take notes about the slickens that are filling up this river and go for the miners, good and strong, who make them." With that she dropped her skirts and pointing her index finger impressively at Paul, concluded: "Now don't forget that, young fellow," and turned to retrace her steps.

The slickens spoken of by the strong minded female, is refuse from the mines filling the channel of the river and ruining navigation. It is produced by hydraulic mining, powerful streams of water washing the dirt down from the hills into the river. Boyton found the slickens very trying to the eyes.

At the mouth of Feather river he met a boat load of Sandwich Islanders, who were up that far fishing, they kept along with him for several miles and he found them to be very intelligent companions. That night he landed at a ranch and sounded his bugle. No one answering, he climbed to the top of a high hank and discovered a number of Chinamen coming toward him. At sight of him they all returned to the house in a hurry and Paul knew it was useless to apply for accommodation there. He entered the river again and paddled on until he reached another ranch. At the call of the bugle, a man came out and in answer to Boyton's request for lodging, said:

"Why, certainly Captain, glad to have you come in. I've heard all about you."

On entering the house, the host explained that he was a bachelor and all alone, at the same time bustling about, baking biscuits and boiling eggs. Next morning there was the same liberal supply of eggs and as Paul was devouring a goodly share of them, the bachelor remarked:

"You needn't think, Captain, that because we had eggs last night and this mornin' too, they're cheap. No, sir. Why, 'pon honor, Cap, them eggs is worth fifteen cents a dozen in Sacramento."

The Captain assured him that they were most nutritious food and that he heartily enjoyed them. Before resuming the voyage that morning, Paul discovered, that back of the ranch, thousands of acres of splendid land was overflowed and rendered useless by the slickens falling into the Sacramento.

From the egg producing ranch, the river took on the appearance of a southern bayou. Trees and festoons of vines hung in the water, which was clear and beautiful and numbers of water snakes were continually crossing and recrossing. Seeing one handsome yellow fellow, Paul paddled after and captured it. It made no attempt to bite; but coiled tightly around his wrist and hand. It was three feet long and beautifully marked. He stowed it in the Baby and it remained his companion for the rest of the journey.

Groups of Chinamen were occasionally seen, fishing from the banks or the branches of overhanging trees. Some of these stared at him while others ran away. During the afternoon, he saw two celestials in a tree. He silently ran under them and uttered a terrific yell. One of the Chinamen was so frightened that he let go all holds and dropped into the water, while his companion remained in the tree, his teeth chattering like castanets.

Further down Paul encountered beating head winds and suffered from the slickens. His face was badly burned and the skin peeled off in flakes. On April 1st, he reached Sacramento and the usual hearty California reception was tendered him. For five days after leaving that city, the going was heavy and tiresome, having struck tide water directly below. The runs through Suesun and San Pablo bays were very trying. Saturday, April 6th, he made John's Lighthouse at the head of San Francisco bay, and remained there until four o'clock in the morning, intending to start on the last run to San Francisco on the ebb tide. He made Angel Island at seven o'clock, where he was compelled to stop because the tide as it then was, would have carried him through the Golden Gate to the Pacific. When the tide turned, he again struck across the bay and was met by a fleet of boats to escort him in. Foremost among these was the yacht of Mr. Matt. O'Donnell. Calling to him, Boyton said: "Halloa Matt, I have a present for you." The boat was pulled alongside and Paul took the yellow snake out of the Baby, putting it into his friend's hand so quickly, that the latter did not have a chance to see what it was. The reptile coiled about his wrist and with an exclamation of fright, he shook it off on the deck much to the consternation of those aboard. As Boyton sheered off, O'Donnell, assuming an oratorical attitude, called out:

"Thanks for the snake."

Before Paul could reach his destination, the wind and tide suddenly changed and he was swept in the direction of the ocean, so he hauled around and headed for Sauscilito where he became the guest of the yacht club for the night. Next morning he made his way across and landed safely at San Francisco, after a laborious journey of twelve days.

He will long keep green in his memory the royal hospitality he received from the Californians.

Paul next decided to go to Salt Lake City and try the waters of its wonderful inland sea. After a few day's rest in San Francisco, he found himself on the shore of the Great Salt Lake. He had been told that the water was so dense that he would be able to walk on it in his rubber dress; but actual experience did not verify the assertion. In fact, he could discover but little difference between the water of the lake and that of the ocean. He might, possibly, float higher on the surface of the former, but very little. He found the water as clear as a crystal; but a veritable dead sea so far as animal life was concerned. There is no life in its depths except little worms that are found around the bottom of piles or on pieces of submerged wood, and these turn to flies. Wishing to prove to his own satisfaction that fish would not live in the lake, Paul procured some trout and turned them in. The moment they touched the briny water, they died as though shot by an electric current.

On the second evening after his arrival, Paul entered the water to paddle out to Antelope Island, about fifteen miles from shore. He was warned of danger in case of a wind; but thought nothing of it at the time. After slipping over the glassy surface of the lake for about ten miles, he noticed a heavy cloud coming down from the surrounding mountains and in a short time it was churned into a short, choppy sea by a squall blowing thirty or forty miles an hour. The waves were not very high, but slashed about him in such a manner that his eyes, nose and mouth were filled with the salty foam which caused intense agony. He still struggled for the island, hoping to reach it before he would die of suffocation. He steered by the sound of the waves washing against the shore. At last he heard the flap, flap, of the breakers and he was swung against the rocky coast of Antelope Island. He knew that no human being lived there; only a flock of sheep that had been taken thither in flat boats to graze. He also knew there was something else on the island for which he longed—fresh water. He groped about for a time until he could open his eyes to see a little and fortunately discovered a spring not far from where he landed.

The gale continued all night and he dare not enter the water while it prevailed. Next morning a little steamer that was sent out to hunt him, found him on the island and conveyed him back to shore, pretty badly used up. He remained at the lake some time after, but did not make any more excursions.

During the month of March, 1887, Paul, who had returned from a short visit south, was feeling a trifle malarious. Regardless of the time honored and tested remedies for this complaint which were prescribed freely by his friends, he believed that the only thing for relief was a run in the ocean in the rubber dress, with the Baby as his sole companion. He also felt the necessity for a practice voyage before going down the Hudson, a trip which he then had in view. Getting his paraphernalia together, he boarded the pilot boat, Fannie, on a Wednesday, and on Saturday, attired in his dress, he slipped over her side with the intention of paddling to the Jersey coast, which he hoped to strike in the vicinity of Cape May.

The weather was not very cold when he went overboard and the sea was fine and smooth. Bye and bye the wind commenced to blow off shore and as he wanted to go to the westward, he had a hard fight against it all day and night. He sighted a great many vessels and signaled them to pick him up; but they did not see him for they all continued on their way. The constant battle against the stiff land breeze began to tell on him toward morning. The compass would not work and he was compelled to determine his course by the stars. The morning sun showed him that he was out of sight of land. During the forenoon, the wind shifted to the east which was more favorable, though he could take but little advantage of it on account of being stiff and sore from the severe buffeting to which he had been subjected during the night. All day Sunday, he continued working to the westward. About four o'clock he sighted the smoke of a steamer to the south and pulled across her course. He fired three rockets to attract her attention and waved his flag, the "union down" fastened to the paddle. His heart sank when she glided by apparently without seeing him; but to his joy, after passing a short distance she stopped and he saw a boat lowered. He was taken aboard and learned that she was the William Lawrence of the Norfolk and Baltimore line, Captain M. W. Snow. When picked up, he was sixty miles off Sandy Hook. Captain Snow and everyone on board treated him with the utmost kindness. Directly after getting on board he turned in and slept for twelve hours. He landed at Providence on Monday, and he immediately wired his friends in New York that he was all right.

The contemplated voyage down the Hudson river, was delayed on account of ice; but on the fifth of April, a freshet broke it up and the voyager started from Hudson, accompanied by several representatives of the New York papers, who occupied a boat which was in charge of the famous oarsman, Wallace Ross assisted by George Whistler. The voyage was not of unusual interest, outside of the difficulty of forging ahead through the ice floes and considerable suffering from the cold. On that account and from the fact that the party were compelled to watch for favorable tides, progress was somewhat slow. They were enthusiastically received at every town and village and at several places, physicians advised Boyton to abandon the trip, fearing that the exposure would prove fatal but he made light of their fears.

One of the most interesting sights was encountered in the middle of the Tappan Zee. An enormous tow of one hundred canal boats and five schooners was passed, drawn by four powerful tugs. Six hundred people inhabited this floating village and they stood on the decks of their migratory houses, going north with the spring, like the ducks, and hurrahed, and each tug screamed a salute. The oyster dredgers cheered and schooners changed their course to hail Boyton.

Less than seven days from the time of starting, Paul landed in New York, having been escorted down the North river by a large party of friends aboard a gaily decorated tug. Fully 20,000 people saw the finish. To Wallace Ross, who rowed the reporters' boat, much of the success of the trip was due. He watched Boyton with the anxious care of a trained nurse. He stood by regardless of his own fatigue, keeping a careful eye on the tides and was ready at all times to exert his skill and muscle for the success of the undertaking. George Whistler, too, who has been Boyton's attendant for years, withstood the fatigues of the journey and attended manfully to his duties.

In March, 1888, the Captain had a thrilling experience in Lake Michigan. For the purpose of reducing his weight, he began to take short runs through the icy water. On the 27th he left shore, intending to paddle a few miles out in the lake. A fresh west wind was blowing. He pushed through the ice for some time and then encountered great floes onto which he climbed. Heavy clouds obscured the sun and the wind had gathered the ice together. He struggled for a time with what he judged to be the western border of the field and then ran into a sort of pocket. Through this he pulled until he again encountered floes. A heavy fog now shut down on the lake and all trace of land had vanished, and on stopping to take his bearings, he was horrified to find that his compass was lost. There was nothing by which he could determine his position or the direction of the city. He began to get drowsy from the cold and knew he would perish if he did not labor incessantly to keep up his temperature. He concluded that he only had to pull away from the ice to reach Chicago, and for at least five hours he worked in what he considered to be the right direction. Still there was no sign of the city. Then he changed his course and pulled with all the energy of desperation. The ice gathered about him again and when night came, he was fighting it for his life. Sometimes he would dodge the drifts, at others he climbed upon the cakes and crossed them. He got a flash view of the moon when it rose and then saw that he had been working wrong. He had crossed the field in the morning when he got into what he thought was an opening and all the long day he had been driven toward Michigan. The turn he had taken sent him south. Observing the moon he changed his course, and in a couple of hours saw the glare from the furnaces of South Chicago. Taking his bearings from them, he sighted the lights at the water work's crib, where he arrived at midnight and aroused Captain McKay by a blast of the bugle and was hauled up. He was given refreshments and retired. He had been seventeen hours in the water.

During the spring, Paul made a run of eight hundred miles down the Ohio from Wheeling to Evansville for amusement, and another of two-hundred miles down the Missouri from St. Joseph to Kansas City.

Late in the winter of 1889, he again visited the Pacific coast. His object was the capture of sea lions which he knew to be plentiful on the shores of Oregon and Washington. He went to Astoria and located a large rookery below Tillamook Head; but found it could be reached only by a most difficult trail. He made up his mind to take chances although it was not according to his idea the best mode of traveling. It was not until the 12th of March that everything was in readiness and on that day he left Astoria accompanied by his assistant, fully supplied with nets and everything necessary to effect the capture of the lions in the easiest way. They went to Seaside where they secured pack horses and launched boldly into the trail for Tillamook. This route proved to be all that had been described and a great deal more that had not been mentioned in the way of roughness and almost insurmountable difficulties. They occupied eight long and weary hours in traversing seven miles to a ranch on the coast which they proposed to make their headquarters.

To add to the unpleasant features of the trip, they were tartly received by the owner of the ranch when they arrived there at night worn out and hungry. The proprietor was very ill natured and did not conceal his aversion to entertaining them. Boyton made several polite attempts to engage him in conversation; but was answered with frowns and monosyllables. There was no other place where food and shelter could be procured and they were obliged to put up with it.

At supper some very fine meat graced the table and was more than relished by the hungry sea lion hunters. Paul thought he could reach the rancher's heart through praising the excellence of his viands, and innocently asked:

"Is that elk meat, sir?"

The man became very much excited at the question and angrily answered:

"No, sir. Do you suppose I would kill elk out of season, and a law against it at this time of year?"

Paul apologized for having unconsciously insinuated such a thing and remarked that if he was in the woods with a gun and saw an elk, he would be likely to shoot it.

"It would be wrong to violate the law in that way, young man," replied the host, "and I would be the first one to inform on you if I caught you at it."

Next morning while Boyton was out looking over the position of the seal rocks, his assistant informed the rancher who he was. A change took place at once in the man's demeanor. He proved a most generous and entertaining host. "Why, Captain," said he, "I thought I knew you. I helped you take off your suit once at Hock Ferry, Liverpool."

The sullen host became bright and cheerful and wanted Paul to go out elk hunting with him every day. His strange conduct at first was explained; he had been under the impression that his visitors were spies in search of violators of the game laws.

The nets were finally unpacked and Boyton with his assistant and three men from the ranch, started for the rocks. As they proceeded through the forest, they could hear the lions' bellowing above the noise of the breakers.

They reached the cliff which towers several hundred feet above the beach, and from which they had a glorious view of the rocks and rookeries below that were literally alive with sea lions. Finding a break in the cliff, they made an easy descent. Paul then donned the rubber dress and taking one of the nets, succeeded in passing the first line of breakers without much trouble; but he reached the island with considerable difficulty. His appearance did not seem to create any alarm among the horde of mammals on the rock, even when he approached near them. He went around the island to see where he could make the safest landing. Having gained the shore he cast loose the net and then worked cautiously toward a promising young lion, about a yearling, that was sleeping, and had no difficulty in throwing the snare over it. It beat around for a time, but quieted down as the running line was pulled that tightened the meshes. Making fast, Paul returned to the mainland where he joined a rope to the line of the snare and gave the signal for his assistants on shore to pull away, at the same time pushing the captured lion off the rocks. It snapped viciously at him but did not bellow or make a noise, and was landed without disturbing the others.

In half an hour another was captured and landed by the same process and two others quickly followed. Just before capturing the last one, Paul crawled into a large ravine where there were a number of lions. There was a magnificent one, about five or six years old and fully developed; but however much Boyton would have liked to capture it, he did not have confidence in the strength of the net or his own ability to hold it. He was going to make the attempt, nevertheless, when in his excitement, he arose from a recumbent position and frightened the prize away. He says he can never forget the malevolent look of those green eyes as the lion rolled off the rock and snapped at him.

The fourth net was followed ashore and they began to devise means to get their catch up the face of the cliff. They first tried to pack them up; but the effort was futile as the earth gave way under their feet. Finally three men went to the top of the cliff and let down a half inch cotton rope which was attached to the leading string of one of the nets. The men pulled and succeeded in lifting it half way up, when it caught on a stunted bush that grew out from the rocks. They tried hard to free it, when the rope which had been worn weak in places, from contact with sharp rocks, parted and the sea lion dropped like a shot and was smashed into a jelly on the boulders one hundred feet below. As darkness was coming on, with a storm brewing, they decided to leave the other lions in the nets where they were until morning, when they could get the horses to the edge of the cliff to draw them up.

That night, a terrible gale, which left many wrecks on the coast, sprang up and next day the trail was impassible by reason of fallen timber. Late in the afternoon, they reached the beach again and finding it impossible to pull the three lions up, or to get them to civilization if they did, Paul took off the traps and liberated them.

At daylight next morning, they started back across the trail to Seaside. It was in a much worse condition than when they went in, and they were until dark traversing the seven miles. Every time they missed stepping on a root or stone, they sank in the mud to their knees, until they became so tired that they thought seriously of abandoning their apparatus.

Fishermen at the mouth of the Columbia river consider the sea lion to be more dangerous and cruel than a shark. They accuse it of mutilating in the most horrible manner, bodies that have been drowned off the bar. An incident of its vicious nature came under Boyton's notice during his stay in that vicinity. An old Indian who wished to secure the skin of a lion, went out to the rocks at low tide. He was barefooted and walked noiselessly to where a lion lay asleep. He had just raised his ax to strike it over the head when his foot slipped and he fell. In an instant the animal was awake and upon him and fastening its teeth in his shoulder, stripped his arm bare to the bone down to the finger nails. The lion then jumped off into the sea and the Indian was rescued and carried ashore where he died soon after.

On Paul's return to Astoria, he determined to visit the North Beach. He and his companion missed the regular steamer and as they were impatient, they decided to risk the trip across the bar and along the coast in a small boat. The trip to Ilwaco was made without any startling adventure and the next day they visited Sand Island and captured several seals. On Sunday they were storm bound; but Monday they proceeded on their voyage up the coast in the small boat. They started against the advice of the fishermen, the men at the life saving station and everybody else.

They made it all right through the heavy sea until they passed Sand Island, when the waves struck them. To save the boat from being swamped, they had to throw her bow up and drift "nose on." They were tossed about on the turbulent water, and to add to their discomforts, they had neither food nor drink and were drenched to the skin. That night they got under Scarborough Head where they had smoother water and succeeded in making a landing. A blazing fire and a square meal put them in excellent spirits and the following day they returned to Astoria, to disprove in person a story that had been published along the coast to the effect that they were gone to "Davy Jones' Locker."


"Well, thank goodness, we are through, and I can get out for a little air once more."

Such was the remark made by Boyton when the preceding chapter, which completed the history of his adventures, was finished.

He little relished the confinement to which he had been subjected, while getting into shape such a mass of notes and memoranda. Several times he was on the point of abandoning the work altogether.

"One thing that gratifies me," he added: "I'll never have to talk about myself or my voyages again. The book tells the story."

Though before the public so many years, Paul Boyton is still in the prime of life. It is possible that he will not attempt any dangerous voyages again; still the ruling passion is strong. He may frequently be seen poring over maps and charts of distant rivers and often discusses the probability of adventure on them.

During the summer he is almost daily in the water with his company of aquatic experts.

In the winter season, he devotes the greater part of his time to inventing and perfecting new devices in the way of water amusements.

In the large basement of his home he has fitted up one of the most curious work-shops in the world. Water-shoes, sails, marine bicycles, torpedo and submarine boats, paddles, etc., lie around in bewildering confusion to a person unaccustomed to aquatic traps. But Boyton knows where each belongs, and insists on its being kept there, his early sailor training making him a martinet of order.

He has never lost his old love of animals. Adjoining the work-shop, is a large tank for the accommodation of his water pets. This is also a favorite spot for his three little boys who often take a plunge. Sometimes the first mate of the home is compelled to make a clearance, when the pets become numerous and the youngsters bathe too frequent.

It may be well to state in these closing remarks that a cause of considerable business annoyance is the persistence with which many people spell his name, Boy-n-ton instead of Boyton. This mistake happens only in America.

One thing Boyton seriously regrets, is his inability to remember names and faces. Consequently he is spoken to every day by those who have met him in various parts of the world, and it is a source of much embarrassment that he cannot always call their names as readily as they remember him, for being of a social disposition he is always glad to meet his acquaintances.

While keeping himself pretty busy in his shop over his charts during the winter he still finds time to make runs in his rubber dress on Lake Michigan, near his home, "Just to keep his hand in," he says.

He also goes on frequent hunting excursions.

Like most men who have led a roving life, he is fond of his home and a pleasant smile always lights his face when his little children are climbing over him asking for a story.


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