"The cylinder-heads were almost opposite a high rock at the turns. Well, when we got there, what do you think we saw? Not a hundred yards ahead of the mouth of the canon, and as plain as day in the moonlight, was a pile of rocks on the track. On either side was a bunch of half a dozen masked men, with Winchester rifles half raised. Ten rods further on were a dozen or more horses picketed at a few cottonwood trees.
"Well, you bet your life we couldn't get back to that train too quick. It was not midnight, and in two minutes we had the crew and passengers out with enough guns and revolvers to furnish the Chinese army. Passengers, in those days, and in that country, carried guns. When the robbers saw that the train had stopped they started forward, to be met by a rattling fire. One of them dropped, but the rest ran for their horses and got away.
"Now, then, you can't tell me that there isn't something in an engine besides machinery," concluded the engineer, as he turned to the other members of the Roundhouse Club.
"The man who says there isn't, is a fool," was the answer from one, and the others nodded their heads in approval.
A RAILROAD TO THE CLOUDS.
Early History of Manitou—Zebulon Pike's Important Discovery—A Young Medicine Man's Peril and Final Triumph—A Health Resort in Years Gone By—The Garden of the Gods—The Railroad up Pike's Peak—Early Failures and Final Success—The Most Remarkable Road in the World—Riding Above the Clouds.
Manitou is a name which conjures up reminiscences of legend and history, and it also reminds the traveler of some of the most remarkable scenes of the Rocky Mountains. It has been said that the man who knows how to appreciate natural grandeur and beauty, can spend six months in the vicinity of Manitou, and then come back six month later to find undiscovered joys and treasures of beauty on every side.
The earliest reliable records concerning this spot date back to the year 1806, when Major Zebulon Pike discovered what he called the Great Snow Mountain. This, one of the loftiest of the Rockies, is now known as Pike's Peak after its discoverer, or at any rate after the man who first described it for the benefit of the public.
It is on record that when Major Pike was crossing Colorado, nearly a hundred years ago, he saw on the horizon what he regarded as a misty cloud. When he finally realized that there was a mountain in front of him, he was at least a hundred miles away from it, and there were two or three smaller hills to be crossed before reaching it. After marching for over a week the party reached the Cheyenne Mountain, which they believed was the ascent of the great peak, a theory which was soon disproved. Manitou is at the foot of this great mountain. It was first described at length by an English tourist who visited the Manitou Springs just half a century ago. He traveled alone, and exhibited not only an immense amount of bravery, but also unlimited judgment in evading the attacks of wild beasts and equally savage Indians.
His description of the trip is full of great interest. He describes how a band of mountain sheep advanced to the edge of an overhanging precipice to gaze upon the intruder, and how, a moment later, a herd of black tailed deer ran in front of him, with that contempt of danger seen only in animals which have not come in contact with human beings or modern weapons. The birds, he tells us, were indifferent as to his presence. They sang almost within arm's reach, and their rich plumage completely fascinated him. He continued in his hunter's paradise until he accidentally stumbled upon an Indian camp. No Indians were present, but the smouldering camp-fires warned him that they were not far distant. Later, he saw two Indians, who were evidently Arapahoes, carrying a deer between them, and he knew that the delightful hunting he had promised himself would not be forthcoming.
He was shortly afterwards captured in a prairie fire, in which he was in great danger of being destroyed; nothing but the daring of his horse saved his life. He had heard from the friendly Indians he had met on his march that the Great Spirit had endowed the waters of the Springs of Manitou with miraculous healing powers, and he drank freely from the pure springs. These springs made Manitou a veritable Mecca for Indians of the West and Southwest for many generations before the white men discovered them. Pilgrimages were made across mountains and rivers of great magnitude, and when an Indian chief showed signs of failing health, and was not benefited by the machinations of medicine men, he was generally carried to Manitou, no matter how far the journey might be, or how great were the obstacles to be overcome.
Among the many stories told concerning journeys of weeks' and even months' duration, one is exceptionally vivid, and is evidently founded on fact, although superstition has surrounded the facts with so much coloring that they are hard to discover. The story runs that in days long gone by, a great chief, who had conquered every tribe of whose existence he was aware, fell sick and could not be benefited by the medicine men, who were summoned from every direction. A number of these unfortunate physicians were put to death as a penalty for their failure to restore health to the dying chief. Finally, there were very few medicine men remaining in the vicinity; those who had not been decapitated having proved their strong desire for further life by discreetly retiring to parts unknown.
One day tidings were brought the chief of a young medicine man in a neighboring tribe who had been overlooked by the searchers, but who had been phenomenally successful in wooing back health and prolonging life. The tribe had long since been reduced to a condition of subjection, and the said chief sent a detachment of his braves, with instructions to bring back the medicine man alive or dead.
The young man, who had been expecting a summons of this kind, did not display the alarm anticipated. Even when he was told that the old chief was certainly dying, and that it was impossible to help him in any way, he maintained his stolid indifference and merely smiled.
He carried with him a primitive vessel, filled with some mysterious fluid, upon the virtues of which he had implicit reliance. When he reached the camp in which the sick chief lay, he was summoned immediately before the ailing autocrat. That individual stated his symptoms, and then, instead of asking, as we are apt to ask our physicians, whether there was any medicine available for them, he told the young medicine man that if no improvement was effected within a few days there would be a funeral in the village, and there would be one less medicine man in the vicinity.
This somewhat startling introduction did not disconcert the young man, who poured out a liberal dose of the fluid he had brought with him, and made the old chief drink it. During the night he repeated the doses several times, and on the following day he kept up the treatment. To every one's astonishment the blood began to flow again in the veins of the once invincible chief, and those who had been pitying the young medicine man began to congratulate him on his triumph. When, after a few days, the improvement became more marked, the young doctor explained to the chief that the water he had given him had been brought from springs in the distant mountains, and that if the chief desired to obtain another lease of life, he must visit those springs and remain there for some weeks.
With the enthusiasm of renewed vigor, the old man promptly agreed to the suggestion, and in a few days arrangements were complete for a grand march over the Rocky Mountains to Manitou. Tradition tells of the splendor of the march, and of the way in which obstructions and hindrances were overcome. Finally, the great mountain was seen in the distance, and a few days later a halt was made at the springs. Here the old chief was given a regular treatment, and in a few days he was able to walk as vigorously as ever. Finally, he returned to his tribe, not only renewed in health, but also renewed in youth. The records of his race state that his appearance was entirely changed, and that, instead of looking like an old man, his features were those of a youth in his twenties. The chief lived many years, and finally died in battle.
The fame of his cure naturally spread abroad with great rapidity. The old man was so well known that he became a walking testimonial of the merits of the springs, and expeditions without number were in consequence made to them. White people, as they came in contact with the Indians of the Far West, heard of the springs from time to time and of this wonderful cure. By many the stories were confounded with the legends concerning the search of Ponce de Leon for the fountain of perpetual youth. Later, however, more thorough investigation was made, and for more than a generation the truth, as well as the legends of Manitou, have been generally known.
As a result, a great watering place has sprung up on the site of what was once a mysterious resting place of the Indians, and a retreat which it was dangerous to enter. About 2,000 people live here, and during the season there are often 3,000 or 4,000 health-seekers in addition. There is a grand avenue through the village eighty feet wide and well kept. Instead of being laid out in a mathematically straight line, it follows the meanderings of the River Fontaine-qui-Bouille. This feature gives it a novel as well as a delightful appearance. There is also a little park, which possesses features not to be found in the recreation grounds of large cities, and there is a foot-path known as Lover's Lane, which is so romantic in its appearance that it is obviously well known.
The springs of Manitou are naturally the most interesting feature of the place. The Shoshone Spring, in the center of the village, is, perhaps, the best known. The Navajo Spring is but a few yards distant, and is considerably larger. The Manitou Spring itself is on the other side of the river, and is covered over with a very elegant spring-house. The Iron Ute Spring is in Engelman's Canon or glen, and is regarded by many as the best of all. Caves and canons innumerable abound in every direction. The Manitou Grand Canon is within two miles of the village. It presents the appearance of a natural mansion, with rooms several hundred feet long and high. The natural formations of the peculiar rocks present bewildering combinations of galleries, columns and frescoes. Here is to be seen the wonderful stalactite organ. This, according to many, is one of the wonders of the world. It consists of a number of thin stalactites of varying powers of reverberation, and these play delightful tunes or at least tones.
One of the great objects of a trip to Manitou is to gain a sight of the world-renowned, but singularly named, Garden of the Gods. The most direct road to reach it from the village is by way of Manitou Avenue and Buena Vista Drive, the latter being a well-traveled road, which enters the avenue on the left, about a mile from the town, as one advances towards Colorado City. The entrance to the Garden is past Balanced Rock, an immense boulder which stands directly to the left of the road, poised on such a slender base that it suggests an irregular pyramid standing on its apex. To the right, as one passes this curious formation, is a steep wall of stratified stone, draped with clinging vines, and overgrown with evergreens. Pausing a moment on the brow of the elevation which is reached here, one can look down into the valley below in which the Garden lies. To the west are the mountains; to the east the plains. The road which winds through the valley is a pleasant way. One's eyes and mind are kept busy beholding and recording the interesting views which here abound.
No one knows why this valley was named "The Garden of the Gods." There is nothing especially garden-like in its appearance; but, doubtless through "apt alliteration's artful aid," the name has become greatly popular, and it would be foolish to quarrel with it, or make any attempt to change it. There are, however, ample suggestions that Titanic forces have been at work here, and it requires but little imagination to ascribe these innumerable quaint sculpturings, these magnificent architectural rock works, these grand and imposing temples, not made with hands, to the agencies of the gods. Here are to be found carved in the stone by those cunning instruments of the hands of Nature—the wind, the rain, the sunbeam and the frost—curious, often grotesque, figures irresistibly suggestive of forms of life. Here stands a statue of Liberty, leaning on her shield, with the conventional Phrygian cap on her head; there is a gigantic frog carved in sandstone; yonder is a pilgrim, staff in hand. Groups of figures in curious attitudes are to be seen on every hand.
Stone figures of the lion, the seal and the elephant are all found; indeed, a lively imagination is not needed to discover in this Garden of the Gods an endless variety of imitative forms of human beings, of birds and beasts and reptiles. These figures possess a curious interest and attract wondering attention; but the notable and majestic objects here are the "Great Gateway" and the "Cathedral Spires." Two lofty tables of carnelian colored sandstone, set directly opposite each other, about fifty feet apart, and rising to a height of 330 feet, form the portals of the far-famed Gateway. They rise from perfectly level ground, and present a strangely impressive spectacle.
The "Cathedral Spires" are of a similar character to the Gateway, but their crests are sharply splintered into spire-like pinnacles. The forms assumed by the rocks here are remarkable indeed, but their color is still more remarkable. No sandstones of the East glow with such a splendor of carnelian hue. The striking contrast formed by these crimson crags outlined against he deep blue sky, and gilded by the high, white light of the unclouded sun of Colorado, cannot be described.
One of the most visited prairie-dog towns is close to the Garden of the Gods. It is interesting to the tourist, and is generally visited on the return from the Garden to Manitou. The town is situated on the road which passes through the great Gateway to Colorado City, and may be seen on a little plateau to the left. There are a great number of little hills of sand and gravel thrown up by the dogs around their burrows. Every fine day they can be seen at work around their dwellings, or sitting on their haunches sunning themselves, and chattering gaily with some neighbor. The burrow has an easy incline for about two feet, then descends perpendicularly for five or six, and after that branches off obliquely; it is often as large as a foot in diameter. It has been claimed that the prairie-dog, the owl and the rattlesnake live harmoniously together.
Concerning this, Mr. William G. Smith, the well-known naturalist, says: "Impossible. The burrowing owl will generally be seen where dogs congregate, and wherever the ground is undermined his snakeship is apt to be found; but rest assured there is some lively 'scattering' to get out of his way if he draws his slimy carcass into their burrows. The dogs have no desire to contest his right to it, and give him all the room he wants." The dogs at home are neat little fellows, and allow no litter to accumulate around their doors. They go to bed early, and never go around disturbing their neighbors before daylight.
Adjoining the Garden is a region of ridges. One ridge leads up to another, and that to a third, and so on. This broken country, covered with pine and cedar, and clothed with bunch grass and grama, makes a capital tramping-ground, especially in winter, when rabbits, mountain grouse and sage-hens are numerous enough to make it worth while to shoulder a gun.
The way to reach the ridges is to take the road to the Garden of the Gods, and follow it till the Quarry Road is reached. Pursuing the latter up a gorge, and then turning to the left on a branch road, which zigzags up the sides of the gorge, one soon finds oneself on the top of a ridge. The rule in ridge-climbing is never to cross a gully, but always to keep on top. All the ridges in this vicinity converge to the main ridge, which overlooks Queen's Canon. This ridge bends to the northwest, and in two or three miles joins a still higher one, which, strange to say, will be found to overlook the Ute Pass, a thousand feet above the Fontaine qui-Bouille, which flows in the bottom of the canon below—Eyrie, the site of a private residence—a most interesting glen, but not open to the public. The character of the monoliths in this canon is more remarkable even than those of the Garden of the Gods.
The Major Domo is a column of red sandstone, rising to a height of 300 feet, with a curious swell near the summit, which far exceeds in diameter the base of the shaft. It looks as though it might fall at any moment in obedience to the laws of gravity, and it is not exceeded in this regard by the Leaning Tower of Pisa. There is another glen of a similar character, about two miles to the northwest, which is known as Blair Athol. It is a beautiful spot, but, lacking water, has never been used as a dwelling place. It abounds in wildly picturesque scenery, and possesses rock formations of strange shapes and brilliant colors. There are groves of magnificent pines; and the view of the distant plains stretching to the eastern horizon is unobstructed, and of great interest.
We have already spoken of the discovery of Pike's Peak. At the summit of this mountain, 14,147 feet above the sea level, there is a little signal service station, which can be reached by railway. When the mountain was first discovered several efforts were made to reach the summit, but without success. Major Pike himself recorded his opinion that it would be impossible for any human being to ascend to the summit. In these days of engineering progress there is, however, no such word as "impossible." Several enthusiasts talked as far back as twenty years ago of the possibility of a railroad to the very summit of the once inaccessible peak, and fifteen years ago a survey was made, with a view to building a railroad up the mountain, by a series of curves and nooks.
It was believed possible by the engineers that a railroad of standard gauge and equipment could be operated without special appliances, and so strongly was this view held that work was commenced on the project. Eight miles of grading was completed, but the project was then abandoned in consequence of adverse reports received from experts, sent out for the purpose. Their statement was that no grade would be able to stand the force of the washouts, though, strange to say, all the grading that was accomplished stands to-day, as firm as ever. Three or four years later another project, destined to be more successful, came into existence. In 1889, grading commenced, and finally the work was completed, and the summit of Pike's Peak can now be reached by railroad.
The road itself is one of the most remarkable ones in the United States, and, indeed, in the world. The road-bed is fifteen feet wide, and there is not a single foot of trestle work in the entire construction. There are three short bridges of iron, and the precautions in the way of cross sections of masonry are very elaborate. The average ascent per mile is 1,320 feet, and the total ascent is nearly 8,000 feet. In the center of the track, between the heavy steel rails, are two cog rails, of great strength. These are provided to insure absolute safety for travelers, one being for general use and the other as a kind of reserve.
Special locomotives are used on the line. These were constructed by the Baldwin Company, of Philadelphia, and include the latest patents in engine building. When standing on a level track they appear to be at a slant of about 8 per cent. When on a mountain road, like that of Pike's Peak, they are approximately level. There are three wheels on each side of the engine, but these are not driving wheels, being merely used to help sustain the weight. The driving wheels operate on the cog rails in the center of the track. The cars also slope, or slant, like the engine. No couplings are used, so that one great element of danger, is avoided. The engine and the cars have each independent cog brakes of almost unlimited power. When traveling three or four miles an hour, the little train, with the locomotive pushing instead of pulling it, can be stopped instantly. When the speed reaches eight or nine miles an hour, stoppage can be effected in less than one revolution of a wheel.
Not only is the ride up Pike's Peak a wonderful sensation and a constant reminder of the triumphs of engineering, but it is also a source of continual delight to the lover of the beautiful and awful in nature. About half way up the mountain is a most delightful little hillside retreat, aptly named "The Half-Way House." It is a very comfortable establishment within rustic walls. The pines and firs which surround it add a great charm to the outlook, and the cool mountain breeze is charged with very pleasing odors. Tourists frequently spend a night here and consider the sensation one of the most unique of a long trip.
A tourist describing a ride up Pike's Peak by this singular railroad, says:
"We are now far above timber line. On all sides can be seen strange flowers, of lovely forms and varied hues. Plants which attain considerable proportions on the plains are here reduced to their lowest forms. It is not an unusual thing to find a sunflower stalk in the prairies rising from a height of eight to ten feet; here they grow like dandelions in the grass, yet retaining all their characteristics of form and color. Beyond this mountain meadow are great fields of disintegrated granite, broken cubes of pink rock, so vast in extent that they might well be the ruins of all the ancient cities in the world. Far below flash the waters of Lake Morain, and beyond, to the southward, lie the Seven Lakes. Another turn of the track to the northward, and the shining rails stretch almost straight up what appears to be an inaccessible wall of almost peerless granite. But no physical obstruction is formidable enough to stop the progress of this marvelous railway; and passing the yawning abyss of the 'Crater,' the line proceeds direct to the summit. The grade here is one of 25 per cent., and timid passengers will not escape a thrill of fear as they gaze over the brink of this precipice, although the danger is absolutely nothing. At last the summit is reached, and, disembarking, the tourists can seek refreshments in the hotel, which will cater to their wants, and then spend the time before the train returns in enjoying the view, and in rambling over the seventy acres of broken granite which form the summit.
"The view from the Peak, once beheld, can never be forgotten. The first sensation is that of complete isolation. The silence is profound. The clouds are below us, and noiselessly break in foaming billows against the faces of the beetling cliffs. Occasionally the silence is broken by the deep roll of thunder from the depths beneath, as though the voice of the Creator were uttering a stern edict of destruction. The storm rises, the mists envelop us, there is a rush of wind, a rattle of hail, and we seek refuge in the hotel.
"Pause a moment before entering, and hold up your hands. You can feel the sharp tingle of the electric current as it escapes from your finger-tips. The storm is soon over, and you can see the sunbeams gilding the upper surfaces of the white clouds that sway and swing below you half way down the mountain sides, and completely hide from view the world beneath. The scenery shifts, like a drawn curtain the clouds part; and as from the heights of another sphere we look forth upon the majesty of the mountains and the plains, an ocean of inextricably entangled peaks sweeps into view. Forests dark and vast seem like vague shadows on distant mountain sides. A city is dwarfed into the compass of a single block; water courses are mere threads of silver, laid in graceful curves upon the green velvet mantle of the endless plains. The red granite rocks beneath our feet are starred with tiny flowers, so minute that they are almost microscopic, yet tinted with the most delicate and tender colors.
"The majesty of greatness and the mystery of minuteness are here brought face to face. What wonders of creation exist between these two extremes! The thoughtful mind is awed by the contemplation of this scene, and when the reflection comes that these vast spaces are but grains of sand upon an infinite shore of creation, and that there are worlds of beauty as far and varied between the tiny flowers and the ultimate researches of the microscope as those which exist, on an ascending scale, between the flowers and the great globe itself, the mind is overwhelmed with wonder and admiration. It is in vain that one strives to describe the scene. Only those who have beheld it can realize its grandeur and magnificence."
Lovers of horseback riding regard the vicinity of Pike's Peak and Manitou almost in the light of a paradise. A ride of a few miles in any direction leads to some specially attractive or historic spot. Crystal Park is one of the popular resorts of this kind. It is enclosed by high mountains on all sides, with an entrance which partakes of the nature of a natural gateway. In summer time this park is a profusion of bloom, with wild flowers and vines seldom seen in any other part of the world in such splendor. There are several elevated spots from which the surrounding country can be seen for miles. Above the park is Cameron's Cone. This is a mountain of much interest, although it can only be reached and climbed by hardy, athletic individuals. All around there are a profusion of canons. The Red Rock Canon was at one time a popular resort. It took its name from the profusion of red sandstone on all sides. This natural wealth finally destroyed the beauty of the canon, which is now a mass of stone quarries. Bear Creek Canon has less of the practical and more of the picturesque about it. A very charming brook runs down the center, and there are two or three small but very delightful falls.
The Ridge Road is a species of boulevard recently constructed for the use of visitors to Manitou. At places the grade is so abrupt that timid ladies do not care to drive down it. Otherwise it is a very pleasing thoroughfare, with fresh surprises and delights awaiting the tourist every time he passes along it. The view in every direction is most charming and extensive. Pike's Peak can be seen to great advantage, and in the forty miles of the road many different features of this mountain can be observed. The road also leads to William's Canon.
Cheyenne Mountain, although dwarfed somewhat by Pike's Peak, is deserving of notice. It is very massive in its form, and its sides are almost covered by canons, brooklets and waterfalls. Two vast gorges, know as the North and South Canons, are especially asked for by visitors. The walls of these gorges are of rich granite, and stand perpendicular on each side a thousand feet high. The effect is very wonderful in a variety of ways. In the South Canon are the celebrated Seven Falls, which were immortalized by Mrs. Helen Hunt Jackson, the well-known poetess, whose remains were interred on Cheyenne Mountain by her own request. The Seven Lakes must also be seen by all visitors to the Manitou region, and there are so many more special features to be examined and treasures to be discovered that, no matter how long one stays in the neighborhood, a pang of regret is felt when the visit is brought to a termination.
There are other spots in America where more awful scenes can be encountered. There are few, however where the combinations are so delightful or the general views so attractive and varying.
INTO THE BOWELS OF THE EARTH.
The Grand Canon of the Colorado—Niagara Outdone—The Course of the Colorado River—A Survey Party Through the Canon—Experiences of a Terrible Night—Wonderful Contrasts of Color in the Massive Rocks—A Natural Wall a Thousand Feet High—Hieroglyphics which have Never been Deciphered—Relics of a Superior Race—Conjecture as to the Origin of the Ancient Bearded White Men.
We have already spoken of Niagara as one of the wonders of the world, and one of the most sought-after beauty spots of America. We will now devote a few pages to a description of a far more remarkable natural wonder and to a phenomenon which, were it situated nearer the center of population, would have long since outclassed even Niagara as a tourist's Mecca.
Reference is made to the Grand Canon of the Colorado.
Few people have the slightest conception of the magnitude or awfulness of this canon. It is clearly one of the wonders of the world, and its vastness is such that to explore it from end to end is a work of the greatest possible difficulty.
Even in area, the canon is extraordinary. It is large enough to contain more than one Old World country. It is long enough to stretch across some of the largest States in the Union. Some of the smaller New England States would be absolutely swallowed up in the yawning abyss could they, by any means, be removed to it bodily. An express train running at a high rate of speed, without a single stop and on a first-class road-bed, could hardly get from one end of the canon to the other in less than five hours, and an ordinary train with the usual percentage of stoppage would about make the distance between morning and evening.
Reduced to the record of cold figures, the Grand Canon is made up of a series of chasms measuring about 220 miles in length, as much as 12 miles in width, and frequently as much as 7,000 feet in depth.
This marvelous feature of American scenery is very fully described in "Our Own Country," published by the National Publishing Company. In describing the canon, that profusely illustrated work says that the figures quoted "do not readily strike a responsive chord in the human mind, for the simple reason that they involve something utterly different from anything that more than 99 per cent. of the inhabitants of the world have ever seen. The man who gazes upon Niagara for the first time, is astounded at the depth of the gorge as well as at the force of the water; and he who has seen Niagara can appreciate somewhat the marvels of the Grand Canon, when he bears in mind that the great wonder of the Western World is for miles at a stretch more than fifty times as deep as the falls and the gorge, generally admitted to be the most awful scenic grandeur within reach of the ordinary traveler. Nor is this all. Visitors to Paris who have enjoyed a bird's-eye view of the gay city from the summit of Eifel Tower, have felt terribly impressed with its immense altitude, and have been astounded at the effect on the appearance of living and inanimate objects so far below them. How many of the Americans who have been thus impressed by French enterprise, have realized that in their own country there is a natural gorge, at points of which the distance between the summit and the base is more than five times as great as the height of the Eifel Tower?"
The Colorado River rises in the Rocky Mountains, crosses the Territories of Utah and Arizona, and then running between the last named and the State of California, finally empties its waters into the gulf bearing the name of the Golden State. For more than two hundred miles of its course it runs through the gorge known as the Grand Canon, and hence it has been a very difficult river to explore. During the Sixteenth Century, some of the Spanish explorers, to whom this country is indebted so much for early records and descriptions, crossed the then undeveloped deserts of the Southwest and discovered the Grand Canon. Many of the reports they made of the wonders of the New World read so much like fairy tales, and seemed so obviously exaggerated, that little credence was given to them. Hence it was that their estimates concerning the gorge through which the Rio Colorado Grande flows were treated as fables, and laughed at rather than believed.
Major Powell, than whom few men have done more to enlighten the world concerning the wonders of the Far West, describes the canon very aptly, and speaks in a most attractive manner of the countless canons and caverns, whirlpools and eddies, brooklets and rivers, fords and waterfalls, that abound on every side. In his first extended description of the canon, he stated that "every river entering it has cut another canon; every lateral creek has also cut another canon; every brook runs in a canon; every rill born of a shower and living only in the showers, has cut for itself a canon; so that the whole upper portion of the basin of the Colorado is traversed by a labyrinth of these deep gorges. About the basin are mountains; within the basin are canon gorges; the stretches of land from brink to brink are of naked rock or of drifting sands, with here and there lines of volcanic cones, and of black scoria and ashes scattered about."
Of late years thousands of people have been attracted to this great canon, although but very few have succeeded in exploring its entire length. Few, indeed, have been able to pass along the balcony of the canon, and to gaze up at the countless wonders of nature, piled one above the other, apparently up to the very region of the clouds. The common notion of a canon, as Captain C. E. Dutton tells us, is that of a deep, narrow gash in the earth, with nearly vertical walls, like a great and neatly cut trench. There are hundreds of chasms in the plateau country which answer very well to this notion. It is, however, unfortunate that the stupendous passway for the Colorado River through the Kaibabs was ever called a canon, for the name identified it with the baser conception. At places the distance across the chasm to the nearest point on the summit of the opposite wall is about seven miles. A more correct statement of the general width would be from eleven to twelve miles. It is hence somewhat unfortunate that there is a prevalent idea, in some way, that an essential part of the grandeur of the Grand Canon is the narrowness of its defile.
As Major Powell expresses it, there are rather a series of canons, than one huge one. Wherever the river has cut its way through the sandstones, marbles and granites of the Kaibab Mountains, beautiful and awe-inspiring pictures are seen, while above there are domes and peaks, some of red sandstone and some of snowy whiteness. Cataract Canon alone is forty-one miles long, and has seventy-five cataracts and rapids, of which fifty-seven are within a space of nineteen miles. A journey along the bank of a river with a waterfall every twenty feet, on the average, is no joke, and only the hardiest men have been able to accomplish it. In the spring of 1889, the survey party of a projected railroad from Grand Junction to the Gulf of California, made this journey, and from its published description more actual information can be gleaned concerning the canon itself than almost any mere verbal description.
The surveyors had to carry with them, on their backs, for a great portion of the way, the limited supplies of food they took with them, because it was frequently impossible to get the boats along at all. When the boats were used, several were upset, and everything was uncertainty as to the bill of fare that would be presented at the next meal, even if there was to be a meal at all. Mr. Frank M. Brown, president of the railroad company, lost his life in one of the whirlpools. He was in a boat, a little ahead of the others, and seemed to be cheerful and hopeful. He shouted to his comrades in the rear to come on with their boats, and that he was all right. A moment later, his friends were astonished to see the boat gone, and their leader swimming around and around in a whirlpool, trying hard to reach smooth water.
He was a good swimmer, and a brave man, but his efforts were futile, and finally he sank. The party waited and watched for hours, but were finally compelled to recognize the fact that their friend and leader was gone forever.
It was determined almost immediately to beat a retreat. While the party was hunting for a side canon leading northward through which they could make their exit, it became evident that a storm was brewing. Rain commenced to fall in a steady shower, and to increase in quantity. The surveyors had no dry clothing beyond what they stood up in, and there was no shelter of any kind at hand. They were near Vassey's Paradise, in the deepest part of the canon they had yet reached. A storm in such a location had its awfulness intensified beyond measure, and the frightened men looked in every direction for shelter. Finally, about forty feet up the side of the marble cliff, the opening to a small cavern was seen. Into this Mr. R. B. Stanton, one of the party, climbed. There was not room enough for his body at full length, but he crawled in as best he could, curled himself up, and tried to sleep.
A terrible night followed. At about midnight he was awakened by a terrific peal of thunder, which re-echoed and reverberated through the canon in a most magnificently awful manner. He had been caught in storms in mountain regions and deep valleys before, but he had never felt so terribly alone or so superstitiously alarmed as on this occasion. Every now and then a vivid flash of lightning would light up the dark recesses of the gorge, casting ghastly shadows upon the cliffs, hill sides, ravines and river. Then again there would be the darkness which, as Milton puts it, could be felt, and the feeling of solitude was almost intolerable.
The river in the meantime had swollen into a torrent, by the drenching rain, which had converted every creek into a river, and every feeder of the Colorado into a magnificent, if raging, river itself. The noise caused by the excited river, as it leaped over the massive rocks along its bed, vied with the thunder, and the echoes seemed to extend hundreds of miles in every direction. What affected the stranded traveler the most was the noise overhead, the reverberation inducing a feeling of alarm that huge masses of rock were being displaced from their lofty eminence thousands of feet above his head, and were rushing down upon him.
The night was passed, finally, and when the storm had spent itself, the survivors of the party succeeded in getting out of the canon and reaching a plateau, 2,500 feet above. They then took a brief rest, but with that disregard for danger which is characteristic of the true American, they at once organized another expedition, and a few months later resumed the task so tragically interrupted and marred with such a sad fatality.
The trip through Glen Canon was like a pleasure trip on a smooth river in autumn, with beautiful wild flowers and ferns at every camp. At Lee's Ferry they ate their Christmas dinner, with the table decorated with wild flowers, picked that day.
On December 28th they started to traverse, once more, that portion of Marble Canon made tragic by the fatality of the summer before. "On the next Tuesday," writes Mr. Stanton, "we reached the spot where President Brown lost his life. What a change in the waters! What was then a roaring torrent, now, with the water some nine feet lower, seemed from the shore like the gentle ripple upon the quiet lake. We found, however, in going through it with our boats, there was the same swift current, the same huge eddy, and between them the same whirlpool, with its ever-changing circles. Marble Canon seemed destined to give us trouble. On January 1st, our photographer, Mr. Nims, fell from a bench of the cliff, some twenty-two feet, on to the sand beach below, receiving a severe jar, and breaking one of his legs just above the ankle. Having plenty of bandages and medicine, we made Nims as comfortable as possible till the next day, when we loaded one of the boats to make him a level bed, and constructing a stretcher of two oars and a piece of canvas, put him on board and floated down river a couple of miles—running two small rapids—to a side canon, which led out to the Lee's Ferry road."
The next day, after discovering a way out of the deep ravine, one of the party tramped thirty-five miles back to Lee's Ferry, where a wagon was obtained for the injured surveyor. Eight of the strongest men of the party then undertook the task of carrying the injured man a distance of four miles, and up a hill 1,700 feet high. It is indicative of the extraordinary formation of the Grand Canon that the last half mile was an angle of 45 degrees, up a loose rock slide. The stretcher had to be attached to ropes and gently lifted over perpendicular cliffs, from ten to twenty feet high. The dangerous and tedious journey was at last accomplished, and the trip continued.
Finally the unexplored portion of the canon was reached. For thirty miles down Marble Canon, to the Little Colorado River, the most beautiful scenery was encountered. At Point Retreat, the solid marble walls stand perpendicularly 300 feet high from the river edge. Behind these walls the sandstone lies in benches, and slopes to an aggregate height of 2,500 feet. Above the narrow ravine of marble, the color is mostly rich gray, although the presence of minerals has in places imparted so many tints that quite a rainbow appearance is presented. Caves and caverns relieve the monotony of the solid walls. Here and there a most delightful grotto is seen, while the action of the water rushing down the cliff sides has left little natural bridges in many places. Countless fountains of pure, sparkling water adorn the smooth rocks, and here and there are little oases of ferns and flowers, which seem strangely out of place so far down into the very bowels of the earth.
Below Point Hausbrough, named in honor of Peter M. Hausbrough, who was drowned during the first exploring trip, the canon widens rapidly. The marble benches are replaced by strata of limestone and between the river and the rocks green fields and groves of trees become common. The view from the river, looking across this verdure, with sandstone rocks for the immediate background, and snow-capped mountains in the distance, is extraordinary in its magnificence and combinations. Between the grand junction of the Little Colorado with the main canon and the Granite Gorge, there is about eight hundred miles of a very different section. Evidences of volcanic action abound. Rocks and boulders seem to have been blown out of position and mixed up all in a heap. The rocks are largely charged with mineral, and, as a result, almost every known color is represented, in the most remarkable purity. The river runs through a wide valley, with the top walls several miles apart.
The Granite Gorge itself is entirely different. Here the great walls of granite start from the water's edge. The first few feet are usually vertical. Then, for a thousand feet or more, the rise is at an angle of about 45 degrees, while occasionally masses of rock stand out prominently and overhang the river. Above the granite comes a mass of dark colored sandstone, with a vertical front. In many places it is perfectly black, the color being intensified by the brightness of the red below. If an artist were to paint a cliff deep red, with a jet black border along the top, Old World critics would be apt to declare him insane. Yet this is really the coloring of this section of the most wonderful canon in the entire world.
Although the canon at this point varies in width at the top from six to twelve miles, the river really runs through a narrow gorge, and partakes very much of the nature of a long rapid or cataract. For ten miles the fall averages twenty-one feet per mile, sufficient to make the current very dangerous even at low water, and something terrible after heavy rains or much snow melting. In one place the fall is eighty feet in about five hundred yards, and here, of course, navigation is practically out of the question. The explorers, to whom we have referred, were compelled to proceed with great deliberation at this point. Occasionally they ran the rapids, but very often they were compelled to lower their boats by means of lines, and even to lift them over exceptionally dangerous rocks.
At the worst point of all, one of the boats, while being lowered by lines, was struck by an eddy and run tightly in between two rocks. It became necessary for men to go into the water to liberate the boat. With lines tied securely to their bodies, some of the boldest of the explorers ventured into the water and tried to loosen the boat, or at least to secure the invaluable provisions and blankets on board. It was January, and the water was so intensely cold that no man could endure it more than a few minutes at a time, so that the process was a long and tedious one. Finally the boat was got out, but it took five days to repair it, and even then it was a very poor means of navigation. A few days later, a still more powerful and dangerous rapid was encountered. Some idea of the force of the water can be gleaned from the precautions that were necessary. A line 250 feet long was strung out ahead, and the boat was swung into the stream. It went through apparently the most dangerous places without much difficulty. The line was loosened slowly and the boat held under control, but when it reached the main eddy it began to get contrary, and finally swung round, and seemed to have struck a back current. Several hours' work got the boat to shore, but the next one was dashed into a thousand pieces while crossing over some of the sharp-pointed rocks.
The forty miles of the Granite Gorge are replete with wonders. The strangely misnamed section, the Bright Angel Creek, is absolutely dark, even at midday. It has been described as a sentinel of the great canon, and few people have dared attempt to pass through it. Farther down, the granite walls become less steep, and black granite relieves the monotony of color. Here and there, at side canons and sudden bends, the vast rear view of the gorge, with its sandstone cliffs, is brought into view. These are benched back several miles from the river, with huge mountains here and there intervening. Above the dark sandstone there are flattened slopes of yellow, brown, red, green and white rock, rich in mineral. Through these the force of water for ages has cut narrow, trench-like waterfalls, most remarkable in appearance and attractive in their variety of coloring.
It is difficult to imagine an upright wall a thousand feet high with red the predominating color, and with brighter hues near the summit. Benches of marble, with tufts of glass and bush, appear here and there, while occasionally there is a little tract of faultless green. Above all this, there is something like two thousand feet of a lighter colored sandstone. This is beautified by spiral turrets and domes, and wherever the slope is gradual enough, pine and cedar trees abound in large numbers. Behind all this there is the background of snow on the summit of the mountains, and when an unexpected view can be obtained from the river below, there is so great a profusion of coloring that the eye rebels, and a feeling not unlike headache is produced.
Further wonders are revealed every few thousand feet. At the mouth of the next creek the coloring is different. The strata dips visibly, and the marble, which has hitherto been exposed to view, is now beneath the surface. The sandstone forms the river boundary, and rises at a sharp angle from the water's edge. The river itself is narrow in consequence, but the great valley is even wider at the top. The walls vary in height from 2,000 to 8,000 feet, and in rainy seasons the water rushes down the side in great profusion. Thousands of little rivulets join the main stream, and add greatly to the volume of water. Sometimes the river will rise four or five feet in a single night, upsetting all calculation, and making navigation risky in the extreme. When, by chance, the sun is able to penetrate into the depths of this canon, the kaleidoscopic effects are exquisite, and cause the most indifferent to pause and wonder.
The discovery of an extinct volcano explains a great deal of the wonders of the great canon. The volcano is examined by thousands of tourists, this being one of the spots to reach which scientists are willing to incur countless hardships and risks. No one can tell when the volcano was active, but from the nature of the crater it is perfectly clear that at one time it belched forth volumes of lava, which had a marked effect on the formation of the rock and the lay of the land of the surrounding country. Past the volcano, for many miles, the bright colors already referred to are supplanted by more sombre hues. Occasionally there is a little scarlet, and, as a rule, the sandstone is covered with the mysterious substance brought out of the bowels of the earth by the now silent, but once magnificently awful, mountains.
The exploring party to which we have referred, went through 600 miles of canons, and found that no two miles were really alike. Finally, after three months of hardship, they emerged into an open country, and became almost frantic with joy. Never did country seem so beautiful, or verdure so attractive, and the panorama of beauty which was presented to their view caused them to shout with delight, and to offer up cries of thankfulness for their ultimate deliverance from a series of hardships and dangers which at one time seemed almost insurmountable.
The region also abounds with archaeological curiosities and remarkable hieroglyphics. Many of these are found in close proximity to the Grand Canon of the Colorado, and on the cliffs in which the far-famed cliff dwellers of old took up their abode. Hieroglyphics, marked upon rocks or other lasting substances, have been used by nearly all ancient races to perpetuate the history of certain events among them. Especially true is this of the ancient people who lived in Arizona. The remarkable picture rocks and boulders, with strange symbols upon them, left by the prehistoric races of Arizona, have been the cause of much discussion among those who have seen them, as to who these ancient hieroglyphic makers were. These rock records may be divided into three different kinds, which it is thought were made by two different races. The first, or very ancient race, left records on rocks, in some instances of symbols only, and in other instances of pictures and symbols combined. The later race, which came after the first race had vanished, made only crude representations of animals, birds or reptiles, not using symbols or combinations of lines.
The age of the most ancient pictographs and hieroglyphics can only be conjectured, but all give certain indications that they are many centuries old, and the difference between the work of the ancient and the later race leads the observer to believe that the older hieroglyphics were made by a people far superior to those who came after them, and who left no record in symbols, as we have said, with the exception of crude representations of animals and reptiles.
In many instances it is quite evident that the same rock or cliff has been used by the two different races to put their markings upon, the later, or inferior, race often making their pictographs over or across the hieroglyphic writings of the first race. Of the superiority of the first people who left their writings on the rocks and boulders found in the ancient mounds, ruins and graves, there can be no doubt, for their writings show order and a well defined design in symbols, which were evidently intended to convey their history to others; and it is quite probable that those who made the great mounds, houses and canals were the authors of these writings. It may be truthfully asserted that the cliff dwellers of the rock houses in the deep canons of the mountains were of the same race as the mound builders of the valleys, for exactly the same class of hieroglyphics found on boulders from the ancient ruins of the valleys, are found on the rocks near the houses of the cliff dwellers.
If this superior race were so distinctive from all other ancient races of Arizona—in their work being so far advanced as to solve what would be called, even at the present day, difficult engineering problems; to dig great canals many miles in length, the remains of which can be seen at the present time, and to bring them to such perfection for irrigating purposes; to build such great houses and to live in cities—may it not have been, as many who have studied this subject now contend, that this superior race were white people instead of a copper colored race, as has generally been supposed?
The hieroglyphics of the more ancient race are often found on sheltered rocks on the slopes of the mountains leading up from the valleys. Generally protected from the elements by overhanging cliffs, the dry climate has kept the writings from wearing away, and being in most instances picked into rocks which have a black, glistening surface, but of a lighter color underneath, the contrast is very noticeable, and when in prominent places these hieroglyphics can be seen several hundred feet away.
As no metal tools have ever been found in the mounds, ruins or cliff dwellings, the hieroglyphics were probably picked into the rock with a sharp-pointed stone much harder than the rock upon which the work was done. It is a singular fact that, although iron, copper, gold and silver abound in the mountains in Arizona, no tools, utensils or ornaments of these metals are found in the mounds or ruins. Yet furnace-like structures of ancient origin have been found, which appear to have been used for reducing ores, and in and around which can be found great quantities of an unknown kind of slag.
In many instances the hieroglyphic boulders have been found in great heaps, of several hundred in number, as if many different persons had contributed a piece of this strange writing to the collection. These etched boulders have been found buried in the ground with ollas containing the charred bones of human beings, and could the writings on the boulders be deciphered, we would undoubtedly learn of the virtues of the prehistoric deceased, just as we do of a person who dies in the present day, when we read the epitaph on a tombstone of the one who is buried beneath.
In opening some of the mounds, the investigator finds they are made of the fallen walls of great adobe buildings, and as he digs deeper he finds rooms of various dimensions, and which, in many instances, have cemented walls and floors. In one instance there were found the impressions of a baby's feet and hands, made, presumably, as the child had crawled over the newly laid soft cement. In another mound the cemented walls of a room were found covered with hieroglyphics and rude drawings, which were thought to represent stellar constellations.
To a certain extent, some of the pictured rocks tell us of part of the daily life of this ancient race, for in a number of instances the pictures picked into the rocks, although rudely formed, are self-explanatory, and the ancient artist tells plainly by his work what is meant. On the edge of a little valley in the Superstition Mountains, there was found a great rock on which had been etched many small animals, apparently representing sheep, and at one side was the figure of a man, as if watching them. It may be the ancient herder himself, sitting in the shadow of the great rock, while his sheep were grazing in the valley below, has passed away the time in making this rock picture. The hardy wild sheep still found in the mountains of Arizona may be the remnants of great bands formerly domesticated by these people.
The skeleton of the prehistoric man dug from beneath the stalagmites in the cave of Mentone, France, and which set all the scientific men of the world talking and thinking, gives proof of no greater age than many of the skeletons, relics or bones of some of these ancient mound and canal builders.
An incident illustrating the great antiquity of prehistoric man in Arizona, is the following: In digging a well on the desert north of Phoenix, at the depth of 115 feet from the surface a stone mortar, such as the ancients used, was found standing upright, and in it was found a stone pestle, showing the mortar had not been carried there by any underground current of water, and that it had not been disturbed from the position in which its ancient owner had left it with the pestle in it. There is only one way to account for this mortar and pestle. They had originally been left on what was at that time the surface of the ground, and the slow wash from the mountains had gradually, during unknown ages, raised the surface for miles on every side to the extent of 115 feet.
The question is often asked, Will this hieroglyphic writing ever be deciphered? The authors of the most ancient hieroglyphic writings or markings seem to have had well-defined forms or marks, which were in common use for this class of writing. Is it not most reasonable that a race so far advanced in other ways would have perfected a method of transmitting by marks of some kind their records to those who might come after them? Again, where so much system is shown in the use of symbols, it may be presumed that the same mark, wherever used in the same position, carries with it a fixed meaning, alike at all times. Having such a settled system of marks, there must be a key to the thoughts concealed in writing, and quite likely the key for deciphering these hieroglyphics will sometime be found on one of the yet undiscovered hieroglyphic rocks in the high mountains or in the mounds not yet examined. On the other hand, there can be no key to the inferior class of pictographs made by the people who came after the mound, canal and city builders had disappeared, for the crudely marked forms of reptiles, animals or similar things had a meaning, if any, varying with each individual maker.
Who were these people who formed a great nation here in the obscurity of the remote past? Were they the ancient Phoenicians, who were not only a maritime but a colonizing nation, and who, in their well-manned ships, might have found their way to the southern coast of America ages since, and from thence journeyed north? Or were they some of the followers of Votan or Zamna, who had wandered north and founded a colony of the Aztecs? Whoever these people were, and whichever way they came from, the evidences of the great works they left behind them give ample proof that they were superior and different from other races around them, and these particular people may have been the "bearded white men," whom the Indians had traditions of when Coronado's followers first came through the Gila and Salt River valleys in 1526.
OUR GREAT WATERWAYS
Importance of Rivers to Commerce a Generation Ago—The Ideal River Man—The Great Mississippi River and Its Importance to Our Native Land—The Treacherous Missouri—A First Mate Who Found a Cook's Disguise Very Convenient—How a Second Mate Got Over the Inconvenience of Temporary Financial Embarrassment.
During the last quarter of the century in which we write the figures "1" and "8" in every date line, the steam railroad has, to a very large extent, put out of joint the nose of the steamboat, just as, at the present time, we are threatened with so complete a revolution in travel and motive power as to warrant a prediction that, long before another quarter of a century has passed, electricity will take the place of steam almost entirely. But even if this is so, old acquaintance should not be forgot, and every citizen of the United States should feel that the prosperity of the country is due, in very large measure, to the country's magnificent waterways, and to the enterprise of the men who equipped river fleets and operated them, with varying degrees of profit.
The true river man is not so conspicuous as he was in the days when St. Louis, Cincinnati, Memphis and other important railroad centers of to-day were exclusively river towns. The river man was a king in those days. The captain walked the streets with as much dignity as he walked his own deck, and he was pointed to by landsmen as a person of dignity and repute. The mate was a great man in the estimation of all who knew him, and of a good many who did not know him. Ruling his crew with a rod of iron, and accustomed to be obeyed with considerable and commendable promptness, he adopted a tone of voice in general conversation considerably louder than the average, and every one acquired a habit of making way for him.
The levee in a river town, before the railroads came snorting and puffing across country and interfering with the monopoly so long enjoyed by the steamboat, was a scene of continuous turmoil and activity. Sometimes, now, one sees on a levee a great deal of hurrying and noise. But the busiest scenes of to-day sink into insignificance compared with those which are rapidly becoming little more than an indistinct memory. The immense cargoes of freight of every description would be ranged along the river front, and little flags could be seen in every direction.
These flags were not, perhaps, exactly evidence of the activity of the schoolmaster, or of the prevalence of superior education. They were, rather, reminders of the fact that a great majority of the rank and file of river workers could read little, and write less. To tell a colored roustabout twenty or thirty years ago to fetch a certain cargo, labeled with the name of a particular boat or consignee, would have been to draw from the individual addressed a genuine old-time plantation grin, with some caustic observation about lack of school facilities in the days when the roustabout ought to have been studying the "three Rs," but was not. It was, however, comparatively easy to locate a cargo by means of a flag, and identification seldom failed, as the flags could be varied in color, shape and size, so as to provide distinction as well as difference.
Those who remember the busy levee scene, with the flag adornment referred to, will agree that there was something picturesque as well as noisy about the old river days, and will be inclined to regret, and almost deplore, the fact that things are not, from a river man's standpoint, what they were.
In no country in the world has railroad building been carried on with so much enterprise as in our native land. Prior to the enormous expenditure on track building and railroad equipment, advantage had to be taken of the extraordinary opportunities for navigation and transportation afforded by the great waterways of the country. As railroads were naturally built in the East before the West, the value of our Middle and Western waterways is naturally best understood by the average reader, because they continued to play an indispensable part in the transaction of business of every character until quite a recent period.
The Eastern rivers are less magnificent in extent and volume than those of the West, though many of them are picturesque and attractive in the extreme. The Hudson has often been spoken of as the "Thames of America," not because there is any resemblance between the length of the two rivers upon which are situated the two greatest cities of modern times. The simile is the result rather of the immense number of costly family residences and summer resorts built along the banks of both rivers.
In another chapter we say something of a trip down the picturesque Hudson, whose banks are lined with historic landmarks and points of pressing interest. We give an illustration of a pleasure boat on the Hudson, which reminds one of many delightful river trips taken at various periods, and also of the events of national importance which centered around the river that is crowded, year after year, with pleasure-seekers from the overcrowded metropolis at its mouth.
The Mississippi River is the largest and grandest in North America. A few miles above St. Louis it is joined by the Missouri River, and if the distance from the source of the latter to the Gulf of Mexico be calculated, the longest river in the world is found. At a considerable distance from the source of the Father of Waters are the Falls of St. Anthony, discovered more than two hundred years ago by enterprising pioneers, who thought they had discovered the headwaters of the great river. The scenery of the river at the falls and beyond them is very attractive, and in many cases so beautiful as to be beyond verbal description. In many other parts of the river the scenery is grand, though occasionally there are long stretches of flat country which are inclined to become monotonous and barren of poetic thought.
Of the entire river, Mr. L. U. Reavis writes enthusiastically:
"The more we consider the subject," says this author, "the more we are compelled to admit that the Mississippi is a wonderful river, and that no man can compute its importance to the American people. What the Nile is to Egypt, what the great Euphrates was to ancient Assyria, what the Danube is to Europe, what the Ganges is to India, what the Amazon is to Brazil—all this, and even more than this, the Mississippi River is to the North American Continent. In an earlier age men would have worshiped the Mississippi, but in this age we can do better, we can improve it. To this all our efforts should be directed, and we should continually bear in mind that no other improvement, ancient or modern, relating to the interests of commerce has ever commanded the attention of men equal in importance to that of the Mississippi River, so as to control its waters and afford ample and free navigation from St. Paul to the Gulf of Mexico."
During the last few years, the agitation in favor of river improvement has assumed very definite shape, and from time to time large appropriations have been made by Congress for the purpose of keeping the river navigable at all periods of the year. As long ago as 1873, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Transportation Routes censured the Government for neglecting to thoroughly improve the big rivers. A quarter of a century has nearly elapsed since then, and, in the opinion of many competent river men, there is still room for much improvement, not only in the river, but in the method of arrangements for designing and carrying out the improvements.
The Missouri River, the great tributary to the Mississippi, has often been described as one of the most treacherous and aggressive rivers in the universe. It seems to be actuated by a spirit of unrest and a desire for change, so much so that the center of the river bed frequently moves to the right or left so rapidly as to wipe out of existence prosperous farms and homes. Sometimes this erratic procedure threatens the very existence of cities and bridges, and tens of thousands of dollars have been spent from time to time in day and night work to check the aggression of the stream and to compel it to confine itself to its proper limits.
The Mississippi proper brings down from the lakes to its junction with the Missouri River clear water, in which the reflection is so vivid, that the verdure on the banks gives it quite a green appearance. The Missouri, on the other hand, is muddy and turbulent, bringing with it even at low water a large quantity of sand and sediment. At high water it brings with it trees and anything else that happens to come within its reach, but at all periods of the year its water is more or less muddy. At the junction of the two rivers the difference in color of the water is very apparent, and, strange to say, there is not a complete intermingling until several miles have been covered by the current. Under ordinary conditions, the western portion of the current is very much darker in shade than the eastern, even twenty miles from what is generally spoken of as the mouth of the Missouri.
The Muddy Missouri rises in the Rocky Mountains. It is really formed by the junction of three rivers—the Jefferson, the Gallatin and the Madison. By a strange incongruity, the headwaters of the Missouri are within a mile of those of the Columbia, although the two rivers run in opposite directions, the Columbia entering the Pacific Ocean and the Missouri finding an inlet to the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi. At a distance of 441 miles from the extreme point of the navigation of the head branches of the Missouri, are what are denominated as the "Gates of the Rocky Mountains," which present an exceedingly grand and picturesque appearance. For a distance of about six miles the rocks rise perpendicularly from the margin of the river to the height of 1,200 feet. The river itself is compressed to the breadth of 150 yards, and for the first three miles there is but one spot, and that only of a few yards, on which a man can stand between the water and the perpendicular ascent of the mountain.
At a distance of 110 miles below this point, and 551 miles from the source, are the "Great Falls," nearly 2,600 miles from the egress of the Missouri into the Mississippi River. At this place the river descends by a succession of rapids, and falls a distance of 351 feet in sixteen and one-half miles. The lower and greater fall has a perpendicular pitch of 98 feet, the second of 19, the third of 47 and the fourth of 26 feet. Between and below these falls there are continuous rapids of from 3 to 18 feet descent. The falls, next to those of Niagara, are the grandest on the continent.
Below the "Great Falls" there is no substantial obstruction to navigation, except that during the midsummer and fall months, after the July rise, there is frequently insufficient water for steamboating. This results from the fact that, although the Missouri River drains a large area of country and receives many tributaries, some of which are navigable for many hundreds of miles, it passes for a great portion of its course through a dry and open country, where the process of evaporation is very rapid. The channel is rendered intricate by the great number of islands and sandbars, and in many cases it is made exceptionally hazardous by reason of countless snags.
Volumes have been written concerning the adventures of pioneers and gold hunters, who went up the Missouri in advance of railroads and even civilization, in order to trade with the Indians or to search for yellow metal in the great hills in the unexplored country, where so much in the way of easily acquired wealth is looked for. Some of the wealthiest men in the West to-day have a vivid recollection of the dangers they encountered on the voyage up this river, and of the enemies they had to either meet or avoid. Sometimes hostile Indians would attack a boat amid-stream from both sides of the river, and when an attempt was made to bring gold or costly merchandise down the river, daring attacks were often made by white robbers, whose ferocity and murderous designs were quite as conspicuous as those of the aboriginal tribes. Many a murder was committed, and the seeds were sown for countless mysteries and unexplained disappearances.
The Ohio River is another of the great tributaries of the Mississippi. In years gone by the importance of this waterway was enormous. The Mississippi itself runs through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana. The Ohio taps and drains a much older country than many of these States, and hence its importance in the days when Cincinnati was the great gateway of the West and a manufacturing city of first importance.
The Ohio is a great river for more than a thousand miles, and connects Pittsburg with Cairo, running through such important towns as Louisville and Cincinnati. On this river some of the most interesting events in river history have been enacted in the past. Many a tragedy and many a comedy are included in its annals, and even to-day, although paralleled, crossed and recrossed by railroads, it is a most important highway of commerce.
The Tennessee River is a tributary of the Ohio, which it enters so near the Mississippi as to have a very close connection with that great river. Entering the Ohio at Paducah, Kentucky, the Tennessee is one of the largest and most important rivers east of the Mississippi. It is formed by the union of two rivers which rise in the Allegheny Mountains and unite at Kingston, Tennessee. The river then runs southwest through Alabama, and turning northward, passes through portions of Tennessee and Kentucky. In length the Tennessee exceeds 1,200 miles, and, with the exception of very dangerous places here and there, it is strictly a navigable river.
Running as it does, through a country not yet thoroughly supplied with railroad accommodation, the Tennessee forms an important connection between a number of small shipping points, which would otherwise be cut off from commercial intercourse with large centers. Hence the transportation facilities are good, and in many respects remind one of old days when river traffic was general. Boats run almost all the year around up this river as far as Alabama points, and not only is a large and lucrative freight business transacted, but pleasure and health-seekers are also carried in large numbers.
Everything was not prosaic in river life in the old days. All of us have heard of the great races on the Mississippi River between magnificent steamers, and of the excitement on deck as first one and then the other gained a slight advantage. Stories, more or less reliable, have been told again and again of the immense sums of money made and lost by speculators who backed their own boats against all comers. Tricks and jokes also prevailed and continue up to the present time. The passenger on a Tennessee River boat is almost sure to be told how a very popular first mate escaped arrest by disguising himself as a cook. The story is amusing enough to bear repetition, and bereft of corroborative detail, evidently designed to lend artistic verisimilitude to the narrative, it is as follows:
The boat was detained at a landing at a small Kentucky town where the laws against gambling were supposed to be very strict. Some of the officers of the boat were determined to kill time by staking a few dollars at poker, faro or something worse, and inquiries were made in consequence as to where a game could be found. These resulted satisfactorily from the gamblers' standpoint, and the crowd took themselves to the appointed spot, taking with them the very stout, good-natured, but not very speculative first mate. The game was played in a small room at the rear of an almost equally small restaurant. Everything went well for awhile, and those who were winning thought they had everything the heart could possibly desire. All at once one of the colored help came rushing in with a notification that the place was being raided.
It was a case of every man for himself. As is usual in cases of this kind, one or two got under the table, where of course they were promptly found and arrested. Two others jumped out of the window, into the arms of two deputies, who were standing there to receive them. The mate, caught for the first time in his life in a gambling resort, thought of a very good plan of escape. Snatching up his hat and coat he walked into the kitchen, where he found a good-natured colored lady hard at work stirring batter in anticipation of some table luxury for a coming meal. With admirable presence of mind the mate picked up an apron, tied it around him and telling "mammy" to take a few minutes' rest as she was evidently overtired, he seized her wooden spoon and went on stirring the batter as though he had never done anything else in his life.
In the meantime every other member of the party had been caught and taken to the little frame building which answered the purpose of jail and police-court combined. Various conjectures were exchanged as to the fate of the mate, whose ignorance of the events incidental to gambling raids was expected to prove very inconvenient to him in a variety of ways. All anxiety on this score was, however, thrown away. The old man acted his part so well that when the raiders saw him laboriously at work with the wooden spoon they concluded that he was a member of the establishment. In consequence of this they let him alone, and when the raid was over he replaced his hat and coat, with the indifference and nonchalance of an experienced actor, and went quietly back to the boat.
Here he informed friends of the incarcerated individuals of the fix they were in, and advised them to go to their release, preferring himself to keep as far as possible from the representatives of the law. Liberty was obtained by the payment of considerable sums in the way of fines and costs, and although the event took place some years ago, the way in which the inexperienced gambler escaped, while his more hardened and experienced friends were caught, is still a constant source of merriment among officers and passengers.
It was while enjoying a delightful and distinctly sensational trip on the Columbia River that the passengers were enlightened as to a comparatively old trick, which was executed with the utmost promptness and despatch by a young second mate. This young man was never known to have any money. Generous in the extreme, and heartily full of fun, he managed to get rid of his salary as promptly as it was paid him, and his impecuniosity was a standing joke among members of the crew and regular passengers. On one occasion the boat met with an accident, and was tied up at a small town for four or five days. The hero of the story, with a number of other light-hearted individuals, naturally went ashore on pleasure bent. They had what is generally called a good time, but what little funds they had when they started were soon exhausted.
Two or three councils of war were held as to how a supply of liquid refreshments, of a character not included in the temperance man's bill of fare, could be obtained. Finally, the second mate undertook to secure the needful without the expenditure of any money. He borrowed a heavy overcoat belonging to one of the party, and then hunted up two large wine bottles. One of these he filled with water and securely corked. The other he took empty, and with these in his pockets entered the saloon. Producing the empty bottle he asked the bar-keeper how much he would charge for filling it, and on hearing the amount told him to go ahead.
As soon as the bottle was filled and returned to the second mate, he slipped it in his pocket, and in a very matter-of-fact manner began to make arrangements for the liquidation of the debt, at a convenient period. The saloon-man naturally resented any discussion of this character, and told his customer to either pay for the liquor or return it right away. Assuming an air of injured innocence, our friend took out the bottle of water, handed it to the barkeeper and said he "guessed he'd have to take it back." The unsuspecting purveyor of liquor that both cheers and inebriates, grumbled considerably, emptied the bottle of water into the demijohn of whisky, handed back the bottle to the apparently disconsolate seeker after credit, and told him to "get out."
Naturally, no second order was necessary. Five minutes later, the entire party could have been seen sharing the contents of the bottle which had not been emptied, but which they lost no time in emptying. The trick answered its purpose admirably. When, about two weeks later, the man who had played it was again in the town, he called at the saloon to pay for the whisky. He was treated very kindly, but hints were freely given as to the necessity of a keeper accompanying him on his travels. In other words, the bar-keeper declined distinctly to believe that he had been hoodwinked as stated. This feature of the joke was, in the opinion of its perpetrators, the most amusing feature of all, and it need hardly be said that very little effort was made to disabuse the unbelieving but somewhat over-credulous bar-keeper.
The Columbia River is one of the most interesting and remarkable on the continent. Rising, as it does, quite near the source of the Missouri River, it runs, by a very circuitous route, to the Pacific Ocean, being in places very narrow, and in others abnormally wide. The Dalles of the Columbia are known the world over. They are situated some sixty or seventy miles west of the city of Portland, and are within easy distance of the American Mount Blanc. They extend from Dalles Station, a small town on the Union Pacific Railroad, to Celilo, another station about fifteen miles farther east. Between these two points the bed of the Columbia is greatly reduced in width, and its boundaries are two huge walls of rock, which rise almost perpendicularly from the water level. The width of the chasm, through which the water rushes wildly, varies considerably, but at no point in the western section does it exceed 130 feet, although on either side of the Dalles the width of the river itself ranged from about 2,000 to much more than 2,500 feet.
As the volume of water is enormous at this point, especially after rain and much melting of snow, there is often a rise of fifty feet in a few hours in the narrow channel of the Dalles. Sometimes the rise exceeds seventy feet, and an effect most extraordinary in character results. From many points along the river banks, Mount Hood can be seen towering away up into the clouds. The bluffs themselves are marvels of formation, very difficult to explain or account for. When the water is low, there is an exposure of almost vertical cliffs. The bluffs vary in height to a remarkable extent, and the lower the water, the more grotesque the appearance of the figures along them. When the water is very low, there is a cascade, or waterfall, every few feet, presenting an appearance of continuous uproar and froth, very attractive to the sightseer, but very objectionable from the standpoint of navigation.
When the water is high, these cascades are lost sight of, and the rocks which form them are covered with one raging torrent, which seems inclined to dash everything to one side in its headlong course towards the Pacific Ocean. Logging is a most important use to which the Columbia River is put, and when immense masses of timber come thundering down the Dalles, at a speed sometimes as great as fifty miles an hour, all preconceived notions of order and safety are set at naught. There is one timber shoot, more than 3,000 feet long, down which the logs rush so rapidly that scarcely twenty seconds is occupied in the entire trip. The Dalles generally may be described as a marvelous trough, and the name is a French word, which well signifies this feature.
Farther down the river, and near the city of Portland, there are some very delightful falls, not exceptionally large or high, but very delightful in character, and full of contradictions and peculiarities. Steamboating on the Columbia River, in its navigable sections, is exceedingly pleasant and instructive. The river is the largest in America which empties into the Pacific Ocean. For more than 140 miles it is navigable by steamers of the largest kind, while other vessels can get up very much higher, and nearer the picturesque source. On some sections of it, glaciers of great magnitude can be seen, and there are also many points concerning which legend and tradition have been very busy. According to one of these traditions, the Indians who formerly lived on the banks of the river were as brave as the ancient Spartans and Greeks, though if this is approximately correct, the law and argument of descent must be entirely erroneous, for the Indians of this section to-day rank among the meanest and most objectionable of the entire country.
An artistic illustration is given of the "whaleback" steamer, used principally on our Northern lakes. The whaleback varies from a somewhat clumsy looking craft, resembling in appearance very much the back of a whale, to the much more attractive and navigable craft shown in the illustration. These whalebacks have a very important part to play in internal navigation. It seems able to withstand, readily, bad weather and rough water. Unlike most vessels which are safe under these conditions, it requires very little water to be safely navigated, and it can carry heavy loads in six or eight feet of water.
The revival of the steamboat trade on our great rivers, and the recovering from the railroads of at least a portion of the trade stolen away, is a pet hobby among river men generally, and especially among those whose parents taught them from the cradle up the true importance of the magnificent internal waterways bountifully provided for our native land by an all-wise Providence. It is seriously proposed to attempt this revival by aid of whaleback steamers, and if the project is carried out, the success which will attend the effort is likely to agreeably surprise even the most enthusiastic among those who are now advocating it.
THROUGH THE GREAT NORTHWEST.
The Importance of Some of our Newest State—Romantic History of Montana—The Bad Lands and their Exact Opposite—Civilization Away Up in the Mountains—Indians who have Never Quarreled with White Men—Traditions Concerning Mount Tacoma—Wonderful Towns of the Extreme Northwest—A State Shaped like a Large Chair—The Falls of Shoshone.
Within the last few years new States have been admitted into the Union which, in themselves, form a magnificent empire. We allude to the great Northwestern Territories which have become States within the last decade, and which have added so much luster to the escutcheon of our native land. The utmost ignorance prevails as to these States, and as to the northwestern corner of the United States proper, a term generally applied to this great Republic, with the exception of Alaska.
Every now and again the report comes of a great forest fire in the Northwest, and occasionally the world is horrified by reports of a terrible calamity of this character, involving great loss of life and property. Owing to this fact there is a tendency to look on the northwestern tier of States as one huge forest, ever offering a temptation to that terrible destructive agency—fire. People who profess to have made tours through the country, add to the complication by enlarging on this one characteristic, and omitting all reference to the other features, in which the great Northwest towers head and shoulders above competitors, and teaches the entire world a lesson in productiveness, fertility, and, we may add, industry.
The World's Fair served to very largely disabuse the public mind concerning what is destined to become one of the wealthiest sections of the United States. The elegant State buildings that were erected on the shores of Lake Michigan, and the gorgeous displays of fruits, grain, ore, and different products, must have convinced the average visitor that there was a great deal more in the far West and Northwest than he had dreamt of. Many were induced in consequence of the information they received, to blend their fortunes with the young States, and although the financial condition of the country has not been calculated to expedite the fulfillment of their Aladdin-like hopes, most of them have done well enough to be able to congratulate themselves on the change in the location and occupation.
We can only speak of some of the most remarkable features of this great section, greater, indeed, than several Old World nations combined. Helena is the capital of one of these new States, to which is given the euphonic name of Montana. The name is very appropriate, as it signifies "belonging to the mountains." The Indians had a very similar name for the territory now included in the State, and Judge Eddy called it the "Bonanza State" because of its mining sensations, a name which has clung to it with much fidelity ever since. The arms of the State are significant and almost allegorical. The present is linked with the past by means of a retreating buffalo, significant of the extermination of this interesting and valuable species. The great mining resources of Montana are shown by a miner's pick and shovel, and in the rearground the sun is setting behind eminences of the Rocky Mountains. Montana was first discovered by Canadians, some two hundred years ago. The first permanent settlement was early in the present century, and, until within the last fifty years, all goods and utensils used in it were dragged up the Missouri River from St. Louis, a distance of nearly 2,000 miles. When the war broke out, the Territory was occupied almost entirely by Indians, with a few daring fur traders and a number of missionaries, who, in exercise of their duty, had no fear at all. The discovery of gold which took place almost simultaneously with the firing of the first shot in the conflict between the North and the South, brought thousands of adventurers from all parts of the Union and introduced millions of capital. Some of the mines turned out phenomenally successful, and although there were the usual heart-burnings on account of failures, the average of success was very great. The State's gold mines have yielded fabulous sums, and more recently steps have been taken to extract from the quartz and rock a full measure of wealth that is to be found there.