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Sir Richard Burton: Crossing the Great Plains

Showing the distances between camping places, the several mail stations where mules are changed, the hours of travel, the character of the roads, and the facilities for obtaining water, wood, and grass on the route along the southern bank of the Platte River, from St Joseph Mo via Great Salt Lake City, to Carson Valley. From a Diary kept between the 7th of August and the 19th of October 1860.

1. Leave St Joseph, Missouri in N lat 39d 40', and W long 94d 50'. Cross Missouri River by steam ferry. Five miles of bottom land, bend in river and settlements. Over rolling prairie 2,000 feet above sea level. After 6 miles
Troy, capital of Doniphan Co, Kansas Territory about a dozen shanties. Dine and change mules at Cold Spring - Good water and grass.

Road from Fort Leavenworth (N lat 39d 21' 14", and W long 94d 44') falls in at Cold Spring, distant 15 miles. From St Jo to Cold Spring there are routes, one lying north of the other, the former 20, the latter 24 miles in length.
[20-24 miles; Start: 9:30AM; Arrive: 3PM; Aug. 7th]

2. After 10 miles Valley Home, a whitewashed shanrty. At Small Branch on Wolf River, 12 from Cold Spring, is a fiumara on the north of the road, with water, wood, and grass. Here road from Fort Atchinson falls in. Kennekuk Station, 44 miles from St Joseph. Sup and change mules.
[22-23 miles; Start: 4PM; Arrive: 8PM; Aug 7th]

3. Two miles beyond Kennekuk is the first of the three Grasshopper Creeks, flowing after rain to the Kansas River. Road rough and stony: water, wood, and grass. Four miles beyond the First Grasshopper is Whitehead, a young settlement on Big Grasshopper; water in pools, wood, and grass. Five and a half miles beyond is Walnut Creek, in Kickapoo Co,, pass over corduroy bridge; roadside dotted with shanties. Thence to Locknan's or Big Muddy Station.
[25 miles; Start: 9PM; Arrive: 1AM; Aug 7-8th]

4. Seventeen miles beyond Walnut Creek, the Third Grasshopper, also falling into the Kansas River. Good camping ground. Ten miles beyond lies Richland, deserted site. Thence to Seneca, capital of Nemehaw Co. A few shanties on the N bank of Big Nemehaw Creek, a tributary of the Missouri River, which affords water, wood, and grass.
[18 miles; Statrt: 3AM; Arrive: 6AM; Aug 8th]

5. Cross Wildcat Creek and other nullahs. Seven miles beyond Seneca lies Ash Point, a few wooden huts, thence to "Uncle John's Grocery," where liquor and stores are procurable. Eleven miles from Big Nemehaw; water, wood, and grass are found at certain seasons near the head of a ravine. Thence to Vermilion Creek, which heads to the NE and enters the Big Blue 20 miles above its mouth. The ford is miry after rain, and the banks are thickly wooded. Water is found in wells 40 - 43 feet deep. Guittard's Station .
[20 miles; Start: 8AM; Arrive: 12 Noon; Aug 8th]

6. Fourteen miles from Guittard's, Marysville, capital of Washington Co affords supplies and a blacksmith. Then ford the Big Blue, tributary to Kansas River, clear and swift stream . Twelve miles W of Marysville is the frontier line between Kansas and Nebraska. Thence to Cottonwood Creek, fields in hollow near the stream.
[25 miles; Start:1PM; Arrive: 6PM; Aug 8th]

7 Store at the crossing very dirty and disorderly. Good water in spring 400 yards N of the road, wood and grass abundant. Seventeen and a half miles from the Big Blue is Walnut Creek, where emigrants encamp. Thence to West Turkey or Rock Creek in Nebraska Territory, a branch of the Big Blue: its approximate altitude is 1,485 feet.
[26 miles; Start 6PM; Arrive:11PM; Aug 8th]

8 After 19 miles of rough road and musquetoes, cross Little Sandy, 5 miles E of Big Sandy, water and trees plentiful. There Big Sandy deep and heavy bed. Big Sandy Station
[23 miles; Start: 12PM; Arrive: 4AM; Aug 9th]

9 Cross hills forming divide of Little Blue River ascending valley 60 miles long. Little Blue fine stream of clear water falling into Kansas River, every where good supplies and good camping ground. Along the left bank to Kiowa.
[19 miles; Start: 6AM; Arrive: 10AM; Aug 9th]

10 Rough road of spurs and gullies runs up a valley 2 miles wide. Well wooded chiefly with cotton wood and grass abundant. Ranch at Liberty Farm on the Little Blue.
[25 miles; Start 11AM; Arrive: 3PM; Aug 9th]

11 Cross divide between Little Blue and Platte River, rough road, musquetoes troublesome. Approximate altitude of dividing ridge 2,025 feet. Station at Thirty two Mile Creek, a small wooded and winding stream flowing into the Little Blue.
[24 miles; Start: 4PM; Arrive:9PM; Aug 9th]

12 After 27 miles strike the Valley of the Platte, along the southern bank of the river, over level ground, good for camping, fodder abundant. After 7 miles Fort Kearney in N lat 40d 38' 45", and W long 98d 58' 11": approximate altitude 2,500 feet above sea level. Groceries, cloths, provisions, and supplies of all kinds are to be procured from the sutler's store. Beyond Kearney a rough and bad road leads to Seventeen Mile Station.
[34 miles; Start:10:30PM; Arrive:8AM; Aug 10th]

13 Along the south bank of the Platte. Buffalo chips used for fuel. Sign of buffalo appears. Plum Creek Station on a stream where there is a bad crossing in wet weather.
[21 miles; Start: 9:30AM; Arrive:1:15PM; Aug 10th]

14. Beyond Plum Creek, Willow Island Ranch, where supplies are procurable. Road along the Platte, wood scarce, grass plentiful, buffalo abounds; after 20 miles Cold Water Ranch. Halt and change at Midwav Station.
[25 miles; Start: 2:30PM; Arrive:8PM; Aug 10th]

15 Along the Valley of the Platte, road muddy after rain, fuel scarce, grass abundant, camp traces every where. Ranch at Cottonwood Station, at this season the western limit of buffalo.
[27 miles; Start:9PM; Arrive:1:45AM; Aug 11th]

16 Up the Valley of the Platte. No wood, buffalo chips for fuel. Good camping ground; grass on small branch of the Platte. To Junction House Ranch and thence to station at Fremont Springs.
[30 miles; Start: 6:15AM; Arrive:11AM; Aug 11th]

17. Road passes O'Fallon's Bluffs. Half-way House, a store and ranch, distant 120 miles from Fort Kearney, 400 from St Joseph, 40 from the Lower Crossing, and 68 from the Upper Crossing of the South Fork Platte River. The station is called Alkali Lake .
[25 miles; Start: 12 Noon; Arrive:5PM; Aug 11th]

18 Road along river, no timber; grass, buffalo chips, and musquetoes. Station at Diamond Springs near Lower Crossing.
[25 miles; Start 6PM; Arrive: 10:15PM; Aug 11th]

19 Road along river. Last 4 miles very heavy sand, avoided by Lower Crossing. Poor accommodation at Upper Ford or Crossing on the eastern bank, where the mail passes the stream en route to Great Salt Lake City and the road branches to Denver City and Pike's Peak.
[25 miles; Start 11PM; Arrive: 3:15AM; Aug 12th]

20 Ford Platte, 600 yards wide, 2.50 feet deep, bed gravelly and solid, easy ford in dry season. Cross divide between North and South Forks along the bank of Lodge Pole Creek. Land arid; wild sage for fuel.
Lodge-pole Station
[35 miles; Start: 6:30AM; Arrive: 12:45PM; Aug 12th]

21 Up Lodge Pole Creek, over a spur of table land, then striking over the prairie, finishes the high divide between the Forks. Approximate altitude 3,500 feet. On the right is Ash Hollow, where there is plenty of wood and a small spring. The station is Mud Springs, a poor ranch.
[25 miles; Start:3PM; Arrive:5:45PM; Aug 12th]

22 Route lies over a rolling divide between the Forks, crossing Omaha, Lawrence, and other creeks where water and grass are procurable. Cedar is still found in hill gullies. About half a mile north of Chimney Rock is a ranch where the cattle are changed.
[25 miles; Start: 8AM; Arrive:12:30PM; Aug 13th]

23 Road along the south bank of North Ford of Platte River. Wild sage the only fuel in the valley, small spring on top of first hill. Rugged labyrinth of paths abreast of Scott's Bluffs, which lie 5 miles S of river in N lat 41d 48' 26" and W long 103d 45' 02". Water found in first ravine of Scott's Bluffs 200 yards below the road, cedars on heights. To Station
[24 miles; Start:1:30PM; Arrive:5:30PM; Aug 13th]

24 Road along the river, crosses Little Kiowa Creek, a tributary to Horse Creek, which flows into the Platte. Ford Horse Creek, a clear shallow stream with a sandy bottom. No wood below the hills.
[]16 miles; Start: 6:30PM; Arrive:8:30PM; Aug 13th]

25. Route over sandy and heavy river bottom and rolling ground, leaving the Platte on the right: cotton wood and willows on the banks. Ranch at Laramie City kept by M Badeau, a Canadian, who sells spirits, Indian goods, and outfit.
[26 miles; Start: 6AM; Arrive: 10:20PM; Aug 14th]

26. After 9 miles of rough road cross Laramie Fork and enter Fort Laramie, N lat 42d 12' 38" and W long 104d 31' 26". Altitude 4,519 feet . Military post with post office, sutler's stores, and other conveniences. Thence To Ward's Station on the Central Star, small ranch and store.
[18 miles; Start:12:15PM; Arrive: 4PM; Aug 14th]

Sir Richard Burton: Crossing the Missouri River

We now drive through the dusty roads of St Jo, the observed of all observers, and presently find ourselves in the steam ferry which is to convey us from the right to the left bank of the Missouri River. The Big Muddy, as it is now called, the Yellow River of old writers, venerable sire of snag and sawyer displays at this point the source whence it has drawn for ages the dirty brown silt which pollutes below their junction the pellucid waters of the Big Drink.

Sir Richard Burton: A Dissertation of the Route

The reader will find in Appendix No I a detailed itinerary showing him the distances between camping places the several mail stations where mules are changed the hours of travel and the facilities for obtaining wood and water in fact all things required for the novice hunter or emigrant In these pages I shall consider the route rather in its pictorial than in its geographical aspects and give less of diary than of dissertation upon the subjects which each day's route suggested

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