Submitted by scott on

Friday, Aug. 9.—Sunrise. Across the desert, 45 miles, and at the commencement of the “little Desert.” 2 o’clock, across the little desert, 23 miles, [approx 20 miles between Simpson's Springs and Dugway] and 163 miles from Salt Lake, being 68 miles across the two deserts, with only a spring at Fish Creek Station to separate them. [Willow Creek on the western side] They are called deserts because there is no water in them. They are barren, but so is the balance of the route.  (Orion)

The travelers arrived at Willow Springs Station at 2 p.m. on 9 August, having taken twenty-two hours to traverse some sixty-eight miles along the southern edge of the vast Great Salt Lake Desert (supplement A, item 1; Root and Connelley, 103).

[At Fish Springs:]

On this line there are two kinds of stations—the mail station, where there is an agent in charge of five or six “boys,” and the express station—every second—where there is only a master and an express rider. ‘The boss receives $50—$75 per mensem, the boy $35. It 1s a hard life, setting aside the chance of death—no less than three murders have been committed by the Indians during this year—the work is severe; the diet is sometimes reduced to wolf-mutton, or a little boiled wheat and rye, and the drink to brackish water; a pound of tea comes occasionally, but the droughty souls are always “out” of whisky and tobacco. At “Fish Springs,” where there is little danger of savages, two men had charge of the ten horses and mules; one of these was a German Swiss from near Schaffhausen, who had been digging for gold to little purpose in California.

A clear cool morning succeeding the cold night aroused us betimes. Nature had provided an ample supply of warm water, though slightly sulphury, in the neighboring pot-holes, and at a little distance from the station was one conveniently cool. The fish from which the formation derives its name is a perch-like species, easily caught on a cloudy day. The men, like the citizens of Suez, accustom themselves to the “rotten water,” as strangers call it, and hardly relish the purer supplies of Simpson’s Springs or Willow Springs: they might have built the station about one mile north, near a natural well of good cool water, but apparently they prefer the warm bad.

The saleratus valley looked more curious in daylight than in moonlight. The vegetation was in regular scale; ‘smallest, the rich bunch-grass on the benches; then the greasewood and the artemisia, where the latter can grow; and largest of all, the dwarf cedar. All was of lively hue, the herbage bright red, yellow, and sometimes green, the shrubs:were gray and glaucous, the cedars almost black, and the rim of hills blue-brown and blue. We had ample time to contemplate these curiosities, for Kennedy, whose wits, like those of Hiranyaka, the mouse, were mightily sharpened by the possession of wealth, had sat up all night, and wanted a longer sleep in the morning. After a breakfast which the water rendered truly detestable, we hitched up about 10 A.M., and set out en route for Willow Springs.


[After about an hour and one-half:]

...“Kennedy’s Hole,” another circular bowl, girt with grass and rush, in the plain under a dark brown rock, with black bands and scatters of stone. A short distance beyond, and also on the right of the road, lay the “Poison Springs,” in a rushy bed: the water was temptingly clear, but the bleached bones of many a quadruped skeleton bade us beware of it. After turning a point we saw in front a swamp, the counterpart of what met our eyes last night; it renewed also the necessity of rounding it by a long southerly sweep. The scenery was that of the Takhashshua near Zayla, or the delicious land behind Aden, the Arabian sea-board. Sandheaps—the only dry spots after rain—fixed by tufts of metallic green salsole, and guarded from the desert wind by rusty canegrass, emerged from the wet and oozy plain, in which the mules often sank to the fetlock. The unique and snowy floor of thin nitre, bluish where deliquescent, was here solid as a sheet of ice; there a net-work of little ridges, as if the salt had expanded by crystallization, with regular furrows worked by rain. After heavy showers it becomes a soft, slippery, tenacious, and slushy mud, that renders traveling exceeding laborious; the glare is blinding by day, and at night the refrigerating properties of the salt render the wind bitterly cold, even when the mercury stands at 50° F.

We halted to bait at the half-way house, the fork of the road leading to Pleasant Valley, an unpleasant place, so called because discovered on a pleasant evening. As we advanced the land improved, the salt disappeared, the grass was splendidly green, and, approaching the station, we passed Willow Creek, where gopharholes and snipes, willows and wild roses, told of life and gladdened the eye. The station lay on a bench beyond the slope. ....

As the hut contained but one room, we slept outside. The Gosh Yuta are apparently not a venturesome people; still, it is considered advisable at times to shift one’s sleeping quarters, and to acquire the habit of easily awaking.

[Pages 460-1]

To Deep Creek and halt. 1st and 2d of October, 1860.


At 6 A.M. the thermometer showed 45° F.; we waited two hours, till the world had time to warm. After six miles we reached “Mountain Springs," a water-sink below the bench-land, tufted round with cotton-wood, willow, rose, cane, and grass. On our right, or eastward, lay Granite Rock, which we had well-nigh rounded, and through a gap we saw Lost-Springs Station, distant apparently but a few hours' canter. Between us, however, lay the horrible salt plain—a continuation of the low lands bounding the western edge of the Great Salt Lake—which the drainage of the hills over which we were traveling inundates till June.

After twelve miles over the bench we passed a dark rock, which protects a water called Reading's Springs, and we halted to form up at the mouth of Deep-Creek Kanyon. This is a dangerous gorge, some nine miles long, formed by a water-course which sheds into the valley of the Great Salt Lake. 


As we progressed the valley opened out, and became too broad to be dangerous. Near the summit of the pass the land is well lined with white sage, which may be used as fodder, and a dwarf cedar adorns the hills. The ground gives out a hollow sound, and the existence of a spring in the vicinity is suspected." Descending the western water-shed, we sighted, in Deep-Creek Valley, St. Mary's County, the first patch of cultivation since leaving Great Salt Lake. The Indian name is Ayba-pá, or the Clay-colored Water; pity that America and Australia have not always preserved the native local terms. It is bisected by a rivulet in which three streamlets from the southern hills unite; like these features generally, its course is northward till it sinks: fields extend about one mile from each bank, and the rest of the yellow bottom is a tapestry of wire grass and wheat grass. An Indian model farm had been established here; the war, however, prevented cultivation; the savages had burned down the house, and several of them had been killed by the soldiers. On the west of the valley were white rocks of the lime used for mortar: the hills also showed lias and marble-like limestones. The eastern wall was a grim line of jagged peaks, here bare with granite, there black with cedar; they are crossed by a short cut leading to the last station, which, however, generally proves the longest way, and in a dark ravine Kennedy pointed out the spot where he had of late nearly left his scalp. Coal is said to be found there in chunks, and gold is supposed to abound; the people, however, believing that the valley can not yet support extensive immigration, conceal it probably by "counsel.”

At 4 P.M. we reached the settlement, consisting of two huts and a station-house, a large and respectable-looking building of unburnt brick, surrounded by fenced fields, water-courses, and stacks of good adobe. We were introduced to the Mormon station-master, Mr. Sevier, and others. They are mostly farm-laborers, who spend the summer here and supply the road with provisions: in the winter they return to Grantsville, where their families are settled. 


The next day was a halt; the stock wanted rest and the men provisions. 

... [Pages 461-4]

En route again. 3D October.

The severity of the last night made us active; the appearance of deep snow upon the mountains and of ice in the valleys was an intelligible hint that the Sierra Nevada which lay before us would be by no means an easy task. Despite, therefore, the idleness always engendered by a halt, and the frigid blasts which poured down from the eastern hills, where rain was falling in torrents, we hitched up, bade adieu to our Mormon host, and set out about 4 P.M. Antelope Springs, the next station, was 30 miles distant; we resolved, therefore, to divide it, after the fashion of Asia and Africa, by a short forenoon march.

The road runs to the southwest down the Deep-Creek Valley, and along the left bank of the western rivulet. Near the divide we found a good bottom, with plenty of water and grass; the only fuel was the sage-bush, which crackled merrily, like thorns, under the pot, but tainted the contents with its medicinal odor. The wagons were drawn up in a half circle to aid us in catching the mules; the animals were turned out to graze, the men were divided into watches, and the masters took up their quarters in the wagons. Age gave the judge a claim to the ambulance, which was admitted by all hands; I slept with "Scotch Joe," an exceedingly surly youth, who apparently preferred any thing to work. At 8 P.M. a storm of wind and rain burst upon us from the S.W.: it was so violent that the wagons rocked before the blast, and at times the chance of a capsize suggested itself. The weather was highly favorable for Indian plundering, who on such nights expect to make a successful attack.

[page 464-5]

To the Wilderness. 4Th October.

We awoke early in the frigid S.W. wind, the thermometer showing 39° F. After a few hundred yards we reached “Eight mile Springs,” so called from the distance to Deep Creek. The road, which yesterday would have been dusty to the hub, was now heavy and viscid; the rain had washed out the saleratus, and the sight and scent, and the country generally, were those of the environs of a horse-pond. An ugly stretch of two miles, perfectly desert, led to Eight-mile-Spring Kanyon, a jagged little ravine about 500 yards long, with a portaled entrance of tall rock. It is not, however, considered dangerous.

Beyond the kanyon lay another grisly land, if possible more deplorable than before; its only crops were dust and mud. On the right hand were turreted rocks, around whose base ran Indian trails, and a violent west wind howled over their summits. About 1 30 P.M. we came upon the station at Antelope Springs: it had been burned by the Gosh Yutas in the last June, and had never been rebuilt. "George,” our cook, who had been one of the inmates at the time, told us how he and his confrères had escaped. Fortunately, the corral still stood: we found wood in plenty, water was lying in an adjoining bottom, and we used the two to brew our tea.

Beyond Antelope Springs was Shell Creek, distant thirty miles by long road and eighteen by the short cut. We had some difficulty in persuading Kennedy to take the latter; property not only sharpens the intellect, it also generates prudence, and the ravine is a well-known place for ambush. Fortunately two express riders came in and offered to precede us, which encouraged us. About 3 P.M. we left the springs and struck for the mouth of the kanyon, which has not been named; Sevier and Farish are the rival claimants. Entering the jagged fir and pine-clad breach, we found the necessity of dismounting. The bed was dry-it floods in spring and autumn-but very steep, and in a hole on the right stood water, which we did not touch for fear of poison. Reaching the summit in about an hour we saw below the shaggy foreground of evergreens, or rather ever-blacks, which cast grotesque, and exaggerated shadows in the last rays of day, the snowy-white mountains, gloriously sunlit, on the far side of Shell Creek. Here for the first time appeared the piñon pine (P. Monophyllus), which forms the principal part of the Indian's diet; it was no beauty to look upon, a dwarfish tree, rendered shrub-like by being feathered down to the ground. ...

We resumed the descent along a fiumara, which presently "sank," and at 5 P.M. halted in a prairillon somewhat beyond. Bunch-grass, sage-fuel, and water were abundant, but the place was favorable for an attack. It is a golden rule in an Indian country never to pitch near trees or rocks that can mask an approach, and we were breaking it in a place of danger. However, the fire was extinguished early, so as to prevent its becoming a mark for Indians, and the pickets, placed on both sides of the ravine, were directed to lie motionless a little below the crest, and to fire at the first comer. I need hardly say we were not murdured; the cold, however, was uncommonly piercing.

(The City of the Saints)

Saturday, Aug 10. Arrived in the forenoon at the entrance of “Rocky Canon,” 255 miles from Salt Lake City. [Egan's Canyon]  (Orion)

[Possibly the most illuminating example of Samuel Clemens’ racism.]

On the morning of the sixteenth day out from St. Joseph we arrived at the entrance of Rocky Canyon, two hundred and fifty miles from Salt Lake. It was along in this wild country somewhere, and far from any habitation of white men, except the stage stations, that we came across the wretchedest type of mankind I have ever seen, up to this writing. I refer to the Goshoot Indians. From what we could see and all we could learn, they are very considerably inferior to even the despised Digger Indians of California; inferior to all races of savages on our continent; inferior to even the Terra del Fuegans; inferior to the Hottentots, and actually inferior in some respects to the Kytches of Africa. Indeed, I have been obliged to look the bulky volumes of Wood’s “Uncivilized Races of Men” clear through in order to find a savage tribe degraded enough to take rank with the Goshoots. I find but one people fairly open to that shameful verdict. It is the Bosjesmans (Bushmen) of South Africa. 
—a people whose only shelter is a rag cast on a bush to keep off a portion of the snow, and yet who inhabit one of the most rocky, wintry, repulsive wastes that our country or any other can exhibit.

[An attempt to find humor in racism]

There is an impression abroad that the Baltimore and Washington Railroad Company and many of its employees are Goshoots; but it is an error. There is only a plausible resemblance, which, while it is apt enough to mislead the ignorant, cannot deceive parties who have contemplated both tribes. But seriously, it was not only poor wit, but very wrong to start the report referred to above; for however innocent the motive may have been, the necessary effect was to injure the reputation of a class who have a hard enough time of it in the pitiless deserts of the Rocky Mountains, Heaven knows! If we cannot find it in our hearts to give those poor naked creatures our Christian sympathy and compassion, in God’s name let us at least not throw mud at them.

(Roughing It)

To "Robber's Roost.” 5th October.

We set out at 6 A.M. the next morning, through a mixture of snow and hail and howling wind, to finish the ravine, which was in toto eight miles long. The descent led us to Spring Valley, a bulge in the mountains about eight miles broad, which a sharp divide separates from Shell Valley, its neighbor. On the summit we fell into the line of rivulet which gives the low lands a name. At the foot of the descent we saw a woodman, and presently the station. Nothing could more want tidying than this log hut, which showed the bullet-marks of a recent Indian attack. ...

The weather, which was vile till 10 A.M., when the glass showed 40° (F.), promised to amend, and as the filthy hole—still full of flies, despite the cold-offered no attraction, we set out at 2 P.M. for Egan's Station, beyond an ill-omened kanyon of the same name. We descended into a valley by a regular slope—in proportion as we leave distance between us and the Great Salt Lake the bench formation on this line becomes less distinct-and trayersed a barren plain by a heavy road. Hares and prairie-hens seemed, however, to like it, and a frieze of willow thicket at the western end showed the presence of water. ...

An uglier place for sharp-shooting can hardly be imagined. The floor of the kanyon is almost flush with the bases of the hills, and in such formations, the bed of the creek which occupies the sole is rough and winding. The road was vile — now winding along, then crossing the stream–hedged in with thicket and dotted with boulders. Ahead of us was a rocky projection which appeared to cross our path, and upon this point Dangerous every eye was fixed.


After an hour's freezing, which seemed a day's, we heard with quickened ears the shouts and tramp of the boys and the stock, which took a terrible load off the exile of Erin's heart. We threw ourselves into the wagons, numbed with cold, and forgot, on the soft piles of saddles, bridles, and baggage, and under heaps of blankets and buffalos, the pains of Barahut. About 3 A.M. this enjoyment was brought to a close by arriving at the end of the stage, Butte Station. The road was six inches deep with snow, and the final ascent was accomplished with difficulty. The good station-master, Mr. Thomas, a Cambrian Mormon, who had, he informed me, three brothers in the British army, bade us kindly welcome, built a roaring fire, added meat to our supper of coffee and doughboy, and cleared by a summary process among the snorers places for us on the floor of "Robber's Roost,” or “Thieves' Delight," as the place is facetiously known throughout the country-side.

[Pages 466-68]

The Yutes

The Yuta claim, like the Shoshonee, descent from an ancient people that immigrated into their present seats from the northwest. During the last thirty years they have considerably decreased according to the mountaineers, and have been demoralized mentally and physically by the emigrants: formerly they were friendly, now they are often at war with the intruders. As in Australia, arsenic and corrosive sublimate in springs and provisions have diminished their number.  [Page 474]

(The City of the Saints)


The Yuta claim, like the Shoshonee, descent from an ancient people that immigrated into their present seats from the northwest. During the last thirty years they have considerably decreased according to the mountaineers, and have been demoralized mentally and physically by the emigrants: formerly they were friendly, now they are often at war with the intruders. As in Australia, arsenic and corrosive sublimate in springs and provisions have diminished their number.

Halt at "Robber's Roost.” 6th October.