Submitted by scott on

To Ruby Valley. 7th October.

A frosty night was followed by a Tuscan day: å cold tramontana from the south, and a clear hot sun, which expanded the mercury at 10 A.M. to 70° F. After taking leave of the hospitable station-master, we resumed the road which ran up the short and heavy ascent, through a country here and there eighteen inches deep in snow, and abounding in large sage and little rabbits. A descent led into Long Valley, whose northern end we crossed, and then we came upon a third ascent, where, finding a sinking creek, a halt was called for lunch. The formation of the whole country is a succession of basins and divides. Ensued another twelve miles' descent, which placed us in sight of Ruby Valley, and a mile beyond carried us to the station.

Ruby Valley is a half-way house, about 300 miles from Great Salt Lake City, and at the same distance from Carson Valley. It derives its name from the small precious stones which are found like nuggets of gold in the crevices of primitive rock. The length of the valley is about 100 miles, by three or four broad, and springs are scattered in numbers along the base of the western mountains. The cold is said to be here more severe than in any place on the line of road, Spring Valley excepted. There is, however, excellent bench-land for grazing. In this season the scenery is really pretty. The white peaks tower over hill-land black with cedar, and this looks down upon the green bottom scattered over with white sage—winter above lying by the side of summer below.

We were received at the Ruby-Valley Station by Colonel Rogers, better known as “Uncle Billy." He had served in the troublous days of California as marshal, and has many a hairbreadth escape to relate. He is now assistant Indian agent, the superintendent of a government model farm, and he lives en garçon, having left his wife and children at Frogtown. We were soon introduced to the chief of the country, Chýūkŭpĭchyă (the "old man'), a word of unpronounceable slur, changed by whites into Chokop (“earth”). His lands are long to the north and south, though of little breadth. He commands about 500. warriors, and, as Uncle Billy is returning to Frogtown, he is collecting a large hunting-party for the autumnal battue. In 1849 his sister was wantonly shot by emigrants to California. He attacked the train, and slew in revenge five men, a fact with which we were not made acquainted till after our departure. His father and grandfather are both alive, but they have abdicated under the weight of years and infirmities, reserving their voices for the powwow.  [Page 470-1]


To Chokop'sPass. 8th October, 1860.

... Our route lay over a long divide, cold but not unpicturesque, a scene of light-tinted mountain mahogany, black cedar, pure snowy hill, and pink sky. After ten miles we reached the place where the road forks; that to the right, passing through Pine Valley, falls into the gravelly ford of the Humboldt River, distant from this point eighty to eighty-five miles. After surmounting the water-shed we descended over bench-land into a raw and dreary plain, in which greasewood was more plentiful than sage-bush. “Huntingdon Valley” is traversed by Smith's Fork, which flows northward to the Humboldt River; when we crossed it it was a mere rivulet. Our camping-ground was at the farther end of the plain, under a Pass called after the chief Chokop; the kanyon emitted a cold draught like the breathing caves of Kentucky. We alighted at a water near the entrance, and found bunch-grass, besides a little fuel. ...

To the Wilderness again. 9th October.

The frosty night was followed by a thaw in the morning. We hastened to ascend Chokop's Pass [now known as Overland Pass] by a bad, steep dugway: it lies south of “Railroad Kanyon," which is said to be nearly flat-soled. A descent led into “Moonshine,"  called by the Yutas Pahannap Valley, and we saw with pleasure the bench rising at the foot of the pass. The station is named Diamond Springs, from an eye of warm, but sweet and beautifully clear water bubbling up from the earth. A little below it drains off in a deep rushy ditch, with a gravel bottom, containing equal parts of comminuted shells: we found it an agreeable and opportune bath. ...

Shortly after noon we left Diamond Springs, and carried on for a stretch of seven miles to our lunching-ground, a rushy water, black where it overlies mud, and bluish-green where light gravel and shells form the bottom : the taste is sulphury, and it abounds in confervæ and animalculæ like leeches and little tadpoles. After playing a tidy bowie-knife, we remounted, and passed over to the rough divide lying westward of Moonshine Valley. As night had closed in, we found some difficulty in choosing a camping place: at length we pitched upon a prairillon under the lee of a hill, where we had bunch-grass and fuel, but no water. The wind blew sternly through the livelong night, and those who suffered from cramps in cold feet had little to do with the "sweet restorer, balmy sleep."

To Sheawit Creek. 10th October, [Roberts Station]

At 6 A.M. the mercury was sunk only to 29° F., but the elevation and rapid evaporation, with the fierce gusty wind coursing through the kanyon, rendered the sensation of cold painful. ...

 A long divide, with many ascents and descents, at length placed in front of us a view of the normal “distance”— heaps of hills, white as bridal cakes, and, nearer, a sand-like plain, somewhat more yellow than the average of those salt-bottoms: instinct told us that there lay the station-house. From the hills rose the smokes of Indian fires: the lands belong to the Tusawichya, or White-Knives, a band of the Shoshonees under an independent chief. This depression is known to the Yutas as Sheawit, or Willow Creek: the whites call it, from Mr. Bolivar Roberts, the Western agent, “Roberts' Springs Valley.” It lies 286 miles from Camp Floyd: from this point “Simpson's Road" strikes off to the S.E., and as Mr: Howard Egan's rule here terminates, it is considered the latter end of Mormondom. Like all the stations to the westward, that is to say, those now before us, it was burned down in the late Indian troubles, and has only been partially rebuilt. One of the employés was Mr. Mose Wright, of Illinois, who again kindly assisted me with correcting my vocabulary.


A long march of thirty-five miles lay before us. Kennedy resolved to pass the night at Sheawit Creek, and, despite their grumbling, sent on the boys, the stock, and the wagons, when rested from their labor, in the early afternoon. ...

... Newspapers and magazines arrive sometimes twice a year, when they have weathered the dangers of the way. Economy has deprived the stations of their gardens, and the shrinking of emigration, which now dribbles eastward, instead of flowing in full stream westward, leaves the exiles to amuse themselves.

To Dry Creek. 11th October.

We arose early, and found that it had not " frosted;" that flies were busy in the station-house; and that the snow, though thick on the northern faces, had melted from the southern shoulders of the hills—these were so many indices of the St. Martin's, or Indian summer, the last warm glow of life before the cold and pallid death of the year. At 6 A.M. we entered the ambulance, and followed a good road across the remains of the long, broad Sheawit Valley. After twelve miles we came upon a water surrounded by willows, with dwarf artemisia beyond—it grows better on the benches, where the subsoil is damper, than in the bottom sand there we found our lazy boys, who, as Jim Gilston said, had been last night "on a drunk.” Resuming our way, after three miles we reached some wells whose alkaline waters chap the skin. Twenty miles farther led to the west end of the Sheawit Valley, where we found the station on a grassy bench at the foot of low rolling hills. It was a mere shell, with a substantial stone corral behind, and the inmates were speculating upon the possibility of roofing themselves in before the winter. Water is found in tolerable quantities below the station, but the place deserved its name, “ Dry Creek.”


Dry-Creek Station is on the eastern frontier of the western agency; as at Roberts' Creek, supplies and literature from Great Salt City east and Carson City west are usually exhausted before they reach these final points. ...

The night was comfortably passed at Dry Creek, under the leeward side of a large haystack. The weather was cold, but clear and bright. We slept the sleep of the just.

To Simpson's Park. 12th October.

At the time of the cold clear dawn, whose gray contrasted strongly with the blush of the most lovely evening that preceded it, the mercury stood at 45° F. Shortly after 8 A.M. we were afield, hastening to finish the long divide that separates Roberts Creek Valley from its western neighbor, which, as yet unchristened, is known to the b’hoys as Smoky Valley. The road wound in the shape of the letter U round the impassable part of the ridge. Crossing the north end of Smoky Valley, we came upon rolling ground, with water-willows and cedars “blazed”—barked with a gash—for sign-posts. Ensued a long kanyon, with a flat sole, not unlike Egan's, a gate by which the swift shallow stream had broken through the mountains: in places it was apparently a cul de sac; in others, shoulder after shoulder rose in long perspective, with points and projections behind, which an enemy might easily turn. The granite walls were of Cyclopean form, with regular lines of cleavage, as in the Rattlesnake Hills, which gave a false air of stratification. The road was a mere path along and across the rivulet bed, and the lower slopes were garnished with the pepper-grass and the everlasting bunch-grass, so truly characteristic of the “Basin State.” Above us, in the pellucid sky, towered the eagle in his pride of place; the rabbit ran before us from the thicket; the ground-squirrel cached himself in the sage-bush; and where distance appeared, smokes upcurling in slow, heavy masses told us that man was not far distant. A second divide, more abrupt than the former, placed us in sight of Simpson's Park—and such a park! a circlet of tawny stubble, embosomed in sage-grown hills, the “Hire” or “Look-out," and others, without other tree but the deformed cedars. The bottom is notorious for cold; it freezes even in June and July; and our night was, as may be imagined, none of the pleasantest.

The station-house in Simpson's Park was being rebuilt. ...

(The City of the Saints)

Horace Greeley:

At Shell Creek, forty-five miles from Pleasant Valley, where we spent our next night, there is a little garden—the first I had seen since Camp Floyd—and at Ruby Valley, fifty miles or so further on, the government has a farm in crop, intended for the benefit, and partly cultivated by the labor of the neighboring Indians. The mail-station also has its garden, and is cutting an abundance of hay. From this station, it is expected that the new cut-off, saving one hundred miles or more in distance to Carson Valley, will be made, so soon as those now scrutinizing it shall have pronounced it practicable.

At Ruby, [where Greeley's route diverges from Burton's and Twain's route] the stage usually stops for the night; but we had been six days making rather less than three hundred miles, and began to grow impatient. The driver had his own reasons for pushing on, and did so, over a road partly mountainous, rough and sideling; but, starting at eight p. m., we had reached the next (Pine Valley) station, forty miles distant, before sunrise. Here we were detained three or four hours for mules—those we should have taken being astray—but at nine we started with a new driver, and were soon entangled in a pole-bridge over a deep, miry stream—a drove of a thousand head of cattle (the first ever driven over this road) having recently passed, and torn the frail bridge to pieces. Our lead-mules went down in a pile, but were got up and out and the wagon ran over, after a delay of an hour. We soon rose from Pine Valley by a long, irregular, generally moderate ascent, to a mountain divide, from which our trail took abruptly down the wildest and worst cañon I ever saw traversed by a carriage. It is in places barely wide enough at bottom for a wagon, and if two should meet here it 1s scarcely possible that they should pass. The length of this cañon is a mile and a half; the descent hardly less than two thousand feet; the side of the road next to the water-course often far lower than the other; the roadbed is often made of sharp-edged fragments of broken rock, hard enough to stand on, harder still to hold back on. The heat in this cañon on a summer afternoon is intense, the sun being able to enter it while the wind is not. Two or three glorious springs afford partial consolation to the weary, thirsty traveler. I am confident no passenger ever rode down this rocky ladder; I trust that none will until a better road is made here; though a good road in such a gulch is scarcely possible. Fifteen miles further, across a plain and a lower range of hills, brought our mail-wagon at last, about seven P. M. of its seventh day from Salt Lake City, to  THE HUMBOLDT.