Submitted by scott on Fri, 05/15/2020 - 11:58

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.”

A fraternal recognition took place between Long Jim and his brother, who discovered each other by the merest accident. Gilston, the employé, was an intelligent man: at San Francisco he had learned a little Chinese, and at Deep Creek he was studying the Indian dialects. He had missed making a fortune at Carson Valley, where, in June or July, 1859, the rich and now celebrated silver mines were discovered; and he warned us against the danger of tarrying in Carson City, where revolvers are fired even into houses known to contain ladies.” Colonel Totten, the station-master, explained the formation of the gold diggings as beds of gravel, from one to 120 feet, overlying slate rock.

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. After a frugal feed, we inspected a grave for two, which bore the names of Loscier and Applegate, and the date 21st of May. These men, employés of the station, were attacked by Indians — Panaks or Shoshonees, or possibly both: the former was killed by the first fire; the latter, when shot in the groin, and unable to proceed, borrowed, under pretext of defense, a revolver, bade good-by to his companions, and put a bullet through his own head: the remainder then escaped. Both these poor fellows remain unavenged. The Anglo-American, who is admirably protected by the officials of his government in Europe, Asia, and Africa, is systematically neglected — teste Mexico - in America. The double grave, piled up with stones, showed gaps where the wolves had attempted to tunnel, and blue-bottle flies were buzzing over it in expectation. Colonel Totten, at our instance, promised that it should be looked to.

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. As we issued from Mormondom into Christendom, the civility of our hosts perceptibly diminished; the judge, like the generality of Anglo-Americans, did unnecessary kow-tow to those whom republicanism made his equals, and the “gentlemen," when asked to do anything, became exceedingly surly. Among them was one Giovanni Brutisch, a Venetian, who, flying from conscription, had found a home in Halifax: an unfortunate fire, which burned down his house, drove him to the Far West. He talked copiously of the Old Country, breathed the usual aspirations of Italia una, and thought that Garibaldi would do well "se non lo molestano”— a euphuism accompanied by a look more expressive than any nod. The station was well provided with good miniés, and the men apparently expected to use them; it was, however, commanded by the neighboring heights, and the haystacks were exposed to fire at a time of the year when no more forage could be collected. The Venetian made for us some good light bread of wheaten flour, started or leavened with hop-water, and corn-bread" shortened” with butter, and enriched with two or three eggs. A hideous Pa Yuta and surly Shoshonee, whom I sketched, loitered about the station: they were dressed in the usual rabbit-skin cape, and carried little horn bows, with which they missed small marks at fifteen paces. The boys, who were now aweary of watching, hired one of these men for a shirt - tobacco was not to be had, and a blanket was too high pay - to mount guard through the night. Like the Paggi or Ramoosee of Western India, one thief is paid to keep off many: the Indian is the best of wardens, it being with him a principle not to attack what the presence of a fellow-tribesman defends.

 

Citations

Burton, Richard. 1861. The City Of The Saints. London: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts.

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