Submitted by scott on Thu, 05/14/2020 - 00:23

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)

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

A "little war” had been waging near Willow Springs. In June the station was attacked by a small band of Gosh Yuta, of whom three were shot and summarily scalped; an energetic proceeding, which had prevented a repetition of the affair. The savages, who are gathering their pine-nut harvest, and are driven by destitution to beg at the stations, to which one meal a week will attach them, are now comparatively peaceful: when the emigration season recommences they are expected to be troublesome, and their numbers — the Pa Yutas can bring 12,000 warriors into the field - render them formidable. “Jake,” the Shoshonee, who had followed us from Lost Springs, still considered his life in danger; he was as unwilling to wend his way alone as an Arab Bedouin or an African negro in their respective interiors. With regard to ourselves, Lieutenant Weed had declared that there was no danger; the station people thought, on the contrary, that the snake, which had been scotched, not killed, would recover after the departure of the soldiers, and that the work of destruction had not been carried on with sufficient vigor.

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. Here I rode forward with “Jim," a young express rider from the last station, who volunteered much information upon the subject of Indians. He carried two Colt's revolvers, of the dragoon or largest size, considering all others too small. I asked him what he would do if a Gosh Yuta appeared. He replied that if the fellow were civil he might shake hands with him, if surly he would shoot him; and, at all events, when riding away, that he would keep a “stirrup eye” upon him: that he was in the habit of looking round corners to see if any one was taking aim, in which case he would throw himself from the saddle, or rush on, so as to spoil the shooting—the Indians, when charged, becoming excited, fire without effect. He mentioned four Red Men who could " draw a bead” against any white; usually, however, they take a minute to load; they require a long aim, and they stint their powder. He pointed out a place where Miller, one of the express riders, had lately been badly wounded, and lost his horse. Nothing, certainly, could be better fitted for an ambuscade than this gorge, with its caves and holes in snow-cuts, earth-drops, and lines of strata, like walls of rudely-piled stone; in one place we saw the ashes of an Indian encampment; in another, a whirlwind, curling, as smoke would rise, from behind a projecting spur, made us advance with the greatest caution.

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. Among them was a Mr. Waddington, an old Pennsylvanian and a bigoted Mormon. It is related of him that he had treasonably saved 300 Indians by warning them of an intended attack by the federal troops. He spoke strongly in favor of the despised Yutas, declared that they are ready to work, and can be led to any thing by civility. The anti-Mormons declared that his praise was for interested motives, wishing the savages to labor for him gratis; and I observed that when Mr. Waddington started to cut wood in the kanyon, he set out at night, lest his dust should be seen by his red friends.

The Mormons were not wanting in kindness; they supplied us with excellent potatoes, and told us to make their house our home. We preferred, however, living and cooking afield. The station was dirty to the last degree: the flies suggested the Egyptian plague; they could be brushed from the walls in thousands; but, though sage makes good brooms, no one cares to sweep clean. This, I repeat, is not Mormon, but Western: the people, like the Spaniards, apparently disdain any occupation save that of herding cattle, and will do so till the land is settled. In the evening Jake the Shoshonee came in, grumbling loudly because he had not been allowed to ride; he stood cross-legged like an African, ate a large supper at the station, and a second with us. No wonder that the savage in civilization suffers, like the lady's lapdog, from "liver.” He was, however, a first-rate hand in shirking any work except that of peering and peeping into every thing; neither Gospel nor gunpowder can reform this race. Mr.R_ , the English farrier and Lothario, left us on this day, after a little quarrel with Kennedy. We were glad to receive permission to sleep upon the loose wheat in an inner room: at 8 A.M. the thermometer had shown 59° F., but on this night ice appeared in the pails.

The next day was a halt; the stock wanted rest and the men provisions. A "beef”—the Westerns still retain the singular of “beeves”—was killed, and we obtained a store of potatoes and wheat. Default of oats, which are not common, this heating food is given to horses—12 lbs. of grain to 14 of long forage—and the furious riding of the Mormons is the only preventive of its evil effects. The people believe that it causes stumbling by the swelling of the fetlock and knee joint; similarly every East Indian ghorewalla will declare that wheaten bread makes a horse tokkar khana—"eat trips.” The employés of the station were quiet and respectable, a fact attributed by some of our party to the want of liquor, which is said to cause frequent fights. Our party was less peaceable; there had been an extensive prigging of blankets; the cold now made them valuable, and this drove the losers "fighting mad."

 

Citations

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

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