Submitted by scott on Tue, 02/28/2017 - 11:27

After dinner we climbed to the yellow pines. This afternoon passed, near La Pierelle station, the little canon in which the Express rider was last night when a bullet from Indians on the side of the road passed through his coat. About 2½ hours before the station keeper at La Parelle had fired four times at one Indian. At noon we passed a Mormon train 33 wagons long. They were nooning. About midnight, at a station we stopped at to change horses, a dispute arose between our conductor and four drivers who were at the Station. The conductor came to me for a pistol, but before I could hand it to him, one of the men came up and commenced cursing him. Another then came up and knocked the conductor down, cutting a bad gash in his upper lip, and telling him he would have killed him if he had had his boots on, and would have killed him then if he reported him. I had not heard the fuss before the pistol was called for, and supposed it was for the Indians, who, it was said, would be dangerous along this part of the road. The four drivers were drunk.    (Orion)

"We had now reached a hostile Indian country, and during the afternoon we passed Laparelle Station, and enjoyed great discomfort all the time we were in the neighborhood, being aware that many of the trees we dashed by at arm’s length concealed a lurking Indian or two. During the preceding night an ambushed savage had sent a bullet through the pony-rider’s jacket, but he had ridden on, just the same, because pony-riders were not allowed to stop and inquire into such things except when killed. As long as they had life enough left in them they had to stick to the horse and ride, even if the Indians had been waiting for them a week, and were entirely out of patience. About two hours and a half before we arrived at Laparelle Station, the keeper in charge of it had fired four times at an Indian, but he said with an injured air that the Indian had “skipped around so’s to spile everything—and ammunition’s blamed skurse, too.” The most natural inference conveyed by his manner of speaking was, that in “skipping around,” the Indian had taken an unfair advantage."
(Roughing It)

We are now about to leave the land of that great and dangerous people the Sioux and before bidding adieu to them it will advisable to devote a few pages to their ethnology [See Chapter 2 of The City of the Saints]

Beyond the meridian of Laramie the country totally changes. The broad prairie lands, unencumbered by timber, and covered with a rich pasturage, which highly adapts them for grazing, are now left behind. We are about to enter a dry, sandy, and sterile waste of sage, and presently of salt, where rare spots are fitted for rearing stock, and this formation will continue till we reach the shadow of the Rocky Mountains.

At length, the mules coming about 10:45 A.M., we hitched up, and, nothing loth, bade adieu to Horseshoe Creek and the "ladies.” The driver sentimentally informed us that we were to see no more specimens of ladyhood for many days—gladdest tidings to one of the party, at least. The road, which ran out of sight of the river, was broken and jagged; a little labor would have made it tolerable, but what could the good pastor of Oberlin do with a folk whose only thought in life is dram-drinking, tobacco-chewing, trading, and swapping ? The country was cut with creeks and arroyos, which separated the several bulges of ground, and the earth's surface was of a dull brick-dust red, thinly scrubbed over with coarse grass, ragged sage, and shrublets fit only for the fire. After a desolate drive, we sighted below us the creek La Bonté-so called from a French voyageur--green and bisected by a clear mountain stream whose banks were thick with self-planted trees. In the labyrinth of paths we chose the wrong one: presently we came to a sheer descent of four or five feet, and after deliberation as to whether the vehicle would " take it" or not, we came to the conclusion that we had better turn the restive mules to the right-about. Then, cheered by the sight of our consort, the other wagon, which stood temptingly shaded by the grove of cotton-wood, willows, box elder (Negundo aceroides), and wild cherry, at the distance of about half a mile, we sought manfully the right track, and the way in which the driver charged the minor obstacles was “a caution to mules." We ought to have arrived at 2 45 P.M.; we were about an hour later. The station had yet to be built; the whole road was in a transition state at the time of our travel; there was, however, a new corral for “forting" against Indians, and a kind of leafy arbor, which the officials had converted into a “cottage near a wood.”

A little after 4 P.M. we forded the creek painfully with our new cattle — three rats and a slug. The latter was pronounced by our driver, when he condescended to use other language than anathemata, “ the meanest cuss he ever seed.” We were careful, however, to supply him at the shortest intervals with whisky. drams, which stimulated him, after breaking his whip, to perform a tattoo with clods and stones, kicks and stamps, upon the recreant animals' haunches, and by virtue of these we accomplished our twenty-five miles in tolerable time. For want of other pleasantries to contemplate, we busied ourselves in admiring the regularity and accuracy with which our consort wagon secured for herself all the best teams. The land was a red waste, such as travelers find in Eastern Africa, which after rains sheds streams like blood. The soil was a decomposition of ferruginous rock, here broken with rugged hills, precipices of ruddy sandstone 200 feet high, shaded or dotted with black-green cedars, there cumbered by huge boulders; the ravine-like water-courses which cut the road showed that after heavy rains a net-work of torrents must add to the pleasures of traveling, and the vegetation was reduced to the dull green artemisia, the azalia, and the jaundiced potentilla. After six miles we saw on the left of the path a huge natural pile or burrow of primitive boulders, about 200 feet high, and called “Brigham's Peak,” because, according to Jehu's whiskyfied story, the prophet, revelator, and seer of the Latter-Day Saints had there, in 1857 (!), pronounced a 4th of July oration in the presence of 200 or 300 fair devotees.

Presently we emerged from the red region into the normal brown clay, garnished with sage as moors are with heather, over a road which might have suggested the nursery rhyme,

“Here we go up, up, up,  There we go down, down, down.”

At last it'improved, and once more, as if we never were to leave it, we fell into the Valley of the Platte. About eight miles from our destination we crossed the sandy bed of the La Prêle River, an arroyo of twenty feet wide, which, like its brethren, brims in spring with its freight of melted snow. In the clear shade of evening we traversed the “timber," or well-wooded lands lying upon Box-Elder Creek—a beautiful little stream some eight feet broad, and at 9 P.M. arrived at the station. The master, Mr. Wheeler, was exceptionably civil and communicative; he lent us buffalo robes for the night, and sent us to bed after the best supper the house could afford. We were not, however, to be balked of our proper pleasure, a "good grumble," so we hooked it on to another peg. One of the road-agents had just arrived from Great Salt Lake City in a neat private ambulance after a journey of three days, while we could hardly expect to make it under treble that time. It was agreed on all sides that such conduct was outrageous; that Messrs. Russell and Co. amply deserved to have their contract taken from them, and-on these occasions your citizen looks portentous, and deals darkly in threatenings, as if his single vote could shake the spheres—we came to a mutual understanding that that firm should never enjoy our countenance or support. We were unanimous; all, even the mortal quarrel, was “made up” in the presence of the general foe, the Mail Company. Briefly we retired to rest, a miserable Public, and, soothed by the rough lullaby of the coyote, whose shrieks and screams perfectly reproduced the Indian jackal, we passed into the world of dreams.




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