Submitted by Scott Holmes on Mon, 11/11/2019 - 10:40
Departing the Great Lakes region, July 22, 1895, Twain's party heads for the Great Plains. First though, into an area of tourist attraction, no small part due to to the fantasy world created by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his Song of Hiawatha, Lake Minnetonka and Minnehaha Falls. Twain gave lectures in Minneapolis July 23rd and 24th, rested on the 25th then headed to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Returning from Winnipeg, July 28, they traveled through "that wonderful wheat ocean" and stopped in Crookston, Minnestoa. Twain's name is the first in the register of the Crookston Hotel. Heading west across North Dakota they leave the wheat fields and enter "the arid plains, the prairie dog towns, cactus, buffalo grass, jack rabbits, wild life and the Missouri River." Once home to the Plains Indians, now the realm of the Great Northern Railway, the only privately funded transcontinental railroad ever built. No federal grants were used. The caveat lies in just how much influence J.J. Hill exerted in passing federal legislation, such as the Dawes Act of 1887. The Great Northern Railroad is known as "one of the most Indian subsidized railroads in America". July 31, after some 700 miles Twain's party arrives in Great Falls, Montana.

The Grand Excursion, a trip sponsored by the Rock Island Railroad, brought more than a thousand curious travelers into Minnesota by rail and steamboat in 1854. The next year, in 1855, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published The Song of Hiawatha, an epic poem said to be based on Ojibwe legends of Hiawatha. Inspired by coverage of the Grand Excursion in eastern newspapers and those who read Longfellow's story, tourists flocked to the area in the following decades. Hiawatha, the real person, was a co-founder of the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois confederacy.

The Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad, created in 1863, was the first rail link between the Twin Cities and Duluth. Financier Jay Cooke had selected Duluth as the northern end of the new railroad. Lyman Dayton, a local businessman put up $10,000 of his own money to do the original surveying work and served as the railroad's president until his death in 1865. It was completed in 1870, running through the city of Carlton and along the path of the Saint Louis River to Duluth. Later that year the first passenger trains started running between the Twin Cities and Duluth.

Winnipeg lies at the confluence of the Assiniboine and the Red River of the North, a location now known as "The Forks". This point was at the crossroads of canoe routes travelled by First Nations before European contact. Winnipeg is named after nearby Lake Winnipeg; the name is a transcription of the Western Cree words for muddy or brackish water. Evidence provided by archaeology, petroglyphs, rock art and oral history indicates that native peoples used the area in prehistoric times for camping, harvesting, hunting, tool making, fishing, trading and, farther north, for agriculture.

The area in which Crookston is located was virtually unoccupied during pre-European contact and remained little more than a hunting ground associated with the Pembina settlements until the 1860s. The land in the immediate vicinity of Crookston is not connected with any verifiable Native American or European historic events or circumstances until transfer in the Treaties of Old Crossing in 1863-64. Prior to that time, the territory now included in Crookston was technically a part of Rupert's Land and Assiniboia before becoming part of the United States as a result of the boundary settlement in the Treaty of 1818.

Following the Civil War, hostilities continued with the Sioux until the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie. By 1868, creation of new territories reduced Dakota Territory to the present boundaries of the Dakotas. Territorial counties were defined in 1872, including Bottineau County, Cass County and others. During the existence of the organized territory, the population first increased very slowly and then very rapidly with the "Dakota Boom" from 1870 to 1880. Because the Sioux were considered very hostile and a threat to early settlers, the white population grew slowly.



Monday, July 22, 1895 Sam Clemens and party departed Duluth, Minnesota immediately after his show there. They boarded the St. Paul and Duluth Railway, also known as the Skally Line, at 11:20 pm and arrived in Minneapolis, Minnesota the next morning after a 160 mile ride. The land of Hiawatha, Lake Minnetonka and Minnehaha Falls.

The Grand Excursion, a trip sponsored by the Rock Island Railroad, brought more than a thousand curious travelers into the area by rail and steamboat in 1854. The next year, in 1855, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published The Song of Hiawatha, an epic poem based on Ojibwe legends of Hiawatha. Inspired by coverage of the Grand Excursion in eastern newspapers and those who read Longfellow's story, tourists flocked to the area in the following decades.

Hiawatha, a real person, was a co-founder of the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois confederacy. Depending on the version of the narrative he was a leader of the Onondaga, or the Mohawk or perhaps both. According to some versions he was born an Onondaga, but adopted into the Mohawk. Hiawatha was a follower of The Great Peacemaker (Deganawida), a Huron prophet and spiritual leader who proposed the unification of the Iroquois peoples, who shared common ancestry and similar languages. The Great Peacemaker was a compelling spiritual presence, but was impeded in evangelizing his prophecy by foreign affiliation and a severe speech impediment. Hiawatha, a skilled and charismatic orator, was instrumental in persuading the Senecas, Cayugas, Onondagas, Oneidas and Mohawks to accept the Great Peacemaker's vision and band together to become the Five Nations of the Iroquois confederacy.

The Tuscarora nation joined the Confederacy in 1722 to become the Sixth Nation.

In attempting to date the Great Peacemaker and Hiawatha, an incident related to the founding of the Iroquois Confederacy, that involves a division among the Seneca nation, a violent confrontation began and was suddenly stopped when the sun darkened and it seemed like night. The Seneca were the last to join the original five nation confederacy. It seems a bit ironic to me that the Hurons were not a part of the confederation. There were, in fact, a number of other Iroquoian people also not part of the confederation. Possible dates for an eclipse include 1451 and 1142AD. There is debate about which would mark the creation of the Iroquois Confederation.

The Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad, created in 1863, was the first rail link between the Twin Cities and Duluth. Financier Jay Cooke had selected Duluth as the northern end of the new railroad. Lyman Dayton, a local businessman put up $10,000 of his own money to do the original surveying work and served as the railroad's president until his death in 1865.

The Lake Superior and Mississippi was completed in 1870, running through the city of Carlton and along the path of the Saint Louis River to Duluth. Later that year the first passenger trains started running between the Twin Cities and Duluth.

The Lake Superior and Mississippi was a victim of the Panic of 1873, as Jay Cooke's company was overextended and burdened with financial commitments to the Northern Pacific Railway. The Lake Superior and Mississippi reorganized in 1877 as the St. Paul and Duluth Railroad.

Arriving in Minneapolis, they checked into the Hotel West; “a delightful place. Six skilled reporters spent two hours with “Mark.” He was lying in bed, and very tired, but he was extremely courteous to them and they all enjoyed the interview.” In the evening Sam gave his lecture at the Metropolitan Opera House. The House was filled to the top gallery with a big crowd of well-dressed, intelligent people. It was about as big a night as “Mark” ever had. He introduced a new entertainment, blending pathos with humor with unusual continuity. This was at Mrs. Clemens’s suggestion, She had an idea that too much humor tired an audience with laughing.

“Mark” took the hint and worked in three or four pathetic stories that made the entertainment perfect. The “show” is a triumph, and “Mark” will never again need a running mate to make him satisfactory to everybody.

Wednesday, the Clemens party took rooms in the Hotel Ryan, in St. Paul, Minn. prior to his evening lecture at St.Paul’s People’s Congregational Church, which was commented on in glowing terms by St. Paul papers.

July 25, Thursday – The Clemens spent the day in St. Paul, Minn. And on July 26 they departed for Manitoba, 600 miles to the north.


July 26th, Friday. The train trip from St. Paul to Winnipeg was about 600 miles. The party boarded what was the St. Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba Line. It became part of the Great Northern Railway. Departing St. Paul, the route passed through St. Cloud, Sauk Center, Osakes, Alexandria, Fergus Falls, Barnesville, Glenden, Crookston, Grand Forks, and crossed the border at Neche. It continued on from Gretna to Winnipeg aboard the Canadian Pacific railway. [01:02]

They were bound for Mud City, as Canada's rapidly growing seventh largest growing metropolis was affectionately known. Twenty two years after its incorporation and some eighteen years before the extensive paving programs would compel its detractors to call it Winterpeg, instead. [01:45]

Winnipeg and its environs in 1895 had a population of perhaps 38,000 people. [02:09]

The Clemens party arrived in Winnipeg, Manitoba a little after noon. J. B. Pond's diary: “We have had a most charming ride through North Dakota and southeastern Manitoba. It seems as if everything along the route must have been put in order for our reception. The flat wild prairies, uninhabited in 1883, are all now under cultivation. There are fine farm houses, barns and vast fields of wheat. Oceans of wheat, as Mark said. As far as eye can reach in all directions. Waving like the ocean waves, and so flat. Mr Beecher remarked to his wife, while riding through here in 1883, “Mother, you couldn't flatter this country”. [03:38]

Twain is reported to have said “This country, out here of yours, astonished me beyond all imagination. Never in my life have I seen such fields of grain extending in all directions to the horizon. The country appears to me to be as if it were a mighty ocean. My conception of it is the same that of a man who had never seen the ocean before. He sees nothing but water as far as the eye can reach. Here I see nothing but oceans of wheat fields. Why, it's simply miraculous. [04:58]

They took rooms at the Manitoba Hotel. Sam gave two evening performances, July 26th and 27th, Selkirk Hall, Winnipeg. [05:53]

J. B. Pond wrote: “We had a splendid audience. Mark and I were entertained at the Manitoba Club, after the lecture. A club of the leading men of Winnipeg. We did not stay out very late as Mark feared Mrs. Clemens would not retire until he came and he was quite anxious for her to rest as the long night journey in the cars had been very fatiguing. On our arrival at the hotel, we heard singing and the sound of revelry in the parlors. A party of young men from the lecture committee had escorted the ladies home. They were fine singers and with Miss Clara Clemens at the piano a concert was in progress. We all enjoyed another hour. [07:32]

Saturday, the 27th: We all put down as the pleasantest day thus far. Several young English gentlemen, who had staked fortunes in this northwest, in wheat ranches and other enterprises, brought out their tandems and traps and drove the ladies about the country. They saw the largest herd of wild buffalo that now exists, in a large enclosure. They were driven to various interesting suburb sights of which there are more than one would believe could exist in this far northwest new city. Bouquets and banks of flowers of such beautiful colors were sent in. Many ladies called and all in all it has been an ovation. Mark, as is his custom, did not get up until time to go to the lecture hall. But he was happy. Several journalists called, who, he told me, were the best informed and most scholarly lot of editors he had found anywhere. And I think he was correct. There was another large crowd at the lecture and another and final reception at the famous Manitoba Club. We were home at twelve and all so happy we're on the road to happiness, surely. [09:44]

July 27th, Saturday: In the evening, Sam gave his number two lecture. His second performance in Winnipeg, which ran 35 minutes longer than intended. After 90 minutes he offered to let the audience go but cries of go on induced him to finish. [10:45]

Although Twain complains in his letters of the sweltering heat his party and audiences had to endure during the central portion of the North American tour, the temperatures in Winnipeg were moderate. For example, on July 26th the high for the day occurred at 5 pm, 71 degrees Fahrenheit. The reading dropped by 4 degrees that by curtain time, that evening although the high for that week was 78.6. This was recorded on the Thursday. [11:54]

July 28, Sunday: Sam was interviewed by a traveling correspondent who had authored a book of poetry earlier in the year. A bright girl, part Indian, with French name, Marie Jousaye, correspondent of Toronto Globe. She had been a factory girl and was a president of a combine of 500 working girls who appealed to the electric car company for a Sunday car service. The year before that the pulpit had pulled in a 5,000 majority against it . The 500 girls reduced that to a 750 majority two years ago. The pulpit got the next struggle put off the next three years. It occurs a year hence and the thing will be carried the other way. Toronto is twelve miles long, one way within the city limits. The poor live at one end and work at the other, and not a car on Sunday. [13:32]

These families are as exiled as if the Atlantic flowed between them. But as long as God and the clergy are gratified, what of it. [13:46]

The party departed Winnipeg at about 1:20 in the afternoon.


July 28. Left Winnipeg at 1.20 came down again through that wonderful wheat ocean — by gracious it is bewitching; there is the peace of the ocean about it, a deep contentment, a heaven-wide sense of ampleness, spaciousness, where pettiness all small thoughts tempers must be out of place, not suited to it, so not intruding. The scattering far-off homesteads, with trees about them were so homelike remote from the warring world, so reposeful enticing. [00:55]

The Clemens party took rooms at the Crookston Hotel. [01:05]

From J.B. Pond’s diary: We have been in Crookston, Minn., all day, where we were the first and especially favored guests of this fine new hotel. “Mark Twain’s” name was the first on the register. We are enjoying it. “Mark” is as gay as a lark, but he remained in bed until time to go to the Opera House. This city is wonderfully improved since I was here in 1883 with Mr. Beecher, in 1885 with Clara Louise Kellogg, and in 1887 with Charles Dickens, Jr. The opening of this hotel is a great event. People are filling up the town from all directions to see and hear “Mark,” and taking advantage of the occasion to see the first new hotel, The Crookston, in their city with hot and cold water, electric lights and all modern improvements. [02:20]

Special trains were run for this performance and some of the sleeping cars were left on the sidings to save passengers the cost of a hotel. [02:33]

Crookston was a small town of 3,992 persons. A horse and wagon picked up the garbage, and twice a week a team pulling a wooden tank of water on wheels flushed down the unpaved streets. [02:53]

The volunteer fire department kept their ladders chained and padlocked to a large tree in front of the Merchant's National Bank, so that the firemen would not have to hunt up the house painter during a fire call. [03:12]

July 30 Tuesday: Another travel day.From J.B. Pond’s diary: We left Crookston at 5:40 A.M .; were up at 4:30, Everybody was cheerful; there was no grumbling. This is our first unseasonable hour for getting up, but it has done us all good. Even Clara enjoyed the unique experience. It revived her memory. She recollected that she had telegraphed to Elmira to have her winter cloak expressed to Crookston. Fortunately the agent was sleeping in the express office, near the station. We disturbed his slumbers to find the great cloak, which was another acquisition to our sixteen pieces of hand luggage. [04:15]

Grand Forks, at the fork of the Red River and the Red Lake River. This was an important trading point for the French and Indian trappers. [04:29]

Our train was forty-five minutes late. “Mark” complained and grumbled; he persisted that I had contracted with him to travel and not to wait about railway stations at five o’clock in the mornings for late trains that never arrived. He insisted on travelling, so he got aboard the baggage truck and I travelled him up and down the platform, while Clara made a snap shot as evidence that I was keeping to the letter of my contract. [05:05]

Larimore, a railroad town built in 1881 and named for a local farmer. [05:17]

When we boarded the train, we found five lower berths (which means five sections) ready for us. There was a splendid dining car, with meals a la carte, and excellent cooking. All the afternoon there were the level prairies of North Dakota wheat just turning, the whole country a lovely green; [05:50]

Mapes, at one time a thriving little town with a school, creamery, cheese manufacturing, hotels, dry good store, elevator, bar, town hall, livery, garage and repair shop, restaurant, and churches. [06:23]

Devils Lake. Originally Sioux territory or Lakota if you wish. [06:55] They were all relocated to the Spirit Lake reservation. The Sioux called the lake mni wak’áŋ chante. The whites thought this meant bad spirit lake or Devil's Lake. Actually, the water was undrinkable because of salinity. There's no devil in Sioux religion. 07:19]

Rugby Junction, promoted as the geographic center of North America. [08:38]

Minot was created when the Great Northern Railway ceased construction for the winter of 1886. When trains arrived, the conductor would announce “Minot, this is Minot, North Dakota, prepare to meet your doom”. {10:11]

The Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Saint Marie, or Soo Line, reached Minot in 1893. The town is named after Henry D. Minot, a railroad investor and ornithologist. [10:29]

The Great Northern Railway. Creation of the tycoon James J. Hill, the northernmost transcontinental railway in the United States. It was the only privately funded transcontinental railway ever built. No federal grants were used. The Great Northern was built in stages, creating profitable lines before extending it further. The main line began in St. Paul, Minnesota, across the Mississippi to Minneapolis on the Stone Arch Bridge near St. Anthony Falls the only waterfall on the Mississippi River. Then out across North Dakota and Montana. [12:41]

Then came the arid plains, the prairiedog towns, cactus, buffalo grass, jack rabbits, wild life and the Missouri River — dear old friend that had borne both of us on her muddy bosom many a time. It was a great day for both “Mark” and me. The ladies were enthusiastic in proportion as they saw that “Mark” and I were boys again, travelling upon “our native heath” [14:20].

In northern Dakota; no more wheat; but grass and billowy, rolling, just the Great Plains. Struck the Missouri at Williston followed it several hours to Fort Buford, a large post — 7 p.m. on the border of Montana [14:41].

Fort Buford, at the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers, is the site of Sitting Bull's surrender in 1881. {15:29]

Three civilian wood cutters were killed at the mouth of the Yellowstone in December of 1866. Lieut. Hiram H. Ketchum with sixty men reacted, drove off the Indians and recovered the bodies with slight loss to his detachment. According to the regimental history, the Lakota boasted that they intended to annihilate the soldiers and during the winter they besieged the post. The siege cut off the garrison from the nearby Missouri River and forced them to sink shallow wells near their quarters in order to obtain fresh water. The shallow well water they drank was contaminated, by the post's livestock and/or human waste, and caused dysentery. From December 21–24 a large group of the Hunkpapas repeatedly attacked and captured the post's ice house and sawmill located near the river and opened fire on the post. The attackers were not repelled until Rankin ordered his two 12 pound Napoleons to return fire. Captain Rankin's wife spent the winter in camp, enduring the hardships and dangers with the troops in garrison.

The harassing raids and resulting lack of communication from the isolated post led to the perpetration of a hoax, the "Fort Buford Massacre", purporting that the fort had been wiped out, Capt. Rankin captured and tortured to death, and Rankin's wife captured and abused. The episode began when the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story April 1, 1867, based on a letter allegedly written from the fort, which was then picked up and run the next day nationwide. It was given "legs" by a letter published April 6 in the Army and Navy Journal, attributed to the wife of a prominent Army officer, confirming the massacre. Although by April 4 many newspapers had begun to question the validity of the report, The Chicago Daily Times, Detroit Free Press, New York Daily Tribune, New York Times, and Boston Herald, among others, continued to feed the rumors with further stories for another month, many of them accusing the Army and the Johnson Administration of covering up the massacre. The hoax was eventually exposed by Rankin himself in correspondence to the war department.

The fort was subject to attack by Sitting Bull's forces until the early 70's. By 1872 the fort had been enlarged to such an extent that a perimeter stockade was not longer needed and most of the fighting had moved westward in the Montana territory. The fort was decommissioned in 1895. [19:17]

The Nakota, Lakota, and Dakota peoples inhabited the Glasgow region until 1888. In 1887 they signed a treaty surrendering 17,500,000 acres. They were relocated to the Fort Peck Indian Reservation and all tribes removed from the Glasgow area. At one time this area supported huge herds of buffalo and other games, as reported by the Lewis and Clark expedition. The last native American buffalo hunt held here occurred in 1885. [21:36]

The Dawes Act. In 1887 Congress passed the General Allotment Act. Indian lands were to be surveyed and each individual family given 80 to 160 acres, unmarried adults 40 to 80 acres. Natives were forced from their homes and their lands were parceled out. The plains which they had previously roamed were now filled with white settlers. The Indians had been cheated out of their lands, forced on to reservations and suffered attempts to Americanize them. Most did not survive this relocation and military defeat. And, by 1890 there were fewer than 250,000 native Americans. [23:18]

If you would please pardon an anachronistic bit, Kid Curry, part of Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch, robbed a train near Wagner and got away with $40,000. This was July 3, 1901 (in about six years). [24:35]

Havre, Montana, originally known as Bullhook Bottoms. The wahkpa Chu'gn buffalo jump is in Havre. Over 2,000 years old, it is on the the best preserved buffalo jumps anywhere.

Nearby is the Bear's Paw Battlefield where the Nez Perce were attacked and defeated by the US Cavalry. Chief Joseph surrendered with his famous statement: “From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.” [28:35]

Fort Assinaboine: Following the Great Sioux War of 1876-77 and the defeat of U.S. Army forces led by General George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn on June 25, 1876, and the defeat and capture of the Nez Perce, band of Chief Joseph by the U.S. Army in the Battle of Bear Paw in 1877, General Phil Sheridan suggested that a fort be built on or near the Milk River to ward off possible attacks from the North by the Sioux led by Chief Sitting Bull, who had migrated to the Cypress Hills in Canada, or by the Nez Perce, some of whom were also in Canada. Lt. Col. J.R. Brooke recommended the site where the post was established. The fort is located in Hill County six miles southwest of Havre (the county seat) on Highway 87. It was named for the Siouan-speaking Assinniboine people. The Native Americans never attacked from Canada. [29:54]

July 31 Wednesday – After a trip of some 700 miles from Crookston, Minn. the Clemens party arrived at Great Falls, Mont. [30:41]

From J.B. Pond: We arrived at the Park Hotel here at 7:30 A.M . after a good night’s sleep. Interest grows more and more intense as we come nearer to the Rocky Mountains. It brings back fond memories of other days. The two Brothers Gibson, proprietors of the hotel, drove our party out to Giant Spring, three miles distant. It is a giant, too. I never saw a more beautiful or more wonderful spring. A big river fairly boils up out of the ground, of the most beautiful deep peacock green color I ever saw in clear water. The largest copper ore smelters in the world are here. The Great Falls could supply power enough for all the machinery west of Chicago, with some to spare. [31:43]

Fort Benton, the last trading post on the upper Missouri River. For thirty years this port attracted steamboats all the way from the Mississippi River. It's importance was superceded only upon the arrival of the railroad. In 1867, Union General Thomas Francis Meagher, then acting governor of Montana territory, fell overboard from his steamboat and drowned. His body was never recovered. [32:24]

“Mark” is improving. For the first time since we started he appeared about the hotel corridors and on the street. He and I walked about the outskirts of the town, and I caught a number of interesting snapshots among the Norwegian shanties. I got a good group including four generations, with eight children, a calf and five cats. “Mark” wanted a photograph of each cat. He caught a pair of kittens in his arms, greatly to the discomfort of their owner, a little girl. He tried to make friends with the child and buy the kittens, but she began to cry and beg that her pets might be liberated. He soon captured her with a pretty story, and she finally consented to let them go. Few know “Mark’s” great love for cats, as well as for every living creature [33:36].

Mark had an off night and was not at his best, which has almost broken his heart. He couldn't get over it all day. The Gibson Brothers have done much to make our visit delightful, and it has proved very enjoyable indeed. Of course, being proprietors of the hotel, they lose nothing, for I find they charge us five dollars a day each, and the extortions from porters, baggagemen and bellboys surpass anything I know of. The smallest money is two bits (25 cents) here, absurd! [34:24]