Interersting Reminiscences by a Southern Oregon Pioneer
Being a series of interesting articles dealing with early-day events and pioneer men and women who made history and builded for succeeding generations.
By C. B. WATSON
An Unusual Struggle for an Education
During the Civil War I was with the family in my old Illinois home. Like thousands of other patriots my father felt that his duty was at the front. I was the oldest of the boys and upon me devolved the duty of running the farm. In consequence I had little time for school, but being endowed with the instincts of a student I pursued my studies as best I could, to keep up with the more fortunate. At night I studied as long as my mother would permit it; often until after midnight with a twisted rag in a saucer of grease for light, and with corn and corn cobs for fuel. So that when the war was over and the other boys had grown able to take my place I borrowed $100 to make the trip to Cailfornia, which I reached in September 1870. Near Woodland I got a job of wood-cutting, which I continued until the spring of 1871, when I completed my journey to Oregon, which I have partially described ina former article of this series. I mention this to lead me to experiences that followed.
My desires for an education had never forsaken me, so in the fall of 1871, after a summer's employment on a garden ranch at Wagner Creek, I concluded to try "catching up" and came to Ashland for that purpose. A Mr. Flemmingwas teaching here, and after our garden work was done I concluded to try out the new teacher at Ashland and walked from Wagner Creek to Ashland each morning adn back in the eveing, a distance of five miles each way, making ten miles for the round trip. This I continued for two months until I satisfied myself that Mr. Flemming was a good teacher. I toldhim my history and asked if I could not take private lessons from him of evenings, as I wished to start in the minoir classes, considering this course as a review and be advanced as rapidly as my qualification would justify. This he readily agreed to at a moderate charge. I was twenty-one, and it was somewhat embarrassing to take my place among the smaller pupils and be subjected to glacnes from those in teh advanced classes in which I sometimes thought I could see expressions of superiority. I kept my purpose to "carry on" regardless of the handicap and before the six months term was finished I had received a satisfactory standing in the highest classes of the school and believe I had secured teh good will and respect of all the school and the teacher too. After school was finished I applied to W. D. Stanley for a license to teach and secured it.
I applied for a school at the Durkee school house about three miles north of Ashland--a new school--and began my labors. I "boarded around among the scholars" and fancied I was giving satisfaction. After about six weeks a smallpox scare broke out. Only a few years before, [the] smallpox scourge had infested Rogue River Valley with dire results and a meeting ws called to discuss the advisability of closing all schools until the scare was past. It was agreed that this shoudl be done and for the time being it appeared that I would be without any occupation. This I did not feel that I could afford, so I told the directors that I would see if I could get another job. They kindly expressed the wish that I woudl be able to finish my term but found no fault with my desire to be busy.
Mr. B. F. Myer, one of the well-to-do stock men of the county, who ws also a resident of the schooldistrict, was gathering up a band of horses which he intended to send to Helena, Montana. To him I applied for a job and secured it. The thought of so long a trip through the wild Indian country that we'd have to traverse gave me a joyful thrill of coming adventure. In company with the late Eugene Wal4rad, I rode for weeks over Grizzly Ridge, the ANtelope, Butte Creek and Dead Indian ranges, gathering up our band. To ride wild horses became a delight. To chase a band of tricky, slick beauties and land them safely in a corral where they were to be caught, haltered and those selected to be our riding animals "broke" to ride became a delightful passion.
Toward the latter part of June, 1872 we left Ashland via Green Springs Pass with 120 head of beautiful horses. Nearly all of them were coal black, fat and sleek from their bunchgrass range, which at that time was the finest range I had ever seen. I had read many stories of frontier adventure, and in my boyish enthusiasm had wondered if I should ever have the wild pleasure of such experiences. I can now call up the proud thrills that had possession of me on that June morning when taking farewell from the people of this little village, whom I discovered were my friends. The school fellows who seemd to consider me alomst a nondescript only a year ago gathered about me and wished they could go too. With many a hertfelt goodbye that greeted us we made our start and that night camped at Green Springs. In my next I'll tell you something about our trip. We were warned that the Indians were not friendly, and the Modoc War was brewing.
C. B. WATSON.
Ashland, June 30, 1924.
Ashland Daily Tidings, July 2, 1924, page 2
Our First Camp in the Wilderness, on our Way to Helena, Montana
It would be difficult for me to describe my sensations when we had prepared our first supper and spread our beds with fir boughs to soften our repose. There was a large corral of logs nearby that had been occupied to corral sheep in during the past season, and this we used to confine our band afterthey had browsed their fill on teh luxurious bunchgrass and wild clover that in these early days carpeted every glade and surrounded the marshy grounds, made so by the numerous springs. Nearby, to the east were high cliffs, and looking toward the west as the sun sank behind the Siskiyous was a wonderful vision of beautiful valley and towering mountains. Nearby were great trees that charmed me with their dignity and the thought that they were growing in full vigor before Columbus discovered America.
I have not yet given you a detail of the personnel of our littleparty who were destined to the closest companionship during many months to come. First was H. F. Phillips, who had charge of the venture; then came Walter Myer, son of B. F. Myer, who owned teh band of horses; then Eugene Walrad, Albert Cardwell, Oscar Phillips, son of H. F. Phillips, who had charge of the "bell mare." Walrad and teh writer bunked together and generally rode together. We looked after teh packs and the packing. Each one had his particular place in this undertaking. In our pack train were three mules and the bell mare. These were practically inseparable and were generally kept in the lead of the band. One mule we called "Pinto" because he was spotted: he wsa small, but according to the consensus of the party was very closely related to His Satanic Majesty, as will more fully appear during hte course of this narrative.
That nighth at Green Springs was claer and frosty--my first camp under the pines. I lay awake for hours thinking, thinking about Mother and home and this venture which seemed to be bringing my boyish dreams--sicne I had been old enough to have dreams of adventure--true. I had read about Kit Cartson and fremont, and now was to see the land where some of their thrills were obtained. I was to experience in the wilds, among the Indians some of teh things I had read about. I thought about the pinoeers of the plains and wondered if they, like myself, werenot moved by some mysterious impulse which they had not fully divined. I had been a devotee to the writings of Emerson, and these lines came to me:
"When I am alone in my sylvan home,I finally slept and was aroused by whoops and imprecations. I was on my feet in a minute, only to learn that we were not attacked by Indians. It was only the pinto mule prospecting among our camp equipment. This mule had been raised by Cash Walker, who is still an Ashland resident, and who had trained him--like Bret Hart's heathen Chinee, in "ways that are dark and tricks that are vain." We were to learn more about Cash Walker as we got better acquainted with Pinto.
I read on teh pride of Greece and Rome,
When I'm stretched beneath the pines,
When the evening star so holy shines,
I laugh at the lore and creeds of man,
The sophists' schools and learned clan,
For what arethey all in their high conceit,
When man in the bush with God may meet."
In the early dawn we had our first breakfast, and I had my frist experience in the art of packing, throwing the ropes and executing the diamond hitch, in which, by and by, I became an expert. Ere long we were in teh big timber which has since that time set the lumberingn world crazy. As we rode through that wonderful forest of sugar pines towering in majesty two hundred feet into the air, I tried tosee the top of every tree and nursed a stiff neck for days aftewards in consequence. For a boy with imagination, reared in teh boundless prairies of the Mississippi Valley, this ride through the interminable woods was a revelation, a dream, and it did not occur to me that in time I woudl become very famililar with this forest; that I would survey much of it as a deputy of the U.S. Surveyor, nor that I shoudl sometime see a million-dollar road built through it with a grand celebration at its summit, a mile high. We were following the blazes of teh Applegate party of 1846, slightly improved so that the wagons might be driven through. We were still trail blazers, still moved by that mysterious impulse that was rapidly filling up the great West. We were four days reaching Linkville, now Klamath Falls, and only a few weeks ago I made it by automobile in two hours and fifteen minutes, but such things as these had no part in my dreams.
At Linkville we found the river spanned by a pole brideg, over which we only dared drive a few horses at one time. "Uncle" George Nurse had built the first house there only five yearse before, and there was now four or five more, including a store, a shack called a hotel, a saloon and a blacksmith shop. Looking to the southeast, only swamp, sage plain and distant mountains were seen. B. F. Myer, the proprietor of our band, had come this far with us but from this point he returned to Ashland and we headed for Lost River. There were a few Indians sauntering about looking rather glum, and we were advised to keep close watch on our horses at night from there on. The Modoc War was even then brewing and broke in full blast a few months later. Our first camp beyond Linkville was, after we had passed tghrough Lost River Gap, on the bank of that historic stream. Here we formed our party into a night guard, Phillips and his son taking the first watch, Walrad and I the second, Myers and Cardwell the third.
C. B. WATSON.
Ashland, July 6, 1924.
Ashland Daily Tidings, July 8, 1924, page 2
Lost River, Plenty of Fish, Alkali Valley
As stated in my last article, we camped just above Lost River Gap, on teh banks of this now-historic stream. For ages Lost River ahd been a favorite fishing stream where hundreds of Indians gathered at the proper season to gather in their annual supplies of fish. Though I was to gain an unrestricted acquaintance with this tream and the surrounding country in subsequent adventures, at this time it was perfeclty new to me. Itmay not be out of place fo rme to give information which I afterwards gained about this interesting country and particularly this unique river.
Lost River rises in Clear Lake just across the broder in California and flows north into Langell Valley, Oregon, where it sinks. Hence its name. Its course thence is by subterraneous course for fifteen or twenty miles in a northeasterly direction, where it again comes to the surface in a large cluster of springs. Ther eis quite a town called Bonanza, though at the date of which I write Bonanza had not yet come into existence. From this point the river bears to the west and within a few hundred yards below the springs it has a width of eighty feet and a depty of eight or ten feet. Its course thence for ten or twelve miles is west with a southerly trend until it has passed "the gap" where it turns southerly and finally southeasterly and empties into Tule Lake, on the south of which lie the Lava Beds destined to be made historic within a year from the dat eof our camp by the mruder of Canby and Thomas in the Modoc War. Clear lake, the source of the river, is but five miles distant from Tuel Lake into which the river empties, yet the river is ninety miles long. Tule Lake has no visible outlet, and at the time of which I write, coverd about 100,000 acres. Some of the most valuable lands of Oregon occupy this Lost River country, but up to this time it was practically unoccupied. A few hardy stock men had made selections and were building up stock ranches that have since then become famous.
All of the streams of this "lake country" swarmed with fish and were destined in later times to attract fishermen from distant cities. Deer and antelope swarmed over the sage plains rich in bunchgrass, while in the mountains the more adventurous hunters made war upon grizzly, black and cinnamon bears, mountain lions, panthers and timber wolves. Coyotes made the night hideous and jackrabbits were innumerable. As I have said, this was the first night that we put out [omission]--for the nervous and dissatisifed Indians boded trouble. In 1864 a treaty had been made between the government andn that Indians, and the Klamath Reservation ahd been established. The Klamaths and Modoc Indians were not altogether friendly, and it was sought to put them on this reservation together and there was much opposition to this. The Modocs claimed the Tule Lake country and the lower reaches of Lost River. Lost River ahd always been a common fishing stream, and both these sections were outside of the reservation, though they were permitted to visit Lost River during the fishing season. The Indians resented the encroachments of the whites, a number of whom had settled about the borders of Tule Lake and along teh banks of Lost River. This was about themiddle of June that we were there, and in Nvoember following the Modoc War broke out at the Stone Bridge on Lost River.
Our night passed without incident, and the morning dawned beautifully. Night noises were hushed with the rising sun, and breakfast and pcking were soon accomplsihed: our horses rounded up and the days march begun. Our course ws now northerely through a couple of miels of yellow pine timber without brush. The horses were learning to follow the bell mare, and there was little to distract attentiont to the new and changing environment. To the north of this cluster of timber was Swan Lake Valley, but not visible from our line of march. Lucien Applegate afterward located in this valley and acquired a large acreage of splendid meadowland and established one of the stock ranches in the Klamath country. He still lives there at an advanced age in peace and plenty.
Four or five miles from our camp we came into Alkali Valley and there found more stock men already established. Uncle Billy Roberts, Ivan Applegate and the Shook brothers had availed themselves of a beautiful tract of country, splendid springs and an abundance of the finest meadowlands, destined to make them rich. Our road now bore to the north until we reached the Sprague River country where we found Yainax, a sub-agency fo the Klamath Reservation. Here we were in the midst of the Klamath Indians, who seemed peaceable enough, though sulky and uncommunicative. This valley was a very beutiful spot with luxuriant grass, springs and clear running streams everywhere. There was only a family or two of whitepeople who did not apprehend any trouble but suggested that we had better maintain a close watch over our band, as it appeared to attract the attention of the natives andmight tempt them beyond their power of resistance. We made our camp at the lower end of the "lower gap" on Sprague River, a wonderful, beautiful spot, covered with wile rye and clover, of so strong a growth as to make it difficult to get about in it. The river was teeming with fish, and the quaking-aspen groves were seductive in their invitation to repose. From this camp our road was to the east for about twenty miels, where we camped at "Roudn Grove," with good grass and water. On this day's drive we saw but few Indians, and most of them at a distance. From "Roudn Grove" we plunged into the forest again which continued until we reached Drews Valley. We were now beyond the reservation. Drews Valley was so seductive a spot that I laid the foundation of a cabin and concluded that if we returned that way I woud locate my frontier home. We were now nearing Goose Lake Valley, of which I had heard much, and on the following day entered it at teh niorth end. As we crossed the divide a beautiful view was presented. Looking south over the lake the mountaisn looked very distant. Antelope and deer were plentiful, and the Warner Range rose high to the east. Around the north end of the lake were swamps, outside of which spread out in interminable abundance the sagebrush plains with which I was growing famililar. We crossed teh valley and camped at the foot of the Warner Mountains. Here we concluded to stop over the next day, which was Sunday, and visit Uncle Abe Tenbrook, who had settled there a few mmiles south of our camp, emigrating from Rogue River Valley. There were qutie a number of famililes who had settled along the east shore of the lake and were building homes that have since becomem wonderfully attractive.
C. B. WATSON.
Ashland, July 7, 1924.
Ashland Daily Tidings, July 10, 1924, page 2
We Spend Sunday with the Tenbrook Family and Have a Splendid Dinner
On this beautiful morning, July 1, 1872, we were camped at the foot of the Warner Range, in the upper end of Goose Lake Valley. From a little eminence nearby I looked south over the valely and lake. The view was a delightful fine one and I began to realize the jsutness of the many praises I had heard of teh "Goose Lake country." The valley is about sixty miles long and an average of 18 or 20 miles in width. The lake coverd the larger part of it and was about four or five miles distant from our camp. A band of antelope grazed quietly half a mile away, and herds of cattle and horses were seen in the distance. The mountains to the north and west were heavily timbered, and the willwos marked the streams that fed the beautiful lake ad the glint of early sunshine developed mirages here and there. A margin of splendid land lay between the lake, from half a mile to a mile and a half in width, and the Warner Range to the east. Here most of the newcomers had settled and small clsuters of houses could be seen. The nearest were bout six miles away. The Tenbrook family had heard about our entry into the valley and sent an early invitation to us to take Sunday dinner with them. They had been among the early settlers in Rogue River Valley and had immigrated to Goose Laketwo or three years later and had personal acquaintances with the Myer, Walrad and Cardwell families. It goes without saying that we did not halt on our manner of going, but went at once. We had been on our journey now for more than a week and were still in Jackson County. We were growing tired of camp grub and were told that Mrs. Tenbrook was a wonderful cook. This statement we fully verified. The most wonderful bread, fresh butter andmilk, fried chicken and many delicacies were spread before us, and we did full justice to the fare. Mrs. Tenbrook was one of those wonderful housekeepers who was always apologizing for this, that and the other, notwithstanding that we could nto see how any improvement could be made. Mr. Phillips (we called him H. F.) was quite a joker, and when Mrs. T. aplologized for her wonderful biscuits, light as a feather, the acme of perfection, he said in a quiet, quaint sort of way, "You ought to see some of the bread I make. It's none of your light, spongy stuff, it's good solid bread."She for a moment registered resentment until others saw the joke and began to laugh, to which she joined in. We had a splendid visit and got first-hand information about the settlement of the valley and the optimism with wyhich they discussed the expected future.
There were several families already settled in the valley, among whom were the Cogswells, Tenbrooks, Snellings, Tandy's [omission] Rogue River Valley, somem from teh Willamette and some from California. The better part of the valley is in Oregon, but the larger portion in California. Whenever a new family arrived, there was rejoicing. To the north ws anotoher string of valeys that were also being settled up. They were, in order, Crooked Creek, Chewaucan, Summer Lake and Silver Lake valleys. The chief luire was "stock business," but they were becoming invested with the knowledge that they had a splendid farming country and only needed good roads to market to assure the full development of a fine farm region.
I soon became delighted with what appeared to me the future of a most promising region. It did not occur to me that I should sometime be a resident of this valley and should publish the first newspaper in Southern Oregon east of the Cascade Mountains. At the time of which I now write there was a store, blacksmith shop and other accessories about thirty miles south of our camp. Between where we camped and the Tenbrook place, the only occupants was the Cogswell place at Cogswell Creek. Now the beautiful little city of Lakeview lies between, and every available place in the valley is taken and many beautiful homes established. A narrow-gauge railroad runs from Reno to Lakeview. Of this growth and the stirring history that has been made there in the past fifty years I will write more fully hereafter. For teh present we msut pursue our trip toward Montana. I may be permitted to say, however, that in themaking of that history I had my own modest part. There is a history of Oregon that, in my opinion, has justly dealt with the building up of this Southern Oregon country, and if I conclude to write about it it will largely be from my own personal knowledge and observation.
We returned to our camp rested, cheerful and filled with the many good things that Mrs. Tenbrook had set before us. We had secured information as to the best route into Warner Valley, which lay just across the range. Bright and early the next morning we were on our way to Camp Warner just over the summit. Here was a small garrison of troops and we camped nearby and secured from the officers information to guide us for the next hundred miles or so. That day we crossed over snow at the summit. It was a hot day, and the reflection from the snow almost blinded us. Here we saw what we thought a phenomenon. Thousands of large crickets were emigrating across the range, and it wsa interstin tow atch them as they came to the snow and tried to pursue their jouney. A few rods of advance on the snow seemed to paralyze them. Their motions grew slower and slower until finally they stretched out, stiffened and succumbed. We saw some Indians moving about and on closer inspection discovered that they were gathering up the crickets and stringing them on threads. We asked what they were intending to do with the crickets. Their answer was "eat 'um; heap good, hi-u-muck-a-muck. ['good food']" The squaws had great strings of these crickests strung on threads and hung about their necks. One of them offered me some. I declined with thanks, and she laughed at me as she filled her mouth with them and champed with gusto.
From our camp near the military post we looked easterly into Warner Valley, in which we were destined to have an experience that remains clear in my mind to this day. Jacob ish and DAve Jones had some fine hay lands in teh valley a few miles from the post and were under contract to furnish hay to the troops. Mr. Ish was a resident near JAcksonville in Rogue River Valley and was reckoned on of the wealthiest citizens in the county. He had in an earlier day settled upon his ranch, which is now known as teh "Gore Ranch." William Gore, present president of the Medford National Bank, married Mr. Ish's only child and came into a great inheritance. Mr. Jones also came out from Rogue River Valley in partnership with Ish to this enterprise. They had a good thing. Their hay cost them nothing but the labor of making and hauling it. The government paid them a big price and they were making money. They also had a band of cattle and horses that were rolling fat in these splendid meadows. After leaving the post we camped for a day near the Ish-Jones ranch. We traveled slowly to give our hroses the benefit of good range and water. We were, at last, out of Jackson County and into Grant. Here we crossed the trail of Fremont and Kit Carson when on their disastrous ttrip in 1843 from teh Columbia River to California. Inasmuch as our Oregon histories make no mention of the most interesting incidents of this exploring trip of the "Pathfinder," in this adventure I will give it in my next chapter, while our horses are reveling in the luxurious grass along the margin of Warner Lake. The "Old Camp Warner" was located in the 'Sixties on the east side of Warner Valley by General Crook, who buitl what is, or was, known as "The Stone Bridge" across a half a mile of swampy slough which connected teh upper and low Warner lakes, by hauling great quantities of volcanic rocks that had broken from the high "rimrock" that bounds the east side of the valey, and dumped them into the water until the deposit reached the surface, and then crossed over to the west side. In further pursuing this narrative I will describe our experience at the "Stone Bridge." Here and elsewhere in Warner Valley we had our first genuine thrills.
C. B. WATSON.
Ashland, July 10, 1924.
Ashland Daily Tidings, July 12, 1924, page 2
Fremont and Kit Carson Visit Southern Oregon in 1843;
We Cross Their Trail
My readers will pardon me I'm sure if I depart from the "remiscent" to the historical, for at least one chapter. All students of early Oregon history, who have read Washington Irving's Astoria, H. K. Hines' history of the early missions, the explorations of Sublette, Dr. Marcus Whitman, Dr. Fells and others will remember the "Great Immigration" of 1843. That year a caravan of almost one thousand people left Independence on the Missouri Rier for Oregon. Peter Burnett, who was later the first governor of California, was elected captain of this expedition, but served onyl for a short time, when Wililam Martin was elected and retained his position while the caravan intact. Later it was broken up and different men had command of teh divided portions. A large body of tehse emigrants were directed by Jesse Applegate. Dr. Marcus Whitman, who had come to Oregon in 1835 in the int4erest of foreign missions and had returned to the states in 1837 and in 1838, in company with Dr. Spaulding and his wife, returned to Oregon in wagons and carts as far as Fort Hall and thence on horseback to the Columbia River. Later Dr. Whitman again returned to the states and in 1843 joined the Applegate contingent for Oregon.
The general udnerstanding was that they would not be able to proceed beyond Fort Hall with their wagons, but Dr. Whitman who had been over the ground insisted that he could direct them by a route over which the wagons could be taken. Under his pilotage and the management of Jesse Applegate they were successful in reaching the Columbia River. During the progress of this expedition, Lieutenant J. C. Fremont (later General Fremont), who under direction of the War Department was engged in western exploration, traveled with them intermittently, finally bearing away toward the northwest, reachign teh Columbia at The Dalles. Kit Carson was guideand inseparable companion of the lieutenant. Leaving his party at the Dallews, Fremont and Carson with a small detail proceeded down the Columbia to Fort Vancouver for provisions and information. He had learned that there was a cluster of large lakes lying between the Columbia and California which were called Klamath lakes. Fremont, in his memoirs, spells it Thlamath. The Indians, even when I first went among them, pronounce dthe name with [a] kind of guttural click that soudned liek the letter "T." Frmont talked with Dr. McLoughlin about these lakes and asked for a guide to pilot him. Dr. McLoughlin thought it rather late in the season for such an excursion, but seein gthe lieutenant's anxiety for it, arranged for him to get a Warm Srpings Indians, who, for what seemed a large present, promised to go. The Indian, however, warned him that it was late and early snows were likely to defeat his purpose. Returning to his party at The Dalles,a ccompanied by the guide, they set out. Winter opened early and snow commenced before they had got far on their way. The Indian became discouraged and wanted to go back, but on promise of further pay agreed to go on.
At last they came into a country of open glades and marshy tracts the snow increasing until it was three feet deep and still snowing. Again the Indian pressed to go back, but Fremont insisted that they go on and they proceeded, sometimes in the timber and again in swamps, until finally they reached the limit they could proceed inthat direction. He describes it in his memoirs as a broad savannahcovered with gread reeds (tules) with here adn there open spaces of water. The Indian declared that this was Klamath Lake. Fremont did not believe that the looked upon the body of water that had been descdribed to him. The Indian insisted, hwoever,a nd refused to go further and demand his pay, which Fremont reluctantly gave him. TheIndian then advised him to go east, through the heavy timber two days and he would come out on top of a high rock and look down into a deep valley where there woudl be no snow and lots of good grass and game. Reluctantly he took the Indian's advice and turned toward the east. The point whic he had reached wsa what we now know as "Big Klamath Marsh" twenty miles southesat of Crater Lake and at lesst twnety miles northeast of the Klamath Lake. At the end of two days he caem to the top of a high "rimrock." The snow there was three or four feet, yet below him more than a thouasnd feet was a beautiful valley with a lake many miles in extent, surrounded by broad green meadows, and hrough his glass he could se antelope and deer in abvundance. After some time they found a place where they could get down and rejoiced at getting away from the snow and into meadows where he could recruit his famishing horses. So pelased was he that he called it Summer Lake Valley, which name it bears to this day. The Klamath marses and timber he ahd passed through and this beautiful Summer Lake were, at the time of our excursion, a part of Jackson County and now belong to Lake and Klamath counties.
From the top of teh rimrock he could see heavy mountains to the south which, in view of the snow whcih he could see would retard his progress, while to the east and northeast were broad sage plains, apparently level and free from snow, so he concluded to move in that direction. After resting his horses and men for two or three days, they set out to the east. The Warner Range of mountains see4med to terminate on this great central plain of Oregon, almost east of where he was, and he concluded to pass around it. After a day's travel he reached a location where from an elevated point he could see a valley on the est side of the Warner Range, which on its east was again bordered by higih mountains. Looking south between these two ranges appeare da long and narrow valley with no mountains in sight at its southern end. Into this long valley he now directed his course. He had heard of anothe rlake called "Mary Lake." Information of this lake had been given to him and the probable latitude and longitude. As he plunge dinto his valley he found the north end of it to be a desert but further on he came to a lake and around its margin an abundance of meadowland, at th emouth of a beautiful stream coming from the mountains. This stream swarmed with trout wher ehe concluded to rest up fo ra day. This spot was the subsequent locatino of the Ish-Jones hay ranch in Warner Valley. Of course he had no name forthe valley and on taking hsi latitude and longitude concluded that "Mary Lake" which he sought must be slightly to the west. Undoubtedly this lake was Goose Lake, which, had he known it , he might have reached by crossing his narrow Warner Range to his right. However he continued south along this valley [with] its string of lakes for about forty miels, when crossing a low divide he came into another line of valleys extending southward. Thsi was what we now know as Surprise Valley, but new to him. He did not find his "Mary lake," but did come to another large lake which we now knwo as Pyramid Lake in Nevada, into which emptied a considerable river whicih we now know as Truckee River. He captured an Indianw hich he proposed to use as a guide. It had been his intention to return to Great Salt Lake, which he had left several months before. But the season had advanced into winter, and they concluded to follow the Truckee River and cross the Sierra Nevadas into California. Their Indian guide protested that it woudl be impossible on account of the snow. Fremont disregarded the warning and proceeded to follow the river into the depths of the Sierra. The Indian deserted them in the night and they proceeded without a guide. After the most heartrending experience,a nd the loss of many of their hoses, they reached Sutter's Fort in a most deplorable condition. Hiws account is one of extreme suffering and escape.
Fremont was not satisfied in his search for the Klamath lakes and returned to his quest with better success in 1846, of which I will write when I come to narrate further episodes in teh Klamath country. In my next chapter we will pursue our course toward Monthana.
C. B. WATSON.
Ashland, July 11, 1924.
Ashland Daily Tidings, July 14, 1924, page 2
A Day of Tribulation at the Stone Bridge
and a Hurried Trip Down the Lake in a Snow Storm
On the morning of July 3, we started for the Stone Bridge three or four miles below the Ish ranch. On arrival we could see nothing but a long gash through the rules. The rocks that had been dumped in by General Crook six or eight years before had settled in the mud at the bottom of the slough until all were out of sight. The water was clear all the way across, but we coudl nto tell how deep. H. F. hesitated to send his son ahead with the bell mare and asked me to take the lead while the others would rush teh bnd in behind me, not doubting that they woudl readily take the water. The pack mules and sixteen of the band followed the bell mare, but the rest refused.
The "brideg" was not straight but had an elbow turn to it about halfway across. As I approached this the water kept getting deeper until the pinto mule was swimming. One of the othermules seein gthe tule just to his right thought to have a mouthful. As he turned toward it he plunged off the "bridge"' and into swimming water. He was loaded chiefly with flour whcih kept him from going completely under, and with a look fo surprise he clambered back onto the bridge, whiel the swimming pinto seemed to alugh at him. I finally reached teh eastern bank with my small contingent whiel themain band was being rushed backand forth in an effort to get them to take the water.
I took the bell off the bell mare and jingled it furiously in a vain attemnpt to attract the band, but to no purpose. Fially tying up the bell mare to a juniper tree I left my little bunchand astride of "Jupiter," my little saddle horse, we plunged into the water and returned to the band. We used every endeavor to get the band onto the bridge until long past noon. I crossed adn recrossed a dozen times. Finally Phillilps concluded to try to cross below the bridge. I went back to the east side so that I might attract them with the bell. People who are not familiar with these tule lakes and swamps need to be told that the tule sometimes grows in water ten to fifteen feet deep and will stand four or five feet above the water. Horses swimming under such circumstances cannot see out, nor be seen, and are likely to become confused and swim in a circle. However, we took the chances. The horses were drivefn in. For a hundred yards or so they seemed to be getting on all right; then they struck deep water and comemnced dropping out of sight like sheep over a brush fence until not a horse could be seen. It was an exciting time and we could nto tell what the result would be. We could hear them splashing and nickering, but could see nothing. They were in their perhaps twenty minutes when, cidrcling around, they came upon the trail of broken tules they had made going in and began to appear on the same shore from which they had started. The men on that side counted them as they came out and when one hudnred had appeared they sent upt a shout and I recongized joy in it. They signaled to me to return and bring my contingent back, which I proceeded to do. It was then two o'clock p.m. and we had been struggling with the band since nine o'clock wihtout anything to eat.
It had turned cold, and a storm was brewing, occasional gusts bringing rani and snow. We found a sheltered place and sat down to eat and discuss the situation. We concluded to drive around teh south end of the lake, whcih would entail a sixty-mile trip before we reached the east end of the bridge only a half mile away. We drove four or five miles south along the lake with an increasing storm driving in our fces. Here we camped in a snow storm.
The next day we rounded the lake and by making a forced march came within eight or ten miles of the east end of the bridge. At this time the weather was clear but a cold wind was blowing up the lake so that, leaving the band ina cove of fine meadow, we sought shelter around a point and made our camp. We were tired adn knew the horses were tired also and felt it to be safe to leave them without a guard while we prepared our supper and camp. The sunwas, perhaps, two hours high when we stopped. After supper I got onto my horse and rode around the point to see if the band was all right. My surprise may be imagined when I tell you that not a horse was in sight. I looked down the lake the way we had come and could see a dust that I concluded wsa raised by teh band. They certainly were making good time and I felt sure they were being driven. I started after them as fast as Jupiter coudl travel, but had to slow up after a time. When I did not rturn to the camp as speedily as was expected, Walrad adn Cardwell mounted their horses and came around the point to explore. They saw the tracks of the band going southward around teh lake and came on at the best pace theyu could muster. They overtook me four or five miles away and we agreed that the horses were being driven by Indians. Soon we came to a canyon that had its course away from the lake and toward the tableland to the esat. There we foudn that fifteen or twenty of teh band had turned in. Evidently the thieves had felt that they had not time to follow and kept after the main band. It was agreed that Cardwell should go up this canyon and try to recover his bunch while Walrad andI should follow the main herd. It was beginning to cloud up and thunder could beheard in the southwest and night was coming on apace. We knew that we were gaining on the hred and pushed our tired horses to the utmost. We came near enough that we could hear the pounding of the horses' feet on the alkali ground over which they were being driven. Occasional flashes of lightning revealed the band, and now we saw two men driving them on as hard as they could. We each had a heavy revolver but did not want to shoot toward the horses, so we agree to shoot into the air and then rush them with all the noise we could make. We felt sure that in the dadrk they coudl tno tell how many there were of us. This we did with the effect that the Indians took to the hills and we hurried around teh horses and soon ahd them turned back. It was thenabout eleven o'clock. We were tireed and so were the horses and we expected that the other members of our party had followed and we would meet them. We reached camp about daylight and were rejoiced to find that Cradwell ahd recovered the sixteen that had strayed up the canyon. A careful count showed that we had not lost a horse either at the stone bridge nor in this effort of teh savages to steal them.
It was only a few miels further to "Old Fort Warner," which though deserted as an army post, we were told was a find place to camp and we felt the necessity for a rest. After givin the horses and ourselves a needed rest we started on. We were now going north along the east shore of the lake which hadan irregular margin between it and the high lands that rose at our right hand. This high tableland was bare of timber and rose sheer a thousand feet with a sloping talus at the foot. As the sun rose it lighte dup the pinnacles but kept us in the shade. An exclamation from one of the party directed our attention to the highest part of this overlooking rimrockw hich was brilliantly lighted up by teh sun. There on that high jutting crag stood a mountain sheep. With my field glass I could see that he was watching us. Occasionally he would shake his monstrous horns and stamp his feet. We were in the shadow of the cliff and he on its top in teh full light of the sun. A more picturesque and noble animal I had never seen before. He was beyond our reach and semed to know it.
We reached the old fort about noon. It occupied a very beautiful and picturesque spot ina solitary grove of pine, fir nad juniper trees. There did not appear to be any other trees in sight. It stood on the very top of this tableland which declined evenly toward the east and gave us a fine view of Steens Mountains to the east and Beatty's Butte, whcih ws a solitary rounded mountain, apparently only a few miles away. The army paymaster at the new camp Warner had given us written directions for our route, but my mistake had overlooked Beatty's Butte and gave Skull Creek as our next stopping place after Old Fort Warner and said the distance would be about thirty miles, but without water. We made a mistake to our great embarrassment, as will presently appear.
We were surprised to find a lone herdsman at the old fort, looking after a band of cattle he had brought tot his spot that spring. He was alone and had fixed up one of the old garrison buildings where he lived in comfort and isolation. There were fine springs of ice-cold water and he was making butter and putting it away to be carried to a market in the fall. His milkhouse was a marvel of fitting conveneince with its ice-cold water in great abundance. He told us that the Indians came around occasionally but were friendly and he apprehended no trouble from them. He was not surpriwsed, hwoever, at our recent adventure with them. He said that so fine a band of horses as ours owuld tempt them greatly.
We remained there that afternoon, and thefollowing night and on the next daystarted out for Skull Creek at the foot of Steens Mountain. This herder told us that from Beatty's Butte we would ahve a desert of snd to cross without water, but that at Skull Creek there would be an abundance of water and grass. We got an early start the next morning and after traveling about twenty miles reached Beatty's Butte where we found an abundance of grass and wawter and relyin gon our paymaster's directions thought we had only about fifteen miles to reach Skull Creek .Therefore we gave a couple of hours rest and grazing to the band and devoured our lunch. We then started on and were soon in teh sand and being scorched by a burning sun. The dust was very dense, and our horses soon showed signs of fatigue and thirst. From then on until ten o'clock the next day our experience was one to remember. Our suffering as well as that of the horses was intense. Of this I will tell you in my next chapter.
C. B. WATSON.Ashland Daily Tidings, July 16, 1924, page 2
Ashland, July 11, 1924.
We Are Confused with Mirages
and Camp at an Undrinkable Water Hole in the Desert
Teh country on both sides of Steens Mountain is noted for its phantasmic mirages. The palin was quite level with white sage growing flat and but a few inches high. The alkali dust was as fine as powder and in teh great heat was suffocating. Two of our horses ddropped and we had to leave them. The whole plain for miles seemed in a shimming heat and mirages appeared in several directions. We saw lakes sparkling in the distance. Linkes of willows appeared as though marking watercourses. Houses, barns and great stacks of hay outlined themselves in the distnce, though we knew that they did not exist there in reality. We coudl see water in seeral directions and were suffering likethe Ancient Mariner, with "water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink." Night was coming on and Steens Moujntain seem3ed as distant as ever. Off to the northeast some of the party insisted that they saw a little lake,a nd Phillips directed me to ride in that direction and see if it was water. After riding about a mile from the herd I came upon the bank of a "water hole." The water was about ten or fifteen feet below the surface with steeply sloping banks. I got off my horse and led him down to it, but after one anxiosu taste he turned away and refused to drink. I tried it and found it to be an alkali of unbelievable strength. It ws ropy with the undrinkable compounds that make it up. I climbed out and when on the bank I discovered that the whole band was coming on a rush. They seemed to have smelled the water and could not be held back. They rushed down the banks, crowding each other into water of sufficient depth to swim them. After a regular bovine riot we got them out. Night had fallen adn we did not think it safe to try to go further. There was no grass for the herd, nor sage brush to amke a camp fire. We remained there and watched the horses to prevent them from scattering and wandering away in the dark. At daylight mirages had been dissipated and Steens Mountain loomed up only a few miles away. We started our herd toward a green spot on the side of the mountainand at nine o'clcok were at Skull Creek.
Water and Grass at Last.
It is difficult for one who has never had such experiences to realize the elief of such an oasis in such a desert. The water was delicious, the grass abundnt and the spot a regular horse heaven. Here we had a chacne to amke up for our fast and famishing. Nearby was a lot of wild red raspberries [on] which we gorged for dessert. Walter Myer overdid the thin gand a few hours later gave us many hours apprehension lest he perish. We remained there until afteroon, when we concluded to go over the sumit and find a camp on teh other slope. Walter was complaing but thought he was able to ride. As we cllimbed the mountain, whcih had no timber but an occasional juniper tree, we looked back upon the desert of yesterdy's suffering and again saw the elusive mirages playing about over the burning sands and alkali. In 1878 and '79 I surveyed much of this same country and grew familiar with a great diversity of mirages. This was the 6th day of July, and our 4th had been spent in rounding Warner Lake and chasing theiving Indians int he evening instead of watching fireworks at the end of a celebration. As we passed teh sumit we crossed snowbanks of considerable extent.
Myer Grows Ill.Walter Myer seemed to be growing worse, suffering with cholera morbus, and we concluded to camp at the first promising place.
Aboutu two miles down the slope we came to a stream of water in the midst of excellent pasturage and made camp. Such simple remedies as we had did not seem to do the sick man any good, and as it grew dark Walter grew worse. I remembered that where I picketed Jupiter I ahd noticed some wild mint of the variety of which Mother used to make tea for slight stomach troubles. Walrad and I got out our battered lantern an started down the creek to find the mint. Before going I directed that a dozen horseshoes which we carried with us be placed in the fire and heated up. Hunting mint in thick grass in the dark is rather an uncertain undertaking, but we hunted about plucking first one thing and another, tasting and smelling until we found our mint and gathered a good quantity, weeds and all. When wer eturned to camp we picked it over, separating the mint until we ahd enough to make a quart of tea. Hot horseshoes wereput to his stomach and teh tea, as hot as he could bear it, was given him in good quantity. He declared I was tryihn to burn him outside and scald him inside. With repetitions of this treatment he grew easier and by midnight we had our patient sleeping quietly. They dubbed me the "horseshoe doctor" and I held that title for many years.
Indian Is Sighted.Walter was not able to travel the next day so we stayed over and had the celebration that we had missed on the 4th. Leaving Phililps with Myer we went to the top of the mountains to see if we could get a little enjoyment out of teh snowbanks. We had a wonderful view from our lofty perch. To the east we looked into Idaho and to the west the Warner Range loomed lfotily. The mirage on both sides of the mountains entertained us with its many whimsies. We saw a beutiful lake at the foot of the mountains in the direction toward which our trail pointed and wondered if we would pass around it to the south or north. The lake appeared to be twenty miles or more in extent and presented a beuatiful picture with its shining surface and surrounding meadowlands. The countrytoward the east, northeast and southeast was an extended sage plain in its somber brown and shimmering heat, bordered in the distance with grim mountains barren of timber. Remembering our experiendes of the past two of three days the prospect was not cheering. The day before we had seen whawt we took to be an Indian on a white pony who seemed to be trailing us. Again todya we saw what we took to be the same Indian watching us from a high point on the mountain.
A Slide to Camp.Below us was a sloping bank of snow that extended down the mountain for perhaps a mile. Some of us gathered such brush as we could and prepared them for a coast down the snowbank. Walrad found a flat rock of sufficient dimensions to sit on and concluded to use that instead of brush. As we had come up from the camp we had dug out quite a basin at the lower end of the snowbank to provide water on our return. When all were ready we started on our coasting. It was steeer than we had figured it and in a few rods Walrad's flat rock got away from him and left him with only his overalls betweenhimself and the snow. We of the brush contrivances fared better, but none of us coudl stop and by the time we ran out of snow we had develoepd astonishing speed. Walrad was headed directly for teh basin we had scoooped out, which was now filled with water, and into it he plunged with with water up to his armpits. The rest of us lit in a thicket of wild plum bushes, and suffered various bruises, scratches and lacertaions; but the worst of it was that our clothes were aolmost stripped from our bodiesand gave us several hours of serious employment after we reached camp patching them up.
Reach Dry Lake Bed.Myer was well on to recovery that evening and we prepared to move on the next morning. There was no timber on this mountain except a few struggling junipers and now and then a lonely, scraggly pine. We had speculated upon this beautiful lake about which we had had no information. In the morning we proceeded on our journey apparently toward the middle of the lake in its north and south length. Our horses were strung out on the trail making a procession almost a mile long. Phillips and Oscar were in the lead, Myer and Cardwell about the middle and Walrad and I bringing up the rear. We were surprised as the lake wsa neared to see that the band did not veer off their course. The water showed ripples on its surface and on its further shore an astonishin spectacle presented itself. There was a good-sized town with streest coming straight down to the water and terminating at very distinct wharves at which boats were moored. Some of them appearedto be good-sized steamboats. Of course we now know we were gaing victims of the playful mirage. The head of the band kept steadily on its course and entered what appeared to us at the rear end of this long procession to be the water. We could see the ripples and thew ater splashing as the horses entered it. The water seemed to gradually deepen until only the backs of the horses could be seen and finally their heads and the bodies of the men who were at the front. Then we came to the edge of a white alkali plain that stretched away for miles, so hard that the horses' feet made a ringing as though they were on a cement pavement. We had proceeded for a half mile or so, looking backward, the lakehad closed in behind us and we were apparently surrounde dwith water, in this baked, aprched alkali field of heat and drought. I thought of the story of Moses crossing the Red Sea. To us it was an uncanny experience. This dry lakebed was about four miles across when we came out into the sage plain again.
A few miels further on we came to "Old Camp C. F. Smith" where during the Civil War there ahd been a garrison of volunteer troops whose duty it was to watch the Indians while the regular troops were sent to join the army in the south. The buildings here of course were all empty and the spot abandoned. In the absence of timber the barracks had been constructed of "doby." The roofs were gone and the walls falling in. A mile south of this old camp was a great stock ranch, knwon as the "Devine Ranch." The woners were possessed of thousnds of cattle and horses and perhaps 25 or 30 vaqueros, amny of them Mexicans, had charge of the possessions. The buildings, corrals and great stocks of hay gave the "rancho" the appearance of a town. We camped at the old fort and prepared to rest over Sunday which woudl be the next day. We had to chagne our riding horses and shoe some of them. We had an interesting Sunday among the "buckaroos" of which I will tell in my next chapter.
C. B. WATSON.Ashland Daily Tidings, July 18, 1924, page 2
Ashland, July 12, 1924.
We Spend the Day Catching New Riding Horses and Breaking Them to Ride
We went down to the ranch on the evening of our arrival at the old camp "C. F. Smith," whcih was about a mile away, adn asked permission to use one of their corrals in which to catch and halter some fresh riding horses. We were directed to see teh madam. We found teh "madam" to be teh wife of Mr. Devine, the overseer, and oen fo the owners, who was away on bsiness, and were surprised to see a very handsome youn woman, tastefully dressed and apparently well educated. She invited us into her "parlor," which was expensively furnished and presented taste and good management. In facxt, everything about the house was as well chosen adn arranged as in many city residences. Mrs. Devine had her housekeeper, who was also well dressed and seemed a fit companion to the little lady, who, in the absence of her husband, ruled over a well-appoitned kingdom. She seemed satisfied and well informed about the business which they had established in the wilderness. There were no other houses nor white pepole nearer than the Gleen ranch, situated about forty miles away. Dr. Glenn, who at that time was considered one fo teh largest farmers in California, and for whom Glenn County in that state is named, had located the largest stock ranch in Oregon on the Dunder-und-Blitzen River at the north end of Steens Mountgain, and he and Todhunter and Devine had parceled out practically the greater part of southeastern Oregon between them. The Glenn holdings occupied thousands of acres around the mouth of the Dunder-und-Blitzen, whcih flowed into a lake that had an outlet and furnished inexhaustible meadows about its border. He also had ranches in the Diamodn Valley and other eligible places in that vast region. Each of these great firms had thousands of horses and cattle and little armies of "buckaroos" about them.
Without consdiering the little army post at Camp Warner, we saw more white men at the Todhunter and Devine ranch than we had seen in our two hundred and fifty miles' travel all together. Here the rimprovements were on a huge scale suitedto the mammoth business engaged in. All springs and water holes for fifty miles were claimed and domianted by these great firms. It was only a few miles south to the line of Nevada and a few miles east of the line of Idaho. Teh southeastern part of Oregon is known as the "Quinn River country." It is an extended sagebrush plain with oases of meadowlands into whichthe streams flow and sink. There are extensive tracks of excelent land, and we were told that water could be obtained almost anywhere by moderate digging, whiel the abundance of wind was used to run their pumps. The absence of alrge streams or sufficient surface water has held back this excellent section of Oregon, Nevada and Idaho from rapid settlement.
"Busting" Broncos.Mrs. Devine graciously granted the use of such corrals as we required and invited us to take dinner with her the next day, and we returned to camp to spruce up for the coming occasion. Early Sunday morning we drove our band to the corrals and began to select our new riding horses. The buckaroos who were lounging about lent us a hand and we soon ahd our selections caught, haltered and ready for the saddle. Then the fun began; these horses had enver befor felt halter or saddle. Walrad was our riata man and could swing a rope as well as any cowboy. When he had caught his horse it ws my duty to be ready with the halter. The horses had to be choked down and as soon as they fell it was my work to drop with my knee on his neck and, catching my fingers and thumb of the right hand into his nostrils, I turned his head upward, inwhich position he was helpless. The halter was then adjusted and hew as permitted to regain his feet. By that time the horse was dizzy with the choking and everybody had to get out of the way. The halter rope was sufficiently long so that I coudl hold it and keep out of the way until Walrad had removedhis lassso. Then all hands went to work to help saddle the new prisoner and sometimes the bucking animal and his rider gave us real entertainment. The band was of the "Sligert" breed and were not difficult to break. By noon we had caught all we wanted and had taken a round of ridings. We then left them to the coral and answered the call to dinner.
A Sunday Dinner.Our own little party together with Mrs. Devine were all who sat at the table. The ranch help ate at their own eating house in another building. The Madam had set us a sumptuous repast into which we made raid with little ceremony. She wsa a city-bred girl and said that she got lonesome sometimes and wished for someone to come from civilization and vary the monotony. She had a piano and played and sang elegantly. We talked with her on many subjects and found that she kept up with current events and a well-selected library showed that she and her husband were intellectual people. It was fifty miles to the nearest post office to which they sent hteir own carrier once or twice a week. A good assortment of papers and magazines decorated her center table, and her talk convinced us that she read them. She told us that she usually went ot thecity for the winter. I asked if she was not afraid of the Indians. She said that she was not: that they kept from twenty-five to fifty men at the ranch and on the range and were all well equpiped for any emergency. The men, she said, though they were mostly uneducated and appeared to be rough, were loyal and kind and she thought would die for her if it were necessary for her protection. The buildings were chiefly of "doby" in the absence of available timber. Of course there was some lumber used, but the distance it had to be hauled voer a wild country not yet invaded by roads made the expense and labor almost prohibitive.
A Hidden Ravine.That evening returning to the camp, Cardwell and I indulged in a race. I was riding Jupiter, my own saddle horse. He was a beautiful animal and I took good care of him. Black as a coal, sleek as a button and as nervy as they make 'em, we were great friends and genuine pals. Cardwell was riding a large roan horse and bantered me for a race to the camp. Our race was over a direct line. In our other passage between the camp and the ranch we had not taken this route but had followed a trail that made a detour toward the west. It was a level plain and the sagebrush hid a deep gulch, or ravine, that had been worn in the plain by some torrential rains that stometimes visit the region. We had not been told of this waterway. It had worn to a depth of ten or fifteen fee twith vertical banks, and was not discovered until we were on the brink. Cardwell was about one lenth ahead and his horse had no chance to turn and made a sudden leap, but the distance was too great to be made on this sudden impulse. He struck the further bank with his breast and fell back into the ravine while his rider was thrown clear onto the other bank. Jupiter, being a litte behind, whirled to avoid the tumble, but was too close to avoid it and plunged in on the top of the roan with me on his back and both horses wer eplunging franticlly to get to their feet. Cardwell's tumble had amuse dme and I was laughing when he yelled, "Get off, you damned fool, he'll kill you." I leaped from Jupiter's back and escaped without injury. Cardwell was badly jolted up and esxpectorated blood for two or three days. Fortunately neither horse was sseriously hurt.
New Horse Ridden.The next morning Walrad saddled up one of the new horses. He had to be blindfolded before he could be saddled and until Eugene had mounted. The blinds were then removed and he proceeded to give us a genuine exhibition of bucking. Eugene Walrad remained on his back for several rounds when the "cinch" broke and rider and saddle lit several feet away in a big bunch of sage, and we had an exciting chase before we recovered the liberated animal.
The Wells.Our route now lay over a level tabel of sage for twenty miles to "The Wells," which occupied a depression in the plains of several miles in extent surrounded by a rimrock and gave the appearance of a depression caused by some subterranean convulsion. In fact this whole vast region exhbits the greatest lava field in the world. In the center of this depression was an extensive meadow. The many lines of willow and the lulxuriant grass, looked at from the high tableland over whih we had just crossed, promised both grass and water. When we had reached the source of the water I climbed off Jupiter and led him up to what appeared a spring. A large volume of water was running away from it, but the opening looked small and my curiosity was aroused when Jupiter refused to go close enough to drink from it. The wter ws very clear and very cold and looked to be deep. I secured a stalk of rice grass whch grewin abundance all about and which wsa four or five feet high. I ran this stalk down into the water but touched no bottom. I then took my riata off the horn of my saddle and tying a rock to it proceeded to sound teh hole. Though my rope was forty feet long I failed to touch bottom. There were many of these holes, all of the same character, hence the name "The Wells." Our trail turned toward the north and passed out of this mammoth sink by a canyon through which quite a stream flowed, the combined suply of water from "The Weells." We traveled down this stream several miles and camped. We had been told not to camp in the basin of the well, as there was a large amount of wild parsnip scattered all about. This wild parsnip is a very dangerous poison for stock, and we lost two horses from it in passing hurriedly through the basin.
We had good water and grass at our camp, which I will tell you about in my next chapter.
C. B. WATSON.Ashland Daily Tidings, July 21, 1924, page 2
Ashland, July 15, 1924.
We Camp in Willow Creek Canyon, Carve Our Names
on the Sandstone Cliff and Fight Mosquitoes
On July 12, 1872, we camped in Willow Creek Canyon where an expansion furnished us with abundance of grss and water. The stream is the outlet for the "wells" that we passed. On the east side of the canyonw as a sandstone cliff, perhaps fifty feet high. The stone was soft and many names had been carved in it. On examination of these indscriptions we discovered that a company of volunteers had camped there in 1866 and many of the names were of residents of Rogue River Valley, who had volutneered to guard thefrontier during the Civil War on account of the regualr troops, who were guarding the outposts, being called to the service in the armies of the North. Many of the men whose names were carved were known to Walrad, Myers and Cardwell. Emulating the example of these soldiers, we climbed the cliffs and carved our names above them. Teh camp would have been a very pleasant one had it not been for the mosquitoes. Before coming to the coast I had spent some time along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, which were supposed to rival any portion of teh world in the abundance and viciousness of mosquitoes. This night, however, I was led to declare, laid the Mississippi River bottoms in the shade. The mosquitoes were not so large as I had seen, but for numbers and viciousness outdid them all. We could not sleep without covering our heads with flour sacks, in which case we risked being smothered. The sting of these insects left us in welts and fiery splotches wherever they touched. Unrested, but glad to get away, we arose at the break of day and preaperd to move. About thirty of our horses were missing and Walrad and I were detailed tolook them up whiel H. F. and the others said they would mvoe the band slowly until we caught up. Mosquitoes had tormented teh band so that they could neither eat no sleep, and the proposition was to get them out onto the tableland away from the pests and allow them to travel slowly and feed on teh bunchgrass that grew plentifully among the sagebrush. It was but a few miles to where we would cross the Owyhee River, and they promised to wait for us there if we did not catch up sooner.
Horses Located.Finally after a couple of hours riding we found teh stragglers and started them after teh band. There wrere signs about to indicate that they had been driven away, but of this we were not sure. We overhaueld teh band at the Owyhee crossing. There was a ferry-boat there kept by two trappers at the regualr crossing of a road that connected Boise City in Idaho with Kelton, Nevada, the nearest station on teh Padcific railroad. A semi-weekly stage was kept on this line for the accommodation of the garrison of troops and the people of Boise City and valley. Already a large amount of mining was being carried on in the Boise Basin, in the Jordan Valley and in the Blue Mountains, and communication was kept up between these mines and the mines in Nevada by this road. We were told taht four years before our arrival a bunch of Chinese were massacred on this route by the Indians. They were being taken to Nevada and attacked and butchered about where we came into the Kelton road and about two miles from the ferry.
Ferrymen Exposed.Having reached the river and aroused the ferrymen they came over to diret and assist in driving teh band into the river a little below the ferry where the banks were suited to entry and exit. The water was muddy from mining that was carried on at the mines near Silver City, Idaho. We drove them inand watched them swim the turbulent stream. We then put our saddle horses and the bell mrae on the ferry boat and unpacked the mules, tried to drive them in with the band. They refused to elave the bell mare and cavorted up and down teh bank. The ferrymen were particularly active in trying to get the mules into the swimming water after the band, even after we had urged them to let the muels alone, assuring them that they would cross after we got over. We could not understand why the ferrymen shoudl be so much more anxious about the mules than we were. Finally they gave it up and started the ferry across. The mules tore up and down the bank, braying as muels know how, until we neared teh opposite bank, when they plunged in after teh boat and trotted all the way across the river, the water not being more than mid-side to them. This was a dead giveaway to the ferrymen. They knew that there was no need of ferrying but were anxious that we should not discover the fact. They sheepishly charged us eight dollars for ferrying us over. Phillips smilingly paid it and we then engaged them in conversation about their experiences here. They were trapping and hunting, using the ferry as a kind of side issue to enlarge their exchequer. They had a comfortable cabin and were well supplied with provisions. Their cabin was well marked with bullets that the Indians had from time to time fired into it. They had hadquite a bit of excitement during these playful exhibitions of Indian temper. They had quite a bunch of beaver skins, and I bought two fine ones that I sent home to my mother in Ilinois after we reached Boise City.
Snake River.The Jordan River emptied into the Owyhee just above our crossing. About twenty miles above the mouth, in Jordan Valley was an improtant mining camp named Silver City. About Sivler City we were told that there was quite a settlement of farmers and that they were building up an important settlement. We traveled up the Jordan for a few miles and turned to the left by a trail over the "Whiske Hills" which materially shortened our road to the crossing of Snake River. These were rolling hills, splendidly clothed with bunchgrass thatsuited our needs. About twenty miels along this trail we came to "Old Camp Lyons," another abandoned frontier post. This post was located just on the line between Oregon and Idaho, and occupied an excellent site for camping. Nothing of note occurred, and the next morning we got an early start, intending to reach Snake Rvier that day. Beforfe reaching this river we again came into the Boise-Kelton road and followed it to the ferry. Here Snake River is a noble stream and we did not need to be told that our mules would never wade it. We drove the band in below the ferry; it was very swift and we expected that we would lose some of our horses. Our prty was divided, some being sent across to the other side to hepl such horses as might need assistance to get ashore. The river was aout a quarter of a miel across and very deep. Some of the band swam very strongly and were not swept very far while others becoming excited were carried downstream half a mile. Several had to be lassoed from teh bank and pulled ashore. Our pack and saddle horses were crossed on the ferry. Finally after much labor and excitement we counted up and found teh whole band safely landed. We began to appreciate the experiences of the early pioneers, who in crossing the country in the early days were not supplied with ferries nor roads and who in many instances had to travel many days before they could find a crossing thatwith all their courage and ingenuity, they dared to undertake. It was now late in the afternoon,a nd we drove five or six miles on the sage plain to a grassy place where we were told we could get grass and water. We were now following the Boise-Kelton road and were told that grass and water would be scarce from ther einto Boise Valley, a couple of days away. This plain was without any occupants. In fact we did not see half a dozen white people between Camp C. F. Smith and Boise City. Those we saw told us they were expecting trouble with the Indians and advised us not to undertake to drive our horses beyond Boise; that two bands had already been taken by teh Indians between Boise and Helena that yera and the drivers were killed. We saw no Indians but had no doubt that they were watching us. Our first nieght behyond Snake River wsa not a comfortable one. The grass ws short and the water bad. Notwithstanding that we maintained a diligent guard; a part of our band either wandered or were driven away during the night. We followed the tracks and recovered them a few miles away. It is quite certain that they woul dnot voluntarily have deserted the band and grass to wander awayinto the alkali plain that surrounded us. From thsi camp we were two days reaching Boise City, which gave us a delightful change from the lonely days spent in the boundless plains. What we found at Boise and what we did for the next six weeks I will tell in my next chapter.
C. B. WATSON.Ashland Daily Tidings, July 22, 1924, page 2
Ashland, July 16, 1924.
Boise City, with its Thrift and Many Beautiful Homes,
Constituted a Delightful Change from teh Weeks
We Had Traveled Through the Wilderness.
The Town Was Filled with Indians in Buckskin and Feathers,
Impudent and Saucy and Doing as They Pleased,
Notwithstanding the Garrison of Troops Stationed There.
As we appraoched Boise City from teh great sage plains spread out to the south we cheered with the prospect of again enjoying a season of civilization. How quiet and peaceful it looked as we appraoched it. The river was spanned by a very good bridge and as we entered the city of perhaps three thousand people, we were delighted with thrifty young orchards and splendid grdens. Along teh side of every street was a canal carrying an abundance of water and every lot supplied with a water wheel which scooped up the water and poured it into the gardens. Looking beyond the town up and down the river we saw attractive farms. It was harvest time and we noticed the appearance of promise of abundant crops.
Indians in War Paint.As we appraoched the business streets we were startled with theappearance of a large body of Indians in paint, buckskin and feathers going about as they pleased. Many of them were on horsebck doing what white men woudl have been arrested for. As they were not disturbed we were curious to know something about it. We weretold that the Indians had been acting suspicious and within two weeks had taken a alrge band of horses away from parties who were driving them through to Helena, Montana. In fact two such bands had been taken that season and the people in charge of them had been killed. When they learned that our destination was Helena, we were urged to give up the idea of going further east than we then were, that it was almost certain death to us and, at least, loss of our band. Notwithstanding that there was a garrison of troops at Boise, a good deal of excitement prevailed among the people, and they avoided giving offense to the natives. Of course the Indians were not blind to the fact that the whites were afraid, and this tended to make the savages insolent. TheIndians were greatly interested in our beautiful band of horses and seemed to know that we were oming. They asked us many questions, to wit: the price of this horse and that.
We were told that we would stand a good show of selling our herd there and advised that we go no further. After a careful investigation of the situation we concluded to take advice and try selling out where we were. In pursuance of that plan we enquired about a suitable range near thecity and were directed to drive onto teh bunchgrass hills on the north side of the valley. This we did, and put a notice inthe papers that we would drive in Mondays and Thursdays for the accommodation of buyers. We found that our herd was attracting much attention and were soon engaged in selling. As the news spread people came in numbers and surprised us with the readiness with which they selected and bought.
See Rogue River Man.We found several men from Rogue River Valley who had come to Idaho with the wave of mining excitement that spread a few years ago. Sam Clayton was a member of the old pioneer family of that name who had settled in the earlier days at Clayton Creek four or five miles southeast of Ashland. Myers, Cardwell adn Walrad were acquainted with Clayton. So well pleased were Clayton and his family at seeing friends from their old home that they gave a dance in our honor at their ranch three or four miles out in the country. It was a regular pioener occasion with all the necessary accessories.
Writer Gets Employment.Our whole party was not needed to look after ther horses so I concluded to vary the employment by getting something else to do. My first attempt took me to a sawmill a few miles out where I was set at "off-bearing" from the saw. It proved tooheavy a job for me and I only lasted two days. I then secured a job with a threshing machine with which I stayed until the band had been sold out and our party ready to return, when I joined them.
When I left Ashland it was not my expectation to return. I had planned to go from Helena down the Missouri River home. This doubtless I would ahve done if we had gone to Helena as we planned. The "Indian scare" thus perhaps changed the whole course of my life. We were in and out of Boise for about six weeks durign which time we sold all of our stock except our riding horses and pack animals. We seemed to make many friends who expressed regrets at our departure. H. F. Phillips was a very genial, jolly fellow and an excellent salesman.
Fort Boise.Those who have read [of] the early pioneer days will remember that Fort Boise was one of the oldest frontier posts this side of teh Rocky Mountains and was on the line of travel of these early adventurers from 1837 to 1847. Their course from Boise was westerly down Boise River to its confluence with Snake River. Boise Valley and Payette Valley were very attractive, and so soon as it appeared safe people settled there. Much of it was yet unsettled when we visited it, but since that day it has beocme one of the chief garden spots in this great interior bsin. The great sage plain we crossed between Snake River and Boise is now booming with population. The Snake River has furnished great irrigatino projects and what appeared to us as a veritable desert is now covered with prosperous farmers and happy homes. The Northern Pacific Railroadnow crosses this plain and the thriving little city of Caldwell is built about eight miles south of Boise, while the latter has grown to be a city in fact and is no longer flouted by an insolent wsavage horde such as we found there. It is not my purpose, however, to try to depict the progress and growth of the country through which we passed. This I may take up at some future time. We trveled over five hundred miles of genuine wilderness, still dominatedby its native wild man and at a time when they were discussing an effort to wipe the white race off of the face of the country between the Cascadee Mountains and the Rocky Mountains. In the capcity of a U.S. Surveyor and in other capacities I have kept in touch with its growth fro more than fifty years and have crdossed it in many directions.
It was our intention to return to Rogue River Valley by a route entirely different from our trip out and to that end crossed central Oregon emerging via the McKenzie River at Eugene in the Willamette Valley. To this journey I will address myself in sbusequent chapters of this narrative.
C. B. WATSON.Ashland Daily Tidings, July 23, 1924, page 2
Ashland, July 19, 1924.
A Retrospective Review of the Country Over Which We Traveled
I have devoted the preceding articles in our movements over five hundred miles of wild, Indian-infested country, giving only our rate of progress with a few of the incidents occurring by the way. There were many things happening each day which, though of temporary interest, I have not attempted to detail. At many of our camps we indulged in pranks and playful games such as a company of young men are likely to turn their hands to. Sometimes it was the catching and riding of one of the wild horses on a banter. We were not dressed for company and were unmindful of the grease and dust accumulated in handlign baconand other freight in our packing operations. I ahve intimated that the pinto mule was a charcter whose pranks were to be watched.
This mulie seemed to greatly enjoy doing such things as he seemed to know woudl annoy us. For instance, at one time when on account of loosening of the pack on one of the other muels, and when Myer was stooped over tightening the cinch, Pinto thought it a good opportunity to perpetrate a joke. On such occasions he wore a very seriously innocent look as though he were very tired. He'd sidle around and yawn as though he wanted to take a nap. I watched him on this occasion, knowing that his mental processes were essentially mulish. He walked slowly until just opposite the stooping Myers, evidently measuring distance and themost suitable ground to launch a lighting lash of his dainty hooves at the promising part of Walter's anatomy most suited to such an exploit, when he whirled and landed his punch. Myer was knocked headlong under the mulehe was busied with, whiel Pinto at once awoke and galloped off a few rods when he turned around and enjoyed his joke immensely. There is no question but his radical contortions were brought about as yours or mine when we laugh. We all agreed that Pinto laughed. When we were seated about our camp spread enjoying our "sinkers" and bacon, Pinto woudl slip up quietly behind someone and then launch his dainty head over his victim's shoulder and with open mouth close down on meat, bread, or any other article of diet in his reach and with a squeal and a whirlwind of feet dash away and enjoy his morsel. He was especially fond of bacon. He was a great bluffer, and we had proceeded several days in the notion that the rascal was dangerous. He landed those hind feet with the skill of a boxer. If one appraoched him he'd shake his head and squeal in themost threatening manner. In some way, but how I never knew, I discovered that he was afraid of me. From that time on catching, saddling and packing him fell to me and I grew to enjoy it. When ready to tackle hinm, I gathered up his halter and roughly went at him. He'd squeal, shake his head and threaten me, but I paid no attention: I'd slam on the saddle blankets, then the saddle and grab the cinch under him, put it through the loop and commence to draw up on it. He'd swell himself up like a toad to prevent my tightening it. I woudl then turn my back to him, stoop dwon with the latigo strap over my shoudler and draw as tightly as I could and then hold it there until he was forced to let his breath go, when I took up the slackand held on for him to let go again. Each time he woudl threaten to bite me but never did so. By and by I'd have him "cinched up" and then we'd put on his pack. Pinto and I grew to be good friends. None of the others came to a good understanding with him, and he seemed to knwo that he had been "hoodooed" and sometimes appeared to laugh about it. I sometimes imagined when he had frightened some of teh boys that he turned and winked at me. I must not take more time now in describing Pinto. There will be an incident which he played on us on our way home which at the proper time I will give. This was a joke on the whole crowd with serious consequences.
Much of the country we traveled over and considered to be desert unfit for human habitation has since then shown great value to the world. There was no timber to speak of after we passed Goose Lake; nothing but extended sage plains and alkali flats, with a long distances a meadow surrounding a lake or marshy tract, a sink where some stream or collection of springs sank. The country was by no means level in all of these plains; there were barren, dreary-looking mountains here and there.These mountains were of the nature, generally, of "table mountains," that is an elevation rising hundresd of feet with flat top and sage plain covering many squrae miles. These table mountains were surrounded by "rimrocks," sometimes a thousand feet high with a talus slope at the bottom. Generally, these table mountains were without water. The country between the Cascade Mountains and Rocky Mountains is admitted by the world's geologists to be the greatest extended lava field in the world. It is unique in its character of "volcanic region"; it is estimated that it is covered with an average depth of lava 2000 feet thick. Geologically it is new and the early pioneer reckoned it of no value for agricultural purposes, because the soil was white and seemed ashy, whiel the Mississippi Valley where most of tehm came from had a deep, heavy black soil. They associated these things as a required condition suited to agricutlure. The earlier settlers in all this great sage plain went there because of the vast supply of bunchgrass and its suitability for stock grazing.
Nearly every day we would see great herds of antelope on teh plains and many mountain sheep inthe rocky fastnesses. These herds of antelope were made to present many freakish pictuers by teh mirage which is always present in hot, dry weather. Frequently we woudl see a band, apparently a mile away, loping along in their characteristic fashion, that seemed not to touch the ground but to be moving from ten to twenty feet above it.
In the most barren portions the country is subject to dust storms. Looking to the west you will see whawt appears to be a heavy black cloud rising and moving forward in a very threatening fashion. By and by it will commence to thunder and occasional flashes of lightning will streak this cloud which as it grows nearer persents a most portenous and threatening aspect. Now it isupon us and we are almost stifled with the dust. The cloud is only dust but to be involved in it is by no means a pleasant experience. The weather will be stifling hot and the dust almost suffocating. The thunder and lightning will increase and whil you are wondering whawt the result will be you are pelted with mud. It is raining and [with] the heavy drops of water it is raining mud.
The hills to thenorth of the Jordan River were different from most of the country we had crossed. They wre more liek the rolling prairies seenin some portions of the Mississippi Valley. They were covered with wild grass of excellent quality. At the time of this writing, those hills are very extended grain fields. The Jordan Valley is not so high in altitude as the plains we have been traversing and are highly suited to agriculture which has been made apprent in the psat fifty years since the events I have [been] narrating and thousands of happy people live there. The younger generation listen to the pioneers tell of teh stirring events of fifty years ago.
In my next I will invite you to go with me over a new route and am sure there will be something of interest. Fifty-one years has not dimmed my recollection of it.
C. B. WATSON.Ashland Daily Tidings, July 25, 1924, page 2
Ashland, July 25, 1924.
Homeward Bound Over Historic Ground
It was a beautiful morning late in the month of August 1872 when we bid adieu to our newly made friends at Boise City, Idaho and turned out faces westwar, bound for home. As we rode down the beautiful valley and noted the many new homes and general evidence of thrift and comfort,. I could not avoid reflecting upon the first immigrants who only twenty-nine years before ahd invaded this region with their weary families and the first wagons that had ever risked the wilderness west of Fort Hall.
It was the immigration of 1843, known in history as the "big immigration." Prior to that time no one had ever tried to take wagons west of Fort Hall, but this band of intrepid adventurers, lsitening to the ssurances of Marcus Whitman, reached the Columbia River with their jaded teams and worn-out wagons. That little band traveled the same route we were now taking, as far as the crossing of Snake River. I fancied I could see them as with weariness, yet filled with courage and hope, they braved the dangers about them and pushed on. Then there were no farms, no white settlers and only savage Indians to greet them. The Indians at that time were friendly and did them no injury. As we rode along we were "going home"; they were bound in their jaded condition to a country of which they had only heard rumors. They had no homes there but hoped to make them. I wondered whether some of the savages we saw in Boise ha dnot seen this little band of adventurers. It was nly two or three yers after their great adventure that the savages murdered the guide of this caraan, and many others. They had burned the bridges behind them and had advanced to a point fromw hich retreat was out of the question. The great plains we had so recently crossed, south of our present line, was a terra incognita to this little band, and perhaps had never been invaded by any white man, except possibly some of the hardy Hudson Bay trappers. They were destined to many hardships ere they reached the Willamette Valley whither they were bound. The terrors of the Columbia were ahead of themm, but they were cheered by such hardy souls as Marcus Whitman and the Applegates, whose names are recorded indelibly in the early history of Oregon. They even ventured beyond the bounds of teir own country and were destined to become the fathers of a new country to be watched over under the laws and Constitution of their own beloved United States. And it had been less than thirty years since these weary people traversed this same route and mapped out this trail.
In the beginning of the narratives, I told how the Applegate party sought a better route in 1846 for others bound for Oregon and gave the world the first authentic view of our own beloved Rogue River Valley. These were among themost reliable directors of the immigration of 1843 and makers of the trail we were now following. Stirred by that great humanity that was in them, only three years later they blazed that other trail which passed throughthe lake country and introduced the first wagons into the Rogue River Valley, as in 1843 they were among the first to drive wagons down the Boise River and on to the Columbia. On this trip we have followed these intrepid pioneers over a part of their routes separated by more than five hundred miles. Not much could be expeced of accomplishment in the twenty-nine years that had passed since they drove over teh country we were now looking upon. Yet we who have read the history of these great struggles and have traveled over the vast regions compassed by them are struck with astonishment at the advances they made.
At Snake River.I am almost tempted to stop here and compare the then with what we know of the present condition of these vast stretches as they appear in this, the year of our Lord 1924, but I must not break the continuity of my reminiscences. On our second evening we reached teh banks of Snake River, and again we turn our thoughts back to the immigrants of twenty-nine years ago. Some of the party had gone ahead to devise the best method of crossing this mighty treacherous river. Here we stood on the banks and speculated upon the courage they had displayed. Here we found a ferry boat and a little cluster of houses. Here was a little store where we coudl buy the few things we needed, and a blacksmith shop where our horses coudl be shod. But in 1843 there was no ferry, no human habitation, nothing but the boundless wilderness and the mighty river. We had read how they used their wagon boxes for ferries: how they buoyed them up with inflated skins and such dry logs as teh drifts had kindly left them. A few miles below began the terrifying canyon where still-earlier explorers suffered almost indescribable hardships and many perished. Now the crude ferry worked by ropes and puleys were our friendly assistants, and even that seemed risky.
Sturgeon Landed.We ahd reached there early in theevening and asked many questions of the three or four men we found there. There were women and children who were still subjected to the hardships of pioeners. They were glad to see new faces and asked many questions. Looking about I discovered very large hooks which had been hammered out on the anvil, and asked what they were for. I was told that they were for catching sturgeon, and that there were many sturgeon in the river. None of us had ever seen sturgeon and urged the blacksmith to see if he could catch one for us. In answer he directed us to go to a skiff that was moored to the bank a short distance away and pull on a rope we would see fastened to the boat. He said there wsa a small sturgeon tied to the other end of the rope and we could pull him out and inspect him. We went, clambered donw the slippery bank and got into the boat. Cardwell and Myer were first to get hold of the rope and commenced pulling. It came along all right until the tail was above water when the fish gave a big flop and almost upset the boat. Myer and Cardwell were almost thrown overboard. After exclamations of surprise several of us got hold of the line and using more caution finally drew the fish into the boat. He weighed more than a hundred pounds and to us appeared as a monster. They are powerful fish and smoetimes grow to weigh almost a thousand pounds. They are great enemies to the salmon fishermen in whose nets they get tangled and often tear to pieces.
Blue Mountains Crossed.The next morningwe crossed the river and proceeded northerly for eight or ten miles near the banks of teh Snake. Here we approached and forded the Malheur River, which at this point empties into the Snake. Turning now westerly we followed the north bank of the Malheur to the mouth of Willow Creek, where the town of Vale now stands. Water and grass being plentiful, we camped. During the day we saw but one settler, though the country was quite inviting, being a rolling prairie of apparently good soil. Our next day's route was by trail along Willow Creek for many miles until we entered fine forests of yellow pine, fir and cedar. We were now climbing the Blue Mountains and found the country quite different from the dry sage plains further south. On this second day we saw no settlers but found a band of sheep pasturing on the luxuriant grass that covered these rolling hills as far as we could see. This band of sheep was, of course, minded by a herder who told us that he scarcely ever saw a white man, except the mail carrier who traveled this trail on horseback from Boise Valley to John Day Valley on the west side of the Blue Mountains. These mountains reach a high altitude and are bountifully supplied with forests. It was a great and pleasant change, traveling and sleeping in the shade of these great trees, by the side of running brooks of pure cold mountain water. We had for months been wrestling with sagebrush, alkali and mirages, and the change was a very grateful one. We crossed the sumit and camped a little way down the wetsern slope in the forest. The indications were that snow fell to the depth of many feet, and we found the wrecks of showshoes, skis and hand sleds, indicating tribulation of the mail carriers in witner time. Leaving this camp near thesummit, our course was west down the Blue Mountains into the John Day Valley. Soon after coming into the valley we came to the new settlement called Prairie City. It was a flourishing-looking pioneer village not yet beyond the period of box shanties. A good many settlers had located in the valley butmostly further south toward Canyon City and John Day City, situated near where the John Day River emeregs from the mountains that lie to the east. Here is where the 1862 mines were discovered that had set miners wild and caused a stampede from Rogue River to the new "diggin's." This mining camp had been opened up ten years before our visit, and the towns had put on the airs of permanence and a certain degree of opulence. Some of themost eligible cities in the valley nearby had been improved into farms of profit and beauty. Themines furnished a market for the produce of the farmers, who were getting well fixed and apparently satisfied with their new homes, which they exhibited with pride. They had already demonstrated the wealth of their soil and the adaptability of their climate to a great variety of fruits and vegetables. From the time we left the ferry on Snke River until we reached Prairie City, the onyl white man we saw was the lonely sheepherder. I will tell you more of the valley and country between it and Prineville in my next chapter.
C. B. WATSON.Ashland Daily Tidings, July 28, 1924, page 2
Ashland, July 25, 1924.
We Camp in John Day Valley a Few Miles South of Prairie City,
at the Ranch of a Former Resident of Rogue River Valley.
Permitted to Smell Ripe Apples and to Thump Watermelons,
But Are Offered None.
After passing Prairie city we traveled southerly up the valley toward John Day City, for a few miles and camp at the ranch of a former resident of Rogue River Valley, with whom, again, Walrad, Cardwell adn Myer had been acquainted. I have forgotten the name, but remember that the proprietor of the new farm seemed delighted to meet his former acquaintances. He was very proud of his new possessions and took delight in showing us around. He had come here about the time of the gold discovery, and remembering the harvests reaped by his Rogue River brethren who chose farming instead of mining he picked out a most eligible spot and laid his plans for a reward from the miners who would furnish him a market for his product. The Blue Mountains rose grandly to the east and unclaimed square miles of pasture and meadowlands spread out around him. From the mountains he secured the timber for improvements and fuel and a beautiful mountain stream furnished an abundance of pure water. Among his first exploits was to secure a good variety of apple, pear and other fruit trees and berries. His first efforst at agriculture assured him that the had made no mistake, and he calculated upon the day when this beautiful valley would be teeming with population and the valley producing rich harvests for agriculture and horticulture.
When we reached there his little orchard was in its second year of bearing and had a good crop I remember how proudly he piloted us through this beautiful young orchard and pointed out his variety of fruit with which it was loaded. One tree [was] loaded with a crop of early apples now ripening, great big yellow fellows. He bent down a limb and invited us to smell the delicious fruit, but did not authorize any closer acquaintance with it. It had been many months since we had been so tempted, and our mouths watered for a bite as he turned us away to inspect his splendid watermelon patch nearby. They were ripening also and we were permitted to thump them, but were given no invitation to make a more formal acquaintance. We examined his splendid hogs and cattle and lsitened to his eloquent words of boosting the beautiful valley. We bought milk and fresh vegetables with which we regaled ourselves and prophesied that in a few years our friend would be a very wealthy man, for he knew how to charge for his produce. I suppose he has long ago passed to his reward without knowing that we had both apples and melons that night. Not much, but enough to awaken that taste we have all known the delight of.
That night we had an all-night serenade from what appeared to be a thousand coyotes. There was, perhaps, but one, but he made up a full orchestra all by himself. In the night I got up and shot in the direction I thought the sounds came from and heard him run away from the opposite direction. These rascals are ventriloquists and will throw their notes in all directions.
The next morning we moved on to John Day City and recognized the activity of a mining camp. Our route from ehre was west with some points south over a high rolling prairie with an occasional sage plain. Innumerable jackrabbits and coyotes were in evidence everywhere, with occasional bands of antelopes to vary the monotony. I shall not trouble any readers with our various camps, only to say that water was scarce until we struck the headwaters of the Ochoco River. Grass was good all along the route. One camp was Old Camp Watson, another outpost garrisoned in themore troublous days. These vast prairies have since been a great hunting field where thousands of deer and antelopes have been recklessly slaughtered simply for their hides and horns until few have been left. We were drawing nearer to the Cascades day by day and scanning the snowy summits of the Three Sisters, where we expected to cross this mighty range. Traveling the long stretches of the Ochoco, our way was uneventful. We had no band of horses to keep our attention as we had going out, and the hot sun and monotony bred drowsiness, and we slept as we rode. Finally we came to Prineville, a shanty town of four box houses and several "dugouts" that housed the meager population. To the southa nd immediately across the Ochoco rose Bear Creek Buttes, six thousand feet high and marking the geographical center of Oregon. Many years afterwards I was destined to have experience there and on "the desert" beyond. In this immediate part of the state are remarkable forests ofjuniper timber. These trees are unlike any other and are very picturesque. Some of the bodies are very large and the branches spread mightily, like the cedars of Lebanon.This timber is valuable chiefly for fence posts and firewood. Teh bruised foliage is full of odor and the freshly cut bodies give off a strong pleasant aroma. The tablelands lyling to the north were high and covered withbunchgrass and sagebrush. Since then extensive wheat fields have been developed and the higher lands given over to sheep and cattle. Between John Day and Prineville we did not see a white man nor a budding settlement. We stopped at this pioneer settlement only a short time to get directions for our crossing of the Cascades. From this point there was a wgon road which crossed teh Cascades to the Santiam River and thence on to the Willamette Valley. We followed this road to the Deschutes River, where we camped.
In my next I will tell of our adventures crossing the mountain.
C. B. WATSON.Ashland Daily Tidings, July 30, 1924, page 2
Ashland, July 26, 1924.
Last revised December 4, 2013