Continued from the previous post …

“After supper I spread my blankets, laid me down and went to sleep. I did not intend to sleep. When I awoke, I went for my cattle and found the cow lying down, the horse I could not find. I called for the horse but no answer could I get. I then called the cow, while I was near that I might have her to help me call the horse. The second time of calling the cow, the horse answered me, and while taking the cow to the wagon, the horse came into the camp and I made them secure to their posts. A thought came now came into my head to harness the horse and go where I had seen the smoke. It was not yet ten o’clock.

“I went on and came to the camp, which was but a short distance from the road. On approaching I saw two men sitting by the fire, whom I addressed, saying, ‘Good evening, gentlemen. About half-past six I saw the smoke from your camp which I intended to reach, but coming to a creek where there was good grass and water, I stopped to let my cattle have a good nibble, so I remained there about three hours, and now I have come on here to see if I could remain with you the rest of the night?’ While I was speaking the foregoing, the whole camp came around me. ‘Strangers, can I remain here? I have come a long distance, and perhaps can make a half hour of some interest to you.’ ‘Stranger, make yourself at home with us,’ was answered. ‘I have said that I have come a long way, which is true; I am all the way from the Pacific Ocean, alone.’ ‘You say that you are from California. Where is your home?’ ‘I am, and my home is in Massachusetts, and I am on my way home.’ ‘Do you think that you will be able to get that cow to that state, stranger?’ ‘I do; she has already traveled eighteen hundred miles. You can see in what condition she is, she speaks for herself.’ ‘She is a fine looking cow. When did you leave California, stranger?’ ‘The first day of June 1882.’ ‘We are going somewhere, and have started for Oregon, but may change our direction. We have heard much about California, what a glorious state it is! You have had an opportunity to know something about it, stranger?’ ‘Yes, I know something about the state. There are as many climates in the state as there are counties; some parts are hot, some warm, and some parts cold. You can get any temperature you desire; but that is not all. California gets her watering done in December and January; some parts in November; and some parts in February. Humboldt county I know more about than any other in the state; it is also one of the healthiest in the state. West of the coast-range of mountains the temperature is the most even, neither too hot nor too cold; on the east side of the range it is warm, in many places very warm. What I dislike is the many months without rain. Say, the last rain was in February and there will be no more until December. The best months are February, March, and April; they are fine months, but in May it begins to dry up; June and July are hot, and August is very dry. By the latter month you will have to start your sheep for the mountains, or they will starve on the way. A person from the East going to California will find the months of November, December, January, and February much different from the East. They will forget our Mays and Junes, but when the sun gets high and the winds are blowing a gale, and the sands are drifting like snow, then, and not till then, will they think of home. We have better days in Massachusetts than they can have in California.'”



continued from the previous post …

“On the morning of June 3rd I was up before my neighbors, making ready to move on. I had fed my cattle and was greasing my carriage, when one of my neighbors came around and asked, ‘How often do you grease your wagon?’ ‘I grease every other day; I travel about twenty-five miles a day, making about fifty miles between each greasing. Can I make some coffee by your fire?’ I asked. ‘Oh, yes; you can make your breakfast by our fire.’ Soon all in the camp were up and around.

“I went to milk the cow and while doing so, one of the dogs came too near the cow. She made a plunge at the dog, upsetting me and the milk. I cared but little for the milk, but the strangers seemed to feel bad about it. The poor dog had to take it on all sides. I told them I did not care for the milk, but felt sorry on their part. I finished milking and there was enough for the coffee of the whole camp.

“After breakfast, on leaving the camp, I wished the company success on their long journey. They answered, ‘Friend, stranger, we all feel anxious for you, being alone; if you were in company with someone it would seem different, and when in a tight place [you] would have someone to help you. Goodbye; success to you, stranger.’ We parted and I went on. It was a pleasant and grand morning.

“To my right are lofty mountains, covered with snow, which appear but a short distance away, but are many miles. High elevations give light and air, and the eye, a long range of vision. About nine o’clock I met a long train, but made no stop, merely asking where they were from and where going. ‘We are from Kansas and going to Washington Territory. Where are you from and where going?’ was answered. ‘I am from California, going east, to Massachusetts,’ I answered. ‘You are from there, and have you brought that cow from there, stranger?’ ‘We have come from California just as you see us.’ I left them and at twelve o’clock met another train, who were at dinner. Having my feed ready for the cattle, I stopped and fed them, and ate my own dinner. This company was also from Kansas, bound for Oregon. There were ten teams, twenty-four horses, twelve men, sixteen women, and thirty-eight children, sixty-six persons in all. I left this company about half-past one o’clock. My road was not good, being badly cut up by the many teams.

“About three o’clock, we met another train of six teams; they were also from Kansas, bound for Oregon, comprising eight men, eight women, and nineteen children. Only a short distance farther I came to another train of four teams; ten horses, four men, four women, and thirteen children, from the same state. About five o’clock I met another band of emigrants of nine teams, eleven men, ten women, and twenty-nine children, all for the state of Oregon. I asked the captain of the train the cause of so many leaving Kansas. It looked as though they were abandoning the state. … ‘I will tell you the cause, stranger. Where we come from we have hot wind that cuts corn and many other things; we can’t stand it, and it is very unhealthy. It is not so in other sections of the state. We made up our minds to leave the state and go to the West and see what we can do there.’ ‘Strangers, success to you,’ I said and went on.

“About half-past six o’clock I saw smoke in the distance and journeyed toward it, and came to a small creek and grass and gave my cattle water. Here, my first thoughts were to go into camp, then I thought I would go to where I saw the smoke. However, there being excellent water and grass at this creek, I concluded to camp here, so we left the trail to the right, went down the creek a short distance and pitched my camp, and turned the cattle loose so that they could have their fill of grass. I concluded to build no fire, but take my supper cold. …”

To be continued …

… continuing from the previous post …

“On the morning of June 2nd, on the banks of the Platte River, I broke camp, journeying on and following the river to a bridge, recently built by the government, which I crossed. After traveling but a short distance I came to the store, before spoken about. This place is known as Hot Springs, and is about one hundred and thirty miles from Laramie. I traveled along the river until I came to some grass and stopped. It was difficult to get the cattle past, if I had desired; so I unharnessed the horse and gave the cattle a good chance to eat their fill, not knowing where the next would be found. We stayed just one hour and then went on, coming back to the old trail.

“This morning, when leaving camp, instead of fording the river, I chose to go over the bridge, as the river was very high. It is a good ford, but at this time of the year the water is deep and strong. Many in crossing have been borne down by its force, so the government erected this bridge. As you make the river from the east or west, the trail is good. Although from the east, you have to descend a bluff, but not from the west. About one mile from the river, I came to a junction of four roads. In my rear is the river; to my left is Fort Steele and the Union Pacific Railroad, about twenty miles; to my right is the bridge; to my left is the road to Laramie, a hundred and twenty miles away, more or less. It was four o’clock and [we were] moving in the right direction, hoping to make Laramie in five days. The road is good and all of us cheerful.

“About six o’clock, ahead of us I saw smoke; soon after we came up to three ugly-looking men who were putting up a tent; they had a wagon and three bulls. I passed the compliments of the day with them in a rough manner, asking some questions. I thought it best to go on as I did not like their movements, but I asked how far it was to water. ‘Three miles to the creek,’ was answered. ‘How large a creek?’ I asked. ‘A small one, but water enough for your cattle,’ was answered. ‘Where are you from?’ they asked. ‘I am from Hot Springs.’ ‘Where in h–l is Hot Springs?’ was asked. ‘About fifteen miles from here, near Platte River.’ It is about three miles to the creek, so I said, ‘Come, Fanny, we must reach the creek,’ which in due time we did. Giving my cattle a good drink I went on, not daring to make my camp there.

“I made up my mind to journey on as long as I could as my road was good. After a little while I saw a light ahead, which on our coming near, proved to be a camp. In approaching the camp, the horse gave a tremendous neigh, startling all the camp, horses as well as men. I went right into the camp and said, ‘Don’t be afraid, I am alone and will not harm you; I have come from the west as suppose you seldom meet persons from that direction. I wish to camp with you tonight, and would rather do so than stop with those I met two hours ago. I should have kept on if I had not struck with your camp, until I was far out of their reach.’ ‘Who were those that you dislike so much?’ I told him of the men with the bulls, whose looks and actions I did not like, and repeated the discussion I had with them, so I traveled out of their reach and here I am. I asked if they had any objections to my camping with them overnight, and was told they had no objections.

“I led my cattle into the camp and gave them grain, made my bed and laid down, saying that I was very weary and tired, having traveled a long distance that day. ‘Stranger, if you are not too tired, please tell us where you are from and where bound?’ ‘Strangers, I have come from California. Three hundred and three miles north of San Francisco, from there following the Central Pacific Railroad through the states of California, Nevada, and Utah to Ogden, to Green River, to this place.’ ‘Where are you going, stranger?’ ‘I am bound east, to Massachusetts,’ I answered. ‘Going to Massachusetts! How far have you come with that cow, stranger?’ ‘I have led her all that distance, about eighteen hundred miles. Where are you from?’ I asked. ‘We are from Kansas and are going to Oregon.’ ‘I have met many from Kansas, all going to Oregon. What is the cause of so many leaving Kansas?’ ‘We are from the western part of Kansas. The hot winds kill about everything there, and the people are leaving, going west.’ ‘How many teams have you?’ ‘We have four, also four men, four women, twelve children and two dogs, all for Oregon. Stranger, where has been your worst traveling on the whole route?’ ‘My worst traveling, and also the most dangerous, was in California. From Green River to where we are has been the most disagreeable. All alone, as I am, it makes on think of home too much. I am continually thinking of breaking down, or anything serious happening to me; these thoughts trouble me continuously. Since leaving Green River city, there have been days that I have seen no person nor passed a house. I have yet about one hundred miles to travel before I reach Laramie. How many houses do I pass in making that distance?’ I asked. ‘You pass one, yes, two; both are at a river where you cross on a bridge, one on each side to take the toll. These are all until you get to New Laramie, where there is a post office and a store. Now, friend, stranger, we will leave you until morning and hope you will have a good night’s rest. Good night.’ ‘Good night,’ I replied.”

[Can you imagine traveling for days on end without seeing another person along the way?!]

To be continued …


blog - Showcase - entries

Today is the second full day of the sixth annual CAA Carriage Festival, being held in the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park. In fact, as I type this, the evening session is due to start in about 20 minutes … so this will be quick!

The judges’ commentary and awards were presented earlier today in this year’s CAA Carriage Showcase, in which restored horse-drawn vehicles are judged on the quality and correctness of the restoration.

In the three photos below are the winners of the major Showcase awards … The Bob Sleigh in the first photo is owned by Dr. Susan Orosz. It was awarded the Davis Documentation Award, and it won the People’s Choice Award. The Sidney Latham Trophy (for the highest-scoring vehicle in use) went to Joni Kuhn’s Spider Phaeton, built c. 1890 by Van Roobroeck of Belgium. And, the final two photos show Chris & Judd Roseberry’s beautifully restored Piano Box Buggy (c. 1905), which won the coveted Carl Casper Trophy, for being the highest-scoring restored vehicle in the Showcase. Congratulations to all the winners!

blog - Showcase - sleigh

blog - Showcase - spider phaeton

blog - Showcase - piano box buggy 3

blog - Showcase - piano box buggy 2 - detail



Following on from our last installment of Mr. Johnson’s tale

“On the morning of June 1st, I was up at five o’clock making all preparations for moving on. My neighbors were not yet up, so I hollered out, ‘Strangers, I am all ready to leave you. If you have any message to send East, now is your time!’ The old gentleman answered, ‘Hold on a minute! Stranger, you are going East and I West, we shall never meet again, so here is luck and prosperity to you, hoping you will have a good voyage.’ He drank and urged me to drink. I said, ‘Friend, I am not in the habit of doing this, but to please you, I do so. I really think it does more harm than good. Good morning; I hope you will succeed on your long journey,’ I remarked. ‘Good morning; I hope you will get along all right, you have a hard road to Laramie.’ I left them soon after five o’clock; it was a very fine morning and a good trail, all were in harmony.

“About eight o’clock we came to a creek, and I allowed my cattle to take as much water as they pleased, making but a short stop. Had I company, how pleasant it would be, but my animals are my only company. I talk with them as though they were human and think they understand me; I have no doubt about this.

“This is my seventh day from Green Bridge city, about half-way to Laramie. I am now in sight of Platte Valley. [You can see some photos and old images of the North Platte River and the Platte Valley here.] I have been descending since making the summit of the hill yesterday. A good road is cheering, such as I have had for the past two days. One hour more, and I shall be on the banks of the river. I see smoke in that direction, also teams, any quantity of them. There appears a large camp close by the river; there is grass and horses feeding. ‘Come, Fanny, go on; we will soon be there,’ I said. At a distance, she saw the horses and whinnied loudly.

“We made for the camp and as I made it was completely taken in; men, women, and children surrounded me asking many questions. ‘Stranger, where in h–l have you come from, from the West, have you not?’ ‘I have come from the West, but your first question I am not able to answer. I don’t know that place, I never was there; I have heard of it, perhaps you can tell me where it is? Oh, I came through it my first day from Green River city; you will find it before you get there,’ I remarked. ‘You will, surely before you get to Laramie. I will bet you are a Yankee,’ was answered. ‘Well, you are a good guesser. I am. I would like to stop here tonight; you may ask me any questions you like. I am from California, just as you see me, with horse, carriage, cow, and dog. I can make it interesting to you; I want my horse and cow to have some grass. I see there is plenty of it for all. I will let them both loose to fee, at the same time I will give you a history of my travels. Have you had your supper?’ I asked.’No, we have not,’ said the stranger. ‘All right, I want some hot tea or coffee; I have plenty of it. And not only that, I have yonder cow; she has given me milk all my way from California to this place, just one year today. The first of June 1882 we left Eureka city, Humbolt county, three hundred and three miles north of San Francisco; following the Central Pacific Railroad from there to Ogden, arriving at the latter place on the 23rd of September. On the 14th of May last, we left Ogden and have traveled to this very place, North Platte River.’ ‘About how many miles have you traveled since you left California, stranger?’ was asked. ‘On my arrival in Ogden, I found that I had traveled fourteen hundred and twenty-seven miles.’ ‘Where are you going to, stranger?’ ‘I am going to Massachusetts; when I get there I am home.’ ‘About how far is it from here, stranger?’ ‘About two thousand five hundred miles.’ ‘More than four thousand miles you will have traveled. How far has that cow come with you?’ ‘She has come all the distance; I left with the same outfit I now have.’ ‘I saw last fall in some paper of a man coming from California and going to Massachusetts, and you are the man. Well, well, you are a brick; you will be well-burned by the time you get to Massachusetts. We shall weary you all out asking questions. Our supper is ready, come with me and get some hot coffee, stranger.’ ‘Thank you, I will.’

“After supper, I asked, ‘How large a camp have you?’ ‘We have twenty-one wagons, forty-eight horses, and one hundred and one persons, all told, bound for Washington Territory. Now, how shall we go, to get there?’ asked the captain. ‘What part of the territory are you intending to settle in?’ I asked. ‘The western part, about one hundred miles from the Pacific Ocean.’ ‘Only a few days ago I was asked about the same question, with one exception, that was Oregon; about the same distance from the ocean, only farther north. Now, suppose I give you a route, due west, within one hundred and fifty miles of the Pacific Ocean; that would be to Sacramento, your road is a great thoroughfare. There is but one trail to central California, that is Fremont’s, all other trails lead out of this. We will start from this very spot, North Platte River and go to Green River city, Evanston, Ogden. From Ogden, follow the Central Pacific Railroad to Carlin, there leave the railroad and cross over the mountain to Beowawe, and on to Reno. At this place leave the railroad trail and take the Henness trail to Graniteville, Grass Valley to Marysville. At this last place you are on the great highway for Oregon; about one hundred and fifty miles from the Pacific Ocean. From here to Green River city it is a very disagreeable road, but had I had company it might have seemed different, traveling alone makes things look dreary. I have met many teams, most of them from Kansas. Where are you from, captain?’ ‘We are from Kansas.’ ‘I think you are making it a rough road for those in your rear.’ ‘We do cut it up badly.’ ‘It makes an awful road for me. How is it from Laramie to here?’ ‘It is very good, but the rivers and creeks are awful to think of. The worst place was on our first day from Laramie, about fifteen miles out. It is a flat, wide plat of meadow, adjoining a river, which you have to ford three times in less than twelve rods. Before we came to this river, we came to a store and a post office. About a mile this side of the store is an awful muddy hold. It took us nearly all of the afternoon to get through. About half of our teams got through, the rest we had to double up to get them through. The fording of the river was not bade, a good bottom, but deep water; many things in our wagons got wet. Just this side of the river was a hill; we stopped on this ascension to let the water drop out, which it did to some extent. We have forded but one river since, crossed three bridges and one creek. The creek not four rods across, was the worst of all, more mud than water. All of this you will have to encounter. Stranger, you do not know what you have to pass through before reaching Laramie; you should have someone with you at those places. Your next three days will be good. On leaving here you will follow the river to the bridge, and cross on a good, substantial bridge, built by the government. After crossing, and going a short distance, you will come to the store, where you can buy most anything you wish — grain, flour, bacon, pork, sugar, tea, coffee, and a large variety of canned meats. It is a great accommodation store. While in Laramie this store was made known to us,’ said the captain. ‘When I was in Green River city,’ [I replied,] ‘I was told that I could not get anything that I should need until getting to Laramie. They told me a big lie, you see. When you get there, tell the grain dealer that you met the man with the horse, cow, and dog, and he sends his compliments, and says he could have got all the grain he wanted at the bridge over the Platte River, near Warm Springs.’

“‘It is about time to retire. We place a watchman over the camp at night to look around while we are sleeping. Should anything happen, it would be made known to us and we should be prepared for any emergency.’ said the captain.”

… to be continued …