horses & driving


Continued from yesterday …

“On the morning of the 25th I was up before the dawn of day, getting ready to break camp. As soon as it was light enough, I hauled out and went on. About eight o’clock I descended a steep bluff into a canyon and after traveling about a mile came to some grass; I stopped here, giving my cattle a chance at it. While they were feeding I gathered some fuel, made a fire and boiled some eggs for my breakfast. Having heard so much about Green River I was anxious to see it; so I got ready and went on.

“I am still in the canyon and ascending a heavy bluff and expect soon to reach the river, which I did at half-past eleven, and at twelve o’clock we cross Green River by the ferry boat. I went on down to the railroad bridge; this bridge spans the Bitter Creek. Here I went into camp, giving my cattle the last of 200 pounds of grain I had bought at Evanston, and at three o’clock I went into Green River City for grain and other things.

“I made inquiries if there were two roads to Laramie city, and was told there were: one following the railroad, the other the old emigrant trail, and I would do the best to take the emigrant trail; nine-tenths of the travel from Laramie coming by that trail. The railroad trail is not traveled enough to make it good, if traveled more it would be better and not as far that way. When the emigrant is in Laramie, they tell him to take the emigrant trail to Green River City. ‘What is the distance to Laramie by the old emigrant trail?’ I asked. ‘By the railroad it is two hundred and seventy-two miles, and by the emigrant trail it must be three hundred and twenty-five miles.’ ‘Can I get grain on my way?’ ‘No, you will have to buy here all you need on the way.’ ‘How about grass?’ ‘You will not find much grass, our spring has been so late and cold. It will take you twelve days at least to get to Laramie. On the last two or three days you may get grass, and as you get nearer to Laramie you will find it much warmer.’ ‘How much will you charge me for 100 pounds each of corn, oats, and barley?’ ‘I shall charge you six dollars for 300 pounds, that is the least.’ ‘Why didn’t you say seven dollars, you could have got it as quickly as six; you have it all your own way and you know we must have it. In Evanston, I only paid three dollars for 200 pounds. It came from Nebraska, right by your door, one hundred and twenty miles further. I suppose you only do business three months out of the twelve, which accounts for the high price.’ ‘You are right there, we do not have much trade after the emigrant season is over.’

“I bought the grain and paid for it and my wagon had 300 pounds more weight on it. The wagon itself only weighs 325 pounds; pretty slender for the Rocky Mountains. In my wagon there is a box a half foot deep, a half foot wide, and three feet long, water-tight, in which are clothing, tea, coffee, sugar, several kinds of canned meats, and some tools, such as a wrench, hammer, hatchet, saw, square, and many smaller tools. The weight of the whole being about 175 pounds; making a total of goods of 500 pounds and [with the added grain] 800 pounds for my horse to draw. When passing through creeks, rivers, and sloughs I get on and ride, thus adding 180 pounds more, for the horse to draw through and up the rivers and creeks.

“About six o’clock I returned to my camping ground, inspected my wagon and made the weak places stronger and more perfect. After everything had been done as I thought could be, to make it safer, I prepared for the night, securing my cattle to their posts, made up my bed, and went to rest.”

Did you catch the nugget that Mr. Johnson dropped while rattling off the weights of the various parts of his carriage? He’s been walking alongside for most of this trek!

After his and the other travelers’ dramatic crossing of the Black Fork River, Mr. Johnson picked up his tale the next morning …

“On the 24th, on the banks of the Black Fork River, I was up making ready to move on. While getting my own breakfast I allowed my cattle free range of grass and then a feed of grain. I left camp about six o’clock; it was a fine morning as I left the Black Fork River, and having a good trail I went on my way with merry glee.

“About eleven o’clock we came to some good water where we stopped; I gave water and grain to my cattle and took a dish of cold coffee myself; this was all I cared for. I did not stop long and as my journey continued the road grew rougher. About three o’clock in the afternoon I met a train of six teams. I stopped and passed the compliments of the day, saying, ‘Gentlemen, where are you from and where going?’ ‘We are from Kansas and have not decided finally where to locate. We started, however, for Oregon, but it is a long road, and a rough one at that. Stranger, where are you from and where are you bound to?’ ‘I am from Ogden and going East.’ ‘How far East, we would like to know, stranger?’ ‘I can’t say for certainty, no more than you, but should I have luck, I may go as far as Massachusetts.’ ‘Massachusetts, the devil you are, that is almost the jumping-off place.’ ‘How far have you come today?’ ‘We have come from Green River City, about twelve miles I think.’ ‘How far is it to water?’ ‘About three miles, I should think.’ … After bidding each other goodbye, we went on.

“On coming to water, I gave my cattle water and grain and concluded to camp here for the night. My surroundings look rough, and not a house in sight. I gathered some sagebrush for fuel, made a good, rousing fire, got supper and made everything ready for the night. As I lay on my bed, to the right of me, I heard the whistle of an engine, then I knew that we were not far from the railroad. After a time, I was lost in a sound sleep.”

to be continued …

In this photo of Chicago’s Madison Street, c. 1910, you can see a few varieties of horsepower …

There are several automobiles (all parked along the curbs), an electric streetcar, and quite a few horse-drawn vehicles: parked, being driven, and one, a delivery wagon, being either unloaded or loaded. There’s even a vehicle that looks almost exactly like a horse-drawn delivery van, except that I can’t see a corresponding horse … so it must have a motor somewhere.

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Here’s the final set of photos from this year’s CAA trip to the Royal Windsor Horse Show: views of some of the beautiful coaches, before and during their drive …

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And then it also occurred to me that I never posted the remaining photos from our CAA trip to the Royal Windsor Horse Show back in May.

First, here are a few of the various and lovely carriages on the British Driving Society’s pleasure drive through Windsor Home Park. In some of the photos, they’re gathering for the drive, and in others, they’re on their way, led as always by their host, Prince Philip.

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Bringing up the rear were these two. For those of you who may remember the old cartoons … Thelwell ponies!!

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It occurred to me to that I never posted any photos from the Sunday-morning pleasure drive at the CAA’s recent Carriage Festival at the Kentucky Horse Park.

So without further ado, here are a few drivers enjoying the beautiful morning …

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For today: a glimpse (c. 1912) of the New York Public Library.

The streets are filled with pedestrians, cars, a motorized bus, and several types of horse-drawn vehicles. And there’s even a bicyclist and a dog. Enjoy looking around …

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