horses & driving


Checking in with Mr. Johnson the next morning …

“On the morning of the 26th I left Green River city for Laramie, where I arrived on the 10th of June.

“Leaving [Green River]┬ácity I followed the railroad to Rock Springs, where I left it and did not see it again until arriving in Laramie. After leaving the city and having traveled about six miles, I came to Bitter Creek river. The waters are said to be poisonous and cattle are not allowed to drink its waters. In fording this river, my cattle were not dry, so did not attempt to drink.

“About twelve o’clock I made Rock Springs, which is a telegraph station. Here I made a short stop, giving water and grain to the cattle and took a dish of cold coffee and crackers myself. Here I leave the railroad for a long time. About four miles or more from here, I met an ox team, accompanied by two men, and inquired if I was on the right trail for Laramie. ‘You are not; you should have taken the other trail,’ they said. ‘Then I shall have to go back and take the other trail?’ I said. ‘No, go on a little further and turn to your left, you will come into the trail.’ I went on and, coming to the place, turned to the left, as I had been told, coming back to the trail all right, and about five o’clock came to a slough; it was an awful looking hole. After looking at it I got up on my wagon and drove over it all right.

“After a little while I came to another of the same kind, which I passed all right. Went on, coming to some grass, which was fenced in and some cattle feeding, and going on a little further came to a house and barn. After passing the house, we came to a good grass plat where I camped for the night. I turned my cattle loose to feed for themselves, while I gathered some fuel, made a fire, prepared some coffee and cooked some dried beef, partaking of an excellent supper. A good dish of coffee, well seasoned with milk and sugar, all alone, tastes good, you bet.

“After supper I brought in the cattle, gave them some grain and secured them for the night; spread out my blankets, laid down and allowed myself to go to sleep. Just think of it: in the dead of night to wake up and find yourself alone; then I have a long talk with my cattle. My dog, Bertie, is at all times with me in my bed.”

In today’s old photo, we have a view of Jacksonville, Florida, c. 1910. The street is filled with cars, a few pedestrians, a bicycle, and quite a lot of horse-drawn vehicles. The ones standing by the curb on the left side of the photo are actually standing in front of a harness shop.

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There is a LOT of horse-drawn traffic in this fantastic photo, c. 1908, of Philadelphia’s Delaware Avenue, at the foot of Market Street.

Enjoy looking around!

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Here’s a fascinating photo, from 1911, of a huge boiler being moved down D Street in Washington, D.C., with the Capitol in the background.

There are twelve horses here. Can you find them all?

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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┬áMr. Johnson dropped while rattling off the weights of the various parts of his carriage? He’s been walking alongside for most of this trek!

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