Westward Through Nebraska
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
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      Wash-a-Kie (752 m.), elevation 6697 feet.

      Red Desert (761 m.), elevation 6710 feet. The surrounding country is so called from the colour of its soil, a deep red, due to the presence of a sesquioxide of iron.

      Table Rock (775 m.), elevation 6890 feet; the station so named from a peculiar flat-topped bluff, about 500 feet in height.

      Bitter Creek Station (785 m.), elevation 6685 feet. Hence we descend the celebrated Bitter Creek Valley for sixty miles to Green River. Coal and oil are among the treasures of this valley. Coal, too, is found at

      Black Buttes (794 m.), elevation 6600 feet; and at

      Hallville (798 m.).

      Point of Rocks (805 m.), elevation 6490 feet. Here, too, a vein of coal has been struck, but the quality is not very good. From this station regular stages run, during the summer, to the Sweetwater Mines, lying on the Sweetwater River. The lodes are rich in gold.

      Salt Wells Station (817 m.), elevation 6360 feet.

      Van Dykes (828 m.), where more coal is found.

      Rock Springs (831 m.), elevation 6280 feet. Through a romantic gorge we sweep rapidly downward to

      Green River Station (845 m.), elevation 6140 feet, cross Green River, and reach

      Bryan (858 m.), elevation 6340 feet, where another thirty minutes are allowed for the refreshment of the inner man. The Railroad Company have some workshops here.

      We now ascend the Black Fork, crossing it twice, and run through a country of no particular interest, to

      Granger's Station (876 m.), in the territory of Utah.

      Church Buttes (887 m.), elevation 6317 feet. Moss agates are found here, among the sandy bluffs, in great abundance. These bluffs assume so ecclesiastical a cha-

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      racter, with their spire, and domes, and pinnacles, as to have suggested the significant name of the station.

      Carter's Station (904 m.), elevation 6550 feet. Ten miles distant lies Fort Bridger, established in 1858 by General A.S. Johnson, and named after James Bridger, "the renowned hunter, trapper, and guide." It is situated 159 miles from Salt Lake City, and garrisoned by three companies of infantry and one of cavalry.

      Bridger Station (913 m.), elevation 6780 feet.

      Piedmont Station (928 m.), elevation 7123 feet.

      Aspen (937 m.), elevation 7540 feet, being the second highest point on the Union Pacific Railroad. It is named after a lofty mountain to the north, called "Quaking Asp."

      Crossing Yellow Creek, one of the tributaries of Bear River, we reach

      Evanston (955 m.), elevation 6835 feet. In the vicinity are some oil wells and sulphur springs ; and at the head of Echo Canyon are some very valuable coal mines.

      Alma (957 m.) elevation 6850 feet.

      Wahsatch (966 m.), elevation 6879 feet. Here the train stops thirty minutes, and the travellers obtain what refreshments they can at the "Trout House." It is expected that the town will shortly be removed to Evanston. Truth to tell, it bears a very malodorous reputation. A recent traveller was told that "out of twenty-four graves here, only one held the remains of a person who had died a natural death, and that was a woman of notoriously bad character who had poisoned herself!"

      In some parts of the Bear River Valley we may note, as a fact, that the grasshoppers are so numerous it is impossible to place the point of a pin on the ground without touching them!

      "An eastward-bound train," says a writer in the New Jersey Journal, "which has just come into Wahsatch, is provided with evergreen brooms, covering the cow-catcher and brushing the track, to sweep off the grasshoppers. The engineer of our train informs me that at times they are so numerous on the track as to be crushed to death by thousands: hence they make the driving-wheels and track so greasy that trains are often two or three hours behind their time."

      We now pass through a tunnel 770 feet long, but not the longest on the line. What a curious sensation travelling in a tunnel gives you! Whirling onward through

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(Weber Canyon)

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      the grim darkness, your ears filled with the rush, the clatter, and the reverberation, you begin to think yourself handed over to the powers of the under-world! But with the passenger the sole evil of the tunnel, as a rule, is its passing effect on the imagination. To the railroad labourer it is a very genuine and positive evil, since its excavation is always a work of danger, and it is seldom completed without loss of life. The railroad is not much alluded to in modern poetry; but, at least, this portion of it has proved suggestive to the fancy of our San Francisco poet, Bret Harte; and his pathetic ballad thereupon may be perused by the reader on his again emerging from the darkness,—

          "Didn't know Flynn—
          Flynn of Virginia—
          Long as he's been yar?
          Look'ee here, stranger,
          Whar hev you been?
          "Here in this tunnel
          He was my pardner,
          That same Tom Flynn—
          Working together,
          In wind and weather,
          Day out and in.
          "Didn't know Flynn!
          Well, that is queer;
          Why, it's a sin
          To think of Tom Flynn,
          Tom with his cheer,
          Tom without fear—
          Stranger, look yar!
          "Thar in the drift,
          Back to the wall,
          He held the timbers
          Ready to fall;
          There in the darkness
          I heard him call:
          'Run for your life, Jake!
          Run for your wife's sake!
          Don't wait for me!'
          "And that was all
          Heard in the din,
          Heard of Tom Flynn—
          Flynn of Virginia.
          "That's all about
          Flynn of Virginia!
          That lets me out,
          Here in the damp,
          Out of the sun—
          That 'ar darned lamp

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          Makes my eyes run.
          Well, there—I'm done!
          "But, sir, when you'll
          Hear the next fool
          Asking of Flynn—
          Flynn of Virginia—
          Just you chip in,
          Say yon know Flynn—
          Say that you've been yar."

      Flynn is just the type of a large number of our railway workmen. Whether Bret Harte has founded his ballad on any real incident we cannot say. All we know is, that after reading it one feels a strange sensation of unaccustomed tears.

      Now we enter Echo Canyon, of which, in the first place, we shall attempt a general sketch.

      Echo Canyon (or Cañon) is one of the sublimest, and yet, too, one of the fairest scenes which even the New World can boast of. Picture to yourself, O reader, a deep, rocky, and rugged ravine some seven miles in length, and, at its head, from one-half to three-quarters of a mile in width. On the right hand it is flanked by bold, precipitous, and buttressed cliffs from 300 to 800 feet high, denuded and water-worn by the storms which beat against them during the southerly gales. Their strata lie inclined at an angle of 45° from N.E. to S.W. The opposite side, sheltered from furious winds and driving tempests of rain, is formed by a succession of swelling verdurous bills or sloping masses of rock, profusely clothed with mossy herbage. In the hollow between them rolls a bright transparent stream, which, incessantly at work, has excavated for its waters a channel some twenty feet below the surface. At certain parts a rocky ledge or a pile of boulders vexes it into madness, until, gathering itself up like an athlete, it clears the obstacle with one swift and sudden bound. About half-way down, the ravine norrows to a mere defile, where the stream grows wilder, and the banks are steeper, and the vegetation flourishes more thickly. The lofty cliffs on the right are here broken up into a variety of fantastic outlines: pyramids and pinnacles, spires and towers, battlemented fortresses and ruined cathedrals—the whole resembling a magician's vision embodied in stone, which might furnish the imagination of poet or artist with inexhaustible material.

      In truth this canyon is, what Fitz Hugh Ludlow calls

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      it, one of the most magnificent avenues by vhich Nature has ever supplemented human skill, or challenged it to a hopeless contest. Notwithstanding all our engineering appliances and artificial forces, to wring from Nature such a corridor, or "right of way," between two tracts divided in their physical geography by a lofty barrier one hundred miles in thickness, would have cost us at least a hundred years of the most enlightened skill and the most arduous labour. Nature, therefore, as if she felt the necessity of providing for those social and commercial currents which are ever longing to mingle over the whole world, throws open to Man the pass of the Wahsatch, as free as air.

      Obviously it must have received its name from an echo though neither by experiment nor inquiry can the traveller discover any one sufficiently remarkable to have bestowed its name on so grand a task of Nature.

      Castle Rock (975 m.), a little station at an elevation of 6290 feet, in the vicinity of a long line of red sandstone cliffs, which wear a curiously castellated appearance. Seven miles further down is the Hanging Rock; and six miles beyond, the massive boulders and huge rocks collected on the brink of the precipice, to be flung down upon


      the United States forces under General Johnson, sent against the Mormons in 1857.

      During the descent of the valley the railroad crosses the Echo Creek thirty-one times in 26 miles.

      Passing the Witches' Cave and Pulpit Pock, we reach

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      Echo City (991 m.), at an elevation of 5540 feet. It has now a population of about 700 inhabitants, but as both iron and coal have been found in the vicinity, we can hardly doubt that it has "a good time coming."

      Eight miles below Echo City the train enters Weber Canyon, which almost surpasses the Echo in sublimity of character. In its depths the Weber River rushes impetuously forward, or collects, when its fury is spent, into dark silent pools, which suggest an idea of indefinable and mysterious depth.

      Where the pass narrows we come upon the One Thousand Mile Tree, a pine that marks the exact distance from Omaha, and for centuries has marked it, before Watt had perfected the steam-engine or George Stephenson the locomotive. Not far from this curious landmark is the Devil's Slide, a remarkable disposition of high narrow slabs of granite, planted up the mountain side, and nearly to its summit, at a nearly uniform distance of 100 feet. Another conspicuous landmark is the celebrated Witches' Rock. Next we shoot through a tunnel 550 feet long, cross, recross, and again cross and recross the river, until, where the valley widens, we come upon


      Weber Station (1007 m.), in the vicinity of Morgan City, a Mormon settlement; and next, after a rapid descent, arrive at

      Devil's Gate Station (1019 m.), on the threshold of a

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      majestic but gloomy and almost weird landscape. We sweep onward through the very heart of frowning rocks and terrible precipices, until the mouth of the canyon is reached, and the traveller catches his first delightful glimpse of the broad green plains immediately before him, and of the Great Salt Lake beyond.

      Uintah Station (1024 m.) elevation 4560 feet, or 2319 feet lower than Wabsatch, 58 miles to the eastward. From Sacramento, 752 miles.

      Ogden Station (1032 m.). We are here at an elevation of 4340 feet, and 1032 miles distant from Omaha, and 742 from Sacramento.

      The Union and Central Pacific Railroads have a union depot at this station, with warehouses, round-houses, machine and repair houses. An excellent restaurant is also provided for the accommodation of travellers.

      Ogden City lies about three-quarters of a mile from the station. It is situated at the mouth of Ogden Canyon, one of the valleys which intersect the Wahsatch range, and between the Ogden and Weber rivers. Hotel, the Ogden House. It is the chief town of Weber County, and as the terminus of both the Union and Central Pacific Railroads, as well as of the Utah Central, is a place of growing trade. The population, chiefly Mormon, is about 6000.

      The scenery immediately around it is not very striking, but still there is enough to amuse and interest the traveller for a day or so, if his pedestrian powers are tolerable, and he does not fear to climb the abrupt hills and descend into the deep verdurous valleys.

      Ogden Canyon is fully five miles in length, and from its mouth to its source, from plain to mountain-top, it presents a succession of those naturally artistic pictures, beautiful in outline, grouping, and colour, which are the delight of the sketcher. About six miles from the town, and high up among the mountain solitudes, lies an exquisite Arcadian glen, or "bowery hollow," called the Basin, watered by sparkling mountain creeks, and rich in a soft carpet of luxuriant herbage.

      We have now completed the first portion of our Trans-Continental Tour. The second portion will be described in our "PICTORIAL GUIDE-BOOK TO THE CENTRAL PACIFIC RAILROAD" (from Ogden to San Francisco). But to render the present volume more satisfactory, we shall append a brief chapter on the metropolis of Mormondom,

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      referring the reader for fuller particulars to our "PICTORIAL GUIDE-BOOK TO SALT LAKE CITY."

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