The Conservative (Nebraska City, Neb.) 1898-1902, June 08, 1899, Page 11, Image 11

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    'Che Conservative. 11
Bauds for three or four miles , " he says ,
then they left her on a sand-bar aud
walked ashore.
This recalls the case of the smart
man who ouce sold a number of honest
people through steamboat tickets from
Pittsburg to Denver , by way of the
Ohio , Mississippi , Missouri and Platte
Eight hours from Omaha , wo come to
the Forks of the Platte , which Fremont
reached twenty-three days after he "sat
out , " as ho called it. The difference
between the two confluents is striking ;
the North Platte is a handsome stream ,
wide , swift aad clear ; the South resem
bles the lower Platte , most trifling of
rivers. Here is the town of North Platte ,
whence Buffalo Bill emerges to aston
ish the world ; here Fremont crossed the
river , buried a barrel of pork for future
reference , and divided his party , him
self ascending the South Fork , in the
direction of Long's Peak. We are
therefore now in his immediate path ;
but not for long , for the Union Pacific
presently quits the Platte and heads for
the interior of Wyoming. Nothing
happened to him in the interval , except
that they found that the sugar had been
forgotten , which so dampened the spirits
of the party that they went to bed in
the sulks. "The worst of these mis
haps is , " says the captain , significantly ,
"that make ill-humored "
they people - ;
and the next day the suffering German
topographer was sent back to join the
North Fork party.
It is still the same vast undefined val
ley ; only immediately below the junc
tion , have we seen anything like the
richly-carved bluffs of the Missouri. A
short distance above again , there appear
certain yellow mud cliffs , steep to the
river's edge ; these are O'Fallon's Bluffs ,
a landmark on the old Pike's Peak trail ,
which was forced to leave the river-
bottom and climb over them. The river ,
when we can see it at all , seems a most
inconsiderable water-course ; one would
think that a man might cross it in the
dark without knowing it was there ; it
is traversed at intervals by a kind of
elevated sidewalk.
The railroad is a finer piece of work
than the river ; heavy rails , burnt bal
last , today at least
The Road. , / „
entirely free from
dust , and the straightest of tracks. The
gangs of laborers encountered at inter
vals display the brown faces and flash
ing smiles of southern Italy. Always ,
since we entered the Platte Valley ,
there has been a wagon road on one or
both sides of the line ; many are the
farmers and school-children we have
mot , but never a horse has shied. The
engines are not so heavy as the locomot
ives of some of the Eastern roads , bui
their six tall drivers tick off the rails al
the rate of fifty to sixty miles an hour
their tires are 'all ' painted white , and
every smoke-stack has a dish-pah on top
of it , in the fashion of twenty years
ago , naturally gratifying to a CONSERV
ATIVE. One notices how short and
stout are the telegraph poles used ;
many are seen fifteen to eighteen inches
in thickness and not more than as many
'eet in height. Along here they seem
subject to attack from some enemy ,
which makes largo holes in them in
which some kind of bird builds its nest.
Or is there a bird that has the gift of
excavating nest-holes in telegraph poles ?
When bed-time comes wo are traversing
a cattle-country , where an occasional
. , ranch and the om-
The MouiituhiB. . , ,
mpresent school-
liouse are visible , but never a tree.
Wild cactus and the habitations of the
great red ant show that we are approaching
preaching the Rockies , and at Chey
enne , as we learn , on the return trip , the
Great Plains are past and the road
strikes in among them. In fact , it is
only about thirty miles to the highest
point on the line , a windy jumble of
those worn and rounded red rocks that
characterize the lower divides of the
Rocky Mountains. From this point a
grand chain of peaks , the main snowy
range , is in sight ; southward , no less
an individuality than Long's Peak , and
you may even discern that sacred spot
where the Pinto Hess ate loco-weed , if
the day is clear ; to the north , a magni
ficent object called Elk Mountain ,
which remains in sight through the
greater part of a day's ride ; you lose it
and you find it again ; the entire circuit
of its huge bulk is often revealed to
you , a rare virtue among mountains ,
and today it is pure white from base to
summit. It is the northern buttress of
the Medicine Bow range , and the whole
system , hereabouts sends its meltings
down the North Platte. Though it is
the latter part of May , there is a great
quantity of snow in sight ; it lies thick
in every draw and ravine , often close
beside the track.
Now there is sage-brush everywhere ,
but it has been discovered that such
country is good
Sights. , , °
for sheep , and they
swarm like bugs on many a moun
tain-side. Prairie-dogs do not seem
to be numerous 011 this line , but
one is seen occasionally , standing
in his perennial amazement at the
spectacle we present , his mouth open
and paws pendent , as if ho had just
dropped his work. Hero is a cliff
near the track , at the foot of which is a
wreckage of skeletons of sheep , which
either drifted over the edge in a blizzard ,
or were stampeded over by wolves. Here
is one of those malefactors , lean , mean
and yellow , who slinks across the track
after the train has passed. A frequent
sight is the carcass of a steer in a cor
ner of the wire fence ; possibly the work
of blizzards also. We stop to minister
o a heated journal , and the passengers
swarm out to treat their lungs to the
air ; a fat man steps to one side and
sighing , picks up the dried head of some
venerable ram with curling horns ,
which he says is the head of a mountain
sheep , and which he , sighing , lashes
with a great deal of string to the rear
coupler of the train. He says it is to
keep off the ghosts : it serves at least to
make an honest brakeman swear when ,
at the next junction , another coach is
looked on behind.
Twenty-four hours from Omaha , wo
are traveling through a great basin or
trough , whoso
The Divide.
sage - brush sides
confine the view , and where only an
occasional gap reveals some dim moun-
iain-shape walking along the horizon.
This is the continental divide ; it is
liours in length , but at the end of it we
are in touch with the Pacific ; for hero
is the historic Bitter Creek , whoso
waters , through the channels of the
Green River and the Colorado , find
their way into the Gulf of California.
Fremont's route lies fifty miles to the
north , through that natural gateway
which the Oregon emigrants and the
fur-traders employed , and which was
called the South Pass because it was
south of that found by Lewis and
Clark in 1806 at the headwaters of the
Missouri. Many travelers over the
South Pass speak of the ease of the as
cent from either side , and of the close
scrutiny necessary to detect the point of
the divide ; it is so on this line ; there is
nothing like a sharp ridge to denote
where the backbone of the continent
lies. The manifest reason why the
South Pass route was preferred is that
it lay throughout in river valleys , as
suring water and forage ; whereas the
Union Pacific traverses a veritable rem
nant of the mythical Great American
Desert , and a feature of its traffic is a
thing not met with on many roads , the
Presently we find ourselves on a down
grade in a distinct valley , which soon
narrows into a
The Dovil.
canyon with high
rocky walls , and then we are thunder
ing down a typical mountain gorge ,
where a fine impetuous river dashes
around corners with a noise that rises
above the racket of the train. The
walls are garnished with an assortment
of those peculiar souvenirs which the
early travelers dedicated to the devil ,
with a lavishness that must have been
embarrassing at times to that useful
spirit. The West is full of slides ,
punch-bowls , teapots , gates and other
odds and ends for which he can have
really very little use. They are the
things the tourists love to contemplate ,
however , and all hands are busy at the
windows ; the literary matching their
adjectives against the Wahsatoh Moun
tains , the pious extolling the wisdom
and power of the Creator as manifested
in the wonders of the Devil's Slide.
Wo are behind time , and the train flirts
around corners at a reckless rate , quite
unmindful of the unhappy CONSEUVA-