MAPS AND REPORTS OF THE FORT KEARNEY,
by Bishop and Campbell. I consider the improvement of as Game Creek mountains important; and this could be done by the same party but the building of a road to avoid them is a more difficult matter: and, as a contingency, must be guided entirely by your view of the application of the fund remaining.
I kept a line of express open between California and the Pass all last season; and the same efficient mountaineer, William Bodes, who travels alone with his rifle and blanket, can do it again, and state at what time the western end of the road is ready for emigrants.
It is my opinion that all large jobs of work on this road can be more cheaply done by contract than in any other manner. I also suggest this mode as enabling you to confine the expenditures to strict limits, the contingencies of wild interior travel often creating large margins when government expeditions are in the field. Direct orders, as to the amount to he expended under contract, would prevent overrunning the appropriation.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
F. W. LANDER,
Superintendent, &c., &c.
HON. JACOB THOMPSON,
Secretary of the Interior.
WASHINGTON, February 29, 1860.
SIR: In your instructions, dated St. Joseph's, Mo., April 28, you say: I am instructed by the Department of the Interior to endeavor to improve the line of the overland wagon road from City of Rocks to Honey Lake. I have already furnished you with a transcript of this portion of the honorable Secretary's letter. My experience of your character and acknowledged ability fully justifies me in placing you in charge of an advance exploration to furnish to me information of the country over which it is proposed to take this line. You will, therefore, with the transportation for which you have receipted, proceed directly to Soda Springs where you will either find Mr. J. C. Campbell, or will be compelled to await his early arrival.
"Make a quick trip to Isis Springs, then move more slowly to the country of exploration."
In answer to these instructions, I have the honor to make the following report:
I left the winter camp at Troy, Kansas Territory, April 30, passed Fort Kearney May 8, Fort Laramie May 17, and arrived at the South Pass May 27; making the trip in 24 travelling days, the other time, of 21 days, we were delayed at Fort Laramie in changing mules and taking in provisions. On La Bonté creek we were detained by high water, and on Sweet Water, in the neighborhood of Split Rock, by two severe snow storms. Notwithstanding the inclement weather, and the fast time we made, the mules were in good order, the grass on Platte river and on Sweet Water being abundant although short. Mr. C. C. Wrenshall accompanied me to South ran, and left my party on Little Sandey, for Salt Lake City, to bring to Soda Springs provisions
SOUTH PASS, AND HONEY LAKE WAGON ROAD.
and the property of the expedition left at Salt Lake City in charge of Mr. J. C. Campbell.
I made a halt on Green river to engage Thomas Pembrun as interpreter for the Western Sho-sho-nees. He was encamped on Ham's Fork, on the Fort Bridger road. He was informed by Mr. Wrenshall of my coming and of my desire to obtain his services, and soon after joined us. There was a freshet in all the creeks emptying into Bear river, so that we were compelled to mend the bridges over Ham's and Thomas' Fork and to erect a new one over Smith's Fork, as the readiest means of passing these streams safely with our train. We arrived at Soda Springs on the 10th of June. Thomas Pembrun, the engaged interpreter, here took his discharge; an old disease, having broken out, disabled him from making long rides or undergoing the necessary privations. He also expressed his opinion that the western Indians would not permit us to make the exploration embraced in your instructions.
We met Messrs. Campbell and Wrenshall on the big bend of Bear river, June 17. After exchanging some mules and receiving a supply of flour we took the old emigrant road, known as Hedspeth's cut-off, making a complete survey of it. The road, in many places, is very rocky, the grades very steel), and there is one drive without water of 22 1/4 miles; the grass, in general, was good and sufficient. This road crosses Willow and Dempsey's creeks, tributaries of Porto-neuf, touches "the bend of Porto-neuf," and passing over an undulating country, crosses Marsh creek and over the intervening high bill ranges, to Mountain Willow creek, Lanette creek, and Malade river, tributary of Bear river; here it again crosses same, divides between the Salt Lake basin and the Snake river, and intersects the Fort Hall road on the upper part of Raft creek.
The interview with Po-co-ta-roh and his band, whom we met on Raft creek, and the other Indians in the road, is referred to in that portion of my report relating more particularly to Indians.
Road from City of Rocks to Honey Lake Valley.
We arrived at City of Rocks June 26th. From this point the road passed down to some small branches of Raft creek, all of which will furnish water until about the 1st of August; but a few springs north of the road and Granite Spring at the eastern slope of the dividing ridge, between Raft creek and Goose creek, furnish water all the year round. Gross is abundant north of the line in the upper part of the valley.
The descent to Goose creek over the road as it now exists is very severe, the rocks and steep grades render the passage of it very difficult for stock and wagons.
A reconnaissance for a new road was made by Mr. R. L. Poor, which showed the practicability of a new and much better descent in following down a small spring branch. Goose Creek Valley is trav-
MAPS AND REPORTS OF THE FORT KEARNEY,
ersed for a distance of 22 miles and furnishes a good supply of grass. A few improvements would be desirable, such as sloping down the banks of tributaries and removing the rocks at the entrance of a short cañon at the bead of the creek.
The road, after leaving Goose creek, runs over an undulating country to Rock Spring. There is scarcely any grass to be found, the valley being covered with sage bushes and grease wood. Cold Spring affords in the early part of the summer bottom grass, and the adjacent hills bunch grass; but in the latter part of the season there will none be found till the middle and upper part of Thousand Spring valley is reached. In the middle part of Thousand Spring Valley are some sloughs with alkali water, but Only One spring has good water, though not in sufficient quantities for droves of cattle, This will be found further west in Hot Spring creek, coming in from the northwest, the valley which furnishes grass. A tolerably good road leads over a ridge and down to the headwaters of the Humboldt river. The Humboldt wells have always cold, excellent water, and the vicinity affords both bottom and bunch grass. The road forks here - one branch running on the south, the other on the north side of the river. The north side is much preferable on account of the easier grades over bluffs and better grazing. Humboldt cañon at several points is very narrow. The rock walls being almost perpendicular, by their disintegrations they fall down and sometimes partially obstruct the road.
Improvements have been made, but much is still left to be done. The road on the south side of the cañon passes over some deep-cut gulleys just as dangerous to a wagon. The road is good between Humboldt and Fremont's cañon, but the same condition as in first-named cañon is found here. The road crosses the river four times on gravelly bottom. On Maggie creek the road leaves the river and passes the hills over loose rocks and a few steep grades to Gravelly Ford. This is the nature of the road till it strikes the river again, a distance of ten miles below the ford. There are no difficulties between here and Stoney Point with the exception of sloping down the banks of a spring branch and some sloughs.
The road is good to the dividing line of the Sho-sho-nee and the Pah-utah tribes. It avoids here a small cañon through which the river winds, going over the hills. A good road to Tutt's Meadows in the bend of the river; a small spring branch has to be crossed; the lower crossing has muddy bottom, the upper is good. A good gravelly road extends to Lassen's Meadows, where it forks again - one part going down Humboldt river to Carson Valley, the other to Honey Lake Valley. A good road runs from the Meadows to Antelope Spring, where good water is found, but grass is scarce; thence over an undulating country and two hill ranges to Rabbit Hole Springs. Water is found in holes from which it can be dipped with a bucket; good road hence to Hot Springs at the eastern border of Mud Lake; a short distance below the springs cattle may be watered, but grass is scarce; through Mud Lake to Granite Springs good cool water can be obtained, and grass in a ravine to the northwest. A good road to Deep Hole Springs, good grass and water; hence to Buffalo Springs, water in holes in sufficient quantity; grass in the neighborhood.
SOUTH PASS, AND HONEY LAKE WAGON ROAD.
Over a road, rocky in a few places, to the lower part of Bush Valley; water sinks before it emerges out of the cañon and is found only in holes; but the middle and upper parts of Bush Valley have good running water and abundant grass. Leaving this valley we come to Mud Spring; good water; grass will be found in a ravine southeast of the spring. The road, after leaving Mud Spring, is very rocky till it arrives on the dividing ridge, Honey Lake Valley. Honey Lake Valley affords the emigrant every facility to recruit stock, and in the tipper part to obtain a supply of provisions. An annexed guide for emigrants gives a synopsis of the above description of the country, with the distances, and other useful information.
Description of the Country north of the Emigrant Road.
The first reconnoissance was made down Goose creek; the valley is narrow, with two cañons in 18 miles, a few spring branches emptying into it, then it widens and runs through rolling hills for five miles, where a considerable tributary comes in. From here the creek runs in the open Snake River Valley, furnishing abundant grass after it leaves the mountains; along its tributaries and on the adjacent hills bunch grass is found.
The north fork of Goose creek runs most of its course in a canon, has not much grass, and its bottom is subject to overflow from the beaver-dams.
The country north of Rock Spring has, on the dividing ridge between Goose creek and Holmes' creek, good bunch grass; but the bottom is stoney, and therefore dried up by the middle of July. Springs are found on the hill slopes, but few will last longer than the melting of the snow on the mountains, and these are indicated by the thick bunches of willow and quaking aspens.
The dividing ranges between Bishop's creek, Holmes' creek, and Owghee river are the highest mountains in the country explored. They show many peaks in the early part of August still covered with snow, very rugged, rocky, and intersected by deep ravines, through which swift currents of water flow. These ravines have in general a growth of quaking aspens and sometimes of cotton-wood trees. The hill sides show stunted cedar trees and a few of mountain mahogany.
The western main branches of Holmes' creek join in a deep and narrow cañon through which they flow. At the end of the cañon is a valley extending southwards from which a few small creeks come in, but sink about half a mile before they reach the main stream. Hence the creek breaks through a mountain range and flows in a wide bottom for 16 miles, forming many sloughs and some miry places. This lower bottom has good grass, but it soon after enters again a cañon with perpendicular rock walls varying from 50 to 150 feet in height. Close to the cañon and above the fork of an eastern branch we found the only ford with gravelly bottom. The banks were steep above and muddy; width of the creek here 15 feet by 3 feet deep. Eighteen miles further down, where the creek flows in a rolling plain extending to Snake river, its rock walls are still 50 feet high.
Between the mountain range, through which the Humboldt river
MAPS AND REPORTS OF THE FORT KEARNEY,
breaks and forms the Humboldt cañon and Bishop's creek its next western tributary, is a wide valley covered with sage brushes. Several small creeks break out of the eastern mountain ranges through canons and deep-cut ravines; but all sink before they reach the middle of the valley. The upper part of the valley of the north fork of Humboldt river is wide, but has only grass along its water courses the other part is covered with sage brush
The upper part of Maggie creek has good pasturage on hill sides, but lower down and in the valley itself sage brush alone is found.
The mountain ranges north of Gravelly Ford and Stoney Point have springs and a few creeks flowing in cañons; but they sink as soon as they emerge in that wide valley, sometimes in less than a mile's distance.
The country affords little game. A few antelopes and some deer were seen; rabbits of a large size, sage hens, and grouse are frequently met with. The creeks furnish speckled and salmon trouts and other fish, and their banks are studded with currant bushes, the dried fruit of which is one of the chief supplies of the Indians in winter time.
Facilities for roads through these mountains.
A road from the head of Goose creek, where the present emigrant road leaves it, can be built to Holmes' creek without much expense. From Holmes' creek to the upper valley of Bishop's creek considerable earth excavation is required, and, notwithstanding this, steep grades will be unavoidable. The same is the case to the southern branch of Owyhee river. Hence, a good location can be found to the north fork of Humboldt river; following up a tributary, a good gal leads to the upper part of Maggie creek; from here, we again cross over to water flowing into Owyhee river. There are several gaps of easy ascent. Hence, not much difficulty to crossing the Stoney Point range, where the passes are very rocky and steep; thence through a wide valley to the Pah-ne Utah and Sho-sho-me line.
The cost of building a practicable road for emigrants through these parts will be great, and then it has these disadvantages, that in summer time, when the emigration arrives, the grass will be dry and scarce, and some of the spring branches will not supply sufficient water.
The gain in time and distance will be very inconsiderable, if any. There are so many ridges and narrow valleys or wide bottoms without water, to pass, that I consider the Humboldt River road preferable. 'When the emigrant or the cattle driver takes the necessary precautions, and does not let his animals drink out of sloughs, which always contain alkali, and when he is careful with his fire, then the grass along the Humboldt river will sustain a very large emigration.
A road with little cost can be built from the Oregon road on Snake river along Holme's creek, either to the Humboldt wells or Thousand Spring Valley. From Snake river to the foot hills not much grass will be found except along the water courses. The first difficulty will be in bridging the creek and going through a cañon about one mile long, the divide between this and Hot Spring creek being low.
SOUTH PASS, AND HONEY LAKE WAGON ROAD.
The foregoing report contains such information as I have been able to obtain of the country designated in your instructions, and is, with the accompanying map, submitted to your approval.
While detained several days at Soda Springs, I took the opportunity to verify the observations for latitude made in 1857, about the accuracy of which there was some doubt. I found, by repeated observations, that the springs were placed too far south on the former maps, and have made the necessary correction on one of this year's operations.
In compliance with your directions to make a brief report of my intercourse with the Indians while in charge of the advance party, I have the honor to say, that after leaving the South Pass we saw only a few lodges of Eastern Sho-sho-nees encamped on Green river. The main body of that tribe were on the eastern slope of the Wind River mountains. Passing from Green river we met none until we reached Soda Springs, where a single Indian came into our camp to trade some beaver skins. He belonged to the Sheepeaters tribe from the headwaters of Lewis Fork, and disclaimed any connection with the Bannocks. He informed me of the departure of the Bannocks for the mountains north of Snake river. It appears that they were afraid of the retaliations of traders or United States soldiers for their depredations committed on Green river and its vicinity last winter.
On the head of Raft creek, near City of Rocks, we were expected and met by Pocotaroh and a party of his band amounting to 15 warriors. He remembered the conditional promise given by you in the fall of 1858 to return the ensuing season and bring some presents.
These Indians appeared destitute, almost, of the necessaries of life, and received with the greatest joy the presents I was directed by you to distribute among them. They were given blankets, cloth, handkerchiefs, knives, paints, and many other trifles, to which I added some flour.
Descending to Goose creek we met several men of the band under the chief Ne-met-teh. They were hunting in the Goose Creek mountains. I tried to engage one of them as guide, but the presence of some companies of the United States army, under the command of Major Lynde, intimidated them so much that they left. again for the mountains. The same was the case in Thousand Spring Valley, in the upper part of which we saw several bands of Weber River Indians. On Hot Spring creek about 45 warriors came into the camp; inquired our intentions and those of the soldiers; avowed their honesty; that they had never stolen cattle or robbed emigrants. They received presents and departed without further molesting us, although only 6 persons were in camp at the time, the other members of my party being out on reconnoissance. On the upper part of Humboldt river several lodges were encamped. We saw, nightly, their camp fires 3 or 4 miles from the road at the foot of the mountains. Many of them came into our camp begging and went away fully satisfied with the presents bestowed upon them.
MAPS AND REPORTS OF THE FORT KEARNEY,
Our interpreter, Alek Frapp, collected, on the north fork of Humboldt river, all the Indians around and brought them, at the request of Major Lynde, just returned from Gravelly Ford, to his camp. Major Lynde made an appropriate speech, and presented them with flour and meat. They informed him that most of their tribe had left the Humboldt and gone south to avoid the passing soldiers.
In our reconnoissance, sometimes extending 70 miles north of the Humboldt, we met only a few lodges of Indians, belonging partly to the Sho-sho-nee and partly to the Bannock tribes. The latter came from the Snake river, where they had passed the fishing season. As they had never seen white men in this part of the country they were at a loss what to make of us, but, as I had always some presents with me, they seemed satisfied with the answer that we were here to see the country.
All the Western Sho-sho-nees have been friendly to us, at least they did not molest us nor attempt to steal our mules. Close to the dividing range between the Western Sho-sho-nees and Pah-Utah tribes, we met about a dozen lodges of the latter Indians. They received presents, but as their language is quite different from. that of the Sho-sho-nees, I was unable to learn any thing concerning them. These were the last party of Indians we saw, although delayed for sortie time in camp at Tutt's Meadows, Humboldt river. I have to recommend to your special notice the good conduct of Isaac Frapp, or Sho-sho-nee Aleck, the Sho-sho-nee half-breed, who has been of great service to the party, both as interpreter and as doing the general work of an employé.
In making these explorations and in carrying out your instructions I have been ably seconded by my assistants, Messrs. Poor, Long, and Key, whom I would recommend to you for favorable mention in your report to the department, and Mr. J. C. Campbell for his valuable general assistance; to John A. Justus, who was more particularly in charge of the transportation, I am largely indebted for the admirable manner in which he performed this important duty. With the exception of the two mules which died, he carried the entire stock through to California in good condition.
I am, sir, with greatest respect, your obedient servant,
WILL. H. WAGNER,
Engineer of Fort Kearney, South Pass,
and Honey Lake Wagon Road.
F. W. LANDER, Superintendent
Fort Kearney, South Pass, and Honey Lake Wagon Road.
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