November 27, 2005
Nevada's Online State News Journal
WASHOE SILVER MINES,
WITH A DESCRIPTION OF THE
COUNTRY EAST OF THE SIERRA.
BY HENRY DEGROOT.
PUBLISHED BY HUTCHINGS & ROSENFIELD.
No. 146 Montgomery Street,
ITS SOIL, CLIMATE, RESOURCES, &c.
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The recently discovered silver lodes, constituting what are known as the Washoe Mines, lie on the western verge of Utah Territory, about twenty miles distant from the California line, and, centrally considered, due east from Marysville. This Territory, formerly a portion of the Mexican Province of "Alta California," acquired by us under the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, lies between the thirty-seventh and forty-second degrees of north latitude, and the thirty-eighth and forty-second degrees of longitude west from Washington.
Across this Territory, running from north to south, are two chains of mountains, dividing it into three nearly equal parts. The most eastern of these ranges, called the Wasatch, separates the basin of Great Salt Lake from that of the Fremont or Great American Desert. The most western, the Humboldt, separates the Great Desert from what has recently come to be known as
This district has for natural boundaries the Divide between the waters of the Pacific and the Great Basin on the north, the Humboldt mountains on the east, and the Sierra Nevada on the south and west, separating it from the State of California. The whole region, though covered with clusters of lofty hills, and nearly surrounded by mountains, may be considered an elevated table-land, it having an absolute altitude of more than four thousand feet above the level of the sea. The ranges that traverse or encompass it, have an elevation of from two to eight thousand feet above its general plain, reaching at many points the line of constant snow. The conformation of these various interior ranges and mountain groups is such as to divide this territory into a series of independent basins, each having a drainage of its own, but none of them an outlet to the sea. The common receptacle of this drainage is a lake or sink, into which the larger streams make their way, the smaller being dissipated by the dry and burning atmosphere, or swallowed up by the equally arid earth. None of its waters flow to the great and purifying ocean. Some of these sinks are mere sloughs, being reduced in the hot season to mud lakes or marshes, or perhaps entirely dried up. In some instances they cover an area two or three times as large, during the spring freshets, as at a late period in the summer.
SOIL AND CLIMATE.
The climate of this plateau, owing to its elevation, is more rigorous, as well as inconstant, than that of corresponding latitudes on the coast of the Pacific. Like the great plains of Tartary, it may be said to be Asiatic in its character, the summers being everywhere hot, and the winters cold, except in the deep and sheltered valleys. In the latter the weather is generally mild and the snow light, though these, like every other part of the country, are exposed to strong winds, which frequently blow with great violence. The thermometer, during the summer, ranges from ninety degrees to a hundred, fluctuating but little, though the nights, as in California, are generally cool. During the greater part of the spring and autumn, the weather is delightful, though subject to sudden changes, with high and variable winds. The whole country is liable to frost, even the valleys being visited by it every month in the year. Utah, like California, has its wet and its dry season, the latter being of longer, though not of such uninterrupted continuance as with us. Showers are frequent during the spring and fall, being often heavy and accompanied with thunder and lightning. In the summer, rain is very rare, except upon the mountains. About these, rain clouds are often seen hovering, while in the winter their tops are constantly enveloped in mists and storms. Some winters but little rain, or even snow, falls ; nor is the cold so intense as during others. The depth of snow varies with elevation, there sometimes being many feet upon the mountains when there is none at all upon the plains.
4 THE WASHOE COUNTRY.
Western Utah may be said to be a region of volcanic origin, and, geologically speaking, of recent formation. Much of the surface, as has been already stated, is covered with mountains ; much is also covered with barren sage plains and drifting sands. Three-fourths of the entire country is desolate waste, and, for all agricultural and grazing purposes, utterly worthless. Large districts are composed of indurated clay, disintegrated granite, or deep sand, in spots mixed with rocks and loose stones. In some places are patches of rich but dry and friable soil, into which an animal sinks over the hoof at every step, while in others the earth is covered with a scum of effloresced salt, through which both man and beast break into the black mud below, when attempting to pass over it. For miles the eye is dazzled with saline incrustations, covering the earth like snow. The only inhabitable portions of this Territory are the valleys, not so much from the absolute sterility of the soil elsewhere, as the absence of wood and water. Nothing but grass, except in a few spots, can be raised without irrigation. Aided by this, much of the land, especially in the valleys, produces abundantly. Except in the more barren places, a sufficient degree of moisture alone is required to insure good crops of both grain and vegetables. A variety of grasses grows in the valleys. Much bunch grass is also found upon the mountains. It lasts through the season and is very nutritious.
GRASS AND TIMBER.
Timber is mostly confined to the borders of the streams, the ravines, and the bases of the hills, being of a poor quality, and scanty even there. There are, however, some forests of limited extent and moderate growth upon the mountains. At the foot of these there is also generally a strip of good land, yet even upon this, irrigation is necessary for successful culture. A dwarf cedar, often a mere shrub, is distributed pretty generally over the hilly districts. But the artemisia, or wild sage, is the most common shrub in this region. In truth it may be said to exist everywhere, since it covers, more or less densely, three-fourths of the entire country. This plant possesses little value except for fuel, though its presence is by no means such an unmistakable sign of sterility as is generally supposed. Wherever it attains a luxuriant growth the soil has been found to be good, yielding a rich reward to husbandry when aided by irrigation. Indeed this might have been inferred from the excellence of the grass growing amongst it, as well as from the spicy odor, and resinous qualities of the shrub itself.
In characterizing this region as being one of extreme sterility, the Humboldt, and several other minor ranges of mountains, should be excepted. These are represented to be covered, in great part, with a good soil, producing an abundance of grass, wild fruits, and some fine timber. They are also plentifully supplied with water, sending down numerous rivulets, which are soon lost in the dry and porous lands at their base. Along the sides of those mountains are both hot and cold springs, some of which discharge an immense volume of water. Owing to their fruitfulness and water, considerable quantities of game is found upon the lower ridges. These mountains, though in places very lofty — some of the peaks reaching a height of ten thousand feet — are not broken or precipitous Nearly everywhere they present an easy grade and a rounded outline. The more elevated points are covered with snow throughout the year.
WATER AND MINERALS.
Western Utah is not a land of lakes or rivers. Its running streams and bodies of water are few and unimportant. It has not a river navigable for steamboats within its borders. The Humboldt, its principal stream, like the Truckee, the Walker, and the Carson, flow, for the most part, through arid deserts, which, aided by the hot sun and dessicated air, drink up their mountain tributaries midway their journey, except when swollen by the falling rains or the melting snows. Owing to this absorption and evaporation these rivers increase but little in magnitude throughout their whole length. The Cañon is not perceptibly larger at its sink than at Genoa, a hundred miles above. These sinks are in fact nothing but the accumulated waters of the rivers at the points where they are themselves swallowed up in the sand. On the other hand, these rivers, during extreme wet seasons, overflow their banks, converting the low places along them into marshes, which last for some time. In consequence of these inundations the grass upon the bottoms is often coarse and sour, for which reason it is less wholesome for stock than that grown upon the hills.
The water of the Humboldt, as well of some minor streams, at best only tolerable, deteriorates as the season advances, until, late in the summer, it becomes so impregnated with alkaline matter as to render it unfit for drinking. At these times the further we descend the stream the worse the water becomes, owing to the greater accumulation of these deleterious substances.
ITS SOIL, CLIMATE, RESOURCES, &c. 5
Of the geology and mineralogy of this region, as yet but little is known. Granite, scoria and volcanic rocks abound, and basalt occurs on the slopes of the mountains; sulphur and salts of various kinds are abundant, vast districts being covered with their efflorescence. Warm and boiling springs are everywhere met with, indicating the proximity of igneous agents. Copper, lead, iron and coal are common materials, the latter two existing in quantities in Iron and Millard counties, at a point some four hundred miles south-east of Carson Valley. Iron of a good quality has been made here for several years by the Mormons. Gold mines of considerable richness have boon worked since '50, at various points along the Carson river, and for the last three years on the upper portions of the Walker, and about Mono Lake. Recently, silver ore of unexampled value has been found extending over a large scope, the area of which is likely to be augmented by further explorations. That the whole of Western Utah will prove rich in both the useful and precious metals now scarcely admits of a doubt.
A PRIMITIVE COUNTRY.
Such, then, as described in the preceding article, being some of the geographic features and natural phenomena of Western Utah, there remains to be noticed, under this general view, something of its physical peculiarities and future prospects. It will be perceived, from what has been said, that it is a region of varied geology and strong meteorological characteristics—a land of contrasts, extremes, and apparent contradictions; of mingled barrenness and fertility, beauty and desolation, aridity and storm. Growing side by side, is the cactus and the wild plum, while issuing almost from the same orifice are hot springs and cold ; the waters of the one pure and healthful; of the other, nauseating and unwholesome.
In passing over this strange country one is impressed with the idea that be has come too soon. Everything seems crude and unfinished about him; all nature wears a primitive aspect. The rocks, the vegetation—all things are in a transition state. The traveler feels as if he has intruded upon the solitudes of nature before she had fitted them for his reception, or adapted them to the wants of civilized man. The flats which she had platted out for future meadows, and was slowly filling up by freighting the melted snows with débris from the mountains, are as yet but half finished, being only wide-extended marshes or yielding mud lakes. The sage plain, to which the great alchemist was patiently imparting the elements of fruitfulness, drawn from the generous air and the grudging rocks, has arrived only at a central point between utter barrenness and a dubious vegetation -- the lichen and the artemisia struggling for subsistence -- the lowly pioneers of coming fertility. The summits of the once splintered mountains, rounded into domes by the slow process of disintegration, have come to be planted with the stunted cedar, and their sides to be sown with the wild grass-seeds; which, though they afford ample covert for the hare, and a scanty pasturage for the deer, are little fit for the pursuits of the agriculturist or the habitations of the white man.
All, except a few valleys and mountain meadows, is a wilderness, silent and vacant, over which the mirage dances, and the sand storm sweeps—the one warning the weary emigrant to hasten his footsteps ; the other luring him from his path and beguiling him to death. This optical illusion, caused by the reflection of the sun's rays upon the saline particles floating in the atmosphere, is common only in desert regions, where it tantalizes the thirsty traveler with the sight of palatial structures and limpid waters, all of which dissolve into burning air as he approaches the spot of their supposed existence.
The interior of this Basin, notwithstanding its primitive aspect and agricultural poverty, presents a generally grand and diversified scenery. Along the sides of the mountains are often long lines of lava, deep gorges, and the marks of land-slides ; while over the plains are scattered blocks of basalt, scoria, conglomerate and drift. Its walls consist, as has been stated, of various mountain ranges; that on the west being the east slope of the Sierra Nevada, which, instead of falling off with a gentle declivity, as on the California side, drops with a violent pitch, forming a barrier of great height; and imparting to the scenery at some points a ruin-like and castellated appearance. On the very top of these mountains are often found beautiful lakes, surrounded with green and luxuriant meadows, about which flocks of wild fowl are abundant in all seasons except winter.
The stratification of the rocks in this district are also peculiar, and have a general strike and dip different from those on the Pacific side. The character of the mines, and consequently the modes of mining, will also be found quite unlike those of California. Placer diggings, though existing, of considerable known, and of great probable extent,
6 THE WASHOE COUNTRY,
will not there become the main theatre of mining industry. Neither the rocker or sluice, nor yet perhaps the quartz mill, is there to become the common implement of operation. The mineral wealth of this region consists chiefly of its silver veins, for the development of which, as a general thing, large amounts of labor and capital are requisite. Not as in the placer diggings of California can the miner count on immediate or certain returns. This altered and less favorable condition of things should be taken into the account by those who are calculating the chances of successful enterprise in the Utah mines.
But, despite these and other drawbacks that will readily present themselves, it is now clear that this country is soon to become the arena of active industry, and the abode of a numerous population. The sound of the pick will soon be heard along all its ravines, and over the trails hitherto trod only by the Indian and trapper, multitudes of men will be hurrying in search of gold, and in the pursuit of other peaceful occupations. Soon cabins will be erected at every spring, and settlers located in every valley. Within a few months thousands of laborers, traders, artisans and adventurers will be going there, and the many-toned voices of industry will be heard throughout all its borders, and unbroken silence will never again reign over Western Utah.
THE VARIOUS VALLEYS OF WESTERN UTAH.
With the foregoing descriptions, the reader will have gained a general idea of the meteorology, physical outlines, and other characteristics of Western Utah; and whatever may be said hereafter as to the fertility or beauty of any particular spot, it should still be borne in mind that the general character of the country is one of wildness and sterility. Three-fourths of the Great Basin lying between the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky Mountains, and stretching away to Oregon on the one hand and Mexico on the other; is nothing but a desert; and, with only the natural agencies at work, or the fertilizing means now known to science, must remain such, if not forever, at least for many ages to wane. The few fruitful spots, therefore, we may have occasion to notice, in considering the agricultural resources of Western Utah, will not betray the reader into an over-estimate of its value in this respect.
In examining this subject it will be sufficient to extend our inquiries to the valley-lands alone, pretty much all else being a barren waste, little
ITS SOIL, CLIMATE, RESOURCES, &c. 7
worth to the herdsman or the farmer. Of these valleys the most important and well known, beginning at the south, is that of
This lake, to be sure, is not within the limits of Utah, as the line is now supposed to run. But, being entirely on the eastern side of the Sierras, and within the rim of the Great Basin, and forming a link in the chain of lakes and valleys along the eastern base of the mountains, it properly belongs to the Utah system, and comes within the scope of our contemplated task. It may even happen that this body of water shall fall upon the Utah side of the boundary, when the same comes to be determinately settled, there being a margin of a few miles over which it is liable to fluctuate, in the course of final adjustment. This lake, moreover, would, under the Constitution of the proposed Territory of Nevada, (should that instrument ever attain to legal force,) be clearly within the limits of Utah, since the crest of the Sierras is therein fixed upon as the boundary between the embryo Territory and the State of California.
The dimensions of Mono Lake, as laid down upon the map recently published by Hutchings & Rosenfield, are, twenty-seven miles by sixteen. This, however, is a mere estimate made from traveling along it, and not from actual measurement. The same may be observed of the figures affixed to the other lakes laid down upon that map; and are therefore to be received as only approximating, not expressing the exact size thereof. The figures, however, placed upon, or attached to that work, denoting altitudes and distances, are supposed to be accurate, having been obtained, with one or two exceptions, from barometrical observations and actual surveys.
The name of this lake is, most likely, of Indian origin; though some have sought to give it a mere classical derivation, deducing it from the Greek word monos, signifying alone or deserted," a term its character and surroundings might well approve, sleeping, as it does, under the shadow of the great Sierra, on its solitary perch amongst the upheaved and disrupted mountains. But as it is the name of the Indian tribe dwelling near by, we must suppose the word of native origin ; yet, whatever its source, it is certainly a beautiful name, and may well be retained as suggestive of the loneliness and desolation that brood over this wild and secluded lake.
Of the depth of its waters nothing is known; though, judging from the configuration and volcanic character of the adjacent mountains, they are probably very deep. It has been suggested, by a party visiting it, that the bed of this lake may itself be but the crater of an extinct volcano, filled up with water—a supposition that derives plausibility from the crater-like shape of one of its islands. The water of this lake is impregnated with salt and alkali, to a degree that renders it unfit for use—indeed, to the point of saturation itself. It also holds sulphur and other nauseating substances in solution, as is readily perceived by the smell. No living thing inhabits it; nor does anything, except a certain strange insect, dwell on its surface. The deer come not down to its margin to drink, nor do the wild fowl sport on its waters. It is literally a Dead Sea : not even a fish or frog can endure its acrid properties. Only the insect or fly spoken of, seems adapted to live in or upon it. These, however, generated, as is said, from a small worm, beneath the surface, swarm in myriads, and after an ephemeral life, dying, accumulate in vast quantities along the shores, where they are fed upon by the ducks, or gathered by the Indians, with both of whom they form the staple article of subsistence. The latter gather them, when alive, with a wicker scoop ; when, being dried, they are packed away for winter use, after the same manner that the California Indian treats the grasshopper. Where thus preserved, and even in their larva state, these insects are said to be exceedingly nutritious, and not at all unpalatable. This may readily be believed, since the use of these or similar insects, as articles of food, has been common from the earliest times, and amongst people surpassing the Indian in the gustatory art. With the Orientals the wild locust has ever been esteemed a dainty and nourishing dish.
Although a number of streams, some of them quite large, fall into this lake ; and, although, like all the others belonging to this system, it has no outlet, yet such is the aridity of the atmosphere, that the water is kept always nearly at the same stage by evaporation. Owing to its being supersaturated with saline and other foreign matters, waves, beyond a mere ripple, rarely over form on its surface—the stolid waters refusing to yield to the force of any beyond the strongest wind.
TREES, SOIL, AND GRASS.
The country around this lake is almost entirely destitute of timber, the nearest, of any magnitude, being upon the Sierras, some twenty miles distant. There is, to be sure, scattered over the mountains, the scrubby pine and cedar before noticed, and along the water-courses a scanty growth of willow. These, however, are little adapted to any mechanical use, the latter being hardly fit for fuel. For firewood the pine answers very well, though the miner will have to depend upon the wild sage, mostly, for his fuel.
Around the lake, as, also, along the ravines making back from it, there are numerous patches of land suitable for farming and gardening purposes. Most of these will require irrigation to insure a good crop. For this there is every facility, furnished by the many springs and the rivulets coming down from the mountains. In much of the soil--sufficiently rich to produce well in itself--there is too much alkali for grain to thrive well upon it. The great obstacle, however, to successful cultivation in all this region, is the untimely frosts, which fall every month, and almost every night in the year. This, though it might suffer the more hardy grains to mature, would leave scarce any hope for the more tender fruits. About the springs and bottoms there is a species of coarse and sour grass. Bunch grass, also, in limited quantities, grows along the ravines, and on the hills. The feed, however, in proportion to the surface, is indeed scanty ; and this can be much of a grazing country.
The climate is such, in its general features, as has already been described, the winters being even more rigorous here than elsewhere, owing to the greater elevation of this region. Mono Lake is on the water-shed between Walker and Owen's river, and has, consequently, a greater altitude and severer climate than either of those valleys. Not only are frosts common, but even ice a half inch thick often forms in summer. Snow, to the depth of six or eight feet, falls in the valley, and to a much greater depth on the mountains. This, in connection with the scarcity of fuel, and the difficulty of obtaining provisions, should be sufficient to deter any but the more hardy and resolute from attempting to winter there. Very little reliance can be placed upon game, or other native products, as auxiliaries to subsistence. Fish, as we have seen, there are none. Ducks, plentiful and easily taken at other seasons, mostly leave on the approach of winter. Bears are rarely seen on that side the mountains. Of hare, deer, and mountain sheep, there are considerable number., but the latter are shy, keeping in remote places, and all are difficult to be procured when the snow lies deep. There are also some coyotes, rattlesnakes, and wolves, but these we are not apt to include in our catalogue of comestible resources
8 THE WASHOE COUNTRY,
of a country. It will, therefore, be seen, that the miner in going to that region, must take his supplies with him, or derive them through the ordinary channels of trade, and cannot, to any extent, trust to its indigenous productions.
The peculiar features and natural phenomena already mentioned as common to the Great Basin, exist in all their variety in the Mono district. Alkaline efflorescence covers the vegetation and other objects with a dew-like powder ; and the air denotes its presence by the optical illusions and mistaken notions of distance produced. Hot and sulphur springs abound ;and everywhere lifts its shaft the cactus emblematic of sterility, while the broken mountains, the cinders and scoria, the burnt earth, and the crater-like hills, show that the volcano, earthquake and other terrific agents have been active here at no very remote period of the past.
The Indian tribe dwelling near the lake, to which they have imparted their name, are a quiet, feeble and inoffensive people, remarkable for nothing so much as their simple habits and extreme poverty. They subsist upon the flies gathered from the lake ; on roots and berries, and such game, mostly hares, as they can procure with the bow and arrow, their only weapon of warfare or the chase. They clothe themselves with the skins of animals—a few having blankets, and the cast-off clothing of the whites. They love to decorate their heads rather than their bodies, and therein find delight in a "stove-pipe" hat. The squaws are shy to timidity, and not even the men are much given to intercourse with the whites.
THE MONO MINES.
Whatever of mining there is in the vicinity of Mono Lake consists of placer diggings, and is confined, so far as yet worked, to two small streams coming in at the north end, being stretched along the same a distance of six or eight miles. Here excellent pay dirt has been found—miners who had water making last fall from ten to twenty dollars per day with the rocker. Twelve dollars with this class would probably be a fair average. But here is the trouble, while the diggings are tolerably extensive, and certainly rich, there is but little water. By the time the snow has so far disappeared as to admit of travel over the mountains, the streams have subsided to an extent that loaves water but for a small number of miners. Thus it was that while extensive dry and gulch diggings were known to exist on the benches and along the ravines, only about two hundred men found opportunity to work in this district last season. A ditch, however, has been completed, bringing in water to Mono Camp, and others will probably be constructed the coming summer, whereby this prime obstacle to successful operations will be, to some extent, overcome.
Besides the want of water, there are other hindrances that should discourage emigration to these remote and uncertain mines. These may be summed up briefly, as follows : the great distance, the shortness of the season, and the expense of living. From San Francisco to these mines, going by Sonora, the most direct route, is 330 miles. But the mountains by this route cannot be crossed till June, wherefore the journey, if undertaken sooner, must be made by the circuitous way of Walker or Kern river, either of which will increase the distance to more than 400 miles. Eight months in the year is as long as we can calculate for the working season in the Mono country, while the cost of living will be, at least, three times as great as in the mines of California. Keeping these drawbacks in view, it is for each man canvassing the question, to determine for himself what may be the chances of success, and what, in his particular case, the inducements for visiting these mines. It should be added, that so far as there is water for working, the mining grounds are already taken up, and even much more has been claimed in anticipation of water being hereafter brought in.
WALKER'S RIVER AND VALLEY.
The head waters of the East, and larger branch of this river, have their sources in the vicinity, and a little north of Mono Lake, whence, flowing northeast for fifty miles, and then north-west a like distance, they meet the west branch, when the united streams, sweeping around in a semi-circle to the south-east for seventy miles, fall into Walker's Lake, the largest body of water in Western Utah. As with several other of these lagoons, for the reason explained, this is sometimes called a sink. It is a handsome sheet of water, the resort of numerous wild fowl, and abounds in fish. It has no outlet, its surface contracting and enlarging with the volume of water brought down by the river. Portions of its margin consist of fens ; others, of a hard beach. Walker's river has no tributaries except the streams forming its head-waters ; hence it maintains a uniform size throughout its entire length. In the summer it is from eight to ten rods wide, and from two to three feet deep, being easily fordable at most places where there is any current. The water along its whole course, even to the sink, is excellent at all seasons.
ITS SOIL, CLIMATE, RESOURCES, &c. 9
The West branch of Walker's and the East Fork of Cañon river are separated by a high range of barren hills, the two streams being about twenty miles apart. The branches of the Walker are again separated by a distance of thirty five miles, following the wagon road, which is somewhat circuitous, owing to the rugged surface of the country. From the East Fork to the lake, which lies parallel to it, is a further distance of ten miles, a chain of lofty hills lying between. Nearly opposite the head of Carson Valley there is a low pass in the bills, over which the road leads by an easy grade from that to the valley of the West branch. This stream the wagon road crosses three times, following down it several miles, when it strikes off to the East branch, which having reached, it follows up to the mines. The path trail crosses the country farther south, saving some thirty miles in distance, as indicated by the map already alluded to.
Along both branches, as well as on the main Walker, there are numerous grassy bottoms, generally considered separate valleys, which afford excellent summer ranges for stock. Some of these have an area of several thousand acres, and, taken in connection with the bunch grass on the adjacent hills, yield ample pasturage for a numerous herd of cattle. At Baker's ranch, on the West Fork, over a thousand head have been kept for the past two seasons, growing very fat during the summer, though falling away, as the winter advanced, unless driven elsewhere for pasturage. It is usual to take them to winter down near the lake, where there is taller grass and less snow. In this neighborhood well conditioned stock get through the winter without fodder, and generally with little loss. Immigrant cattle, reduced by driving over the plains, do not fare so well. Of a herd taken on to the Lower Walker last fall, nearly one-half have already perished. The present, however, has been a winter of unusual rigor—the snow falling to a depth never known before since the settlement of the country. More than a third of the cattle throughout Western Utah are already dead, and it is to be feared many more will perish before the opening of spring. Such destruction, however, has never before happened, and it is to be hoped will not again occur. The climate of the Walker River Valley, though sufficiently rigorous, is by no means so severe, nor is the snow so deep, as about Mono Lake.
Not only along the main streams of the Walker River country are these fertile and grassy spots met with, but also in the interior districts, both the road and the trail leading through a succession of them, giving rise to the presumption that there are many others hidden away amongst the hills. Throughout this section there is no lack of water, springs existing in nearly all these little dells. Nor is the traveller's animal likely to suffer from want of grass, a sufficiency being found at most of the camping places along the road. Should the mines on Walker's River turn out to be extensive, and capable of employing a large population, many spots desirable for settlement might be found in this section.
After leaving Carson Valley, timber of sufficient size for making lumber is met with only at a few points, and then not always of easy access. The scrubby cedar, and also a species of juniper, resembling the yew, grow sparsely on the hills. The latter is a very picturesque tree, thickly set with branches, and usually grows to the height of ten or fifteen feet. Along the streams is a slender growth of cottonwood and willows—the wild sage, useful for find, being no where wholly absent.
The few Indians found in this quarter belong to the family of the Pa-Utahs. They are a stouter and better built race than the Monos, but, like them, honest, and peacefully disposed. They are uniformly friendly to the whites, by whom they have always been held in high estimation for their industry, sobriety, and integrity. They build wigwams of the wild sage and willow ; have horses and fire-arms, dress tolerably well, and, when opportunity offers, are willing to work. Their women rarely make their appearance when strangers are about. A Reservation has been set apart for them in the lower portion of Walker's Valley, a district which has always been one of their favorite places of resort.
THE WALKER RIVER MINES.
As is generally known, a considerable amount of mining has been carried on upon the East branch of this river for the past three years ; during which time all those having sufficient water have made fair, many of them large, wages. Last summer, between three and four hundred men were enabled to find profitable work in these diggings, their average pay being eight or ten dollars a day. Meantime, nearly as many more went there, to find they could do nothing for want of water, and to return. A ditch, now nearly finished, and to be completed early in the spring, will more than double the supply of water, increasing to that extent the opportunities for mining, and should the pay ground prove as extensive as is anticipated, other works of like kind will, no doubt be undertaken, and the facili-
10 THE WASHOE COUNTRY,
ties for successful operations largely increased before the end of another season. It is the opinion of those most conversant with the matter, that two thousand men will be able to make wages in these mines the ensuing summer ; not all perhaps at gold digging, since a large amount of labor will be required for ditch building and other collateral purposes. Of the best route for reaching these mines, something will be said when we come to speak of the various roads leading over the mountains.
In an extended sense, this valley may be considered as reaching from Carson Cañon to the sink of the river, a distance of over one hundred miles. But as this grand depression is separated by detached knolls and mountain spurs into many parts, forming distinct valleys, some of them of considerable extent, setting far back from the river, different names have come to be applied to these several sections. Thus it is, we have Carson Valley proper, being that portion extending from the cañon on the south, to a low sandy ridge, separating it from Eagle valley on the north. This district is about thirty miles long and six wide; containing, therefore, 180 square mike, or 115,200 acres of land. Not more than three-fourths of this, however, is fit for pasturage, and scarce two-thirds for agricultural purposes, so large a proportion being covered with fens, barren ridges and sandy plains. With these exceptions, the land is of superior quality, the soil being composed of a deep alluvium, or a rich loam, very productive when carefully irrigated; some few places growing vegetables and grain without this artificial aid. Generally, however, the crops are light, often entire failures, when left to depend for moisture on natural supplies. Fortunately, the facilities for irrigation are great, there being numerous streams coming down from the Sierra whereby the western portion of the valley can be generally watered. The eastern might be equally well supplied by diverting the river from its bed—a work of no great magnitude. With careful culture, fine crops of wheat and Indian corn are raised—barley and oats not doing so well. This valley seems well adapted to grass, a heavy growth covering the greater portion of it—tender and nutritious where the soil favors, but running into the ranker kinds, and finally into tules, in the low and marshy places. There is clover in spots, and bunch grass on the knolls and along the slopes of the mountains. By taking the precaution to fence the meadow lands, large quantities of hay could easily be gathered.
That Carson Valley is not well adapted to the culture of fruit, at least of the more delicate kinds, will be inferred from the fact of its having a mean altitude of more than 4,000 feet above the level of the sea. The attempts heretofore made, though perhaps not conducted with the best judgment, have been at least partial failures—scarce any fruit over having been brought to maturity in the valley. The apple and plum may succeed ; but this can hardly be expected of the peach and more tender fruits. Vegetables, under proper conditions, thrive well ; the potato and other roots yielding largely, and of a fine quality.
It is impossible to conceive of a more beautiful or well defined valley then the Carson, as seen by one approaching it from California. Hedged in on every side but the north with lofty mountains, with its green meadows and winding river, it seems the perfection of a mountain vale, as well as of mountain scenery. The range bounding it on the east rises to the height of 2,000 feet; while the Sierra, on the west, lifts itself to double that height, being in many places bald and impending. Job's Peak, near the head of the valley, is nearly 8,000 feet above its level. It stands a partially isolated, naked cone, of bleached granite, so white that at a distance it is apt to be taken for snow. It has no vegetation, and but little timber upon it. Looking south beyond the hills, about the headwaters of the East Fork, a craggy mountain range is profiled against the sky, resembling the outline of some castellated ruin. The sides of the mountains on the west are serrated with deep ravines, and though precipitous in places, cannot be styled rugged. They are a granite formation, with their asperities smoothed down by decomposition, the decayed rock covering their surfaces to a considerable depth, except where washed out and filled in with boulders, as in Carson Cañon. Hence, good roads can be constructed along their sides with little labor.
Around the head of the valley, and running out into it at many places along its sides, are barren ridges, composed of rocks, sand and mountain drift. They are bare of vegetation, except the artemesia and an occasional tuft of grass. At some points they flank the mountains high up, at others stand entirely detached, leaving the mode of their formation to be explained by science or solved by conjecture. The whole eastern slope of the Sierra Nevadas is covered with pine forests quite down to its base. Beyond this, however, timber, except in a few places and of an inferior quality, ceases to be found. Indeed, all met with after passing the crest
ITS SOIL, CLIMATE, RESOURCES, &c. 11
of the Sierra, is of a very poor kind compared with that on the California side; the pine being hard, knotty and full of pitch, hence difficult to work, and illy suited for the purposes of lumber, though making excellent fuel. As there is no other material for lumber, however, this is compelled to answer every end.
Flowing through this valley from south to north is Carson river, composed, like the Walker, of two branches, known as the East and West Fork. The latter rises in the mountains about Hope Valley, through which it runs, gathering numerous affluents. After leaving this Valley it rushes through the wild and rocky defile known as Carson Cañon, an impetuous torrent, falling twelve hundred feet in five miles. Having passed this gorge it becomes a pacific stream, coursing through the valley with a tortuous channel, easily traceable by the willow copse and the cottonwood growing on its banks. The East Fork, a much larger stream, rises in the Sierras, further south, near Ebbett's Pass, whence, flowing north, it joins the West Fork a little above Genoa, and about the centre of Carson Valley. Below the junction, the river is front six to ten rods wide, and about two feet deep, which size it maintains until it falls into the Lake. The Lake and Sink will be further noticed when mention is made of the country on the Lower Carson. The country between the Forks, though somewhat broken, is easily passed over on horseback, and favorable to the construction of a wagon road. The trail to the Walker River mines leads over it; parting from the main route at Woodford's, near the mouth of the Cañon. The wagon road crosses the Valley further down, leading up the East Fork. Along this stream are a few cottonwoods, but no other timber till we reach the Sierra. On its upper tributaries are some pleasant little valleys under the lee of the mountains. In one of these is an Indian encampment, the home of a small tribe who have thus far been enabled to adhere to their customs and pursue their native modes of life in peaceful seclusion.
On the west side of the valley, and a little more than half way down it, close under the mountain, is Genoa; the earliest settled place and only town in it. At an earlier day it was known as the Mormon Station, having been founded by that people, a name it still goes by amongst the older settlers. It is a place of some importance, as being the county seat of Carson county, and the locality of a flour and saw-mill. Prior to the late mineral discoveries, it was but a mere hamlet. Since, however, it has grown rapidly, and now contains a population of several hundred. It is abundantly watered by rivulets from the mountain, a feature that no doubt determined its early founders to fix upon it for a settlement. Of the mines in and around this valley something will be said hereafter.
This district can, with propriety, scarcely be called a Valley, being merely a circular flat, about six miles in diameter, separated from Carson Valley on the south by a slightly elevated sage plain, and from the river, on the east, by a rocky height running parallel to its bank. On the west, it has the Sierra Nevadas, and on the north a stretch of rolling sage plain, over which the emigrant road leads towards the desert. Opening to the northwest is a depression at the point where the Silver range, forming the eastern barrier of the Washoe Valley, abuts on the west summit of the Sierra. And thus the so-called valley is formed. Running up into the mountain, on its western side, is a beautiful dell, naturally irrigated, called Eagle Ranch. This being aforetime a place of note, from the productive character of the soil, as also from its location at the entrance of the old Johnson route, which here crosses the mountain, it afterwards imparted its name to the adjacent valley.
A large portion of this valley is unfit for tillage, the soil being too sandy to produce grain, even with irrigation. Much of it, however, is excellent farming land, and grows fine grass—many cattle subsisting and keeping fat upon it. The whole plain, the western side especially, is well supplied with water—a number of rivulets coming from the mountains and making their way across it. There are also a number of springs at different points in the valley ; some of them hot, and possessed of a variety of mineral properties, sulphur always being present. All along the west side of the valley are pools and moist places, where, by a little digging, and the employment of a lower to elevate it, the water supply could be increased to any desired extent. Through the principal streets of Carson City, it already runs cold and pure, in little channels cut for the purpose--a great convenience in a country
12 THE WASHOE COUNTRY,
where, not only the comfort of the inhabitants, but also the productiveness or the soil, depends so much upon an adequate supply of this element.
Carson City, a town built up within the last year, and now much the largest place in Western Utah, is situated on the west margin of Eagle Valley, on the old Johnson trail, about three miles to the right of the main emigrant road coming up Carson Valley. It is fourteen miles north of Genoa, and eighteen south of Virginia City, with both of which places it is connected by a good wagon road, over which a stage ran on alternate days last summer, and will, no doubt, run daily the coming season. In going from Carson to Virginia City, the old emigrant road is followed for ten miles, when it is left to the right, and the new toll road taken, leading up Gold Cañon, which place it strikes at Johntown, whence it continues on by the Gate and Gold Hill to its terminus at Virginia City, the locality of the rich silver mine. There is also an excellent road leading from Eagle over the divide into Washoe Valley, passing through which, as also through Pleasant and Steamboat Valleys, it proceeds to the Truckee. This, throughout its entire distance, nearly thirty miles, is, except in a few spots, easily improved—a fine, natural wagon road.
It will thus be seen that Carson City is favorably situated for business, being at a point where several thoroughfares converge, thus rendering it easily accessible from every quarter. It has another advantage, in being at the point to which the entire country east, and for some distance north, must come for its supply of lumber. Even Virginia City must come here for that indispensable article, at least until the road shall have been completed, connecting that place with Steamboat Valley. Thus circumstanced, it cannot fail to become a town of importance, provided, always, the surrounding country shall prove rich in mineral wealth. If its resources, in this respect, turn out as well as they now seem to promise, Carson City must continue to grow apace with population. Should these resources turn out to have been greatly overrated, it will already have outgrown the demands likely to be made upon its business capacities for some years to come. How all this is yet to result, remains to be demonstrated, inasmuch as many of the rumored discoveries of valuable leads, and the reported assays of rich ores, have no foundation whatever, in fact. Hence, those desirous of purchasing this species of property, should, unless acquainted with its location and character, negotiate only with parties of known responsibility or undoubted integrity. But, as a chapter will be devoted to the consideration of this point hereafter, the subject will not be further pursued at present.
Carson City is regularly laid out with straight wide streets, a number of handsome squares having been reserved for public uses. It now contains about seventy-five houses, some of them rather temporary structures, most, however, comfortable buildings, a number being adobe, large and substantial. Considering the rapidity of its growth, and the difficulty of procuring lumber, even at enormous prices, the town is certainly well built up. The permanent residents now number three or four hundred, with a floating population of nearly as many more—both classes being rapidly on the increase.
There is a post office at this place, as also at Genoa, the only two points to which these facilities have been extended by the department, in Western Utah.
This valley lies about eight miles west of Virginia City, and one mile north-west of Eagle Valley ; being separated from the former by a chain of rugged hills, termed the Silver Range ; and from the latter by a ridge connecting this range with the Sierra Nevada, a portion of which known, as the Washoe Mountains, forms its barrier on the west. On the north it has also a range of low hills, whereby this valley is completely hemmed in on every side, forming an oval basin about twelve miles long and six wide, and constituting one of the most regularly shaped and handsome in a series of mountain vales distinguished for their picturesque beauty. Overlooking it from the west is the towering Sierra. beautifully dark with
ITS SOIL, CLIMATE, RESOURCES, &c. 13
forests, which not only reach down to the plain, but at places run out upon it in long gores imparting to the landscape a varied and artistic appearance. The mountains on the east are entirely destitute of trees, contrasting strongly in their utter desolation with the well wooded slopes on the opposite side. Commencing near its head, and running along the east margin of the valley, is a lake, five miles long and two wide, having, at high stages of water, an outlet to the north ; on which side there is also an extent of tule lands, its banks elsewhere being mostly dry and elevated. It is very shallow, and shrinks somewhat from the dimensions stated, in the dry season, when a wagon may be driven through it except at the very deepest parts. Evidences of alkali are seen along its shores, yet the water, though slightly brackish, is fit to drink. It abounds in fish of various kinds, quantities of which are easily taken.
There is a variety of land in this valley. About the foot of the lake are several thousand acres of tule marsh, all to the east being sage barrens. Along the foot of the mountains, on the west, and reaching about one mile into the plain, is a belt of rich alluvial soil, capable of producing fine crops of grain, most of it without irrigation. On this land, vegetables of every description can be grown with little labor. No attempts at fruit-raising have ever been made ; partially, because the prospect of success is not very flattering, chiefly, because the inhabitants have a natural repugnance to engaging in any kind of labor not extorted by an imperious necessity. A variety of berries are found growing wild, showing that the climate is adapted to this species of fruits. Between this fertile tract and the lake is a stretch of fine grass lands, alike fitted for meadow and pasturage. Here a large quantity of hay might easily be gathered, and would have been during the past season, but for the shiftless and ease-loving habits of the old settlers. So rich and nourishing are the grasses of this valley, that stock, however reduced, grow fat upon it in the course of a few weeks, while the milk of cows feeding upon it, yields an incredible amount of cream. During the winter, however, owing to the elevated position of this valley, and the consequent deep snows, cattle fare hard, and have sometimes to be driven into Eagle, or other of the lower valleys. The snow often lies here three or four feet deep, for as many continuous weeks, during which, if the cattle are not removed, they are compelled to subsist upon the tops of the tules and sage brush alone.
Washoe Valley was first settled by the Mormons, who founded the pleasant little hamlet on its western border, called by them, and still bearing the name of Franktown. It is laid out and improved after the much-to-be-commended manner of this people, each lot consisting of several acres, irrigated by water conducted through all the public streets. The houses, built of hewn timber, though rude, are substantial and comfortable. When, several years ago, a general call was made upon the Saints to repair to Salt Lake, these simple people, sacrificing the little property they had acquired with so much self-denying toil, deserted their pleasant homes, selling them for a trifle to the Gentile, or abandoning them to the wild beasts. For a time, the place was pretty much a solitude, and the hues of ruin were falling upon it, when a few of its former inhabitants, having repented of their pilgrimage to the New Zion—broken down and impoverished—straggled back to occupy a portion of its empty habitations ; and finally, new life was infused into it by the stirring movements consequent on the mineral discoveries near by.
All the settlements in this valley, consisting of some twenty-five different households, are scattered along the main road running through its western margin. All the land worth taking up is already claimed, the various settlers holding about one section each. It can, however, be bought, generally speaking, at reasonable rates, and parties desirous of engaging in agricultural pursuits need not be deterred by the fear of land monopoly from repairing to Washoe for that purpose, since claims can be procured there for a small advance on what the improvements have cost. A better locality for the business of gardening, or a dairy,
14 THE WASHOE COUNTRY,
could hardly be found east of the mountains.
Pursuing the wagon road north from Washoe Valley over a stony hill, and through a ravine for a couple of miles, we come to another regular basin called Pleasant Valley, about one mile and a half long and one mile wide, through the middle of which runs a large creek of the purest water. Back and high up upon the mountain, to the west, is a snow-field, the only one to be seen in this section during the summer, wherein this stream taking its rise, runs icy cold throughout the season. This gelidity of the water renders it less fit for irrigation, an objection that lies against employing nearly all these mountain streams for that purpose, and will probably yet lead to the construction of reservoirs, in which to keep all water standing until its temperature has been reduced by exposure to the atmosphere and sun. This valley contains but one family—an Englishman who, having been induced to visit Salt Lake, with his wife and children, afterwards escaped, and coming here, has made for himself a pleasant home. He has an extensive garden, wherein last year a great quantity of corn and vegetables were grown—everything but the melons arriving at maturity. This valley lies much lower than Washoe, and hence has not so much frost and snow. At several points along its sides, which are very rugged, shafts and tunnels are being dug in search of ores ; but thus far with no other success than that equivocal result, denominated in miners parlance, a "fair prospect."
Leaving Pleasant Valley, and continuing on north, through a pass in the hills, affording much grass, for three miles, we approach the head of Steamboat Valley. Before reaching it, the traveller is warned of its proximity, by many little columns of steam wreathing up before him, and when still nearer, by a pounding and puffing sound, very like that of a high pressure steamboat. These proceed from a rocky mound near the head of the valley, about twelve hundred feet long, and four or five hundred across, having an elevation of fifty feet above the general surface. Running lengthwise this tumular elevation, are a number of fissures averaging about a foot wide, and having jagged edges, as if the surface, which much resembles granite, though evidently the product of deposition, had been cracked by some upheaving force within. Gurgling up from these fissures, with a subterranean noise, at irregular intervals, are volumes of hot water, which, only in a few instances, overflows the top ; since, after foaming and hissing for a few moments, it subsides, leaving the aperture again empty. At other points the water, keeping constantly even with the surface, boils as if agitated with a fierce heat, while at others, it leans up in jets several feet high. Curious to gain an insight into this great laboratory of nature, the visitant peers into these steaming chasms, but their sides are so irregular and jagged that he can see but a short distance into them ; nor can he probe them with a stick more than a few feet below the surface, though they no doubt extend to the bottom of the tumulus, and perhaps a much greater distance downward. Sometimes the chemical agents at work here seem more active than at others, the sounds emitted being more loud and frequent, and the steam more abundant.
The air in the vicinity of these springs smells strongly of sulphur, exactly resembling the smell of a hard-boiled egg. Along the foot of the mound, courses a rivulet, pure and cool, till it mingles with the hot and alkaline waters from the spring; the quantity of which, however, escaping is but small, nearly all that gurgles up from these fissures, again disappearing in their dark and mysterious depths. The outer surface of this mound is composed of a crust that yields with a crackling sound, as companied with a deep rumbling beneath, as the traveler passes over it; yet he may proceed without apprehension, and even lead his animal after him without danger or inconvenience. A chemical analysis of the water from these springs, made by Dr. Lanszweert, of this city, showed the following constituent salts in various proportions, viz. : chlorides of sodium and magnesium, soda in various forms, lime
ITS SOIL, CLIMATE, RESOURCES, &c. 15
silicia, and a small per cent. of organic matter. With these constituents in combination, this water may be presumed to possess medicinal properties of high value.
Steamboat Valley, extending from the Springs to the Truckee River, is about eleven miles in length, and has a width of about six miles. It affords fine grass, and has a fair proportion of agricultural land. There is but little timber in it, though on the mountains that skirt its western border, there is an abundance. The range bounding it on the east is abrupt and barren, being entirely destitute of either trees, grass, or water. Until within the last few months there were but three or four settlers in this valley, who occupied it alone with their stock, of which they had a large number.
Under the stimulus of mining enterprise a number of sojourners had been drawn to the place last fall, since which time, two towns have been laid out at different points in the valley, and the population is largely increased. With the great highway from Northern California passing through it ; with the advantages of good soil, grass and water, and proximity to timber, to say nothing of the supposed mineral wealth claimed to exist within its limits, this valley can hardly fail to settle up rapidly, and to become in a short time the centre of an active trade, and numerous population. A wagon road has already been projected connecting it with Virginia City, which when completed, as it doubtless soon will be will bring it within nine miles of that point securing a ready communication between it and the most populous mining districts in the Territory.
TRUCKEE RIVER AND VALLEY.
The north end of Steamboat Valley runs into the Truckee Meadows, passing over which we arrive at Truckee River, a stream some six or eight rods wide, and carrying a large volume of water. It rises by two branches, the one known as the Big Truckee, coming from Lake Bigler, and the other on the Little Truckee, coming from a lake of the same name, and flows in a generally north-east course to Pyramid Lake, into which it empties. These meadows produce heavy growth of grass, the land being of an excellent quality; but they are not well adapted to the raising of vegetables, owing to the early frosts. There is also a considerable extent of grass land ten miles further down, on the south bank of the stream, known as the Little Meadows; but, with these exceptions, there is not much arable or grazing land along the Truckee. There is, however, some bunch grass on the hills, which, taken in conjunction with several narrow bottoms along the lateral valleys, and its generally sheltered character, renders this district much esteemed as a range for stock. There is also a good deal of game here—hare and sage-hens being especially plentiful. The Indians, with whom this is a favorite winter abode, take quantities of these by means of fire-arms, nets, and other devices; and as fish are also abundant in the Truckee, they rarely suffer from hunger. To this place, on the approach of cold weather, not only the Washoes, whose territory lies adjacent, but also bands of the Pah-Utahs, from a greater distance repair, remaining in friendly proximity until the return of mild weather enables them to again seek the mountains.
But although the valley of the Truckee does not contain a very large amount of good lands, it is a name possessing much interest from its connection with the history of early immigration. Along this river lay the route most traveled by the first California pioneers. Coming down the Humboldt, they naturally struck across to this stream, and, following up its banks, entered California by the Pass and road that still bear its name. Here, too, near its forks, at a point known as Starvation Camp, occurred the Donner tragedy—an event that will forever render the name of that humble emigrant family a synonym of heroism and horror. Two cabins, now in ruins, yet stand on the spot ; and even so late as a year or two since, the ghastly evidences of the cannibalistic feast were still scattered round, filling the passer-by with dread, and admonishing the belated emigrant to hasten over the fatal barrier that lay between him and a land of security.
16 THE WASHOE COUNTRY,
There is, also, one other fact connecting this name with the historic events of California—the Truckee being the identical Gold Lake, in search of which a party of adventurers went over the mountains, at the instigation of the notorious Greenwood, in the summer of 1849. This mountain lake, under another and more attractive name, was the first object to awaken that wild spirit of cupidity and reckless adventure that has since been so rife, and filled the annals of California with so many fatal delusions.
Passing out from the Truckee to the northwest, by a handsome wagon road, six miles, brings us to Peavine Spring, at the head of Long Valley. About ten miles further on, the road deflects to the west, and passing through the Yuba Gap, leads to California. This Valley is nearly thirty miles long—fully forty, following the windings of the stream flowing through it, and has an average width of four or five miles. It is one of the best districts for stock in the whole country, and over 5,000 head of cattle were feeding in it at one time last fall. There are but few settlers in it as yet; and as Major Dodge, the Indian Agent for Western Utah, has made a Reservation for the tribes hereabout, on both this and the Truckee, as also in the valley of Pyramid Lake, it would hardly be expedient for whites to settle upon these lands with a view to permanent residence, unless this action of the Agent shall be revoked by Congress—a proceeding that may be looked for in view of the changed condition of affairs in that quarter. This valley is too much subject to early frosts to favor the cultivation of gardens, or, perhaps, even the raising of grain.
HONEY LAKE VALLEY.
Next north, in this chain of valleys, is that of Honey Lake, the most important in point of fertility and extent of settlement, of any in the series. Like that of Mono Lake, this valley is situate near the line between California and Utah ; and if the 120th meridian is correctly laid down in that most excellent map of this State, published by Britton & Rey, then it is wholly on the California side. But as Honey Lake is yet the subject of disputed jurisdiction, and naturally belongs to the system of lakes and valleys stretched along the rim of the Great Basin, it may as well be considered a part thereof in the present writing. Moreover, the inhabitants have always practically considered themselves as living in Utah, having repudiated the authority of this State, and taken a part in the primary movements directed, towards organising the new Territory of Nevada, sending delegates to the Convention for drafting a Constitution, electing officials under each Constitution, and now being represented by them in the embryo Legislature existing by virtue of its provisions. The Governor elect, under this provisional organisation, is himself a resident of Honey Lake Valley and was one of the earliest to encourage, and the most active in promoting, this movement.
The name of this locality is supposed to have been given it by the early settlers on account of the great quantities of the honey dew observed by them on their first arrival ; a supposition that has at least the semblance of plausibility, since this substance is found abundantly precipitated all over this region during the spring and early summer months. This valley, in round numbers, may be said to be forty miles long and twenty wide—the lake contained in it, fifteen miles by ten. It has no outlet, unless it be by subterranean passages ; as may well be, since its waters, as is now the case, sometimes dry entirely up, or rather disappear, leaving its bed nothing but a bank of mud. Its waters are shallow even at their highest stage. They are slightly alkaline to the taste, yet fit to drink. A portion of its shores consist of marsh lands, covered with tule, other parts being firm and dry. The valley is divided between rich arable lands and beautiful green meadows, yielding an immense quantity of the most nutritious pasturage.
Not only is this valley superior in point of soil, but it is more highly improved than any other in this range. For many miles the lands are enclosed with substantial fences, while good buildings have been erected by nearly all the inhabitants. Over ten thousand acres of grain-wheat, oats and corn—were raised
ITS SOIL, CLIMATE, RESOURCES, &c. 17
last season, nearly the whole yielding even better than the average of California lands. The valley now contains about six hundred permanent residents, and, of late, a considerable floating population. The original settlers have each taken up 640 acres of land, in accordance with the laws of Utah, leaving very little, if any, good land unclaimed in the valley. The chief settlement, Susanville, is at the north end of the valley, some fifteen miles above the head of the lake, or rather the point where it used to be. Susan River and Willow Creek are the principal confluents of the Lake, but neither of them now reach it, sinking in the earth before arriving at what little water there is left. It is supposed the lake will again form at the period of high water in the Spring. The valley is well watered by springs and small streams from the mountains.
On its north it has a high chain of ragged mountains, destitute of vegetation and timber. On the south, a still more lofty range, snow lying upon them even in midsummer, but they are well clothed with forests. To the west is the Sierra, also heavily timbered ; to the east, a low range of bare hills, separating this valley from that of Pyramid Lake, with which, as also with Mud Lake, further north, Honey Lake is sometimes united, by means of sloughs, at high stages of water. It is not a usual thing to have much snow in this valley, even in the winter, and never before the present season have cattle perished there from hunger. About 10,000 head have been wintered in the valley, of which perhaps one-fifth have died.
There is a very remarkable group of hot springs near the head of this valley, consisting of eleven in number. One of these is twelve or fifteen feet square, and so deep that its bottom has never been ascertained by sounding. It boils furiously all the time, the scalding water leaping several feet high. The others are not so hot—some only tepid. They are all impregnated with mineral substances ; some of the waters being chalybeate, others containing alum, soda, etc.
There are rumors of rich mineral discoveries having been made lately, at a point about three miles from Susanville ; but nothing definite is yet known as to their real extent or value. The rock taken out, there is good authority for believing, has yielded $154 per ton of gold and silver. Beyond this there is nothing authentic. At Black Springs, about one hundred miles northeast of the lake, silver ore was found several years ago, and sufficiently rich to attract notice at that time, although public attention was not then awake to the subject. There is good reason for thinking some further and more valuable discoveries of mineral riches will be made either in the valley, or beyond it, the coming season.
PYRAMID LAKE AND VALLEY.
Ten miles east of Honey Lake, and separated from it by a range of high hills, is Pyramid Lake and Valley, a body of water so named from a pyramidal rock that rises 600 feet above its surface, forming an island near its eastern shore. This Lake is about thirty miles long and twelve wide, and, unlike the most of those surrounding it, has a considerable depth of water, the color being at all times of a deep transparent blue. The scenery about it is extremely grand, it being walled in on nearly every hand by volcanic precipices from two to three thousand feet high. It receives the Truckee River from the south, but has no outlet, unless by underground channels. It is connected with Winnemucca Lake, lying a few miles to the east, by means of a slough, and at high stages of water also with Mud Lake to the north
This latter is rather a shallow pond, drying entirely up in the summer, but in the winter covering a large extent of flat country with a few inches of water, converting it into what has been aptly named Mud Lakes. But as these lie without the scope of the mineral tract to which it was proposed to confine these sketches, a description of them will not be pursued further than to say, in their present condition they arc alike devoid of utility to either man or brute—being, in consequence of their amphibious characteristics, unfitted for the sustentation of animals or the abode of fish. They are slowly filling up, and will, at some future period, become valuable meadow lands. Portions of them might even now be
18 THE WASHOE COUNTRY,
converted into such were they properly dyked and sown with grass. The country about them is destitute of vegetation, and, in many places, incrusted with salt.
About the south end of Pyramid Lake, and for some distance up along the Truckee, are rich bottom lands, affording good pasturage at nearly all seasons of the year. At this place the Indians love to spend their winters, repairing to it with their horses on the approach of cold weather, and remaining until the animals get fat, which they generally do betimes, as the grass starts early in the spring. A Reservation has here been made for the native tribes, whereat they have gathered in large numbers the present winter, going in and remaining until this time of their own free-will. To this place the whites have also driven large herds of their cattle to winter ; many owners having taken in the entire of their stock from Washoe and Steamboat valleys. The Indians, although entitled to the exclusive possession of these lands, have not as yet objected seriously to the whites bringing in their stock. They are a quiet and well disposed race, and with anything like good treatment, and a just policy, will be likely to give no offence to our people.
It has lately been observed that there is a daily tide of about fourteen inches in this lake ; the water rising through the night, and receding during the day. Gold bearing-quartz, as well as silver ore of considerable value, have been found in its neighborhood.
Crossing the Desert to the southeast for a distance of seventy-five miles, we arrive at the Sink of the Carson, another locality famous for feed, and especially valuable as a winter range. Here the climate is much milder than up near the foot of the mountains, the snow rarely ever falling to a greater depth than two or three inches, and never lying for more than four or five days at a time. To this place cattle are driven in, from all quarters, as the winter comes on. Several bands of horses were taken there even from California, last fall.
FARMING PROSPECTS, LAND CLAIMS, ETC.
From what has been said, it will be seen that the arable lands of Western Utah, as compared with the area of its territory, are quite limited ; yet what is wanting in extent, is more than made up by the excellent market afforded for every kind of farm and dairy produce. Hence its advantages, in this respect, although secondary to its mines as a source of wealth, will still render it a very inviting field for the herdsman and the farmer. The present high freights, rendered necessary by the long and difficult roads over the mountains, operate like a tariff on everything produced on the other side. For some time, and until good roads shall have been opened over the Sierra, from three to five cents must be added to every pound imported from this side. With this protection, scarce any branch of business directed to producing the necessaries of life, could fail to be profitable.
It is true, there are numerous drawbacks on the business of the agriculturist and stock raiser in this region of country. The climate, as the experience of the past winter proves, is by no means a genial one at all seasons of the year. Over a third, nearly a half, of all the cattle in Western Utah, have died since last fall, and this not from starvation alone, many having perished from cold. And although the present is said to have been a winter of unusual severity, it is obvious stock cannot safely be allowed to go without fodder or shelter. Both of these, however, to a limited number of cattle, are easily supplied, since neither are required, in the worst seasons, for more than a few weeks. Almost any amount of hay can be had in the valleys for the labor of making; yet such are the shiftless, not to say reckless, habits of the older residents, that they would sooner have their cattle die of hunger, than to violate one of the well-established usages of the country, by performing a little manual labor themselves. Nor can they herein be accused of inconstancy, since it was to escape this portion of the primeval curse that most of them originally sought this valley, to the end that, having possessed themselves of stock, they might, without labor, live on the natural increment thereof; not all being content to await this tardy mode of multiplication, some few seeking to hasten it by appropriating the
ITS SOIL, CLIMATE, RESOURCES, &c. 19
stray steer of a passing emigrant, or by the purchase of stock run in from California.
Under the new order of things soon to be initiated in that quarter, many of these early settlers will be likely to sell out and remove elsewhere, while it is to be hoped that such as remain, will, encouraged by example and stimulated by the hope of gain, come to cultivate more provident and industrious habits. These remarks will not apply to all the pioneer residents of these valleys, quite a number of them being both exemplary and industrious, and every way good citizens.
Another obstacle to economical cultivation here, is the very general necessity that exists for irrigation. There are occasionally patches, having a sufficiency, without too much moisture, upon which almost anything can be grown without this aid ; while with it, a prolific yield rarely ever fails to reward the labors of the husbandman. A number of fields sown to wheat and oats, and also several planted to corn, did not repay their seed last season, some of them not even arriving at maturity, through neglect in this particular. An agricultural fact has recently been brought to light that is likely to impart new value to many of the lands in this generally desert country. It has been found, by experiments now amply tested, that much of the sage land, usually considered irreclaimably sterile, is in itself really fertile ; the only hindrance to its productiveness being a want of moisture : wherever the soil consists of a dark loam, instead of sand, the application of water is alone required to secure its fecundity. Since this fact has become known, considerable tracts of this land have been inclosed and subjected to tillage ; a practice that will be enlarged upon the coming season, and will finally extend itself in a degree commensurate with the facilities for irrigation. How far these may yet be multiplied beyond their natural limit, a very narrow one in this region, will depend upon the success of Artesian well-boring, an experiment not yet fairly tried on these deserts.
The condition of the land claims in Western Utah is not one calculated to encourage a rapid increase of permanent settlers. To Utah, as to Oregon, and in some degree to California, the U. S. preemption laws have not yet been extended. In the absence of any law regulating the taking up of public lands, the Territorial Legislature of Utah passed an act authorizing every settler to claim and hold one entire section thereof. This, considering the circumstances, would not have been an objectionable law had parties acting under it restricted themselves to the possession of a single section of six hundred and forty acres. This, however, does not seem to have been the case, most of the older residents being the owners, or rather claimants, of several sections, obtained by purchase or other modes of acquirement, not sanctioned by the spirit of the law.
These enlarged land claims have already been the source of much dissatisfaction on the part of the new-comers ; a feeling that may yet lead to an attempt at cutting them down by some primitive mode of legislation. In apprehension of some such action, many of the claimants, possessed of large tracts, are offering to alienate portions of them, at very reasonable prices. Parties, therefore, desirous of securing arable lands in any of these valleys, would have little difficulty in negotiating a purchase at moderate rates ; and this mode of acquisition would be preferable to waiting in anticipation of any popular movement directed to the cutting down of claims—a course of doubtful expediency at best—and likely, if carried out, to result in greater dissatisfaction, even to those engaged in it, than exists under the present state of things.
It is hardly to be supposed, in any event, that the bona fide claims of the original settlers will be reduced below the limit allowed by the Territorial Act ; as this would be in the nature of an ex post facto law, and manifestly unjust. On the other hand, to allow any one person to hold a larger tract than this, would, in view of the limited amount of good land in this region, be equally unjust It has been proposed to cut all claims down to 160 acres, with a view to multiplying the number of households in the Territory. This, as a prospective regulation, might, if confined to the valley lands hereafter to be taken up, prove a
20 THE WASHOE COUNTRY,
very politic regulation, but should not be enforced as against those now holding lands, all of whom should be protected in their possessions, to at least double that amount. There is a custom prevailing here, which by prescription has come to have the force of law, and the rigor of which should not be relaxed, whereby no one is allowed to take up and hold to his exclusive use any of the forest lands. This, owing to the great scarcity of timber, is a most politic rule, and should not be infringed upon, else this valuable franchise would soon become private property, shutting out the public from all chance of procuring lumber or fire-wood.
In making an estimate of the agricultural value of Western Utah it certainly must be pronounced vastly inferior to that of California ; yet, in view of its very considerable resources in this respect, and the condition of things likely to exist there for some time, at least, it certainly holds out good inducements for engaging in the cultivation of the land, more especially the raising of garden produce. The cutting of hay will also be a business that in the future can be engaged in with profit, and which, though it may be largely carried on, can hardly be overdone. To the industrious and enterprising, then, having sufficient means to enter upon and conduct these several branches of farming properly, and to await returns, Western Utah opens, if not a very flattering, at least an encouraging field of labor.
THE MINERAL RESOURCES OF WESTERN UTAH.
That a silver-bearing lode of unparalleled richness has been found at the locality known as Virginia City, is now a well attested fact. This lode, or vein, composed of sulphurets and native silver, so far as developed and proved to be rich, is about 2,000 continuous feet in length, with an average width of 18 inches. How far downward it penetrates is unknown ; the greatest depth to which it has yet been opened being about 50 feet. At this point the lode not only maintains its richness, but is even thicker than near the surface, showing a tendency to widen as it goes down. Where it runs to, or whether it exists at all outside these limits, is a question of conjecture, in the solution of which neither science nor experience can render any essential aid, since the history of silver mining discloses that while some mines have been exhausted in a few years, or dipped at an angle that rendered their working impracticable, others have lasted and been worked for centuries with success. It is claimed, and perhaps justly, that the rich sulphurets have been found at points much further south on the line of this lead, se also on parallel veins in the immediate vicinity. There seems to be good evidence that such is the case ; and possibly it should be stated as a fact. However this may be, that other veins of rich silver ore have been met with, not only in the neighborhood of the Comstock claim, but also at points considerably distant, is now beyond dispute. At the Flowery Diggings, on the border of the Little Desert, and also in the Pine Nut Valley, some fifty miles to the south, well defined veins of unquestioned richness are now being worked ; a circumstance scarcely less important, and of even greater interest, to the mining public, than the finding of the original lead itself, since it demonstrated that this is not a solitary deposit, as there was reason for some time to apprehend, and gives ample encouragement for carrying on the prospecting operations already begun, as well as for the undertaking of other and more distant explorations. And here arises the inquiry, what may be the probable extent of the argentiferous belt stretched along the eastern base of the snowy mountains ? An inquiry which, with our limited knowledge of that vast and desert region, can, at best, be but imperfectly and partially answered. That such a belt does exist, whether generally rich in mineral wealth or not, may now be assumed as an established fact.
The idea that silver mines abound in that scope of country is not of recent origin. In the early periods of our mining history, rumored discoveries of that kind were often heard of. But being generally founded upon no better evidence than the word of some wandering adventurer or mountain trapper, related at a time when the public attention was so absorbed in the gathering of gold, that silver was not
ITS SOIL, CLIMATE, RESOURCES, &c. 21
thought of, these reports having, perhaps, started out some feeble party, only to fail in the object of their search, were at length forgotten, or only remembered as traditions in the neighborhood where they first gained credence. As early as '52, an expedition left Stockton to go in search of a silver vein, which a Mexican, who piloted the party, claimed to have discovered at a place about 200 miles distant in the Sierra Nevadas. They found the ore in quantities, and giving assays rich beyond their expectations ; but, owing to the distance, the expense of working at that time, and the hostilities of the Indians, nothing further was then done, nor has an effort since been made to render the discovery available.
Nor have these searches been confined to the southern portion of this supposed argentiferous region ; various explorations, with a like object, having been going on, at intervals, during the past five or six years in quite an opposite direction. The public are not ignorant of the fact that the late Peter Lassen undertook a number of prospecting tours into the mountains, east of Plumas, in search of silver mines that he supposed to exist in that quarter; nor will they need to be reminded that it was in the prosecution of this purpose that the noble old Pioneer recently lost his life. This man, with the keen observation common to his class had noticed certain outcroppings while journeying through that region years before, and being impressed with the belief that they were silver, had determined to settle the matter by further examination. On previous occasions he had partially confirmed this opinion, having found what he hesitated not to pronounce genuine silver leads, to which he was proceeding, with his companions, when he lost his life.
One of the localities of these discoveries was the Black Rock Spring, north of Upper Mud Lake, nearly two hundred miles distant from the Comstock lead. At this place, valuable silver ore is known to exist, a company having opened the vein and found it to be both extensive and rich. At Honey Lake, midway these points, good indications of silver have been met with, and extensive preparations are being made to work the most favorable leads on the opening of spring. East of, and beyond this belt, out upon the Humboldt, we also have reports of silver being found. A party have already left this city for that point, near the head-waters of that river, where it is believed extensive deposits of this mineral exist.
Without alluding to other rumors and partial explorations, there is evidently some foundation for the belief that a silver-bearing range lies along the western rim of the Utah basin, and that additional discoveries of great value will shortly be made in that quarter.
It has been ascertained that a straight line running north and south, with a slight bend to the east and west, would pass sear Black Rock, Virginia City, Mono Lake, and the site of the silver veins on the Mohave, giving rise to the presumption that all these localities are but additional links in the great mineral chain of Arizona and Mexico. Continuing it on to the north, not only are traces of silver discoverable at intervals throughout this whole stretch of country, but very tolerable placer diggings exist at various points along it. Indeed, its natural features and appearance throughout indicate the presence of the precious metals, and give coloring to the conjecture that a metalliferous region ranges along the east base of the Sierra Nevada, keeping at about the same distance from its crest as the gold belt on this side. In Carson Valley, on Walker River, and at Mono Lake, are good surface diggings, while at places still further south, rich quarts ledges have been met with, some of them equaling the best ever found in California.
To say nothing, therefore, of the actual discoveries made in the vicinity of the mines recently opened at Washoe, it is pretty clear there exists an argentiferous as well as an auriferous region, both to the north and south of that district, which, though they may not reveal any such immensely rich lodes as those already found, will yet present strong attractions to the adventurous and enterprising miner. What will constitute some of the drawbacks for seeking that country for mining pur-
22 THE WASHOE COUNTRY,
poses, will be considered in our next article.
OBSTACLES TO SUCCESS.
With a metalliferous range of such evident magnitude and apparent opulence stretched along the border of our State, with no other barrier than the Sierra between, it is easy to foresee a large number of our people will emigrate thither the coming season. It matters not though reports from that quarter should adverse—though nothing further should be discovered for months—what has already been and will give an impetus to California enterprise, that will carry a multitude over the mountains, and insure a thorough exploration the country beyond. Nothing short of this, though it be the work of years, will satisfy our enterprising and impetuous people. We may therefore regard it as a fixed fact that a considerable portion of our floating population will be absorbed in mining pursuits, to be carried on for an indefinite period in the great wilderness of Western Utah. But it is well those about to adventure in this new and also unknown region, should be apprised of difficulties and hardships that await them there, and which, arising on every hand, will times fill them with dismay, and baffle their most earnest and well-directed efforts for success.
A serious objection to going to Washoe, and one that meets us on the threshold, is the heavy expense attending the trip. A tedious costly journey must be made before we can even enter its borders.
The length of this journey, calculated from mining districts of this State, will average something like two hundred miles. The attending cost, going and coming, including a reasonable period for prospecting, will hardly be less than $150. To this add $100 more for loss of time, and we have, as total expenditures for the trip, $250. It would be easy to make this appear an over-estimate, by saying the distance, from several of the more populous counties, to Carson City, is scarce one hundred miles—that the round trip could be made in a couple of weeks, and at a less cost than above stated—the miner packing his blankets, and camping out. Yet if the average points of departure throughout the State be taken, their distance from Carson City will be found nearer two hundred and fifty than one hundred miles. Besides, when the miner shall have reached that town, he has still a day's journey more to make before he is fairly into the mines. If be desires to engage in placer digging be may have to go on to Walker River or Mono Lake, a hundred miles further.
Having reached the field of active labor, whether it be digging for gold or prospecting for silver, the operator will find his expenses nearly double what they were in California. The difficulty of keeping animals, without which little can be done, will, also, owing to the scarcity of grass and water, be greatly increased. After leaving the Sierra, hardly any timber, fit for lumber, or even firewood, is met with. How great a detriment this must prove to mining operations, will be understood by all. As has been repeatedly stated, in the course of these articles, the country beyond the snowy mountains is, for the most part, a desert—hot, arid, and destitute of verdure, with a climate debilitating and oppressive to a degree that almost precludes the possibility of labor during the day in the season of summer. Sufficient water, from natural supplies, for the purposes of mining, is, in most localities, out of the question; nor can it be obtained from rivers, by means of ditches, as in this State, since these do not exist. The long and dry summer is followed by a winter of considerable rigor, what few streams there are being often frozen up, and the foothills, the scene of most mining operations, covered with several feet of snow.
If the miner, in repairing to the Utah country, purposes to engage in placer diggings he will have to go on as far as Walker River or Mono Lake ; nor can he be sure of finding unoccupied ground even there. So far as discoveries have been made, in that quarter, they are mostly covered with claims already ; or, at least, to the extent that there is water for working. As for silver mining, it is a new business to our people, and can nowhere be conducted successfully without time, capital, and the employment of scientific knowledge, such as
ITS SOIL, CLIMATE, RESOURCES, &c. 23
few persons possess. These silver veins generally run deep into the earth, where they can be followed only by means of heavy excavations, often costing a deal of money, and consuming much time. The mere prospecting for this ore is tedious and expensive—tunnels and shafts being required, as it rarely lies near the surface. Assessments begin with the breaking of the ground, returns only coming, in most cases, after months of expenditure and toil ; thus presenting, to the man of small means, the alternative of leaving his mine unworked, or selling it to others, able to open and carry it on. Viewed, as a whole, then, there are many discouragement to persons of limited means resorting to the Washoe country for the purpose of gold or silver mining; and the few rich discoveries already made there should not betray this class, or any other, being profitably employed, into a hasty departure for a region, which, so far as our positive knowledge extends, has so little to recommend it, while most that is favorable rests on conjecture.
THE VARIOUS ROUTES TO WESTERN UTAH.
To such as contemplate making a journey over the mountains into the great Utah Basin, or purpose forwarding goods to that quarter, it becomes a matter of moment to know which of the several routes leading thither offers the greatest facilities for transportation and travel. Without presuming to determine, or even indicate, which of the various passes affords the best natural advantages for a road over the Sierra, or which will ultimately become the great highway connecting San Francisco, as the centre of California, with Western Utah, it may safely be said each of these avenues will, for the present, or so soon as the snow will admit of its passage, offer to those in its respective neighborhood, the greatest inducements for making their journey over it.
Thus, parties going in from Shasta, or any point to the north of that place, will take the road through Nobles Pass and by Honey Lake. Those departing from Tehama and vicinity, embracing the district beyond the Middle Fork of the Feather River, may find the Quincy route, going through Beckworth's Pass, the most eligible.. The country lying between the Middle Feather and the Middle Fork of the American River, including nearly the whole of Sierra, Yuba, Nevada, and Placer Counties, will make use of the Henness and Truckee routes, some, perhaps, going further north, through the Yuba Gap—those proceeding on animals or on foot from the southern part of this section taking the Truckee, as being the shortest route. The region lying between the Middle Fork of the American and Mokelumne River, with the trade and travel of Sacramento and San Francisco, will, at least for the present, find the Placerville road the most convenient. Everything south of the last mentioned stream, destined for Carson Valley, will, after a couple of months, when the snow shall have melted, proceed by way of the Big Trees. Until then, the Placerville route must be taken. Later in the season, parties bound for Walker River or the Mono diggings, may take the pack trail from Sonora over the mountains. There is also an Indian trail, rather rugged, but practicable after the first of June, leading into the Mono region from Mariposa by the valley of the Yo-Semite. There is also one further on, keeping up the San Joaquin; and yet another, and much better, still further south, which, running along Kern River to its head, falls into Owen's Valley, which is then followed to the north. This trail is always open, and offers to parties from the extreme south a convenient avenue for entering the country east of the Sierra.
Over all the routes leading through the more important and feasible of these passes, the preliminary steps have been taken for building toll-roads the coming summer, active operations having already been commenced in several instances. Tolerable wagon-roads have already been built over the mountains, at one or two points, yet they are, in view of the competition likely to arise, by no means such as will insure the several districts which they connect with the other side, their due share of a traffic that will much enrich those who shall secure any considerable portion of it. Not only for the purpose of diverting through their borders the through-trade with Western Utah, should the inhabitants of the various
24 THE WASHOE COUNTRY.
sections improve their respective lines of communication with that quarter, but, also, for their local convenience and profit; since, if these transmontane regions shall grow into importance, they will furnish a market for the overabundant agricultural products of the country adjacent to their termini, as well as an outlet for its idle and surplus population. Nor will the benefits arising from the construction of these works inure to the public alone; they can hardly fail to prove profitable investments to the stockholders when completed. With these facts before us, there is little reason to doubt that several good roads will, in due time, be constructed over the Sierra; and that without any legislative subsidy, or other extraneous aid ; since the route that does not seem to possess sufficient merit to warrant the investment of capital, and draw to its support the assistance of those directly interested, can scarcely expect to find an auxiliary in the Legislature or the public at large.
The following table, copied from the Washoe map, recently published by Hutchings & Rosenfield, exhibits the distances from point to point, along the principal routes, leading from California to Western Utah. Some of these distances have been gathered from actual surveys, others from popular estimates—all being sufficiently accurate for common use :
STOCKTON AND SONORA ROUTE TO WALKER RIVER AND MONO DIGGINGS.
Stockton to Sonora. 65
Smote to Sullivan's Creek 5
Sullivan's Creek to Strawberry Flat 26
Strawberry Flat to Relief Valley 23
Relief Valley to Indian Valley 23
Indian valley to Duffield's Valley 3
Duffield's Valley to Big Valley, Walker's River 25
Big Valley to Mono Lake 34
STOCKTON AND BIG TREE ROUTE TO VIRGINIA CITY.
Stockton to Murphy's 65
Murphy's to Big Tree 15
Big Tree to Black Springs 10
Black Springs to Big Meadows- 6
Big Meadows to Grizzley Valley 5
Grizzley Valley to Silver Lake Valley 4
Silver Lake Valley to Hope Valley 14
Hope Valley to Virginia City 62 1/2
Total 181 1/2
SACRAMENTO AND PLACERVILLE ROUTE.
Sacramento to Placerville. 45
Placerville to Junction 151
Junction to Brockliss Bridge 21
Brockliss Bridge to Strawberry Valley 26
Strawberry Valley to Slippery Ford 1
Slippery Ford to Johnson's Pass 7
Johnson's Pass to Lake Valley 2
Lake Valley to Luther's Pass 4
Luther's Pass to Hope Valley 2
Slope Valley to Woodford's 5
Woodford's to Genoa 20
Genoa to Carson City 14
Carson City to Virginia City 18
The route is shortened twelve miles by the trail through Daggett's Puss, over which a wagon road is being built. This trail leaves the present road in Lake Valley and rejoins it in Carson Valley three miles south of Genoa.
DISTANCES BY THE TRAIL.
From the Fork to Smith's Station 21
Smith's Station to Junction Trail 9
Junction to Daggett's Pass 21
Daggett's Pass to Carson Valley Road 31
Thence to Genoa 3
SACRAMENTO AND NEVADA ROUTE VIA HENNESS PASS.
Sacramento to Nevada 65
Nevada to Eureka 26
Eureka to Jackson's Ranch 13
Jackson's Ranch to Summit 6
Summit to Fork of Roads 5
Fork to Steamboat Valley 40
Steamboat Valley to Virginia City 13
MARYSVILLE AND HENNESS ROUTE.
Marysville to San Juan 38
San Juan to Fred's Rancho 17
Fred's to Cornish Ranch 2
Cornish Rancho to Milton 14
Milton to Summit 10
Summit to Fork of Roads 5
Fork to Steamboat Valley 40
Steamboat Valley to Virginia City 13
Turning off to the North on this route and going through Sierra Valley, we have:
Fork to Head of Sierra Valley 10
Head of Sierra Valley to Head of Long Valley 37
Head of Long Valley to Steamboat Valley 28
Steamboat Valley to Virginia City 13
Making the entire distance by this route 154