Jackson County 1857
Also refer to Capt. T. J. Cram's report.
Our train arrived in Rogue River Valley, 28th of September, 1853, having been something more than six months on our journey. Only the upper, or southern part of this valley was occupied by a very sparse settlement of Whites, the Indians having collected on the lower but richer part. It is the main thoroughfare between the Willamette and Sacramento valleys, about two hundred miles from each, and eighty miles from Crescent City, on the coast, to which it is accessible only by pack mules. Some of the gulches that open into it are rich in gold. It has numerous mountain streams, and a considerable proportion of fertile land. Its width varies from one to several miles. The surrounding mountains are lofty; and some of them are capped with snow most of the year. There is a plenty of timber and water power, with a boundless range of pasturage for sheep and cattle. The scenery is varied and beautiful beyond description. The climate of this region is probably the most pure and bracing that can be found in any part of the Pacific, being considerably elevated above the ocean, and far removed from the inundated lands of the Columbia and Sacramento and their tributary streams. All these make it a desirable location for settlement.
John Beeson, A Plea for the Indians, 1857, page 21
This half mining, half agricultural settlement is situated in one of the most beautiful and fertile valleys in the world--a valley that is about thirty-five miles in length, by from one to twenty miles in width--and from whatever point obtained, the view is peculiarly diversified and picturesque; its evergreen slopes and timbered knolls, its cultivated farms, rich with the black soil just turned up by the plow, the fresh, light green of the wheat just peeping above it, and the stock quietly feeding, give it a pastoral appearance that speaks of industry, beauty and contentment: while from the high mountains that stand near you small brooks run babbling on, laughing and leaping as they pass through the oak openings and across the farm lots. And by these streams nearly the whole southwestern side of the valley can be irrigated--though the perpetual green that covers every portion of the valley, even to the slopes and summits of the hills during the long summer drought would indicate a climate more moist and congenial to the production of all the finer grasses and clovers than that of California.
In the midst of this amphitheater of loveliness stands the flourishing town of Jacksonville, being a very important town to the whole section around, from whence the inhabitants of the valley, and the surrounding settlements, obtain their supplies. The principal business of Crescent City, on the sea coast, is with this place. The Indians have been very troublesome throughout the valley ever since its first settlement.
Within a circuit of twelve miles of Jacksonville there are about one hundred and twenty families, and what is very important to the male members of the genus homo, there are about fifty marriageable ladies. All of them young and good-looking(!) [sic]
About eight miles southwest of this is another very prosperous mining locality named Sterlingville, and which bids fair to be one of the best in the state. All they want is plenty of water.
In February 1851, two men, one named Clugage and the other Pool, were out on a prospecting expedition for gold, and near the site of the present town found their labors rewarded by a "good prospect" of the precious metal, and immediately pitched their camp. At that time there were but three log cabins in the valley.
As men began to gather in, a little town sprang into existence, and from a singular rock at the lower end of the valley, about nine miles below the town, resembling a huge table, this little village was first named Table Rock City, but as the valley became settled it became the county town of Jackson County, Oregon, and was then changed to its present name.
There is a population of about 700 persons here, and it seemed to us that not less than about half that number were called "Doctor!" although it is considered a very healthy place.
James Mason Hutchings in Hutchings' California Magazine, January 1857, page 295
SOUTHERN OREGON.--In the Table Rock Sentinel, of a recent date, we find the following, in regard to the mineral and other resources of Jackson County:
"We have taken some trouble to ascertain the number of persons mining on Jackson Creek and its branches, and from the best information we can obtain, there are about three hundred men. It is estimated that they will make, at least, an average of $3.33 per day to the hand, which will amount in the aggregate to $1,000 per day, $26,000 per month, and an annual yield of $312,000.
"The Sterling diggings will yield as much if not a greater amount of gold. Applegate, Rogue River and Evans Creek will yield as much as Sterling or Jackson Creek. Therefore we may safely calculate that, within the limits of Jackson County, there is annually produced from the mines alone about $1,000,000.
"Besides this, our agricultural population produce all the breadstuff and vegetables necessary for the support of the mining population of Jackson County, supply Josephine, and furnish a large amount to Siskiyou County, Cal. Beef and pork are now cheap and being extensively raised. Flour is retailing at three, potatoes at four, and beef at twelve and fifteen cents per pound. Industry is rewarded as abundantly as in any part of the world. All the great variety of merchandise necessary for a farming and mining community can be obtained at the stores of Maury & Davis, J. A. Brunner & Bro., John Anderson, Pat Ryan, J. P. Stearns, Fisher & Bro., Baker and others, Jacksonville, at prices in proportion to the transportation, as low as in any of the towns in the Territory.
Sacramento Daily Union, January 27, 1857, page 3
Jacksonville contains eleven stores, two hotels, two private boarding houses, one printing office, four blacksmith shops, one tin shop, one boot and shoe store, four drug stores, two wagon shops, one cigar and tobacco store, two cabinet shops, two livery stables, one painter, two tailors, two barbers, one dentist, one daguerrean artist, two jewelers, one bag factory, one express office, a post office, two billiard saloons, six physicians, four lawyers, ten carpenters, one barber, several speculators, two meat markets, two bakeries, one brewery, one saddlery and harness shop, and six drinking saloons.--Sentinel.
Weekly Oregonian, Portland, February 21, 1857, page 2
JACKSONVILLE, O.T.--On a recent visit to this flourishing little place, we were somewhat surprised to see the many changes and improvements which have taken place in the short place of one year. Several commodious fireproof buildings have lately been erected, and preparations are now being made for the erection of others during the coming summer.
Situated as it is, in the center of one of the most beautiful and fertile valleys of the Territory, surrounded on all sides by a vast extent of rich mining country, Jacksonville bids fair, at no very distant day, to rank foremost among the towns of Oregon. The snows and rains of the past winter have furnished the miners in that vicinity with an abundance of water, and enabled them to prospect many rich gulches hitherto untouched. Extensive mining operations are now going on in the immediate vicinity of the town. One company, having obtained rich prospects in that locality, are now engaged in running a tunnel, which, if successful, may be the means of undermining many of the principal buildings in the place.
The miners of Sterlingville and Applegate Creek have also done well during the past winter. Our enterprising friend W. W. Fowler is now engaged in a large ditching operation in Applegate, by which he purposes to drain that stream for several miles. The greater portion of the ditch is already finished, and the whole work will be completed in a few weeks, thereby furnishing employment for hundreds of miners who will probably work on the bars the coming summer.--Siskiyou Chronicle.
Red Bluff Beacon, April 15, 1857, page 2
The Mines in Northern California.Throughout the upper counties of the state, mining operations, during the past winter, have been either wholly or partly suspended in consequence of the severity of the weather, which has been unprecedentedly cold in many localities. In Klamath and Siskiyou counties, the ditches were frozen for a number of weeks, and the earth so stiffened by frost as to resist the force of the pick and bar. But on the advent of spring and unlocking of the streams from the embrace of the ice king, mining operations were renewed with vigor, and have since been prosecuted with a success heretofore unparalleled. There are bordering upon the forty-second parallel numerous small tributaries of the Klamath and Smith's rivers, which are known to abound in gold, but have been hitherto scarcely prospected owing to their comparative inaccessibility, and their immediate proximity to tribes of hostile Indians. The few more adventurous spirits who penetrated these mountain fastnesses, and bearded the red man on his own hunting ground, were almost universally successful, and returned to the coast with well-filled purses, and enthusiastic in their praises of the loveliness of the climate and magnificence of the scenery in those inhospitable wilds.
The latest advices which have reached us from this section more than confirm the statements of the earlier diggers, and during the past few weeks new and rich discoveries of the precious metal have been made. On one of these streams, which rejoices in the euphonious apellation of "Sucker Creek," two or three companies are clearing from five to ten dollars per day to the hand; and on a contiguous tributary, known as Boling's Creek, there is a claim owned by McDonald & Co., from which was extracted five hundred dollars in a single week. Althouse Creek and other streams also paying wages which would be deemed enormous by many of the miners in the middle or southern counties.
The vast auriferous region comprising the new county of Del Norte, lower Oregon, and the upper portions of Klamath and Siskiyou counties, is but just beginning to be explored, and its mineral resources developed; but it is assuredly destined in time to be settled by an active and industrious population. To the hundreds of idlers, loafers and others, complaining of hard times, who are hanging about the streets of this city, we say: Leave for the north, either by sea or land, at the earliest moment. If you have no funds, work your passage, or hire out here at a dollar a day, if necessary, until you scrape together enough to land you at Crescent City. We have no sympathy for healthy, able-bodied men in this country, who can work, but won't work, for labor always will be remunerated in the mines, if not on the farm or in the counting room.
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, May 13, 1857, page 2
"Those who love scenery cannot but be delighted by visiting that portion of Jacksonville situated on the eminence of an evening. The valley shows the beautiful plain interspersed with groves and dotted with scattering timber still further on the mountains forming the eastern rim of the great valley of an evening at this season of the year, the clouds hanging in the horizon over the summit of the hills, the sun as at this moment reflecting its golden rays, with occasional shades in the background formed by indentations in the mountain," &c.--Jacksonville Sentinel.
Oregon Argus, Oregon City, July 18, 1857, page 2
Explorations in California and Oregon.
From the Siskiyou Chronicle.
The explorations of the country about the sources of the Klamath River last summer and fall has proven that that river and the Sacramento take their rise in the same grand plateau. The great plain, having an altitude of four and five thousand feet, extends far north into Oregon Territory, and embraces twelve lakes, some of which are of great magnitude. These lakes are divided into two series, having each its chain of connections; one of them--affording much the largest portion of water--pours its united waters into the Klamath through the Little Klamath Lake; the other sheds its waters through the subterranean channel of Lost River into Pit River, and thence into the Sacramento. The country immediately around these lakes and along the streams, which flow into them and connect with them, is a vast meadow of grass and tules. The higher lands are extensive alkali plains, broken by hills which have no connected range, and are covered with a scattered growth of pine and spruce.
The Buffalo Commercial, August 21, 1857, page 1
LETTERS FROM OREGON.
The Trip--The Columbia and Willamette Rivers--Portland, and its Environs--Oregon City and its gray-haired Patriarch--Facilities for Travel in the Interior--French Prairie and its Inhabitants--Salem and the Seat of government--Oregon Politics and Politicians--The Constitutional Convention--Position of its Leading Members upon the "Nigger Question"--The Class who Desire Slavery--Probable Features of the State Constitution--How Oregon is Governed--A Contrast--General Prosperity of the Country--News Items, &c., &c.
SALEM, O.T., Monday Evening, Aug. 7.EDITORS UNION: The traveler who leaves the wharves of San Francisco for the Columbia River country, with Bryant's ideal of a country,
"Where rolls the Oregon,is certain to have his conceptions dissipated on arriving in the Oregon of today. The Columbia, though retaining much of the savage grandeur in which it was clothed by the Divine Architect, is no longer the solitary haunt of the savage man and the savage beast, but is enlivened with the busy "hum" of ocean and river steamers, and the "whirr" of the many lumbering and grist mills with which its banks are studded What a busy materialistic set we of the Anglo-Saxon race are! In what a short period of history have we belted the continent with the evidences of our enterprise, and carried the ensigns of our civilization to where the last land to be subdued by our arms looks out upon the wide waste of waters that separate us from the cradle of humanity! What shall we do for other continents when this is ours? But these are questions which the reader may ponder upon and answer for himself.
And hears no sound but its own dashing,"
Not only the banks of the Columbia, but the sea coast from San Francisco has its active and busy population. The smoke of their fires was gracefully visible as we coasted the bays and headlands from San Francisco to Astoria. At Crescent City we discharged one hundred and sixty tons of freight. Crescent City is the entrepot of a flourishing trade with Jacksonville and Yreka, and the extensive mining country adjacent. This accounts for the vast quantity of goods unshipped there, which the Captain told us is seldom less than the amount this time. In about seven hours after leaving Crescent City, we passed Port Orford. A few years ago it used to be a place of considerable trade, but the recent Indian war in Southern Oregon has driven most of the miners from the country. They are, however, returning and prospecting the Rogue River country with good success, and the country promises, at no distant day, to fill up with a hardy and enterprising mining population. We never pass Port Orford without calling to mind some particularly wild passages in Byron's "Corsair." There is a wild, romantic look about the ragged bare white cliffs upon which the town stands, which causes it involuntarily to associate itself in our mind with the retreat of the Greek pirates. Far be it from us, however, to intimate that the gallant Captain Tichenor (the Lord of Port Orford) pursues the calling of the robbers of Islam. The Captain is a gallant old fellow, and in his little craft The Nelly Tichenor has, no doubt, had quite as many adventures, and as exciting, too, as the father of Haidee.
Some time since the federal government appointed a Collector of Customs for Port Orford without consulting the Captain, at which he was greatly displeased. Since then he has been employed in taking his revenge out of Uncle Sam's capacious pockets, His knowledge of the coast--which is perfect--enables him to monopolize the coast-carrying trade of supplying the Indians on the various Reserves scattered along the coast. In his little schooner he enters bays on the coast with perfect safety which would prove the destruction of less-experienced navigators.
About a hundred miles from the mouth of the Columbia it receives the waters of the beautiful Willamette by two mouths; and fourteen miles from the mouth of the Willamette stands the youthful and picturesque city of Portland--the commercial capital of Oregon. Portland contains about five thousand inhabitants, and the town has more the appearance of substantiality than any other town on the Pacific. Here you find no dirty, dilapidated, deserted houses, tenantless and likely to continue so, but neat white cottages greet you on every hand--the permanent homes of the mechanics who have made Portland what it is. Nearly every one of these mechanics are the owners of their own houses and lots, and the evidences of their ownership are to be seen in the trim, neat appearance of their dwellings, and the well-cultivated fruit gardens with which they are surrounded. Ten years ago the site of Portland was an unbroken forest, so dense as to shut out the sun's rays. Today it has its churches and its schoolhouses, its newspapers, its public buildings and its water works in full proportion to its needs. It has three weekly newspapers and one job printing office, and will be a good opening for the establishment of a daily as soon as the mail facilities of the country are a little improved. Among the many handsome private residences in Portland we can not help mentioning that of Hon. T. J. Dryer, editor of the Oregonian. He started the paper in 1850, as a Whig journal, and notwithstanding the territory has been largely and overwhelmingly Democratic, under his skillful guidance the Oregonian has attained an influence and a circulation far ahead of any other journal in Oregon. May its enterprising publisher have cause to "laugh and grow fat" for many years to come.
We left Portland in the steamer Express, and steamed up the Willamette twelve miles to Oregon City. The town has the appearance of premature decay--indeed, an old resident told us that he feared "the rats would soon take the town." It is situated in a deep, cañon, where the whole body of the Willamette River, as large here as is the Sacramento at your city, rushes over a perpendicular ledge of rocks some forty feet high, reminding one forcibly of a miniature Niagara. There is water power enough here to whirl the planet Jupiter, if it could only be applied. There are several flouring and lumber mills established here, the largest of which is owned by Dr. McLoughlin, a gray-haired veteran of ninety years, who has passed the greater portion of his life on this coast, in the capacity of governor of the Pacific branch of the Hudson's Bay Company. He is now at the point of death. He married an Indian woman, and raised a family of half-breed children, whom he sent to Europe to be educated. He has managed, by giving the female portion of them large fortunes, to provide most of them with white husbands. The male portion, notwithstanding their opportunities, are Indian enough still. The doctor is said to be worth half a million of pounds sterling, most of which is invested in English stocks. He was a kind and humane man, and it speaks volumes for his goodness that the Indians and whites lived amicably together for the quarter of a century of his administration.
From Oregon City to Salem, the seat of government, a distance of about forty miles, there is no navigation on the river at this season of the year. Semi-occasionally stages run to carry the mails. We did not happen to strike the stage, and had to take passage in an apple-cart returning to the interior for a load of that delicious fruit, after having deposited one for the San Francisco markets at the head of steamboat navigation. This gave us a better chance to see sights. The agricultural country begins a few miles above Oregon City. It is harvest time, and we can see the golden, waving grain in all its beautiful undulations. But human hopes and expectations are born to be disappointed.
A few hours ride brought us to the "French Prairie"--the garden of Oregon. The crops are not near so abundant, nor the breadth sown so large as in former years. The inhabitants of this prairie are mostly French, and Indian half-breeds, their descendants, with Indian women. They were formerly in the employ of the "Hudson's Bay Co." as voyageurs and trappers, having come across the continent from Canada. On the decline of the fur hunting trade, and before the Americans acquired the country, they settled this portion (the best) of the Willamette Valley. They are a very inferior race, naturally indolent and addicted to bad whiskey--in fact they are little removed from the Indians on the Reserve, and should be sent there. The Americans are fast getting their lands away from them by one means and another, and putting it to better uses than it has ever been put to before.
To the south of French Prairie, in the same county (Marion) is Salem, the seat of territorial government. It is inconsiderable in point of numbers (not having more than a couple of hundred inhabitants), but territorially omnipotent in point of political power. It is to Oregon what Rome is to Christendom--the point from which emanate mandates that are felt to the outward rim of its jurisdiction. Woe betide the unfortunate wight, having political aspirations, who dares to set up his will in opposition to the silliest whim of the "Salem Clique." He is politically dead.
The result of this political despotism in a country where there are but two pursuits--farming and office-hunting--may be easily imagined. To a naturally independent mind, it is a condition of things little better than the "knout." It makes cowards of men of genius, and prostitutes talent to the mean uses of little men, who have no talent of their own. In Oregon, this despotism is felt with double force, for here are none of the thousand channels through which men ambitious of distinction may gain eminence, aside from the dirty, thorny path of politics. There are but two occupations in Oregon--farming and politics. "The Salem Clique," having "Jo. Lane" at their finger ends, control Oregon's share of the federal patronage; hence, whoever is too independently constituted to pay court to the little great men of the clique, who sit chafing in their chairs, impatient of their daily dose of honeyed praises, has to choose the plow and spade, or leave the country, as many talented and useful men have been obliged to do already from the same cause. The recipients of the pap, however, do not always have a pleasant time of it, for they are constantly annoyed by the growl of those who stand ready to jump in and snatch a mouthful of the spoils. In this respect Oregon politicians might fitly be compared to a caravan of wild animals, in the midst of which was thrown a few pounds of flesh, each scrambling for the prize--the unsuccessful on the backs of the successful, trying to snatch the bone.
The Constitutional Convention assembled today at the court house in this place (the Statehouse was set on fire and burned down by local jealousy two years ago), and organized by making choice of the following officers:
President--M. P. Deady, of Douglas County.
Secretary--Chester N. Terry, of Marion County.
Assistant Secretary--Dr. Barkwell, of Jackson County.
. It is impossible to say, at this stage, how long its deliberations will last--some say a month, others two months--but it is all conjecture. The principal men in the convention, and those who will control and shape its labors, are--Hon. Delazon Smith (of John Tyler lost minister notoriety), a man of uncommon debating powers. He is withal clear-headed, practical and well fitted for the position. He is individually favorable to a free state constitution for Oregon. He is a prominent--I might say the most prominent--candidate for first member of Congress from Oregon under the state organization. Next, I think, in the order of ability, is Hon. T. J. Dryer, editor of the Oregonian newspaper. He is a good debater, and will make his mark in the convention. He is an out and out free state man. George H. Williams, formerly of Iowa, but since 1852 Chief Justice of this Territory "by the fear of God and the favor of Franklin Pierce"--is a good constitutional lawyer, has the interests of Oregon at heart, and will, no doubt, strive to make her a good, wise and liberal constitution. He is for a free state. Judges Deady and Olney Williams, associates, are also members of the convention. Deady is a Marylander by birth and education, and, of course, is in favor of the "peculiar institution." He is the only man of mark in the convention in favor of a slavery constitution for Oregon. But it matters little what the opinions of members of the convention are upon the subject of a slave or free state constitution, the people demand that the question be submitted to themselves for adjudication, and it will be done. A schedule will be added to the Constitution making Oregon both a slave and a free state. Both propositions will be voted upon by the people next October, and whichever carries will thereby become incorporated as a part of the constitution. To my mind the result is not doubtful. Oregon will decide in favor of a free state.
There is but one class of men desire slavery in Oregon--the class who have had the least experience of it in the States. Those who know it best are its most determined opponents here. The men who desire its introduction into Oregon are limited to the comparatively few who owned perhaps one or two negroes in .Missouri, or some other slave state, and who, having come to Oregon at an early day, got their section of land under the donation law. They are generally too lazy to cultivate their own lands, and will not sell out at a reasonable price to those who would. They think from their limited experience that it would be a fine thing to have "niggers" to raise wheat, that they might be able to pay freights and compete with your farmers in the California markets. Those who came later to Oregon and got only 160 or 220 acres of land, generally speaking, do not desire slavery--and they are the most numerous class, as the ballot box will show. To this latter class may be added the numbers who look upon slavery as a moral leprosy, to be avoided at any sacrifice. I find there is much less fear entertained of Oregon becoming a slave state within her borders, than without.
The state constitution, as far as I am able to judge at present, will be more like the constitution of some of the western states (perhaps that of Iowa), than of California. It will fix the salaries of state officers at a low figure. The Governor's salary will not exceed $2,000 per annum; that of the three judges, who shall be both Supreme and District Judges, will not exceed $2,500 per annum. The other officers in proportion. The judges will be elected, but I trust for a long term I should regard it as a still better feature if their office were entirely beyond the control of the popular arena, and the political caucus. But this can hardly be expected from a convention largely Democratic--western Democracy--with very little of the spirit of conservatism in its composition. At present, Oregon is well enough governed, Uncle Sam paying most of her expenses; but she has got a notion into her head that it will facilitate the payment of her four million war debt if she becomes a state. Her statesmen, ambitious of a seat in Congress, argue that the interest on this debt, it obtained only four years in advance of what it would be were they to remain in territorial vassalage, would defray the expenses of her state government for years. I shall not pretend to gainsay it, but will it facilitate the payment by Uncle Sam of this debt? Echo answers, "will it?" In any event, one thing is certain: Oregon will never permit herself to be plundered as do the people of California. Her population feel an interest in their country which your population, or the bulk of it, do not. They are mostly agriculturists, who have come here in search of homes carrying with them the virtues incident to an agricultural people. They have cast their lot here for themselves and their little ones, and that is a sufficient guarantee that they will act differently, and choose a different class of rulers from what your mining nomadic population do. Until the bulk of your population are permanent residents, you need look for very little change in the political condition of your state. She will only go on from bad to worse--pass from the hands of one set of hungry officials to another. Your public officers in point of morality are fully up to your people. The foundation is rotten, and where it is the superstructure cannot be good. What else produces the difference in two states located side by side? Oregon is as well governed as any country may reasonably expect to be--her people are prosperous, there is little crime, and no pauperism within her borders--her schools are flourishing and well sustained--her taxation a mere nothing. Nine mills on the dollar is the highest this year for all purposes, and contrast this with the condition of California; and how awful the picture? Your cities are literally swarming, seething with crime and beggary--your officers are corrupt--your people are ground down by taxation, and the country in every direction bears the marks of premature old age and decay. And all this comes of want of security for honest industry. Want of security for honest industry is the first, the second, and the third great need of California. Unless your land titles are settled and some encouragement held out to a different class of population, California is beyond redemption. The gentle Goldsmith must have had some such condition of society as yours in view when he sung--
"Ill fares the land to hastening ills a preyWhere is the wise statesman who will find out and apply the remedy?
Where wealth accumulates and men decay."
In a country so barren of excitement as this there are few new items to report, but this is amply compensated for, I conceive, by the length of my rigmarole. The Democratic Standard, at Portland, it is said, has been sold out to James O'Meara, formerly of the Calaveras Chronicle, who is to conduct it (the Standard) as a pro-slavery organ. This will make the third organ and grinder of the sort in the Territory. I will keep you posted up as often as possible upon the doings of the convention. P.J.M. [Patrick J. Malone]
Sacramento Daily Union, August 27, 1857, page 3
The Oregon Gold Mines.
CARSON'S CREEK, Calaveras Co., Cal.,Mr. EDITOR:--As I came through your village a few weeks since, I promised to send you an account of my trip to the "celebrated Oregon gold mines," but have neglected doing so, owing to my having been engaged in prospecting around this section of country, which, I hope, is a sufficient excuse.
August 24th, 1857.
As soon as I arrived in Stockton from Murphy's I placed myself in the "Western Hotel"; next day took the boat for San Francisco--arriving there, took the Columbia steamer for Oregon. Before I arrived at Crescent City, I found there were three families on the boat--two for Washington Territory, and the other for Althouse Creek.
As my funds were rather on the decline, I advised these parties to land at Crescent City, knowing that we could fit ourselves out at this place. We stayed over one day to recruit. The next day we prepared ourselves for the march to the mines--we started for Redwoods. The first river we came to was "Smith's," which we crossed. One and a half miles from the ferry we found a party putting in a water wheel, and on my return found that they had abandoned the claim as "no good." There were at this time fourteen persons in the party, and we had made up our minds to prospect from Smith's River. On our trip from the first wheel on this river, we came to where there had once been a store, and around that vicinity it had been thoroughly prospected. Two miles and a half from this old store there were a party of Frenchmen on the opposite bank prospecting and building their cabins. I passed several deserted miner's cabins on this side of the river. After leaving this place we came to the forks of Smith's River, which we had to cross again, and camped overnight; we had to pay $1 a meal, $1 for hay for our horse, $1 for barley and bad beef. We immediately started for "Sailor's Diggings." From here until I arrived at "Cold Springs," I cannot say that I saw any mineral land. From Cold Springs, according to my judgment, I advised, as we were all strangers to each other, that we should prospect from there; but they were anxious to reach Althouse Creek and Sailor's Diggings--both of which places have proven to be humbugs by my own labor; however, on Althouse Creek there are two claims, abreast of Mr. Cohen's trading post, belonging to the brothers Ireland, that are paying small wages. From here I went to "Sucker Creek," which is nine miles from Althouse Creek. This camp is now being rebuilt, having been burnt down a short time previously by the Indians. I made up my mind to go among the miners and find out how things stood. I found on the left fork of "Sucker Creek" that parties had flumed the stream, and were California miners; I therefore thought that I could place more dependence on their say; after cleaning up the length of eleven sluices, they took out the enormous sum of $18. They paid 12½ cents for lumber, $3 for a shovel, $2.50 for a pick, 75 cents for a pick handle, and $10 a week for board. The Oregonians take every advantage they can of the California miner; they give exaggerated accounts of every creek and stream. From "Sucker Creek" I went to "Happy Camp"; I found the miners there anything else but happy, and were leaving as fast as they could. From thence I made my way to "Rogue River"; the trail I took brought me to "Scott's Bar"; I found from the miners here that a party of Californians had gone up to the headwaters of Rogue River; from there I went to "Scott's River," and to "Illinois River," and landed opposite Deer Creek. On Deer Creek Flat parties had run a deep cut and struck a blue clay that will pay $4 per day if it can be pulverized. As that place did not pay them for working, they went to the right of the flat and opened a race through the middle of the flat.
The miners on Illinois River do not wash out oftener than once a month, as the gold is so very fine; they use both the patent riffles and false bottoms, and have their sluices set very steep. The valley from Deer Creek to the lower end of Illinois Valley has not been prospected; but, from there up to the head, it is thickly settled.
I will now state the most economical way of going to the mines from Crescent City. It has heretofore been a rule among California miners to hire animals from the livery stables in Crescent City to go to Althouse Creek, which will cost them $15 or $20. As all Oregonians are looking out for Californians, my advice is that as soon as they arrive, to form themselves into parties of three or four persons, and purchase an animal for about $40--buy their provisions and tools, and as soon as they strike Smith's River, commence prospecting from there to Sailor's Diggings. Before they strike Cold Springs they will find a gold-bearing country, more so than above, as the country above is more thickly timbered. From Cold Springs to Sailor's Diggings is a very mountainous couutry, and miners do not examine the gulches until they reach that place. They find also when they get there that it is all monopolized by the water company. Prospectors can have water from the company to prospect with, but when they find the claim pays, they deprive them of water, and consequently they are compelled to sacrifice their claims and tools, and the next thing is they are strapped and must hire out among the farmers for $30 or $40 a month. When we got back to Crescent City, the fare to San Francisco was $20 in the steerage. There were 20 passengers from Luck's Hotel and 10 from the What Cheer House; these passengers offered $10 apiece for their passage, and were refused. They had to go and work on the road for $50 a month, and were not sure of getting that sum. I have had to work Sundays as well as weekdays to enable me to make money sufficient to get back home.
From my own experience. I would advise no one to go to the Oregon gold mines. Californians going to Oregon know nothing about what difficulties they have to encounter. If they are bound to "Caldwell's Diggings," in Washington Territory, as soon as they strike Portland they go from there to the Dalles 150 miles distant; they must pay $5 to cross the river in a boat, and must furnish themselves with a pack and saddle animal. From thence they go to the Cascades, 350 miles, you pay $5 more for your privilege to cross the Cascades. From the Cascades to Caldwell's Diggings is 420 miles; 30 miles north of Caldwell's Diggings they have discovered some new mines, but the Indians are very troublesome.
I have written these few lines to deter others from taking the same foolish step that I did. I have paid for my experience, and hope that all who may think of going will take warning from me and stay at home.
Yours, respectfully, P.K.
San Andreas Independent, San Andreas, California, August 29, 1857, page 2
LETTER FROM LOWER OREGON.
OREGON GOLD COUNTRY--THE STEAMER REPUBLIC AND HER OFFICERS--AN OREGON TRAIL AND ITS ACCOMPANIMENTS--FRUITS AND FLOWERS--BIRDS AND ANIMALS OF AN OREGON FOREST, ETC., ETC.
Somer's Diggings, Sixes River, O.T.In four days, propelled by steam and mule power, and departing from Vallejo Street wharf, in your goodly "burg," I find myself set down in the mountain gorge, where sunshine and daylight are let down perpendicularly between these majestic pines, that tower so loftily up into [the] ether from the scraggy mountainsides. Being here, it may be well for me to go back over the route, and tell you and your readers how to attain this wild gold region, whether you or they entertain any present purpose of visiting it or not.
August 20th, 1857.
The Pacific Mail Steamship Company's steamer Republic left her moorings on the 15th instant, on her semi-monthly trip to that thriving town of Portland, on the Willamette River. With so much as a good traveler considers necessary for his comfort in the way of raiment, etc., a rifle and its accompaniments, together with other hunting and fishing paraphernalia, as the journey seemed to me to require, I went on board the Republic, and in two days was safely landed at Port Orford. The voyage is a very bright one, and under the surveillance of Capt. Lappidge and his gentlemanly officers, I passed away the time as pleasantly as I ever remember to have spent an equal number of hours on salt water. I am not given to puffing, especially when the subject matter is a steam vessel; for I hold it to be a good rule that they are fully competent to puff for themselves. But I cannot let the present opportunity pass without taking occasion to say that in all that can add to one's comfort and make the tedium of a sea voyage felt as lightly as is possible, I found the steamer Republic, her commander, purser, and all occupying responsible positions, in no degree, not even the smallest, deficient; and my traveling experience has by no means been limited.
From Port Orford we took mule passage for this place, and plunged into the green forest, on our way to the "diggings." If you never have seen an Oregon trail, let me here take occasion to say to you, that there is that around about you, on either hand, that will raise your thoughts to a sublime contemplation of the great and beautiful which seems to enfold you in its embrace. In the forest, with all its silence and its solitude, you do not feel alone. The green pines, climbing away into mid-heaven, with their lofty crests; the creeping plants, shrubs, and luxuriant undergrowth of humbler trees; the chirping squirrel, darting briskly away to his secret hiding place; the occasional scream of the crested jay; the startling whirr of the disturbed grouse that inhabits this region, or the wild tramp of a hundred antlered elk or deer, betoken that there is animal and vegetable life around about you, enough to keep your thoughts in earnest contemplation of the wonders of a wilderness, in whatsoever way you may penetrate its dark recesses.
Flowers and fruits, too, garnish your pathway on either hand, filling the air with fragrance, and furnishing the grosser appetite with a palatable occupation. The salal berry--a fruit I have never before met with--grows in great luxuriance, and the purple clusters hang their tempting heads toward you, as if to woo you to eat of their delicious abundance, and their efforts are not in vain. The whortleberry, too, vies with the former in luxuriance, but does not compare with it in flavor. And so I might go on and enumerate many others, but the effect would be to tantalize you and your readers to an unnecessary pitch of excitement of longing for them, and envying my lot. Therefore I forbear.
I have got so far in telling you of my journey, when I find myself brought to an abrupt close by the impatience of the messenger who is to take this letter to Port Orford; therefore, though not yet "out of the woods," I must find a period for the present paragraph by saying that, in my next, I will give you a detailed description of the country round about, and these "diggings" in particular. W.B.F.
Daily Alta California, September 11, 1857, page 1
LETTER FROM LOWER OREGON--No. 2.
SIXES RIVER GOLD DIGGINGS--MOUNTAIN CLIMBING--GROUSE SHOOTING--THE NEWPORT COAL MINE AT COOS BAY, ETC.
NEWPORT COAL MINE, COOS BAY,I closed my last letter, if my memory serves me right, in the midst of an Oregon forest, among the abundance of its fruits and its denizens. I stated in that, that the messenger by whom I proposed to forward it to Port Orford was just leaving, therefore the cause of my abrupt ending. I go back then, to the Sixes River gold diggings, to take up the thread of my former letter, and to give you tome idea of mining, &c., in Oregon. . This mining locality is situated on the Sixes River, so called, and with the exception of the general features of the country round about, it reminded me of the river diggings in California, in the ancient days of '49, '50, and '51. To judge, however, from the complaints of miners and others with whom I conversed, I should say that the average earnings of individuals were light; but I am satisfied, from my own observation, and from my experience (limited to be sure) in mining in California, years ago, that the miners there have not gone to work as they should, in order to fairly develop the gold. The whole operations, at present, are confined to the river bed, the water having been taken out by a flume, connecting for a mile or more in extent, and the claim pumped by means of undershot water wheels. The banks cannot be worked except after the 15th of October, according to a mining law of the place, and those who have claims there remain idle until that time. The extent of an individual claim is one hundred feet front on the river, running back two hundred feet. I submit, therefore, to old experienced miners in California, the question of how fairly digging can be developed when claims are so large as these, and consequently can be worked by but a few individuals. And I am of the opinion that five hundred California miners turned loose into this mountain canon would rattle out the gold that now lies hidden in its bowels in a manner truly astonishing to those who are now working there under discouraging circumstances. I do not pretend to say that it is a locality for "big strikes," but I am confident the gold is there in a sufficient abundance to pay well, if industriously and properly sought after.
O.T., August 24, 1857.
The policy pursued by the first occupants of these mines has succeeded, as might well have been expected, in driving away very many who came here in the early opening of the excitement, to take up and work claims. And I believe that that line of policy is peculiar to Oregonians.
The immense extent of the mining claims, to which I have already referred, placed the possession of the whole country, up and down the river, in the hands of a few individuals, who could not in one season, by any possibility, begin to develop the extent of its richness, had they labored with might and main for every day, which, with a majority of those whom I have met, I should consider to be a moral impossibility. Consequently, very many were obliged to leave these selfish individuals, so like the "dog in the manger," to the full enjoyment of their possessions. And now these miners are, many of them, leaving, considering that their claims are worked out. In too many instances, the game of "poker" has worked them down financially to such an extent that the rich lead of the Alisons would not enable them to keep up a continuation of their mode of life in "these diggings." When and where they will find another clime more congenial to their tastes in life is a problem I am unable to solve.
But that there is a fine field here for systematic mining, there cannot be a doubt in the mind of any man who has ever visited the mining regions of California. The hydraulic process will undoubtedly be introduced in another season, provided men of enterprise and experience are permitted to locate here, and then will gold digging in Southern Oregon be shown to be of the very first importance.
Four miles up the mountain! Did you ever go four miles up a mountain, with a heavy rifle on your shoulder, and all the etceteras? It is no doubt well calculated to develop the pectorals, but I cannot say I admire it.
But this mountain climbing has its charms as well as drawbacks, and it well behooves everyone to make the most of them. The scenery is grandly beautiful, and the lover of shooting need not weary of the road for a lack of game. The pinnated grouse inhabits these mountains in abundance, and, so far, I have done my part in smiting them hip and thigh, and regaling my inner man upon their savory properties. Our party has feasted upon grouse, elk and deer since leaving Port Orford, until it has ceased to be a rarity.
Two clays' ride through the forests and along the sea beach hath brought me to the spot of my present writing. And here, in these wilds, to see what American enterprise has developed, is well calculated to be a source of pride to every lover of the American character. The Newport coal mine, so called, is situated about six miles from Empire City, on Coos Bay, and is already in a stage of development that places the character of the coal, and the quantity that lies buried in these mountains, beyond doubt or question. The main drift of the mine is driven in already about four hundred feet, with large side drifts or chambers starting out on either side, at regular intervals, to enable the mine to be worked to advantage. The discoverers of this mine, Messrs. Rogers, Flanagan & Co., have built an immense house for a receptacle for the coal, capable of holding nearly 2,000 tons, at the mouth of the mine, and have also constructed a railroad, nearly a mile in length, to navigable water. The houses about the mine, the railway and other improvements, nestled down in this mountain gorge, with the lofty pines rising on either side up the steep declivities, give the whole scene an air of picturesqueness and beauty that one could scarcely expect to find in a new region like this. At present, coal mining is suspended here, owing to the depressed condition of the market in San Francisco. About a mile below this place is the coal claim of Messrs. Northrop & Simonds, where the proprietors are at present engaged in sinking a shaft, in the expectation of striking a new deposit. Without doubt, in these mountains there is coal enough to supply the wants of the American Pacific Coast for ages to come. As I journey on, I shall, from time to time, let you hear of my meanderings, and the country by the wayside. Meantime I am
Yours, in the pine woods,Daily Alta California, San Francisco, September 14, 1857, page 1
LETTER FROM LOWER OREGON.
AN OREGON TRIAL--THE DEAD TIMBER--SURPRISED BY INDIANS IN THE FOREST--INDIAN AFFAIRS IN SOUTHERN OREGON--THE POLICY OF THE GOVERNMENT--MINING ON THE SEA BEACH, ETC.
Port Orford, Sept. 3, 1857.Winding through the forests, over hills and mountains, along the shore of the "sounding sea," and across patches of open country, grandiloquently styled prairies by the people of the territories, for the distance of two hundred miles out and back, I find myself at length in this seaport town awaiting the arrival of the down steamer.
My last was dated at Coos Bay, which point formed the terminus of my upward journey. Leaving the place we plunge again into a little strip of forest, of thirty miles in extent, uninhabited except by the birds and animals, fashioned by nature to make it their home. For fourteen miles, the forest is dead; that is to say, some cause, natural or otherwise, has killed the trees to a vast extent in this portion of Oregon, and you ride for miles and miles in many directions with nothing on either hand but ghostly pines, rearing their white bare trunks and leafless branches into the air, and mourning a dreary requiem in the passing breeze, for their departed glory. Wind and fire often sweep through these desolate isles, and here and there they come crashing down, forced at length to yield, and bow their heads that for ages have buffeted the fury of the storm, and mocked at its wrath as it swept over their lofty crests.
The trail through this dead timber becomes a lonely one, and great is the relief when you enter the dark green arches of the living forest, even though the sunlight only gleam here and there through chinks and crannies in the thick and umbrageous foliage that is so compactly piled above you. It does not give rise to so agreeable a sensation, however, to come across a gang of Indians in these sequestered solitudes, especially when you know that their presence there forebodes wars and rumors of wars that are to come out of the future. Riding along through the winding trail, we suddenly came upon a band of Indians numbering some thirty in all, who had escaped from the Umpqua Reservation, and were on their way back to their old grounds on the Coquille or Rogue rivers. The squaws were heavily packed with all the paraphernalia of Indian life, some of them bearing loads that would have brought groans from a patient mule. The men, or "bucks," as they are commonly styled here, were armed with guns, with the exception of one or two ancient gentlemen, who could only carry their own corporeal infirmities, without being overburdened with arms. Had we come suddenly upon a brood of grouse, I doubt if they would have exhibited greater powers of locomotion than did the " bucks" of this band. They disappeared in the thick underbrush that lined the trail, as suddenly as a young partridge will find a place to secrete his little form, and when we came up to the spot where we saw them a few seconds before, there was nothing left but the squaws with their heavy loads, with which they were unable to seek hiding places, and two or three decrepit old fellows, who, to all external appearances, were antediluvian in their origin. It gives rise to some peculiar fancies to ride through a forest trail, knowing that the muzzles of a dozen or two rifles are looking out on you through the leaves, and under the capricious control of a set of barbarous Indians at that, whose hand is raised against every man with a skin white enough to entitle him to the rank of a "Boston" in their vocabulary; and affords ample opportunity to think upon the uncertainty of human affairs, especially in an Indian country. There is no opportunity for a heroic demonstration, and valor is of but little worth in such a case. A judicious application of the spur to the ribs of the animal you bestride, and as much coolness and nonchalance as you are capable of expressing upon your countenance, I consider to be about as wise a panacea for the safe extrication from a similar dilemma, as any that can be adopted. Such was our course, and we passed by unmolested.
Seriously speaking, these Indians are coming off the Reservation in large squads, in the face and eyes of the penalty they were told would be enforced upon them, when first put there, if they dared again come back--namely, that of death. They are wending their way back, then, in the face of this death penalty, knowing that it must be war to the knife, and they or the "Bostons" must one or the other "go under" in the contest. Indian massacres and outrages will again be chronicled, and the parsimonious policy of our government will, by its puny efforts, virtually sanction the proceeding. Instead of entering into vigorous measures to suppress now and for all time to come these Indian depredations, the same old policy will probably be pursued of sending a few regular troops into the forests to make a show of fighting, in the expectation of frightening these Indians into submission. A more ridiculous idea was never entertained by sensible men. The Indians of this region are not only brave and warlike, but they possess all the treachery, cunning and trickery that has always characterized the North American aborigines. The men of the frontier, whose days have mainly been spent in pushing on in the van of civilization, are the only people who can cope with them in combat--who can meet cunning with cunning, and stratagem with stratagem. Let Uncle Sam call into his service, here upon the soil, these men, furnish them with their outfit, and pay them for their services, and six months will not have passed away ere Indian wars will have been effectually done with in this section. And on the score of economy, the column of disbursements from our plethoric treasury will foot up much smaller than in the more expensive and absurd mode of employing regular troops in this species of warfare. For I know--and so must every sane man admit it--that the frontier man, with his deadly rifle, and other weapons, and his hard-earned experience, is worth twenty regulars, brave enough though they may be to march square up to the cannon's mouth in the battle fields of wars with Christian nations.
At present, the people here are setting about providing for their own defense, as best they may, though they are by no means able to carry on defensive operations in such a manner as to hope for success unaided by government. And I look upon it as the first duty of the press, the people, and the representatives in Congress, of this whole Pacific Coast, to make this their most pressing demand upon the administration and before Congress, upon the score of humanity, as well as for what is due to us upon this side of the continent.
Much has been written upon this subject, since the Indian wars in Oregon first commenced, and the opinions of military men, I am well aware, have been pretty generally made known to be in favor of employing regular troops in fighting these Indians. But in most of these instances, these opinions (expressed by Gen. Wool and others) have been given before having any active experience in their style of warfare. To anyone's mind it presents a plain question of common sense, rather than a problem to be demonstrated by military disquisition, and I look upon it as little less than criminal for military etiquette and nice quibbles to be pushed into the debate, when the lives of American people, men, women and children are the simple facts at issue in all the controversy, and while the wrangling is going on, they are the helpless victims of Indian barbarities. So far as the question of first aggression on the part of the Indians or white men is concerned, I shall not argue it here. It is enough for me to reassert the well-known axiom, that the two races cannot exist in harmony together, and in an age of the progress of civilization, it is simply ridiculous to hesitate for a moment as to which ought to be made to give way. From my soul I pity the hard lot of the son of the forest, but I cannot stay the march of civilization in its westward course, and the supplications of the brave-hearted women and children, who follow the strong men that form its vanguard, when the brand and tomahawk of these wild beings are doing their hellish work, is a stronger appeal to my sensibilities, than all the sickly sentimentality that is lavished upon the poor Indian. But I must get "out of the woods," and go on to tell you of the country here about.
After leaving the forest, we take to the sea beach, and travel for miles along the shore, with the roaring surf breaking at our horses' feet and almost deafening us with its incessant noise. Crossing the Coquille, New River, Sixes, and the Elk rivers, we journey on, to the southward. The miners upon the sea beach, at the present time, are not numerous, but I am inclined to think they are doing very well, in most localities. The day does not seem to have arrived, however, for successful beach mining, or rather, for the practicing of some method for saving the fine particles of gold with which the sands of the sea shore here unquestionably abound. When the inventive genius of our country shall have developed some mode of doing this, we shall then see what a literal golden strand is ours, and what untold wealth is scattered over it.
I have spun out this letter to a much greater length than I at first intended, and therefore I will wind up here, though there is much I would like to say further concerning matters and things in this region.
W.B.F.Daily Alta California, San Francisco, September 20, 1857, page 1
EXPLORATIONS IN CALIFORNIA AND OREGON.--The explorations of the country about the sources of the Klamath River, last summer and fall, have proven that that river and the Sacramento take their rise in the same grand plateau. The great plain, having an altitude of between 4,000 or 5,000 feet, extends far north into Oregon Territory, and embraces twelve lakes, some of which are of great magnitude. These lakes are divided into two series, having each its chain of connections; one of them (affording much the largest portion of water) pours its united water into the Klamath, through the Little Klamath Lake; the other sheds its waters through the subterraneous channel of Lost River into Pit River, and thence into the Sacramento. The country immediately around these lakes and along the streams which flow into them, and connect with them, is a vast meadow of grass and tules. The higher lands are extensive alkali plains, broken up by hills which have no connected range, and are covered with a scattered growth of pine and spruce.--[Siskiyou Chronicle.
The Boston Investigator, September 30, 1857, page 3
LETTER FROM SOUTHERN OREGON
MINING PROSPECTS--ROGUE RIVER--STAGES--NEW TOWNS--THE INDIANS.
Evansville, Jackson Co., O.T.This portion of our fast-growing country seems to have been overlooked by your numerous correspondents, and having some little feeling of pride from the rapidly increasing prosperity of Southern Oregon, I have ventured to address you with a few items that may be of interest to your readers.
September 19th, 1857.
To assure you that no selfish motive governs me in so doing, I will say that I am a miner and have no interest whatever in the improvements now going on, other than what benefits the hard-working industrious miner, by placing within his reach the means of social and intellectual enjoyment.
This county, as well as that of Josephine, has been the field from which many a prospector has gone home with his "pile," and yet many claims remain that will pay good wages for thousands more, who may hereafter come to work them. Besides the mining operations on Rogue River, and a great many wing-dams have been put in, this season; there are "old Sams," "Galls" and "Sardine" creeks. The last, the one on which I have been located for six months, and therefore can speak more truthfully of the chances for newcomers, will accommodate seven hundred more men than are at present at work. The prospects are good, and sufficient to warrant good pay, that is three or four dollars a day. The others, I am told, prospect equally as well. Thus while the golden dust remains in bank from the want of the labor to get it out, your city ought not to complain of idle laborers seeking employment. Let them leave, come up to this section, and I assure them they can either take claims for themselves or hire out to those who may already have located.
A daily line of stages are now running form Jacksonville through this village to Illinois Valley, a distance of 68 miles, where it connects with a passenger train of animals for Crescent City. A tri-weekly line also runs from Jacksonville to Yreka, thus giving ample opportunity for all to get here who may desire it.
New towns are almost daily springing into existence, where but as yesterday, there was but a solitary cabin. Kerbyville, in Illinois Valley, last fall was but a simple trading post, is now a large and flourishing town. This village, named after Mr. Davis Evans, was located but about four weeks since, and at that time had but the farm cabin of Dr. Ambrose upon it, and now it can boast of a fine two-story hotel, a wholesale and retail grocery store, a lawyer and a doctor's office, a large and commodious stable, a blacksmith's shop, and a number of other private buildings. The liberal policy pursued by the proprietor, Mr. Evans, of bestowing a lot of ground, 30 by 70, to anyone who will build, has the effect of bringing enterprising men from all quarters, and will undoubtedly soon place Evansville second only to Jacksonville for a lively business town in Southern Oregon.
The streets are laid out at right angles, sixty feet wide; the main street running direct from the road to Jacksonville to the ferry known as "Evans' Ferry," placed across Rogue River, immediately north of the town. Heretofore, the miners and settlers of this section have been obliged to depend upon Jacksonville for their supplies, Now, everything is brought right to their door, at the same prices.
The well-known enterprising and business habits of Mr. Evans foretells the success of the town which now bears his name.
At present, everything seems to be quiet. During the summer, various rumors of the Indians being out, have been in circulation, and caused all to keep a more strict watch of their property and of themselves than otherwise.
It is now so late in the season that little is to be feared from the Indians who are upon the Reservation, and those that may be out are of such a peaceful nature, that no trouble is anticipated.
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, October 8, 1957, page 1
For a distance of twenty-five miles south and east of Winchester, the country is thickly settled. Further up the streams the valleys are smaller, but good farms are located on all of them. Nearly all the settlements south of Winchester were destroyed by the hostile Indians in the winter of 1856--the fine frame houses and barns were laid in ashes, and what few settlers escaped the scalping knife were left destitute of home or shelter, turned out upon the world without refuge or clothing.
About ninety miles south of Winchester [it's about 30 miles], on the road leading to California, is the Great Cañon spoken of. It is a narrow pass between two large mountains. The road passes up this creek a distance of twelve miles; there has been a vast amount of money expended in making this road, and it is now barely passable for teams; the attempt to make the trip from California to Oregon with wagons was never undertaken until 1854--the travel, and all the produce taken from Oregon to California, overland, previously, had been by means of pack animals.
This cañon has been the scene of numerous murders. The sides of the mountains are heavily timbered, and the undergrowth is thick chaparral, while the adjacent country is inhabited by the most hostile Indians on the Pacific coast. These are the Indians spoken of that have been treacherous and hostile at all times since they were first discovered by white men. They have been a greater terror, and have committed more murders upon the whites than all other tribes on the coast combined. They never fail to kill the travelers through this cañon, if they observe them, unless there is a sufficiently large party of whites to protect themselves; in that case, they are remarkably friendly, knowing that the white man never attacks--only defends after he is attacked, giving the Indian entirely the advantage. [This is patently false.]
VIII.We now continue on the road to California, and, crossing a small mountain, arrive in ROGUE RIVER VALLEY.
Rogue River rises in the Cascade Mountains and runs almost due west to the Pacific, in the north latitude 42° 30'. Its length is about one hundred and sixty miles. There is no entrance for ships at the mouth; it has no harbor; and it is not navigable for steamboats as it passes through a very mountainous country. There are some good farming locations near the mouth, and some scattering farms for some distance up the river. About thirty miles from the mouth, a stream called Tooloose River empties into Rogue River; but little is known of this river, however, as it heads in the Siskiyou Mountains. Considerable gold has bean discovered on this stream, and valuable gold diggings have been worked to some extent from this place to the mouth of Rogue River. But, owing to the number of hostile Indians prowling continually about this region, it has never been satisfactorily "prospected," from the fact that very few persons were willing to risk their scalps, even in the search for gold. Whenever a rich spot did or does happen to be "struck," a crowd rushes to that point whose numbers act as a shield for their defense by intimidating the bloodthirsty savages; but, in prospecting, the parties are necessarily small, and are, consequently, much exposed to danger.
As you ascend Rogue River, seventy miles from the mouth, Grave Creek empties in on the north side; this stream affords some good gold diggings. A short distance below this stream are the "Big Meadows," the retreat, spoken of, of the Indians. Eight miles above Grave Creek is Galice Creek; ten miles above this, Jump-off Joe Creek; on both of which streams there is some good land for farming purposes, while on both gold has been discovered near their mouths. Six miles above Jump-off Joe, a creek runs in, on the south side of Rogue River, called Applegate; it is thirty miles in length, has some good farming country near the mouth, and rich gold mines have been successfully worked on the headwaters, at the base of the Siskiyou Mountains. Four miles above the mouth of Applegate Creek, the Oregon and California road crosses Rogue River, at which place a good ferry is kept. The valley now spreads out and affords a large scope of fine farming country. It was settled by industrious and intelligent farmers, and was in a high state of cultivation, as the proximity of the mines gave a ready market for every article of surplus produce, at high prices. But the Indian war of 1856 laid all this fine country waste, and its once wealthy inhabitants are now in poverty, or their bones bleaching on the hills!
JACKSONVILLE, the county seat of Jackson County, is situated in this valley, on the south side of a rich and fertile section, and in the heart of a rich mining district. It is the most flourishing village in Southern Oregon. It is about one hundred and thirty miles from the Pacific coast, and is supplied with goods and groceries from Port Orford and Crescent City--the latter being a ship landing within the boundary of California. The goods are transported over very rough mountain trails on pack mules. The road from Oregon to California passes east of Jacksonville, but a branch passing through the town has been constructed and has become the main traveled road. Yreka, the great mining town of California, is about eighty miles south of Jacksonville.
Near Jacksonville is the Indian agency for the Indians in all Southern Oregon.
Near this, and about twenty miles north of Jacksonville, is the well known Table Rock, where the great battle was fought in 1853 [it was actually fought on Evans Creek] between Gen. Jos. Lane and his command and the Rogue River Indians. It was at this place that Lane received his severe wound in the shoulder; it was here that Capt. Ogden was killed; here Capt. P. M. Armstrong (brother of the writer) was killed--Capt. Alden wounded and disabled for life--and many other valuable lives were lost. Those who were slain were all decently buried, but no sooner had the soldiers left the place than the brutal savages returned, dug them from their graves and cut them to pieces, leaving their mangled bodies to be devoured and their bones gnawed by the wolves.
The following "items" of "mining intelligence" were extracted from publications made in 1856, and will serve to give a pretty good idea of the Rogue River mines:
"Jackson Creek.--The miners on Jackson Creek and vicinity are doing well, many of them taking out from two to three ounces a day to the hand. Those who have sunk shafts and drifted on the bedrock, as a general thing, find gold in considerable quantities.
"Sterling.--Where water can be had to wash with, at Sterling, the miners are doing very well. Many are drifting and stacking up the dirt until the water comes. As soon as it rains, gold will be washed out in great abundance at Sterling.
"We have seen and conversed with some of the returned party who have been down Rogue River, and in the vicinity of the coast, they report that on Galice Creek the miners are doing well, perhaps better than any former period since the mines have been worked on that creek.
"Whisky Creek, we understand, is all claimed, also the gulches making into the creek; but our informant could not say how well they were doing, but from the extent of the claims, the natural inference would be that it paid well.
"John Mule Creek.--The gold is coarse, and those having experience say that the prospects are good, yet the prospecting party only prospected near the surface and but temporarily.
"Meadows.--Gold was found and justifies the party in saying that in some places it will pay ten dollars a day to the hand--generally found on the bars in the river, the gold heavy, and of the best quality.
"Big Bend of Rogue River.--The prospects good, and coarse gold. The impression of those prospecting is that good diggings will be found in the vicinity of the Big Bend.
"Illinois.--At the mouth of Illinois River, but slightly prospected. A few miles up the river the miners are doing well when they can work. Many good claims are lying without being worked on account of the Indians, as there are quite a number of hostile Indians in that neighborhood of Old John's band, who have not made peace.
"Pistol River could not be prospected on account of the Indians. The appearance of the country and every indication goes to warrant the conclusion that gold is plenty on this river.
"Chetco was but slightly prospected; the prospect was good, the gold coarse; but little doubt of rich diggings at this place. The prospectors were prevented from thoroughly prospecting the country on account of the Indians. It is reported that there are at least one hundred warriors roving over the Coast Range of mountains in the neighborhood of Rogue River."
The Siskiyou Mountains appear to be nature's geographical boundary line between Oregon and California, as it is a regular chain, or solid mountain, from the Pacific coast east to the Cascade Range. But it is from twelve to twenty-five miles north of the true boundary line, which is established on latitude 42" north. There is only one small stream south of these mountains, within the limits of Oregon--Smith's river, which has been but little explored, except by a few gold hunters, who report an abundance of gold, and likewise a numerous horde of hostile Indians.
The distance from Salem, the present seat of government, to the southern boundary of Oregon, measured on the meridian line, is two hundred and four miles, but, by the traveled road, it is more than three hundred miles.
In the extreme southern portions of the Territory, the grizzly bear is a great annoyance to the farmers in killing and carrying off their stock. They seldom attack a man, unless when wounded or have been come upon suddenly and have no chance for retreat, when they willingly engage in a battle for death or victory. The description and habits of this ferocious animal have been so often given to the public, that I will not here repeat the same.
Elk, black-tailed deer, and antelope, abound plentifully in this region of country. It is amusing to sit on some high butte and look over a beautiful valley and see the deer and antelope skipping about over the plain below.
A small species of wolf, called by the natives, coyote--(pronounced ki-o-ta)--annoys the antelope very much in the months of June and July. They will never attack a full-grown antelope, but when the fawns begin to travel they manifest a great anxiety to get hold of them, and at the same time they stand in mortal dread of the keen eyes and sharp hoofs of the old antelopes; you will see them skulking and hiding about where the antelopes are feeding, watching every movement of a fawn as it plays about, until finally, tired out, it lies down to rest or sleep, its mother carelessly cropping the grass some distance off. The coyote improves the opportunity by suddenly leaping from the chaparral and pouncing upon its victim. As soon as the old antelope discovers the situation of her young, she utters a keen whistle and darts after the coyote, followed by the whole flock. If the wolf has miscalculated the distance, and fails to reach the shelter of a chaparral thicket before being overtaken, he is instantly stamped to death for his impudence. And if, as he is prowling about, the coyote happens to be espied by the antelopes, the latter all gather in a crowd, forming a ring, in the center of which their young are placed, while a portion of the flock will leave the ring and take after the offender; as soon as he perceives them coming, knowing that his life is in danger, the coyote "breaks" for the chaparral--but if he is overtaken, the foremost antelope springs high in the air and alights on the coyote, which knocks him over, and then the entire flock in pursuit alight on him, successively, in the same manner, so fast that he cannot regain his feet. The antelope's hoof being sharp, every leap cuts, and the coyote is soon trampled to death. The antelope is smaller than the common deer; their meat is the most delicious of wild game--being much finer grained than the common venison.
The common black bear is abundant in this region, and, being easily killed, affords the miners excellent food.
A. N. Armstrong, Oregon, 1857, pages 49-57
A Trip to the Umpqua
Jacksonville, Oregon, Oct. 24, 1857Dear "Spirit,"
Your correspondent has just returned from a trip to that region of country known here as "the Umpqua." Who can paint with a pen the landscapes of Oregon, her flowery meads running close to the base of her snow-capped mountains, like "beauty sleeping in the lap of terror"? Gigantic redwoods to you at home of fabulous size, noble pines, clear streams as cold as they can come gushing from the regions of perpetual snow, and a climate which you poor victims of sleet and fog, and dog-days and zero, cannot possibly understand or realize, make Oregon in natural advantages the most delightful spot to which the "waif' who writes to you has ever been drifted by energy, ennui, fate or manifest destiny.
I intended to tell you about a commonplace ride, of forty miles a day, upon a mule, when, enraptured with my adopted country, I was betrayed into the above "hifalutin."
For nearly an hundred miles northward from this place you pass over mountains and through cañons before you emerged into the valley of the Umpqua. The road cannot be gone over without conveying to the traveler the knowledge that there has been "a war in Oregon." Many a simple pile of stones show where some frontiersman "sleeps his last sleep," and many a charred and blackened heap of logs point out the place where a settler's cabin was burned. In one or two places broken wagon beds and the white bones of oxen still show where trains were attacked and men were murdered. The officer who was then in command of this department said there was "no war in Oregon," and "he is an honorable man." He also said that "his headquarters would be in the saddle." His headquarters may have been there for all we know, but his hindquarters seldom or never were. That's so, as Mace Sloper says. "Let the dead past bury its dead." At all events it is pleasant now at sundown, on that same road, to hear the hounds bay your welcome as you approach the end of your day's journey. It's pleasant to sit down to smoking venison and elk and "bar meat," and after that it is not very disagreeable to pull your meerschaum out of its case and "puff a cloud."
The journey is over, and we are on the banks of the Umpqua, at the gate of our friend Capt. ------. On stepping upon the porch of his cottage a sight presented itself which made my heart to knock against my "seated ribs"--a sight unseen before for many days; there in the wilds of Oregon, against the side of the house, was suspended a regular Conroy rod, with a lancewood tip, a silk and hair line on the reel, a gut leader and a Limerick hook, garnished with grey wings and a red hackle. Can a man never escape from the "pomps and vanities"? Will not even banishment to Oregon exempt one from such deviltries as Purdy's and Manton's and artificial flies and speckled trout? The sight was overpowering, and I would have fainted there and then if the Captain had not rushed out and applied a restorative from a black bottle; what it was I know not, it was not Cologne, but after it I felt strong and brave. Albeit not an early riser, yet the peep o'day on the following morn saw me on the banks of the river, with "Conroy" in my hand. It was a twelve-foot rod. I wet a line about three times the length of the rod, throwing it up and down close to shore, almost afraid to make a cast into the current, lest my left hand might have "forgot her cunning." Taking courage, however, and letting the line go far back over my head, I whipped away the line, struck the water half way between the point of the rod and the fly, and the line went curling out "dick, duck, drake," the whole length, and the fly lit as gently as a piece of swan's down. It had no sooner touched the water than I thought the "comic" had struck us; the river boiled and foamed as the Mississippi is said to have done when it ran upstream in the New Madrid earthquake of 1812; the line darted up and down, whistling as the wind whistles through the rigging of a ship. If I was excited and swore it was of course very improper, but by way of atonement I afterwards prayed, when I discovered that the whole commotion was made by a trout firmly hooked at the end of my line--prayed that he might be safely landed. My wish was granted, for in a few minutes he was floundering on shore. He weighed two pounds and a half. In the course of half an hour I landed four others, but none so large as the first; the five altogether weighed seven and a half pounds.
Our little town is quite lively today. Two or three chaps with "big piles" came in this afternoon and "went through agin Monte." One of them lost twenty-one hundred dollars and his gold hunting watch. The "sports," with whom it has been dull for two or three weeks, are having a carousel. Owing to an act of Congress of Aug. 1856 we have no grand jury in this country, and our courts are held at Roseburg, ninety miles from here; consequently we live as people lived before laws were adopted--that is, in a state of nature. We have not even the old alcalde system to restrain us. It is exciting and it's funny, but on the whole our society here is not in such a state as would carry comfort to the bosoms of any of the Pilgrim Fathers. Whether we will be able to behave ourselves under the restrictions of law and order, should the government in the East, which acts to us like "a stony-hearted stepmother," think us worthy of having such trifles bestowed upon us, is very doubtful; coldness, indifference, neglect and cruelty, are generally attended by the same results when they are indulged in by one community towards another. If we are not worthy of the attention of Congress, we had better attend to ourselves. Men have already lived here so long that no inducement would tempt them to renounce this for another residence; children have been born and are growing up here to whom the word "home" brings no remembrance of the Atlantic States, and it may be that some of the same causes which separated the colonies from the mother country may establish a "Republic of the Pacific." Is this treason? I hope not, for I am the descendant of a Revolutionary officer, whom, by the way, Congress last winter refused to pay for his services. It probably served him and his descendant right; a man ought to have been in better luck than to have worked and fought as a rebel through an eight years' war for nothing. The Areopagus is just, Congress is wise and considerate. The men who established the government, and their heirs, should not be paid that which is due them, while Colt's patent is to be extended, or Minnesota lands are to be the subject of speculation.
Yours very truly,
HAL. [John H. Reed]
Over the Mountains from Oregon.C. E. Pickett, Esq , arrived in our town on Christmas Eve, on his way from his late unsuccessful missionary enterprises in Oregon. He says he went there to collect some old debts, and create a new one by placing the people of that Territory under obligations to him for aiding in the establishment of the "blessed institution of slavery" among them. In each, however, a failure awaited him, since he did not find honesty enough to effect the one nor good sense (?) enough for the other. Pickett, though, takes it all in good part, and returns among his many warm friends in California in the highest spirits and best of health.
His trip down has been a delightful one, weather beautiful, roads fine and pretty fair accommodations along the route for travelers.
He came on horseback as far as Jacksonville, Oregon, to which point the California Stage Company extend their line, and have excellent teams along the whole route.
Yreka, where he stopped ten days, was found to be a most flourishing place, everything appearing lively, and the phase of life much reminding him of the old '49 and '50 times. Business was good, mining paying well; saloons crowded; rondo all the rage, with a goddess of fortune presiding at each table; fiddling and dancing going on day and night, and Sunday too, and things generally on the sans souci principle, though everything orderly, and comparatively very peaceable.
In crossing Scott and Trinity mountains, Mr. Pickett had quite a time of it in a great and "magnificent" snow storm, which set in the day he reached the foot of the former. The first day he attempted to cross proved a failure; the depth of snow falling the night previous so blocking up the trail as, with the fury of the storm, to drive him and his company back. The next day, after hard work, having to shovel out an opening part of the way, the summit was reached. From here to the foot of the mountain at the next caravanserai, he and the rest of the passengers had to take it afoot for ten miles, the snow preventing the mules getting through that day. Trinity River was waded by them four or five times. The trail, however, was opened for their animals next day, and the mail and baggage brought down. In Mr. Pickett's opinion the trail will be kept passable all winter, there being no probability of the snow reaching a third of the depth it did last winter.
Our philosophic friend, and late missionary to the white settlements north, thinks slavery would not injure the folks in Oregon, even if it did no good there, for a lazier, dirtier and greener set, taken as a whole, he has not seen nor heard of for a long time. There is not the least energy or spirit of enterprise among them. With the exception of getting plenty of apples to eat, the living was rather hard. To see good butter or a drop of milk on the table, even where cattle were most plenty, was a rare sight, whether in public or private houses. Barely wheat enough was raised the past year to sustain the inhabitants; the cattle were mostly poor, even at the beginning of fall, with no grass nor straw to feed them. Numbers have been driven by their owners several hundred miles away, generally towards and into California, to keep them from starving. There was much fear expressed as to a hard winter, and it was admitted that one as severe as some previous would kill three fourths of the stock in the country. Several butchers, among them Hon. David Mahony, were up from California for the purpose of buying fat hogs for bacon but they will have to come back disappointed, since hogs, in killing order, are very scarce throughout the Territory.
Marysville Herald, Marysville, California, December 27, 1857, page 2
Last revised April 13, 2021